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Coming Together

Well, things certainly are coming together.  Brad and I went to Mark's place last night to get all of the electrical equipment, communications equipment and hardware put together.  We're still waiting on a couple of pieces but we managed to get most things wired as well as iron out a few kinks we discovered along the way.  The list of materials to buy is significantly shorter which is great!  We're still awaiting the laptop cooling pad as well as the mobile hot spot.  

Brad and Mark working on the communications / electrical tower.We know the dimensions pf those devices and where they will be mounted so those should go in no problem.  We realized that the box (acting as a laptop stand) will be slightly top heavy so we've figured out a way to keep it stable without the use of a sand bag and also not impede leg room for the people sitting in the middle seats.  We also discussed wiring within the vehicle that will keep it clean and wires out of the way.  One of the issues we had last year was stepping on wires, accidentally shutting off power bars, etc.  We've figured that all out so that things are under seats and out of the way for easy access in and out of the vehicle.

Once we get the rest of the equipment we'll have another get together at Mark's for last minute touches.  Mark will be renting the vehicle this week or next week and we hope we get the same vehicle as last year.  It was a fully loaded Chrysler Town and Country and it worked out perfect.

In the meantime ... There's a moderate risk for severe weather tomorrow in Oklahoma and Kansas so to anyone chasing tomorrow: have fun and be safe!

Laptop Stand - Mobile Hot Spots

So the box is built for the laptop stand (Dave Lewison, you would be proud!) ... Ok, maybe not since to you it was child's play but hey ... I'm a meteorologist not an engineer :)  We had to order in the cooling fan in the proper dimensions so that won't be here for another week.  Heading to Mark's over the next day or so to install the amplifier inside the box.  We're also going to line up all the electrical equipment and computer equipment and figure out what (if any) wires, cords, adapters, etc. we may need to purchase or acquire before we head down.

So Verizon does not ship to Canada so I thought perhaps I could ship it to family or friends in the USA and they could Fed Ex or UPS it to me.  Called to get quotes from both and WOW is it expensive!  Even for the longest and cheapest shipping it was very expensive.  So Brad and I will be making a trip to New York in the coming weeks to purchase the device in-store since we will be in the area for holidays.  

Most of our preparations are awaiting parts but those should be here soon.  We seem to be on track with everything and my meticulous note taking and "to do" lists are keeping us organized! 

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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