Step 2: Rain Gauge Design
Problem: How to design a tipping bucket rain gauge.
Solution: So I did some research on tipping buckets. How they work is that the funnel is over one of the buckets. Rain drips into the funnel and into one of the buckets. After a certain amount of water, the weight of the water tips the bucket so the other bucket is under the funnel and the reed switch is triggered and sends a count to the circuitry. As the rain continues, the other bucket fills up and tips it the other way again triggering the reed switch.
To make my tipping bucket, I took a piece of the aluminum ‘NoTrespassing’ sign, I used for my weather vane. I marked a rectangular piece 3” x 2.25” as shown in the diagram. I cut it with a pair of scissors and folded up the sides. I happened to have a piece of ¾” aluminum, I used to shape the trough and bent the sides up. Then I trimmed the sides so they were triangles. I cut another aluminum piece ¾” square, rounded the bottom corners and hot glued it in the middle so that you have two ‘buckets.’ See first picture.
Warning: If you are a horrible hot-gluer like I am, it might leak. Mine did. Pour a little water in the side tilted up and see if it leaks out the other side. If it does, heat up the joints and/or add more hot glue. You can see from my pictures what a terrible job I did but it stopped leaking.
The next picture looks a little weird. I wanted to use nylon spacers for the pivot point but my local Ace hardware didn’t have any. They did have these #8 nylon washers that are about 1/8” thick so I bought them. I wanted the spacers to stick out away from the sides of the tipping bucket so I taped another scrap of the sign to the tipping bucket then I tapped the washer so that it was flat with the scrap. The adhesive tape looks pretty weird in this picture. Then I hot glued the washer to the bottom of the bucket assembly and did the same to the other side.
The next picture shows the results. Again you can see my poor hot-glue skills and yes, it’s a little crooked but it worked okay.