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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mini-turtle Tornado Video Probes for 2007

I've been working on a prototype mini-turtle video probe for deploying next year in the path of tornadoes. This morning I completed a first attempt. Borrowing from the great design of Tim Samaras' HITPR probes I have come up with a version that is much smaller, simpler and best of all wireless. This probe will use an off the shelf wireless security camera running off a 9 volt battery which will allow me to put the minimal amount of equipment in harms way and to have all the recording equipment and receiver safe in the car with me. They will be so small and inexpensive that if it cannot be found after the tornado passes then it is no big deal. They are expendible. I will also be able to stream video directly to my laptop as AVI or WMV files so conveivably with a wireless cell phone connection I could stream it to a website in real-time!

In the next few days I will be refining the design by blocking the hole in the top, possibly mounting the camera at a more horizontal angle, etc. I plan to test the maximum transmission distance with the stock receiver antenna and then also plan to purchase a directional YAGI antenna which will greatly boost the range. I will be testing it's wind resistance and rain resistence as well. Another potential benefit of this design is the lack of a windshield and therefore the problem of water beading up on the glass is eliminated. I will have to see if it's possible to get one big drop right on the lens and what that does to the view.

Video: Color, 380 scanlines, NTSC
Transmitter: 9V, 1.2 GHz, 200 mW, 1000 ft range
Receiver: Yagi 1200 MHz antenna, 9V

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The Carlsons', Verne, Michael and Eric

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