Showing posts with label blizzard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blizzard. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2013

Capturing the blizzard of March 2013 with time lapse video

A storm that came late in the season, the March 2013 blizzard (dubbed "Virgil" by the folks at the Weather Channel) caught many off guard in central Illinois.

In the Champaign-Urbana area, local schools cancelled class first. Then, the community college.

And at about 9 pm, the University sent out a mass email, warning UIUC spring breakers not to attempt the drive back to campus. Finally, at about 1:30 am, Illinois officially cancelled classes.

When it finished here in Urbana, Ill., the storm dropped more than 11 inches, breaking the previous March 24 snow record. In my hometown of Springfield, it dropped 18.5", beating a single-storm record that persisted for 113 years.

Snow began falling at about 2:30 pm on March 24. As soon as the snow began to fall, I started building a time-lapse setup, and took my first pictures at 2:38.

While I've detailed here before how to make a time-lapse camera, those previous designs were battery-powered, and had a life span of 12 hours. Like the previous build, this used a camera presupposed from an unmanned aircraft system.  But the forecast called for a snow that could last up to 20 hours, so I designed this setup to run on AC power instead.

As it turns out, it's much less complicated to run a time lapse camera on AC power. No battery calculations are necessary. All that's required is the camera, the camera housing, an AC extension cord, a USB cable, and an AC to USB adapter.

Time-lapse weather camera at 2:39 pm on Sunday, March 24.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nemo Drone Challenge gains support from the drone community

It hasn't been a good month for domestic drones in the United States. Lawmakers in Texas, Oregon, Missouri, and elsewhere recently introduced anti-drone legislation that could cripple commercial and humanitarian drone use in the United States. Journalism, that stuff that provides the essential flow of information for a democracy, could be hampered.

Couple that with delays in the federally-mandated process to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace, and you've got a problem that not only threatens a potential economic boost of $90 billion, but also shuts out life-saving technology.

I wanted to do something about it. I was preparing for a business trip to Washington DC by way of Boston, which is how I came to know a historic blizzard could slam the region and derail my travel plans. I had learned that governors in four states were ordering citizens not to use the road.

Travel, even by emergency vehicles, would be hampered severely. Well, perhaps emergency vehicles that drove on roads. But maybe not ones that flew in the sky.

Friday, February 8, 2013

UPDATED X5 I'll give you $380 if you make your drone useful during winter storm Nemo.

Above is a picture of a quadrotor drone, an airframe from a fixed-wing drone, and $60 $120 $220 $280 $340 $360 $380 cash. The money is yours if you make your drone useful during the aftermath of winter storm Nemo.

I know it's not a lot of money. It's all I can afford right now. Several generous and forward-thinking folks in the drone community have made this prize possible. We'll mail the prize money to you if you complete a task that demonstrates how useful drones can be in the event of a natural disaster.

Why? Because I believe that drones can be used for good. That's why I started and co-founded Drones for Good.

The North East is having a weather crisis. Some call it "Nemo."

Governors in four states have ordered citizens not to use public roads. Airports are closing, and public transit is closing down in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Feet of snow are supposed to fall, making it difficult for emergency crews to respond to the disaster.

You know what could help during a time like this? A drone.