Author Topic: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!  (Read 108309 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline SpartanWX

  • Senior Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 207
$30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« on: March 05, 2008, 01:58:27 PM »
EDIT: Updated with new price, links, and relinked pictures =)

Here's something I put together earlier this winter.  It has worked flawlessly and allows me to use the rain collector year 'round as well as provides me with an approximate liquid equivalent for snowfall.

The items needed to construct this are:
1. A 25W heat cable for use in terrariums:
http://www.amazon.com/Zoo-Med-Reptile-Cable-15-Feet/dp/B001OVBEEK/
Note, that while the cable is 15 feet long, only about 6 feet of it is heated.  There is a blue line on the cable that indicates the beginning of the heated portion.

2. Foil/adhesive backed foam pipe wrap.  1/8" thick x 2" wide x 15' long
http://www.hardwareandtools.com/invt/9320524

3. Notebook paper

4. Scotch tape

5. Tin foil



Begin by taping several sheets of notebook paper together in order to make a template for the insulation blanket:


Place the paper in the bucket as shown and trim it to the edge of the bucket.  You should wind up with a template that looks like this:


Attach this template to a sheet of aluminum foil using scotch tape:


Trim the foil to match the paper template leaving a slight overlap so that the paper stays attached with the scotch tape:


Completely cover this paper/foil template with the insulation tape:
]

This is what the backside should look like:


Trim the foil tape to match the paper template:


Gently roll this piece and place it in the bucket.  Trim it so that it fits snugly and doesn't interfere with the bucket's latch mechanism.


Once it is trimmed to fit perfectly, remove it and attach the heater cable to it using scotch tape.  Remember that only the last 5'-6' of the cable is heated, the rest is just a lead.  There is a small blue line that indicates the beginning of the heated portion:


Place the entire assembly back into the bucket.  In order to prevent the lead from interfering with the latch, you need to make a small slot in the bottom of the bucket for the cable.  No more than 1/8" wide by 1/4" tall really.  I used my Dremel, but a red hot paring knife would do the trick as well.



So there you have it.  Like I said, it's worked great.  I have a switched exterior outlet that I plug an extension cord into and run over to the station.  When there is snow in the forecast, I switch it on.  I tested it inside and measured a 20 degree rise in temperature inside the bucket. (65F to about 85F).  Outside it doesn't even feel warm to the touch really, but it does melt any and all snowfall.

It is nice, because I will be able to easily remove it and store it come summer time so there won't be a cord hanging out of it all year long.

I looked into some thermostatic control options, but was unable to find anything that was small, inexpensive, and that would stand up to the wet environment in the bucket.  That's about the only improvement I think I could make.  But... this is version 1.0 and I welcome all of your feedback!

Hopefully others of you are able to make use of this =)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2011, 11:59:16 AM by SpartanWX »

Offline ncpilot

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 935
    • Monkey Junction Weather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2008, 02:02:44 PM »
I guess that's easier to do than move south where it don't snow!  ;)
Marc
Wilmington, NC
"Monkey Junction Weather"
Davis VP2 wireless, WeatherLink

Offline weatherforyou

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 509
  • My weather is on WeatherForYou.com. Is yours?
    • http://www.weatherforyou.com
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2008, 03:09:10 PM »
I guess that's easier to do than move south where it don't snow!  ;)
For those of us that really LIKE snow this is a better option, too.  :D
Joe Torsitano


Offline ncpilot

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 935
    • Monkey Junction Weather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2008, 04:09:47 PM »
I guess that's easier to do than move south where it don't snow!  ;)
For those of us that really LIKE snow this is a better option, too.  :D


I'm pretty sure they have medication or treatment to fix your problem...  :lol:
Marc
Wilmington, NC
"Monkey Junction Weather"
Davis VP2 wireless, WeatherLink

Offline weatherforyou

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 509
  • My weather is on WeatherForYou.com. Is yours?
    • http://www.weatherforyou.com
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2008, 05:09:15 PM »
LOL  :lol:
Joe Torsitano


Offline Jim

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19
  • Davis Vantage Pro 2 Fars A.M.Radio Lightning Detec
    • jimswestvilleweather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2008, 05:22:07 PM »
I have seen a similar application done with a cold weather pipe wrap that they sell around here. It has a cold sensor built in and when It gets to 32 Deg. or below It turns on.I had planned to try It when It gets a little warmer.The application that I saw was not nearly as professional looking as yours
Great Job
Jim

Offline tinplate

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 368
    • http://www.softwx.com/products.html
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2008, 05:25:29 PM »
I've been thinking about replacing my small wattage bulb gauge heater with that reptile cord since I first saw it a few months ago. I should show you a picture of part of my setup though. I actually installed a power socket inside the guage using a little plug socket that contains a thermostat inside so it automatically turns off when it gets above around 40 degrees. That part would still work well with the reptile cord method.

Steve
SoftWx

Offline tinplate

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 368
    • http://www.softwx.com/products.html
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2008, 05:32:35 PM »
Looking at how you did that, I thought I'd mention another thought I had. The bulb method I'm using works fine at raising the temperature of the area inside the cone. However, when it's cold, the system has a tough time melting the snow from the top one inch of the cone because there is little exposure to the heated interior, but lots of exposure to the outside air. I was hoping that the reptile cord (unlike the pipe tape) doesn't get real hot. I was planning on placing the cord around the INNER cone so it make direct contact and can be place up near the top too. Of course, if it gets hot enough to melt the cone, that won't work.

Steve

Offline SpartanWX

  • Senior Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 207
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2008, 06:13:37 PM »
I have seen a similar application done with a cold weather pipe wrap that they sell around here. It has a cold sensor built in and when It gets to 32 Deg. or below It turns on.I had planned to try It when It gets a little warmer.The application that I saw was not nearly as professional looking as yours
Great Job
Jim
I looked at those as well... but my understanding was that they can get quite hot.  The sensor is meant to be in contact with the pipe.  The reason for that being that it does not overheat the pipe (in the case of PVC pipe).  I dunno... there was something about the sensor needing to be in contact with the pipe vs. the air that made me leery of trying it.

Professional?  You're too kind =)  Thanks!

Offline SpartanWX

  • Senior Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 207
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2008, 06:22:30 PM »
I've been thinking about replacing my small wattage bulb gauge heater with that reptile cord since I first saw it a few months ago. I should show you a picture of part of my setup though. I actually installed a power socket inside the guage using a little plug socket that contains a thermostat inside so it automatically turns off when it gets above around 40 degrees. That part would still work well with the reptile cord method.

Steve
SoftWx
I actually took apart a baseboard heater thermostat and built my own custom thermostatically controlled electrical outlet.  I wasn't too comfortable with installing it in a wet environment thought after I got it all put together.  Even with the heat shrink wrap on the whole thing.  I wasn't so much worried about shock or anything, but malfunction/longevity/burning down my sensor suite.

What was the plug socket device you found?

Looking at how you did that, I thought I'd mention another thought I had. The bulb method I'm using works fine at raising the temperature of the area inside the cone. However, when it's cold, the system has a tough time melting the snow from the top one inch of the cone because there is little exposure to the heated interior, but lots of exposure to the outside air. I was hoping that the reptile cord (unlike the pipe tape) doesn't get real hot. I was planning on placing the cord around the INNER cone so it make direct contact and can be place up near the top too. Of course, if it gets hot enough to melt the cone, that won't work.

Steve
The reptile cord doesn't got "hot" at all.  To me, that is the magic of it.  It is meant to be in contact with the animals so it doesn't get scorching hot.  I wasn't aware until after I got it out of the box that only a small fraction of it actually got hot.  I had envisioned placing it on the inner cone as well in some fashion, but settled for what I did after I got started building the whole thing.  In hindsight, it might be a better idea to just do the inner cone with the heat cord instead of the outer cone... but to insulate the outer cone regardless.

Offline weatherforyou

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 509
  • My weather is on WeatherForYou.com. Is yours?
    • http://www.weatherforyou.com
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2008, 07:21:24 PM »
I've used the ThermoCube units for applications similar to this...

http://www.thermocube.com/

I think the TC-3 would be the right range for this.  I think the last time I bought one it was at Ace or True Value.
Joe Torsitano


Offline tinplate

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 368
    • http://www.softwx.com/products.html
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2008, 07:38:40 PM »
The thermocube! That's exactly what I used. The 35/45 model. I got it at the hardware store.

Steve

Offline anchorageweather

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 445
    • http://eetee.us/station/station.php
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2008, 08:06:37 AM »
Is there a risk that the heat from the rain collector will affect the temperature sensor?
South of the Tracks, Anchorage, KY

Offline SpartanWX

  • Senior Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 207
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2008, 08:13:04 AM »
Like I mentioned above, mine was was switch operated from the inside.  On days when the temperature was relatively stable I would switch it from ON to OFF or vice versa.  I did not notice any impact on the temperature.   However, my ISS is FARS equipped.  Double however, I did the ON/OFF test at night as well when the FARS has a minimal if any impact.  There was no noticeable difference.

Offline Anthony

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1707
    • Anthony's Weather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2008, 08:41:13 AM »
What weather station do you have?


Thanks,
Anthony
WB8YUE

Offline SpartanWX

  • Senior Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 207
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2008, 01:07:13 AM »
Davis wireless (except in the winter HA!) VP2 with FARS (basic, no sunshine gear).

Offline Anthony

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1707
    • Anthony's Weather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2008, 07:43:57 AM »
Thanks for the info. Don't think you application would be practical for those of us who have stations like the OS WMR-968. The rain guages on these stations are much smaller (almost 4x).

But it is a very practical design for Davis station owners. And much less expensive that the Davis heated rain guage option.



Thanks,
Anthony
WB8YUE

Offline Cienega32

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 2571
    • East Mesa Weather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2008, 02:51:10 AM »
2 questions - one already answered (no temp sensor effect). I'm curious as to how well the scotch tape will hold up thru all the temp swings and general weather effects. Wouldn't something like metal duct tape be better, being you taping to the foil?

I love the whole idea and construction tho'! Outstanding!

Pat ~ Davis VP2 6153-Weatherlink-Weather Display-StartWatch-VirtualVP-Win7 Pro-64bit
www.LasCruces-Weather.com   www.EastMesaWeather.com

Offline Sigdigit

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 491
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2008, 10:18:14 AM »
Mrgpk-
Love to see people use their ingenuity to keep companies from ripping us off with their expensive aftermarket accessories!  Thanks for sharing your invention with us, it was well-presented with all the photos!  You should team up with Tinplate!

Offline SpartanWX

  • Senior Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 207
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2008, 09:32:55 PM »
2 questions - one already answered (no temp sensor effect). I'm curious as to how well the scotch tape will hold up thru all the temp swings and general weather effects. Wouldn't something like metal duct tape be better, being you taping to the foil?

I love the whole idea and construction tho'! Outstanding!
Ya know... when I put it together, I had been waiting for it to make it to the top of my to-do list at the same time the weather was warm enough for me to go outside and futz with the ISS.  When the stars finally aligned, sin of all sins for a DIY guy, I could not find my duct tape! So I'm wondering how well the scotch tape will hold up myself! =)

I had meant to note that in the instructions.

I've not opened it up for a checkup yet and likely won't until the end of the season, but it has not malfunctioned at all... and I think any problem would quickly expose itself with a non-functioning tipper.

Thanks for the compliments!


Offline Jim

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19
  • Davis Vantage Pro 2 Fars A.M.Radio Lightning Detec
    • jimswestvilleweather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2008, 09:58:34 PM »
Mrgpk: I went to the store after work and got all the supplies needed. I now have a working rain heater. I first tried the Pipe tape with the thermostat and WOW did it get hot. I then went to the Snake Store and got the real stuff  $29.00 in Plaistow N.H.) Must be a high Import fee. Anyway all is well and It is working.Thanks for the help.
Jim

Offline Sawwth

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 30
  • Well the Pole's up!
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2008, 09:15:44 AM »
mrgpk, what a great idea! I will build one next fall. I just got my Davis Pro2 and don't have it up yet. maybe this afternoon. Can't wait.........

Offline chief-david

  • Educational Weather
  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 2187
  • Space Academy for Educators
    • Robbinsdale Middle School Weather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2008, 03:06:14 PM »
I want to do this.  I do not have an outdoor outlet and need a temperature sensor switch of some sort.

I can run a small thin power cord into the building but need a switch


my station is at school, not at home.

Any suggestions
Vantage Pro Plus 6163
Robbinsdale, MN 55422@ 45 degrees North Latitude.

You can't phase me-I teach Middle School.
It's not you-It's WU.

Offline NiceBill

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 406
  • Texas Township, Illinois
    • Texas Township, Clinton, Illinois 61727  Weather
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2008, 03:39:02 PM »

You can plug it into a switchable outlet if you have one handy. :idea:

Bill.>>>>>>>>> :-)
[note: Bill passed away December 31, 2008 -- Rest in Peace Bill, you'll be missed!]

Offline SLOweather

  • Administrator
  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 3434
    • http://www.sloweather.com
Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2008, 03:47:41 PM »
If you live in an area where you need a rain gauge heater, then the hardware stores probably sell heat tape for gutters and water pipes Some include a thermostat, but you can get outboard ones. Here's a start.

 

anything