Identify this small solar-powered installation.
December 30, 2018 12:01 AM   Subscribe

A friend was road-tripping through Arizona today and came across this curious thing in a field by the road (YT). It looks like a weather station, possibly? Looks too small and unprotected to be any kind of aeronautical beacon or marker. Any help appreciated!
posted by mykescipark to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Definitely a weather station. The casing at the start with the “hat” houses a thermometer and probably also a hygrometer and barometer. The hat shields the instruments from direct sunlight. The little gold dome is measuring cloud cover or solar radiation. I’m not sure what the angled instrument at the top is.

The second station is a tipping bucket rain gauge surrounded by wind screens to minimize wind-blown rain.
posted by plastic_animals at 1:24 AM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


The device that is surrounded by the circular slats is probably a precipitation gauge. The slats allow accurate measurement of rain or snow in windy conditions. The cylindrical device pointing up at a 45 degree angle is an antenna for sending out data via meteor scatter to a central data collection point. I am guessing that this station might be gauging the level of underground water in addition to precipitation and some other parameters.
posted by jkent at 1:25 AM on December 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


Almost certainly a Campbell Scientific weather station, as it's just like the ones I used to install for wind monitoring. As others have said, it has a mix of temperature, precipitation and solar radiation sensors. The angled thing might be a satellite-band comms antenna.
posted by scruss at 8:24 AM on December 30, 2018


That it has something to do with groundwater seems more likely given that substantial water tank off to the side -- and that tank is pretty elevated.

If I saw anything resembling a low head hydro generator (not that I would know what one looks like), I would wonder whether they were using solar power to pump groundwater into that tank to assess the possibility of storing solar power as gravitational potential energy of water at elevation.
posted by jamjam at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2018


The cylindrical device pointing up at a 45 degree angle is an antenna for sending out data via meteor scatter to a central data collection point

Cool, I learned something: meteor scatter is used by snowpack telementry (SNOTEL) stations. There is supposed to be a map of the stations here but I can't get it to load. If you can, perhaps you can find a match against the site your friend found.
posted by exogenous at 7:56 AM on December 31, 2018


Cool, I learned something: meteor scatter is used by snowpack telementry (SNOTEL) stations. There is supposed to be a map of the stations here but I can't get it to load. If you can, perhaps you can find a match against the site your friend found.

Intriguing and brilliant idea! Unfortunately, I checked the map and the only stations in that region are streamflow stations, which this definitely was not.
posted by mykescipark at 2:35 PM on January 1


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