Friday, March 15, 2013

Tucumcari ASC Radio Telemetry

Several weeks ago, I talked about our efforts to update the Fabian Garcia Science Center weather station to a radio telemetry system.  Today, I'll discuss the radio upgrade to the weather station at the Tucumcari Agricultural Science Center in November of 2010.

Prior to November of 2010, the weather station at Tucumcari ASC communicated with our office via a phone line connection.  This connection was relatively stable, but we still decided to be proactive in moving away from the phone line.  So, on November 18th, 2010, Dr. Dave DuBois and I left Las Cruces for Tucumcari, bringing two RF401 radios and an NL100 network link interface with us.

Traveling to Tucumcari took about 5 hours.  Once we were there, setting up the radios was a fairly straightforward affair.  First, we set up the office radio and network link device.  Because the science center's office was built before networking technology was so commonplace, we were limited to where we could put these devices.  Our best option was in the conference room, where there is a window looking out towards the weather station.

I connected the NL100 to the network and confirmed that we could "see" the device on the network.  Next, I connected the RF401 radio to the NL100.  We used a 1db dipole window mount antenna with the office RF401, although we didn't mount the antenna in the window.

At the weather station, I pulled the phone modem out of the datalogger box and replaced it with the RF401.  Since the distance from the station to the office is around 500 feet, we used a 0dB whip antenna on the station radio.

I went back to the office and initiated a remote desktop connection to the Loggernet computer in our office in Las Cruces.  Using Loggernet, I attempted communications with the Tucumcari station and had success.  With the radio system set up, we spent a few more hours at the station, making sure all the station's sensors were working properly.  Finally, after making sure that the office radio and network device were out of everyone's way, we made our way back to Las Cruces with a total trip time of 14 hours.

Since this trip, and because the system has been so stable, we've been planning the upgrade of our entire network to the radio systems.

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