I recently have taken up a new project: Building a weather buoy on Conesus Lake.
One of the main issues with Conesus Lake that I have is you never know if it is a good day to go swimming, boating, jet skiing, or just to make the drive down to the lake. I could just technically get a standard weather station and just hook it up to the internet but it wouldn’t really be of use for anyone else. Another thing is, there isn’t really any biological monitoring on Conesus Lake that is publicly available, highly accurate, and provides historical collections.
That’s where the weather buoy comes in. This is a very large buoy weighing in at around an estimated 220Kg-250Kg (485Lbs-551Lbs) with dimensions of 2 meters (wide) by 2 meters (long) by 1.7 meters (tall). The buoy itself is planned to have more than 30 sensors all logging data at a regular, very frequent interval. This will allow a lot of correlations to be created and a lot more information about the lake to be readily available.
The buoy is still in active planning during the campaign as we are trying to make this as maintenance-free and reliable as possible. The buoy will be self-powered through solar panels and can last for at least a two-day estimate if the solar charging fails. It will also be equipped with several safety features including several navigation lights to ensure the buoy is visible at night. It will also have a horn onboard that will sound if an object gets too close to the buoy determined via a rotating LiDar. The main goal to keep this safe is to ensure people know it is there no matter what as this isn’t something that is cheap or easy to remake.
One of the other reasons why having this buoy would really help out the understanding of the lake is it will help monitor for changes to the lake that promote the recent blooms of blue-green algae. I have recently worked with some of the people on the Conesus Lake Association and a group of individuals who are currently studying these blooms. I assisted in the installation of the first thermocline monitoring station located about three meters under water and then extends to the bottom with thermocouples at regular intervals. The data of this station is publicly available on data.sparkfun.com and Karl Hanafin, one of the people who is studying the effects of lake mixing, created a visualization of this which they have hosted a copy of here.
The buoy will also have a clever guide cable system that will raise and lower a rig of water probes from the surface, to the bottom of the lake, and all the way back up in a constant loop. This was a cheaper solution than running several of these expensive probes at regular intervals. Since I have a robotics background, there will be several robotic-like features on the buoy including automated cleaning of the submerged probes, automated sensor checks, and several other robotic related systems onboard (9DOF, etc).
This is quite an ambitious design but it beats purchasing a buoy that does a lot less for a lot more. The estimate for this project is around $5,000 with a $2,500 wiggle room incase components break or we make an expensive mistake. This totals the campaign at $7,500 which is about $17,000 less than purchasing a pre-built one such as the NOAA buoy’s.
I would greatly appreciate if you back the campaign on IndieGoGo and will keep everyone up to date with design updates, build log, and final product.