Centre for Severe Weather Research Uses AirLink® for Rugged, Reliable Connectivity

The Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) is a non-profit research organization located in Boulder, Colorado. Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the CSWR closely collaborates on projects with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Pennsylvania State University and the University of Colorado. The small organization has been fully functional since 2003, and its scope includes the Doppler On Wheels, Bistatic Network and Rapid-Scan programs; related tornado, hurricane, convective initiation studies; and educational efforts. The CSWR and its research efforts have been featured in programs on Discovery Channel, National Geographic, History Channel, CBS and NBC, as well as on PBS’ NOVA.

Business Challenge

The CSWR’s Doppler On Wheels (DOW) Project created several mobile Doppler weather radars mounted on trucks that permitted the first ever mappings of tornado winds, hurricane wind streaks and resolution of detailed tornado structure. The DOWs are used in a variety of storm chasing initiatives, and deploy from within a half mile to seven miles from tornadoes to measure inside, depending on the scientific mission. The DOWs stay far enough outside of the tornado to prevent damage to radar equipment and are used to track the position of smaller probe vehicles, which collect meteorological data that can be downloaded and analyzed by the CSWR team.

As the configuration of the DOWs evolved, a crude VHF tracking system was added and included a universal serial bus (USB) global positioning system (GPS) antenna. Unfortunately, the system was unreliable and often only worked out to two or three miles.

Sierra Wireless AirLink Solution

Astral Communications worked with the CSWR to develop a solution using cellular connectivity on EV-DO Rev. A 3G cellular networks and VHF radio transmission. Astral started by integrating a sophisticated GPS mapping software, provided by TrackStar, International with the CSWR’s other critical software on 30 laptops used for in-vehicle mobile data processing. They then focused on setting up and integrating VHF radio components and PinPoint X in-vehicle gateways, which provide connectivity and GPS functionality, as well as redundancy for VHF radio failover.

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