METOX-Observer memories

Operating in Antartica
I worked on a Metox at Davis Base in '82. From what I remember it was a great little machine. It always reminded me of the time machine in that old movie called "The Time Machine".

There were 4 funny looking aerials poking out the back of an Oscilloscope sitting in front of a bar stool enclosed by a black curtain. The whole lot was inside a fibreglass dome with a little fan heater blowing on my feet.

It was always easy to lock-on at Davis 'cause the wind was blowing in the one direction at the same speed every day except for a few calm days on a summer afternoon. The book said readings were too inaccurate below 15 deg. and above 75 deg. That was true for high elevations ( especially after a few beers) but we always managed to get good readings in low elevations because the wind was strong with a constant direction. It just took a bit of extra concentration and staying sober for the flight. I found it enjoyable as it was warm, comfortable and we hooked up a radio to Radio Australia to listen to while doing the flight.

It's reliable when properly maintained & tuned. Glen McAulliffe was the Tech the year I was there and must have kept it tuned and maintained although I didn't notice him spending much time on it. as I don't remember it breaking down. We did four flights a day for 365 days.

The screen had 4 boxes drawn by thin green lines. 2 on the sides and one on top and bottom. If you adjusted the gain according to temperature of the Metox and distance of the balloon a good strong signal would see the 4 boxes touch each other in the centre of the screen. If the left box was longer than the right box it was just a matter of turning the Azimuth wheel a fraction clockwise to face the Metox a bit to the right to even up the strength of signals. Then just read off the azimuth and elevation readings of the aerial and compute the winds. Pretty much like the WF2 which had a circle instead of 4 separate signals.

Greg Crow (1)

(1) Bureau observing staff - June 2001 (private communications)

Elevation meter Photo showing PE's Iso-echo Unit