Complete equipment for a storm chaser

Hi all
I'm starting this thread to put down every kind of useful thing that a storm chaser can bring up to chase, and to discuss each point that you want about the equipment of storm chasing.
Write down everything comes in your mind.
So far I thought of these things.

-NOAA weather radio
- XM Mobil Threat Net
- Davis vantage Pro 2/anemometer vortex inspeed
-Suv (possibly max size if you are more than two persons)
-Cell phone connection: cingular (so far)+ cell phone (Nokia 6820)
-AC-Adapter
-Street atlas delorne
-Laptop
 
First aid kit
Rear facing warning strobe
ANSI Class 2 lime green raingear
Clear plastic tarps for covering cameras
Scanner or ham radios with local repeater guides
Kestrel handheld
(Product whoring) one of those awesome "The Weather Channel" black and royal L.L. Bean parka jackets

I know this may sound dumb, but I like to protect my investments as much as possible. I usually tie an old ANSI Class II lime traffic vest around the top of my tripod.
 
Guys, I was thinking that in my chasing experience, every year I came in the Plains to chase storms, after at least 10.000km (or sometimes also before) I had problem with the battery of the car(chevrolet trail blazer and impala). You well know that, using very often the laptop in the car, there's the risk that the battery goes KO (even if you use the laptop only with the engine turned on). So, I was thinking that, to avoid this truble, it could be very useful to purchase a rechargeable portable battery, apart, to use only for the laptop(and why not, you could charge it every night in the motel).

Anyone knows some kind of battery that you could use with this purpose?
 
A pair of experienced eyes is all I chase with here, but seriously I will be in the US next year too, so this list is helpful, if out of practical reach.
 
I just bought a portable battery booster that looks almost like this one. I bought it at walmart for $40. It's small and light and fits neatly behind the seat of my truck.
http://www.brandsonsale.com/porjumstarba.html

Here are some items I carry when I chase:

ITEMS FOR VEHICLE
*tools in case the vehicle breaks down
*fix-a-flat
*A couple of good flashlights (I bought one that winds up to charge it so it never needs batteries.
*Some clear plastic sheeting and duct tape in case you lose a window
*Some extra motor oil, antifreeze, widshield fluid, etc.
*Car battery booster
*Make sure you have a good spare tire
*paper towels, rain-x and windex

PERSONAL ITEMS
*Cash, credit cards, checkbook, etc.
*A cooler with drinks and snacks (saves money and time)
*Extral clothes
*A good jacket
*Hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, etc.

EQUIPMENT RELATED ITEMS
*Laptop
*GPS
*Still camera with charged battery, memory sticks, etc.
*Video camera with charged battery, tapes, and charger
*Inverter
*List of WIFI hotspots and libraries in tornado alley
*List of Holiday Inn Express motels in tornado alley
*Backup paper road atlas for TX, OK, NM, KS, NE
*Tripod, monopod, window mount
*NOAA Radio
*I have to have my XM radio for the long trips
*Tape measurer, golfball and baseball to measure that big hailstone that just took out your window
*First aid kit to patch up those nicks and cuts from the above event

Not sure how to link a thread on here but if you use the search function and type in equipment list, you will find a good thread by Bob Schafer called "chase essentials".
 
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Hi Andrea,

since we're going together next year I can tell you what all did I took/made/had this year for my trip (hopefully I still remember all those things):

- plane ticket
- health + baggage insurance
- SUV car + insurance
- Delorme Atlas 2006 + GPS
- GRLevel3 radar with AllisonHouse feeds for room access
- backup paper maps for tornado alley
- NOAA radio
- lists of motels and wifi access

- laptop
- digital SLR camera with extra lenses and tripod (+ extra batteries, memory cards)
- videocamera (+ extra cassettes)
- AC/DC adapters
- battery boosters for car

- passport
- international driving licence
- home pharmacy stuff
- sleeping bag
- some weather related books
- CD player

- credit cards
- enough money in socks if cards lock
+ all those living stuff (clothes, shoes, sun protection creams, hats,...)

I am glad you wrote Threat net, its hard to be out in the fields without it, even you might have cellphone access! Also I have to get those pastic bags for camera protection Jason mentioned.

Cheers!
 
You well know that, using very often the laptop in the car, there's the risk that the battery goes KO (even if you use the laptop only with the engine turned on).

If a laptop is running down a vehicle battery while the engine is ON, that vehicle has some serious problems with the charging system, provided you don't have a bunch of other stuff plugged into it as well. Once the vehicle is started, it shouldn't be pulling ANY charge from the battery if the charging system is healthy.
 
If doing the "tourist" thing (someone else is driving)-
Travel plastic bags (these are for packing clothes in and are awesome)
Motrin
Cash station card, visa, health insurance card, drivers license
Friends addresses, postcard stamps, pens
Atlas, colored pencils, highlighter, clip board
Pocket knife
Flashlight
Twist ties
Duct tape
GPS, base, antenna, APRS receiver, serial port cable, power cable
Tripods, cameras, charged batteries, disp batteries (AA, CR123), camera bag with filters, extra equipment
IPOD, charger
Laptop, charger (car and wall), PC cable, antenna, PC fire wire card, jump drive, blank CDs
Video camera, charger, cables, charged batteries, tapes x10
Cell phone, charger, batteries
Hail calipers
Kestrel, extra AAA batt
Water bottle
Alien (silly good luck charm)
Squirt gun (pranks)

I find my clothes bag is getting smaller and smaller each trip and my electronics bag is getting larger and larger.... HMMMMM.
And ALWAYS CHARGE the batteries BEFORE you go!
Laura
 
I draw a large amount of power from my car's battery with chase equipment, usually just one laptop and a few camera chargers - but in worst cases when I have people chasing with me, 2 to 4 laptops at a time with numerous camera chargers, cell phones, etc. The worst thing I have experienced is having to replace the battery every year or so (around $35-$40). The symptom of the battery going bad is always it losing charge when the car is sitting for a long time (more than 24 hours). No adverse effects any other time. I can stand $40 a year as opposed to installing something ten times as expensive to prevent it.

In fact, my inverter is the only thing that seems to have trouble carrying all of that stuff, and I've only had to replace the inverter once. It is direct-wired to the main fuse panel up front to be able to handle the load.

I asked a Ford master mechanic about this issue once, and he said what I was running in my car paled in comparison to some of the stereo systems and amps that some kids have in their cars. If a car battery can handle a tricked out stereo system, it can hande a few little chase-related loads.
 
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I'll throw my list into the mix. My suggestion is to keep it neat and organized so it's easy to find what you're looking for when it's GO TIME.

Extra vehicle fuses
Good full size spare tire
Credit card(some small towns in T.Alley close their gas stations early, usually when I really need gas, but do allow after hours pay-at-pump).
G.P.S.
On board radar
Cell phone(charger)
Ham radio or cb
Equipment that allows you to plug items in and charge things in your car
Towel
Food and drink
Blanket/Pillow
Maps(laminated to protect from coffee spills)
Rain-x
Jumper cables
Flares
Camera equipment(chargers and tapes/dvds)
First aid kit
Proper I.D.
Tripod
Music
Sunglasses
Patience
Extra vehicle fluids/funnel
Warm jacket/sweatshirt
Laptop(charger)
WX radio(batteries/adaptor)
Chase partner
Personal hygiene items
Bible
Spare car battery

Always remember to signal and pull safely off the road before getting out of your car to get photos. Make sure you shut your door especially if it's near the passing traffic.
 
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Old school chaser list

Sling psychrometer
Skew-T chart
2 hr. old sfc/radar obs
LFM and NGM
NWR
Toto
Prayer
 
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Thanks Jason for the link: it looks fine;)


Edit:

Jason, only a question: can I use this battery only for the alimentation of the laptop?

This battery booster will charge your battery in your car enough to start it without using jumper cables. It won't solve the problem of the battery being drained by a laptop or any other device.
 
Hi Andrea, we take a battery booster pack along with us.We also take a small tv to pick up any local stations,sometimes they have usefull information and the pack will run the tv if needed.
 
Something I did this year after my cig. lighter quit working was purchase a deep cycle marine battery to run my equip. off. I placed the battery in the backseat floorboard and had no problems with it and you don't have to use your car battery. It seems like a full charge lasted about 12 hours on the battery running a laptop, gps, and wx worx. It suited me just fine. Next year I am going to have 2 marine batteries charged and ready to use. I am also hard-wiring an inverter to my car battery for backup or to charge smaller items. I really like the marine battery thing and it works really good. I am not sure if anybody else does this. If so I would like your opinions and experiences with it.

The thing to remember about chasing is you can never have too much of anything. I don't want to be is Western Kansas chasing a good setup and have it cut short because my car battery dies and I don't have another one or a booster setup that was mentioned. And I don't want a chase to end because I don't have an extra inverter. I like to keep extra stuff around to be safe.

Chris Wilburn

Chris Wilburn
 
Ya, andrea you might have a problem with your alternater, they are not too expensive to fix. Right now im using:

Canon S3-IS digital camera 6.2 megapixels (extra batteries & Memory)
Sony DCR-HC96 for video (extra mini-dvs incase im having a good day)
Cellphone
Librarys for data

Thats about it for now, I am hoping to get wxworx here soon.
 
You can use a LifeLine battery and a decent inverter just to run the laptop and you should be able to get 8 to 10 hours a day off of that battery. Then, recharge it overnight and you're good to go. Batteries + sells them for about $210 for the GPL-27T. We use them for our remote camera project during hurricanes- but I have tested them on a laptop only and the laptop ran for nearly 20 hours. This would be a good solution if all you needed was portable power for a laptop only.
 
Chris, you may want to screw down a couple battery trays in the trunk, and remove those deep-cycles from the passenger compartment. Batteries occasionally disperse toxic and/or flammable gasses. Let one tip over during a sharp maneuver, and have fun getting that acid out of your carpet. Even worse, if you wreck and roll over, it will be like being thrown into a running drier with two boat batteries.
 
Guys, I was thinking that in my chasing experience, every year I came in the Plains to chase storms, after at least 10.000km (or sometimes also before) I had problem with the battery of the car(chevrolet trail blazer and impala). You well know that, using very often the laptop in the car, there's the risk that the battery goes KO (even if you use the laptop only with the engine turned on). So, I was thinking that, to avoid this truble, it could be very useful to purchase a rechargeable portable battery, apart, to use only for the laptop(and why not, you could charge it every night in the motel).

Anyone knows some kind of battery that you could use with this purpose?

i have a modified Motorcycle battery that i attached a Weather Resistant Covered 12VDC power port to (out of a jeep CJ-5) and i just use a Trickle Charger when i'm chargeing that thing, i'm able to get someware in the negiborhood of 18hours before haveing to charge, and it secures easyily to a seat frame useing either a bungee cord, or a large hose clamp, or all else fails you could try to find a Dry-Cell (if your worried about nasty battery tippage) such as the Optima Yellow top Deep Cycle Car Battery, you can mount these things any which way you want, even upside down, i have one of the redtops in the cab of my chaise vehicle (battery bay was destroied in wreck, battery still works though even with 2" crack down the side of it, and i'm verry pleased with it, i'm assumeing ya'll are comeing down into the planes, thats kinda bizzare that your alternaters would just quit like that, i've heard of people running Duel Alternaters, but this is verry difficult to do and make it work properly, if you do go with the batterys in the trunk bit i reccomend useing doubble OTT welding cable that's rated at 600Amps, this'll give you enough current carrying capacity to run anything in the car, and in a pinch you can jump start the car off of the marine batterys in the trunk with out haveing to run cables around the entire car (make sure to come up with some sort of port in the car to allow for this in a pinch) your alot like me in ways, your always prepaired, and you hate for small things to end an eventfull day (either chaseing or out in the trail) pat yourself on the back for thinking ahead, and stay prepaired
 
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Interesting answers guys;)

Now it should be interesting to discuss about the support for weather stations that you mount upon your cars. As I don't live in USA and I can't come in the Plains with my own car I have to equip the rent car with my weather station (davis vantage Pro2).Obviously you can well understand the reason why I can't practice any kind of holes(to mount the weather station). Do you know any other safe method to mount the weather station upon the car? I'll make you an example: the Inspeed Vortex anemometer has got a magnetic base, so you can easily apply it on the "roof" of the car. I should make the same thing with the weather station if I found an appropriate magnetic support.
Anyone knows a fine solution?
 
I know with the HAM antena's we (i have) use roughly 3 3" magnets and they handle a great load. i actually think they handle better than a "lip mount" i have wich falls off at 70mph...

-Shawn
 
I built a simple frame out of 1 3/4" PVC pipe, attached the instruments to that frame, and used white wire ties to secure it to the roof rack. The wire ties are very strong, unobtrusive, easily removed with pair of scissors and cheap to replace. I used adhesive-backed foam on four spots to serve as 'feet' to protect the finish of the car's roof.

Without a roof rack, a setup like this is going to be hard to secure. Mine is very lightweight, but I still wouldn't trust any magnet system to hold it.

This setup lasted over 15,000 miles of cross-country chasing this year on my car. Since its utility is limited due to obvious accuracy limitations, I only use it for certain chasing situations. The rest of the time it's in my basement.
 
I built a simple frame out of 1 3/4" PVC pipe, attached the instruments to that frame, and used white wire ties to secure it to the roof rack. The wire ties are very strong, unobtrusive, easily removed with pair of scissors and cheap to replace. I used adhesive-backed foam on four spots to serve as 'feet' to protect the finish of the car's roof.

Without a roof rack, a setup like this is going to be hard to secure. Mine is very lightweight, but I still wouldn't trust any magnet system to hold it.

This setup lasted over 15,000 miles of cross-country chasing this year on my car. Since its utility is limited due to obvious accuracy limitations, I only use it for certain chasing situations. The rest of the time it's in my basement.

It seems interesting, Dan. Could you post one picture of this method(in the case you have this pic)?
 
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Something I did this year after my cig. lighter quit working was purchase a deep cycle marine battery to run my equip. off. I placed the battery in the backseat floorboard and had no problems with it and you don't have to use your car battery. It seems like a full charge lasted about 12 hours on the battery running a laptop, gps, and wx worx. It suited me just fine. Next year I am going to have 2 marine batteries charged and ready to use. I am also hard-wiring an inverter to my car battery for backup or to charge smaller items. I really like the marine battery thing and it works really good. I am not sure if anybody else does this. If so I would like your opinions and experiences with it.

Chris Wilburn

On the battery subject, I'll agree the deep cycle marine is the best option for a backup battery, they last much longer on a charge. Also, from my days of running a desktop computer in my chase vehicle.... two batteries are the way to go. At auto supply stores there is a device that will electrically split out the two batteries. This device will allow the alternator to charge both batteries, but if the secondary battery goes dead it won't allow the main vehicle battery to discharge. So, when you been watching the laptop instead of the sky.....and the big tube comes down in the nearby field.....you'll have enough cranking amps to flee.

One more tidbit, about wire ties and putting together "stuff" on the roof. Certainly they are strong, but generally after one and usually two seasons in the Kansas sun they will just crack and fall apart
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.....beware and change them out.

Gene Moore
 
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