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Preparations Begin

May is fast approaching and we have a lot of things to get ready for this year's chase.  The same crew as last year will be going down together: Heather, Mark Robinson, Brad, Meghan and I.  We will be joining Scott McPartland and Dave Lewison there as well.

We met last night at Mark's place to get things in order and make a few "to-do" lists and they're pretty lengthly.  Mainly we need to make sure the electronics all work with each other.  We're looking into wi-fi hot spots as well.  Last year we ran into the issue of the wires connecting the mobile internet cards to the amplifiers on the roof (tripping over them, accidentally pulling them out, etc).  Have a wi-fi hot spot would eliminate the wires and accidentally damaging any equipment.  However, the hot spots do not come with a port to properly amplify the signal which is a problem in a lot of spots in Tornado Alley where the signal is very weak.  Mark recentaly purchased a new amplifier that comes with a "craddle" type device that your phone, or potentially hot spot, could sit in and amplify the signal.

We also have to build a laptop stand.  Last year we made a make shift one out of a plastic storage bin which worked at the time but was not sturdy.  We've come up with a fairly simple design and Brad and I will look into building it in the next week.  This is the design we're thinking of now:

The cooling stand will be attached to the wooden block using velcro and the laptop will be attached to the cooling stand using velcro as well (so this can be taken apart or removed if needed).  The amplifier Mark purchased will be mounted inside the box so it is out of the way and can easily be attached to our power supply inside the vehicle.  The mesh netting is there so we can use the box as storage for miscellaneous items such as wireless cards, cords, or anything else we can toss in there. 

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