Ionosondes and their importance

One major source of propagation data to know whether a particular band and path are currently open is the Ionosondes run by scientific organisations and universities around the world.

Many of these installations have been online for 50 years or more however the two in the UK are having issues keeping going.
Indeed the one in Fairford died a year ago and there is no sign of it being restored to operation.
The other UK Ionosonde, located in Chilton has been failing more and more of late (it’s currently been offline since the 17th of April).

Given the importance to the amateur radio hobby of the ionospheric measurements taken by these installations does anyone on this reflector have contacts inside the installations at Fairford or Chilton to find out whether anything can be done to assist in getting them back online?

Of course, if we as amateurs could come up with our own way of measuring the Ionosphere, that would be even better but I don’t know if that is even possible. These Ionosondes were very expensive instruments when they were first installed, whether newer technologies now exist so that we could have radio groups or clubs providing similar data to the community is an unknown to me.



Isn’t the Chilton Ionosonde run by the Rutherford-Appleton Lab which is part of Oxford Uni? Or Cambridge! Well one of them.


Here you go Ed, contact info here.


Hi Andy,
Thanks Andy but I’m looking for someone who may know someone “inside” I already have the contact page.

It’d be great if there were someone here who knows how these devices work and could propose some amateur based way of producing the same information - or come back and say it’s out of the realm of possibility for someone in ham radio to achieve what these instruments achieve.

73 Ed


This sounds like a question that would be worth asking of this group:



Peter Martinez G3PLX did one 20 years back. He’d be the one of the first I’d contact.

If the call looks familiar it’s because Peter developed PSK31 amongst many, many other things.


Or just Google it. There are designs on the web. It’s not hugely complicated with SDR.

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Hi Richard, that’s the direction I was thinking, however, everything I read suggests that it’s not so easy and needs large amounts of expensive equipment still.
73 Ed.
UPDATE: This looks interesting…