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8.3.1 Sensor Check

There are three types of action which can be considered a sensor check. First, one can look at and perform "housekeeping" services for the sensors. Secondly, one can measure some attribute of the sensor to detect deterioration in anticipation of preventative maintenance. Thirdly, the sensor can be subjected to a known condition whose consequence Is predictable through the entire measurement system, including the sensor transducer. Each of these will be addressed for each variable, where appropriate, within the divisions of physical inspection and measurement and accuracy check with known input.

Physical inspection

The first level of inspection is visual. The anemometer and vane can be looked at, either directly or through binoculars or a telescope, to check for physical damage or signs of erratic behavior. Temperature shields can be checked for cleanliness. Precipitation gauges can be inspected for foreign matter which might effect performance. The static port for the atmospheric pressure system also can be examined for foreign matter. Solar radiation sensors should be wiped clean at every opportunity.

A better level of physical inspection is a "hands on" check. An experienced techniciancan feel the condition of the anemometer bearing assembly and know whether or not they are in good condition. This is best done with the aerodynamic shape (cup wheel, propeller, or vane) removed. Caution: Damage to anemometers and vanes is more likely to result from human handling than from the forces of the wind, especially during removal or installation and transport up and down a tower. The proper level of aspiration through a forced aspiration shield can be felt and heard under calm condition.

The best level of sensor check is a measurement. The anemometer and wind vane sensors have bearings which will certainly degrade in time. The goal is to change the bearings or the sensors before the instrument falls below operating specifications. Measurements of starting torque will provide the objective data upon which maintenance decisions can be made and defended. The presence, in routine calibration reports, of starting torque measurements will support the claim for valid data, if the values are less than the replacement torques.

The anemometer, identified by the serial number of the aerodynamic shape, should have a wind tunnel calibration report (see Section 8.1) in a permanent record folder. This is the authority for the transfer function (rate of rotation to wind speed) to be used in the next section. The temperature transducers, identified by serial number, should have calibration reports showing their conformity for at least three points to their generic transfer function (resistance to temperature, usually). These reports should specify the instruments used for the calibration and the method by which the instruments are tied to national standards (NBS). The less important sensors for solar radiation and atmospheric pressure can be qualified during an audit for accuracy.

Accuracy check with known input

Two simple tests will determine the condition of the anemometer (assuming no damage is found by the physical inspection). The aerodynamic shape must be removed. The shaft is driven at three known rates of rotation. The rates are known by independently counting shaft revolutions over a measured period of time in synchronization with the measurement system timing. The rates should be meaningful such as the equivalent of 2 m/s, 5 m/s and 10 m/s. Conversion of rates of rotation to wind speed is done with the manufacturer's transfer function or wind tunnel data. For example, if the transfer function is m/s = 1.412 r/s + 0.223, then rates of rotation of 1.3, 3.4 and 6.9 revolutions per second (r/s) would be equivalent to about 2, 5 and 10 m/s. All that is being tested is the implementation of the transfer function by the measuring system. The output should agree within one increment of resolution (probably 0.1 m/s). If problems are found, they might be in the transducer, although failures there are usually catastrophic. The likely source of trouble is the measurement system (signal conditioner, transmitting system, averaging system and recording system).

The second test is for starting torque. This test requires a torque watch or similar device capable of measuring in the range of 0.1 to 10 gm-cm depending upon the specifications provided by the manufacturer.

A successful response to these two tests will document the fact that the  anemometer is operating as well as it did at receiving inspection, having verified threshold and accuracy.

Changes in distance constant are not likely unless the anemometer design has changed. If a plastic cup is replaced by a stainless steel cup, for example, both the transfer function and the distance constant will likely be different. The distance constant will vary as the inverse of the air density. If a sea-level distance constant is 3.0 m, it may increase to 3.5 m in Denver and 4.3 m at the mountain passes in the Rockies.

For wind direction, a fixture holding the vane, or vane substitute, in positions with a known angle change is a fundamental challenge to the relative accuracy of the wind vane. With this method, applying the appropriate strategy for 360 or 540 degree systems, the accuracy of the sensor can be documented. The accuracy of the wind direction measurement, however, also depends on the orientation of the sensor with respect to true north.

The bearing to distant objects may be determined by several methods. The recommended method employs a solar observation (see Reference 3, p.11) to find the true north-south line where it passes through the sensor mounting location. Simple azimuth sighting devices can be used to find the bearing of some distant object with respect to the north-south line. The "as found" and "as left" orientation readings should report the direction to or from that distant object. The object should be one toward which the vane can be easily aimed and not likely to become hidden by vegetation or construction.

There are two parts of most direction vanes which wear out. One part is the bearing assembly and the other is the transducer, usually a potentiometer. Both contribute to the starting torque and hence the threshold of the sensor. A starting torque measurement will document the degradation of the threshold and flag the need for preventive maintenance. An analog voltmeter or oscilloscope is required to see the noise level of a potentiometer. Transducer noise may not be a serious problem with average values but it is likely to have a profound effect on A .

The dynamic performance characteristics of a wind vane are best measured with a wind tunnel test. A generic test of a design sample is adequate. As with the anemometer, the dynamic response characteristics (threshold, delay distance and damping ratio) are density dependent.

Temperature transducers are reasonably stable, but they may drift with time. The known input for a temperature transducer is a stable thermal mass whose temperature is known by a standard transducer. The ideal thermal mass is one with a time constant on the order of an hour in which there are no thermal sources or sinks to establish local gradients within the mass. It is far more important to know what a mass temperature is than to be able to set a mass to a particular temperature.

For temperature difference systems, the immersion of all transducers in a single mass as described above will provide a zero-difference challenge accurate to about 0.01 C. When this test is repeated with the mass at two more temperatures, the transducers will have been challenged with respect to how well they are matched and how well they follow the generic. Transfer function. Mass temperatures in the ranges of 0 to 10 C, 15 to 25 C, and 30 to 40 C are recommended. A maximum difference among the three temperatures (i.e., 0, 20, and 40 C) is optimum. Once the match has been verified, known resistances can be substituted for the transducers representing temperatures, according to the generic transfer function, selected to produce known temperature difference signals to the signal conditioning circuitry. This known input will challenge the circuitry for the differential measurement.

Precipitation sensors can be challenged by inserting a measured amount of water, at various reasonable rainfall rates such as 25 mm or less per hour. The area of the collector can be measured to calculate the amount of equivalent rainfall which was inserted. The total challenge should be sufficient to verify a 10% accuracy in measurement of water. This does not provide information about errors from siting problems or wind effects.

Dew point temperature (or relative humidity), atmospheric pressure and radiation are most simply challenged in an ambient condition with a collocated transfer standard. An Assmann psychrometer may be used for dew point. An aneroid barometer checked against a local National Weather Service instrument is recommended for atmospheric pressure. Another radiation sensor with some pedigree or manufacturer's certification may be used for pyranometers and net radiometers. A complete opaque cover will provide a zero check.

8.1 Instrument Procurement 
     8.1.1 Wind Speed 
     8.1.2 Wind Direction  
     8.1.3 Temperature and Temperature Difference 
     8.1.4 Dew Point Temperature 
     8.1.5 Precipitation 
     8.1.6 Pressure 
     8.1.7 Radiation  
 8.2 Installation and Acceptance Testing
     8.2.1 Wind Speed 
     8.2.2 Wind Direction  
     8.2.3 Temperature and Temperature Difference 
     8.2.4 Dew Point Temperature 
     8.2.5 Precipitation 
     8.2.6 Pressure
     8.2.7 Radiation
  8.3 Routine Calibrations  
8.3.1 Sensor Check  
      8.3.2 Signal Conditioner and Recorder Check  
     8.3.3 Calibration Data Logs 
     8.3.4 Calibration Report  
     8.3.5 Calibration Schedule/Frequency 
     8.3.6 Data Correction Based on Calibration Results  
  8.4 Audits 
     8.4.1 Audit Schedule and Frequency  
     8.4.2 Audit Procedure 
     8.4.3 Corrective Action and Reporting 
  8.5 Routine and Preventive Maintenance 
     8.5.1 Standard Operating Procedures  
     8.5.2 Preventive Maintenance  
 8.6 Data Validation and Reporting  
     8.6.1 Preparatory Steps 
     8.6.2 Levels of Validation  
     8.6.3 Validation Procedures  
     8.6.4 Schedule and Reporting
  8.7 Recommendations

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