Mobile Emergency Weather Station
"Sparky", the Batt-mobile with MEWS
Rural Training Center-Thailand Mobile
Emergency Weather Station
Copyright 2011, All
The Rural Training Center-Thailand
EmComm (emergency communications) program is part of our community service
effort here in Thailand. The most frequently occurring natural disaster in
our area creating a state of emergency is flooding. But regardless of the
cause, communities in distress are most certainly in urgent need of
sustenance. In these times of distress, the RTC-TH is "ready to serve and
sustain our community."
We do not regard ourselves "experts" in EmComm. We
are relative new comers to the field of amateur radio. But having lived in
the earthquake prone Los Angeles greater metropolitan area and survived
the Northridge Earthquake (1994), we cling firmly to our ideas of
emergency preparedness. Our knowledge base in the natural sciences and
geographic applications is the foundation for our emergency preparedness.
We are still learning the field of amateur radio, but have a basic
foundation upon which to build.
Here you will see our efforts
in putting together a mobile emergercency weather station we call MEWS for
use in emergency situations in our remote area.
a rural area of Thailand, it may take a while for emergency relief crews
to arrive in times of emergencies. There is one main highway in the
region. It is reasonable to prepare to "tough it out" until help arrives
rather than to sit back and assume help will come quickly.
created to meet a need to provide weather data from a disaster area when
normal weather reporting did not exist. This could be due to
damage/destruction of existing weather stations or being in remote areas
where no weather station existed. Although a relatively new Ham with
little practical operating ability and experience, I wanted to make a
"Sparky" - Our all electric powered vehicle setup for
emergency ham radio/weather reporting!
We have limited equipment and budget and
cannot equip each location with radios and antennas. We have 1 ICOM 718
for HF work; for VHF we have 1 ICOM 2200T mobile unit, and 2 Yaesu FH-912
handhelds (these are the Thai type approved version of the VX-170). We
decided to take a flexible mobile/portable modular approach for our EmComm
plan for "Sparky". The ICOM 718 and 2200T would be mounted in an all
electric vehicle (a Go-bag on wheels) but able to be dismounted and used
in a container / trailer (portable radio shack). Both units will be
equipped with portable HF and VHF antennas on masts capable of reaching a
height of 4.8-6.4 m / 16-21 feet. Sparky and "Sam" (a portable container
box on wheels), each have radio batteries for about 525 amp
hours of operation. In an emergency, "Sparky" has battery power available.
However, the power available depends on how much driving has been done.
The theoretical maximum is about 1350 amp hours on a full charge but with
no driving. See photos
The "Sparky" battery powered vehicle shown
with a Slim Jim
extended to 3 different lengths depending
on wind speed
The radio console contains the
radios, antenna switches, 12 VDC power panel and antenna tuners. Station
ground buss panel is on the interior firewall directly behind the radio
Also shown are some of the weather instruments on the
Inside view of Overhead and
Overdash Equipment and Locations
Antenna Installation: The next
critical phase for this installation effort involves the antennas. Some
antennas are yet to be made. Some exist, but need to be installed and
"tuned" for use on Sparky. Some mounting issues involve the fact that
Sparky has a mostly fiberglass body. This presents a problem to use a
magnet mounted antenna.
A front roof bracket mount is being designed to
support the VHF magnet mounted antenna and the "slingshot" VHF beam
antenna. It will also provide the grounded mounting point for
the 1-wire dual band NVIS antenna (back up to the HF bumper mounted whip /
The rear push-up mast (one each for HF and VHF antennas)
mounts are being optimized. Two basic designs are being considered. The
final design will affect various details concerning feed line
connections/lengths and masts / antenna grounding.
Sparky Weather Related Equipment
HF External speaker
Plastic box storage
Seiko Instruments WF-110 Strike Alert Lightning
Kestrel 3000 pocket weather station stowed in plastic
Pitch / Roll
GPS (Global Positioning System)
(still / video capable)
2 m HT
Blue Storage box
(Some optional equipment
may not be shown in photo
For more detailed
descriptions of the "Sparky" MEWS setup, see this pdf file
Download a typical setup procedure demo using the
"Slingshot" antenna here. (pdf)
Much of this material is updated frequently on the Rural
Training Center-Thailand site. Look for updates here .
Also look at their "External Links"
Applying the MEWS Setup to
reporting the weather!
Learning how to read the
weather and report it in times of
drew on my background in geography teaching to create these lessons for
Hams who might be interested to learn to make weather observations and be
able to report them from a disaster area. They are free for
I tailored the weather data lessons to include
specific data helpful to helicopter pilots.
flight operations with this data would improve flight safety, especially
when pilots will likely fly from outside the area. Also, weather
data can be used to better coordinate logistics and supplies the survivors
need. I have read many accounts of disaster relief which document
the mismatch of arriving aid and supplies to the needs of the
survivors. Having weather data from the disaster site could help
emergency response planners. Learn more on next page about the MEWS