Author Topic: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!  (Read 118461 times)

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Offline W3DRM

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #250 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.
Don - W3DRM - Minden, Nevada --- Blitzortung ID: 808 --- FlightRadar24 ID: F-KRNO2
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Offline schwab

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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?

Offline weathergirl

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #252 on: August 15, 2012, 10:25:07 AM »
I have found the 25W Repti Heat Cable to be more than satisfactory :)
Ann-Marie
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Offline Gretnawx

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #253 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 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.


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.


JOE sent me a copy of his CAD insulation template (thanks Joe!). The template is used to cut the Frost King foam insulation material that lines the inside of the bucket.



Zoo Med Repti Heat Cable, 25 watts.


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.


Notch in bucket and cable secured with clip.


Shelter mounted behind the ISS houses electrical connection for the heater (and ac-powered DFARS, coming soon).

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Offline gvmelbrty

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #254 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:

  • As far as the slots cut into the plastic strips, if you can make those just small enough so that the heater element sorta snaps into them, it will keep them from falling out while you're putting the cord in. In you do it right, you may not even need silicone to hold the cord in place (I had to use silicone to hold mine in). The way I tried to accomplish this is by first using a drill bit about the size of the element cord to place a hole where I wanted the element to be. Then, I cut a slot leading to the hole. That way you'll be able to push the element through the slot where it will snap into the drilled hole. Optionally, to further insure the cord will stay put, you can cut your slots at an angle that points up when the bucket is in its upright, installed position.

    Also, because the cord is spiraling down the middle and then up the sides, I tried to stagger my slots to accommodate this spiral. You can lay your four middle strips together and your four outside strips together and draw diagonal lines to use as your spiral guide to locate your slots.

    When I first glued the strips to the bucket, I also used epoxy on the strips that are against the insulation. Those fell off after one season. I now have those applied with silicone and they have held well. The curved strips expoxied directly to the plastic aren't going anywhere.

Offline gvmelbrty

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #255 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 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 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 for the rain bucket heater.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2012, 03:08:51 PM by gvmelbrty »

Offline WG Weather Station

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #256 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
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Offline W3DRM

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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.

Don - W3DRM - Minden, Nevada --- Blitzortung ID: 808 --- FlightRadar24 ID: F-KRNO2
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Offline Jumpin Joe

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #258 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 

Offline W3DRM

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #259 on: March 06, 2013, 07:46:47 PM »
Joe,

Glad to hear you were successful in building your own heater.  =D&gt;

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.

Don - W3DRM - Minden, Nevada --- Blitzortung ID: 808 --- FlightRadar24 ID: F-KRNO2
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Offline Jumpin Joe

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #260 on: March 06, 2013, 07:54:06 PM »
It sure is Don.

Offline AbuMaia

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #261 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.
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Offline Jumpin Joe

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #262 on: June 29, 2013, 10:46:29 PM »
That does look promising.

Thanks for sharing

Offline W3DRM

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #263 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:


Don - W3DRM - Minden, Nevada --- Blitzortung ID: 808 --- FlightRadar24 ID: F-KRNO2
Davis Wireless VP2, WD 10.37s101,
StartWatch, VirtualVP, VPLive, Win10 Pro
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Offline AbuMaia

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #264 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.
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Offline kalenshah

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #265 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.
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Offline dasman

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #266 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!
« Last Edit: December 23, 2013, 09:53:54 AM by dasman »
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Offline ShastaSnoDog

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #267 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.

Offline JOE

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #268 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

Joe
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Offline W3DRM

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #269 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.
Don - W3DRM - Minden, Nevada --- Blitzortung ID: 808 --- FlightRadar24 ID: F-KRNO2
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Offline kobuki

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #270 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.

Offline miraculon

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #271 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

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


Greg H.



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Offline kobuki

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #272 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 ;)

Offline SpartanWX

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #273 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?
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Offline ValentineWeather

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Re: $30 Rain Collector Heater - simple!!
« Reply #274 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. 
« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 12:28:54 AM by ValentineWeather »
Randy