Death of a Weather Station

One of our projects last year was a weather station, it was built in Miami and transported to Tennessee and installed.

The weather station worked stand alone, away from all buildings using solar panels. It transmitted all information to the servers using 60 mW XBees. The information was then put on the web. The system worked great until a freak wind storm blew through and knocked it over. Luckily we were scheduled to return to the site within two weeks.

At first we thought the station was vandalized,  none of our remote cameras had a great view of the station, all we could tell was it was down. None of our cameras recorded anyone near the station during daylight hours (and when the sun goes down, it is DARK. And had someone approached the station at night with flashlights we would have caught that as well. But nothing.)

When we arrived on-site, to our amazement all the hardware survived. The solar panels had minor cracks, but that was on their backsides. Wires had been ‘snapped’, easy to patch. And all other hardware was still weather tight and undamaged. We did have to removed the station until next season, giving us time to build a new stand/tower. (It was below freezing for our visit and I was happy we didn’t have to return the station to operation during that visit.)

So a thanks to SparkFun for selling such robust hardware. … And back to the drawing board for a better stand/tower.

WeatherStationNumber1 Before Install WeatherStationNumber1bDamage Results

Final Report:

This WAS Weather Station #1.. There was an attempt to add a remote control camera (note: glass dome), but at the last minute it was dropped. It was dropped because we could not get the programming, the added hardware and custom parts made in time. Perhaps Weather Station #2.

Other flaws were that stand was to narrow. The installed station only had the lower solar panel installed (not the dual panels as in the photo), but that exposed the Electronics Tube to direct sunlight (and heat build up). We placed a large bird house over the Electronics Tube, which helped with the heat issue.

Recommendations: Lower electronics tube, widen the over stance of stand. Full concrete footing would be nice, if possible, otherwise wide heavy sleds.

We did have ropes tied to blocks the keep the stand upright, which seem to work. However the ropes rotted. – More pre-install tests.

Mac Mini Snow Leopard Died

Last weekend I noticed the Snow Leopard server’s cameras weren’t working. On digging (and restarting) I noticed the boot drive had failed. Ran permissions and disk repair, after a few errors and fixes, it passed all the tests. Sigh of relief!

Then on Tuesday, same thing. Only this time the drive would not respond to any commands or disk utility tools.

Ordered two new 750 gb hard drives from, installed. Spent hours trying to recover and back up the bad drive. – Started a format, cancelled, then once again tried disk utilities, it help. – Target mode the old drive, carbon copied the old drive on to the new drive. – Booted on a USB Snow Leopard installer, ran disk utilities and rebooted.

It worked!

Only issue I had was Open Directory didn’t work, so demoted server to standalone, then back to master, then did a restore from backup. It worked

DeployStudio reimaging

Trying to upgrade student stations from 10.5.8 to 10.6.8 using DeployStudio. Holding down the ‘n’ key is hit and miss, out of 8 computers 3 wouldn’t see server. Unblinded, deleted files in the directory folder in preferences. Remove computer from AD and OD. Still nothing.

After a little head scratching, I moved the computer to DHCP. Bing! Everything now works as expected.