Blog Archives - Dyacon
What Is The Best Weather Station?

What is The Best Weather Station?

  • April 21, 2017

All tools are designed with particular constraints in mind. Engineers must balance design priorities such as precision, cost, ease-of-use, application needs, material characteristics, operating environment, manufacturability, serviceability, and so forth. Compact cars and 4×4 trucks are optimized for their intended application and within their own unique design constraints.

A plastic, $40 weather instrument may be just as effective for a specific application as one that costs $25,000.

Professional Weather Station

It isn’t hard to find consumer-grade equipment with the “Professional” moniker. Ink is cheap.

So, what is a “Professional Weather Station?” Anyone that does the job it is intended to do.

Precision Weather Station

Weather station equipment, like any instrument, is only as good as the installation. Research weather stations can produce junk measurements just as effectively as a grocery store instrument. More decimal places does not make better data.

A number of years ago I worked as a camera repair technician. Occasionally, we would be asked to repair or comment on an “exclusive” camera. These, typically German, cameras claimed exotic capabilities or precision construction and were always owned by amateurs.

In contrast, I worked with several professionals that used low-end equipment because they understood where and how a good image was created and the variables involved.

The principle questions affecting the need for precision and accuracy are determined by the application.

  • What measurement change will affect actionable decisions?
  • Are comparative measurements between stations involved?
  • If comparative measurements are used, can installation and equipment differences be controlled and are differences understood?

For example, aviation applications do not make flight changes if there is a 1 degree or 2 degree change in the wind direction. Wind is reported using 2 min or 10 min averages and presented in 10 degree increments. Consequently, selecting a high-end instruments that provide 0.02 degree resolution may be misguided if this is the principle requirement.

In commercial or industrial weather station applications, wind, temperature, humidity, or other measurements are only one input to management decisions. An increase in air temperature of 5 degrees may increase the risk of worker heat stress, but risks inherent to worker extraction, duration of exposure, re-initiation, task completion, process control, and other factors must also be considered along with available mitigation measures.

“Does little Johnny need to where a coat this morning?” does not require 0.01°C accuracy.

Variability of Physical Measurements

Related to precision, users must also recognize the limitations of physical measurements. Turbulent fluids, such as air, open water, and wind have no absolute depth, temperature, or flow rate for the volume of the body. In these cases averages and other statistical or empirical measures may be used to provide a quantitative approximation. Two matched temperature sensors placed several inches apart will read differently.

Air temperature in a mining tunnel may vary by 10 degrees F or more across the tunnel area. Evaporative cooling from seepage will cool one area while radiant heat from a steam line will heat another. Temperature gradients from floor to ceiling may also be significant. If a single point measurement is used, decision-makers must understand the point at which the measurement is taken.

Graphic Weather Data

Dyacon Station on Weather Underground

A more pedestrian weather station example would be the effect of nearby structures on wind patterns, temperature, and humidity. The temperature and wind from a roof-top weather station will be dramatically different from one located in an open field nearby.

Data accessibility

Even the best weather station that is properly installed and collects precision data is useless if the data sits in a log file and is not accessible. There are many research weather stations, often funded through government money, that are merely employment vehicles for those that maintain them. Many gigabytes of data is sitting in databases unused.

Weather Station Report - Cell Phone Screen

Weather Station Report – Cell Phone Screen

Getting the data to the end user is critical. Data delivered by cell phone text message, mobile app, or webpage may help return value on the purchase.

Direct connection to automation equipment may also be required. In some cases this may require additional modules, adapters, or accessories.

Know Your Equipment

Collected data may also not be useful if the data users do not know and understand the nature of the equipment behind the measurements, how or where it is installed, how it is maintained, and how the data is delivered.

Some sensors may have limitations that should be considered. A lightning detector may have range, latency, or detection efficiency characteristics that need to be understood by users.

Additionally, comparative measurements from one station to another may be misleading or useless if these issues are not understood.

Total Cost of Ownership

Upfront cost is only one consideration when purchasing equipment. While the purchase budget may be significant, installation cost, data accessibility, system maintenance, and repairs will take a toll.

Some equipment must be installed and maintained by exclusive dealers. This may or may not be appropriate for your application. If current staff will be used, sourcing equipment that is within the skill-level of available technicians is critical.

Equipment that remains unrepaired because no one knows how it works, jeopardizes the investment and operations that depend on it.

A WiFi-connected weather station may lower reoccurring wireless costs when compared to a cell phone station. However, equipment value may be compromised due to limitations on equipment placement options, internal cost or delay in IT support, and interruptions in data accessibility. All of these may add to the “cost” of a weather station.

Summary

When selecting “The Best Weather Station,” keep the purpose in mind. This is typically much more important than comparing sensor specifications.

Consider ancillary costs when making an equipment selection. Installation and maintenance are significant additions.

While you generally get what you pay for, the best weather station is one that meets your cost, installation, and application needs.

We keep a (growing) list of weather station and instrument manufacturers that we think are significant players in the market, from low-end to “research-grade.” If you would like a copy of the list, please let us know. While not exhaustive, it may help you become familiar with the range of options available.

Contact us if you would like some suggestions. We may not be a fit for your application, but we would love to learn about your needs and point you in the right direction.

Eugene
Product Engineer

3D Printed Anemometer (Wind Speed Sensor)

3D Printed Anemometer (Wind Speed Sensor)

  • March 27, 2017

Build Your Own Anemometer?

Good anemometers can be expensive. Numerous do-it-yourself versions can be found on the Internet and are made with various components from paper cups to PVC pipe fittings. There are even some 3D printed designs that emulate molded or machined anemometers, but are typically very fragile.

The electronics for do-it-yourself weather instrument are often based on hobby boards, such as Raspberry Pi or Arduino. While function for some applications, they may not offer the robust features for commercial applications.

Import Difficulties

Commercial wind sensors can be difficult to import into some countries. The price of the product, shipping, import duties, and other hurdles can greatly increase the total cost. Users must often work through exclusive dealers, which can be good or bad, depending on the dealer. Service and repair parts have similar complications.

Dyacon Solution

Dyacon began a project to address the following issues:

  • Reduce purchase price
  • Reduce import costs
  • Improve serviceability
  • Leverage modern technology
  • Utilize in-country skills

As an initial step, Dyacon has developed a wind sensor, specifically for 3D printing (additive manufacturing). The innovative concept is mechanically robust, repeatable, easy to assembly, and easy to repair. The sensor has been tested above 31 m/s (70 mph, 112 kph).

The Dyacon 3D printed anemometer concept consists of three classes of components:

  1. 3D printable, wind-tunnel validated, mechanical design.
  2. Dyacon Hardware kit (Axle, bearings, and assorted screws).
  3. Dyacon sensor board.
  4. Assembly instructions.

The 3D printed anemometer parts would be produced by the customer or a Dyacon partner in the destination country. The remaining components would be imported as components (or repair) hardware, minimizing the import costs.

Challenges

Let’s not fool ourselves and presume that 3D printing is easy. There is a significant investment in equipment and skills. Fused filament fabrication (FFF) can require significant skill with different settings for part geometries. Layer adhesion, mechanical strength, part shrinkage, print accuracy, and mechanical fit can be unique to each printer, component, and material.

Assembly skill is also required. Not to mention some testing. In other words, if a user wants a single sensor, it may not be a viable option.

Benefits

While this model does not fit all applications, it offers a compelling opportunity for mid-range weather station needs.

  • Wind-tunnel tested design
  • Skill participation and value added by the customer or distributor
  • Mechanical repair parts can be manufactured as needed
  • Import costs are minimized
  • Robust electronic solution

Call Us

If you would like to participate in this project as a reseller or distributor, please contact us.

3D Printed Anemometer, w-Cable

3D Printed Wind Sensor, w-Cable

Weather Station Lease

  • March 24, 2017

Dyacon now offers weather station leasing and rental options for full weather stations.

Minimize Up-front Cost

The purchase cost of weather station equipment can be a barrier to new users, especially if there is some doubt over the suitability, capability, or data compatibility.

Short Term Need

Satisfy short-term needs for weather conditions, heat stress, or lightning detection. Seasonal or temporary stations provide measurement data and risk management information for sporting events, road races, wildfire support, fugitive dust monitoring, or research projects.

A leased station minimizes the long-term overhead in storing and maintaining equipment.

Setup and takedown services are also available for some locations.

Free Updates and Repairs

Repairs and updates are included in the lease cost. If a sensor fails, return it for replacement. Firmware updates are free. Battery replacement is free. Instrument service is free. Wireless cell phone service is free. On-site service contracts are also available for some locations.

Dyacon Advantage

As an equipment manufacturer, Dyacon is able to service and support leased or rented stations much more effectively than leasing companies. It’s our equipment. We built it. We know how it works. Consequently, your lease cost is lower than other sources.

Give us a call to see if a lease is right for you. Contact Us

MesoWest

MesoWest

  • February 27, 2017

Dyacon weather stations are now compatible with MesoWest, a weather data service developed by the University of Utah with API access through SynopticLabs.

MesoWest is a free weather data portal that is advertisement free. Data is available in graphic and tabular formats. The data may also be downloaded for further research and analysis. The SynopticLabs API allows users to create their own web portals using National Weather Service and personal weather station data.

MesoWest

MesoWest California Weather Stations

MesoWest Stations in California

The Dyacon weather station and Preston, ID airport can be seen at the following link.
Preston, Idaho Airport

MesoWest Charts

MesoWest Chart of Dyacon weather station in Preston, ID

Have You Cleaned Your Rain Gauge

  • December 17, 2016

We make most of our instruments at Dyacon but we do not make the rain gauge that we sell with Dyacon weather stations. We tested and evaluated a number of different rain gauges before selecting the Hyrdological Services (now Hyquest) rain gauges. You can see a wonderfully entertaining video here.

One of the critical, yet often overlooked, features of a rain gauge is it’s susceptibility to insect intrusion. The first rain gauge we tested turned out to be a wonderful place for insects. Below is a picture of this gauge after one year in the field.

Dirty Rain Gauge

Dirty Rain Gauge

As you can see from this image, the base plate of the gauge has several large holes (at least from the perspective of insects. While there is a stainless steel screen, a large gap remains when the top cylinder of the gauge is mounted. The cylinder also leaves a significant gap between the base plate and the cylinder.

Interestingly, this gauge uses a funnel design that is prone to clogging with dust. While it has two screens, as many gauges do, dust would filter through the screens and become impacted in the funnel nozzle.

We have used Hyquest TB-4 and TB-6 rain gauges in the field for several years. These are mid-range instruments are based on higher-end versions and quite suitable for most commercial applications.

The base has a molded vent in the base and each drain port has a molded-in screen (had to see in this image). The cylinder also overlaps the base, minimizing any gaps. (One other thing to notice on this rain gauge is the option to connect tubes to collect the rain fall and validate automatically recorded measurements.)

Rain Gauge with Insect Screens

Rain Gauge with Insect Screens


Rain Gauge Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge with Bubble Level

Rain Gauge Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge with Bubble Level

 

So, the moral of the story…

Clean your rain gauges at least twice per year (video here).

And, if you have one that collects bugs, consider replacing it.

Enjoy the weather,

Eugene

Ski Resorts, Web-bulb, And Snow-making

Ski Resorts, Web-bulb, and Snow-making

  • February 4, 2016

Weather stations can often be cost-prohibitive, even in applications where they may truly add value, such as for snow-making at ski resorts. Even if the initial purchase price can be justified, the engineering costs and complexity can require outsourced skills to install, program, and maintain the system. Getting useful data off of the weather station can also be a headache or unreliable.

Dyacon weather stations provide a cost-effective solution in a package that is easily installed and maintained. The following video shows one of the Dyacon stations installed at Cherry Peak Ski Resort in northern Utah.

The Dyacon weather station is heavily used to determine slope conditions to support snow-making operations by providing web-bulb temperature. The staff can request condition reports using a simple text message. The Weather Underground connection also allows the resort to easily post real-time conditions on their website.

Dyacon weather stations provide excellent value from installation to end-use.

Eugene

Growers Know Weather

Growers Know Weather

  • February 3, 2016

Weather data is easily found in today’s connected world. Pulling up “local” weather that is extrapolated from distant weather stations is easily done on a smart phone. But, just like politics, growers know that all weather is local.

Subtle changes in geography can create unique conditions, such as freezing, dry soil, or wind damage that can impact yields.

In addition to current measurements, historical data can be valuable in adjusting management practices, or validating insurance claims.

Why Dyacon Weather Stations?

  • Dyacon Weather Stations are easy to setup, no expensive consultants or environmental engineers are required.
  • The stations are portable and can be easily relocated as necessary.
  • Wind and temperature sensors can be positioned at elevations appropriate to the crop; wind sensor above the canopy and temperature at the fruit level.
  • Direct condition reports to any cell phone via SMS text message or smartphone ap.
  • Weather Underground compatible.
  • Data logging includes automatic email or ftp of log files.

Check out Dyacon MS-140 for use in your operation. A professional rain gauge is easily added.

Give us a call or send a note if you have any questions.

Eugene

Is It The Stink Or The Stench?

Is it the stink or the stench?

  • February 2, 2016

Encroachment of suburbs is always a problem for established industrial operations. Multi-generation farms are often expected to become pastoral bouquets when new neighborhoods pop up in once arable land. Sensitive city noses often object to fresh country air that doesn’t come in a can.

Recently, residents in a Texas community have been raising a stink over the foul odors wafting through their neighborhoods. Up wind were landfill and composting operations. While there is no argument that the odor is objectionable, the real conflict is who bears the fault and the consequent cost of the remedy; each facility is operated by a different agency and each blames the other.

So, how do you resolve interagency conflicts between the wastewater treatment (composting) department and the solid waste disposal team while allowing the public to participate? You use a Dyacon Weather station.

The Dyacon Weather Station purchased by the community will provide data logging for a technical record and also upload directly to Weather Underground so that the wind direction is viewable by the public.

Dyacon weather stations are easy to use and do not require expensive consultants or complicated programming. The stations are immediately deployable and portable, allowing them to be relocated as necessary.

Dyacon Weather Stations – Resolving civil unrest and stinking problems wherever they arise.

Eugene

Dyacon Simplicity Or “Datalogger Rats Nest”

Dyacon Simplicity or “Datalogger Rats Nest”

  • November 20, 2015

Many weather stations are based on general-purpose environmental dataloggers. These installations can become extremely complex, requiring application engineers to write custom programs, install the equipment, and perform maintenance tasks. For the budget-conscious industrial or private user, the financial burden is well outside of consideration. The time frame required for an “exclusive” reseller to schedule the programming and installation can also be prohibitive. In the end, you end up with a weather station that you don’t understand and cannot change or maintain.

Datalogger Rats Nest
Dyacon Simplicity
Dyacon weather stations can be configured and installed by those with typical “wire-twister” skills. Most industrial technicians can easily handle the task. In the end, the technician comes out looking like a hero when anyone in the company can pull up the data using a web browser.

Our working motto is, if you can install a light switch and program the time on a microwave oven, then you can install a Dyacon weather station.

Dyacon weather stations are shipped pre-configured, allowing new stations to be up and operating in less than an hour. The embedded cell phone makes the weather data ultimately accessible, no satellite links, expensive download programs, or funky antennas.

An another way we can simplify the systems even further is to build the stations with weather-proof connectors. This allows sensors to be plugged into circular connections rather than fishing them in to our standard pluggable terminal blocks. The water-proof connector option may be required when stations will be moved frequently.

Dyacon weather stations: For the non-engineer.

Oh… For those spreadsheet geeks: Yes, our stations do datalogging as well. And, we can send the log directly to your email or ftp server.

Eugene

PS: Some datalogger-based weather stations hide all the wiring in channels and behind back plates. While this makes for a cleaner looking installation, it can make service more difficult.

“Real Hit With Local Pilots”

“Real hit with local pilots”

  • August 17, 2015

A Dyacon weather station has been in place at the Preston, Idaho airport for several months. The news of the advisory automatic weather station has been making the rounds among the pilots that use the facility. The weather data is available by SMS text message and WeatherUnderground.

Preston likes to promote their low fuel costs in order to entice pilots to the facility. In July their fuel cost was 100 LL $4.75/gal. This draws a few pilots from the surrounding area.

While preparing to support July’s Sky’s airshow (Facebook), I received the following story:

“So far the weather station has been a real hit with the local pilots and in one case a pilot was able to get the wind speed and direction on a return flight from Driggs, Idaho and made the decision to divert to Bear Lake. Had he pressed on to Preston the situation would have been difficult. That event was on the same day that the family perished on Bear Lake. He landed 30 min before the Bear Lake tragedy.

“Just last week I was able to finally get the phone number to USU, so I am hoping they will use it …, because they had a landing incident that lead to a blown tire and [even with] the cross wind data from the Garmin 1000. I told them that we could look at the actual airport data because of your system… their ears perked up.”

— John Kezele, Preston, ID Airport Board Member

Beat the wind sock. Give us a call for a better solution.

Eugene

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