Author Topic: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests  (Read 58577 times)

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Offline sam2004gp

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'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« on: December 11, 2008, 06:27:45 AM »
I started this thread as a continuation of the Davis Instruments thread of http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=1468.0    Since I am more Oregon Scientific equipment specific.


.....I do not have my "test setup" in my rain collector yet, but I am doing some outside testing with.  But wouldn't you know we have a freak warm spell now.  It is 59 outside and I am waiting for it to get colder before I turn it on. 

Below is my "Test graph"  for now.  The "Special Sensor" is a temp sensor in the "test bucket/collector". Outside is my Official Outdoor Temp.

I am basically using a white plastic trash can roughly twice the size of the WMR-968 Collector, and a 12volt 20Watt Halogen Landscape Bulb, my "Heat Lamp".  I located the sensor on the upper inside of the "test bucket/collector.   Since the "test bucket/collector" is twice the size and the sensor is located on the further most wall of the "test bucket/collector", I should be able to tell if this "Heat Lamp" can create enough heat, to melt anything.  If the results look good, I will then move the sensor to the outside of the "test bucket/collector" to expose it to the elements and see how it does there. 

If results are promising again, I will then purchase on of those temp controlled switches from Lowes that keep water pipes from freezing as mentioned earlier.  I will then install it in my uninsulated storage building with a small scale landscape power supply that will have a wire ran out the eave to my sensor tray.


   
^^^ the images are updated every 5 mins or so, if anyone wants to check in. 

At this time the "Heat Lamp" is ON. 9:00 PM

EDIT:At this time the "Heat Lamp" is OFF. 5:50 AM.   The temp appears by my graph to have held at least a 13 degree spread overnight, so now I just wait until the temp gets lower.  When I got up this morning it rained over night and there was a pretty good size puddle of water in the concave of the "test bucket/collector".  So it looks like it was able to hold these temps even with lots of water on it.  So again the tests are looking good. \:D/.  When I finally mount it in the actual rain collector, and since the actual collector is 1/2 half the size of my test setup.  It should be able to heat well without a "meltdown" of the collector.  If my local temps don't drop soon, I may fabricate something so that I can do the test in the deep freezer.  Assuming I can get the permission of the wife. ;)

« Last Edit: December 11, 2008, 07:09:09 AM by sam2004gp »
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Offline sam2004gp

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2008, 03:56:34 PM »
At this time the "Heat Lamp" is ON.  Outside temp 38,  Special sensor temp 48 now.
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Offline sam2004gp

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2008, 10:53:35 AM »
The "Heat Lamp" is still on, when I get home from work today, my test rig is being sent to the deep freezer for some more test.  I would like to see what heat I will get produced when the temp drops close to 0.  Even though I never get winter precip at that temp, it would be good to know what my "heat lamp" can do.
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Offline sam2004gp

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2008, 06:00:31 PM »
The testing phase is complete, now working on the fabrication. \:D/
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Offline Anthony

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2008, 06:56:01 PM »
Can't wait to see your design. But what I would really like to do is modify my guage to read in 0.01" instead of 0.04". And that infor was unfoutunately on the old forum. If any one here happens to have that info would you please post it and I can make the topic sticky. (I think).



Thanks,
Anthony
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Offline MoradaWx

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2008, 07:12:54 PM »

Rick/Morada, CA
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Offline SLOweather

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2008, 10:02:29 PM »
Just do the math, Anthony. To get 4x the resolution, you need 4x the collection area. Measure the diameter of yours, divide by 2 to get the radius, square that, and then multiply by pi (3.14).

That's the area you have now.

Multiply it by 4. That's the new collection area.

Divide by pi. Take the square root. Double it. That's the diameter of the new collector. Find a funnel that big or bigger at the top. Cut it down to fit, top and bottom. Glue it together.

If you want to, post the diameter. I'll do the math. :)

Chris

Can't wait to see your design. But what I would really like to do is modify my guage to read in 0.01" instead of 0.04". And that infor was unfoutunately on the old forum. If any one here happens to have that info would you please post it and I can make the topic sticky. (I think).



Offline Anthony

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2008, 07:42:16 AM »
rick, thats exactly what I was looking for. Thanks. How much of the tip did you end up cutting off? Just visualizing. I would think it would be almost all of it.

chris, when I get a funnel and get ready to install and do the gain in vws. I may give you a shout.

This is something I've wanted to do ever since I saw the post at Ambient. I've just never done it. Keep hoping for that new weather station.



Thanks,
Anthony
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Offline MoradaWx

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2008, 11:46:28 AM »
Anthony, I never did do anything with it, but I had saved the link for future use.  Then along came my Davis.

Rick

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Offline sam2004gp

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2008, 04:52:28 PM »
Hey guys and Anthony, just chiming in real quick, and then have lots to do before the end of the day.  I still have the latter up beside my rain gauge, doing post install testing. 

{....And I just got done editing the rain numbers in VWS, to remove the "false rain" from messing around the unit today acidentally triggering .75 inches.   :mad: :mad: :mad: ](*,) ](*,) :evil: :evil: :evil: #-o #-o #-o #-o   As you all know that is not a fun procedure, but I finally understand how to do it.  If you go to my site and look in the Daily Reports you will see the hole in the data.  Too bad I can't get it out of Wunderground.  I also wish there was a way to ignore or turn off the rain gauges readings with a flick of the switch while you tinker with it, without disassembling your outside hardware.}

While I was up there 10 mintues ago checking my heater temps, I measured the funnel for you anthony.  Our funnel has an Exact inside diameter of  3 7/8 inches or 3.875.  So doing the math mentioned about to get a resolution of 0.01 inches of rain, you need now need a collection funnel of 7.7489 inches or 7 3/4.

My math:
(Our diameter)3.875 divide by 2 = 1.9375
1.9375^2(squared)=3.7529375
3.7229375 x 3.14(pi)=11.78422375=current area

11.78422375 x (0.04{current resolution} divide by 0.01{desired resoltuion} which is 4)=47.1368
47.1368 divided by 3.14(pi) = 15.01175
Square root(15.01175) = 3.87449996
38744996 x 2 = 7.7499992

So you will need to find a funnel that basically measures 7 3/4 inches across. \:D/

Oh and thanks guys now my wife will be mad at me, wanting to go shopping with her and bring a ruler along to measure funnel diameters. :oops: :shock:


« Last Edit: December 13, 2008, 04:54:23 PM by sam2004gp »
SAM --->>> http://www.mountcrawfordweather.org
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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2008, 05:29:23 PM »
Sam and all,
  Here are the photos I took today of my unit:


Thermostat unit to turn on and off the heater at pre-determined temperature.












Offline sam2004gp

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2008, 06:00:52 PM »
Nice job and pics, I will post mine up, once I get the camera downloaded.  I got company coming tomorrow, so I need to go clean the fish tank, and cycle some water.

Mine is not as fancy as the one done very well and neatly above but it works.

jwyman, how much did yours cost in total now?   Mine has been free (well sort of) so far. :-)
« Last Edit: December 13, 2008, 06:10:36 PM by sam2004gp »
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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2008, 07:13:00 PM »
The halogen was 8-10 dollars, thremostat/relay unit was $19 after shipping...  Cost of breadboard - $0. Other stuff (i.e. wire, 12volt supply, junction box  already in place).

Jim

Offline WeatherBeacon

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2008, 09:12:14 PM »
Here are the formulas for anyone who is interested. It's actually pretty straighforward and can be determined without using areas and without Pi.

  • Let d denote the inside diameter of the manufacturer's funnel (measured at the top).

  • Let Coarse denote the resolution of the manufacturer's rain gauge (0.04 inches for the OS, for example).

  • Let Fine denote the finer resolution you'd like from your modified collector (like 0.01 inches).

  • Then you need a funnel whose inside diameter D (measured at the top) is

           D  =  d * sqrt(Coarse / Fine)

  • Then set a gain in your station so that it knows each tip of the bucket now represents Fine inches of rain:

          Gain  =   Fine / Coarse.        This is the same as ( d / D )2.

Example:  Suppose your rain gauge has a resolution of 0.04 inches. Suppose the manufacturer's funnel measures 3.875 inches across the top (diameter). Suppose you want to modify the funnel to have a finer resolution of 0.01 inches. So

      d  =  3.875,    Coarse  =  0.04,    Fine  =  0.01,

and you need a new funnel whose inside diameter (across the top) is

      D  =  d * sqrt(Coarse / Fine)   =   3.875 * sqrt(0.04/0.01)  =  7.75 inches,

and you need to set a gain of

     Gain  =   Fine/Coarse  =  (0.01/0.04)  =  0.25

on your station.

Regards,

Kevin...
« Last Edit: December 13, 2008, 09:14:15 PM by WeatherBeacon »
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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2008, 09:58:00 PM »
freakin' math majors  :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks WB, nice!

Jim

Offline Anthony

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2008, 07:29:11 AM »
Jim, Thanks for the photos. Nice design work. Whats envolved to change the lamp, unplug & replug?

As for the rest of you. Thanks for doing the math. Now all I have to do is find a funnel with an inside diameter of 7 3/4"



Thanks,
Anthony
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Offline sam2004gp

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2008, 08:17:11 AM »
x2 on the Math Majors.  I copied that info above and stored it away in my "Archives of Knowledge".

Here is what I have for the install.  All of the parts and materials that I used, I already had laying around the house not being used.  So I put those items to good use.  So it cost me nothing, but it may cost others who attempt to do this project.  I would estimate $60, bulk of the cost being the Bulb (heating element) and 12 Volt Power supply.

1. Start off with a 12Volt (13.6 actual) power supply.  I already had one in my storage/male tinkering building for 12Volt Mobile applications.  It is important that your power supply have enough amperage to power your "heating element".  In my case I need something that could provide 1 Amp of current.



2.  Choose a halogen bulb as your heating element.  Luckily during the summer the wife had me replace all of the landscape lights with a new design, so I had 8 extra light fixtures laying around.  I took one of the fixtures removed the bulb, and plug-in ceramic bulb base to achieve my heating element.  The bulb that i had on hand was rated at 10 watts, but it's cone reflector was to large to fit in the rain gauge.  So wearing eye protection I broke the glass reflector off from around it.



3.  I drilled a 3/16 inch hole in the bottom of Rain Collector Bucket,  to accomadate the power wire.  I fed the wire up from the power supply in my building, thru the side vent of the building, along my mast, into my Rain Collector tray, and up into the Rain Collector Bucket base. 




4.  I then stripped, soldered, and heat shrink wrapped the wires to my ceramic bulb base.   At that that point since I was worried about excess heat melting the plastic of the gauge, I looped a wire tie around the wires and unto a surface mount wire-tie base with sticky tape on the other side.  The size of the surface mount wire-tie base was perfect to wedge it into some pre-existing slots in the Rain Collector, which should lower the chances of sticky tape from releasing.  It is important to keep the assembly from touching any of the internal plastic.  One of the benefits of haveing the ceramic base, is the fact that the bulb plugs in to it.  So if your bulb goes out, you can replace it easily without resoldering wires.  Or if your bulb wattage is to low or high, you can again change the bulb out.




5.  I took the "bucket" of the rain collector and lined it with reflective tape (leftover from a heat duct repair) to reflect the bulbs heat around the inside.  I then took a Sharpie and colored the inside of the funnel black, to help it absorb some of the heat energy.



6.  I reassembled the unit and waited for dusk (my best chance at cold temps not influenced by the sun's radiation).  I took a cheap "window thermometer" and taped it to a few various places on the gauge and performed some measurments.



7.  With the cheap "window thermometer", I measured the temp on the side of the rain collector bucket to make sure I was not going to melt down.  The Top number was current temp outside, Bottom number was the temp measured on the rain collector bucket's side.  I let the temp settle for about 20 mins.  Hmm, a 25 degree difference that is good.


8.  Then I repositioned the "window thermometer" sensor to the top inside the funnel and let it settle for another 20 mins.  I took a reading , and Almost a 50 degree difference, Great!! \:D/


{Sorry about the pic, light was fading}


9.  I did not choose to go with a thermostat at this point.  The "poor boy" version of one, that I saw at Lowes, a 110volt switching unit came on at 38F and shut off at 50F.  It's cost was $12.  This large temp swing would cause my heater to be on alot for the 2 months when we get cold here.  That would be a waste of energy.  Also we are lucky to only get snow about 5 or so times of a year, and only 3 or so of those are usually in a measurable amount.  Whenever the forecast calls for winter precip., I will just walk out to the building and turn it on, as I am there already to plug up the battery charger to the Lawn tractor equipped with a small snow blade to clear off our huge driveway.


Additional pics can be see at http://s266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/sam2004gp/weather%20station/

The glow from afar.....





« Last Edit: December 14, 2008, 08:29:17 AM by sam2004gp »
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Offline SlowModem

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2008, 09:56:57 AM »
Sam and all,
  Here are the photos I took today of my unit:

That is so cool!

Greg Whitehead
Ten Mile, TN USA


Offline SlowModem

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2008, 10:32:06 AM »
Here is what I have for the install.

If somebody can't learn from that, they're in a casket!  Great pictures!   :grin:

Greg Whitehead
Ten Mile, TN USA


Offline WeatherBeacon

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2008, 12:02:42 PM »
freakin' math majors  :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks WB, nice!

Jim

He he he! Oh Jim, I'm not a math major any more. ;)

Kevin...
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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2008, 04:45:10 PM »
Anthony,
  The bulb is currently soldered onto the breadboard.. It didn't have a mounting fixture on the base, just 2 leads.
I am still looking around for a recepticle for it which will make it easier to replace bulbs.

Jim
Jim, Thanks for the photos. Nice design work. Whats envolved to change the lamp, unplug & replug?

As for the rest of you. Thanks for doing the math. Now all I have to do is find a funnel with an inside diameter of 7 3/4"



Offline Anthony

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2008, 07:48:24 AM »
Sam, Nice design also. Looks like I will be one of those on the hi cost end. Plus my station is probably 40'+ from the house. So the first step will be getting some power out there.

 


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Anthony
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Offline NiceBill

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2008, 11:42:11 AM »


Hi Sam,

Looks like a great plan,  nice photos and if it all works for you, all the better.

Looking at your last photo, a comment or two, if you dont mind.
The shroud around the rain gauge will create very inaccurate rainfall readings, due to the updrafts it will create. Additionally, having your rain bucket next to the assembly mast will also cause very inaccurate readings.  Vertical items within 10' will have a great effect on your readings.

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

Offline sam2004gp

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2008, 08:25:35 PM »
Bill, I had concerns at first as well as the accuracy of the gauge.  But that is my best mounting location, so sometimes you can only do what you can do.  I got the Rain Collector tray from ambient.  I could of put it down on the ground on a post.  But the collection funnel portion of the collector does stick up over the tray.  And perhaps I will in about 5 years or so, when things are little more settled.
{Start of rant}
But I have issues with over zealous Russian/Ukrainian  teenage hoodlums/kids and their ability to destroy things.  I have had pumpkins smashed at halloween, my wife has had two bird feeders destroyed, and someone attempted to break into the storage building.   Each time the police can't do anything unless we catch them in the act, but I have seen them running around outside at night in the summer. The parents seem to conveniently forget how to speak english when I have tried to peacefully confront them about this trespassing.  All of this has occured inside our fenced in back yard.  One of the reasons we got the fence.  I have three multi family homes(parents, kids, grand parents, cousins all in the same house) in my block, and the children are all related to each other.  The only peace I get is winter when it's too cold to run around outside.  But this summer I replaced all of our outside lights with motion activated ones, and added some new locations and this has seemed to slow things down a bit.
 
.....So I had to come up with a way to mount the rain gauge out of reach.  I have been able to verify my readings by placing the garden variety plastic rain gauges around a few times in the yard.  And yes, one of those disappeared.  If you notice in my pics, one of my neighbors also put up a privacy fence as well.  She has had a rock thru her sliding glass window door.

I also wish I could get my anemometer up higher, but then we have some restrictive covenants that we have to live be, and getting the fence approved and my anemotmeter at it's current height was an ordeal.  I had asked for twice the height I have now, but they only approved half of that.  But yet again, the "trash" of the neighborhood can do anything they want. ](*,)  And yes I am bitter. :evil:
If I could only catch one of those little B@5T@RD5, I would skin him alive. :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
{End of rant}

On a lighter note, it has been very accurate, and seems to perform well for a gauge that only has a 0.04 accuracy, so I guess I will do the funnel mod next and try it out.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2008, 08:35:11 PM by sam2004gp »
SAM --->>> http://www.mountcrawfordweather.org
OS WMR-968 with a Dedicated PWS Weather Computer running VWS v13.01 p09


Offline sam2004gp

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Re: 'Cheap' Rain Collector Heater - Ideas - Plans - Tests
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2008, 08:28:06 PM »
Anthony,
  The bulb is currently soldered onto the breadboard.. It didn't have a mounting fixture on the base, just 2 leads.
I am still looking around for a recepticle for it which will make it easier to replace bulbs.

Jim
Jim, Thanks for the photos. Nice design work. Whats envolved to change the lamp, unplug & replug?

As for the rest of you. Thanks for doing the math. Now all I have to do is find a funnel with an inside diameter of 7 3/4"


Go to lowes and purchase the cheapest landscape light fixture that uses that bulb or close to it.  And then remove the socket and wire like I did. :idea:
SAM --->>> http://www.mountcrawfordweather.org
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anything