The CopterSonde is an uncrewed aerial system (UAS) developed at the Univeristy of Oklahoma for the observation of lower atmospheric conditions. Dr. Tony Segales (OU-CIWRO) is the main developer of the system, and continuous to work in the BLISS group as the engineer improving and supporting this system and expanding capaibilities generally. You can read about the detailed technical background of the CopterSonde in Tony’s AMT article and in the US Patent documentation. The CopterSonde has undergone NOAA Airworthiness tests, and is cleared to fly on NOAA projects. You can check out this story for history and information about the construction of the Coptersonde. Below, a summary information brocure about the Coptersonde and its specifications is available.
Temperature and relative humidity sensors are housed in a modular aspirated scoop that can be detached and independently calibrated to ensure measurement accuracy. Measurements of the wind speed and direction are obtained using the attitude data from an internal inertial measurement unit and compass.
The CopterSonde UAS has been successfully deployed during several field campaigns in diverse locations and under a variety of meteorological conditions. Locations have included central Colorado, Finland, and central Oklahoma.
The original CopterSonde UAS was designed with the express purpose of sampling the thermodynamic and kinematic state of the lower Earth’s atmosphere, with a focus on vertical profiles in the planetary boundary layer. It provides the same information as a rawinsonde, but with much more control of its sampling location. Development began in 2016 for the NOAA funded EPIC (Environmental Profiling and Initiation of Convection) field campaign and development has largely continued through support from the National Science Foundation and the University of Oklahoma. The initial design has undergone considerable modification and the CopterSonde UAS is now capable of adaptative atmospheric sampling, real-time data processing and dissemination, longer flight times, and better data quality.
Our goal in developing the CopterSonde UAS has been to provide a sensor platform for lower atmospheric sampling that is easy to deploy, delivers reliable data, and facilitates adaptive sampling.
The meteorological community has recognized the need for accurate measurements within the planetary boundary layer with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution for assimilation into weather forecast models and to improve forecasters’ situational awareness of prevailing conditions. These skew-T log-P, hodograph, and time-height cross section figures show some of the deliverables of the CopterSonde UAS. The measurements in the time-height cross section panel are from the CopterSonde UAS during a 24-hr experiment in Central Oklahoma. The CopterSonde UAS also measured pressure, humidity, and wind during this period.
The current version of the autopilot code runs a set of custom functions added on top of the original ArduPilot code by our developer team. Some of the CopterSonde’s key features are:
|Body||Carbon fiber tube (arms)
G10 fiberglass (internal
structure), and aluminum
(connectors and spacers)
|Brushless Electric Motor|
|Shell||3D printed PLA||Lifespan||1600 hrs|
|Diagonal||50.8 cm||kV Rating||700 RMP/V|
|Height||15.2 cm||Maximum Thrust||1.23 km/rotor|
|Flight Controller||Pixhawk Cube||Maximum Power||500 W/rotor|
|Communications||Diameter x Pitch||11 x 5.5 in|
|Telemetry Frequency||915 MHz||Material||Carbon Fiber|
|Radio Frequency||2.4 GHz||ESC - Motor Speed Controller|
|Transmission Distance||up to 5 km||Max. Cont. Current||35 A|
|Burst Current||45 A|
|GPS ACCURACY||Maximum Voltage||14.8 V (4S LiPo)|
|Horizontal (RTK)||within 3 cm||POWER|
|Horizontal||within 1.5 m||Battery Type||4S Smart LiPo|
|Vertical (RTK)||within 5 cm||Capacity||5870 mAh|
|Vertical||within 3 m||Typical Endurance||15 min|
|Meteorological Specifications||Flight Parameters|
|Thermodynamic||Maximum Tilt Angle||40 degrees|
|Primary variables||T, RH, P||Maximum Wind Resistance||22 m/s|
|Derived Variables||Td, Tv, θ, θe, θω, r, rs,
q, qs, e, es, LCL,Γ
|Maximum Operating Speed||28 m/s|
|Accuracy||T: within .1 degree C
RH: within 2%
p: within 1.5 hPa
|Maximum Flight Ceiling||6,000 ft AGL|
|Logging Rate||10-20 Hz||Recommended Operating Temperatures||-20–40 deg C|
|Kinematic||Typical Ascent Rates||1–5 m/s|
|Primary variables||Tilt angles||Typical Descent Rates||1–6 m/s|
|Derived Variables||Horizontal wind speed and direction||Weight (sans battery)||1.5 kg|
|Accuracy||Speed: within .6 m/s
Direction: within 4 degrees
|Average All-Up Weight||2 kg|
|Logging Rate||10-20 Hz||For more information regarding the CS or
custom built solutions contact us!