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Windicator

The weather tracking time-lapse camera and weather station.

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The atmosphere is an fascinating fluid dynamics experiment, but often moves too slowly for most people to understand how it works. Windicator tracks weather by always pointing its time-lapse camera in the direction the wind is blowing to provide a unique view into our weather systems. Doing so helps the camera easily follow interesting events such as passing storms, fronts, and other atmospheric phenomena. In addition, the Windicator monitors the common atmospheric variables such as temperature, pressure, and humidity and shows them with the time-lapse images to let viewers get a deeper understanding of the atmospheric processes. The data are available on a webpage served from the Windicator itself. This project is a great educational project for weather enthusiasts and students, encompassing all the STEM fields and providing an inexpensive educational tool. See the first project log for more details.

The Problem:

I want to create a tool to allow students or interested meteorology enthusiasts to see the atmosphere flow and understand what is really happening then a front or storm passes by. The atmosphere flows like a fluid with instabilities, density currents, and many other phenomena that are fascinating but difficult to follow due to their relatively slow movement. Static cameras are great, but don't always follow the most interesting weather. 360 cameras are expensive, produce a lot of data, and require the user to search for the most interesting views.

What the project does:

This project takes time-lapse photos of the atmosphere and combines them with meteorological data on a webpage that can be easily explored. The camera is continuously pointed in the direction the wind is blowing, so nature is steering the lens to point at the most interesting phenomena in the area. The photos and data can be explored at all levels from quick view to in-depth data analysis and discussion.

How it’s going to change the world:

Understanding the Earth is a monumental task and something that is not ingrained in many people. With increasing urbanization and modernization, the intuition and connection to natural processes gained through experience is all but gone. This project helps speed up nature so we can experience how dynamic our atmosphere is. In addition, it is designed to be inexpensive so that it is accessible to schools, students, and hobbyists. By using 3D printing, open source hardware and software, and modern design tools, the project can easily tie into many portions of the STEM curriculum. Students can build a real and useful scientific instrument and learn from the process and data. The time-lapse videos can also be shared as a community resource.

License:

The project is under the MIT license – in non-lawyer terms that means you are free to do whatever you wish with any of the project content, but there is no legal recourse against me no matter what happens. I really like such a permissive license because, let’s face it, there are a lot of ideas out there and we all gain by sharing.

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  • Meet the Project!

    John Leeman04/14/2017 at 13:16 0 comments

    As the first project log, I thought it would be a good idea to really outline the goals of this project, throw out some questions, and generally crystallize the concept behind the wind pointing time-lapse camera.

    The Problem:

    I want to create a tool to allow students or interested meteorology enthusiasts to see the atmosphere flow and understand what is really happening then a front or storm passes by. The atmosphere flows like a fluid with instabilities, density currents, and many other phenomena that are fascinating but difficult to follow due to their relatively slow movement. Static cameras are great, but don't always follow the most interesting weather. 360 cameras are expensive, produce a lot of data, and require the user to search for the most interesting views.

    What the project does:

    This project takes time-lapse photos of the atmosphere and combines them with meteorological data on a webpage that can be easily explored. The camera is continuously pointed in the direction the wind is blowing, so nature is steering the lens to point at the most interesting phenomena in the area. The photos and data can be explored at all levels from quick view to in-depth data analysis and discussion.

    How it’s going to change the world:

    Understanding the Earth is a monumental task and something that is not ingrained in many people. With increasing urbanization and modernization, the intuition and connection to natural processes gained through experience is all but gone. This project helps speed up nature so we can experience how dynamic our atmosphere is. In addition, it is designed to be inexpensive so that it is accessible to schools, students, and hobbyists. By using 3D printing, open source hardware and software, and modern design tools, the project can easily tie into many portions of the STEM curriculum. Students can build a real and useful scientific instrument and learn from the process and data. The time-lapse videos can also be shared as a community resource.

    License:

    The project is under the MIT license – in non-lawyer terms that means you are free to do whatever you wish with any of the project content, but there is no legal recourse against me no matter what happens. I really like such a permissive license because, let’s face it, there are a lot of ideas out there and we all gain by sharing.

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Discussions

Guy Fraser wrote 04/14/2017 at 04:35 point

How do you determine the wind direction?

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John Leeman wrote 04/14/2017 at 12:45 point

In this case I think it'll be a 3D printed wind vane using a continuous rotation pot. Ideally I would use a sonic anemometer to reduce the moving parts count, but I doubt that would be cost effective for schools. Also many schools are getting into 3D printing now, so it seems like a good opportunity to mix the tech and science classes. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Guy Fraser wrote 04/14/2017 at 22:02 point

Makes sense.

With regards to sonic anemometers, do you have any good designs for those? Particularly, how to calibrate them?

  Are you sure? yes | no

John Leeman wrote 04/15/2017 at 04:08 point

Check this project for some details on the design of sonics. I have't ruled it out totally here yet, but it would be significantly more complex. http://hackaday.com/2013/08/21/ultrasonic-anemometer-for-an-absurdly-accurate-weather-station/

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