SunSPOT Meteorological Station

Two students at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts built a meteorological station with SUN Spot technology. This was a prove of the interdisciplinary cooperation we wrote on our banner @ HSLU T&A. Our parallel programming and virtual worlds expert Roger Diehl guided the students through their term paper. I cannot give enough regards to Prof. Fritz Rothenbuehler from the Mechanical Engineering department. He helped designing the body and mechanics, he draw the CAD and made it real with the 3D Plotter. All without any bureaucratic overhead. Also thanks to Markus Provini for his help with mechanical parts. Note: There where other departments which did not the slightest thread without filling a blank for this and then another form for that and of course the main form for how to pay….

Read how they did it:

Our task was to build a meteorological station, which can measure weather relevant data. Therefore we had to use SunSPOT technology. Both wind speed and wind direction had to be determined by using the acceleration sensors on the SunSPOTs. Further we had to detect the temperature, humidity and light intensity.

This project had differing aspects which we had to tend to. Firstly we had to familiarize ourselves with the SunSPOT technology. Secondly we had to figure out how to use the accelerator sensors to measure the wind speed as well as the wind direction. And last but not least we needed to build the meteorological station.

All aspects combined made this adventure quite challenging, but we were soon enthusiastic about the possibilities using SunSPOT technology. In a short amount of time we were able to read the accelerations sensors, thanks to the demo program. Thus we were able to go through a few test scenarios which helped us to find a solution to the wind problem. We decided to imitate the idea of a wind wheel and were therefore able to determine the centrifugal force of the corresponding rotation speed.

For the wind direction though, this didn’t work quite as easily. By the fact that the acceleration sensor constantly affects the force of gravity, it is possible to determine the absolute position of a SunSPOT Client. The only issue was that the axes of the sensor were pointing in the wrong direction to make this work. We agreed upon using a weather vane to determine the wind direction but this hasn’t yet solved the axes problem. So we came up with the idea of redirecting the rotation on another axis. It is now possible to use gravity to find the current wind direction.

A few points still remained open. a SunSPOT client does not come with a humidity sensor so we had to find a suitable sensor ourselves. Fortunately we found a blog where someone had already done this before. This showed us that it was possible and we were confident in our choice. Sensirion SHT71 was the sensor we used to measure the external temperature and humidity. The light intensity can be detected with the onboard light sensor. Finally we transmitted the battery lifetime and internal chip temperature as well.

The big question mark surely was the construction of the meteorological station itself.  Our team consisted solely of two IT students, so we lacked the necessary know-how for the construction side. Fortunately we could rely on the support of several different departments at the university. Our concept was visualized in Cinema4D and together with the mechanical department, the meteorological station finally became reality.

But this wasn’t the end of the story. Every machine has to be calibrated and this was the case with our meteorological station too. At the University of Applied Science Lucerne we have our own wind test facility. Therefore we were able to achieve an exact calibration of our machine which resulted in an error of measurement of only 1%.

In our opinion the project was a total success. Its challenging tasks and the new insights it brought us made us glad to be part of this adventure.

Mike Bloechlinger



Mit Hilfe von 3D-Computeranimationen kombiniert mit Videoaufnahmen wird das Enterprise Lab der Hochschule Luzern – Technik & Architektur vorgestellt. Es entspricht in Grösse und Funktion einem modernen Rechenzentrum, wie es typisch in der Wirtschaft zum Einsatz kommt. Der Kurzfilm erklärt die Hardware Virtualisierung, eine der wichtigsten Funktionen des Enterprise Lab. Damit lassen sich die Ausbildung sowie angewandte Forschung und Entwicklung flexibel, effizient und parallel durchführen.

Ein MAS Digital Media Projekt

Open Street Map

OpenStreetMap is a free editable map of the whole world. It is made by people like you. This main goal of this project is to provide an webbased interface to render (redraw) map data on demand. OpenStreetMap uses two different Render toolchains, osmarenderer and Mapnik. Osmarenderer uses XML-Transformation and generates SVG-Files, which will be converted to PNG-Tiles. This project deal with the Mapnik renderer. Mapnik is a fast, opensource C++ Maprenderer. Mapnik cannot read the OSM-XML-Files directly, as data source is PostgreSQL with PostGIS extensions used. The tool osm2pgsql converts the OSM-XML-Files and stores the data in the PostgreSQL Server. A problem using Mapnik is the transfer from the OpenStreetMap database to the PostGIS Server. The OpenStreetMap database is only exported on a weekly basis. The import takes several houres. And then rerendering the whole world can take some days too. So when a user make a change on the map, it can take several days until he can see the result. This project tries to use the OSM-API to get bleeding edge data for a requested, relatively small part of the world and imports this into the PostGIS database. The user can use the slippy map and select a tile which should be rerendered. A similar application exists for osmarenderer, but not yet for Mapnik.
The following picture of our Campus shows a Mapnik rendered map.

World Wide Education and Research Conference San Francisco 2008

This years’ education and research conference was held again in my favorite city San Francisco. The lead story was “The Power of the Community”  Sun Microsystem World Wide Education and Research Conference 2008, San Francisco Prof. Hansjoerg Diethelm and me attended the WWERC 2008. And with great satisfaction I must say: I was a god event, with “on the edge discussions”, and some ideas about the way the community will lead us. Yes, the power lies by the consumer, the Creative amongst us showing new business models and the Web 3 as an instrument for use.

Hey, we met KATHRYN D. SULLIVAN (PH.D.), NASA Astronaut, did you ever met a an Astronaut in person? I was impressed by this woman who has conquered space. She spent 532 hours in space.

We listen to and we talked to great people. The People of Sun enabled connections which always ended with a very interesting and helpful chat.

World Wide Education and Research Conference San Francisco 2007

Prof. Hansjoerg Diethelm, Head of Computer Science and Bruno Joho, Head of Enterprise Lab followed an invitation from Sun Microsystems to held a speach at the WWERC February 2007 in San Francisco. More than 400 attendees, most from University education and research around the globe, listen to Prof. Diethelm’s talk about the Bologna Reform which should bring the European higher education system closer together and flaten the hurdles between the countries. Mr. Joho gave a short introduction over the functionality of the new lab and its aim for the educational purpose.
In the following panel discussion lead by Rich Green, Executive Vice President, Software Sun Microsystems, Inc. the discussion focussed on Universities’ needs and the role Sun is playing.

Read Prof. Diethelms speech or have a look into his slides and my slides.