The Universal Cloud and Aerosol Sounding System (UCASS): a low-cost miniature optical particle counter for use in dropsonde or balloon-borne sounding systems
Smith, Helen R.
Kaye, Paul H.
MacKenzie, A Robert
A low-cost miniaturized particle counter has been developed by The University of Hertfordshire (UH) for the measurement of aerosol and droplet concentrations and size distributions. The Universal Cloud and Aerosol Sounding System (UCASS) is an optical particle counter (OPC), which uses wide-angle elastic light scattering for the high-precision sizing of fluid-borne particulates. The UCASS has up to 16 configurable size bins, capable of sizing particles in the range 0.4–40 µm in diameter. Unlike traditional particle counters, the UCASS is an open-geometry system that relies on an external air flow. Therefore, the instrument is suited for use as part of a dropsonde, balloon-borne sounding system, as part of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or on any measurement platform with a known air flow. Data can be logged autonomously using an on-board SD card, or the device can be interfaced with commercially available meteorological sondes to transmit data in real time. The device has been deployed on various research platforms to take measurements of both droplets and dry aerosol particles. Comparative results with co-located instrumentation in both laboratory and field settings show good agreement for the sizing and counting ability of the UCASS.