A Raspberry Pi Interface for Ceilometers

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
James J. Coy, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and M. McKeown and D. Conlee

As part of previous Texas A&M Summer SOAP (Student Operational ADRAD Project) groups, Vaisala CT12K laser ceilometers were refurbished, configured, and brought into operations. However, the interface was a simple recording of the serial stream on a laptop, making real time display and usage of the data difficult. During the Summer SOAP session of 2014, the focus was the equipping of a Cloud and Visibility Observatory atop the Oceanography and Meteorology Building, and a part of this effort was to bring in the ceilometer data into the observatory in real time with meaningful displays. The Raspberry Pi, a $35 credit-card sized computer developed in the United Kingdom and often used for computer programming education, has been tested as a candidate low cost interface. The “RPi” is a Linux system, optimized for programming in Python, and is now being applied to a wide range of practical applications. Our efforts to interface, decode and archive data, and provide informative displays in the Observatory will be given, along with early uses of the system to enrich meteorology education.