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Guide for HabHub Users

Mark Jessop edited this page Jan 1, 2023 · 25 revisions

Last Updated: 2023-01-01

What's happening to HabHub / Habitat?

HabHub, the Habitat database, and associated utilities have been hosted on a server donated by Nevis (Anthony Stirk) since 2011. However, due to ongoing issues with server maintenance and rising power prices, continued hosting has become untenable. In addition to this, the software behind the Habitat servers has become extremely difficult to maintain, and a very large amount of work would be required to port it to a more modern operating system.

At the end of 2022 the server hosting HabHub/Habitat was shut down.

A huge thanks to Anthony for providing free hosting, and for the folks at Cambridge University SpaceFlight for developing a high-altitude balloon tracking system that has served us well for so many years!

What is SondeHub?

SondeHub started out in 2019 as a database and mapping system for tracking meteorological radiosondes. It's hosted in Amazon Web Services, so it is scalable and reliable (though does cost more to run...). SondeHub is run by a small team lead by Michaela Wheeler and Mark Jessop, and is currently funded through Patreon Sponsors and a grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications. SondeHub handles many millions of radiosonde telemetry packets a day, with telemetry contributed by over 700 unique receiver stations.

SondeHub has some similarities and difference to HabHub and Habitat. While the tracker might look the same (indeed, it is a fork of the HabHub Mobile Tracker written by Rossen Georgiev), the database behind it is somewhat different. There is currently no concept of flight or payload documents, at least not in the way that Habitat users might be familiar with. Instead, as long as telemetry is submitted in the correct format then it is stored in the database and is displayable.

After running SondeHub with success for a few years, the team decided to have a go at adding support for storing and displaying Amateur Radio launches, using what we have learned from dealing with meteorological radiosonde telemetry. This became what is now SondeHub-Amateur.

What is SondeHub-Amateur?

SondeHub-Amateur is what we hope will become the prime destination for tracking amateur high-altitude balloon launches. Currently we:

  • Have a fully functional tracker website, using Leaflet instead of Google Maps (no more 'for development used only' messages!)
  • Automatically import balloon telemetry from the APRS-IS network
  • Accept submitted data which meets our telemetry format via an open API
  • Automatically run and display predictions for active flights using our instance of the Tawhiri predictor. The API URL for this is:
    • Note - This API is for non-commercial use only. If you wish to use it in your own applications, please contact us (bottom of this page).
  • Have flight dashboards which allow for selecting, displaying and exporting telemetry.
  • Have a version of the HabHub predictor, also using the Leaflet mapping system. This also has built-in hourly predictions, selectable from the main interface.
  • Have a copy of the Burst Calculator available.

What we currently don't have:

  • Flight Documents, Payload Documents, and a UKHAS-format telemetry parser. Limited support for UKHAS-format telemetry is available through the Horus-GUI telemetry decoder for RTTY transmissions, and Dave Akerman's LoRa Utilities for LoRa transmissions.

So how do I get my flight on the map?

We have a page detailing what you need to do for the common modulation types here. If your decoding software uploads your telemetry in the right format, then it will appear on the tracker automatically, no payload documents or approvals required.

What about flight documents? What about approvals?

In the Habitat database, a 'flight document' was used to:

  • Put an entry in a calendar indicating a flight was coming up.
  • Delineate a time period for a flight, allowing export of telemetry and display of statistics within just the flight period
  • Provide modulation details for automatic configuration of dl-fldigi (mainly for RTTY transmissions)
  • Provide details on custom fields for UKHAS-format telemetry.

SondeHub-Amateur does not have the same concept of flight documents. Tackling the above points in turn:

  • Given the increased prevalence of social media, we recommend getting the word out to your local amateur radio and hobbyist community about your launch via social media channels. For 'opportunistic' listeners looking for information on tracking a flight that happens to be in the air near them, the SondeHub-Amateur tracker provides information on modulation formats and transmit frequencies on the web interface, based on information submitted by other listeners.
  • Exporting telemetry and displaying of statistics is performed in SondeHub-Amateur through the use of a Grafana-based interface, allowing selection and display of telemetry by time, and exporting telemetry data in multiple formats.
  • Given the more recent move towards more reliable telemetry formats such as Horus 4FSK and LoRa, the need to 'auto-configure' a decoder has become less important.
  • Decoding of UKHAS-format telemetry is something we hope to add support for, but this is quite a complex task and may take some time to achieve. Until then, limited support for UKHAS-format telemetry is available for RTTY and LoRa payloads, and will allow them to appear on the map, however custom fields will not be displayed.

What about Chase-Cars?

Out and about chasing a balloon and want your location to show up on the map? Just like the HabHub tracker, the SondeHub-Amateur tracker has a chase car feature, allowing you to report your car's position to the map. Just click the Car icon at the top-right of the tracker.

Chase-Car position uploads to SondeHub-Amateur are also supported by:

What about SSDV?

The SSDV imagery server will continue to be available at, but hosted separately and run by Phil Heron.

SSDV telemetry can be received and submitted by dl-fldigi for RTTY payloads, Dave's LoRa software for LoRa payloads, and the Wenet decoding software for Wenet payloads. Horus-GUI does not support SSDV telemetry when receiving RTTY.

For Commercial Users

We accept that there are many commercial users of the existing HabHub services, in particular the predictor, and in some cases the tracker as well. HabHub has provided a unique capability for high-altitude balloon launch operators, and we plan to continue to make this capability available to commercial operators into the future.

However - we would ask that commercial users of the site contribute financially to the continued operation of SondeHub, ideally through a membership on our Patreon, to enable this service to remain available to the hobbyist community that supports, uses, and maintains it.

As a starting point, consider:

  • AUD$1/month - If just using the predictor for predictions in the lead-up to a launch.
  • AUD$3/month - If using the tracker to track an occasional launch.
  • AUD$10/month - If you wish to make automated use of our Tawhiri predictor API, or you regularly make use of the tracker to track your own launches.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

For Software Developers

If you maintain software that currently uploads data to Habitat / HabHub, please consider adding support for uploads to SondeHub-Amateur!

We're also looking for developers to help us add functionality to SondeHub-Amateur, to bring it up to feature parity (and beyond!) with Habitat. Contact us using the information below for more details.

What if I have other questions?

You can find the SondeHub-Amateur developers on IRC in the #habhub channel on

You can also contact us at: