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IR- Kestrel 3500 Wind Meter - Gail S.

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  • woodswoman
    Here is my IR for the Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter. I have having so much fun with it already :) (I apologize if this shows up more than once..my Yahoo mail
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 28, 2006
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      Here is my IR for the Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter.
      I have having so much fun with it already :)

      (I apologize if this shows up more than once..my Yahoo
      mail has been bouncing repeatedly)


      Initial Report:

      Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter
      by Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
      October 28, 2006

      Tester Information

      Name: Gail Staisil
      Age: 54
      Gender: Female
      Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
      Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
      Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
      Email: woodswoman2001@...

      For the last 17 years, backpacking has become a
      passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an
      off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips
      to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my
      trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight
      varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb
      (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more
      than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of
      weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow
      and sub-zero temps.

      Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter-- Description

      Nielsen-Kellerman (NK)
      Website http://www.nkhome.com/
      Phone 1.610.447.1555
      Model Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter (Made in the USA)
      Plastic case and unit, Hermetically-sealed
      thermistor, Plastic wind repeller with sapphire
      bearings, Polymer capacitive humidity sensor,
      Monolitic Silicon Piezoresisitive sensor (measures
      pressure), CR2032 battery
      Unit Size with cover
      4.8 in X1.75 in X 0.7 in
      (12.19cm X 4.45 cm X 0.18 cm)
      Manufacturer's Weight for unit with cover
      3.6 oz (102 g)
      Tested Weight for unit with cover
      3.5 oz (99 g)
      Model Year 2006
      MSRP $249.00 US

      The Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter is a portable
      weather instrument that measures every common
      environmental condition. It is one in the line of many
      different wind meters produced by the company of
      Nielsen-Kellerman. The wind meter is not only both
      waterproof and features a real-time clock, but it also
      includes a backlight, a protective cover, a lanyard
      with cordlock, a battery and a two-year warranty. The
      wind meter can measure the following:

      Function or Mode
      Current Wind Speed
      Measures the average wind speed over the previous
      three seconds.
      Maximum Wind Speed
      Measures the maximum 3-second wind speed since the
      meter was turned on.
      Average Wind Speed
      Average wind speed since the meter was turned on.
      Air Temperature
      Instant temperature reading - For a fast response,
      hold the meter into the wind or wave the meter from
      side to side-Temperatures should be taken in the
      Water and Snow Temperatures
      These temperatures can be taken by holding the meter
      in water or snow.
      Wind Chill
      It is the combination of wind speed and temperature
      as defined by the US National Weather Service. The
      calculation takes into consideration the effects of
      combined wind and temperature on the human body and
      animals. Wind Chill readings are the same as
      temperature ratings above 45 F (7 C) or below 3 MPH.
      Relative Humidity
      Measures the amount of moisture in the air compared
      to the mound of moisture the air can hold for the
      given temperature (Percentage reading). Should be
      measured in the shade.
      It is calculated based on temperature and humidity
      measurements as a measure of moisture in the air. If
      the dewpoint is very close to the temperature, the air
      is humid. If the temperature equals the dewpoint, dew
      will form above freezing and frost below freezing.
      Heat Stress Index
      Measures the combination of temperature and humidity
      as defined by the US National Weather Service. That
      calculation takes into consideration how the
      temperature feels to the human body and animals. Heat
      stress readings are the same as temperature readings
      below 70 F (21 C).
      Barometric Pressure
      A reference value for barometric pressure must first
      be obtained from a local weather station for the
      current value of barometric pressure. It must then be
      set as the reference pressure on the ALTITUDE screen
      of the unit. The meter uses an atmospheric pressure
      sensor and then calculates altitude based on a
      standard atmosphere. The pressure trend is constantly
      updated over a 3-hour period.
      A reference value for altitude should be obtained
      from a topo map. It can then be set as the reference
      altitude on the BAROMETRIC PRESSURE screen of the
      Wet Bulb Temperature
      It is calculated based on temperature and humidity
      measurements, as a measure of evaporation rate. If the
      wet bulb temperature is very close to the air
      temperature the air will be humid.

      Warranty (per website):
      NK does not believe in "disposable electronics." We
      know our products don't lead a pampered life, and we
      design them for years of performance in tough
      conditions. We guarantee every NK product to be free
      of defects in materials and workmanship for a period
      of TWO YEARS from your date of purchase. We will
      repair or replace any defective product or part when
      notified within the warranty period, and will return
      the product via domestic ground shipping at no charge.
      The following issues do not result from a
      manufacturing defect and are not covered under this

      * Damage due to improper use or neglect (including
      * Impact damage
      * Modifications or attempted repairs by someone
      other than an authorized NK repair agent
      * Impeller failure not caused by a manufacturing
      * Normal wear from use of the product
      * Failed batteries
      * Re-calibration beyond 30 days from your date of

      Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter--
      Initial Impressions

      The Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter arrived at a great
      time of year for monitoring the abruptly changing
      weather conditions. I was a bit apprehensive about
      whether I would understand how to use the meter, as
      technical gadgets usually have quite a learning curve
      for me. I'm usually resistant to reading manuals as I
      find many of them rather confusing. However, this one
      didn't appear intimidating. In fact, the manual is
      just a single sheet of two-sided legal-size paper. It
      is exactly the same information as I viewed on their
      website's PDF file before I received the unit. It
      contains operational, maintenance and warranty
      instructions. In addition, there is a chart on
      specifications and definitions of measurements. It was
      easy to understand. The wind meter came with a
      Certificate of Conformity that assures that the wind
      meter met the specifications that are listed on the
      backside of the certificate. It also lists the methods
      used in calibration and testing.

      In addition to the manual and certificate, the wind
      meter was sent with a matching case, an attached
      lanyard with cordlock, and a pre-installed battery.
      Since I doubt I would ever take the wind meter on any
      my trips without the case, I immediately took off the
      cordlock on the lanyard, and threaded the lanyard
      through the large oval slot on the bottom of the case.
      I inserted the wind meter into the large opening in
      the top of the case and then reattached the cordlock.
      The cover slides over the meter providing protection
      so that the exposed wind impeller and temperature
      sensor will be protected from other objects in my
      pack. The wind meter is already waterproof so the
      cover only protects the front and back of the unit
      from sharp objects.

      The wind meter looks exactly like I expected it to
      after I initially viewed it on the website. It is both
      small in size and very lightweight. In fact, the unit
      by itself without the case, was measured by myself to
      be only 2.2 oz (62 g). I'm still not sure why it is
      called a wind meter when it measures so much more than
      wind. However, the wind meter does belongs to NK's
      larger group of products classified as weather meters.
      The front side of the meter looks very simple. The
      wind-measuring impeller is inserted into the top of
      the unit. It is circular in shape with a diameter of 1
      in (2.54 cm) and it pivots on sapphire bearings. It
      looks like the blades of a household fan. It moves
      quite freely even when gently handling the unit. To
      the left and beneath the wind impeller is an opening
      that was molded into the unit. It contains the
      temperature sensor. The temperature sensor is outside
      the case unlike many other temperature devices. This
      helps to ensure that the sensor is actually measuring
      the temperature and not being affected by body heat
      from my hands or even the case itself. This sensor
      actually looks like a curled double-strand wire.
      Humidity is measured by the patented dual temperature
      sensor configuration. In the center of the front of
      the unit is the viewing screen and below that are
      located the three operational buttons. The viewing
      screen has an Aviation Green backlight that can be
      activated when needed and the display has easy-to-read
      digits that are 0.36 in (9mm) in height.

      The back of the unit is similar in that I can see both
      the wind impeller and temperature sensor.There is an
      inserted "cheat sheet" that tells me what the function
      of each of the three buttons on the front are used for
      and also which button turns on the backlight. Beneath
      the center on the meter's back, the plastic is
      ergonomically molded to provide a place for my index
      finger to rest while my thumb rests on the lower half
      of the front of the unit. The lower half of the
      backside of the unit contains the battery case that is
      about 1.125 in (2.86 cm) in diameter. On the outside
      of the battery cover, it is scripted with the name of
      the battery required for the unit (CR2032 battery).
      That is very cool as I dislike having to take any
      gadget apart to find out what kind of battery I need
      to buy. The cover also is grooved so that the cover
      can be rotated and removed. A battery was already
      pre-installed in the meter so I only need to obtain a
      back-up one for the future.

      My instinct was to follow the ten quick steps to
      operate the unit. The meter itself has only three
      buttons. I like that. I also had to familiarize myself
      with the icons for the different functions that are
      indicated in the manual. In brief, the following 10
      steps are suggested (I simplified them a bit and added

      1. Slide off cover - Easy enough!
      2. Turn on - Press center button. No wait time.
      3. Select measurement - Use right arrow to scroll
      though measurements, left arrow to reverse. The
      measurement is preceded by a brief hint to let me know
      what measurement is being displayed and then it is
      displayed instantly. I found that these measurements
      were easy-to-see without reading glasses as the
      digits are 0.36 in (9 mm) in height. The hints were
      invaluable for a first-time user.
      4. Select the unit of measure - Hold down center
      button and scroll with right arrow (it scrolls through
      the measurements. I had to change all of them to get
      to my preferred unit of measure such as " F" for
      temperatures and " ft" for distance). The wind meter
      alone had 6 different choices for the unit of measure
      but I chose the one that I am most familiar with for
      now (MPH).This will be very convenient to get an
      instant conversion for BGT reports. I also spend a lot
      of time in Canada where the units are different than
      the States. The unit of measure is hard to read
      without glasses as the letters are only about 0.04 in
      (1 mm) in height.
      5. Hold mode - Press and hold center button and press
      left button to hold time and all measure values. Their
      is a hold indicator that blinks while it is in that
      mode. To reverse, hold the center button and press
      left button. This is handy for taking measurements
      when unable to view the display.
      6. Turn on the backlight - Press center button to
      activate for 10 seconds. Press either the right or
      left arrow and it will add another 10 seconds. Press
      center button to turn off the display.
      7. Adjust the clock - Press both left and right
      arrows at the same time. The clock should blink and
      then use right or left arrow to change the time.
      Holding down the arrow will change the time faster.
      Press down both arrows to lock in the time.
      8. Adjust the reference altitude - Use a local
      landmark or topo map for correct measurement of
      altitude. Use barometric pressure screen and then
      press both arrow buttons to adjust the display. Press
      either arrow to adjust the altitude (holding either
      arrow will change it faster). Press both arrows
      together to exit.
      9. Adjust the reference pressure - Use a barometric
      pressure reading from a local weather source. From the
      altitude screen press both arrows to adjust the
      display. Press either arrow to adjust the pressure
      (holding either arrow will change it faster). Press
      both arrows together to exit.
      10. Turn off - Hold the center button for 2 seconds.
      The unit automatically turns off if it hasn't been
      used for 45 minutes.

      Shortly after I finished setting up the wind meter
      with my preferred units of measurement, I took it out
      on a hike near Lake Superior. It was quite a windy day
      and it was loads of fun to scroll through all the
      different measurements. Most of the measurements
      update every second but I could lock in the values by
      using the hold mode. I have never cancelled a trip due
      to bad weather, but I'm already wondering how I ever
      got along without having such ready access to valuable
      weather data. I have always been interested in
      monitoring the weather since I took a college course
      years ago, but I had never used a technical meter. I
      can hardly wait to take it on a backpacking trip later
      this week and monitor the weather for the four-day


      * Lightweight
      * Lanyard and case make it easy to transport
      * The numbers on the unit are easy to see
      * Easy to operate


      * Small letters for the units of measure - I may
      need to wear glasses to change units

      Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter-- Test Plan


      My scheduled fall and winter backpacking trips in
      Michigan include a four-day trip to the Hiawatha
      National Forest in November, a four-day trip to the
      Pigeon River State Forest in December, a five-day
      winter sledge trip in January to Michigan's Eastern
      Upper Peninsula, and a nine-day winter sledge trip in
      February to Ontario, Canada. In addition, I am very
      prone to taking last-minute trips. I also plan to use
      the weather unit locally to monitor snow conditions
      for cross-country ski training sessions. The humidity
      and snow temperature functions will be used to to
      evaluate wax selection for my skiis. I anticipate
      maximum usage for a wide variety of outings.

      The next four months in the Great Lakes area of
      Michigan and Canada will produce many wild, windy,
      rainy and snow-filled days and nights. The Great Lakes
      create their own unique weather system, so I would
      expect rapid sudden drops in temperatures and much
      precipitation in the form of rain and snow during this
      time period. The testing conditions will be at low
      elevation or low altitude 600 ft (183 m) to 2000 ft
      (610 m), with mostly cold conditions and mid-to-high
      range humidity (50-100 percent).

      Testing location temperatures in Michigan will range
      from the average low in January of 3F (-16C) to the
      average high of 35 F(2 C) in December. These are only
      averages, I have been on several trips where the
      temperatures dipped to a low of -20F (-29C) in January
      and a foot or more of snow has fallen in a short
      amount of time. Average precipitation for the Michigan
      trips is approximately 13 in (33cm) during this time
      period, however average snowfall for the winter totals
      at least 185 in (470 cm) in some of the areas that I
      will be camping.

      My February trip to Ontario, Canada could produce lows
      of -40F (-40C) with the average low being -19 (-2F) In
      addition, snowfall for the month of February averages
      21 in (54 cm) with an average snow depth of 26 in (67
      cm). Again, this is an average, there is frequently
      over 6 ft (1.83 m) of snow on the ground during the
      Canadian trips.

      All of these trips will be taken to hilly boreal or
      deciduous forests. Most of the trips planned are of
      the bushwhack variety, so in addition to the above, I
      will also be traveling across flat, frozen, windy
      lakes during the January, and February trips.

      I will test the Kestrel 3500 Pocket Wind Meter with
      the following considerations in mind:

      Ease of Use:
      -Will the Kestrel unit be easy to use after studying
      the manual or will it be intuitive? Because the manual
      was so short, I decided to read the short steps and go
      from there. Most of it would of been intuitive but it
      surely cut down the guess factor.
      -Will I need to wear glasses to read the display or
      will the numbers be large enough to view without them?
      No glasses for me. The small unit measurements are
      harder to see so if I decided to switch those, I'd
      probably need my glasses.
      -Will the backlight provide additional help to view
      the numbers in daylight conditions as well as in
      nightlight conditions?
      -Will the wind meter store information automatically
      so that I can view it later or do I need to operate it
      each time I want a reading?
      -Will I easily be able to switch display modes without
      frustration? So easy.
      -Will the unit have to be held in a certain position
      in order to measure wind speed, etc.?
      -Will I find using the barometric pressure mode or the
      alternative altimeter mode more effective in areas of
      limited elevation change? (Most of the areas that I
      travel have less than 1400 ft (427 m) of change).
      -Will I be able to handle the unit while wearing
      gloves as it will be used in mostly cold weather?
      -Is the lanyard of sufficient length so that I could
      retrieve it easily from a jacket or pack pocket
      without unfastening the lanyard?

      -Does the battery last 300 hours in very cold
      conditions? Many of my trips will be in sub-zero temps
      - How will this affect the battery life?
      -How long will the battery last with frequent use of
      the backlight? (I see this as an important asset to be
      able to see the numbers.)
      -If I do need to change the battery, can it easily be
      replaced with cold fingers?
      -Does the clock feature need to be re-set after the
      battery is changed?
      -Will the unit need to be protected from wet snow and
      rain while using it in the field or is it completely
      waterproof as suggested?
      -How will I know that the pressure sensor needs to be
      re-calibrated? Will that be difficult?

      -Is there a way to track temperatures over a period of
      hours? The website suggests that there is no storage
      on that model - does that only mean long term data or
      will it track and store for a few hours?
      -The user manual says that it will store temperatures
      as low as -22F (-30 C) but the batteries and crystal
      will not operate below 14 F (-10 C), will I have to
      keep the unit inside of my jacket to protect it from
      lower temperatures that I will surely encounter? If I
      do, how accurate will it be to take it out of hiding
      and take a measurement?
      -Will moisture or snow clog the impeller?
      -Will the wind speed reading be accurate if snow
      hinders the impeller?
      -Will the impeller last through the test period? The
      website says it is replaceable so how often will that
      be needed if it is exposed to high winds?
      -Will the dewpoint function come in handy for knowing
      at what temperature the air will become saturated and
      condensation will be heavy? (I see this as important
      when selecting the set-up pattern of my tarp. I don't
      like having the tarp touch my body or gear when there
      is heavy condensation possibilities).

      -Will the unit withstand ordinary handling and cartage
      or will it have to be protected with a padded case?
      -Will the external thermistor that measures
      temperatures have to be protected for it to operate
      -Will the impeller break easily and have to be
      -Will the case hold up to ordinary use?
      -Will the plastic used in the construction of the unit
      crack when exposed to cold temperatures or if it is
      accidently dropped?

      -Is the design of the unit such that I can easily
      handle it? Will it require two hands or one hand to
      operate it? The finger groove on the back of the unit
      allows it to be easily handled with bare hands (I will
      report on using it with gloves later). I only needed
      one hand to operate it.
      -Will the size of the unit be comfortable in a woman's
      smaller hand or will it be too big to handle? Very

      -Is there any special care that needs to be done to
      keep the unit functioning properly?
      -What is the ideal temperature to store the unit at
      when not in use?

      Tester Remarks

      I will gladly address all these issues and any
      additional pertinent concerns as I test the Kestrel
      3500 Pocket Wind Meter. Thanks to Nielsen-Kellerman
      and BackpackGearTest for this great opportunity during
      the next four months.

      This concludes my Initial Report. My Field Report
      should be completed after two months of testing.

      Small thumbnail photo courtesy of: Nielsen-Kellerman


      **There is a pleasure in the pathless woods** - Lord Byron

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