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12 January 2004 Design of a small laser ceilometer and visibility measuring device for helicopter landing sites
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Hardware development for remote sensing costs a lot of time and money. A virtual instrument based on software modules was developed to optimise a small visibility and cloud base height sensor. Visibility is the parameter describing the turbidity of the atmosphere. This can be done either by a mean value over a path measured by a transmissometer or for each point of the atmosphere like the backscattered intensity of a range resolved lidar measurement. A standard ceilometer detects the altitude of clouds by using the runtime of the laser pulse and the increasing intensity of the back scattered light when hitting the boundary of a cloud. This corresponds to hard target range finding, but with a more sensitive detection. The output of a standard ceilometer is in case of cloud coverage the altitude of one or more layers. Commercial cloud sensors are specified to track cloud altitude at rather large distances (100 m up to 10 km) and are therefore big and expensive. A virtual instrument was used to calculate the system parameters for a small system for heliports at hospitals and landing platforms under visual flight rules (VFR). Helicopter pilots need information about cloud altitude (base not below 500 feet) and/or the visibility conditions (visual range not lower than 600m) at the destinated landing point. Private pilots need this information too when approaching a non-commercial airport. Both values can be measured automatically with the developed small and compact prototype, at the size of a shoebox for a reasonable price.
© (2004) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Jurgen Streicher, Christian Werner, and Walter Dittel "Design of a small laser ceilometer and visibility measuring device for helicopter landing sites", Proc. SPIE 5240, Laser Radar Technology for Remote Sensing, (12 January 2004);

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