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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Posts
    898

    Lightbulb Low cost Cloud Detector released

    Hi all,

    I've finally run my CloudDetector/Alarm software for long enough to be happy it works properly.

    This uses the $145US IR thermometer from Extech to monitor the sky conditions, sounding an alarm if the configurable thresholds are passed.
    It's a two-part application, so you can run the alarm app on a different PC to the one monitoring the sky conditions out at the scope.

    This is useful if, like me, you don't have an automated observatory capable of closing itself. I can run the alarm app on a laptop in my bedroom to wake me if I need to go out and cover the scopes up.

    The software is available for free download from my website as usual:

    http://winfij.homeip.net/development/CloudDetector.html

    If you give this a go, please do drop me a line to let me know how it works for you.

    Cheers,

    John



    P.S. If you do have a fully automated observatory, Stan Ralph has used this same sensor to drive an ACP weather station plugin, which should close the obs automatically. It's in this same forum for download.

  2. #2

    Default Phidgets IR Temp sensor for cloud detection

    This company makes a IR temp and ambient temp sensor as well as the acrylic cases that will protect them. Has anybody tried making a cloud monitor with this hardware?

    http://www.phidgets.com/products.php...roduct_id=1045
    http://www.phidgets.com/products.php...roduct_id=1124
    http://www.phidgets.com/products.php?category=30

    Total cost = about $120.00
    Jack Harvey
    SSRO/PROMPT Imaging Team
    CTIO, Chile

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Posts
    898

    Default

    Actually - yes.

    I modified my cloud detector software to support this device some weeks back, but stalled on getting the new installer created before releasing it.

    Hopefully, I'll get the time to do that sometime soon, since it works well and is very attractively priced.

    John

  4. #4

    Default

    Looking thru the manual it appears the device measure not only IR but the ambient temp as well and subtracts ambient to give IR. This is exactly what is needed for the graphing of cloudiness<G>. So one only needs the IR device at $90 and the case to protect it for $8. EIther write your own software to graph the output or use John Winfield's
    Last edited by Jack Harvey; Nov 10, 2011 at 22:46.
    Jack Harvey
    SSRO/PROMPT Imaging Team
    CTIO, Chile

  5. #5

    Default

    Phidget arrived and it is plug and play. Installed Phidget driver and then used Phidget Manager to recognize the device and finally opened Temp Full exe application and I have a window that is continuously reading out both ASMbiend and IR Sky temp in Centigrade. As most probably know the Boltwood used Sky Temp(IR) - Ambient to predict cloudiness.

    So now to work on a graphing script<G>.
    Jack Harvey
    SSRO/PROMPT Imaging Team
    CTIO, Chile

  6. #6

    Default



    Ran the cloud sensor and it correlated well with our visual observations. Temps colder than 27C for our site were clear. 22C-27C were partly cloudy and warmer than 22C cloudy and not good for imaging. One of my PROMPT/CTIO colleagues, Kevin Ivarsen made a quick script to graph the results. DOnt think it is as complete as John's but you can see it at:

    http://salsa.skynet.unc.edu/skynet/w...mp?range=10800

    I think the "PhiCloud" (apologies to Steve Jobs) is gonna be a winner.
    Jack Harvey
    SSRO/PROMPT Imaging Team
    CTIO, Chile

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Mesa, AZ
    Posts
    26,878

    Default

    You guys are amazing!
    -- Bob

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks Bob, Hopefully John will be able to get this integrated into ACP<G>

    With apologies to Steve Jobs I call the new Phidget cloud sensor - PhiCloud
    Last edited by Jack Harvey; Nov 17, 2011 at 21:01.
    Jack Harvey
    SSRO/PROMPT Imaging Team
    CTIO, Chile

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    288

    Default

    Thanks Jack for pointing this hardware out. Will wait for John's software.

    Yves

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    North Lancaster, Ontario
    Posts
    120

    Default Phidget 1045

    Gentlemen,

    nice to see others caught on to the Canadian made Phidget IR sensor. I've been using it since spring 2011 and it's been dead accurate. It's fun to see the different levels of cloud layers zip by when there are holes.

    Problem is finding an inexpensive window to protect the sensor that lets the 5 to 14 nm band through. All I found was far more expensive than the Phidget, so I've been kept the plastic bag I had found that was relatively transparent.

    I was too lazy to put in an automatic heater to dry the sensor *window*, and finally just used a large shield which has been remarkably good at keeping dew, rain, snow and ice off of it. Of course the sensor needed to be tilted. See here: http://www.watchobs.com/astronomy4.html (scroll down a tad). I had this crazy idea to use very strong forced air to blow anything off of it if it were required, such as with EDF R/C fans. I initially used the ambient temp of the 1045, but the housing would keep it a tad warm, so I settled for the ambient temp from my Davis weather station. If you do want to use the 1045 ambient, provide plenty of air cooling to keep the board at ... ambient!

    I wrote code into my observatory controller that uses Phidgets C API, but if ACP will recognize it one of these days, oh la la!

    Cheers
    C14, Hyperstar, QSI-583ws, N8, C8, Audine KAF-0402e
    Astrodon 31mm e series LRGB NIF 5nm Ha SII OIII
    12' dome, Davis vantage pro, SQM-LE
    http://www.watchobs.com

 

 

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