Author Topic: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!  (Read 116177 times)

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Offline MarkWX

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #100 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.

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« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 08:27:48 PM by Mark1974 »

Offline TeaysValleyWV

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #101 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!
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 06:29:42 AM by TeaysValleyWV »

Offline TeaysValleyWV

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #102 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:

Offline SpartanWX

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #103 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 =)

Offline MarkWX

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #104 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.

Offline W3DRM

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #105 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.
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Offline TeaysValleyWV

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #106 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.

Offline W3DRM

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #107 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!

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Offline Mark / Ohio

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #108 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:
Mark 
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Offline MarkWX

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #109 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. :)

Offline TeaysValleyWV

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #110 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.

Offline W3DRM

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #111 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:
  • ITEM 93984-3VGA - $24.99
  • ITEM 96451-1VGA - $39.99 (on sale)
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Offline MarkWX

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #112 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.
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Offline Bushman

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #113 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.
Need low cost IP monitoring?  http://wirelesstag.net/wta.aspx?link=NisJxz6FhUa4V67/cwCRWA or PM me for 50% off Wirelesstags!!

Offline WeatherGoose

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #114 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!



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.



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.  :)
« Last Edit: December 06, 2009, 03:56:02 PM by WeatherGoose »


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Offline Cienega32

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #115 on: December 07, 2009, 07:54:31 AM »
That soap box and nite-lite are cool ideas!

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Offline W3DRM

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #116 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.

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Offline d_l

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #117 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.
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Offline MarkWX

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #118 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.

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« Last Edit: December 08, 2009, 01:30:11 AM by Mark1974 »

Offline WeatherGoose

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #119 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.  :)

« Last Edit: December 08, 2009, 02:26:57 AM by WeatherGoose »


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Offline mackbig

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #120 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


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.

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Offline MarkWX

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #121 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.

Offline W3DRM

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #122 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?
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Offline WeatherGoose

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #123 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

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.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2009, 12:07:12 PM by WeatherGoose »


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Offline d_l

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Re: $20 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #124 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.
--Dave--

Wireless VP2 w/ solar, 24hr FARS, Heater, (Envoy-WLIP)*3-Meteohub, plus custom VP2 @ 26', WL 6.0.4, WU & W4U=KNVRENO37 NetcamXL

People always talk about the weather, but they never do anything about it.  Not me.  I'm gonna measure it.  https://www.tceweather.com

 

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