SnowMan Team

The University of Vermont

Project Updates

Progress of SnowMAN team project 

December 12, 2007 

      Our snowshoe hike out to the site created a pleasant day.  We installed USB extensions so the motes could be accessed, and updated without opening any enclosures, which eases the frostbite of our fingers greatly.   

    We've finished the semester and Jon, Matt, Chris have completed their degrees at UVM.  Future updates will come from other students taking over the project.   Happy Holidays.

 December 2, 2007

    Today we had planned to revist the Ranch Camp site again to install new more powerful batteries and also to install the USB cables.  Unfortunately the weather did not cooporate with us, it is about 5 degrees and the weatherman have issued winter weather warnings, so we have to postpone our trip until better weather.  The forecast is calling for severe snowfall in the next few days so our trip will most likely be later this week or over the weekend.

 The Radar Forcast for Vermont today.

  November 16, 2007 

    Today Matt, Charlie and Jon revisited the Ranch Camp site for some minor tweaking to the system.  Charlie had a test version of his program so we installed that onto each of the motes in order to make sure all the sites were comunicating with eachother.  With the new program installed on the motes we demonstrated connectivity between each site.  Unfortunately shortly after we showed full connectivity we lost one site and realized that everysite was extremely low on battery power.  We replaced the batteries at the woods site and noted the voltage at the other two sites.  Most likely those sites will be out of power by the end of the day.  After the switch of batteries it began to get dark so we needed to head home.  We will be visiting the site again next week to install larger batteries and  USB cables to make reprograming easier in the future.  


 Screenshot of the conected sites talking to the mote attached to the labtop

November 11, 2007

       Today was the day that we have been waiting for since August; deployment day!  Chris and Jon met professor Frolik at school at 9 this morning to load up the car and head down to Stowe to meet up with Matt.  After and anxious ride down 89 we arrived at the cross country center.  We strapped on our packs and headed off for the half hour hike out to the Ranch Camp site.

After the brisk hike through cool morning air we got right to work assembling the SnowMan System.  Chris and Jon assembled the motes and poles, while Matt got to work breaking ground preparing the holes for the sensors.  Everything went relatively smoothly until the cold got the best of Matt's fingers and the brittle wires of the pressure senor.  One of the connector wires had snapped, but since Matt is a trained army survivor he can solder with a lighter and quickly remedied the situation.  After that is was smooth sailing with the rest of the installation.  We finished up with a quick check to make sure everything was transmitting... well we think it was but we could not get it to show up on the computer.  Next week when we have the correct software completed by Charlie we are confident that the system will be working as planned.  We'll be back to you then with the latest info about the project.  Check out the picture page for a visual story of the deployment.

November 10, 2007 

       Today was crunch day; tomorrow is deployment day so we finished tying up all the loose ends to prepare for the trip to Stowe.  We all arrived at the office at 9:00am and headed right over to the gym for sensor calibration.  We ran each sensor through a series of weights from 2.5lbs up to 200lbs and recorded their respective voltage outputs.   After more than an hour of lifting weights on and off we finished our calibration and headed back the office.  We spent the remainder of the afternoon finishing all the last minute soldering, attaching all the motes and ultrasonic sensors to the poles and readying everything to be packed into backpacks.  Finally at about 6:00 pm we had the three sites wired, plugged in and transmitting to each other.   With the system up and running all that remained for us was to dismantle it and pack it all into the backpacks for tomorrow's hike. Check the Picture Section for images of our packs.


  Chris working hard to finish on time.

Jon hooking up the sensors for a final test.

 October 22, 2007 

    Since we last spoke yesterday afternoon the snowman team  was able to power up the snow station.  After a few tries getting all the connections right we were able to observe each sensor turn on and off under the control of the motes.  Unfortunately we discovered a greater power draw from the station than we had anticipated.  To remedy this Chris is currently rewiring the voltage regulator to consume less power.  In addition to this rework we are considering the possibility of either a second battery per station or the utilization of a photo voltaic cell to trickle charge the single battery. 


October 21, 2007 

    Today Matt, Chris and Jon have been up in the office since early this morning.  Our goal for today was to have a functioning prototype complete for our team update meeting on Monday.  The morning was spent with Matt and Chris finishing up all the connections to the mote cells and the optical sensors.  Jon emptied eight cans of spray paint on the snow platforms, as well as all over his hands and most of the grass in front of Perkins, leaving them all a beautiful snow white.  In the afternoon we all worked to assemble the prototype; all the mote boxes were water sealed and a few custom mounting brackets were fabricated.  Right now at 3:30 Chris is hooking up the final wires and is about to switch the power on.  We will be back with an update about how it functioned tomorrow.





October 12, 2007

    This week our load cells, from our friends at Load Star Sensors, arrived.  Jon spent this morning installing a load cell in our first weight sensor.  Now that it is installed we will have to start the calibration and test phase of the project.  Also this week the ultra sonic range finders, for snow depth measurements, were tested by Matt and Chris.  After some tweaking of the mounting system the range finders began function perfectly as expected.  Finally thanks go out to Floyd in the shop for helping Jon overcome his seemly bad luck with the constantly empty rapid prototyping machine. 


P.S.  The Leaves at our Ranch Camp Site are in beautiful fall foliage colors, once these fall we will be able to start the complete installation of the Snow Sensor System.





Photos Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort

September 29, 2007


  The past week has seen some major advancements towards the ultimate team goal.  Jon tested his "quaking bush" design in the dense "snow" outside Gutterson.  Chris completed wiring of the base stands, and he and Matt finished soldering 3 of the 4 voltage regulators.  The final EE order was placed as well.  Next week marks the start of October, and the system should be up and running shortly.



September 21, 2007


  Chris, Matt, Jon and Tiffany took a trip out to the site for some quality weed wacking time and a chance to preposition the bases for each of the units that will be going into place in a month.  At the same time, the motes were field tested to make sure that they could communicate with each other over the distances the bases are spaced apart.



September 15, 2007


  The soldering irons have been getting some good use as Matt and Chris are busy working on the infrastructure and getting things ready for our prep installation.  Jon has been purchasing needed parts and started construction on his load cell snow weight sensor.



August 17, 2007


 Matt, Chris and Tiffany (The Geology/Snow Hydrodynamics Grad Student) took a trip to the secret site on Stowe Resort to decide whether or not they could place a sensor system near the Gondola station.  Unfortunately, the distance to the station is too far to bridge, and therefore would require multiple repeater stations.

Pictures from the trip can be seen HERE



August 7, 2007


   Chris and Matt took a trip to Home Depot today to purchase supplies necessary to create the sensor stand.  The items purchased will allow a 9 foot stand to hold an ultrasonic range finder 2 feet from the base.



July 31, 2007

      SnowMAN Team took field trip to Mt. Mansfield with Computer Science and Geology collaborators. Toured two USGS sites and also met with Stowe Mountain Resort Operations Manager, Scott ______.  Also met with Howard ______ from WCAX TV at their summit station.  Discussed with both groups the possibility of using their facilities for storing our data logger.  Trip was productive and helped to focus our goals.

Pictures from the trip can be seen HERE