Author Topic: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.  (Read 1558 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline mikeym2m

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 101
    • MikeyM's Thornhurst PA Weather
LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« on: December 15, 2016, 10:18:41 AM »
Last Winter I was having problems with the LR4/414D combo at low temps. This year I built a redesigned enclosure with a smaller footprint to block less snow under the sensor and installed a small heater in the enclosure. Heater is simply a 15 - 20 ohm 20 watt power resistor and a button thermostat which switches on at 32 deg F and off about 50 deg. Seems to be really working well this year as I haven't had any problems down to 11 deg.

Cheers

 :grin:

MikeyM

Offline DaleReid

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
    • Weather at Eau Claire, WI
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2017, 09:35:23 PM »
Mike,
The fault is my station does not have a snow depth sensor, and unfortunately most of it is working as I want it to, so the itch is to add this to my setup.

Is there another thread that I've not found (only these two posts in this subcategory) that describes how you have done this?  Is it a Dallas One Wire feed that WD gets info from?  Any discussion of how you set things up to interface with your computer and to tell WD how to find and plot the data?  Just curious about what is involved before taking the monetary investment to begin.
Thanks for any links or leads?  Dale
ECWx.info
&
ECWx.info/t/index.php

Offline mikeym2m

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 101
    • MikeyM's Thornhurst PA Weather
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 08:55:15 AM »
Dale most of the info is on the WD forum. Here's a link that might be helpful. If you need more info please feel free to contact me via email.

https://www.weather-watch.com/smf/index.php/topic,54901.0.html

Cheers

 :-)

MikeyM

Offline vreihen

  • El Niņo chaser
  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 948
  • K2BIG
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2017, 01:19:19 PM »
After reading all of the info, I was inspired to rush-order a Fluke 414D for delivery on Monday.  We may be seeing the last snow of the winter with the forecast nor'easter on Tuesday, and I want to try the base distance meter out here.  If it works well, I have all summer to buy the USB board and figure out how to stick a NodeMCU module into the meter's vacant battery box to make my snow gauge into a wifi peripheral.....
WU Gold Stars for everyone! :lol:

Offline DaleReid

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
    • Weather at Eau Claire, WI
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2017, 07:45:48 PM »
Mike,
I got the link and it has kept me busy reading, but also branched out into how to get a Dallas 1-wire to work.

I had no idea there was tha much out there.  With more and more computers not having a serial port at all, and no sense in using a serial to USB converter if I can help it, I'll see if there is anything in the hardware section about setting up a USB plug in that does the DS9490R so "all" I'd need is the USB gizmo and the plug to connect onto the 1 wire.  Having looked at the eBay and Amazon offerings, I was a bit surprised to not find a lot of listings for this type of USB plug in.  And many seem to want to have an iButton thing on it, too, which as far as I can see really isn't needed but is yet another way of getting add in monitors.

Thanks again, our last snow of the year is likely this coming week (we can hope) and I'm away from home, so I think I'll have all summer to get this ready.

What a wonderful group, what a helpful group.  Too many hobbies and too few years left to accomplish them, so I need all the help I can get!  Dale
ECWx.info
&
ECWx.info/t/index.php

Offline DaleReid

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
    • Weather at Eau Claire, WI
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2017, 09:57:52 PM »
The fun fund got big enough to begin ordering the stuff to make the LR4 and Fluke 414 a reality.

Now I'm trying to figure out the best way to secure a connection from the device to the computer, being a usb interface.

I've found a couple devices on Amazon that take the USB signal and change it to something that gets sent over CAT5 cable, then converted back to USB again.  I think one of the users here mentioned he had to do this too.

Has anyone a brand name that worked for them?  I have read some of the reviews on Amazon, and while some folks are using it for TV signals and all sorts of balderdash, not many use it for just this purposed. 

Also it seems that not only are there none that do USB 3 yet, even some of the users found their USB 2 rated devices were very slow or not working as well.

Can someone suggest ones that might be reliable, or another source for these gizmos?  Are they called anything other than USB Extenders that I should search for?

I'll have all summer to work on this, but I've been bitten by the bug and want to get going so I have something to fiddle with all summer, including burying the outdoor rated CAT5 cable to make this be sited in the best place to get reliable readings.

ECWx.info
&
ECWx.info/t/index.php

Online Bushman

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 7158
    • Eagle Bay Weather
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2017, 12:50:44 AM »
Monoprice.com used to sell some excellent extenders.

Offline vreihen

  • El Niņo chaser
  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 948
  • K2BIG
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2017, 08:34:21 AM »
Rather than extending the USB cable, I plan to put a NodeMCU wifi module into the battery box.  I'm assuming that the appropriate USB interface driver is available in the Arduino libraries.

I bought the Fluke 414 a few weeks ago, but didn't buy the LR4 yet.  At this point, I've got all summer to build my electronic snowboard and figure out the details.....
WU Gold Stars for everyone! :lol:

Offline DaleReid

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
    • Weather at Eau Claire, WI
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2017, 09:02:55 AM »
Dear chaser of el Ninos (sorry, I don't see a familiar name for you yet)

I would save a LOT of work by having some sort of wireless configuration available, or a way to use some little xeebee or something.  Be definition, one wants to be away from buildings and all to have the snowboard open as much as natural, and to dig through my 'soil' to where I plan on placing mine means three or four inches until the hard rock starts.

Getting power out there might be as simple as laying a UL rated outdoor extention cord down when the ground freezes and picking it up when snow melt happens in the spring, since burying a 120v cable deep enough to feel safe would be a hurculean task. 

thanks for the tips.  I hope as our projects move forward we can share tips, new ways of doing stuff or even the tweaks of doing it the same way others have done.

Dale
ECWx.info
&
ECWx.info/t/index.php

Offline mikeym2m

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 101
    • MikeyM's Thornhurst PA Weather
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2017, 09:29:19 AM »
Dale

I'm currently using an Active USB cable. I've also used the USB to CAT5 adapters, but found the Active USB to be more reliable in my case. I have a run of about 60 - 70 feet. I think the one I'm currently using is made by Tripp. https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Hi-Speed-Extension-U026-020/dp/B006KSLF6E?th=1

I've also used this one in the past:  https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-Active-Extension-Booster-USB-X20M/dp/B006AA05KO

It is important to used one from one of the better companies as some of the Chinese ones just aren't reliable. Ya I know they are all probably made in China.

Cheers

 :-)

MikeyM

Offline DaleReid

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
    • Weather at Eau Claire, WI
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2017, 10:37:16 AM »
Mikey,
Thanks, I am learning more every day, as I thought the adapter to CAT5 was the only option, and you point out an alternative is in essence, a long amplified true USB cable.

I'm not sophisticated enough to realize when cable length, capacitance and all become factors.  I know for one of the lightning detector applications running in another thread the response time and delay of wireless, for example, came into play for some folks.

I guess it's a bit like hearing your own digital echo that hasn't been suppressed on cellular phones and you realize it ain't landline by a long shot.

I'm going to have to run at least 100' to the clear area where I think my snowboard will be, unobstructed by trees and buildings, so I may have to try initially to see if the CAT 5 adapters will do the job.  This seems like a low bandwidth process with infrequent readings and basic number stream transfers that could occur at any data rate.  Sort of like the Navy's ELF program where if I remember correctly they were able to transmit one character per second or some such.

This open discussion and frequent response by those who slogged through the initial development and installation certainly has been very helpful to me, and saved what little hair I have on my balding head from being pulled out in frustration.

A sincere thank you to all who share their experience and  knowledge.
Dale
ECWx.info
&
ECWx.info/t/index.php

Offline vreihen

  • El Niņo chaser
  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 948
  • K2BIG
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2017, 03:51:47 PM »
Getting power out there might be as simple as laying a UL rated outdoor extention cord down when the ground freezes and picking it up when snow melt happens in the spring, since burying a 120v cable deep enough to feel safe would be a hurculean task.

The way that I look at it, millions of homes hang holiday lighting outside with extension cords every year.  If their inflatable snowman doesn't have a problem with it in the snow, why should a solid state meter that could probably run on a car battery for a month...if not the entire season?

I have a pocket 16,000 mAh pocket cell phone emergency battery pack that will power the NodeMCU that I assembled for solar sensor collection running for 4-5 days between recharges, and I made no effort to trim power use in software.  It sends 5-second updates via wifi, and leaves the radio on between transmissions. 

My idea for the snow sensor was going to depart with the common homebrew setup with a fixed-mount sensor measuring a single spot.  I was thinking of using a round patio table (with the appropriate surface prep) as the snow board, placed in the middle of the yard.  There will be a vertical pole inserted into the umbrella hole, with a stepper motor to rotate it.  The sensor electronics will be at the top of the mast, on an offset arm.  Measurements will be taken by rotating the mast/sensor to all 8 cardinal/ordinal directions, and then averaging the measurement.  Seems more in line with the suggested NWS manual measurement process, and there's less wondering if the sensor is blocking totally vertical snowfall.

I plan to put an optical sensor in the table surface at due north, which will be used to calibrate "home" on the stepper motor as well as detect the onset of snowfall via the loss of the laser signal.  There is probably no benefit to turning the mast if it's not snowing, to save both mechanical wear and power of running from battery/solar.

Comments on the methodology or idea?????

-Arthur
WU Gold Stars for everyone! :lol:

Online Bushman

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 7158
    • Eagle Bay Weather
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2017, 04:07:47 PM »
Cool idea (pun intended).  Most ski areas use a linear platform.  The rotating table idea is good, but you probably need some sort of sweeper to clear it after a full rotation (by the hour - 8 hrs total?)

Offline DaleReid

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
    • Weather at Eau Claire, WI
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2017, 04:53:36 PM »
Arthur:  Ingeniuous!  And you can still use the patio table during the summer.

As far as Bushman's question about the need to clear the surface, I'd think you'd not need to do that. After all, the measurement of snow pack will be automatic if you don't get so much as to fill the sensor table up to the minimum distance the device can measure.

How do you receive the signal in the house, and how to interface it to the computer but more importantly to the weather data logging software?  Sort of a one-wire interface?

ECWx.info
&
ECWx.info/t/index.php

Online Bushman

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 7158
    • Eagle Bay Weather
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2017, 05:43:58 PM »
As long as you measure before you measure, clearing is not needed.  Otherwise the snow settling out will affect the reading.  I can only tell you that this is the way the ski area sensors work.

Offline DaleReid

  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
    • Weather at Eau Claire, WI
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2017, 06:10:27 PM »
Bushman, and doing a bit more reading I see that it is recommended to clear the surface every 6 hours whether or not the snow is done, so there must be some official reason for it, and is followed by the ski places.

ECWx.info
&
ECWx.info/t/index.php

Offline vreihen

  • El Niņo chaser
  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 948
  • K2BIG
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2017, 07:04:33 PM »
Arthur:  Ingeniuous!  And you can still use the patio table during the summer.

The idea came to me after staring out the back door all winter at the square table on the deck as snow fell:



Although it isn't clear in the above photo, you can see how the snow collects in the shape of a bundt/angel food cake:



Hence, needing to get the arm offset right.  Once I saw the shape of the snow, rotating the sensor to take multiple readings around the circle was the logical next step.

Quote
How do you receive the signal in the house, and how to interface it to the computer but more importantly to the weather data logging software?  Sort of a one-wire interface?

I'm running weewx on a Raspberry Pi inside, with the primary input being my Acu-Rite 5-in-1 sensor via SDR radio sniffer.  Weewx has the ability to read additional sensors and insert them into the observed data stream, if you write the code.  There's an overview of how this works in my sunlight sensor build thread:

https://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=31308.0

As long as you have wifi coverage in the yard, sending the sensor data to weewx via HTTP web posts from a NodeMCU is a simple Arduino programming project with plenty of sample code available.  The NodeMCU will also need programming to rotate the mast, so there's really no way to avoid coding and I might as well use the $8.00 wifi NodeMCU module to do everything.  It should fit into the battery box of the Fluke 414, to make one tightly-integrated electronics package.....
WU Gold Stars for everyone! :lol:

Offline vreihen

  • El Niņo chaser
  • Forecaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 948
  • K2BIG
Re: LR4/414D Laser snow sensor updates.
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2017, 07:56:55 PM »
I need to amend my plans slightly.  I just tried, and the NodeMCU will not fit inside the battery box.....  :-(
WU Gold Stars for everyone! :lol: