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Weather Station Hardware => Davis Instruments Weather Stations => Topic started by: SpartanWX on March 05, 2008, 01:58:27 PM

Title: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX 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

(http://i54.tinypic.com/1zqzdw8.jpg)

Begin by taping several sheets of notebook paper together in order to make a template for the insulation blanket:
(http://i53.tinypic.com/2drbcsz.jpg)

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:
(http://i52.tinypic.com/534dba.jpg)

Attach this template to a sheet of aluminum foil using scotch tape:
(http://i52.tinypic.com/1z6cnkm.jpg)

Trim the foil to match the paper template leaving a slight overlap so that the paper stays attached with the scotch tape:
(http://i52.tinypic.com/15mbqt5.jpg)

Completely cover this paper/foil template with the insulation tape:
(http://i52.tinypic.com/2ihwg08.jpg)]

This is what the backside should look like:
(http://i55.tinypic.com/34j7xpc.jpg)

Trim the foil tape to match the paper template:
(http://i52.tinypic.com/51znet.jpg)

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.
(http://i56.tinypic.com/2lly0pv.jpg)

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:
(http://i53.tinypic.com/16i6wqf.jpg)

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.
(http://i56.tinypic.com/2hhhug3.jpg)


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 =)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: ncpilot on March 05, 2008, 02:02:44 PM
I guess that's easier to do than move south where it don't snow!  ;)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: weatherforyou 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
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: ncpilot 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:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: weatherforyou on March 05, 2008, 05:09:15 PM
LOL  :lol:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Jim 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
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: tinplate 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
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: tinplate 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
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX 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!
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX 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.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: weatherforyou 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.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: tinplate 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
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: anchorageweather on March 06, 2008, 08:06:37 AM
Is there a risk that the heat from the rain collector will affect the temperature sensor?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX 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.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony on March 06, 2008, 08:41:13 AM
What weather station do you have?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on March 07, 2008, 01:07:13 AM
Davis wireless (except in the winter HA!) VP2 with FARS (basic, no sunshine gear).
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony 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.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Cienega32 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!
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Sigdigit 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!
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX 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!

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Jim 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
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Sawwth 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.........
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david 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
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: NiceBill on September 21, 2008, 03:39:02 PM

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

Bill.>>>>>>>>> :-)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SLOweather 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 (http://www.google.com/products?hl=en&q=heat+tape+thermostat&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=product_result_group&resnum=1&ct=title).
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on September 22, 2008, 12:05:35 AM
Lowes also carries those plug in 120V thermal switches for heat tape in their plumbing section.  I think the one I have cuts in and 35F and off at 45F.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on September 23, 2008, 11:07:02 PM
Since I have a long way to go for a plug in-

I can plug this heater into a temperature sensitive plug-then into another extension cord to go into my room.


In Minnesota, we have consecutive days under 20 or sometimes under zero. 

I can still unplug it on clear days and plug it back in for weekends and nights when needed.

Yes is sounds like overkill-but I do not have access to my station 24-7
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on September 24, 2008, 10:10:04 PM
Noobie here.
Since this came back to top as winter (for most of us) is approaching, I have a question.

I understand how this was initially done, but in the thread different ones have discussed placing the cord around the inner cone.

Is it OK to have the heated cord directly in contact with the inner cone?   Would you just be able to turn the thing inside out and have the foil/insulation facing the outside of the inner cone?  Make sense?

That would require a slightly different size and shape. 

I'm thinking if the heated cord was in direct contact with the inner cone and then wrapped with foil/insulation that it might get too hot.  I don't know because I'm not familiar with the product.  But having it on the outter cone provides some air space seems better.

I was thinking just a couple of small light bulbs might provide enough heat for a lot of us not in the extreme cold areas.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: NiceBill on September 24, 2008, 10:39:32 PM

The idea is to heat the entire inner chamber. 
Heating just the inner cone may allow the melted snow-ice to come to the tipping buckets and possibly freeze in the buckets and or eventually freeze in the drains and really screw up the unit.

But, you may live in an area where a 15 watt bulb would do the trick.

Bill.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> :-)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on September 24, 2008, 11:01:27 PM
I'm about 110 miles or so south of you down US 51, Bill. :grin:

15w just might work?  I dunno.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on September 29, 2008, 10:21:07 PM
I am going with this method.  But Bill-yours is really cool.
I ordered a heat cable for 11.90 plus 5 for shipping
I can plug it into a thermocube or thermo-outlet in a dry box on the post

http://www.rdale.k12.mn.us/classroom_connections/web_folders/david_reynolds/Files/weather/about.htm (http://www.rdale.k12.mn.us/classroom_connections/web_folders/david_reynolds/Files/weather/about.htm)

Then into the building.

it could snow any day-It is October in Minnesota.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on November 15, 2008, 10:05:36 PM
I got my heater put together today and installed.

I hope it works.  I did it very similar to mrgpk's original post in this thread.

I found some foil lined heating/cooling duct insulation that was 12" wide instead of using strips of insulated tape.  But most of the rest is similar.  I drew out a template in my CAD program, plotted it out full size and cut it out.

The ZooMed heating cables must have changed some, as the heated portion is fairly long now.  I only put a little over half of it inside the collector.

I had it plugged in for 3 hours and 20 minutes this evening, and didn't notice any temp rise.  It actually dropped the same as another outside thermometer did.  There was a chance of freezing rain or light snow, but that's not going to happen tonight. Have to wait to see how it works.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: IslandMan54 on November 16, 2008, 11:39:26 AM
For another $12.60 you can add a Selco OA-60 Thermostat.
I come from a Meteorological Sensor Mfg and this is what we used to control the heater in our precipitation sensor.
http://www.alliedelec.com/Search/ProductDetail.aspx?SKU=5570001&DESC=&SEARCH=&MPN=
Opens at 50F +/-5 and closes at 32F +/-10

Now you don't have to remember to turn on the switch... :-)

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on November 16, 2008, 03:36:05 PM
I used an easy heat thermo switch

http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1904121&cp=&sr=1&kw=easy+heat&origkw=easy+heat&parentPage=search&searchId=38832615654

Cheaper at lowe's, can't get it at Home depot.


I will try the terrarium heater this year.  It has only been tested once so far.

Here is the link to my set up
http://weather.sms.rdale.org/about.htm
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on November 17, 2008, 02:53:16 PM
My concern with having a thermostat on it, is that "most" of the time around here when it's cold, there is no precip of any kind.  No use having it heated then.

I'll just plug it in when conditions are favorable for freezing rain, sleet or snow.  Perhaps 5 or 6 times a winter around here.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: IslandMan54 on November 17, 2008, 03:36:44 PM
Well, you could add a present weather sensor to determine if it snowing then that can enable a relay to enable the power to the thermostat to turn the heater on..... ;)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on November 17, 2008, 05:39:43 PM
Semi-off topic, but for us Oregon Scientific guys that have a really small bucket. :oops:   What do you recommend, I was thinking sort of light bulb, does anybody have an install or something of that nature?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on November 17, 2008, 09:33:31 PM
I have been unplugging mine when there is no chance of major snow-like this week.
It is usually below 38F and we won't see 50F for about 4-5 months.

If I leave for the weekend, I plug it in. I figure I am paying the taxes so I can run a heater.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on November 17, 2008, 11:07:20 PM
I'm glad everyone has found this to be a success!

For those that had advised using something other than scotch tape, that's a great idea.  I just whipped it together with what I had handy =)

I like all the suggestions for thermal switches!

But you're right, a way to switch it off when there is no precipitation would be ideal.  What we need to figure out is some sort of precipitation detector that could switch it on.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I've got a few ideas.  But right now I'm about 10 projects behind both time and $$$$ wise.  I still haven't purchased/whipped together my ultra low power PC so I can get this sucker up and online.  And still no time lapse webcams grrrrrrrrrr.  Gotta catch up =)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on November 17, 2008, 11:14:43 PM
Semi-off topic, but for us Oregon Scientific guys that have a really small bucket. :oops:   What do you recommend, I was thinking sort of light bulb, does anybody have an install or something of that nature?
For the smaller buckets (and I'm just guessing because I've not seen how small they are), maybe you could just use the snake wire without any insulation and pack it in there best as possible without mucking up the internal workings.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on November 26, 2008, 02:30:53 PM
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.



Anthony and all,
  I have just completed an intial heater for my WMR-968 gauge. It uses a 10 watt halogen lamp. I am using refelctive duct tape in the cylinder to reflect the heat... I will let you all know the results and post the photos if sucessful.. Now a little sleet, freezing rain and the such...

Jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on November 27, 2008, 07:46:23 AM
Oooohh goodie, I want to see that.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony on November 27, 2008, 08:02:37 AM
Yes. deffinately.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W Thomas on November 27, 2008, 11:29:47 AM
Sounds interesting!! 
Gotta see that one!
And believe it or not I think I have everything to construct one :)


Wayne
www.smythweather.net
CW8217
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony on November 27, 2008, 02:50:26 PM
After doing some thinking. Seems like on the Ambient forum. Someone constructed one using 12V automotive bulbs. Even a 10 watt halogen bulb is going to but out a ton of heat. Remember, all you need to do is keep the collector a few degrees above freezing. Even if the internal temp of the collector is say 36 or 38 degrees. The snow or freezing precip is going to melt. It doesn't have to melt fast. Remember, all we are interested in is liquid equivilant. To fast and there could be evaporation. But lets not get to technical here.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: NiceBill on November 27, 2008, 07:40:31 PM

Do you have a heater Anthony?

Bill.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> :-)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony on November 28, 2008, 08:35:19 AM
No Bill I don't. I keep resisting to do any modifications to the rain guage like modifying it to read in 0.01 instead or 0.04 and installing a heater. Reason being. I keep hoping that I can afford to get me a Davis station.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on November 28, 2008, 07:38:56 PM
Might get to try mine out this weekend.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on November 28, 2008, 08:03:16 PM
Same, we have mixed snow and sleet coming tomorrow night. I JUSt got the heater and equipment installed this afternoon... Will see if it works tomorrow night...

Jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on November 28, 2008, 09:21:42 PM
Sunday and Monday is looking to hold some promise here too!  (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v176/memmurphy/Icons/bannana.gif)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: NiceBill on November 28, 2008, 09:46:28 PM


Our TV weather man who is generally pretty good, would not commit ether way.  In cases like this storm is presenting, south gets rain, just north gets the snow and we get the ice.  I have had my heater set to go since this past summer.  If it goes to total melt down, oh well.  Now if it works real well and melts the ice and if some snow, as well as, keeps the collector working, good.  But the resistors I now have up for sale since this past summer for $10.00 ea. will go up to $20.00 ea. \:D/ \:D/ \:D/

Bill.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> :grin:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on November 29, 2008, 07:12:25 AM
Still hope for pics and details....
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on November 30, 2008, 05:07:13 PM
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.



Anthony and all,
  I have just completed an intial heater for my WMR-968 gauge. It uses a 10 watt halogen lamp. I am using refelctive duct tape in the cylinder to reflect the heat... I will let you all know the results and post the photos if sucessful.. Now a little sleet, freezing rain and the such...

Jim

Any Precip results or pics yet?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on November 30, 2008, 06:00:21 PM
Well, my main concern was heat buildup and possible melting and failure of the unit which thankfully neither happened.... =D>

We did get sleet and rain mixed last night but by this morning, it had turned to all rain.... The unit had recorded ~.25 ins of rain... I really need to get snow or a heavy mix of sleeat/freezing rain to see what happens....

Jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on November 30, 2008, 06:16:50 PM
Do you have any preliminary design specs available yet?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Bushman on November 30, 2008, 07:35:22 PM
COuld this thing work with a 12 v supply?  Assuming a proper resistor, that is. BTW, for the insulation, Reflectix would be the stuff to use.  I'd love to see plans...  TIA!
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on November 30, 2008, 07:48:10 PM
I had a technician build a standoff for a 12v, 10W halogen lamp. It sits about an inch from the bottom. I used aluminum foil adhesive tape from the hardware store. I followed the direction for making a template for the tamp by using paper and lining the inside to form it correctly. I then cut the form to fit just right. Taking the form I aplplied the tape to both side and trimmed. I then fitted the reulstant shield inside the funnel area. I only lined the outside wall, NOT the funnel itself. I ran the 12v lines from the lamp out the bottom of the base to a junction box which powers my FARS. I have a switch on the outside of the box so I can turn it on and off on very cold night w/ chance of precip. It gives off a glow which is really neat. My concern was the lamp was too hot for the unit but after running all night, the unit was just fine. I turned it off this morning when the forecast turned to all rain.... My next step will be to invest in a thernal switch of some kind to automatically turn it on and off at ~ 40 degs..... I will try to get photos posted soon...


Jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 01, 2008, 11:33:16 AM
{Begin of design thoughts}

 :idea:
Hmmm, and I just happen to have a few left over 12 volt 10 watt hallogen bulbs, from changing out my landscape lighting.  Perhaps I could hack one of the lamp bases and install it myself.  I do recall that when ever it snowed, and then at night when the landscape lights came on, it would melt a nice little about 1.5 inch ring around the light fixture.   I could install it, bring a lead out of the rain gauge about 6 inches or so, and then put some sort of plug on that.  So during the summer I would not have other wires around.  Then I could run the lead down my mast, into the side vent on my storage building and then to the electrical outlet below.  I will also need to purchase one of those temp sensitive outlets at my local big box hardware store, and a cheap 12 Volt walwart from somewhere or perhaps I have an extra one in my junk drawer.

(http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/sam2004gp/weather%20station/DSCN6762.jpg)


{End of design thoughts}

Sorry for the thread hijack, but again I would love to see some pics of your setup.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on December 02, 2008, 10:22:17 PM
Update: Just ordered a $16 board which contains a termistor and relay circuit to turn on/off  a nornal open connection or closed connection. You can you it to control a heater or a fan , depending on the preset temperature you set. The range is from 41 deg to 85 deg F. It runs on 12v and supports up to 3 amp load. I hope to get it in a cople of days a put it in my setup to automatically turn on/off the heater when the temperature gets around 40 degrees. No more running outside to turn on and off the switch...  \:D/ \:D/

Jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 03, 2008, 06:40:36 AM
And you did not provide a link, for this board. :sad:  Shame Shame.  Just Kidding. :-)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on December 03, 2008, 07:47:13 AM
Man, you don't have any patience do you!  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

Ok, here you go.... http://apogeekits.com/thermostat_vm137.htm

Any btw,  will TRY to get photos up this weekend of the heating setup.....

Jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 03, 2008, 08:00:15 AM
Nah, do much darn caffine in the mornings when I check on here.   :-) :-) :-)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: NiceBill on December 03, 2008, 08:04:44 AM


Looks like that $17.00 + S/H thermostat puts this subject of a $20.00 Rain Collector Heater down the drain.
What's it up to now??

Bill.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> :-)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 03, 2008, 08:16:59 AM
When I have the time to do mine for the OS WMR-968, I am going to take alot of pics, and make a write-up to put on my webpage.  I am going to try to go as cheap as possible as well. 

But I would say the cost of retrofitting would be closer around $40.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on December 03, 2008, 10:27:57 PM
I found this product where I could just use one piece of insulating material.  It has adhesive on one side, so I just put regular aluminum foil on that side.

(http://webpages.charter.net/jnjeep2/Misc/RainHeater%20001w.jpg)


Then I used a template that I drew up in my CADD software and plotted out full size.

(http://webpages.charter.net/jnjeep2/Misc/RainHeater%20005w.jpg)


Cut out the foil piece...

(http://webpages.charter.net/jnjeep2/Misc/RainHeater%20002w.jpg)


And taped on the heat cable with aluminum tape...
I only used about 50% of the heated portion on the cable.


(http://webpages.charter.net/jnjeep2/Misc/RainHeater%20003w.jpg)


And the finished piece ready to get stuffed into the rain collector.

(http://webpages.charter.net/jnjeep2/Misc/RainHeater%20006w.jpg)


I have about $50 invested, but that includes making two of these and I have plenty of the insulating material left over, so I don't have much over $20 total per heater invested.

.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SlowModem on December 03, 2008, 10:39:32 PM
Here's a link to a rain guage heater from a group I belong to.  It's for a WMR968, but I'm sure that any cylindrical tipping bucket gauge would be adaptable.

http://www.gartholson.net/weathersensors/raingauge.htm (http://www.gartholson.net/weathersensors/raingauge.htm)

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on December 06, 2008, 07:32:39 PM
Well, just got the thermostat unit installed in the box and all wired up.. We are supposed to have rain and snow tonight.....The really neat thing about this is that the unit glows in the dark and if you look real closely, you can see warm air eddies from the funnel. I think this will not be a problem for the unit and snow melting...

Jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on December 06, 2008, 08:51:51 PM
.....The really neat thing about this is that the unit glows in the dark and if you look real closely, you can see warm air eddies from the funnel. .....

I have this vision of snow flakes hovering above it in the thermals until they melt and drip into the funnel.   :lol:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on December 08, 2008, 09:30:58 AM
I had just a little bit of freezing rain last night.

Heater was on.  It recorded 0.01 inch of rainfall.

I guess mine works.

Doesn't seem to affect temp reading.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on December 10, 2008, 04:23:11 PM
I bought the 15 watt, 6 foot cable.  It does not seem to be doing the trick.  Should I get a longer cable or wrap the cable around the cone?
Would it melt the cone?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 10, 2008, 05:47:33 PM
I do not have my "test setup" in my rain collector yet, but I am doing some outside testing with it...............

MOVED TO http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=2686.msg19457#msg19457
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: NiceBill on December 10, 2008, 05:58:04 PM

Most heat cables are meant to be in direct contact with the item wished to keep from freezing, like a pipe.
They are not meant to give off radiant heat to a large area.
I would think that you can place 20' of heater cable in your unit and it will do nothing.

Bill.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> :-)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 11, 2008, 06:30:54 AM
I started a thread for us Oregon Scientfic / "smaller in size" rain collector folks over at... http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=2686.msg19457#msg19457
Last night's MAX temp test did great.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 11, 2008, 06:58:30 AM
Man, you don't have any patience do you!  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

Ok, here you go.... http://apogeekits.com/thermostat_vm137.htm

Any btw,  will TRY to get photos up this weekend of the heating setup.....

Jim

Still being impatient, do you have those photos yet?   :-)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on December 11, 2008, 07:45:49 AM
It's raining cats and dogs here and I need to find a decent camera to get the photos..... #-o


jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 11, 2008, 08:28:59 AM
It's raining cats and dogs here and I need to find a decent camera to get the photos..... #-o


jim

Yea we got some rain too, that is why I am doing all of my tests on the back deck, with out yanking the latter out and set it in the damp ground and climb up to the collector.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SlowModem on December 11, 2008, 08:35:32 AM
Quote
Yea we got some rain too, that is why I am doing all of my tests on the back deck, with out yanking the latter out and set it in the damp ground and climb up to the collector.

From the looks of the radar, yours is just starting.  You might get some snow, too.  Bundle up Sam!
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 11, 2008, 08:55:27 AM
Quote
Yea we got some rain too, that is why I am doing all of my tests on the back deck, with out yanking the latter out and set it in the damp ground and climb up to the collector.

From the looks of the radar, yours is just starting.  You might get some snow, too.  Bundle up Sam!

...and again, the heated rain collector is still in the testing phase.  Da** my timing!  :sad: :oops: 
I estimate a week before I have a final design install.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jwyman on December 11, 2008, 09:17:56 AM
Bring on the Snow! Heater is installed, working and thermostat is set just right!  \:D/ \:D/ \:D/

Seriously, I HOPE to get photos on the site soon... :lol: :lol: :lol:

Jim
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on December 11, 2008, 09:38:44 AM
Be sure to post them on the http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=2686.msg19471#new    Us OS owners have stole the thunder out of the thread for these Davis Folks.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony on December 11, 2008, 11:24:15 AM
All I can say is. I'm glad the temps are going to be on the warm side as all this rain goes thru. Otherwise we might be gidding for awhile.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on December 11, 2008, 04:02:57 PM
Be sure to post them on the http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=2686.msg19471#new    Us OS owners have stole the thunder out of the thread for these Davis Folks.

I read your testing procedure.  Good job.  My testing was not nearly as elaborate, but I am satisfied with my results.  Don't have my results with me at the moment, but I was not worried that mine would not melt ice, snow, sleet, etc, but rather that it would not cause incorrect air temp readings.  Integrated sensors. 

I ran the heater in the house on kitchen counter for about an hour.  Inside rain collector showed an increase of approximately 27 degrees.

After putting the collector back in service (mine is on roof for various reasons) and watching the temp for the sensor right under the collector and a different thermometer nearby, the temperature change matched for the nearly 4 hours of my experiment.  I felt comfortable that the heater was not effecting the air temp.

Now, if it only increases the temp inside the collector 27 degrees and it gets below 5 degrees outside, I might have a problem.  But where I'm located, it won't see any precip at that low of a temp. Or rarely will.

I just plug it in when conditions are likely for any freezing precip.  No need in having it on just because it's cold with little to no precip, hence the reason I didn't go with a thermostat controlled unit.

Ugh.  That got long.  I better take a nap.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on March 19, 2009, 02:53:01 PM
I hate to bring this up since it is now because spring is almost here-happy early spring.

My heater with the cable worked a little- I would not say it was a success especially in cold temps.

As always, a problem solvers brain is always turning.

My wife is throwing away a hair curler.  As I stared at it in the garbage this morning I had a few thoughts.

1. Why does she need a new curler if it still works?
2. How could I use this again?

#1 will never be answered
#2- Put it in the rain bucket as a heater.
It gives off radiant heat (thanks NiceBill) :cry:
The heating element could fit with a mount.
Maybe the voltage is too high

Thoughts? Remember- Teacher- not electrician
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: mackbig on March 19, 2009, 03:20:26 PM
Join the light bulb club.  Only draws 20 watts (or whatever bulb you use), safe 12 volt....cheap, my install was about $2.50...... the word hot (curling) iron and plastic gauge just dont mix.....

http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=2686.45 (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=2686.45)

Never trouble melting, down to -25c.   Only "official" measure I got was -16C out, and inside gauge/surface was +16.6C (62F)

Andrew



I hate to bring this up since it is now because spring is almost here-happy early spring.

My heater with the cable worked a little- I would not say it was a success especially in cold temps.

As always, a problem solvers brain is always turning.

My wife is throwing away a hair curler.  As I stared at it in the garbage this morning I had a few thoughts.

1. Why does she need a new curler if it still works?
2. How could I use this again?

#1 will never be answered
#2- Put it in the rain bucket as a heater.
It gives off radiant heat (thanks NiceBill) :cry:
The heating element could fit with a mount.
Maybe the voltage is too high

Thoughts? Remember- Teacher- not electrician
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on March 19, 2009, 03:27:26 PM
My setup with the heating cable worked well enough to give it another season.  Need to pull it out and store it indoors for warm weather.  And get my extension cord off the roof.  Will need it for leaf blower soon enough.

Now to work on a FARS....

Saw in another thread that a 5v computer fan wouldn't work.  Drat.  Shot that idea down.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on March 20, 2009, 01:04:47 PM
I took apart the curler.  the heater is a paper type and connected by an RCA type cord to the power cord.

I don't think this is the app I am looking for.

Mack- I may move to your set up.  The glow around the cone intrigues me. At least I have all summer to think about it.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: mackbig on March 20, 2009, 01:32:00 PM
The glow is good, no guessing "is this thing on?"
Andrew

Mack- I may move to your set up.  The glow around the cone intrigues me. At least I have all summer to think about it.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on September 16, 2009, 01:39:05 PM
Considering that we are once again approaching the SNOW season, I thought I would revive this thread with a few photos of my heater installation.

I went a little further with this method and ran the element around the "cone" of the collector too.  I get a GREAT melt rate by doing this, and no issues with temp changes on the VP2.  We have another VP2 .7 miles from my site that has the Davis VP2 heater installed.  My rain totals were right in line with that station during last year's snow storms, BUT my rain rate was much higher indicating that the Davis heater has a much slower melt rate than this much more affordable alternative!

The only problem I had with my original installation was that after leaving it up through summer, the duct tape I had used to secure the cord to the "cone" melted due to the heat of the sun.  This resulted in that entire coil coming loose and falling down on top of my tipping buckets! To eliminate this from happening again, I removed  the tape and as much of the tape glue as I could, and then reattached the element using 5 minute epoxy.  I also bought a second rain bucket from Davis, so that I don't have to leave the heated version up during the summer when it is not needed, and when the inside of the bucket can get VERY hot due to the summer sun.

I am using the Thermo-Cube to handle the on and off duties.  This way, I can flip the wall switch for the power cord ON when the threat of snow looms, and not have to worry about the heater coming on until the temp falls below 35F.

(http://home.nctv.com/goldengoose7/sierra_W1/VP2/Heater1.jpg)

(http://home.nctv.com/goldengoose7/sierra_W1/VP2/Heater2.jpg)

Lastly, I wanted thank mrgpk for originally posting this GREAT IDEA!  =D>  Not only is this far cheaper than the Davis element, I think it actually works BETTER!

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on September 18, 2009, 11:40:26 AM
After all the time and thought, I cannot put my heater into the station at the new school.  They will not allow me to drill a hole into the outside of the building to bring a cord inside and there are no outlets on the roof. :evil:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: kray1000 on September 18, 2009, 11:51:50 AM
After all the time and thought, I cannot put my heater into the station at the new school.  They will not allow me to drill a hole into the outside of the building to bring a cord inside and there are no outlets on the roof. :evil:

Are there any air conditioning ducts you can tap into?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on September 18, 2009, 11:55:07 AM
no a/c

humid days are no fun
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on October 14, 2009, 11:29:43 PM
Update.


1. The computer people at school may not get the computer work done before the snow flies so my station is still at home. It may stay here fo the winter.  I do not want to be on top of the school with snow on the roof and the wind blowing (again)

2. I put in my heater today by wrapping it around the cone and securing it with the new duct tape- like aluminum with adhesive.  Great stuff.
I was worried about melting the cone so I tried it in a milk carton.   It ran for 2 hours inside my house and nothing ever melted - So I figured I was safe.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on October 14, 2009, 11:44:20 PM
That reptile heater cord doesn't get hot enough to cause any damage to the bucket. The summer sun gets that bucket way hotter than that cord ever could. :)

As I mentioned before, the problem I had last year was leaving the heated bucket out there after winter, into summer.  The HEAT from the summer sun backed the bucket hard and MELTED the duct tape I had used to hold the cord to the cone! The glue came loose from the tape!  :-|

Removed all the tape and used 5 minute epoxy, so it should never come off again!

Just to make sure, I bought another rain bucket from Davis for 25.00 bucks, so now after winter is over, I swap the heated version for a stock bucket!  No worries now!  :D

Just swapped the heated one back on the VP2 since winter temps are just around the corner.  \:D/
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on October 15, 2009, 09:40:29 AM
we are getting a little snow now.

I will see how it works.



Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on October 15, 2009, 10:39:47 AM
That aluminum tape is good stuff.  I think it sticks well and the best part is that you can "form" it over a lot of different shapes so it holds even better.  The thickness, or lack of thickness, helps.

That's what I used to tape my reptile cord inside my insulation (also foil) that goes inside my collector.  I cut little strips of it to hold cord.  I put a cheap wireless remote thermometer (Walmart $12) inside the collector with the other part inside the house.  I keep heater unlpugged unless I need it.

Most time here when it's below freezng, there is no precip anyway.  Just because it's cold enough to freeze doesn't mean that there is anything to freeze.  That's why I don't like the thermostat method. Or should say don't need the thermostat.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on October 15, 2009, 03:47:43 PM
I have a thermocube type switch,  but it usually gets too cold to snow.

So I only plug it in when I think it will snow also.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on November 03, 2009, 02:09:15 AM
Has anyone tested the reptile cord method in temps around 0 or colder I live in upper michigan and we get frequent lake effect storms with single digit to -10 snow.. I'd like to use this method but not sure anyone has used it in extremes like im needing it for.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on November 04, 2009, 05:52:42 PM
Has anyone tested the reptile cord method in temps around 0 or colder I live in upper michigan and we get frequent lake effect storms with single digit to -10 snow.. I'd like to use this method but not sure anyone has used it in extremes like im needing it for.

We don't get that cold here, but I am pretty sure there are a few out there using this method in temps like that.  They do sell more powerful versions of the reptile cord than the 25 watt version used in this example.  I stuck with the 25 watt version for my installation, but as I detailed in a previous post, I ran the cord around the inner wall of the CONE in addition to the outer wall of the bucket shown in the instructions.

If you did that and possibly used 50 watt version of the cord, I am sure it would stand up to those kind of temps.  Have a look on Amazon.com starting here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=repti+heat+cable&x=0&y=0 (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=repti+heat+cable&x=0&y=0)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on November 06, 2009, 02:03:55 AM
Does anyone know how much of the 50w cable would be usable it say 23 ft, I'm looking into this  but im worried there wont be enough room for that much cable. I did read online that the cable cant be touching any other part of the cable. I'm guessing for overheating issues but in the winter with cold temps im not sure it would be a problem. I guess i could try to wrap the cone and the bucket portion??

Has anyone tested the reptile cord method in temps around 0 or colder I live in upper michigan and we get frequent lake effect storms with single digit to -10 snow.. I'd like to use this method but not sure anyone has used it in extremes like im needing it for.

We don't get that cold here, but I am pretty sure there are a few out there using this method in temps like that.  They do sell more powerful versions of the reptile cord than the 25 watt version used in this example.  I stuck with the 25 watt version for my installation, but as I detailed in a previous post, I ran the cord around the inner wall of the CONE in addition to the outer wall of the bucket shown in the instructions.

If you did that and possibly used 50 watt version of the cord, I am sure it would stand up to those kind of temps.  Have a look on Amazon.com starting here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=repti+heat+cable&x=0&y=0 (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=repti+heat+cable&x=0&y=0)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on November 06, 2009, 04:06:09 AM
Does anyone know how much of the 50w cable would be usable it say 23 ft, I'm looking into this  but im worried there wont be enough room for that much cable. I did read online that the cable cant be touching any other part of the cable. I'm guessing for overheating issues but in the winter with cold temps im not sure it would be a problem. I guess i could try to wrap the cone and the bucket portion??

Has anyone tested the reptile cord method in temps around 0 or colder I live in upper michigan and we get frequent lake effect storms with single digit to -10 snow.. I'd like to use this method but not sure anyone has used it in extremes like im needing it for.

We don't get that cold here, but I am pretty sure there are a few out there using this method in temps like that.  They do sell more powerful versions of the reptile cord than the 25 watt version used in this example.  I stuck with the 25 watt version for my installation, but as I detailed in a previous post, I ran the cord around the inner wall of the CONE in addition to the outer wall of the bucket shown in the instructions.

If you did that and possibly used 50 watt version of the cord, I am sure it would stand up to those kind of temps.  Have a look on Amazon.com starting here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=repti+heat+cable&x=0&y=0 (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=repti+heat+cable&x=0&y=0)

I would try using the 20 watt version and wrap the cone like I did.  I am pretty sure that this will be enough heat to melt anything that was in the bucket.  I didn't realize that the 50 watt version had that much cord!  :shock:  I think it would be a problem getting that much of the cord to fit into the bucket, BUT...  You could always leave the leftover portion outside of the bucket and maybe wrap it around the mast pole, just to take up the extra slack  :-k

Still... I think trying the 20 watt version first makes the most sense.

Here are those interior shots of my rain bucket again showing how I coiled the cord around the cone.  Notice that the end of the cord is at the top of the cone, right next to the hole where the water comes in.  The very end is not heated and slightly larger in diameter.  I let that "tip" hang in the air.  No need to glue that portion down.

(http://home.nctv.com/goldengoose7/sierra_W1/VP2/Heater1.jpg)

(http://home.nctv.com/goldengoose7/sierra_W1/VP2/Heater2.jpg)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 03, 2009, 08:24:58 PM
Thanks mrgpk for the great idea, I just got mine done today. I found a new Zoo Med reptile cord on ebay for $12.99. I bought the Davis insulator because it was only $5 plus $6 shipping. I found out it was nothing more than bubble wrap insulation, which I have plenty of. Oh well it saved me having to make a pattern. I tried it this evening for 35 minutes with an outside temp of 28 and then measured the temp of the cone up on top with an infrared temp gun and got 50. That should work just fine. Hope to get snow next week so I can try it out.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mark9474/Projects#5410807417410881634
http://picasaweb.google.com/mark9474/Projects#5410807434173626802
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: TeaysValleyWV on December 04, 2009, 12:16:11 AM

I would try using the 20 watt version and wrap the cone like I did.  I am pretty sure that this will be enough heat to melt anything that was in the bucket.  I didn't realize that the 50 watt version had that much cord!  :shock:  I think it would be a problem getting that much of the cord to fit into the bucket, BUT...  You could always leave the leftover portion outside of the bucket and maybe wrap it around the mast pole, just to take up the extra slack  :-k

Still... I think trying the 20 watt version first makes the most sense.

Here are those interior shots of my rain bucket again showing how I coiled the cord around the cone.  Notice that the end of the cord is at the top of the cone, right next to the hole where the water comes in.  The very end is not heated and slightly larger in diameter.  I let that "tip" hang in the air.  No need to glue that portion down.
I just rigged up mine just like yours.  I did a few modifications.  I used heavy duty foil and triple layered it using double sided tape before putting on the pipe wrap.  My thought was extra insulation.  I used the foil tape too instead of duct tape.  I found it difficult to glue the cable wraps on the inside cone evenly.  There's not much room to work and the darn cable is limp as a rag.  

I did a test tonight with the outside temp around 41.  In an hour the inside temperature stabilized at 80.  I used a wireless temperature transmitter to monitor it.  

I mounted a waterproof outlet box cover below my VP2 mount to house the thermocube and electrical connection to the extension cord.  I found the box at Home depot.  I got the duplex wide version with a flip up cover.

One thing I thought you could do in a colder climate was insulate the floor of the tipping mount with strips of the pipe wrap.  You could trim it to fit around the tipping mechanism and drains.

Thanks for the idea Goose!
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: TeaysValleyWV on December 05, 2009, 08:39:10 AM

I just rigged up mine just like yours.  I did a few modifications.  I used heavy duty foil and triple layered it using double sided tape before putting on the pipe wrap.  My thought was extra insulation.  I used the foil tape too instead of duct tape.  I found it difficult to glue the cable wraps on the inside cone evenly.  There's not much room to work and the darn cable is limp as a rag.  

I did a test tonight with the outside temp around 41.  In an hour the inside temperature stabilized at 80.  I used a wireless temperature transmitter to monitor it.  

I mounted a waterproof outlet box cover below my VP2 mount to house the thermocube and electrical connection to the extension cord.  I found the box at Home depot.  I got the duplex wide version with a flip up cover.

One thing I thought you could do in a colder climate was insulate the floor of the tipping mount with strips of the pipe wrap.  You could trim it to fit around the tipping mechanism and drains.

Thanks for the idea Goose!

Well it's working.  Our first snow started this morning.  I plugged it in with the thermocube in line and I'm recording precip with the air temp at 29.  The inside cone feels warm. :grin:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on December 05, 2009, 12:55:10 PM
I'm very impressed with some of the modifications that have been made to this idea!  Some of you guys are really putting the scotch taped beta version of this to shame =)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 05, 2009, 01:08:02 PM
I'm just so thankful for the great idea. I couldn't afford the gold plated Davis heater right now but really needed something. I had never heard of this reptile heat cable. We are supposed to get snow first of the week or before so I get to test it out real soon hopefully.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 05, 2009, 02:30:32 PM
At last, I have completed my rain bucket heater!!!  \:D/ It took me months to get everything together and then to get it put together but it's finally done.

It looks like I will get a chance to see how it does this coming week. We are forecast to get 4 to 6 inches of snow in the first storm coming in Sunday/Monday and then another few inches later in the week with a second storm behind the first.

I used the 25w reptile heater cord and a ThermoCube temperature controlled outlet. It goes on at 35-degrees F and off at 45-degrees. I built a little wooden box with a hinged top for access and placed a standard steel outlet box in it. The bottom is open to allow for air flow. Currently it's just open but I am going to add some screening later to keep the critters out during the summer months. The ThermoCube just plugs into the duplex outlet. I ran 14-2 w/ground Romex cable inside standard 3/4" EMT pvc piping underground from the garage to the 4x4 post my Davis ISS is attached to. The power going out to the thermocube outlet is on a separate switched power line (inside the garage) so I can turn it off when not needed. I also used a lighted switch in the garage so I can tell when the power is on. Am going to put some kind of neon or led lights on the outdoor box so I can tell when the power is on and when the heater is operational. The ISS is visible from our kitchen window so I will be able to see the  lights if they are on.

I attached the reptile heater cable to some slotted plastic strips that I cut to hold the cord around the inside of the rain bucket housing. I just didn't like the looks of the epoxied or taped cord on the bucket although I know no one can see it. That's just me - a perfectionist... :lol:

Will post some pictures of the setup later and let you know how it works with our next snowfall.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: TeaysValleyWV on December 05, 2009, 02:42:42 PM
I recorded 0.11" with 2" of snowfall today at air temperatures from 29 to 32F.  Works like a charm.  I will probably unplug the extension cord running out to the waterproof box when there is no sign of snow in the forecast.  I can't see keeping the rain bucket warm for nothing.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 06, 2009, 12:16:35 AM
No snow here yet but like a mother watching her newborn baby, I just had to go out and make sure my new baby was working. I checked the outside of the rain bucket and it was cold. I then checked the surface of the rain collector funnel section itself and it felt warm. The outside temperature is currently at 21.4 degrees F.

Can't wait to see how this works when we actually have snow coming down!

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on December 06, 2009, 12:35:23 AM
After a couple of years you might find yourself like me.  Leaving the heater turned of in hopes of attracting snow to the area.   :lol:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 06, 2009, 12:43:49 AM
LOL, that's funny. Mine has been on for a few hours now and its 25 out so I just went out and shot the rain funnel with my infrared and it was showing mid 50s. I can't wait to have some snow hit that thing (hopefully a little tonight but not holding my breath). This rain bucket has yet to see any water as I just set it up middle of last month. My cousin just can't understand my having to much fun with this weather stuff but I know you guys understand. :)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: TeaysValleyWV on December 06, 2009, 09:18:39 AM
I measured 0.15" when I melted my CoCoRAHS gauge collection vs 0.11 with my heated Davis collector.  It usually isn't that far off.   Even if the last bucket didn't have enough to tip, that was quite a difference over a small amount.  The Davis funnel was dry too I assume from the heat.  That's why I don't think it should be fired up until right before a storm and turned off right after to avoid evaporation.  I guess if a storm is coming in the middle of the night, you have no choice but to turn it on when you go to bed.

No noticable effect on the temperature reading that I can tell.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 06, 2009, 01:40:45 PM
LOL, that's funny. Mine has been on for a few hours now and its 25 out so I just went out and shot the rain funnel with my infrared and it was showing mid 50s. I can't wait to have some snow hit that thing (hopefully a little tonight but not holding my breath). This rain bucket has yet to see any water as I just set it up middle of last month. My cousin just can't understand my having to much fun with this weather stuff but I know you guys understand. :)

Okay, you've got me curious. I was thinking about getting some kind of IR thermometer that I could use to measure the temp of the rain bucket. What are you using and where did you get it?

Harbor Freight has two that I have been looking at:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 06, 2009, 02:20:32 PM
LOL, that's funny. Mine has been on for a few hours now and its 25 out so I just went out and shot the rain funnel with my infrared and it was showing mid 50s. I can't wait to have some snow hit that thing (hopefully a little tonight but not holding my breath). This rain bucket has yet to see any water as I just set it up middle of last month. My cousin just can't understand my having to much fun with this weather stuff but I know you guys understand. :)

Okay, you've got me curious. I was thinking about getting some kind of IR thermometer that I could use to measure the temp of the rain bucket. What are you using and where did you get it?

Harbor Freight has two that I have been looking at:
  • ITEM 93984-3VGA - $24.99
  • ITEM 96451-1VGA - $39.99 (on sale)

There are many out there I'm sure. The one I have is a RayTek MiniTemp. I bought it at NAPA for use at the shop years ago. Been using it at home recently to check various things. This is a lower end one and I would like to get a nicer one someday. They are very handy and I would feel lost without one.
[/list]

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Bushman on December 06, 2009, 02:35:14 PM
Hobby and pet shops sells those things for around 20 bucks.  YOu can get one with laser sighting (!) for about $25 US.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 06, 2009, 03:02:53 PM
I'm very impressed with some of the modifications that have been made to this idea!  Some of you guys are really putting the scotch taped beta version of this to shame =)

I am glad to see you back in this thread!  :-)

I wanted to thank you personally for providing such an "excellent" DIY solution to heating the rain bucket on a VP2!  =D>

While I did make some modifications to your original design to get more heat to the actual collector cone, it was you who came up with the brilliant idea of using that reptile heater cord!  Simply brilliant!  \:D/

The only reason I went with 5 minute Epoxy instead of tape to hold the cord in there was because I made the mistake of leaving this up through the summer, and the intense heat from the summer sun beating on that BLACK bucket melted all the glue on the tape, and the cord fell down on top of my tipping buckets!  It is all the residual glue from the melted duct tape that makes my final installation look so messy.  I tried my best ot get all the glue off, but what is left of it is permanently embedded in the plastic!  #-o  I now use TWO buckets for my rig.  This one for the winter, and a stock bucket for summer.

I have since put a La Crosse wireless temp sensor in the bucket so I can monitor the temp in there, and I was shocked by how HOT it can get in there! Not from the heater, but from the SUN!! Even when the outside air temp is in the mid 80s, the temp inside the bucket was pushing 110 F!  :shock:  I can only imagine how hot it was in there over the summer when we were getting near triple digit temps outside!  This fact should really put everyone at ease who may be concerned about how hot the element can get the internal bucket temp.  So far, the most I have seen in there is about 85 degrees F when the outside air temp was 34.  A far cry from that 110!  ;)

Oh!  I never showed what I did on the outside of the ISS... I bought one of those plastic boxes you use for a bar of soap while camping to enclose the AC connection between the reptile cord and the extension cord.  I spray painted it black and it fits nicely behind the ISS right under the Solar and UV sensor shelf.  Put some silicon sealer around the holes I drilled into the sides for the cords to come out.  The box is hinged, so when I take this down for the summer, I just pop that open to get to the cords, remove the heated bucket and pop the stock bucket on the ISS.  I've got the AC extension cord secured to the mast with Velcro straps, and I pull those straps off and remove the cord, so my wireless ISS looks wireless again!

(http://basslake-weather.com/forum_images/VP2_Exterior.jpg)

Here is a shot of the Thermo-Cube with my nightlight plugged into the second outlet.  I put a red Christmas light bulb in there so that when the heater has power, I get a BIG bright RED light to tell me it is working.

(http://basslake-weather.com/forum_images/Thermocube_light.jpg)

Anyway... I hadn't planned on doing any posting here anymore, but when I saw your reply in this thread, I just had to come on to thank you for this great idea! This thing has worked GREAT for me, and actually works far better than the overpriced and overrated Davis heater. :)

Cheers.  :)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Cienega32 on December 07, 2009, 07:54:31 AM
That soap box and nite-lite are cool ideas!
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 07, 2009, 11:58:11 PM
I have attached some photos of my new rain bucket heater and setup...

I used the 25W reptile heater cord and a ThermoCube temperature controlled outlet. I built a box for the electrical outlet and ThermoCube unit that attaches to the 4x4 post the ISS is mounted on.

The reptile heater cord is held on the rain bucket with plastic strips that have been epoxied to the inner portion of the rain bucket (see the pictures for details). I also used plastic strips to hold a portion of the heater cord to the insulation which goes against the outer portion of the rain bucket. Those plastic strips are glued on with medium CA glue. The plastic strips have been slotted so the heater cord merely hangs in the slots. No gluing was used on the cord itself so it could be changed easily if it burned out or a higher wattage cord were needed.

Last night and today we had 11" of snow and I was getting continuous bucket tips throughout the snow event. Temps overnight were in the teens with a low of 15.7F. Tonight they are forecasting a low of below zero but no new snow. Another storm is coming in Wed/Thu so will get another shot at seeing how this new rig works.

The total cost of the heater and parts ran about $75. That included a new rain bucket from Davis, the Reptile Heater Cord, ThermoCube, PVC piping, electrical connectors, outlet and other misc parts as well as shipping. A bit more than the stated $20 price of this thread but a lot less than what Davis charges for their heater assembly. I bought a second bucket, as others have done, so I have one for summer operations.

I am looking for a remote wireless temp sensor that I can place inside the rain bucket to see what the temps are inside while it is in operation.

Am also going to place some lights on the outside box so I can see when the main power is on and when the thermocube is active.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on December 08, 2009, 01:25:59 AM
Last night and today we had 11" of snow and I was getting continuous bucket tips throughout the snow event. Temps overnight were in the teens with a low of 15.7F. Tonight they are forecasting a low of below zero but no new snow. Another storm is coming in Wed/Thu so will get another shot at seeing how this new rig works.

Did the storm lighten up down there or is there any chance your tipping bucket was rubbing against the reptile cord?  The reason I ask is we got 11 inches here too, but I measured 3X the water equivalent as you.  All the other heated gauges between the Reno airport and your site measured about 0.60 inches too.

Frankly I think my Davis heater was evaporating the light fluffy snow at the start and finish of the storm as well to cause an undermeasurement of the water content. We had a half to an inch of accumulation on the lawn before I even got the first bucket tip.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 08, 2009, 01:26:59 AM
I measured my funnel temp tonight after being on all day at about 26 out and got 61. Its snowing right now and the buckets are tipping. I don't even have the cord up on the funnel. I sure wouldn't want any more than the 25W cord as evaporation would be a problem most likely if not already to a small degree. I don't have my manual gauge out though so I can't compare. I'm showing .04 so far. I think mine may have been evaporating some at the beginning because it took longer to show the first tip then I thought it should.

http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KUTMOAB2 (http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KUTMOAB2)

I have yet to figure out the proper formatting to get my WU banner in my signature. I even read a thread on it and did what I thought I needed too and it still didn't work. I haven't come back too it yet.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 08, 2009, 02:15:29 AM
I have attached some photos of my new rain bucket heater and setup...

I used the 25W reptile heater cord and a ThermoCube temperature controlled outlet. I built a box for the electrical outlet and ThermoCube unit that attaches to the 4x4 post the ISS is mounted on.

The reptile heater cord is held on the rain bucket with plastic strips that have been epoxied to the inner portion of the rain bucket (see the pictures for details). I also used plastic strips to hold a portion of the heater cord to the insulation which goes against the outer portion of the rain bucket. Those plastic strips are glued on with medium CA glue. The plastic strips have been slotted so the heater cord merely hangs in the slots. No gluing was used on the cord itself so it could be changed easily if it burned out or a higher wattage cord were needed.

Last night and today we had 11" of snow and I was getting continuous bucket tips throughout the snow event. Temps overnight were in the teens with a low of 15.7F. Tonight they are forecasting a low of below zero but no new snow. Another storm is coming in Wed/Thu so will get another shot at seeing how this new rig works.

Great job!   =D>

Those plastic holder things was a great idea!  If my cord ever burns out or something and I can't get it off clean to install another one (I bought two extra cords as backups), I might just buy another bucket and try doing the cord the same way!  Meanwhile, my epoxied version is working great!  We had our first snow of the season today and it lasted for over 12 hours!  I paid very close attention to the heater's performance in order to check the details.

Here are the final totals:

Rain data from melted snow: 0.83 in

Actual snow on the ground: 7.50 inches


That ratio sounds about right based on the snow to liquid conversions I have seen on the web, so I am not convinced that there is any significant evaporation going on here.

Another thing I noticed now that I have that La Crosse temp sensor inside the bucket, is that during the heaviest snowfall where I was getting a rain rate of over 0.30 in/h, the bucket temp got as low as 64 degrees F.  During my initial testing with no snow falling, it hovered between 75 and 80 degrees F.  So the snow contacting the bucket does have a significant effect on the internal bucket temp.  I could see how this might pose a problem for those who don't have the element touching the cone if they get temps colder than the high 20s we were at today during this 12 hour snow event.  I would guess that your melt rate would drop off rapidly as the outside air temp fell below the high 20s.

Anyway... Wanted to conclude my contribution to this thread with some more detailed observations on how this thing works during a moderate snow event.

Cheers.  :)

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: mackbig on December 08, 2009, 06:56:15 AM
Mark1974
Put this exactly into your signature, it will work.  Copy the text within the code box, then paste into sig.

Andrew

Code: [Select]
[url=http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KUTMOAB2][img]http://banners.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/banner/ban/wxBanner?bannertype=pws250&weatherstationcount=KUTMOAB2[/img][/url]
Example
(http://banners.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/banner/ban/wxBanner?bannertype=pws250&weatherstationcount=KUTMOAB2) (http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KUTMOAB2)

I have yet to figure out the proper formatting to get my WU banner in my signature. I even read a thread on it and did what I thought I needed too and it still didn't work. I haven't come back too it yet.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 08, 2009, 07:51:11 AM
Thanks for that mackbig. The problem I had was I wasn't removing enough of the other formatting such as the size information I guess. I had the correct tags on the ends. I never have figure out why BB software's don't just use the standard code.

I have measured .50 over night. I don't think evaporation is a problem when its coming down at a good rate but it might be when its falling really slowly. I haven't done any testing though so I'm just guessing and could be off.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 08, 2009, 10:22:02 AM
Last night and today we had 11" of snow and I was getting continuous bucket tips throughout the snow event. Temps overnight were in the teens with a low of 15.7F. Tonight they are forecasting a low of below zero but no new snow. Another storm is coming in Wed/Thu so will get another shot at seeing how this new rig works.

Did the storm lighten up down there or is there any chance your tipping bucket was rubbing against the reptile cord?  The reason I ask is we got 11 inches here too, but I measured 3X the water equivalent as you.  All the other heated gauges between the Reno airport and your site measured about 0.60 inches too.

Frankly I think my Davis heater was evaporating the light fluffy snow at the start and finish of the storm as well to cause an undermeasurement of the water content. We had a half to an inch of accumulation on the lawn before I even got the first bucket tip.

Dave,

The storm here in the Carson Valley was quite a bit less than what Carson City and Reno to the north received. I have checked the gauge and do not see anyplace the reptile cord is blocking the buckets. Will watch it again more closely during the next storm coming in later this week.

Just before the latest storm, the NWS discussion talked about ratios of 20 to 30 to 1 for snowfall due to the very cold upper level air. That may be why I had so much snow and little precip.

WeatherGoose - welcome back, I really like your remote sensor idea. What model LaCrosse did you get?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 08, 2009, 11:33:36 AM
Thanks for the welcome back!  :grin:

It is a good feeling to be contributing again.

The bucket sensor wasn't my idea, it was one of the other guys in this thread,  but they were using a real inexpensive sensor they got from Wal-Mart.   I decided to get a name brand one for my rig  just to have a little more accuracy.  However, as I mentioned in another thread, this La Crosse is about 3 degrees colder than the VP2 which definitely isn't right.   Right now for example the VP2 is reading 18.5 F, while the La Crosse is reading 15.2 F.

Got it from Amazon for $18.99, (La Crosse  9160U) but they have since jacked up the price considerably!  I hate it when they do that around Christmas!  :roll:

http://www.amazon.com/Crosse-Technology-Digital-Thermometer-Wireless/dp/B001DNIIOS/ref=cm_cr-mr-title (http://www.amazon.com/Crosse-Technology-Digital-Thermometer-Wireless/dp/B001DNIIOS/ref=cm_cr-mr-title)

I would shop around and see if you can find it cheaper.  It is a really nice little system though.   :)

Regarding the evaporation issue... Our snow storm started out with Flurries.  VERY light snow, and I began getting a rain reading very quickly in spite of the lightness of the precip, so I am still not convinced there is any significant loss through heat with this thing.  The interior of the bucket is only getting up to 80 F before the snow starts sitting on it, and can go down to 64 F during heavy snow, so again, even though the cone itself may be a bit hotter than that,  I don't see that being hot enough for any serious evaporation to be going on.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on December 08, 2009, 11:44:52 AM
Dave,
The storm here in the Carson Valley was quite a bit less than what Carson City and Reno to the north received. I have checked the gauge and do not see anyplace the reptile cord is blocking the buckets. Will watch it again more closely during the next storm coming in later this week.

Just before the latest storm, the NWS discussion talked about ratios of 20 to 30 to 1 for snowfall due to the very cold upper level air. That may be why I had so much snow and little precip.

Don, that's a huge change in snowfall densities over a fairly short distance.  Amazing! That's also the sort of fluffy snow that I think might evaporate before beading and dropping to the bucket if the collector cone is too hot.  I know the Davis heater has a very hot spot that should be able evaporate dry snow, but fortunately it only covers a small area of the funnel.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Bushman on December 08, 2009, 11:45:50 AM
http://www.shopxscargo.com/product_catalogue/cat_product_details.asp?category_id=6&product_code=26864&sub_category_1_id=24&category=Weather  About $8.50 US.  I have bought similar ones for under $5 US at this same place.  Maybe Overstock.com has similar?  You can also "remote" the sensor.  I'll post that in a new thread.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 08, 2009, 01:02:16 PM
Last night and today we had 11" of snow and I was getting continuous bucket tips throughout the snow event. Temps overnight were in the teens with a low of 15.7F. Tonight they are forecasting a low of below zero but no new snow. Another storm is coming in Wed/Thu so will get another shot at seeing how this new rig works.

Did the storm lighten up down there or is there any chance your tipping bucket was rubbing against the reptile cord?  The reason I ask is we got 11 inches here too, but I measured 3X the water equivalent as you.  All the other heated gauges between the Reno airport and your site measured about 0.60 inches too.

Frankly I think my Davis heater was evaporating the light fluffy snow at the start and finish of the storm as well to cause an undermeasurement of the water content. We had a half to an inch of accumulation on the lawn before I even got the first bucket tip.

Dave,

My manual CoCoRAHS reading yesterday morning at 7:00am was 0.21" in the rain gauge (melted snow, that is). That matched the Davis VP2. At that time we also only had 4.5" of snow on the ground. Another 7" fell throughout the day yesterday with the VP2 registering 0.12" for that period (7am - 12:06pm on 12/7/09). None since then. However, this morning the CoCoRAHS gauge had snow in it which melted down to 0.28". That is a huge discrepancy between the VP2 and the CoCoRAHS manual gauge. I have checked the rain bucket to ensure nothing is getting in the way of the tipping mechanism. The heater cord is still in place and well clear of the bucket assembly. I did have several large icicles hanging from the bottom of the VP2 rain bucket but inside everything is nice and dry. One of the buckets is even about half full of liquid water so I know the heater is working just fine (it's still around 6 degrees F outside). I can't believe I am getting evaporation with the temps this cold. We did have some wind yesterday but not high enough that I would think would affect the readings of two gauges sitting next to each other.

Will watch things very closely when our next storm comes in tomorrow or Thursday and see what happens.


Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 08, 2009, 01:06:38 PM
Dave,
The storm here in the Carson Valley was quite a bit less than what Carson City and Reno to the north received. I have checked the gauge and do not see anyplace the reptile cord is blocking the buckets. Will watch it again more closely during the next storm coming in later this week.

Just before the latest storm, the NWS discussion talked about ratios of 20 to 30 to 1 for snowfall due to the very cold upper level air. That may be why I had so much snow and little precip.

Don, that's a huge change in snowfall densities over a fairly short distance.  Amazing! That's also the sort of fluffy snow that I think might evaporate before beading and dropping to the bucket if the collector cone is too hot.  I know the Davis heater has a very hot spot that should be able evaporate dry snow, but fortunately it only covers a small area of the funnel.

The heater I have installed shouldn't have any hot spots as it coils evenly around the inner bucket. Again, I find  it hard to believe I am having evaporation problems.  We are at 4800' in altitude so there is some loss from that but very little, I would imagine.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 08, 2009, 07:15:05 PM
Something I noticed this morning was that the buckets tipped at least twice after the snow had stopped (wish I would have paid more att. to the amount when I left). That would seem to indicate that there was still some snow in the funnel that was slowly melting. I don't have a temp sender in the bucket so don't know what its doing in there. We got 8" and I show .72" water and that seems to line up pretty good with a temp of 26-28 while snowing. I don't have a good winter manual gauge or I would put it out. All I have is one of those plastic wedges from the weather service.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 08, 2009, 08:51:24 PM
Something I noticed this morning was that the buckets tipped at least twice after the snow had stopped (wish I would have paid more att. to the amount when I left). That would seem to indicate that there was still some snow in the funnel that was slowly melting. I don't have a temp sender in the bucket so don't know what its doing in there. We got 8" and I show .72" water and that seems to line up pretty good with a temp of 26-28 while snowing. I don't have a good winter manual gauge or I would put it out. All I have is one of those plastic wedges from the weather service.

Yeah... That is normal with a heater.  You will get used to the "delayed" rain data as it may take longer to melt the snow in the bucket depending on how cold it is outside and whether or not you have the heating element around the actual collector cone or not.  I generally don't have too much residual snow left in mine unless it has really been heavy.

Was that .72 before or after the remaining snow got counted?  We got almost 8" of snow and I ended up with .83 on the gauge.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 08, 2009, 09:04:25 PM
.72 is the total. Was your temp higher while it was snowing? Maybe you had a heavier snow. If not that maybe the really light beginning we had evaporated, I dunno.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 08, 2009, 09:49:49 PM
.72 is the total. Was your temp higher while it was snowing? Maybe you had a heavier snow. If not that maybe the really light beginning we had evaporated, I dunno.

What was your average temp during the storm?  I just looked over my WU data from yesterday and I had a span of about 34 down to 29 during the snow event.

http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=ISQLSJSJ2&month=12&day=7&year=2009 (http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=ISQLSJSJ2&month=12&day=7&year=2009)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: MarkWX on December 08, 2009, 10:30:40 PM
That would explain it then. I had 25-26 most of the time and up to 32 at the very end. Here is a chart I found this morning when I did a quick search: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/weather/classroom/weathercharts/6550997.html (http://www.cbs3springfield.com/weather/classroom/weathercharts/6550997.html)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 09, 2009, 12:54:30 AM
That would explain it then. I had 25-26 most of the time and up to 32 at the very end. Here is a chart I found this morning when I did a quick search: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/weather/classroom/weathercharts/6550997.html (http://www.cbs3springfield.com/weather/classroom/weathercharts/6550997.html)

Yep!  That definitely shows that temp can make a difference in the difference between the two!  We were up and down on both sides of 32 degrees, so my .83 sounds about right with my measured snow of a little over 7.5 inches.  With that same difference with your lower temps, your liquid to snow looks right too!  :)

Both definitely would appear to put to rest any notion that this heater design causes any measurable amount of evaporation.  :D

Thanks for sharing that URL.  I bookmarked it for future reference.

Cheers.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony on December 09, 2009, 08:01:07 AM
A good rule of thumb with snow is, the warmer the wetter, the colder the drier. Cold air can't hold as much moisture as warmer air can.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 10, 2009, 01:49:12 PM
I measured 16 inches of snow in a sheltered wooded area near my VP2 ...high winds and drifting snow didn't help my readings for the rain collector... I measured .44 precp
My cocorahs gauge measured .71  :???: It's in a slightly sheltered area compaired to my vp2.  I need a wind screen like the nws and forest service uses . I'm on a hill and have a good 3 miles straight line NW wind off lake superior. Anyone ever build a wind screen??
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Strgazr27 on December 10, 2009, 09:27:07 PM
I was able to record .14 inches of precip before it turned to rain here. It was pretty impressive seeing the large flakes hit the bucket and just turn to liquid. Can't wait for a nice steady snowfall to see if it can keep up. With 50 watts and the cone wrapped I should be fine.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: DanS on December 10, 2009, 09:44:21 PM
... Anyone ever build a wind screen??

You could use just about anything that will stand up to the elements. Try pressure treated wood slats like a picket fence uses.  Strap them together around the rain gage, not to exceed the mounted height of the gage by more than a couple of inches. Use spacing between and under them to minimize turbulence. Here's one made from metal to give you an idea of a design.  (http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/ss324/DanS_photo_09/rainGageWindScreen.jpg)Hope this helps.

Dan
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SlowModem on December 11, 2009, 06:59:07 AM
... Anyone ever build a wind screen??

You could use just about anything that will stand up to the elements. Try pressure treated wood slats like a picket fence uses.  Strap them together around the rain gage, not to exceed the mounted height of the gage by more than a couple of inches. Use spacing between and under them to minimize turbulence. Here's one made from metal to give you an idea of a design.  (http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/ss324/DanS_photo_09/rainGageWindScreen.jpg)Hope this helps.

Dan


Here's a picture of the one we have where I work:

(http://i585.photobucket.com/albums/ss298/Slowmodem_photo/ecbroof.jpg)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: George Richardson on December 11, 2009, 09:37:56 AM
Greg,
Very interesting picture. How high above the rain gauge rim is the top of the wind shield?
George
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SlowModem on December 11, 2009, 09:46:53 AM
Greg,
Very interesting picture. How high above the rain gauge rim is the top of the wind shield?
George

To the best of my recollection, it's 3 to 4 inches taller than the funnel (I'm not a great photographer, especially with a cell phone).  I don't know how old the screen is (the plant was built in the 1950s), and I think some of the ass'y has been redone over the years (it's sitting on a pallet that's not all that old).  there's a copper line that runs down into the building into a big plexiglass cylinder that has inches marked on it.  It seems to work ok, though.  They read the rain gauge cylinder every midnight.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on December 11, 2009, 06:41:25 PM
Will watch things very closely when our next storm comes in tomorrow or Thursday and see what happens.

Don, we had a light fluffy snow here this morning.  I "eyeballed" it as an inch in the CoCoRaHS gauge and then melted it to 0.025" W.E. this afternoon.  My ISS didn't register anything.  I would have expected it to have measured at least 0.01" so I think there was a chance of evaporation here as evidenced by the difference in the water measurements.  The evaporation would occur either on the surface of the funnel or cooked off from the tipping bucket itself which was heated to about 65-85 F during the day.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 11, 2009, 08:59:36 PM
Will watch things very closely when our next storm comes in tomorrow or Thursday and see what happens.

Don, we had a light fluffy snow here this morning.  I "eyeballed" it as an inch in the CoCoRaHS gauge and then melted it to 0.025" W.E. this afternoon.  My ISS didn't register anything.  I would have expected it to have measured at least 0.01" so I think there was a chance of evaporation here as evidenced by the difference in the water measurements.  The evaporation would occur either on the surface of the funnel or cooked off from the tipping bucket itself which was heated to about 65-85 F during the day.

Dave,

We had a very light dusting last night with just a few flakes in the CoCoRAHS gauge - not enough to measure. The VP2 collector cone was dry when I checked it this morning. I did not remove the cone assy to see what, if anything, was in the rain collector buckets inside. The exterior of the collector cone was warm to the touch but not hot. The outside temp at the time was in the high teens. So,  I know my reptile heater is working but without more precipitation, I'm in the dark as to whether I have an evaporation problem or not. Another storm is due in here tomorrow and Sunday so will have a chance to observe the readings then.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 11, 2009, 09:15:31 PM
I had the same thing happen once already. this is very discouraging  ](*,), I guess the only thing i can do is measure as much as possible.
Keep track of differences between the gauges and make notes.


Will watch things very closely when our next storm comes in tomorrow or Thursday and see what happens.

Don, we had a light fluffy snow here this morning.  I "eyeballed" it as an inch in the CoCoRaHS gauge and then melted it to 0.025" W.E. this afternoon.  My ISS didn't register anything.  I would have expected it to have measured at least 0.01" so I think there was a chance of evaporation here as evidenced by the difference in the water measurements.  The evaporation would occur either on the surface of the funnel or cooked off from the tipping bucket itself which was heated to about 65-85 F during the day.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 12, 2009, 11:21:18 AM
We had a light storm come through last night and early this morning. It started as all snow and the VP2 started showing precip within a few minutes of it starting and continued throughout the night. This morning we had a rain/snow mix for about 20 minutes which picked up about .04" of precip.

The 24-hour reading on the VP2 was 0.11". The 24-hour reading (of melted snow & rain) in the CoCoRAHS gauge was 0.12". I had previously removed the funnel top and measuring tube due to snow being forecast. So, that makes me feel much better about the heater not causing evaporization in the buckets. Those totals are within one bucket tip of each other so I am very happy of these results. Will continue to watch to see how they compare as we get more precip over the next couple of days.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on December 12, 2009, 12:14:38 PM
The 24-hour reading on the VP2 was 0.11". The 24-hour reading (of melted snow & rain) in the CoCoRAHS gauge was 0.12". I had previously removed the funnel top and measuring tube due to snow being forecast. So, that makes me feel much better about the heater not causing evaporization in the buckets. Those totals are within one bucket tip of each other so I am very happy of these results. Will continue to watch to see how they compare as we get more precip over the next couple of days.
My storm CoCoRaHS W.E. up to this morning was 0.29".  The ISS was 0.23"  Normally my ISS is within 0.01" of the CoCoRaHS gauge nearly all the time.  BTW, the airport had 0.24" for the 24 hrs  period. I think there could be evaporation losses during very light or fluffy snow fall periods.  For this storm I waited until the snowfall was well in progress before powering up the heater to have an accumulated snow layer in the cone that could be melted and not just evaporated, but in the early morning hours there was a period when snow may have stopped or become very light.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on December 12, 2009, 02:47:18 PM
New question.

I am running the 15w heater.

There are no outlets on the roof at school. No one will let me drill a hole in the building to bring a cord in.

But I have access to the room above me and my room. Is there a thin power cord that can be used to pass through the crank out windows and still have them shut. Part of the cord will be outside.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on December 13, 2009, 11:33:54 PM
New question.

I am running the 15w heater.

There are no outlets on the roof at school. No one will let me drill a hole in the building to bring a cord in.

But I have access to the room above me and my room. Is there a thin power cord that can be used to pass through the crank out windows and still have them shut. Part of the cord will be outside.

Door bell wire might be thin enough.  But the small size of the wire could drop the voltage to the heater if you have a very long run and it is not really for outdoor use.  Although I have been using it for several years now (about 7' in length) and it has not deteriorated too badly yet.

Edit 12/15/09: Note: Do not use this type of wire for 120V applications!  This suggestion is for those of us running 12-24 Volt heaters either home brew or from Davis that uses a transformer to both reduce the main house AC voltage and as a side safety benefit provides electrical isolation from earth ground there by reducing shock and fire hazard.


Edit 12/13/09:  According to the Davis manual 22 AWG is good for up to 60ft. run
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 14, 2009, 01:25:44 PM
Just picked up 4.5 inches of snow iss measured .08     cocorahs gauge .20 more on target maybe i have to much heat?  there was virtually no wind when it started and 13 degree temp...its warmed to 25 and wind is picking up out of the north after observaton time.. so wind is ruled out this time as being a factor..im frustrated because this is really effecting my logs ....  Maybe i could make a rheostat or something to limit the heat.. any ideas ??
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 14, 2009, 03:42:48 PM
New question.

I am running the 15w heater.

There are no outlets on the roof at school. No one will let me drill a hole in the building to bring a cord in.

But I have access to the room above me and my room. Is there a thin power cord that can be used to pass through the crank out windows and still have them shut. Part of the cord will be outside.

I can understand your frustration in not being able to get power to your heater but, I would not suggest attempting to run any power cord out a window and up to another floor above you. Can you imagine the lawsuits that would occur if anyone, not just students, were to get shocked or even worse, electrocuted. My advice would be to forget it if you can't get power directly and by a code-approved source. Door-bell wire is NOT approved for 110vac usage. Our weather stations are important to us but should not be taken to the point of exposing yourself or anyone else to potential danger.

It's just like amateur radio operators. Every year there are a few who forget about the safety aspect of the hobby and try to erect antennas near power lines and get electrocuted simply because they either didn't think about potential danger or they thought they were far enough away from the lines. A little slip here or there can spell disaster. Just recently four family members died as a result of their attempting to put up an antenna and it got away from them and hit the power lines. All four of them were electrocuted instantly.

Sorry to drag this on but I can't empasize enough the necessity of enjoying our hobby safely. I don't want to hear about any of us doing something we shouldn't do along these lines.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 14, 2009, 10:25:34 PM
I'm looking into a 15 minute cycle timer on 15 off 15 minutes this to me would limit evaporization I believe im getting. Some of them are quite pricey..looking for the cheapest one that will work, and if the idea doesn't work im not out allot of money.



Just picked up 4.5 inches of snow iss measured .08     cocorahs gauge .20 more on target maybe i have to much heat?  there was virtually no wind when it started and 13 degree temp...its warmed to 25 and wind is picking up out of the north after observaton time.. so wind is ruled out this time as being a factor..im frustrated because this is really effecting my logs ....  Maybe i could make a rheostat or something to limit the heat.. any ideas ??
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: DanS on December 14, 2009, 10:42:32 PM
Wouldn't one of these work?   http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&productId=100685854&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&PID=500871&cm_mmc=CJ-_-nextag-_-D27X-_-100685854&URL=http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/BuildLinkToHomeDepot?linktype=product&id=100685854&cm_mmc=CJ-_-nextag-_-D27X-_-100685854&cpncode=17-45035154-2&AID=10368321&cj=true&srccode=cii_9324560

It's not every 15 mins. but 30 mins. on / off.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 14, 2009, 11:00:39 PM
I just can't believe that you are getting that much evaporation.  Your temps are much colder than mine, and I saw basically zero loss of measurement during our entire snow event.  What we had on the ground matched what my ISS recorded within 0.001 according to all the conversions I could find on the web.

I am basically using the same heater that you are.

I think your accuracy problem lies somewhere else.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on December 14, 2009, 11:05:14 PM
.... Door-bell wire is NOT approved for 110vac usage. ...

Actually it is 24 V on the wire between the on/off switch box and the heater.  It uses a wall wart to drop the voltage.   ;)

http://davisnet.com/product_documents/weather/manuals/rain_collector_heater.pdf

http://davisnet.com/weather/products/weather_product.asp?pnum=07720

I did though make the assumption that Chief would know better then to try and run 120V through a wire not labeled and approved for it.  He is a teacher after all.  And also that he had the Davis heater.    #-o
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 15, 2009, 11:30:23 AM
I know it seems hard to believe, however i know that rainfall was on par when measured with both..And back in october I got snow and didn't have the heater I let it melt when the sun came out and it was also on par with the CoCorahs gauge.? I dont know what else it could be.. I know i have the 50 w retile cord and its wrapped on the inside cone allot, very close to the buckets. I Also have it insulated on the bottom of the collector inside and out. Not sure what else it could be.

I just can't believe that you are getting that much evaporation.  Your temps are much colder than mine, and I saw basically zero loss of measurement during our entire snow event.  What we had on the ground matched what my ISS recorded within 0.001 according to all the conversions I could find on the web.

I am basically using the same heater that you are.

I think your accuracy problem lies somewhere else.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Strgazr27 on December 15, 2009, 12:28:48 PM
Where is the manual gauge in relation to the VP? If it's lower to the ground than blowing snow would likely give you a different reading than what is captured in the elevated VP bucket. I also find it hard to believe that your losing that much to evaporation in the short time it should take for the snow to melt and run down inside the cone.

I'm also using the 50w reptile cord but as of yet had almost no measurable snowfall to check my readings. I also need to pick up a manual gauge.
Title: !
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 15, 2009, 12:40:04 PM
I know i have the 50 w retile cord and its wrapped on the inside cone allot, very close to the buckets. I Also have it insulated on the bottom of the collector inside and out. Not sure what else it could be.


WHOA!  Hold on a second... I forgot that you were using a 50W version of the cord!  I am using the 25W that is defined in the original directions for this heater design.  It sounds to me like the 50W is heating way hotter than you actually need even for your climate, and perhaps that is enough to evaporate a lot of the moisture.  The other thing that was already mentioned is the location of your other gauge in relation to the VP2 bucket.  Both should be at the SAME HEIGHT and preferably, within a foot of each other.

It might be cheaper in the long run to change over to the 25W version of the reptile heater element?  As I said, I don't have any evaporation issues with mine at all.
Title: Re: !
Post by: upweather on December 15, 2009, 01:20:02 PM
Yea it s the 50w version...I got extra insulation on it then everyone else. Maybe ill remove the extra insulation and see how it goes.. i have it insulated around the drains inside and out ,to limit heat lose in the rain collector.. I just know winter has not set in yet and snowfall in the single digits is likely in the near future. but the percentage of this condition is less .

I know i have the 50 w retile cord and its wrapped on the inside cone allot, very close to the buckets. I Also have it insulated on the bottom of the collector inside and out. Not sure what else it could be.


WHOA!  Hold on a second... I forgot that you were using a 50W version of the cord!  I am using the 25W that is defined in the original directions for this heater design.  It sounds to me like the 50W is heating way hotter than you actually need even for your climate, and perhaps that is enough to evaporate a lot of the moisture.  The other thing that was already mentioned is the location of your other gauge in relation to the VP2 bucket.  Both should be at the SAME HEIGHT and preferably, within a foot of each other.

It might be cheaper in the long run to change over to the 25W version of the reptile heater element?  As I said, I don't have any evaporation issues with mine at all.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 15, 2009, 02:03:14 PM
Just for comparison, the Davis heater is 24 watts, and is located inside the reflective insulation that is placed inside the outer shell (and no insulation on the inside of the cone).  I am fairly confident that Davis engineering thoughtfully engineered the amount and distribution of heat.

http://www.davisnet.com/productpics/big/07720.jpg

Using a 50 watt heater (or even 25 watts) that's perhaps located adjacent to the code and under an insulating layer on the cone will probably produce different results.

And, I know it's fun to build stuff - but I wonder how much those $20 heaters are really costing.  And how much more heat they supply to the collecting cone, than the Davis one does. 

If you want to build one like Davis', get a 1 ohm wire wound resistor (50 watts or so) from digi-key, newark, alliedelec, or a local parts house.  And a 24-volt wall wart that will do 1 ampere continuous. 

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 15, 2009, 05:40:18 PM
Just for comparison, the Davis heater is 24 watts, and is located inside the reflective insulation that is placed inside the outer shell (and no insulation on the inside of the cone).  I am fairly confident that Davis engineering thoughtfully engineered the amount and distribution of heat.

http://www.davisnet.com/productpics/big/07720.jpg

Using a 50 watt heater (or even 25 watts) that's perhaps located adjacent to the code and under an insulating layer on the cone will probably produce different results.

And, I know it's fun to build stuff - but I wonder how much those $20 heaters are really costing.  And how much more heat they supply to the collecting cone, than the Davis one does.  

If you want to build one like Davis', get a 1 ohm wire wound resistor (50 watts or so) from digi-key, newark, alliedelec, or a local parts house.  And a 24-volt wall wart that will do 1 ampere continuous.  


My melt rate is about double that of the Davis unit.  Probably because I have the heating cord coiled around the under surface of collector cone in addition to around the inner wall of the bucket.  I used the same insulation wrap as indicated in the original post here.

How am I so sure of the difference you ask?  ;)

The station about .7 miles from here ON Bass Lake has a VP2 with the Davis Heater.  While my rain rate is nearly double that station's during a snow event, our rain totals when all is said and done are usually identical.  We are a lot more in sync in this regard AFTER a snow event than after a rain event.

The thing is... The Davis melt rate is so much slower than mine, his rain total usually takes about 2 hours longer after the snow stops to provide the final total.  Meaning... He is still indicating precipitation with an inaccurate current rain total on CWOP long after the event has passed.   ;)

So... I think I'll stick with this heater.  1/5th the price, and far more effective!  :D



Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 15, 2009, 06:35:51 PM
OK with me - your melt rate is double.

What's the comparison in "evaporation rate" with light snow/precipitation?  I thought that was the major issue being discussed.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 15, 2009, 07:54:44 PM
first off I dont have the funnel wrapped with insulation however several ft of the cord is. This is my plan. I'm going to remove the cord from the funnel portion and relocate it on the inside of the  cone as the original directions indicated and also i'll remove the added insulation that was also not called out. I do know if it was snow lightly the collection area felt warm and dry.. I will also perform a evap test with a spray bottle before making the change.. I do know this has to be happening my gauges are within 30 ft of each other and within 6 inch height. I gathered 6.6 inches total yesterday and measured .28 precip w/cocorahs gauge and .11  w/ VP2..ave temp during this time 18 degrees so at that temp on the snow table wouldn't even equal half the snow accumulation.... This was a light snow last storm when it was snowing harder it was allot closer between the gauges.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 15, 2009, 08:43:56 PM
OK with me - your melt rate is double.

What's the comparison in "evaporation rate" with light snow/precipitation?  I thought that was the major issue being discussed.

Not seeing it here.  We had light flurries for the first 6 hours of our first snow of the season, and I saw no loss.  If you are talking any less than "measurable" precip, then I doubt having a heater or not having a heater is going to make any difference.  If the bucket doesn't tip, then whatever is in there when the drizzle/snow stops is going to evaporate and not be counted regardless.  ;)

If I go out to my ISS when temps are below 35 degrees when my heater would automatically switch on, and put my hand into the collector cone, it is slightly warm to the touch.  Not HOT.  The interior of my rain bucket hovers at around 75-78 degrees which is not warm enough to evaporate anything before it drips into the tipping buckets.

Beside the singular issue with a 50W heater, I think this evaporation concern over the original 25W version in this thread is "much todo about nothing" if you ask me.  Everyone loses far more precip by the "last bucket load" NOT tipping, than you will ever loose from this heater.

It makes for an interesting debate, regardless of how pointless that may be.  ;)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 15, 2009, 09:06:37 PM
first off I dont have the funnel wrapped with insulation however several ft of the cord is. This is my plan. I'm going to remove the cord from the funnel portion and relocate it on the inside of the  cone as the original directions indicated and also i'll remove the added insulation that was also not called out. I do know if it was snow lightly the collection area felt warm and dry.. I will also perform a evap test with a spray bottle before making the change.. I do know this has to be happening my gauges are within 30 ft of each other and within 6 inch height. I gathered 6.6 inches total yesterday and measured .28 precip w/cocorahs gauge and .11  w/ VP2..ave temp during this time 18 degrees so at that temp on the snow table wouldn't even equal half the snow accumulation.... This was a light snow last storm when it was snowing harder it was allot closer between the gauges.

I still can't fathom this much loss even from a 50W heater.

We had 7.5 inches of snow on day 1 of our storm, with a measured rain total from the VP2 of 0.83 in.  I can't understand how you can have 6.6 inches on the ground and end up with only 0.28 leave alone 0.11.  Even if the snow was really light and fluffy, that is still a HUGE difference from what I measured here.  Did this conversion jibe with your conversion table?  What are you using to convert the snow to rain values?

I should also point out that the VP2 at the lake with the Davis heater measured 0.82 in of precip during the same snow event.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 15, 2009, 10:09:49 PM
It is very close with the conversion table, I got it online don't remember but someone had a link to it. anything below 19 makes a big difference ..And im not saying even the cocorahs gauge picks up everything either but it's very close . I know it seems very odd this much evap is going on. I got a IR thermometor from work tonight and in the morning im going out to check temps in the funnel portion and also try to shoot a beam directly down the center into the tipping bucket area. After that i'll make spray a light mist onto the collection area and wait to see if it evaps quickly. Next remove all cord from the inside of the funnel which is heavely wrapped with the heater cord. then recheck temps.
I'll update tommorrow my findings.

 
first off I dont have the funnel wrapped with insulation however several ft of the cord is. This is my plan. I'm going to remove the cord from the funnel portion and relocate it on the inside of the  cone as the original directions indicated and also i'll remove the added insulation that was also not called out. I do know if it was snow lightly the collection area felt warm and dry.. I will also perform a evap test with a spray bottle before making the change.. I do know this has to be happening my gauges are within 30 ft of each other and within 6 inch height. I gathered 6.6 inches total yesterday and measured .28 precip w/cocorahs gauge and .11  w/ VP2..ave temp during this time 18 degrees so at that temp on the snow table wouldn't even equal half the snow accumulation.... This was a light snow last storm when it was snowing harder it was allot closer between the gauges.

I still can't fathom this much loss even from a 50W heater.

We had 7.5 inches of snow on day 1 of our storm, with a measured rain total from the VP2 of 0.83 in.  I can't understand how you can have 6.6 inches on the ground and end up with only 0.28 leave alone 0.11.  Even if the snow was really light and fluffy, that is still a HUGE difference from what I measured here.  Did this conversion jibe with your conversion table?  What are you using to convert the snow to rain values?

I should also point out that the VP2 at the lake with the Davis heater measured 0.82 in of precip during the same snow event.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 15, 2009, 10:20:57 PM
This thread will never die  ](*,) here is the table i've been going by..

link  http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/conversion/newsnowfall.html
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 15, 2009, 10:37:45 PM
It is very close with the conversion table, I got it online don't remember but someone had a link to it. anything below 19 makes a big difference ..And im not saying even the cocorahs gauge picks up everything either but it's very close . I know it seems very odd this much evap is going on. I got a IR thermometor from work tonight and in the morning im going out to check temps in the funnel portion and also try to shoot a beam directly down the center into the tipping bucket area. After that i'll make spray a light mist onto the collection area and wait to see if it evaps quickly. Next remove all cord from the inside of the funnel which is heavely wrapped with the heater cord. then recheck temps.
I'll update tommorrow my findings.

 
first off I dont have the funnel wrapped with insulation however several ft of the cord is. This is my plan. I'm going to remove the cord from the funnel portion and relocate it on the inside of the  cone as the original directions indicated and also i'll remove the added insulation that was also not called out. I do know if it was snow lightly the collection area felt warm and dry.. I will also perform a evap test with a spray bottle before making the change.. I do know this has to be happening my gauges are within 30 ft of each other and within 6 inch height. I gathered 6.6 inches total yesterday and measured .28 precip w/cocorahs gauge and .11  w/ VP2..ave temp during this time 18 degrees so at that temp on the snow table wouldn't even equal half the snow accumulation.... This was a light snow last storm when it was snowing harder it was allot closer between the gauges.

I still can't fathom this much loss even from a 50W heater.

We had 7.5 inches of snow on day 1 of our storm, with a measured rain total from the VP2 of 0.83 in.  I can't understand how you can have 6.6 inches on the ground and end up with only 0.28 leave alone 0.11.  Even if the snow was really light and fluffy, that is still a HUGE difference from what I measured here.  Did this conversion jibe with your conversion table?  What are you using to convert the snow to rain values?

I should also point out that the VP2 at the lake with the Davis heater measured 0.82 in of precip during the same snow event.

I guess those low teens and below really do make a huge difference in the comparative values.  We rarely get below the mid 20s when it is snowing due to the elevation and cloud cover.  Heck... Our coldest overnight temps are rarely lower than 15 F on a clear cloudless night.

Definitely looking forward to what you record for the core temp of the collector cone. When my bucket has any reasonable amount of snow in it, my inner bucket temp falls down into the mid 60s.  There ain't going to be any evap going on at 60 F!  Not during the few minutes the snow takes to melt and drip through to the tipping buckets.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 16, 2009, 01:48:32 PM
Here is my update.  I went out today and its snowing lightly 14.5 degrees.  I Looked inside the rain collector watched the snow fall and almost disappear as it hit the collection area. I put the IR thermometer on the top of the cone it was 53 degrees. mid point it was 63.2 degrees and towards the bottom 72.3..I tried to shoot a beam straight down into the tipping bucket but was still reading low 70's ..
I removed the bucket after chipping away ice and struggling about 10 mins hoping it wouldn't break the plastic locking tabs :-x but ended up getting it free . I removed the heater cord that heavily wrapped around the inside of the  cone. distributed it throughout the inside of the bucket like the original directions imply. I put it all together and currently waiting to recheck temps after about 30 min.. The heater has now been on for about 35 mins The temps after the change are as follows AIR TEMP 16 DEGREES
Top of cone 40.5  , mid point 52 deg,  bottom 40 deg ... The temps are different with the warmest point being the middle not the bottom as before.
I wonder if anyone else has a IR thermometer could check there temps to compare?
 
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WeatherGoose on December 16, 2009, 03:12:37 PM
It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable difference in your recorded rain totals with these lower temps in the bucket.  They are now closer to mine, so hopefully you will get better results.  I am still not convinced that your problem lies with the heater.

Keep us posted!  :D
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 16, 2009, 03:14:31 PM

Definitely looking forward to what you record for the core temp of the collector cone. When my bucket has any reasonable amount of snow in it, my inner bucket temp falls down into the mid 60s.  There ain't going to be any evap going on at 60 F!  Not during the few minutes the snow takes to melt and drip through to the tipping buckets.


You seemed quite certain of that.

Here is my update.  I went out today and its snowing lightly 14.5 degrees.  I Looked inside the rain collector watched the snow fall and almost disappear as it hit the collection area. I put the IR thermometer on the top of the cone it was 53 degrees. mid point it was 63.2 degrees and towards the bottom 72.3....
 

If the surface temperature of the cone is 33 degrees, and the precipitation rate is below that rate where the water will collect into droplets and run down the cone -- then the water will just "stick" to the cone (surface tension) until it evaporates.  That's particularly noticeable with snow, because the individual spots of meltwater are usually smaller than what you would get with raindrops.  But you can see the same effect with mist.

Evaporation (of "standing water")  can occur at any temperature above freezing.   
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on December 16, 2009, 04:21:55 PM
If the surface temperature of the cone is 33 degrees, and the precipitation rate is below that rate where the water will collect into droplets and run down the cone -- then the water will just "stick" to the cone (surface tension) until it evaporates.  That's particularly noticeable with snow, because the individual spots of meltwater are usually smaller than what you would get with raindrops.  But you can see the same effect with mist.

Evaporation (of "standing water")  can occur at any temperature above freezing.   

If the melt water simply wets the plastic surface (hydrophilic attraction) rather than beading (hydrophobic repulsion), the evaporation rate will be faster due to the extra surface area of the melt water.  That's one reason I've tried to make the funnel plastic more hydrophobic through use of Rain-X and then Plexus treatments. Can't say how well the Plexus treatment is holding up due to snow banks that prevent me from inspecting the collector cone.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 16, 2009, 04:55:52 PM
If the melt water simply wets the plastic surface (hydrophilic attraction) rather than beading (hydrophobic repulsion), the evaporation rate will be faster due to the extra surface area of the melt water.  That's one reason I've tried to make the funnel plastic more hydrophobic through use of Rain-X and then Plexus treatments. Can't say how well the Plexus treatment is holding up due to snow banks that prevent me from inspecting the collector cone.

Great suggestion.  Thanks.

Regarding this and the "heater" situation - the effects will only be really obvious with light snow, less obvious with light rain, and essentially undetectable in heavy snow or heavy rain.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on December 16, 2009, 05:22:13 PM
Regarding this and the "heater" situation - the effects will only be really obvious with light snow, less obvious with light rain, and essentially undetectable in heavy snow or heavy rain.

That's why powered off my Davis heater until some light snow had accumulated during the last snowfall we had. I think that worked well and then the storm became heavy enough so that there wasn't an evaporation problem.  The Davis heater can certainly melt the snow fast if necessary.  It was about freezing and its melt rate exceeded 0.40 in/hr for about 10 minutes until it caught up to the snowfall rate.  Then it had several other periods of melt rates higher than 0.25 in/hr (Davis' claimed max) and a sustained interval of almost 0.20 in/hr.

I don't think I can make a valid comparison with my CoCoRaHS accumulation.  There was a slight wind and the snow stacked and banked on the sensor shelf into an overhanging cornice.  The CoCoRaHS tube which has slightly better wind protection actually ended up with more snow plugging and capping it than accumulated in the bottom of the tube. The net difference was that the CoCoRaHS had about 10% more water.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 16, 2009, 07:40:19 PM
This is exactly what i saw today.. My problem also is Lake effect snow is usually none consistant in snowfall rates.. It may snow 10 mins and nothing then 30 mins later startup again. thats what i've had lately.. Thats another reason I'd like to be able to cycle the heater to allow a slight build up before it completly melts I used a plastic polish today to help bead the water droplets. The snow lately has such little moisture in it ..it just makes specs on the cone when it hits . I may just have to settle for less then ideal collection data.

 

Definitely looking forward to what you record for the core temp of the collector cone. When my bucket has any reasonable amount of snow in it, my inner bucket temp falls down into the mid 60s.  There ain't going to be any evap going on at 60 F!  Not during the few minutes the snow takes to melt and drip through to the tipping buckets.


You seemed quite certain of that.

Here is my update.  I went out today and its snowing lightly 14.5 degrees.  I Looked inside the rain collector watched the snow fall and almost disappear as it hit the collection area. I put the IR thermometer on the top of the cone it was 53 degrees. mid point it was 63.2 degrees and towards the bottom 72.3....
 

If the surface temperature of the cone is 33 degrees, and the precipitation rate is below that rate where the water will collect into droplets and run down the cone -- then the water will just "stick" to the cone (surface tension) until it evaporates.  That's particularly noticeable with snow, because the individual spots of meltwater are usually smaller than what you would get with raindrops.  But you can see the same effect with mist.

Evaporation (of "standing water")  can occur at any temperature above freezing.   
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 19, 2009, 01:53:48 PM
PREVIOUS UPDATE Here is my update.  I went out today and its snowing lightly 14.5 degrees.  I Looked inside the rain collector watched the snow fall and almost disappear as it hit the collection area. I put the IR thermometer on the top of the cone it was 53 degrees. mid point it was 63.2 degrees and towards the bottom 72.3..I tried to shoot a beam straight down into the tipping bucket but was still reading low 70's ..
I removed the bucket after chipping away ice and struggling about 10 mins hoping it wouldn't break the plastic locking tabs  but ended up getting it free . I removed the heater cord that heavily wrapped around the inside of the  cone. distributed it throughout the inside of the bucket like the original directions imply. I put it all together and currently waiting to recheck temps after about 30 min.. The heater has now been on for about 35 mins The temps after the change are as follows AIR TEMP 16 DEGREES
Top of cone 40.5  , mid point 52 deg,  bottom 40 deg ... The temps are different with the warmest point being the middle not the bottom as before.
I wonder if anyone else has a IR thermometer could check there temps to compare?
 
CURRENT UPDATE  Today 12-19  I picked up 1.2 inches of light snow  not much but measurable after making the change to my heater and adding a 30 min cycle timer I measured .07 on my VP2 and .08 on the CoCoRahs gauge  \:D/ allot better not even 20 mins after emptying the CoCoRahs gauge the VP2 measured .08  \:D/ I'm very excited , although it's not allot of snow it's very close compaired to before being .17 below .28 on the CoCoRahs gauge.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 26, 2009, 12:17:32 AM
With the last couple of light snowfalls, my newly heated VP2 rain gauge is tracking within 0.01" of my manual CoCoRAHS gauge.

I also added two neon lights to the box I mounted on the ISS post. One is Green and the other is Red (nice Christmas touch, I thought). The Green tells me I have power going to the ThermoCube and the Red tells me the ThermoCube is activated and providing power to the reptile heater cord. I got the neon lamps from my local Radio Shack.

Now, I'm thinking about adding a reptile heater to my DirecTV dish that loads up with snow which then cuts off my satellite signal. Has anyone else done this?

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony on December 26, 2009, 07:54:46 AM
A heated satelight dish. You might be on to something. Wouldn't see why it wouldn't work.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on December 26, 2009, 09:42:39 AM
Needed one yesterday.   I had to climb on a ladder to clean it off.  Easy to get to from the ground but the ladder was in the snow.

Directv used to make a cover for the round dish.  It would allow signals to pass-but to me sticky snow will still cover it. I don't know if they still do.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: racenet on December 26, 2009, 11:06:40 AM
Needed one yesterday.   I had to climb on a ladder to clean it off.  Easy to get to from the ground but the ladder was in the snow.

Directv used to make a cover for the round dish.  It would allow signals to pass-but to me sticky snow will still cover it. I don't know if they still do.

Spray it with Pam cooking spray. Have been using that for years on sat dishes, with great success.  ;)



Bob


Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 27, 2009, 12:15:30 AM
Needed one yesterday.   I had to climb on a ladder to clean it off.  Easy to get to from the ground but the ladder was in the snow.

Directv used to make a cover for the round dish.  It would allow signals to pass-but to me sticky snow will still cover it. I don't know if they still do.

Spray it with Pam cooking spray. Have been using that for years on sat dishes, with great success.  ;)

Bob

I tried Pam, RainX and waxing but nothing seems to help when we get a heavy wet snow. I may just try to put something together and see what happens with our next snow storm. I'll probably use the same technique I used with my rain bucket and cement plastics strips around the backside of the dish and then string the reptile heater in slots cut into the plastic strips. Of course one problem will be to get the reptile cable in close contact with dish so it transfer the heat. Otherwise, it may not work too good since there won't be any insulation over the heater cable. I may have to go to the 50 or 75watt heater cable due to the larger size of the dish. Only the lower portion of the dish though really needs to be heated as the snow rarely sticks above the center portion.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Bunty on December 27, 2009, 02:44:25 AM
I don't use a heater.  I don't think using heaters during a blizzard would do much good.  After the blizzard here that left roughly 5 to 10" of snow, it only melted down to .01.  So if the snow is blowing horizontally much of the time, not much is gonna end up in the cone.  One gauge in Oklahoma City only registered .08 after probably around 10" of snow.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 27, 2009, 04:55:45 PM
It will be interesting to see whether a relatively high power AC device, in close proximity to your LNB, downconverter, and amplifier, affects your signal quality.

Please let us know.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on December 28, 2009, 12:51:25 AM
Re the satellite dish heater.. You probably already know it but there is commercially available heaters for the dishes.  Might be able to copy somehow the designs on them.  On my old 18" round snow on the LNB nose causes more trouble then on the dish.  I've read were simply tying a black garbage back over the whole dish helps most of the time though I have never tried it.

Hotshot
 (http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=02&p=HSSLNGRFKIT&d=Perfect-Vision-Hotshot-Satellite-Antenna-Heating-Element--28-x-20-Inch-for-DIRECTVs-Slim-Line-AU9-AT9-DTV66E-.74-Raven-and-Prodelin-Dish-%28HSSLNGRFKIT%29&sku=)
NoSno
 (http://www.nosnodishcover.com/howWorks.php)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on December 28, 2009, 09:30:33 AM
I am going to run roof heater cables there next year.  Maybe I will put some on the back of the dish to warm it up. 

Most of the time, there is not a problem.   The wet, heavy snow only happens a few times. Early fall and Spring.  The sun angle is usually good enough to melt it off.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 28, 2009, 07:49:18 PM
Well my heater is not keeping up. After 19 degrees and high winds its just not doing it ,I wish now i would have left the excess cord on the cone . It would probably help but windchills are around and below zero now ..Recived a good amount of lake effect today but it quite melting it at .14...oh well ...I'll just adjust my logs with the CoCoRahS readings.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Anthony on December 29, 2009, 08:36:58 AM
Is it not melting it at all or just not fast enough to suit you? Personally, if I had a heater. As long as it melted it would be all that mattered, not how fast.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 29, 2009, 10:38:27 AM
If it's too hot, it will evaporate more moisture - or melt the cone.
If it's not hot enough, it won't melt snow fast enough.....

So, you clearly need something better than a $20 Rain Collector Heater (and a few dozen hours of changing how it's attached).

A few temperature sensors to measure the surface temperature of the cone, and a control circuit, should do it.  Just keep the cone surface temperature a few degrees above freezing.

Anything else is a compromise.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 29, 2009, 11:48:53 AM
I have  the 50 w version, I believe it was just the excessive wind , I'm going to snow blow a path and take a look today maybe it's not working at all ?
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 29, 2009, 01:40:17 PM
it was not melting at all, I went back to the excess cord wrapped on the cone and using the cycle timer. I previously mentioned. I think the below zero wind chills blowing up through the drains was cooling it overall.


Is it not melting it at all or just not fast enough to suit you? Personally, if I had a heater. As long as it melted it would be all that mattered, not how fast.


Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: racenet on December 29, 2009, 01:50:18 PM
You do realize that wind chill is only felt by living things, right? Wind chill does not exsist as far as your weather station is concerned.


Bob
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 29, 2009, 02:21:32 PM
I guess I should have reworded it  :???: I do believe that cold temps coupled with strong winds will accelerate heat removal of "anything" that produces heat.

 
You do realize that wind chill is only felt by living things, right? Wind chill does not exsist as far as your weather station is concerned.


Bob

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 29, 2009, 03:22:38 PM
"coupled with strong winds...."

Of course, with any wind at all, you will not be able to get a true measurement of the water content of snowfall, using any rain gauge. 

Because (1) some of the snow will blow past the gauge.  (2) some of the snow may blow out of the gauge. (3) Those things depend on the characteristics of the snowfall - how dry or wet, how big the flakes, etc.  (4) And you can't accurately estimate what percentage you lost.

There are accurate ways to measure the water content of snowfall.  They cost a lot more than the Davis equipment plus $20.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: upweather on December 29, 2009, 07:58:29 PM
I was not refering to the bucket not collecting only not heating  period...
My cocorahs gauge once melted down today was within a few hundreds of the snow/liquid  content in accordance with the temp at which the snow had fallen.
My snow depth measurements are taken on a elevated table in a clearing in the woods.
I record 5.3 inches of fresh snow and .28 liquid equivelant at ambient temps between 13-19 degrees.
The heater was fine in these temps on previous days with less wind....





"coupled with strong winds...."

Of course, with any wind at all, you will not be able to get a true measurement of the water content of snowfall, using any rain gauge.  

Because (1) some of the snow will blow past the gauge.  (2) some of the snow may blow out of the gauge. (3) Those things depend on the characteristics of the snowfall - how dry or wet, how big the flakes, etc.  (4) And you can't accurately estimate what percentage you lost.

There are accurate ways to measure the water content of snowfall.  They cost a lot more than the Davis equipment plus $20.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on October 16, 2010, 12:34:00 PM
It's getting to be that time of year again!
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on October 17, 2010, 01:03:32 AM
It's getting to be that time of year again!

(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v176/memmurphy/Icons/bannana.gif)  (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v176/memmurphy/Icons/snowing.gif)  (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v176/memmurphy/Icons/bitterCold.gif)  (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v176/memmurphy/Icons/winterrules.gif)  (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v176/memmurphy/Icons/letitsnow.gif)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mr.Wizard on November 17, 2010, 03:42:04 PM
Has anybody used one of those wireless remote outdoor outlets?  You plug it in and plug your cord into it and can turn it on and off from inside, maybe use it in line with a thermostat?  Thought that might be an option for people that dont want the thing on when its cold enough but no snow expected.  Only thing Im not sure of is how to tell if the power is on.  Just an idea :-k
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on November 17, 2010, 04:51:20 PM
Has anybody used one of those wireless remote outdoor outlets?  You plug it in and plug your cord into it and can turn it on and off from inside, maybe use it in line with a thermostat?  Thought that might be an option for people that dont want the thing on when its cold enough but no snow expected.  Only thing Im not sure of is how to tell if the power is on.  Just an idea :-k

Yes, I do.  I use Radio Shack's Version of the X-10 Appliance module to control mine from the house.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: mackbig on November 18, 2010, 07:31:26 AM
I can see the glow from my os cause its white and thin plastic.  For the vp2 I have to look through rain hole from bottom.  Of course I can tell the whole system is on because of the OS one, but need to visually check for burnt bulb on vp2.  But I am using the halogen bulb cheap solution, not the warming blanket.

You could rig up a small wattage xmas light or something at the plug source near the gauge, so you could tell your wireless command was rec'd by heater. (I would have said a 2-3 watt night light, but that would not fair too well outside in the winter)

Andrew


Only thing Im not sure of is how to tell if the power is on.  Just an idea :-k
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: sam2004gp on November 18, 2010, 08:36:53 AM
I can see mine thru the thin plastic of the OS as well.  But I also added a second bulb down at the power supply because it was getting too hot in my rain gauge.  Rather than finding a "special" wire wound resistor, I just added a second bulb in series and it cut the "primary" bulb back just enough for me.  Thus I can tell if it is on inside my storage shed during the day, or the glow of the Rain Gauge at night. :-)

(http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/sam2004gp/weather%20station/th_DSCN7014.jpg) (http://s266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/sam2004gp/weather%20station/?action=view&current=DSCN7014.jpg)

(http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/sam2004gp/weather%20station/th_DSCN7015.jpg) (http://s266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/sam2004gp/weather%20station/?action=view&current=DSCN7015.jpg)

(http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/sam2004gp/weather%20station/th_DSCN7004.jpg) (http://s266.photobucket.com/albums/ii256/sam2004gp/weather%20station/?action=view&current=DSCN7004.jpg)

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on November 18, 2010, 08:53:34 AM
I plug my Davis heater into a spare Kill-A-Watt meter during winter months.  I power it on and off depending on snowfall rates and when powered up it shows a draw of 24-27 watts vs. 4 watts for the power brick when off.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Mark / Ohio on November 19, 2010, 11:42:54 PM
I use a wireless outdoor Christmas light switch for mine.  Along with the transformer for the heater I also have a 12V DC wallwart supply plugged into the switch.  The walwart feeds an automotive side marker lamp I have attached to the bottom of the tool shed visible from the window in the house.  The heater itself feeds through a thermal cutout switch mounted inside the funnel on the heatsink along with the heater (ceramic resistors) for safety on the warm days if I forget to turn off the switch.

(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v176/memmurphy/Vantage%20Pro%20Retrofit/VPRetrofit5.jpg)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: LFWX on November 21, 2010, 12:17:35 AM
Re the satellite dish heater.. You probably already know it but there is commercially available heaters for the dishes.  Might be able to copy somehow the designs on them.  On my old 18" round snow on the LNB nose causes more trouble then on the dish.  I've read were simply tying a black garbage back over the whole dish helps most of the time though I have never tried it.

Hotshot
 (http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=02&p=HSSLNGRFKIT&d=Perfect-Vision-Hotshot-Satellite-Antenna-Heating-Element--28-x-20-Inch-for-DIRECTVs-Slim-Line-AU9-AT9-DTV66E-.74-Raven-and-Prodelin-Dish-%28HSSLNGRFKIT%29&sku=)
NoSno
 (http://www.nosnodishcover.com/howWorks.php)


Not to change the subject - I think I may have just found a way to heat the Davis anemometer. \:D/

This one is 14" x 2" http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=02&p=HS14ARM&d=Perfect-Vision-Hot-Shot-Arm-Heater-Addon-for-Hotshot-Heaters-14x2-(HS14ARM)&c=Satellite Components&sku=
This one is 2 5/8" x 1 1/8" http://www.cyberestore.com/satellite/dish-heaters/feed-horn-heating-element.html

Does anyone know the distance between the wind vane and the wind cups (the size of the stationary part)? :?:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on November 21, 2010, 02:48:15 AM
"Does anyone know the distance between the wind vane and the wind cups (the size of the stationary part)?" :?:


It is a shade over 2.4" from the bottom of the vane drip cone which moves to the bottom of the cup drip cone which doesn't.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Bushman on November 21, 2010, 02:58:03 PM
Hate to be a wet, cold blanket, but the first heater will only work on metal and the second is a simple kapton element that you can get for 5 bucks but still needs a bunch of circuitry (thermostat etc.)
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on November 21, 2010, 08:49:55 PM
I didn't see any information about wattage (i.e., amount of heat) either.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: LFWX on November 21, 2010, 09:17:04 PM
Hate to be a wet, cold blanket, but the first heater will only work on metal and the second is a simple kapton element that you can get for 5 bucks but still needs a bunch of circuitry (thermostat etc.)

I may fashion a piece of sheet metal that will connect to the arm and wrap around the body of the anemometer.
I'm looking for something to help the ice melt quicker (or even prevent light icing) - any heat will be better than no heat.
I have also thought about using a dipstick type oil heater coiled around the body, but wasn't sure if that wouldn't damage the heating element by bending it that tight.

Another possibility would be running antifreeze through a tube, wrapped around the body of the anemometer, circulating back into the house to warm it. (all my wiring passes through a service entrance, so adding the tubing would not be difficult)
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on October 30, 2011, 12:20:24 PM
First snowfall here reminds me I need to get this setup here in DC.  Moved from Michigan, where as I understand it, it hasn't snowed yet.

Anyway... updated this with new links to the pics, and the reptile cord.  Looks like the price has crept up a bit.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: moehoward4 on October 30, 2011, 01:30:43 PM
I heat my rain collector with the 'plans' this guy had on his site, www.pdfamily.com/weather. I've been using his set up for the last 4 years and have never had a problem. Liked it so much, when I reset my WWIII, I used it again on that collector.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: smorris on October 30, 2011, 04:25:36 PM
A question to anyone who has been running this setup for the three years since this thread started. Has the reptile heater held up? Does it still work after three winters? I have the spare cone, insulation and the 25 watt heater, and plan to epoxy it to the inside of the inner cone like Mike did. I just wondered if this was a short term solution, or if I can expect it to hold up for a few years.

Thanks,
Steve
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on October 30, 2011, 05:33:55 PM
A question to anyone who has been running this setup for the three years since this thread started. Has the reptile heater held up? Does it still work after three winters? I have the spare cone, insulation and the 25 watt heater, and plan to epoxy it to the inside of the inner cone like Mike did. I just wondered if this was a short term solution, or if I can expect it to hold up for a few years.

Thanks,
Steve

It works fine for me still.  There's not much too it.  It's a resistance heater is all.  I think their longevity is further assisted by the fact it is mostly static in position.  It's not being flexed all over the place.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: weathergirl on October 30, 2011, 05:42:59 PM
Steve: Mine has been working fine for a few years now as well. Just have to replace the plug. The last party my kids had here resulted in some vandalism to the plug, as it was yanked off :-x
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: smorris on October 30, 2011, 06:09:00 PM
Thanks Spartan and Ann-Marie.

I didn't know if after a few years the heat wire would burn out. I guess because it is such low resistance and heat, it doesn't consume itself.

Thanks,
Steve
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jeffgod on November 02, 2011, 07:41:42 AM
I have ordered a second rain cone from Davis and bought the reptile heating cord. It is nice to have the step by step plans available. I still need to decide whether to use something like the Thermocube or a switched outlet to turn the heater on and off.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: justin470 on November 02, 2011, 07:12:21 PM
Do you notice a rise in your reported temperature when the heater is on?

Justin
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jeffgod on November 02, 2011, 09:16:51 PM
I don't have it installed yet, but according to most people, here the heater does not increase recorded temps. I have looked at remote controlled 120 V outlets to control turning the heater on and off.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: AWL on November 02, 2011, 09:56:02 PM
I have looked at remote controlled 120 V outlets to control turning the heater on and off.
Going to gather everything up this weekend to build a heater. I was looking at this for control Thermo Cube (http://www.farminnovators.com/page14.htm). They are in stock at the local Tractor Supply for about $16. Wonder how well these would work?
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jeffgod on November 02, 2011, 10:05:05 PM
I have heard Thermo Cube works well and the price is right. I am also gathering everything for a weekend build.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on November 02, 2011, 11:14:46 PM
Do you notice a rise in your reported temperature when the heater is on?

Justin
None.  It's only 15 Watts.  It's also located above the sensors.  Intuitively I'd say it has zero relative impact considering it is in the black portion of the sensor suite that is exposed to significant heating from the sun on a regular basis.  As the sensors are adequately isolated from the influence of the sun shining on the rain gauge portion of the suite, I am comfortable stating that the effects of the 15 W heater are negligible. 
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jeffgod on November 10, 2011, 10:12:54 PM
My second rain cone was delivered yesterday, so I have all my parts. I am ready to build the heater tomorrow.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jeffgod on November 11, 2011, 05:50:47 PM
I just finished building my heater. I found a way to switch my outdoor outlet on and off by plugging in a remote control outlet by Heath / Zenith. It is good for outdoor use.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: jeffgod on November 12, 2011, 04:45:11 PM
I installed everything yesterday, it all works. Overnight we had about an 1" of snow, the heater melted it all in less than an hour. The rate was 0.13 in/hr and total snow/rain was 0.12". I am very satisfied with how everything went together.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on November 17, 2011, 01:03:14 PM
My home-brew heater has been installed since December of 2009. I use the ThermoCube and the Reptile heater (as shown earlier in this thread). I have had no problems of any kind with it.. I swap out the heated version after the snow season and use the second bucket for the summer. Everything just works as I had hoped it would. No perceptible change in temp readings.

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: AbuMaia on December 14, 2011, 07:09:33 PM
I finally obtained my reptile heater cable, and assembled the foil blanket as per the first post. It went together fairly rapidly and easily. However, when it came time to put the cone back on the rain gauge base (LaCrosse), I could not get it to latch down. I brought the blanket back inside, rearranged the cable and shortened the blanket to better avoid the interior structure of the base, but still no-go. I got it nearly latched, but noticed the tip arm was no longer tipping. It looks like I'm going to have to figure out something else to try.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: smorris on December 20, 2011, 10:03:01 AM
I want to re-visit this thread, as I have some interesting data collected.

I've been comparing the precipitation on my VP2 vs my CoCoRaHS rain gauge since mid-September. Contrary to what I'd read here and on other forums, my VP2 was reading higher than the CoCORaHS gauge. Usually in the 5-12% range, excluding the extremes where the gauge tips and the's nothing in the manual gauge. I ignore those conditions.

However, since installing my reptile heater cable to the inner cone to melt snow, I've seen this trend flip the other way. I'm now seeing significantly less precipitation on the VP2 compared to the CoCoRaHS gauge. I have to attribute this to some of the precipitation evaporating before running down into the buckets.

I've left the heater on 24 hours a day so that it would be thoroughly warm when snow arrives. We're in that time of year that the rain could turn to snow at any time.

I installed my heater cable on the inner cone, like Rick (Weather Goose) did back on page 4, not to the inside of the foil insulation like the OP shows.

Here's a link to the Google Docs spreadsheet where I've tracked this data. (All numbers are positive, so you'll have to look at the CoCoRaHS vs VP2's "today's rainfall" to see which is higher.)
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhiOaCqzSbmedGtwSTdnbEpodTV3UDUzVFViRU8wa0E

Comments? Thoughts? As expected?
Steve
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 20, 2011, 11:23:06 AM
Too many variables to judge fairly, but some thoughts:

1.  You've changed the configuration of the CoCoRaHS, of course. 

2.  The configuration of the VP2 isn't good for handling heavy snow and/or blowing snow conditions.  And if snow builds up (before melting), even more snow is likely to blow past the cone and thus be missed.

3.  And of course, in light snow conditions, some evaporation would be expected because of the heated cone.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 20, 2011, 12:11:30 PM
After a couple of years you might find yourself like me.  Leaving the heater turned of in hopes of attracting snow to the area.   :lol:

Mark - talk about a delayed response to a posting...  ](*,)

I'm trying your suggestion but, so far this year, we have had only a couple flurries back in November and nothing else since then. Should I hook it up to a 220vac soruce - would that help???

The SIERA mountains around here really could use a good dump of snow...

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 20, 2011, 12:22:21 PM
I want to re-visit this thread, as I have some interesting data collected.

I've been comparing the precipitation on my VP2 vs my CoCoRaHS rain gauge since mid-September. Contrary to what I'd read here and on other forums, my VP2 was reading higher than the CoCORaHS gauge. Usually in the 5-12% range, excluding the extremes where the gauge tips and the's nothing in the manual gauge. I ignore those conditions.

However, since installing my reptile heater cable to the inner cone to melt snow, I've seen this trend flip the other way. I'm now seeing significantly less precipitation on the VP2 compared to the CoCoRaHS gauge. I have to attribute this to some of the precipitation evaporating before running down into the buckets.

I've left the heater on 24 hours a day so that it would be thoroughly warm when snow arrives. We're in that time of year that the rain could turn to snow at any time.

I installed my heater cable on the inner cone, like Rick (Weather Goose) did back on page 4, not to the inside of the foil insulation like the OP shows.

Here's a link to the Google Docs spreadsheet where I've tracked this data. (All numbers are positive, so you'll have to look at the CoCoRaHS vs VP2's "today's rainfall" to see which is higher.)
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhiOaCqzSbmedGtwSTdnbEpodTV3UDUzVFViRU8wa0E

Comments? Thoughts? As expected?
Steve

Steve,

Here's a thought regarding the VP2 readings and the heater configuration. I am wondering if perhaps the difference in readings you are seeing could be due to the heater cable being attached directly to cone itself and thus, causing some evaporation. When I built mine, I used small plastic spacers with notches in them. That allowed me to epoxy the spacers to the cone and to keep the actual heater cable a short distance away from the cone itself. Mine has run just fine since 2009 with no major variations noticed between my CoCoRAHs gauge and the VP2. See my earlier post in this thread with the pictures of the cone setup.


We get very little precipation of any kind here in northern Nevada so your situation is completely different than mine.

Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: d_l on December 20, 2011, 02:55:04 PM
After a couple of years you might find yourself like me.  Leaving the heater turned of in hopes of attracting snow to the area.   :lol:

Mark - talk about a delayed response to a posting...  ](*,)

I'm trying your suggestion but, so far this year, we have had only a couple flurries back in November and nothing else since then. Should I hook it up to a 220vac soruce - would that help???

The SIERA mountains around here really could use a good dump of snow...

Don, it doesn't work.  You are just toasting spiders.  :lol:
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 20, 2011, 03:06:24 PM
After a couple of years you might find yourself like me.  Leaving the heater turned of in hopes of attracting snow to the area.   :lol:

Mark - talk about a delayed response to a posting...  ](*,)

I'm trying your suggestion but, so far this year, we have had only a couple flurries back in November and nothing else since then. Should I hook it up to a 220vac soruce - would that help???

The SIERA mountains around here really could use a good dump of snow...

Don, it doesn't work.  You are just toasting spiders.  :lol:

Dave,

You are probably correct. I'm surprised we haven't heard of the Washoe tribe out doing rain/snow dances around here...  \:D/ \:D/ \:D/ \:D/ \:D/

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: smorris on December 20, 2011, 04:53:38 PM
3.  And of course, in light snow conditions, some evaporation would be expected because of the heated cone.

I think this is the key point. We've only had snow once since installing the heater, and it was a slow, light snow lasting all day. So the flakes probably land in the cone but don't run down into the opening. And the rains since have also been all day drizzle or light rain. Perfect example was today's reading. TheCoCoRaHS gauge has .10" of rain, but the VP2 only showed .02". It just all evaporated on contact. Historically, CoCoRaHS readings around .10" would result in VP2 readings .01 or .02 higher, not .08 less! The only day since installing the heater that the reading was even close to normal was the December 16 reading, where the CoCoRaHS read .11 and the VP2 read .12. This was a short, heavy rain nearly 5"/hour.

I'm sure once we get our typical heavy dump of snow, the current setup will be fine. I'll continue to compare them this winter, but next winter I may move the heater coil to the outer surface like in the OP's photos.

Steve
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: smorris on December 20, 2011, 05:01:36 PM
When I built mine, I used small plastic spacers with notches in them. That allowed me to epoxy the spacers to the cone and to keep the actual heater cable a short distance away from the cone itself. Mine has run just fine since 2009 with no major variations noticed between my CoCoRAHs gauge and the VP2. See my earlier post in this thread with the pictures of the cone setup.

Thanks Don, I think that's the case, too. I saw your clips earlier before I installed my heater and thought that looked like a great idea. But I didn't recognize the clips you used and never bothered to write asking you about them. So, what are they and where can I get 'em?

THanks,
Steve
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SLOweather on December 20, 2011, 05:11:17 PM
So the flakes probably land in the cone but don't run down into the opening.
Steve

So now what someone needs to invent is a rain cone vibrator to help snowflakes and adhered raindrops slide down the cone... :)
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: AbuMaia on December 20, 2011, 05:20:26 PM
When I built mine, I used small plastic spacers with notches in them. That allowed me to epoxy the spacers to the cone and to keep the actual heater cable a short distance away from the cone itself.

What kind of plastic did you use, and how did you mill it? Or was it purchased pre-slotted?
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 21, 2011, 12:33:35 PM
When I built mine, I used small plastic spacers with notches in them. That allowed me to epoxy the spacers to the cone and to keep the actual heater cable a short distance away from the cone itself.

What kind of plastic did you use, and how did you mill it? Or was it purchased pre-slotted?

I had a piece of sheet plexiglass in the shop so I cut it in strips. They were tapered so it would fit all the way down between the inside cone and the outer shell. I then cut the slots with a small hand-saw for the wires to fit in. Each slot was offset from the next so the heater cable wound down into the cone area. I had trouble with the cable falling out of the slots so I used a small bit of epoxy in each one after I inserted the cable.

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 21, 2011, 12:39:46 PM
3.  And of course, in light snow conditions, some evaporation would be expected because of the heated cone.

I think this is the key point.
Steve

Please measure the surface temperature of the cone funnel, with no precipitation, and tell us the difference between the air temperature and the cone temperature.  In other words - if the air temperature is around 25 or 30, what's the cone surface temperature?
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: smorris on December 21, 2011, 12:54:47 PM
Please measure the surface temperature of the cone funnel, with no precipitation, and tell us the difference between the air temperature and the cone temperature.  In other words - if the air temperature is around 25 or 30, what's the cone surface temperature?

I don't have anything that I can measure the surface temp of the cone with.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SLOweather on December 21, 2011, 01:06:54 PM
Please measure the surface temperature of the cone funnel, with no precipitation, and tell us the difference between the air temperature and the cone temperature.  In other words - if the air temperature is around 25 or 30, what's the cone surface temperature?

I don't have anything that I can measure the surface temp of the cone with.

If you don't have access to a an IR temp gun, you could tape a regular thermometer to the cone with a little folded paper towel over the bulb for insulation, and wait a few minutes for it to stabilize before you read it.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 21, 2011, 01:15:22 PM
Please measure the surface temperature of the cone funnel, with no precipitation, and tell us the difference between the air temperature and the cone temperature.  In other words - if the air temperature is around 25 or 30, what's the cone surface temperature?

I don't have anything that I can measure the surface temp of the cone with.

Perhaps invest $20.00?  

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100674438/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

I see there's a Home Depot just up the road from you, near I90 and Highway 83.  I'd bet you've been there recently.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 21, 2011, 01:19:08 PM
Or, HarborFreight has several different models...


Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SLOweather on December 21, 2011, 01:19:46 PM
Wow, have they gotten inexpensive!
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on December 21, 2011, 01:21:53 PM
Wow, have they gotten inexpensive!

Yup, but I don't know what the "true" accuracy is of any of these units. Technology just keeps moving forward...  =D>

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dalecoy on December 21, 2011, 01:27:24 PM
Wow, have they gotten inexpensive!

Yup, but I don't know what the "true" accuracy is of any of these units. Technology just keeps moving forward...  =D>



In the usage suggested here, the relative accuracy is what is important -- and true accuracy could be compared by measuring the temperature of a shaded outside object.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: smorris on December 22, 2011, 08:30:59 AM
I put Rain-X on the cone yesterday when I took my CoCoRaHS reading, and we had a might rain off and on during the day. This morning, the VP2 and the CoCoRaHS gauge both read .04". So, helping the drops slide into the cone alleviates the evaporation.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: mackbig on December 22, 2011, 08:42:24 AM
I will do some tests over the xmas break, if it ever gets cold.   But I will get somewhere between +5 C and - 6C.

When I built my OS one, at room temp the middle of the cone was 130F.  The OS cone is much smaller than the vp2 one, and I am using same wattage in both, so the OS one gets hotter just based on interior volume and distance from heat source to inside bottom of cone.

They both melt good, I have see steam coming off OS, but not the VP in the past.

Andrew
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: wmcatty on December 22, 2011, 11:35:44 PM
When you get your results Adrew, please post them as there are several of us wanting to know the results.  Wayne
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: AbuMaia on December 22, 2011, 11:53:35 PM
Wouldn't seeing steam be a bad thing, seeing how we're concerned with excessive evaporation in the funnel?
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: mackbig on December 23, 2011, 07:25:29 AM
Yes, steam bad.
Andrew

Wouldn't seeing steam be a bad thing, seeing how we're concerned with excessive evaporation in the funnel?
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: mackbig on December 23, 2011, 07:30:38 AM
Well I guess I will need a new IR gun to do this.

I was going to use my Black and Decker thermal leak detector.   It works inside, you take a reference measure, and it shows the temp change as you scan around.  I have used it for doors, windows etc.   I have seen it spot a temp down to -10C

However it appears to start going wonky in lower temps.  I referenced a temp of 20C in the house.  It is about -2C out right now.  I went outside, the temp instantly showed -2c.  By the time I climbed up the ladder it was reading -9.   By the time I got up to gauge height it was -15.  I came back in the house and it was reading 5C.    So I guess the ir sensor can measure low temps if the unit remains warm, but when the body, and actual emitter gets cold it goes crazy.

Andrew

When you get your results Adrew, please post them as there are several of us wanting to know the results.  Wayne
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: gvmelbrty on August 04, 2012, 06:45:52 PM
At 7400ft it's getting about that time to start thinking about cold weather. Still following SpartanWX's basic design posted 4 1/2 years ago, and with the generous help of W3DRM, I followed his idea for using plastic strips (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=1468.msg57908#msg57908) to hold the heater cord element for the rain bucket heater.

For the plastic material, I found a 3-pack of kitchen cutting boards for $10 at a discount store.
(http://i.imgur.com/QDT7YmN.jpg)

Using a hand-held wood jigsaw cutter, I carved out four straight and four curved strips from one of the cutting boards. The curved ones were obviously the hardest to cut. I just guessed at the proper curve, placed them against the cone to test-fit and made corrections as needed. If I had a Dremel tool, it would made the process much easier.
(http://i.imgur.com/88OCwfX.jpg)

JOE sent me a copy of his CAD insulation template (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=1468.msg19079#msg19079) (thanks Joe!). The template is used to cut the Frost King foam insulation material that lines the inside of the bucket.
(http://i.imgur.com/jCtnj7K.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/2q3FsYr.jpg)

Zoo Med Repti Heat Cable, 25 watts.
(http://i.imgur.com/Qio5o3y.jpg)

The four curved plastic strips (the ones nearest the drip hole) are glued to the cone with epoxy. The four straight strips are held directly onto the insulation with silicone adhesive. The heating element is held in the slots with silicone as well. Notice the blue ring on the heater cord indicating the point where heating ends.
(http://i.imgur.com/KkGKBUL.jpg)

Notch in bucket and cable secured with plastic clamp.
(http://i.imgur.com/grc5dlC.jpg)

Shelter mounted behind the ISS houses electrical connection for the heater (and ac-powered DFARS, coming soon).
(http://i.imgur.com/pD66M83.jpg)
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: chief-david on August 04, 2012, 06:55:24 PM
nice job!!!! great ideas.

 =D> =D>
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on August 05, 2012, 12:24:09 AM
Yes, nice job   =D>  =D>

When you get your ac-powered DFARS running, please let us know how you did it. I'm thinking about doing the same thing myself.
Title: Is the 25W Repti Heat Cable sufficient in zero to subzero temperatures to keep t
Post by: schwab on August 15, 2012, 10:13:10 AM
Has anyone from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, or other cold, cold locales installed this DIY rain gauge - collector heater?

I live in Minnesota. 

Is the 25W Repti Heat Cable sufficient in zero to subzero temperatures to keep the VP2 from freezing-up?

Is the 50W Repti Heat Cable a better choice?
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: weathergirl on August 15, 2012, 10:25:07 AM
I have found the 25W Repti Heat Cable to be more than satisfactory :)
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Gretnawx on August 15, 2012, 12:29:52 PM
Any chance you could share/post the template for the plastic cut-outs that attach to the curved inside portion of rain cone?  I'd like to make one of these and why re-invent the wheel if you happen to have a template handy?  Thanks in advance.

At 7400ft it's getting about that time to start thinking about cold weather. Still following SpartanWX's basic design posted 4 1/2 years ago, and with the generous help of W3DRM, I followed his idea for using plastic strips (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=1468.msg57908#msg57908) to hold the heater cord element for the rain bucket heater.

For the plastic material, I found a 3-pack of kitchen cutting boards for $10 at a discount store.
(http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/4946/01cuttingboard.jpg)

Using a hand-held wood jigsaw cutter, I carved out four straight and four curved strips from one of the cutting boards. The curved ones were obviously the hardest to cut. I just guessed at the proper curve, placed them against the cone to test-fit and made corrections as needed. If I had a Dremel tool, it would made the process much easier.
(http://img267.imageshack.us/img267/8126/02elementholders.jpg)

JOE sent me a copy of his CAD insulation template (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=1468.msg19079#msg19079) (thanks Joe!). The template is used to cut the Frost King foam insulation material that lines the inside of the bucket.
(http://img829.imageshack.us/img829/8190/03frostkingrolls.jpg)
(http://img829.imageshack.us/img829/363/04frostkingside.jpg)

Zoo Med Repti Heat Cable, 25 watts.
(http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/9687/05reptiheatercable.jpg)

The four curved plastic strips (the ones nearest the drip hole) are glued to the cone with epoxy. The four straight strips are held directly onto the insulation with silicone adhesive. The heating element is held in the slots with silicone as well. Notice the blue ring on the heater cord indicating the point where heating ends.
(http://img641.imageshack.us/img641/9366/06finalassembly.jpg)

Notch in bucket and cable secured with clip.
(http://img52.imageshack.us/img52/8672/07finalassembly2.jpg)

Shelter mounted behind the ISS houses electrical connection for the heater (and ac-powered DFARS, coming soon).
(http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/9596/10isspole.jpg)
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: gvmelbrty on August 15, 2012, 08:00:19 PM
Any chance you could share/post the template for the plastic cut-outs that attach to the curved inside portion of rain cone?  I'd like to make one of these and why re-invent the wheel if you happen to have a template handy?  Thanks in advance.

Dang! I wish I would have thought of that. Those things are permanently epoxied in there now.

You can eye-ball it like I did on the first cut and if you have a Dremmel or other fine wood working tools (I didn't), you can then make finer adjustments as needed. Or, perhaps you can use a piece of paper and make curved cuts on it until you get it to fit flush against the cone. Then you can use that as your curve guide. ??

I thought about using wood to make the strips, but the environment inside that bucket is very extreme and I felt that even treated wood would begin to deteriorate over time.

Some more info/tips I shared with "schwab" about the plastic strips:

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: gvmelbrty on August 15, 2012, 08:15:36 PM
Yes, nice job   =D>  =D>

When you get your ac-powered DFARS running, please let us know how you did it. I'm thinking about doing the same thing myself.

I'll be moving soon and I've taken my weather station (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=16117.0) down, so there will be a delay before I add the ac-powered DFARS, but I'll be sure to document the procedure once I do. I'm getting most of my info for the conversion from the DFARS to 24hr conversion (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=15748.0) thread. (FYI, I'm in agreement with those who are using a diode to reduce transformer voltage in order to slow fan speed.)

And once again, W3DRM thank you very much for all the help you provided me while I was copying your plastic strip design (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=1468.msg57908#msg57908) for the rain bucket heater.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: WG Weather Station on January 01, 2013, 04:46:39 PM
Couple things I might add... use a Hot Glue to affix.
Sand the foil a little first in the spots you expect to glue, use only a little glue on foil, press heat cable immediately into it, when it seems secure, add a little glue on-top of this spot so heat cable wont pull out of it. 
This 25watt heat cable is definitely the best selection SpartanWX.  UU UU UU UU
Title: Re: Is the 25W Repti Heat Cable sufficient in zero to subzero temperatures to keep t
Post by: W3DRM on January 02, 2013, 01:28:23 PM
Has anyone from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, or other cold, cold locales installed this DIY rain gauge - collector heater?

I live in Minnesota. 

Is the 25W Repti Heat Cable sufficient in zero to subzero temperatures to keep the VP2 from freezing-up?

Is the 50W Repti Heat Cable a better choice?

Nothing like a late response to a question but a recent post to this thread jogged my mind to re-read the thread to see how it had evolved. This thread has obviously stirred-up a lot of interest and desire of fellow weather watchers to enhance their weather stations so they worked in all kinds of weather.

I would not recommend using the 50W heat cable in any environment. First of all, it is quite a bit longer than the 25W cable (23 feet vs 15 feet) which would make it more difficult to fit into the limited space around the rain bucket. I suspect it would also develop much more heat than is really necessary and may even result in evaporation of the rain droplets "before" they are captured in the tipping bucket thus resulting in lower than actual rainfall measurements. In this case, more is not necessarily better...

I have measured the heat radiated on the surface of the rain bucket (with a remote reading IR detector) and found that even at an outside temp of around 5 degrees F, I still read just under 60 degrees F. So, think carefully BEFORE you install the higher wattage reptile heater inside the bucket.

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Jumpin Joe on March 06, 2013, 05:19:40 PM
I completed my $30 Rain Collector Heater... for about $45, inflation I guess.

I used the components and methods mentioned in this posting with great success. To power it, as needed, I purchased an outdoor rainproof box and cover that is normally used for a duplex receptacle, left the outlet out and simply plugged the Reptile heater into the Thermo-Cube and plugged that into an outdoor extension cord and placed all of it inside the box under the cover. I installed it 3 days ago and tested it for its snow melting abilities last night with about 5.5 inches of snow that started out as very wet snow and very dry snow towards the end of the storm. Prior to the storm I had left it plug in and monitored the temperature reading of my VP2 for a two days and did not notice any change in the readings using another thermometer I have used previously for comparisons.

Bottom line this was a great idea by other members of the forum and it saved me a lot of $'s.

Joe 
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on March 06, 2013, 07:46:47 PM
Joe,

Glad to hear you were successful in building your own heater.  =D>

You are probably correct, inflation has resulted in a higher cost to build the unit but it's still much less expensive than the Davis design.

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Jumpin Joe on March 06, 2013, 07:54:06 PM
It sure is Don.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: AbuMaia on June 29, 2013, 10:23:31 PM
Hi folks! I've been away for a little while, but I found something I thought you'd be interested in and just had to tell you.  :grin:

I remember reading a post in either this topic or a similar one, in which the writer expressed concern that the heat from the heater cable would cause the water to evaporate before it could be measured in the rain gauge. Different ideas were presented of various treatments one could apply to the collection cone to help the water run through quicker. I think I've found the perfect thing for this.

Rust-Oleum NeverWet Multi-Purpose Spray http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/204216476

It's pretty cheap, and the demo video on the product page looks promising. I got some of this to treat my work boots and gloves, but then I had the idea to apply it to my rain gauge collection funnel as well. I'm currently half-way through the treatment process. There are two spray cans in the kit. You apply a few coats of one, let it dry for about 30 minutes, then apply a few coats of the other. After another 30 minutes of dry time, it's ready to get wet.

Oh, and I'm not just treating the collection funnel, but the seesaw as well. When I opened my rain gauge, the seesaw was pretty dirty from dried dust collected by the rain. I figure if the water runs out of the seesaw better, it may not get as dirty.

With this added, perhaps the title of this thread should be $50 Rain Collector Heater. :) I hope this helps someone.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: Jumpin Joe on June 29, 2013, 10:46:29 PM
That does look promising.

Thanks for sharing
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on June 29, 2013, 11:14:37 PM
I saw that product demonstrated a few months ago but never thought about using it on my rain gauge. That does look like a great idea. I may just do that but I won't know the results until next winter when our rainy season begins.

The next time I'm in my local Home Depot, I'll see if they carry it.

I wonder how well it holds up to outside conditions and high UV exposure which we get here in northern Nevada?

Thanks for sharing the idea.

Here is a link to the NeverWet website:


Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: AbuMaia on June 29, 2013, 11:54:53 PM
I ordered mine from the Home Depot website, since I live over 100 miles from the nearest HD.

Just playing around after I had finished treating the rain gauge, I treated half of a piece of cardboard. I wanted to see if this stuff really does work, and what kind of a finish it has. I put the treated end of the cardboard under a stream of water from my faucet only 10 minutes after applying the final coat (not 30 minutes as the instructions state) and the water beaded up and ran off, leaving the treated end dry to the touch. The untreated end just held the water there.

The treated side of the cardboard is now a little darker in appearance, and when viewed at an angle, it looks like there's frost on it. It's also noticeably rougher to the touch than the untreated side. It's this roughness I'm guessing that makes the water bead up and run off. If I were to spray this on my black work boots, I imagine they'll look like they've got dust or powder on them, but they'll be waterproof.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: kalenshah on September 06, 2013, 09:07:14 AM
I bought something similar. In the UK we can't get that stuff so I found 'Fabsil Universal Water Repellent' from ScrewFix. Just sprayed a few layers on my rain bucket and it does seem to make the water slide down the bucket a lot easier. I also tried it on some wood. I couldn't believe it when I put the hose on it the next day and the water just rolled off like mercury and the wood was bone dry still.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dasman on December 20, 2013, 02:56:41 PM
I completed this project before winter.  I made plastic clips and wrapped the reptile cord around the inner cone and then the outer cone on top of the insulating foil.  We have had 4 snow events (the largest was 3.5in) and 2 or 3 rain events when the temp outside was in the low to mid 30's.  When precip (rain or snow) is light, I am getting evaporation.  I have a CoCoRaHS gauge right next to the VP2.  I have always been very close in rainfall comparisons between the 2 of them.  An example is the light rain that fell overnight, temp was in the mid to upper 30's, Vp2 with a heater 0.07, CoCoRaHS 0.14.  Durring the light snow events the difference has not been this great.  It seems that the lighter the precip the greater the difference.  Today I went out to the gauge during the very light rain and the water drops were disappearing before most of them could make their way down the funnel.  

The differential does not bother me.  I can adjust the numbers since I have the CoCoRaHS gauge.  It is definitely better then covering when snow is coming and then un covering when its going to rain. The 3.5 inch snow that we had was the closest the 2 gauges have been (Heated VP2 0.12 CoCoRaHS 0.16).  We did had a rain back on Dec. 2nd and the heater was unplugged for that event.  The VP2 w/heater installed but turned off had 0.10 inches.  The CoCoRaHS gauge had 0.09 inches.  Hopefully when it snows harder the difference will be minimal or maybe non-existent.  Expecting ice this weekend, followed by 1-3 inches of snow so I should get another good test.

Quote
Edit
Well we did not get the snow.  However we had a day of "light rain" which again had the CoCoRaHS gauge showing nearly twice as much as the heated VP2.  Then we had a day with more moderate rainfall and the 2 gauges were nearly identical (CoCoRahS 0.47 VP2 0.45).

I have checked to make sure the reptile cord is not interfering with the tipping buckets.  There cord is definitely not interfering.  I do want to say I am glad I did this project because even if it underreports most of the time when the heater is on, at least I don't have to worry about it icing up!
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: ShastaSnoDog on July 07, 2014, 05:21:05 PM
Hi folks! I've been away for a little while, but I found something I thought you'd be interested in and just had to tell you.  :grin:

I remember reading a post in either this topic or a similar one, in which the writer expressed concern that the heat from the heater cable would cause the water to evaporate before it could be measured in the rain gauge. Different ideas were presented of various treatments one could apply to the collection cone to help the water run through quicker. I think I've found the perfect thing for this.

Rust-Oleum NeverWet Multi-Purpose Spray http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/204216476

It's pretty cheap, and the demo video on the product page looks promising. I got some of this to treat my work boots and gloves, but then I had the idea to apply it to my rain gauge collection funnel as well. I'm currently half-way through the treatment process. There are two spray cans in the kit. You apply a few coats of one, let it dry for about 30 minutes, then apply a few coats of the other. After another 30 minutes of dry time, it's ready to get wet.

Oh, and I'm not just treating the collection funnel, but the seesaw as well. When I opened my rain gauge, the seesaw was pretty dirty from dried dust collected by the rain. I figure if the water runs out of the seesaw better, it may not get as dirty.

With this added, perhaps the title of this thread should be $50 Rain Collector Heater. :) I hope this helps someone.
First, thanks to all who have posted here.  This is very useful information.  I have read all 11 pages and plan to home-make a heater when the updated station is delivered.

Regarding the NeverWet Multi-Purpose Spray, I saw this and bought two kits in the spring of 2013 and during the summer applied it to our DirecTV dish and LNB.  I was very careful to follow the instructions exactly.  We often get wet snow and high winds, which stick to the dish and stop reception.  The dish is up high, making snow removal a real PITA.  In the 2013/14 winter, the NeverWet did NOT help.  It may have a short life, or maybe it's just not good for wet snow.  YMMV.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: JOE on October 16, 2014, 05:22:11 PM
BTT

Just spent about an hour looking for this thread.

Forgot the name of the reptile heater cable.  #-o #-o

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: W3DRM on October 16, 2014, 06:26:45 PM
After reading the latest post, I realized that I never posted the results of my spraying my DirecTV dish with NeverWet on it last Fall. It worked very nicely for me even though we didn't have much in the way of snow last year. We did have a couple good snowfalls and the snow simply slid right off the dish as it fell. I never had to go out and brush it all winter long. I just now went outside and sprayed it with a hose to see if it was still beading-up. Other than a couple small spots, the water just beaded-up and slid right off. So, it appears that after more than a year, my application of NeverWet is still looking pretty good. I may get up there on a ladder this weekend and give it another application before we get bad weather.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: kobuki on December 30, 2014, 03:49:53 PM
I thought I'd drop a pic of my own incarnation of a Davis-lookalike heater I mounted about 2 weeks ago. It cost me about ~$40 total, not counting some parts that cannot be bought apiece. It seemed to be next to impossible to source a 24 Ohm 50 W resistor so I went with a 25 Ohm one. Also, the thermostat is a 45 C NC type with a hysteresis of 15 C. It matches the Davis unit very closely (nominally 85..110 F), active in the 30..45 C (86..113 F) range. I'm using a 24 V DC adaptor. I missed the first snow unfortunately... I'm concerned about when it's kicking on. I mean, it should only be powered when the temps are near freezing. So, possibly I'm making an addition in the future that removes power from the heater completely above, say, 5 C.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: miraculon on December 30, 2014, 04:07:01 PM
Looks great.

Quote
So, possibly I'm making an addition in the future that removes power from the heater completely above, say, 5 C.

Here is what I used for the temperature controller on mine. It disables the 24VAC power supply above 7.5C. This is independent from the bi-metal thermostat out in the gauge.
Elitech-All-Purpose-Temperature-Controller (http://www.amazon.com/Elitech-All-Purpose-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat/dp/B008KVCPH2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419972982&sr=8-1&keywords=temperature+controller)
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61lvzCjJ8AL._SL1000_.jpg)
I have two of these, one for the rain gauge heater power supply and the other one is in my water heater/cooler. They are cheap and work well.


If you want something "turn key" there is this JCI one. I bought one of these for my CoCoRaHS cylinder heater.
Johnson-Controls-Digital-Thermostat-Control (http://www.amazon.com/Johnson-Controls-Digital-Thermostat-Control/dp/B00368D6JA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1419973171&sr=8-2&keywords=temperature+controller)
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71RR6g7ilXL._SL1500_.jpg)

Greg H.

Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: kobuki on December 30, 2014, 04:16:17 PM
Thanks.

Yeah, using a thermostat like that first one is something I have in mind. I thought of making one myself using an arduino, a relay and a digital temp. sensor but these are so cheap I'll probably just buy one. I'm in lazy mode in winter ;)
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on January 01, 2015, 10:06:35 PM
Thanks.

Yeah, using a thermostat like that first one is something I have in mind. I thought of making one myself using an arduino, a relay and a digital temp. sensor but these are so cheap I'll probably just buy one. I'm in lazy mode in winter ;)
Any reason a standard Thermocube wouldn't work?
$12
http://www.amazon.com/Farm-Innovators-TC-2-Thermostatically-Controlled/dp/B000M4ZJ6Y
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: ValentineWeather on January 02, 2015, 12:23:48 AM
Thanks.

Yeah, using a thermostat like that first one is something I have in mind. I thought of making one myself using an arduino, a relay and a digital temp. sensor but these are so cheap I'll probably just buy one. I'm in lazy mode in winter ;)
Any reason a standard Thermocube wouldn't work?
$12
http://www.amazon.com/Farm-Innovators-TC-2-Thermostatically-Controlled/dp/B000M4ZJ6Y

Thats what I use on the reptile mod. I have a davis utility box attached to pole where I plug in. 
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: kobuki on January 02, 2015, 06:28:52 AM
For $2 more I can have a digitally controlled, settable one. But anyway I'm not in the US so I would find it hard to get one here. (I usually write prices in $ for easy comparison.) But to be honest there're some similar devices around here too, but I can get the mentioned digital one at a local auction site anew for cheap so why bother.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: ValentineWeather on January 02, 2015, 07:27:51 AM
For $2 more I can have a digitally controlled, settable one. But anyway I'm not in the US so I would find it hard to get one here. (I usually write prices in $ for easy comparison.) But to be honest there're some similar devices around here too, but I can get the mentioned digital one at a local auction site anew for cheap so why bother.

Post the type and model that would work. Everything I found that was digital wouldn't survive -30F below.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: kobuki on January 02, 2015, 07:37:14 AM
Wow, that's extreme cold (below -34 C). Not all parts of the world have that kind of weather, you know. I don't particularly need one below, say, -20 C (-4 F), but even that's pretty rare in a bad winter like this one now. I've yet to see it dip below -17 C (1.4 F). The model is the first one miraculon posted a few posts earlier - it can, in theory, control temps as low az -50 C but I think there're very few that tested that so I don't say it works because I have no idea. I think that when the temp. sensor is outside, and the control device is inside in a heated environment, it would definitely work. But anyway, you're absolutely right in that if I needed a device for extreme cold it would need a lot more consideration for selection. But the mentioned one worked for others...

EDIT: for the SCT-100 temperature controller the operating temperature is 0-60 C according to the manual, so, well, this is a kind of a bet. I'll report back after I'll have it installed and freezing temps kick in again (right now it's barely above freezing).
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: ValentineWeather on January 02, 2015, 07:58:05 AM
Thanks, thats what I found also. I would need to heat the housing for the controller adding more issues. 20-30 below isn't that uncommon. -39 below in 1989.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: miraculon on January 02, 2015, 09:10:56 AM
My controller is in an unheated garage. The sensor wire passes outside of the garage and the sensor itself is hidden beneath a decorative shutter.

The coldest that I have seen in the garage is about 12F (-11C). The garage is a few degrees above the outside ambient. So far it has been functioning properly, no issues. They may be using "consumer" grade parts (0C to 70C). If you are installing the controller outside (in an weatherproof enclosure I hope), this might be an issue.

Greg H.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: ValentineWeather on January 02, 2015, 09:16:32 AM
That's correct it would need to be inside the shelter outdoors. The main power supply fed from the garage primary use is for the electric fars needed 24/7. The thermo cube inside the shelter is sufficient for the heater.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: kobuki on January 02, 2015, 09:19:36 AM
Well, I plan to put it in the small workshop which is in a separate unheated building, actaully part of the garage building separated with a wall. So the temps are essentially like the temps outside, but protected from the weather.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: gvmelbrty on January 04, 2015, 03:50:33 PM
I've been experimenting with an automated wireless solution to control my rain gauge heater (http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=1468.msg157151#msg157151) using a Belkin WeMo Switch (http://www.belkin.com/us/F7C027-Belkin/p/P-F7C027/) (or new Mini Plug (http://www.belkin.com/us/F7C063-Belkin/p/P-F7C063/)).

To find out if the WeMo switch could handle cold outdoor temps, I made a temporary mount and placed it as close as possible to my WiFi router located inside the house. The WeMo is positioned underneath a porch roof, protected from direct moisture, elevated for better WiFi reception and is about 50ft from the WiFi router, going through two walls. So far, the switch has withstood near zero temps without issue. If extreme outdoor conditions were a problem, obviously the WeMo could be mounted inside, routing the control cord through a wall.

Not pretty, but it works for now.
(http://i.imgur.com/OoWOeh1.jpg)

The power cord you see here runs to the rain gauge heater and the WeMo is connected in the back to a power cord running inside the cardboard box.

(http://i.imgur.com/0w2cIwl.jpg)

The switch is connected to 200 feet of outdoor extension cord leading to the heated rain funnel:

(http://i.imgur.com/JUOgAA6.jpg)

For the most basic operation, you can control the switch manually using the WeMo app on your phone from anywhere in the world:

(http://i.imgur.com/9mFsCmR.jpg)

But the real fun starts when you pair the WeMo with IFTTT.com (If This Then That) automated recipes. Here's a basic recipe to turn the heater on when Yahoo weather (IFTTT now uses WeatherUnderground) reports temps below 35f in my area. (Instead of WU, your weather station itself can control the heater.. see below.) Conversely, you can create another recipe that turns the heater off above a specified temp:

(http://i.imgur.com/RVKetVm.jpg)

Better than that, I've been using the "current condition" option so that the heater automatically turns on when snow is reported and turns off when conditions change to other than snow (clear, cloudy, rain). So far, for my area at least, this has worked quite well:

(http://i.imgur.com/XarfTDK.jpg)

I also receive a text message when the heater turns on or off (email and native phone notifications also possible):

(http://i.imgur.com/KZvq5Vf.jpg)

My original idea was to have the weather software connected to my Davis VP2 control the heater. Say for example you have an alert on your wx software (WeatherCat, Meteobridge, Cumulus, etc.) set to trigger when the VP2 reports temps below 36f AND humidity above 75% (or some variation thereof). When both of these conditions are met, the wx software sends a text or email to IFTTT which then sends a command to the WeMo to turn on. Pretty cool. ... But, after observing temp and humidity readings when snow begins to fall for the past two years, I have seen no combination of weather parameters that were accurate enough for all storms. That's why I'm using the "current conditions" feature instead. But, if you want to experiment, your weather station together with IFTTT can easily control your heater (or anything else connected to a wireless controller - lights for example) if your weather software can generate email or text alerts. (In the case of email, your software must allow the subject of your email to be edited to include an IFTTT command tag.)

(http://i.imgur.com/yQYZJAJ.jpg)
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: CWatsonJr on January 21, 2017, 05:04:06 PM
I know this thread is old but it is awesome. I have read through all the pages to see what people have done to build their heaters.

I too was concerned with the Davis heater because it gets so warm that I was afraid the water would evaporate before it was collected.

I finished building my heater today. I used the technique of the OP but I changed the scotch tape for aluminum tape. There were areas where the tape wasn't sticking well, I may change it to duct tape in the future.

I spent about $30 and I ordered everything from Amazon.

Thank you for the great ideas and the post. No more scooping out the snow and then melting it.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on January 21, 2017, 07:04:29 PM
CWatsonJr, thanks for the kind words.  As this approaches 100,000 views it might represent my greatest contribution to the world via the internet.

I'm glad it all worked out for you.  And I agree about the scotch tape.  Not the greatest choice.  Almost anything would have been better.  At the time the original was meant more as proof of concept.  The scotch has miraculously held up though. 

You might want to jump and pick one of these up for $6.50 (a record low right now):
https://www.amazon.com/Woods-32555-Weatherproof-Wireless-Converter/dp/B001Q9EFUK/

It's a weather rated, key fob operated electrical outlet.  I keep the warmer switched off unless I know there is frozen precip in the forecast. 

I also used some carefully trimmed pieces of the foil backed foam to insulate the inside of the base of the collector as well.  Just to improve the efficiency of the whole shebang.

Thanks again!
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: CWatsonJr on January 21, 2017, 08:34:16 PM
That's a good idea, I will insulate it some more as you stated. I was thinking of getting a wifi controlled outlet so I can control it from anywhere I have internet access.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: blacklistedcard on January 23, 2017, 04:42:58 AM
What about using an ardunio to poll weather underground for freezing temp and snow forecast.  Then switch on the power to the heater through a relay?
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: CWatsonJr on January 23, 2017, 07:25:23 AM
Sometimes it gets cold enough to snow and there is no precipitation in the forecast, so it would be wasted energy to turn the heater on when there wasn't a need.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on January 23, 2017, 09:00:03 AM
I just went with the $6.50 switchable outlet because it was rated to be out in the elements, and it appears to be very reliable. Wifi stuff tends to be a bit more delicate/finicky.

They make a temperature controlled outdoor rated outlet called a thermocube that turns it on and off via baked in presests but that also keeps it on a lot of the time that there isn't precipitation.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: gvmelbrty on January 23, 2017, 11:19:13 AM
For another option... The WeMo Wifi controller (~$30) mentioned in my post above has been living outside in sometimes below zero temps for the past four winters without issue. Paired with IFTTT (which now uses WeatherUndergound), it has accurately turned the rain gauge heater on when it began to snow and off again when the snow stopped, give or take a couple of hours. (To control the OFF command, you need to create three recipes, one each for current conditions that are clear, cloudy or rain.) ... Sometimes for several hours there is snow in the general area, just not at my house, so WU/IFTTT does not generate the OFF command. For those infrequent occasions, I pick up my phone, open the WeMo app and turn the heater off. Of course, it would not be a big deal if the heater were to remain on for a while after the snow has stopped as outdoor temps will generally be near freezing during these times.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: CWatsonJr on January 23, 2017, 12:58:10 PM
Thank you gvmelbrty.

That is the setup I'm looking at. I'm looking at placing the wemo plug in the socket on our back deck. It isn't completely protected but it has the roof overhang to protect it some. The plug will be about 10 feet from the ISS so I won't need to run a lengthy extension cord. I dropped by Fry's electronics but their selection was dismal at best. I think I'm going to have to go to Amazon for this too.

My problem will be the anemometer. I want to place it on the apex of the roof, I just don't know if it will reach. If I remember right, there is 40' of wire for the anemometer. We are down a slope and completely surrounded by pine trees, so getting accurate wind readings just isn't possible but if I can get the anemometer as high as possible (without climbing a 200' pine tree) I can at least get the wind reading for what is reaching the house.

Thank you again for all the great ideas!
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: gvmelbrty on January 23, 2017, 01:23:23 PM
You're welcome.

Just make sure the plug where you intend to locate the WeMo Switch gets a decent WiFi signal from your router. I had to elevate mine and place it near a glass door. Also, I would be concerned if your chosen location for the Switch is not completely protected from moisture, as they are not intended to get wet. A simple roof overhang does not sound sufficient. You may need to purchase/construct some sort of enclosure for it. Or, just relocate the Switch to a protected area as I did and run extension cords as needed.

About your anemometer wire.. yes, it does come with 40ft of wire. But, if that's not long enough, you can easily extend it. Davis sells extension kits (https://www.scaledinstruments.com/product-category/davis-instruments/extension-cables/) for this purpose, or you can buy the needed items elsewhere. Search this forum for more information.. this topic has been discussed many times. .. You also have the option of using the Anemometer Transmitter Kit (https://www.scaledinstruments.com/product/davis-6332-anemometer-transmitter-kit/) to get your wind data to your console(s).
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: CWatsonJr on January 23, 2017, 02:10:58 PM
Great idea. Thank you.
Title: Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: TeaysValleyWV on January 27, 2017, 08:28:31 PM

I would try using the 20 watt version and wrap the cone like I did.  I am pretty sure that this will be enough heat to melt anything that was in the bucket.  I didn't realize that the 50 watt version had that much cord!  :shock:  I think it would be a problem getting that much of the cord to fit into the bucket, BUT...  You could always leave the leftover portion outside of the bucket and maybe wrap it around the mast pole, just to take up the extra slack  :-k

Still... I think trying the 20 watt version first makes the most sense.

Here are those interior shots of my rain bucket again showing how I coiled the cord around the cone.  Notice that the end of the cord is at the top of the cone, right next to the hole where the water comes in.  The very end is not heated and slightly larger in diameter.  I let that "tip" hang in the air.  No need to glue that portion down.
I just rigged up mine just like yours.  I did a few modifications.  I used heavy duty foil and triple layered it using double sided tape before putting on the pipe wrap.  My thought was extra insulation.  I used the foil tape too instead of duct tape.  I found it difficult to glue the cable wraps on the inside cone evenly.  There's not much room to work and the darn cable is limp as a rag. 

I did a test tonight with the outside temp around 41.  In an hour the inside temperature stabilized at 80.  I used a wireless temperature transmitter to monitor it. 

I mounted a waterproof outlet box cover below my VP2 mount to house the thermocube and electrical connection to the extension cord.  I found the box at Home depot.  I got the duplex wide version with a flip up cover.

One thing I thought you could do in a colder climate was insulate the floor of the tipping mount with strips of the pipe wrap.  You could trim it to fit around the tipping mechanism and drains.

Thanks for the idea Goose!

Well over 7 years have passed and this homemade rain collector heater is still working great.  I store it away during the warmer months by swapping it out with an extra collection cone.  The only addition I plan to use is an outdoor z-wave switch controlled by my Nexia home automation system.  That way I don't have to venture outside to plug or unplug the power supply.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: dlehman on February 19, 2017, 06:47:06 PM
I was inspired by this thread, but I did things a little differently. My total cost was $15.25 for a 24 watt heater, not including a 12v 2.5A power supply that I had lying around. If I had to buy the transformer it might have added $8 to the cost.

I used a 6 ohm, 50w load resistor ($4.98 for 2 on Amazon) combined with the 12v 2.5A power supply to provide 24W of heat. I also added a "Snap Disc Thermostat, Open On Rise, Range 105/115 F" ($6.98 on Amazon) for safety. I mounted the thing with some scrap wood, screws and sheet metal for heat shielding. I also needed to get some crimp on wire connectors ($3.28 at Lowes). I insulated the inside of the cone with small bubble wrap and thin aluminum foil.

It has worked well with our recent snowfall. It kept up with melting the snow. The only issue I had was snow gathering around the top of the cone. I think the insulation may have been keeping the heat away from that area so I pulled it down a bit so that it will heat the top of the cone more.

I also use a TP-Link Smart Plug and control the power to the heater with a script on my Raspberry Pi. I have a cron job that checks the current conditions and 3 hours of the forecast (wunderground API) and turns the heater on if there is snow/ice/freezing in the current conditions or forecast. It turns the heater off 1 hour after the end of the frozen precipitation.

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Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: CWatsonJr on December 05, 2017, 04:13:03 PM
After several attempts of using different tapes, I have lost the battle of keeping the heating cord fastened to the insulation. I broke down and purchased the Davis heater for $150 at Scientific Sales. The last time the cord came loose, it got under the tipper and kept it from recording. Oh well. It was a fun experiment.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: SpartanWX on December 05, 2017, 09:55:31 PM
After several attempts of using different tapes, I have lost the battle of keeping the heating cord fastened to the insulation. I broke down and purchased the Davis heater for $150 at Scientific Sales. The last time the cord came loose, it got under the tipper and kept it from recording. Oh well. It was a fun experiment.


I am sorry to hear that.  I used plain ol' scotch tape, which has not shown any sign of aging in nearly ten years.


(http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1468.0;attach=29092;image)
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: ValentineWeather on December 05, 2017, 10:02:08 PM
I used hvac foil tape.
Title: Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
Post by: EA1EF on December 06, 2017, 05:48:05 PM
Interesting theme. I used multi layer.

First a inox metallic mesh fitted with Sikaflex, this layer is for unify warm energy and protect the plastic. The problem can't remove.

Second layer its two or three  matrix of resistors of 1 Kohm for 3 w to 5 w power in 12v. I prefer divide power in 2 or 3 matrix for prevent any failure. This layer also fix with Sikaflex buy only points in resistors.

Finally third layer is the isolation

Can use cheap 4 euro electronic thermistor for fix about 10Celsius matrix temp. Also can add water detector for 3 euro.