This is the first in a three-part series of my Summer 2008 Gadget Review Video Blog (taped earlier this month). In this segment, I take a look at two "IP Devices" which you'll see as a recurring theme in this series. IP Devices don't require a computer to transmit data to the Internet - they plug in directly to your LAN, or make use of your WiFi signal. This is GREAT because now you don't have to 1.) Have programs use memory on your main computer or 2.) Keep a second computer up and running 24/7.
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First, the StarDot NetCam XL, which is an extremely-high-quality live outside webcam, which we now have online as the new AccuCam. I can't say enough about the quality of the images from this device, it's incredible. The XL3 posts images up to 3 MP (2048 pixels wide!). You can see some example 1024-wide images here. Below are some samples to 1024-wide movies that I've made by "taping" the live display with Camtasia Studio Pro. I'll upload some sample static imagery later today.
TIMELAPSE MOVIES SAMPLES:
The video continues below, and I begin the review of the Hautespot Device, which uploads weather data from your Davis VantagePro2 Electronic Weather Station to the Internet, again, sans computer. This device is fairly expensive, listing for $500 even at places known for low prices.
Unfortunately my Hautespot device went up in flames (literally, it started smoking) in 2009, so I no longer use this device.
Like most WiFi IP devices, you need to connect this one to your wired network temporarily (otherwise it would have no way to learn your wireless settings). Once you do that, the app that comes on the CD searches your network to tell you the IP address. Visit the webpage to configure it as I have shown above. I had some problems with the device when I first started using it - it would stop uploading to CWOP* after a few hours (but keep uploading to "other" providers). After changing from the default to the recommended CWOP servers, this problem was corrected.
The Hautespot device also doesn't transmit some key information to the CWOP program, including rainfall and wind gusts. I am working with various parties to find out why this is and how it can be fixed. It will transmit to CWOP as frequently as you like (though they recommend something at or over 9 minutes). Note that, unlike the WeatherLink IP device that I will review later in this series, you cannot connect it to WeatherLInk software on your computer to store a permanent record of the data locally. The concept of WiFi is certainly nice, but it isn't worth the price unless you absolutely need it.
CWOP is the Citizen's Weather Observing Program, a government-run amateur observation network. Submitting data to this network gets your weather station data used by MESOWEST (The Government Mesonet), AccuWeather.com, and other providers.
I AM ON VACATION THIS WEEK BUT WILL STILL BE BLOGGING!
Here are a few futuristic weather-related gadget deals I've seen this week in Black Friday deals.
We've seen November twisters before, but the tornadoes last week were huge, fast-moving, late in the day and unusually far west.
El Nino is likely responsible for recent record flooding in Death Valley, California, and heavy snow yesterday in Reno, Nevada.
Forty years ago, a ship known as "The Edmund Fitzgerald" sank on Lake Superior during a massive storm.
Astoundingly, Socatra Island is being hit with their second Category 3 hurricane in less than a week.
The forecast was for the Northern Lights to appear in mid-latitudes this week, but it didn't happen. Space weather forecasting is tough!