STORM BRAIN

Popular Science - - GOODS -

A WET FIN­GER WILL TELL YOU WHICH WAY THE wind blows, but most of us rely on se­ri­ally in­ac­cu­rate apps or spray-tanned lo­cal me­te­o­rol­o­gists for de­tailed read­ings. The Davis Van­tage Pro2 weather sta­tion ($650)—a fa­vorite of barom­e­ter-track­ing fa­nat­ics— de­liv­ers a per­sonal, hy­per­local fore­cast from your own back­yard. A suite of highly ac­cu­rate sen­sors tracks the plung­ing pres­sure that pre­cedes a storm, the winds in the buildup, and the down­pour that fol­lows. You can also feed your data to Weather Un­der­ground, boost­ing the ac­cu­racy of their fore­cast­ing al­go­rithm. All that aside, just imag­ine what it’ll do for your small talk.

1/ ANEMOMETER

The wind vane points into a blow­ing breeze, in­di­cat­ing its di­rec­tion. To mea­sure speed, three cups at­tached to a cen­tral rod catch gusts. As the ap­pa­ra­tus spins, it ro­tates a mag­net past a sen­sor, which cal­cu­lates ve­loc­ity from 1 mile per hour to more than 200.

2/ RAIN COL­LEC­TOR

Pre­cip­i­ta­tion falls into a bucket, through a de­bris screen, and onto a 5-inch-long see­saw mech­a­nism. A ves­sel on ei­ther end holds 0.01 inches of wa­ter, so as the teeter-tot­ter rocks back and forth, it’s also tal­ly­ing the rain­fall. The spikes keep birds away.

3/ POWERPLANT

Six square inches of so­lar cells col­lect en­ergy, while a ca­pac­i­tor and backup bat­tery hold enough volt­age to keep the sta­tion run­ning for up to a year with­out sun­light. On­board pro­ces­sors ready sen­sor data to broad­cast up to 1,000 feet via ra­dio an­tenna.

4/ THERMOMETER

A ra­di­a­tion shield pro­tects a dig­i­tal tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity sen­sor nes­tled inside. The white plas­tic re­flects the sun’s rays rather than ab­sorb­ing them, keep­ing the sen­sor ac­cu­rate within 0.1 de­gree—from 40 be­low zero up to 150 de­grees Fahren­heit.

5/ MIS­SION CON­TROL

Ev­ery 2.5 sec­onds, the sys­tem sends met­rics to a 7-inch-dis­play-equipped con­trol sta­tion. Us­ing this data and an on­board barom­e­ter, it can gen­er­ate fore­casts for the next 12 to 48 hours. It also stores weather re­caps go­ing back years.

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