The Anza WeatherCAM
July 5th 2001
- a report by Liam Kennedy
Quite a while ago
a project was put in place to install a weather station and all-sky camera
out at our Anza site. The intention was to build a system that would reliably
report the local weather conditions out at our Anza site. All of us would
then have the ability to determine if it would make sense to spend 2 hours
in the car to go to Anza.
hardware along with the all-sky camera were installed by Michael Silveus
in 1998. The computer system we had then however turned out to be less
than reliable. For many reasons it seemed as if the computer would last
just a few hours before it would crash and lock up.
A few weeks ago I
decided to have a personal attempt at getting this project back off the
ground. The first part I wanted to tackle was that of getting the all-sky
I decided to use a
personal computer of mine - a Toshiba Server grade computer - hoping that
with Windows 2000 - it might end up being a little more reliable than
the previous system.
On the June star party
weekend I spent all day configuring and testing the server at home. I
rushed down to Anza and arrived just before sunset. I had just enough
time to hook up the PC and verify that the camera was still functioning
(a credit to Michael Silveus engineering).
I left the system
running for the following week. The server was basically taking a snapshot
image every 15 minutes and then uploading them to an Internet server.
I monitored the output all week - and the system never missed a beat.
One of the first images
uploaded is displayed below.
The SkyCam is based
upon a B&W camera pointing down at a half-sphere-mirror, effectively
allowing us to view the entire sky from east/west/north/south.
Not having seen an
image from the camera before - I didn't really know what I was looking
at. The big bright white "clouds" looked to be a little odd
to me. In fact I guessed they were actually little "messages"
from the Birds over the past few years. I also had no idea what the black
"rectangles" were in the image.
I asked Michael Silveus
to look at the images and to let me know if it looked basically OK. The
black rectangles were a mystery to him.
I decided to go back
down to Anza the weekend after the star-party to clean up the mirror and
to check out what the black rectangles were. I successfully cleaned the
mirror - and verified what those rectangles were. Inside the camera weatherproof
housing I could see the rectangles of "something" resting on
the inside of the filter. Unfortunately I could not remove them - as that
would have required completely dismantling the camera and I did not have
the proper tools to do that. I managed to tap the camera and some of the
rectangles moved out of the way. I also took some time to install some
nails on the top of the camera structure that will hopefully persuade
the birds not to leave their mess on the unit. The following image shows
the WeatherCAM in detail.
The first images from
the newly cleaned system looked much better!
I think we can see the clouds in this picture!
I think they call
As of now then I have
re-implemented the Anza WeatherCAM
system. It is now taking images every 20 minutes - and the latest
image is always available along with the previous 9 hours or so of historical
images. I will eventually remove that black rectangle for the camera -
but for now I think I just want to leave it as it is. Hopefully it will
not prove to be too much of a problem.
Over the next couple
of months - I will look at getting the weatherstation working. In the
meantime you can view the real-time weather conditions as reported by
a weather monitoring station in the town of Anza about 6 miles away from
our site. This information is available here.
July 5th 2001