Monday, September 26, 2016

the tipping bucket method...

Well...thanks to the recent precipitation, I got a chance to see that the rain gauge in my new weather station works.  It is not really quite as sophisticated as you might think.  Although the information is recorded digitally and transmitted wirelessly to a base station then uploaded to the internet through my DSL line - it actually works mechanically by what is called "the tipping bucket method" that was invented in 1662 by Sir Christopher Wren - a highly acclaimed English architect. 

There is a tiny tipping two sided "bucket" inside that rocks back and fourth like a seesaw.  When one side fills up, it tips and drains out then the other side fills up then tips and drains out.  Each time this happens, it is the back and forth tipping movement (not the actual water collected) that triggers a counter that is calibrated to record the amount of water for each tipping motion of the seesaw (my new weather station records .01" per tip).  My old weather station had one of these and it always read exactly the same as my National Weather Service rain gauge that works the old fashioned way - just filling up a tube that I have to check with a measuring stick...just like the cheap hardware store ones that are a clear tube but with the markings on the side.  A nice extra with the tipping method is it also continuously updates and records the "rate" of rainfall in inches per hour - not just the overall total once the storm has passed.  It does this by recording how fast the seesaw tips back and fourth.

The cheap hardware store version by the way was originally called a Cheugugi and was invented in Korea in 1441.  Although it was the first standardized rain gauge, more primitive methods have been used to record rainfall as far back as 500 BC by the ancient Greeks.

and now you know...the rest of the story.  62,54,63, .21",B


Dizzy-Dick said...

Rain has always been very important to humans. Too much or too little can mean the difference in life or death, especially in the distant past but to some extent, also today.

gumo said...

John, I have one like yours, too, which I enjoy watching. But I always keep the old fashioned rain gauge just to compare measurements and calibrate if needed because the automated one sometimes gets clogged with spider webs, dust, dirt, etc. also birds like to make a deposit or even try nesting in it. It may need a drop of oil, too. Enjoy!

San Angelo, TX

Steve said...

Very interesting!