Science is happening NOW.

The stationary sensor network is in place, and it’s been a busy week making that happen.

My last post indicated I was testing the equipment. That was the easy part. I also had to build 14 solar shades and figure out how to attach the housings to the approved and available infrastructure (road signs and traffic poles).

Building the solar shades was easy enough. Before long, there was a pile of them sitting in my living room.

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The rest meant multiple trips to the hardware store… with kiddo and husband in tow. This worked out well. The kiddo slept (we went right before closing), and since he runs a small OEM (original equipment manufacturing!) parts business, my husband can run around a hardware store naming different types and dimensions of screws, recommend not cutting steel tubes with a chop saw, and tell me how likely the test assembly we threw together is to rust in a salt fog test. Hopefully there is no salt fog in Durham.

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The sensors and housing are attached to two types of infrastructure: street signs, and traffic poles. The traffic poles were easy. Zip ties, rated for outdoor use and 75 pounds made easy work of installing those six sensors. The street signs required a little more creativity. Rather than buy extra parts, I intended to use as much of the hardware provided by Onset with the solar shade. The plan worked beautifully. A three foot, perforated steel pipe bolted to the mating street sign post, and the solar shade and sensor were attached with an M5 screw and the two U-bolts provided by Onset. But this is getting a little ahead of myself.

With a plan and hardware in hand, the sensors had to be launched and installed in the solar shades.

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I launched the sensors Monday with a delayed start for Tuesday afternoon. Then everything went into the car: ladder, extra parts, tools, snacks, and a data sheet to record installation time and location.

Tuesday promised to be the rainiest day of the week, and I still got lots of volunteers to help with installation. What a great lab team! We started at 9 am and finished around 3:30 pm. A solid day in the field, and it only rained in the morning. Go figure.

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As of now, there are 12 sensors out in Durham, North Carolina, recording temperature and relative humidity every 15 minutes. If you see one while driving around, give it a wave, and know science is happening NOW!

Next goal: crossing my fingers and hoping each of the sensors is still there when I go back out to collect the data…