2023-05-04 – Gadgetmobile IV

GadgetMobile IV (G4 for short), is the fourth vehicle in a series of customized storm chaser vehicles. Since 1996, the vehicle in the series have implemented progressively more modern technology. For example, network connectivity has gone from none at all, to first generation cell technology, to the current generation of broadband Internet, with many features, and fifth generation (5G) cellular technology.

G1: A 1996 Chevy Venture was the starting point for this vehicle. Onboard were 2 m and citizens ban (CB) radios. A laptop with battery powered GPS (DeLorme) was used to plan travel and record the actual route taken. Delorme Street Atlas was the center of all GPS related activity. No connectivity to the telephone net work. During this era, forecast updates were obtained by visiting public libraries and using their Internet systems. This often meant that a visit to the library, either immediately preceded or followed a lunch, break, and fuel break along the way.

G2: Using a 2007 Chrysler Town and Country, this vehicle was almost identical to G1, except for the addition of broadband Internet. This allowed mobile radar applications such as GR level 3 and GR2Analyst to be used. In addition to more frequent updates from the storm prediction, Center (SPC) on the go.  The GPS was now powered from the 12 V supply on board, illuminating the need to constantly feed the unit batteries.

G3: Starting with a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica, this vehicle had all new radios and broadband Internet, allowing 4G connections for better speed, and limited use of interactive video to link to other chasers.an experimental multi camera system was added, to allow nonstop recording of  views, looking forward, behind, left and right. The experimental system worked for about a year until Sprint was acquired by T-Mobile and changes to the broadband modem. System rendered the cameras inoperative.

G4 dashboard

— Vehicle “fly-around” – IMG_8547.mov

G4: A 2022 Chevy Equinox was the base for this vehicle  except for an upgrade to the multi camera system, most of the equipment from G3 was migrated over to G4 as is. Improvements to the broadband modem system, driven by T-mobile’s OBD-II interface to the vehicle, revived the multi camera system.  The new cameras inherited the improvements that Wise labs put into their version. Three cameras. The older version two cameras stayed with G3, and may be revived at some future point, as these cameras should work with the updated T-Mobile broadband modem system.

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