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Response Time Characteristics of the Fast-2D Optical Array Probe Detector Board

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Two-dimensional optical array probes are commonly used for imaging raindrops and ice particles on research aircraft. The ability of these probes to accurately measure particle concentration and size partly depends on the response characteristics of the detection system. If the response characteristics are too slow, then small particles are less likely to be detected and the associated effective sample volume decreases. In an effort to better understand the sample volumes of optical array probes at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the temporal response of the Fast-2D optical array probe detector board from optical input on the detector to digitization was characterized. The analysis suggests that the board electronics have a response time constant consistently near 50 ns. However, there is also a slow decay term that conforms to a decay rate. The amplitude of this slow function can impact the probe response, varying the minimum detectable pulse width between 60 and 150 ns. Also, the amplitude of the slow function is largely dictated by the illumination angle of incidence. The effects of the response time characteristics are analyzed using a simulator for a 2D cloud (2D-C) probe with 25-μm photodiode spacing. The results show the greatest sensitivity to response time characteristics when particles are smaller than 150 μm, where 10% uncertainty in the slow fraction is likely to produce sample volume uncertainties near 10%. Ignoring response time effects may bias sample volume estimates in the small size regime by as much as 25%.

Denotes Open Access content.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Matthew Hayman, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. E-mail: mhayman@ucar.edu

Abstract

Two-dimensional optical array probes are commonly used for imaging raindrops and ice particles on research aircraft. The ability of these probes to accurately measure particle concentration and size partly depends on the response characteristics of the detection system. If the response characteristics are too slow, then small particles are less likely to be detected and the associated effective sample volume decreases. In an effort to better understand the sample volumes of optical array probes at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the temporal response of the Fast-2D optical array probe detector board from optical input on the detector to digitization was characterized. The analysis suggests that the board electronics have a response time constant consistently near 50 ns. However, there is also a slow decay term that conforms to a decay rate. The amplitude of this slow function can impact the probe response, varying the minimum detectable pulse width between 60 and 150 ns. Also, the amplitude of the slow function is largely dictated by the illumination angle of incidence. The effects of the response time characteristics are analyzed using a simulator for a 2D cloud (2D-C) probe with 25-μm photodiode spacing. The results show the greatest sensitivity to response time characteristics when particles are smaller than 150 μm, where 10% uncertainty in the slow fraction is likely to produce sample volume uncertainties near 10%. Ignoring response time effects may bias sample volume estimates in the small size regime by as much as 25%.

Denotes Open Access content.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Matthew Hayman, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. E-mail: mhayman@ucar.edu
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