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ACI Acoustical Consultants Inc. is an acoustical engineering consulting company based in Alberta, Canada. Principal partner and engineer Steve Bilawchuk explains how they use their Orion Weather Stations, “One of our main services is to conduct environmental noise monitoring for things like road noise, rail noise, industrial noise, etc. In addition to the noise monitoring data, we also need the local weather data for the duration of noise monitoring period."
Weather conditions are the single largest variable factor in how sound travels over large distances. Specifically, wind speed and wind direction are of crucial importance. Having a portable weather monitoring station gives us the flexibility to set up wherever we need and gives us very localized data. The equipment is typically set-up, locked, and left to run un-attended in the field for as little as 24-hours and as long as a few months at any one location.”
Listing the important features and parameters for this application, Steve notes:
“When we conducted a search, the unit available from Columbia Weather Systems was the only one that met all of our criteria.”
ACI built a custom mast and storage case configuration that houses all the components including batteries, charger, and cellular modem. Solar panels are utilized for longer installations.
“Once the weather monitor is setup in the field, it simply logs continuously and then we check on it remotely from time-to-time. The units each have remote access via cellular modem, so we just use our smart phones while we are in the field to ensure that everything is running properly and then we use our computers in the office to check the units periodically and download the logged data. At the end of the project, we download the data and analyze it on custom software that I have written using a program called Matlab.”
Additional Details about the Case and Mast Configuration from Steve Bilawchuk
The Weather MicroServer and Interface module are housed within a Pelican Case. The case also contains batteries, battery charger, the cellular modem, switches & fuses for all of the batteries, and a spot for the cable and weather sensor during storage and transport. All of the wiring, etc. within the cases is custom. The case will run for four days on the internal batteries (power for the weather sensors, logger, and modem). If we use external deep cycle batteries, we can go for much longer. We also started using solar panels for longer installations and we can run indefinitely on solar.
Finally, if we are monitoring for a long period and there is AC power available, we can plug-in the battery charger that is located inside the case and it will just keep the batteries floating and run the equipment very well. This is particularly important in the winter time when we have the sensor heater turned on (it uses quite a bit of power).
The weather sensor and lightning arrestor are mounted to a pole that can be unscrewed from the rest of the tripod and mast unit. The tripod and mast unit were purchased from a survey equipment supply store (i.e. the same equipment survey crews use). With our current setup we can reach 5 m tall with the weather sensors and could go higher if needed. We also use adjustable guy-wires to stabilize the unit from moving too much in the wind. We open up the legs on the survey tripod very wide and then use chains to weigh the whole thing down. It works very well.
The photo shows the system set up with the guy-wires, the black pelican case on the ground, and a deep-cycle battery (inside a bag) sitting on top of the pelican case. Note the chains hanging off the tripod, as well as the wire wrapped around the mast for the weather sensor.
At one end, the cable has the connector that it was supplied with (where it connects to the lightning arrestor). At the other end (inside the case) is a quick release multi-pin military grade connector.
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