HitecWeather – Never miss a clear sky again! Simple reliable cloud sensing and much more with these cloud sensors.
How many times has it happened to you?
The weather forecast doesn’t look to promising for observing imaging so rather than waste time cloud watching you settle down to watch the sports or a good movie.
Later on you step outside and viola the sky is beautifully clear and has been so while you were inside watching TV. Sound familiar?
Clearly a cloud sensor would be ideal.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a permanent eye on the sky to tell you when it’s clear outside. Well now you can. Hitecastro are delighted to announce the latest additions to our product line up.
HitecWeather USB and HitecWeather Deluxe offer cloud sensing and much, much more at a price which won’t break the bank.
Although they are stable mates and on the face of it seem similar, both products are very different and indeed serve the astronomer with a very different set of functionality and solve two distinct problems.
HitecWeather deluxe is a fully featured cloud sensor with integrated ambient and rain sensor.
Utilising an RS232 connection allows a much longer cable run than is possible with USB.
The unit is designed to be located outdoors permanently so you never need to miss a clear sky again.
HitecWeather Deluxe comes with a comprehensive software suite containing advanced features not found on competing products.
features are listed below;
- Sensor parameters are fully adjustable to suit your location and climate.
- RS232 cable allows unit to be located up to 150ft from the host PC.
- Power and signal are provided through a single cable.
- E‐Mail alerts are fully configurable so you get the information you need when you need it.
- Astronomical calculations are done on the fly to allow factors such as twilight and moonlight to be factored into your observing decisions. This removes the need for a light sensor.
- Separate and highly accurate ambient temperature sensor is located outside the box so as not to be affected by electronic heat.
- Rain sensor will alert you at the first drop of rain potentially saving you a lot of money should a sudden rain shower pass over. Rain sensor integrates a controllable inbuilt heater to avoid false alarms caused by dew or frost
HitecWeather USB in many ways is the little brother of the two however its function is very different as you will see.
HitecWeather USB contains a cloud sensor and ambient temperature sensor.
However it is presented in a much smaller package and is designed to be mounted on the end of your OTA.
The field of view of the sensor is restricted to 10degrees and points where your telescope is looking thereby providing accurate sensing of cloud where you are imaging only.
It’s no good if 90% of your sky is clear and a pesky cloud is hanging in front of your target that night.
With HitecWeather USB you get instant updates on your computer screen to tell you what the sky is like where your scope is looking.
Below is a screenshot taken from the software showing a clear sky
Note… Written by Dave Grennan, Product Development Manager – Hitecastro.
One thing we haven’t discussed yet is just how configurable these units are. At Hitecastro we have considered long and hard how best to produce a cloud sensor which will work at every location at all times.
Why is this so difficult? To understand this we need first to look at how our cloud sensors work.
Simply put, the sensor detects infrared radiation coming from the sky. A cloudy sky reflects lots of IR radiation and in theory, a perfectly clear sky reflects little or no IR. However the ambient temperature has a role to play too and it is the relationship between these two that HitecWeather utilise to determine the clarity of the sky. Simply put cloud sensing is easy. However determining for, example the difference between a clear sky and a slightly hazy sky becomes more difficult. Now couple that with the vagiaries of different climates and rapidly changing airmasses and you can see why the task of a ‘one fits all’ solution would be difficult at best.
HitecWeather provides a system in which all of the parameters which define the clarity (or otherwise) of the users sky can be determined using a method which we have spent quite a bit of time learning to understand and develop. These parameters can be simply set in the software provided and thus allow the user to adapt to different prevailing conditions. By default HitecWeather is loaded with parameters which we have found to work well from the United Kingdom. However overseas customers might need to adjust these to suit local climates. In short wherever you live and whatever your climate HitecWeather will work for you with minimal effort. If desired, users can download recommended parameters automatically.
Our software is written by astronomers just like you. We understand just what our fellow astronomers need. We spend a lot of time thinking about and using these products ourselves before we even offer them to the most important people of all. Our customers.