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RE: [BSA] Weather station discussion

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  • Jason Brickner
    OK.... I couldn t stay out of this one... since the task was delegated to me some months ago. I did contact the sailor responsible for the implementation of
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 21, 2006
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      OK.... I couldn't stay out of this one... since the task was delegated to me
      some months ago.

      I did contact the 'sailor' responsible for the implementation of the famous
      'max headroom' wind sensor from the late 80's/early 90's. No offense, but
      he was clueless as to what was put in, where it was put in, who installed
      it, who maintained it, and where it went. I think he did say it was taken
      out of commission by a lightening stike.

      So I did several hours of research myself. I feel qualified to do this
      since my career is the design and implementation of industrial control and
      data acquisition and reporting systems. There are several factors that must
      be considered. You can't just buy a wireless windsensor and have it
      transmit it's information back to people in Boise. Here are some factors:

      1. Power - All electronic devices need a power supply. Needs 120VAC or
      Solar power.

      2. Communications - How is this thing going to transmit the windspeed to
      people who need to see it? Phone Line (land line), Cell phone, radio
      transmission, smoke signals.

      3. Location - Were is the best place to measure windspeed during the entire
      season. A location that works at normal lake level might not work at lower
      level. Not a simple one. Where can it be placed as to not get vandalized?
      Where will it get power (solar not an issue)? Where can it be connected to a
      phone line (wireless and cell phone not an issue)? Where can it be easily
      accessed for maintenance? How about the lightening issues?

      4. Interface to users. Are we going to call this thing or is it going to
      push it's data to a website for our consumption.

      5. Cost - I have found things from about $2500 (not installed) and higher
      that would do the trick. You have to consider all the equipment. It is not
      enough to just mount some spinning windmeter. You need the anemometer,
      signal conditioner (reads the anemometer), communication device (modem, cell
      modem, radio on both ends, power supply, mounting pole, lightening
      protector, mounting base, fence to limit access, cabling, solar panels,
      batteries, etc. Now you can see why I have not made any progress. The
      price scares me away. How much money do we have for this? Who paid for the
      original one? Where the heck is the original one? Can other users access
      the information. Would the TV stations help defray costs? Should there be a
      pay to access. Should the feds fund it?

      6. WebCam - Yeah Betsy. If we go to the trouble of putting this in, a
      cheaper webcam is a great idea. I think we could get some other people to
      help pitch in for a cam as well.

      So... Let me know your thoughts or feelings. Any input is valuable. I will
      start compiling this information into a living document. Maybe we can move
      on it someday.

      I really wish I knew where the original unit was located and what happened
      to it. Anyone???

      -Jason



      -----Original Message-----
      From: BoiseSailors@... [mailto:BoiseSailors@...]
      On Behalf Of Gman
      Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 4:55 PM
      To: Boise Sailors Association
      Subject: [BSA] Weather station discussion


      I would also be willing to donate $100. I can also lend what little
      expertise I have as I work with software and hardware regularly.

      However, Bill brings up a good point. Technology is fun, but
      inevitably needs an admin (maintenance guy).

      Not sure what the lesser of 2 evils is but:

      - if we leave it up to the Park Service to spec, buy and maintain the
      station, we will be free of maintenance, but likely won't be fully
      satisfied with the results. ("F'ing thing is down AGAIN!")

      - if we do it ourselves, someone will be burdened with the mainteance
      responsibility, but we'll have more control over the situation.

      Not even sure if both of those options would be available to us but...

      Regardless of who maintains what, I'd bet that a robust station that
      does what we want will probably not be cheaper than $2k. Anyone
      researched the hardware??? I would be interested to see what's
      available and how much it costs.

      G


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    • Tom von Alten
      Yes, COST, COMMUNICATIONS and MAINTENANCE are the hard issues, and the reasons we don t already have this in place after (most of) 20 years wanting it. I don t
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 23, 2006
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        Yes, COST, COMMUNICATIONS and MAINTENANCE are the hard issues,
        and the reasons we don't already have this in place after (most
        of) 20 years wanting it.

        I don't see power as an issue if we have the Corps' cooperation.
        There's plenty of electricity there (including a power plant,
        last I checked :). The Corps can likely

        The issues of location and interface are easily resolved once
        you take care of the "big three." A webcam's a lovely idea,
        and again, easy and cheap to add on after you resolve cost and
        comm, but its initial cost is insignificant compared to the
        maintenance issue. A webcam is way higher maintenance than an
        anemometer; think about every website you know of that has
        one--much of the time, it's broken or down.

        So, let's talk about funding. For sake of argument, suppose
        a suitable quality instrument with transceiver hardware can be
        obtained for $2k. A couple folks have chipped up for $100
        contributions. All we need is... about 17 more?!

        One of our prospective donors wrote "All the fisherman, boaters,
        etc would love a weather station up there." Mmmaybe, but would
        they love to PAY anything for it? I kind of doubt it. The
        weather needs for most lake users are satisfied by the 10:00
        news or the morning newspaper.

        The Magic Valley group has a subscription-based call-in thing.
        I hate paying for weather data, given how much great information
        is out there for free. (That said, I've invested a LOT more
        than $2,000 worth of my time in the last decade in aggregating
        the "free" data for myself and others. There's cash involved too,
        although nothing incremental over the computer and website I'd
        have anyway.)

        Figure 10% annual maintenance cost (probably low-balled), and
        a 5 year payback, and we (or some other business, such as iWindsurf
        or Ikitesurf) would need 3000/5 = $600 a year with no cost of
        capital, or financial ROI. Can we find 20 subscribers ready to pay
        $30/year for 5 years? (Assuming we have an angel who will front
        us the $2k!)

        (BTW, if I were iWindsurf, I would be looking for a 1 or at most
        2-year payback. 5 years is for a not-for-profit business model.)

        JUST PENNIES A DAY!! (Say... 10 pennies. For the next 1,826 days.)
        _____________
        Tom von Alten http://fortboise.org
        tva@...
      • Tom von Alten
        Oops, didn t finish my editing before sending my essay. ... provide a communications link as well. It might be no (or negligible) incremental cost for them.
        Message 3 of 3 , Jul 23, 2006
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          Oops, didn't finish my editing before sending my essay.

          I wrote:
          > I don't see power as an issue if we have the Corps' cooperation.
          > There's plenty of electricity there (including a power plant,
          > last I checked :). The Corps can likely

          provide a communications link as well. It might be no (or
          negligible) incremental cost for them.
          _____________
          Tom von Alten http://fortboise.org
          tva@...
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