Back in action after an unforgiving Winter

The windtalker went down on Feb 14th after a windstorm snapped the solar panel right off the pole. Luckily the fall caused no damage to the cell and it was easily reattached to the clamp mount upside-down. The second challenge was getting the solar charge controller to fire up again with the battery totally flat. Solar power alone won’t turn the charge controller on, which is a frustrating thing to learn in the field. Fortunately I found a cordless drill battery under a tree nearby and was able to jump it back to life. Take that, bush mechanics!

Frame went snap

The BME280 temp/pressure/humidity sensor is not in any sense weatherproof but is usually happy enough hiding inside the sun-blocking enclosure. Until a storm pushes rain in through the side and fries it. That seems to happen once every 4 months or so. I fashioned a curtain out of scrap windowscreen that will hopefully give it more protection. Cheap Chinese BME280s are only $1 apiece but getting out to replace them hasn’t ever worked out to be convenient, and certainly not a sexy toplanding and relaunch operation like I’d fantasized.

So, everything is working well again. I’ve been meaning to enable humidity readings for a while and finally got around to enabling it in code, but apparently the cheapo $1 BME280 sensors I mentioned are actually fake knockoffs that can’t measure humidity. You get what you pay for, I guess. A premium $8 sensor is on it’s way to me and will be installed soon. With humidity coming through we can calculate dewpoint which I’m only really interested in because the findu panel shows that as -9999f when it’s not being reported. Then with that information you can supposedly calculate cloudbase altitude, which could be neat.

Future plans: Build sexy ubidots dashboard view. Recognize in software when the BME280 is fried and stop sending bonkers data to the internet. Build another windtalker for the Summit, smaller and durable enough to survive up there.