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!