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Jun 24
2000 Chase Vehicle  E-mail
Saturday, 11 April 2009 00:18

This 1992 Ford Explorer was to be the chase vehicle for the 2001 chase season. It served well for 2000. Unfortunately, after the first long distance chase to Oklahoma in 2001, the truck has decided it will be in need of open heart surgery soon. Based on this, the decision was made to retire it. This turned out to be a major pain to do right at the beginning of chase season, since all of the equipment had to be removed, and then engineered into the current vehicle. It's very time consuming, and needs some road testing to make sure everything is working correctly prior to being taken out on an actual storm chase.

This chase vehicle was equipped with two radio scanners with 800 MHz capability. These were built into an overhead console that I custom made. This console also contained light switches that controlled all the external accessory lights on the truck. The scanners are great for monitoring NOAA WX radio, ham radio stations, fire departments and law enforcement. The truck is also equipped with a Kenwood V7A dual band amateur radio for staying in contact with other hams, SKYWARN severe weather nets and for making reports to those nets.

A Bearcat 40 channel CB radio (mounted on passenger side of center console), This is primarily for communication short range with other chasers who are not amateur radio operators. A permanent Cannon 8mm dash camera (mounted on center of dash with aircraft RAM mounts).

It also had an integrated PC. I designed a custom center console to contain the components of the computer. A 15" LCD screen is mounted to the dash with an aircraft RAM mount. The PC was a Pentium 3 600 MHz with 128 megs of RAM, 52x CDROM drive and a 15 GB hard drive. It also has a PCMCIA card reader which holds a 3com cellular modem. Operating system is Windows 98 SE. I use Sony SKYMAP GPS which has a GPS antenna that plugs into the serial port. With this we always know where we are at a glance. Paper maps are still kept in the truck for backups. We also use a couple of types of weather data manipulation software. (editing note: amazing what we thought was a FAST PC back then!)

It has a DirecPC satellite Internet system (the dish on back). With this we can pull over ANYWHERE and point the dish and quickly get all the data we need. With download speeds up to 400 kbps, it sure beats a 9600 baud cell connection. The mount for the dish is a prototype model I am testing for BullsEye Dishmounts. www.rvdishmount.com (link dead on last check 4/11/09)L.W. there at Bullseye Dishmounts makes this awesome mounts for various surfaces for RV users for regular size DSS dishes. He has come up with this prototype we are testing for the larger DirecPC type dish.

A plus to the dish also is that it also receives DirecTV with a receiver in the truck. The computer is equipped with an ATI TV tuner, so we can get regular or satellite TV on that as well. The white circular item on the roof is the TV antenna which is omni directional. It is connected through a 20 dB gain booster. The TV tuner card also has A/V inputs, so I can connect the dash cam, or any other A/V source. All of the 110V items are powered by a 300W converter.

In the center console is the Radio Shack WX200 weather computer (manufactured by Oregon Scientific), which was generously donated by my good chaser friend, Scott Clark.. This computer allows me to get real-time readings on wind, air temps, dewpoints, pressure. This has already proven very valuable in finding the dry line. As well as the location of a warm front. All of the sensors are mounted on the roof.

I also carry a Sony Hi8 Camcorder, a Sony Digital 8 and a Canon AE1 35mm camera with several different lens. Along with two tripods for these. I have 4 detailed map books, and several notebooks with information, such as ham radio SKYWARN net frequencies throughout tornado alley, TV station listings, all sorts of weather analysis information. And I never go anywhere without my First Responder trauma kit.

On the roof of the truck you will see: two scanner antennas, two ham antennas, a TV antenna (the round one), CB antenna, anemometer, dew point/pressure sensor, rainfall monitor and safety lightbar.


This vehicle was retired in the spring of 2001.

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 April 2009 00:22
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