Do you want a Weather Station at Marshall Launch?


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3 Graphs · Text Only · Crestline Wind Rose & table only

6 Aug 2016: Funding Goal Reached!

I'm a new pilot and have an engineering background in electronics and programming and designed and built several industrial grade sensors and whole systems in Germany.
Early on I noticed that Marshall, our most frequently visited launch site, has no weather station.
Interpolating conditions at Marshall from wind speed & directions at Crestline and LZ, I have driven out to fly only to discover that sometimes conditions were actually pretty bad. You've probably experienced that, too.

Several instructors (Jerome, Rob, Marcello) and regulars confirmed the importance of a dedicated weather station at Marshall, because "The wind at Marshall can be significantly different than Crestline or the LZ", most  of them pledged their support right away: Jerome Daoust $100, Ken Howells $100, Rob McKenzie $100, Gaston Nogues $50+"hands on help" and many of you I talked to.
After reviewing my design, the CSS board agreed to it, but like the weather stations at Crestline and LZ, it has to be funded through donations.

We would need to get $3000 to be able to build (buy parts, weld, cut, wire, solder and mount etc) and set up (dig trench, raise, connect, adjust, point and test the platform) and operate the actual weather station (solar panel, battery, weather station) and protect it (wireless alarms, weather proof outdoor security cameras), and link it to the internet and integrate it to CSS’s weather page.

Funds above $5000 will make it possible to deploy the extras (more below) like a flat panel TV in one of the display cabinets at the LZ so everybody has easy and real time access to the weather charts and also video streams. That TV could also be used by instructors who give a clinic or so.

All funds are kept with CSS and will be spent for this project only.
Please kindly help us getting there

I knew about the very high heat and strong winds, and after doing much research and interviewing long time pilots I also learned about things like vandalism, shootings and theft. On top of that, there is no power or internet at Marshall. Considering these issues I looked for a ready to buy, rugged weather station, but none of them would withstand the elements or fit our special needs, or they were extremely expensive. So I designed a weather station with mostly off the shelf parts for easy and fast repair in mind.
Early on I was blessed with a few good co-pilots who helped me with this project.
Ken, the +15year IT soul and backbone and mastermind of CSS, kindly agreed to add the Marshall station chart to Crestline and AJX, so thankfully all that will be available online.

There are many other good ideas for the second stage, like automatically locking down the windsock during strong winds to reduce wear, a large wind speed display at the mast, strobe lights which flash red to notify pilots in the air about bad conditions, several tablets which like the TV are bolted and secured to the display area (behind thick Plexiglass), each dedicated to a weather chart.
The more you donate, the more functions we will be able to implement.

I also ask you to kindly donate your time. We cannot afford to hire people, like nearly all the other projects, everything needs to be done by us in a team effort.
Gaston kindly agreed to help with the mechanics, Sean will help with digging the long trench, Ken with the software (Perl/Raspberry Pi) etc. Please tell us if you can help them, too.

I was surprised and moved by the early pledges to this project by "elders", as they actually have the least need because of their vast knowledge with the conditions and how to read them. I think it is mostly their care for us, the not so experienced, to help us make the right decisions more clearly and with more reliable and localized data.

Thank you for your contributions!


Some additional pictures showing a more final stage including extras like night lights and security cameras, strobes etc.

sorry about the comments, cannot change to smaller font:

And a page from the Excel sheet holding the BOM (bill of materials) and details to the project:

The railroad ties got trashed, the "Hook-in" sign got trashed......Will you be setting up another target?  I like the idea, but there are a number of potential problems.  Have you considered anti-tampering measures?  Questions like this will make some people reluctant to invest.

There were many of the same issues at Soboba.  We went with an even more 'off the shelf' solution, the Davis 6250 Vantage Vue Wireless Weather Station with the 6510USB WeatherLink Computer Interface.  Added the long range repeater (good for 5000 feet), two hi-gain antennas, a Raspberry Pi and some solar power.  Total cost was under $1000.

There is much tougher foot access to the Soboba unit, so vandalism may be more of an issue at Marshall.  Rich Kennedy at Soboba did most of the work to get it going.  Probably the best contact.

- Alan

Power is the single biggest problem.

You can use arbitrarily large solar arrays, of course, and an arbitrarily large battery.

But this will increase the windload, and its value makes it vulnerable to theft.


Consider putting this new weather station at the location of the windsock at Cloud. The weather information generated should be at least very similar to that at Marshall but the location would make it much less accessible to vandals.

Yes, Rob McKenzie and others told me early on about the issues with theft. Three types were identified: #1 is the "occasional" thief, people who happen to be there and see there is nobody watching and grab loose things and run. #2 are the desperate thieves who need money right now, and #3 are the professionals, who plan ahead.

What has proven to be the best deterrent for #1 are night vision security cameras. The platform is quite out of reach, like the windsock, which to my knowledge was also never stolen. And then the value/attractiveness of the item.
That was an important design consideration, to make the station unattractive and also use cheap and simple off-the-shelf parts, and not several hundred $ units which just cry "take me" like the mentioned Soboba Davis station. The parts used here are cut down and drilled etc. and have a little resale value.
This also addresses #2 and #3, it won't make sense for them because of the little actual resale value of the put together station.

Regarding vandalism, nothing can really prevent that, but that was another reason for designing it this way. Simple and easy to resource off the shelf parts (like from Home Depot) and inexpensive units ("brain" being a $30 Raspberry Pi). So in case of vandalism, we will need very little time and money to replace the damaged parts.

I'll add "damages by elements" to your thoughtful concerns, those bring down the Crestline station several times a year, with long outages, as you might have experienced.

You might just see the $3K, but the actual cost of the actual weather station is half of the one mentioned above (from Davis). What costs here is the sum of the parts used to make this mechanically inaccessible yet safe and fast serviceable. I also included spares of the vulnerable parts in the calculation.

I think damages by elements will be the largest source of outages, it is a very harsh enviroment with winds up to 100MPH. This expense is the price for having convenient access from your sofa to the precise past and current weather conditions at Marshall.

Hi Jimmy, I think the amount of effort you've put into this project is awesome. (For those who don't know, he has been working on the plans for months now; every time I see Jimmy at Marshall, he is surveying the locations, asking for feedback, drawing up new plans...etc).

That passion, which is shared by many at CSS, keeps the flying sites improving despite a lazier pilot like myself who only benefits. I'll donate $50 to see the project to fruition.

Just donated!

I agree with Jimmy.  This is a great idea, potentially saving pilots time and increase safety at Marshall.  Considering the amount of traffic Marshall gets, for both hang and paragliding pilots, I believe this is well worth the money spent.  



My take on this project... Everyone has different ideas of how it could be done, and many implementations would probably work. But until now nobody has made it happen. Now we have Jimmy who has spent considerable time weighing options, making a plan and willing to invest more of his time & effort to see it get running. All we have to do is help fund it, then we get entertained by seeing the project go live, and enjoy it until some bozo shoots it down. Kind of like treating yourself to a good meal once in a while. So yes, show me how sweet it would be to have a weather station at Marshall launch, I will enjoy it while it lasts.

$100 donation sent. Please post somewhere the total donation amount, so we can see it close in towards the goal.

I posted a message on the PG Forum, as there are many international visitors that come to Marshall.

Jeff, I like that idea. It sounds like it would seriously reduces the risk of being vandalized....

... and a camera on the shade structured that's aimed at it may be a cheaper solution that's less prone to vandalism.

Check out the Symlar club's WhackCam.  Before 2 pm, it's aimed at the wind sock atop Kagel Moutanin.  The CSS camera would have to stream live, of course.

"After 8am, the camera becomes available to users for control until 1:58pm, so the camera may not be always pointed at the windsock between those hours"

That was actually my very first idea I ran by all, but nearly everybody said that a weather station gives us much more detail and most importandly, the history.
And after I learned about theft and vandalism, the cost of just a camera vs a weather station was really small, the largest cost and effort being for the structure.
BTW, the parts for the "weather sation" I am using are roughly $150 total (including the brain).

I will donate $50 to the project as well as my time and shop space to see it built, installed and maintained. I have almost all, if not all the tools including cable and swagging tools and some of the raw materials. 

How should I go about donating and is there a list that shows the goal and current donation totals?

I really like the addition of the lz station which is super useful, let me know how I can assist. 


Hi Gaston, there is a link in Jimmy's introductory post, near the top of the page. 

Heard you had an accident, hopefully it was not bad?

I'm grateful about the support and donations of both our younger and the more experienced pilots. It is always that a few open the path and possibilities for the many who come later. So thank you for your foresight and generosity.

I'm already working on the details of the implementation. Mechanics will be first. Once the most important/needed parts are ordered, Gaston (who is recovering from a bicycle accident) will hopefully be able to start putting things together in his great workshop. Electronics (solar, charge controller, battery, communication links to Marshall) are next.
Ken, with his youthful and endless energy, will hopefully do his magic, as he did so nicely with the other stations, and help get his great software running on the new Raspberry which will also be ordered.

I don't know how much was donated, so thank you for noting it here. Non CSS website members cannot leave a comment unfortunately, though I'm sure that all the names of the donors will be published (unless you want to stay anonymous).

Please also help keep this page focused on the funding of the project and donations.

If you have a great idea, I'd love to hear from you directly, so please email me directly.

For those who cannot login, contact me please under gackermaul with that rounded a sign and the other way to write jah 00 and of course the com-end.

Thank you all!!

Thank you very much dear early adopters, Jerome Daoust ($100), Rob McKenzie ($100), Lance Rocker ($100), Alex Chiang, Dan Cortez, Gaston Nogues ($50), Ron Gray($100), Carlos Garzon ($50), Will (?) ($20), Randy Bennett ($100), for your donations!

We are at $820 right now!

Some of the great folks I met at the Fly-In event on Saturday kindly pledged to donate, too. Some donated right away.
Some asked about the price and details, due to forrest and other regulations we need to use expensive and complicated precautions, which neither Crestline nor AJX had to deal with. Also, this station has no power or internet unlike at Crestline and AJX. The two security cameras pictured were already donated.

Except of 2 persons, everybody thought it is a great idea to finally have a weather station at Marshall, and nearly all said they experienced themselves that the weather was off at Marshall in reg to Crestline.

Here are the donators and pledgers from Saturday (with the minimum they intend to donate via the convenient paypal button above:

Honorably Donated:
Carlos Garzon ($50)
Will (?) ($20)
Randy Bennett ($100)

Pledged ($700):
Tyson Jensen  94494 $50
Mark C (?) $50
Mark Stucky  9380  $50
Evan Thompson  93411  $50
Julio Salgado  72040  $50
Juan Viliawilla $10
Juan R. Arambula  97344 $50
Manuel Ayala  72218 $20
Kiarash Karimi  90641 $50
Marc Weniger  59784  $20
Joe Popper  83911 $20
Jai Pal Khalsa  81259  $50
Max Todorov  95029 $50
Ginger Blackburn $50
Ken Andrews TBD
Lisa Wendt  64645  $20
Ken Manatt  52709  $10
Khalid Chalouan  96954  $50
Mike Lester  97399 $50

PLEEEEAAAASE comment right here how much you actually donated so I can add you to the honorable donators.

All funds are sent to and kept with CSS and will be spent for this project only.

These donations are fully deductible, so they don't cost you much, just a few clicks, with great results.

Thank you for your contribution!!

I will donate and install concertina wire if you want it as part of the vandalism deterrant.   Not a perfect solution but it could help.

Thank you for your donation, Kevin, we are at over 1K now, hopefully will get some details of current status (I have no access to CSS's Paypal) and will update then.

Barbed/concertina wire would be great, but what about pilots/gear getting entangled with it?

I saw one hang glider "get in touch" with the windsock mast.

Being the person that made the Sylmar Weather / Whack cam happen, I'm following in interest on your progress to making this happen where you have no power. We've thought of having somthing else on Kagel, but mostly we're surrounded by other sensors that are noramlly "good enough". Marshall is a different "problem" and I can see your need for having the weather station at launch.

Good luck!

Yes, Marshall is indeed difficult in many ways. To my suprise, the biggest problems the elders warned me about are vandalism and theft.

So the design is majorly influenced by that, the station is put together with simple, off the shelf parts and is designed to be easily and fastly repairable.

Heat and strong winds were another big concern.

With the great help of a few really dedicated and professionals, we hope that we can build this station to last and work well.

Thank you for your wishes, in God's ear.


Dear all,
very exciting news, Kevin wrote that we reached the needed 3K with your many kind donations.

So we are finally good to go, and I'm meeting with some helpers/pilots (starting hopefully tomorrow [Sat 6. Aug]) to discuss the tasks and schedules.

Thank you all for your ideas and contributions and continued support, and for the "helping hands" you lended and hopefully will lend for this tough project.

I truly hope that we can build this station to long term satisfaction and fulfill the trust invested in us by the community.

Thank you!

Solar Blvd. in Norco has prices as low as 35 cents per Watt for solar panels.

They also carry other realted accessories, inverters, etc.

Some of their inventory is "used" but still has plenty of life left.