Equipment or Tools needed for Storm Chasing
I’ve had a lot of people ask me what kind of equipment I use when storm chasing. It’s really not much more than my laptop, camera, hot spot and a few assorted extras. I will outline them here.
Ham Radio Gear
The main HAM radio gear in my vehicle is the Kenwood TM-D710A Dual Band (2m/440) mobile radio. I use it for both APRS and voice communication. My antenna is a Diamond NR770H NMO mount Dual Band which provides a 3.0db gain on 2 meters and 5.5db gain on 440.
This is my most important piece of equipment. My video camera choice is a Sony CX900 camcorder which I have a Manfrotto tripod head attached. I use a filmtools windshield mount with the Manfrotto quick release to mount to my windshield and Manfrotto tripod. I store everything in Pelican cases, which is definitely worth the investment.
Stills are taken with my Canon 6D and trio of lenses. The three lenses include a Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art, Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, and a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM.
My choice of tripods is Manfrotto brand. They provide stability and ease of use as well as durability. One of my tripods has a fluid video head on it. The second tripod has a pistol grip that I use for easily pointing and capturing still images. The third is a light weight carbon fiber tripod that is great for hiking and travel.
I’m using a Lenovo Thinkpad P52 high powered workstation. It’s powered by a Intel i7 hex core CPU, 16GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD drive space running Windows 10. Some of the software applications I run on this include GRLevel3 version 2 & GRLevel2 Analyst Edition version 2 (Radar Data), GPSGate (GPS Data splitter), Microsoft Maps (Navigation), Spotter Network (Position Updates), Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop (Photo editing) and Adobe Premiere (Video Editing).
For my GPS feed to GPSGate, I use the Globalsat BU-353S4 USB GPS puck. I have been using the GPSDirect driver to setup my NMEA BU-353S4 input to a Windows location sensor which feeds the web browser, Microsoft Maps and other Windows applications. I also run a hardware Windows location sensor, the GlobalSat 05-BU353-W10 GPS. More on my NMEA to Windows Sensor setup here.
Since the beginning of chasing, I have used the RAM laptop mounts in various vehicles and it has been a rock solid piece of equipment.
Verizon Wireless Jetpack MiFi 8800L with unlimited plan and 4G LTE external antenna. My car also has a built-in AT&T wireless access point.
I use, and highly recommend, using the RadarScope product from DTN. It provides very high resolution radar data not found on any other app. DTN actually reprocesses level 2 data before sending it out to radarscope, so it’s not truly level 3 data like other apps.
I have a special insurance policy for all of my storm chasing equipment. This is above and beyond standard Homeowners and Auto insurance. It is generally low in price (I pay a little less than $20/month) and can save an equipment accident from otherwise ruining a good chase. My policy has a $0 deductible and pays the value for which it’s insured. Call your car or home insurance agent and ask about a personal articles policy.