Sep 10, 2014
Say what you want, but I believe measuring the elements is a manly pursuit. As such, at the risk of stroking my ego, I just had to check out the Kickstarted Vaavud Mjolnir Wind Meter.
The review piece itself comes in decent packaging; the wind meter itself is surprisingly light, almost scarily so. The exterior is mostly plastic, so if one was looking for something of similar heft to Thor’s Hammer, this might be a shock. The review piece fits in the palm, and made me think of Mickey Mouse’s hat, what with the red top unit with cups that logically rotates about the axis. The bottom base unit is black, and tapers into a 3.5 mm male audio pin. Altogether, the pieces are loose, but not badly constructed, and I did like the labeled carry pouch that came with the packaging. For reference, it also comes in green and white.
To use the meter, the companion app Vaavud Wind Meter needs to be installed from the Play Store and running. With the wind meter intuitively inserted in the audio jack of the device running the companion software, the user needs to tap “start” in the app, and then the hold the device above his/her head to catch the winds in the cups. During this time, the app uses a progress bar to note the progress of the data collection; when it stops, the information can be consumed in graph and numerical form. The sequence can then be repeated if wanted.
The app itself has different segments; the first (as described) measures the wind. The second is a visual map, and the third is a listing of historical readings. To access the latter, it is necessary to register an account with Vaavud.
I found the whole system to be a fun diversion, but there were a few times it was quite useful: radio-control helicopter flying, kites, even while measuring gusts of wind on the soccer pitch. The system boasts the ability to read 2 – 20 m/s (up to 48 m/s on some Android phones) with a precision of +/- 4%. I was not able to scientifically measure that, but my informal testing did rack up similar readings at the same time.
My biggest gripe is that it does not work on all android devices (it requires the device to have a magnetic field sensor,and a compatible one at that). The plastic build did give me some pause, too, but to be fair, the lack of electronics in the hardware was actually a good thing in my book. Overall, it works well, is a great science lesson on its own, and can be used both for leisure and otherwise.
The Mjolnir Wind Meter is available for $40 via the Vaavud website.