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Eugene

Maintenance Management System

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Maintenance Management SystemJust like any other piece of equipment exposed to the elements, weather stations need occasional service. For a hobbyist, weather station maintenance is not a problem: one station, one user. However, for professional users, maintenance tasks compete for time and resources. Staff changes can also cause a loss of continuity of knowledge.

The Book

Weather Station Service Log Notebook

A weather station site maintenance log is often used by weather station technicians. A notebook may be used to manually record equipment deployed, site visits, sensor service, and configuration changes. This information helps with data quality control. Disruptions or step-changes to senor readings can be correlated to service activities.

(Of course, the notebook is only as usable if others can decipher the handwriting.)

Maintenance Management System

As of 13 May 2020, DyaconLive now includes a maintenance log system. We have retroactively recorded the weather station equipment at current customer sites. Those customers with multiple sites, may need to adjust their equipment records.

The maintenance management system allows technicians to enter their own service schedule for the various sensors. Notifications are visible at the top of the Status page. Activities can be recorded on a data entry form. Site equipment is tracked in a table at the bottom.

Of course, any record is only as good as what you feed it. Information can be entered from your computer or handheld device. We have tried to make MMS as usable as possible and will continue to build on this feature.

In the end, a little routine attention will ensure a reliable meteorological station and a long service life.

Eugene

Gold and Black Wind Sensors

Ultrasonic and 3-cup Anemometers

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Tech Fascination

When a new technology comes out, it tends to get over-used. Often it is used where it makes a splash, but is impractical.

Blue LEDs for example. The light is a high-energy wavelength. When used on visual displays, such as in your car instrument panel, they can appear brighter than a red or yellow. Consequently, it may be difficult to tell whether the button your are pressing is defrost or A/C. And, speaking of cars, who likes the bright, blue HID head lights??

UAVs are another case in point. As a single-function toy, the shine often wears off before they crash. But, for an industrial user, UAVs can play a valuable role. The practical applications are still unfolding.

Ultrasonic Anemometers

The allure of new technology can be practical as well as trendy. Ultrasonic anemometers offer the potential to resolve vulnerabilities of mechanical anemometers; marketing information often promotes the lack of moving parts.

The notion of a static instrument determining wind speed and direction is rather intriguing. But in a professional environment, fascination for the latest tech must also be tempered with practicality.

Ultrasonic wind sensors are now available across the price spectrum, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Like most things, you get what you pay for. Measuring the time-to-travel of a sound pulse is really rather rudimentary; electronics do timing very well. Most products work well on the bench or in “typical” conditions. It is reliability over the board range of conditions that exposes the weak from the strong, the good from the bad, and (generally) the cheap from the expensive.

In addition to the advantage of no moving parts, ultrasonic anemometers can be very compact. The small size can also make them easy to heat.

Since there is no mechanical inertia, ultrasonic anemometers can measure very low wind speeds. But, this does not mean that wind measurements are instantaneous, nor accurate. Conventional ultrasonics can experience spurious measurements at low wind speeds.

Due to the turbulent nature of air, sonic anemometers must take multiple measurements in order to provide a wind speed value. Multiple measurements are also necessary to eliminating noise, spurious measurements, and effects of transducer contamination. The number of sound pulses and numerical processing of these measurements will affect the final value produced.

In some sensors, the number of samples used for measurements is configurable. A 1 Hz rate (once per second) sample frequency is typical. Depending on the sampling and filtering, the resulting value may act similar to mechanical momentum.

Snow, rime, and rain are vulnerabilities of all wind measurement devices. For unheated sensors, the vulnerability isn’t much different and will be affected more by the mechanical design than the measurement technology.

Ultrasonic transducers are affected by rain. That is why most designs have the transducers mounted on a top “hat,” facing downward. Nevertheless, splashing of wind-blown rain inside of the measurement cavity may cause some disruption of the transducer and measurements.

Insects often like dark, protected spaces. Spiders like to suspend their webs between structural gaps. Depending on the insect environment, ultrasonic sensors can create inviting compartments. Bird contamination can also disrupt ultrasonics. The meteorological department of my state department of transportation abandoned ultrasonic anemometers for their highway monitoring due to these vulnerabilities.

While the technology itself may be “maintenance-free,” it does not mean that the equipment does not need to be serviced.

Finally, ultrasonic anemometers are typically expensive.

3-Cup Anemometer

In selecting the right tool for the job, “old” technology shouldn’t be eliminated from consideration.

While many ultrasonic anemometers claim to be “low-power,” they are no where close to mechanical anemometers. For example Dyacon WSD-1 with digital output only draws about 2 mA.  As a comparison, I am not aware of a sonic that is lower than 17 mA. Most that I have seen are in the 30 mA to 60 mA range.

In the power budget, one also has to consider the device that is reading the sensor. So, the anemometer is only part of the equation.

A fully operational Dyacon weather station with cell phone draws less than 30 mA average.

Why is power usage important? Because it impacts the cost of the full system and ongoing maintenance. More power means, larger battery, larger enclosure, larger solar panel, larger brackets, larger shipping boxes, higher shipping cost, and higher maintenance cost.

Birds and bugs typically have no effect on Dyacon wind sensors. A bird may perch on the top for a while, but, due to its slender design, it typically can’t be fouled by what they leave behind. The moving components and small gaps are not susceptible to insect fouling.

Ah, but, what about the wear components?

Unlike most wind vanes, Dyacon uses a magnetic sensor. The anemometer itself uses a reed switch. Both are non-contact elements. Yes, the bearings can become contaminated. A service interval of 3 to 5 years is recommended, depending on the environment. Until that time, all you have to do is visually ensure that the components are moving. This makes for intuitive troubleshooting.

Dyacon wind sensors are mechanically robust. Our sensors have survived a number of falls and bird impact. The cups are replaceable in the field. The aluminum mechanism ensures reparability, protecting the user’s investment.

Summary

Two main points:

  1. Select the right tool for the job. Both of the above technologies have their place.
  2. The wind sensor is only one piece of the system.

We strive to provide professional equipment for the commercial and industrial environment. Not only is our equipment robust, with good connectivity options, it is generally easy to use. This allows users to install, configure, and maintain the equipment, minimizing both down time and total cost of ownership.

Please drop us a note.

Eugene

Hurricane Test #1 – The Dorian Job

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Wind tunnel testing has its place, but the real-world can be a bit rougher, like hurricane Dorian rougher. Well, maybe that sound a little hyperbolic, but 84 mph wind is still quite a bit.

Our customer reported: “The two Dyacon met stations we currently have running made it unscathed through Hurricane Dorian that just hit us. Max recorded gust from the Dyacon stations was 37.4 m/s (84 mph). . . . Not sure if this is the first CAT 1 hurricane the sensors have been through, but thought you may be interested to know.”

Dyacon sensors have been tested beyond 84 mph on a mobile platform, but this was the first time we have seen this speed in the wild as part of a full weather station.

The map shows the location of the weather station in North Carolina.

USACE Station Map

The charts below are from DyaconLive. The peak gust measured was 37.4 m/s (83.7 mph). The maximum 10 min average at the same point was 26.9 m/s (60.2 mph).

USACE Huricane Dorian Wind Chart

The user has enabled the public page. So, you’re welcome to take a look at the weather station page.

USACE #2

The weather station configuration deployed at this site is Dyacon MS-130.

Eugene

Telematics-M2M-IoT

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Back Up (beep, beep, beep …)

For those of us that have been around the block a few times, it seems like the same (or slightly evolved) technology picks up new names every few years. An observer might think that there must be a Global Market Stimulation bureau somewhere dedicated to reinvigorating technology that they think should be adopted. (Or, maybe marketing people think we won’t noticed that they just changed the name on the same stuff.)

Dyacon began when the rugged, on-board computer products division was separated from the parent company. At the time (2007), the concept of automated data communications from a fixed or mobile asset was called telematics. This was intended to be a little more board than “telemetry,” which would typically just mean the transmission of measurement data.

Later, this evolved into machine-to-machine communication. That name was too long, so it was shortened to M2M, which sounds more trendy.

That still didn’t seem to capture the imagination of society, so Internet of Things was invented. Again, the name was too long, so it was initialized to IoT. Yet, my toaster is still dumb (which I prefer) and my car still has a cassette player (which I don’t prefer since it ate my Simon and Garfunkel Greatest Hits tape–now all it plays is silence). (If you didn’t get the “silence” reference, you probably haven’t heard “telematics” either.)

On-Board Vehicle Computers

Like general telemetry technology, mobile asset telematics has included a similar range of names and applications over the years including: AVL (automatic vehicle location), EOBR (electronic onboard recorder), and ELD (electronic log device).

Dyacon continues to design and manufacture open-programmable computer products for the vehicle telematics market. These products are now branded under ControlTrac.

CT650 is our latest on-board computer. Unlike off-the-shelf industrial computers, CT650 is purpose-built for the vehicle market. It utilizes automotive connectors, is sealed, and compact. The I/O is dedicated to in-vehicle telematics/M2M/IoT applications. So, you won’t find “desktop” on our box; these don’t hold up to the vibration, dust, and abuse of a vehicle environment.

CT650 uses our own custom build of Linux, leveraging the ease-of-use and versatility of an open system, while still providing for unique features. The embedded cell phone, embedded uninterruptible power supply, digital I/O, CANbus (SAE J1939), and multiple communication ports provide an all-in-one computer solution; no external converters or power supplies are required.

ControlTrac computers tie to the vehicle data bus (engine control module) and peripheral devices in order to monitor vehicle activity, operating parameters, and auxiliary sensors. Data may be communicated to the vehicle operator or transmitted by cell phone network or satellite.

Integrators

If the above makes sense, you probably recognize that CT650 is only one part of a larger system and integration project.

Dyacon onboard computers are sold to fleet service providers, which usually employ a team of software developers to provide a complete solution to the end users.

So, if you are providing asset management, road-weather information systems, mobile vehicle diagnostics, messaging, or routing information to fleet managers, Dyacon CT650 may be the right tool for your solution. ”

Eugene

 

GDD Chart w-Freeze

DyaconLive v1.19

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DyaconLive is an ongoing project. We want your weather station to provide usable, actionable information. The Grower’s Report is a case in point.

v1.19 Summary

DyaconLive release version 1.19 on 15 July 2019 included the following improvements.

  • Grower’s Report now includes an upper temperature threshold and last freeze marker.
  • Charts added for new IRT-201 infrared temperature sensor.
  • Sunrise/sunset added to Weather page.
  • Improved screen size responsiveness for mobile devices.
  • And, some back-end work, which is always going on.

By the way, Chris Cox, our staff scientist and DyaconLive developer deserves a big pat on the back for his work.

Improved Responsiveness

The navigation menu at the top of the screen should collapse into an icon on smaller screens.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the three-line, hamburger icon, it’s a bit ambiguous. But, when your computer has to fit in the palm of your hand, there isn’t much choice.

This may work better on some devices than others. Let us know what you find.

Grower Report Improvements

When setting the Grower’s Report, the upper threshold is added in a new field. For some crops, such as corn, hotter does necessarily mean more growth. The upper threshold is capped at this value. (Upper threshold is not required to generate GDD.)

Grower Report Settings

This upper threshold is shown on the temperature history chart.

The Last Freeze value is shown on the GDD chart.

GDD Chart w-Freeze

If you have other reports you would like to see, please let us know.

 

Eugene

Light Theme, Weather Station Display

In The Dark

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I’ve worked in cubicle environments where windows were scarce. In fact, in one job as a product design engineer, my desk was in the server closet; no windows, constant fan noise, and plenty of heat. Fortunately, I could get up a few times a day and walk outside. However, the owner’s desk was by the only entrance. So, to go outside for some light, you were advertising that you were not at your desk. And, if that wasn’t enough, he had cameras covering the whole work area so he could keep an eye on you even at your desk.

Of course, it could be worse, some people work in underground buildings; no windows and no outdoor strolls to keep one in touch with reality.

A Dyacon weather station was sold to just such a place. Not only is it underground, but there is no internet connection and no wireless was allowed. Dyacon Weather Station display software was included with the weather station purchase.

Weather Station Display is displayed on a computer monitor in break room areas, along with closed circuit camera images. The intent is to provide employees with some contact with the surface conditions.

Weather Station Display software not only meets the needs for a simple weather station interface, but also connects directly to the weather station. For security and practical reasons, wireless was not an option.

So, if you are in the dark regarding weather, Dyacon has an answer.

Eugene

Infrared Temperature Sensor

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We are always working on one development or another, whether DyaconLive, new sensors, new [secret stuff], or expanding the capabilities of existing weather station capabilities.

Recently, we were contacted by an organization that needed a reasonable cost solution for a heat-island study. The goal was to collect baseline pavement surface temperature this year, apply new surface treatment, and then measure the difference next summer. The system had to provide real-time data to a web portal as well as local data logging.

So, we went to work; leveraging our CM-1 weather station controller and DyaconLive in order to deliver the functionality required in the short time frame.

First Test Of Infrared Thermometer

It’s always fun cobbling together the first system and giving it a spin. Often we are enamored by its inelegance. As the images attest, this is definitely not elegant. But, that comes with time. At this stage, the data is most important; and, Chris, our staff scientist, is whiz at collecting data and building scripts for analysis.

Infrared Thermometer Applications

In addition to the heat-island study at hand, there are a number of applications that we can see for this new device.

Sub-surface temperature modeling

Foliage and crop canopy temperature

Ground temperature

Road surface temperature

Race track temperature

Roof temperature

Storage tank surface temperature

Outdoor sport court temperature

I’ll leave you to come up with more applications for an infrared temperature sensor for your business. Give us a call if you want to explore anything in particular.

The measurement temperature range of this device is -20 °C to 1000°C (-4° to 1830°F), which is quite a spread. While the maximum temperature is inadequate for plasma furnaces, it is high enough to monitor your local lava flow.

Please check back later. I’ll add more to this post as we make progress toward product release in August.

Eugene

WiFi Weather Station on HughesNet

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Unlike large companies, Dyacon “market research” comes through customer feedback and requests. We have received several requests over the last couple of years to develop a WiFi weather station. Well, we’ve finally done it. (Yes, sometimes we are slow.)

While WiFi seems like a logical step, the implications of a short-range radio connection bring installation, data distribution, and support complications we were not ready to address at the time. Now, with DyaconLive in place, we can provide the data accessibility that users expect.

Remote WiFi

We typically think of WiFi as a short-range, local data communication mode, but with the right equipment, WiFi can cover a relatively long distance and operate in remote locations.

A property development in western Wyoming contacted us for a weather station for their private runway. While they didn’t have cell phone service in their remote mountain location, they did have HughesNet satellite Internet service. Using a 2.5 GHz outdoor access point, we achieved one mile range. This meant that the weather station could be located at mid-field by the runway.

The low data rate requirements of the Dyacon weather station means that there is no significant impact to their HughesNet account. Dyacon equipment also does not need a static IP, allowing a lower cost Hughes service plan.

Normally, our users do the equipment installation. In this case, we were contracted to do the installation (and I’m always happy to get out of the office and work in the field). Since we hadn’t previously done a connection over HughesNet, I was glad to participate in the installation.

The following are a few images from the adventure.

The flight in – 15 min by plane or 1.5 hrs by land. In this case, we flew in and drove back.

 

Weather station and access point offloaded and ready to go.

 

View of runway, weather station, and utility shed in the distance where the access point is installed.

 

Dyacon weather station installed and transmitting to DyaconLive.

If you have similar needs for a WiFi weather station, please give us a call. We would love to see what we can do for you.

Eugene

DyaconLive

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DyaconLiveScreen2

Dyacon weather stations have always been compatible with Weather Underground. This has been a low-cost web portal option for our users, serving both their internal company needs and as a publicity tool. It has been used by our researcher customers as well as for aviation, industrial, and safety users. While useful, Weather Underground has a few drawbacks:

1) the advertisements are annoying,
2) only a few of the available Dyacon sensors are charted, and
3) there no user access controls, everything is public.

DyaconLive is a weather station web portal designed and programmed by Dyacon staff for Dyacon weather stations. It is the most exciting product we have introduced (at least to us) and we have some great plans for it. The first version was released in February 2018 and there are many enhancements that will be available in the coming months. Read More

Particulate Matter Matters

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Dust in the wind” may be a great poetic analogy for a melancholy 80’s rock song, but in reality we generally don’t like dust.

Large particles are filtered in the upper respiratory system, but the smaller the particle, the farther into the airways they penetrate.

Dust particles are measured in micrometers (μm or um), also know as microns. Particles that are 10 microns and larger are typically not detrimental to health. These would include dust, pollen, and mold spores. Of course, some materials can be dangerous regardless of size, but other particulates are dangerous because of their size. Read More