Accessing Hardware File Information

SuperDARN Radar hardware information is stored in hardware files located here. pyDARN pulls down the hardware files from the main branch on the repository to obtain geographical and hardware information for plotting functionality.

Users can also read and access these hardware files information by using the function read_hdw_file.

import pydarn

# Read Saskatoon's hardware file
hdw_data = pydarn.read_hdw_file('sas')

expected output:

_Coord(lat=52.16, lon=-106.53, alt=494.0)

A user also has the ability to pull down hardware information for a specific date:

import pydarn
from datetime import datetime

# Read Goose Bay radars hardware file for 2003 03 20
hdw_data = pydarn.read_hdw_file('gbr', datetime(2003, 3, 20))

Expected output:


Other information a user can access from the _HdwInfo object:

Field name Description
stid Station Id of the radar
abbrev 3 letter radar abbreviation
date Date the hardware specifications were changed
geographic Geographic coordinates of the radar and altitude in meters (lat, long, alt)
boresight Boresight of the centre beam (physical, electronic)
beam_separation Angular separation between radar beams in degrees
velocity_sign To help identify backscatter velocities which the signs can be reversed based on receiver design
rx_attenuator Analog Rx attenuator step in dB
tdiff propagation time from interferometer array antenna to phasing matrix input minus propagation time from main array antenna through transmitter in phasing matrix in microseconds (channel_a, channel_b)
phase_sign Account for cable error in analyzing data
interferometer_offset Cartesian coordinates (x,y,z) from midpoint interferometer array to midpoint main array in meters
rx_rise_time Analog Rx rise time measured in microseconds
attenuation_stages Analog Attenuation stages are used for gain control of an analog receiver or front-end
gates Maximum range gates the radar has
beams Maximum beams the radar has


For more detailed information on all the fields in a hardware file, please read the hardware repo


Prior to version 3.0, pyDARN was built to use the old format of hardware files. However, versions 2.2.1 or lower of pyDARN will try to pull hardware files from the master branch of the hardware repository and this may cause some errors in use. Version 3.0 uses the new format of hardware files, and pulls hardware files from the main hardware branch. Updating to pyDARN version 3.0 or higher will fix any hardware errors.

Accessing Radar Information

Another way to access the hardware information, the radar's full name, the institution's name,the hemisphere that the radar is located in, and other information not tracked by hardware files is by using the SuperDARNRadars class with the station id number (stid field in most files). This class contains a dictionary of all currently accepted SuperDARN radars (including decommissioned):

import pydarn

# Access Prince Georges Radar information
radar_info = pydarn.SuperDARNRadars.radars[6]

Expected output:

_Radar(name='Prince George', institution='University of Saskatchewan', hemisphere=<Hemisphere.North: 1>, hardware_info=_HdwInfo(stid=6, status=< 1>, abbrev='pgr', date=datetime.datetime(2000, 3, 3, 0, 0), geographic=_Coord(lat=53.98, lon=-122.59, alt=670.0), boresight=_Boresight(physical=-5.0, electronic=0.0), beam_separation=3.24, velocity_sign=1.0, rx_attenuator=10.0, tdiff=_Tdiff(channel_a=0.0, channel_b=0.0), phase_sign=1.0, interferometer_offset=_InterferometerOffset(x=0.0, y=-100.0, z=0.0), rx_rise_time=0.0, attenuation_stages=0, gates=225, beams=16))


The hardware information obtained via this class contains most recent updates to the hardware file as it does not take a specific date as an input. To get specific hardware information, please use read_hdw_file.

Obtaining coordinates for a radar's field of view

The coords function in pyDARN is an easy way to grab the coordinates of a specific radars field-of-view. All you need is the station id (key: stid) of the radar of interest.

Example code:

import pydarn

# Geographic coordinates for Clyde River (STID: 66) FOV
geo_lats, geo_lons=pydarn.Coords.GEOGRAPHIC(66)

You also have the option to set the coords keyword to aacgm. In this case, Altitude adjusted corrected geomagnetic latitude and longitude are returned instead of geographic. Because AACGM requires a date to convert coordinates accurately, a python datetime object is also required to be passed in to coords under this circumstance:

import pydarn
import datetime as dt

# AACGMv2 coordinates for Dome C (STID: 96), valid for November 26th, 2005
aacgm_lats, aacgm_lons=pydarn.Coords.AACGM(96, date=dt.datetime(2005, 11, 26))

The Coords keyword points to the function to convert the radar's Field-of-View to the designed coordinate system. The outputs are two numpy arrays of latitude and longitude coordinates with dimensions (number_of_beams+1 x number_of_gates+1). They correspond to the corners of each range gate.

Updating Radar and Hardware Information

pyDARN does not release new versions based on hardware file changes. Because hardware files change infrequently you can update the hardware files in pyDARN by using the following command:

import pydarn

This should also replace any missing files.


If you get an error on importing pyDARN regarding hardware files or the get_hdw_files() is not getting the required files to run pyDARN please create an issue detailing your computer specifications, commands used to get the error, and output of the error.