BloomSky (Updated 6/7/17)



Hi everyone!  My name is Dave and I am going to tell you a little bit about this new idea by the BloomSky Company, in which they are trying to promote a network of weather cameras that are in use by private individuals or schools. It can be accessed on the Internet to see live weather conditions from anywhere in the world.  In this section, I will tell you about my experiences with this camera (both good and bad) and the associated app.  Let's get started.

Let's talk about the app first.  

The app is available for free from the Play Store on your Android phone.  The only con I had with the app is the installation.  It took me 4 installs and 3 uninstalls to get it to work.  Not sure why since I did it the same way each time, but the end result was worth it.  Some users report other problems, but a lot were fixed with the last update and mine has worked since my final installation.  Mine is installed on a Motorola Droid Razr.  

When opened, the app will go to a home screen that will show your BloomSky with picture of your sky and the current temperature.  It also shows those BloomSky units you have chosen as favorites (See picture below).

You open the app by tapping on the location you want to see.  Sometimes it takes multiple taps to open just so you know.  When open, the app will display the current sky at last update (probably within the last 5 minutes), the current temperature and trend, UV Index, Humidity and dew point, air pressure and forecast.  You can even post the picture and the temperature to social media if you like by tapping on the arrow in the upper right.

(The bright object above is not a flash reflection, it is the Sun.  The face you see is actually the instrument face reflecting off a plastic hemisphere I use as a cover.  More on that later.)

The unit will send all pictures to the BloomSky server and at the end of the day it will put together a time lapse of the whole day if you allow it to in your settings.

Time Lapse LinkClick here for link)



Now let's look at the unit itself.


The unit can be installed on the ground or attached to a pole or, as in this case, a deck railing.  You can charge the battery for it by using an external charger supplied with the camera or using the solar panel, as seen with my setup.  Both will do the job.  One nice thing I just discovered is that if your battery is having trouble charging and you don't take notice of it, the tech guys at BloomSky will send an email to you asking if there is a problem and to let them know what it is.  Kind of a neat touch.  Once setup, you turn the camera in the direction you have the most sky view and then proceed to link your camera to your WiFi.  This is where you need the patience of Job.


To set up the WiFi connection, you simply follow the on screen directions, keeping the camera close to your WiFi source until it's connected.  Mine is running off a WiFi extender about 20 ft away.  The hard part is getting the connection.  I tried numerous times over a day and a half to connect up with nothing but failures to connect.  After about 3 hours the first day, I quit and was about to send everything back to the company when I decided to put it aside and try the next day.  The next day I tried two times with the same result.  i had about enough when that nagging little voice in the back of my head kept saying to me, "Are you going to let this piece of electronics beat you?"  Well, being very competitive, of course I wasn't, so I tried one more time and "BINGO" connection.  Don't ask me what I did different because I tried the same way each time.  I followed the directions to the letter.  I don't know why, it just clicked.  From reading others' experiences that were amazingly similar and watching YouTube videos where owners talked about the same thing, I can only assume it is some type of quirk in the unit or setup that should probably be looked at for fixes in future updates.  Now, that being said, once the unit is up and running, MAN, DOES IT WORK WELL!!!  Mine has been doing its job now for over 5 months without the slightest hiccup.  It was worth the frustration to see the results.


Once you're setup, you can go online and "Explore" where other BloomSkys are located near you or anywhere in the world.  You can see their weather in an instant. Owners will post small weather reports from their locations.  If you have this app on your phone, you can check ahead when you are traveling to see the weather along your travel path.  In fact I have an astronomer friend who traveled to Utah this summer. On his way he and another astronomer checked out the center line for the eclipse in August 2017. They marked where BloomSkys were close by so they could check the weather next year if they had to suddenly move to a different location to see the eclipse.  This is what I was referring to when I said early on about this being a "community" of BloomSky users.  In early fall the company is coming out with weather instruments that will tie in to the camera so that you would be able to access all local weather info.  I'm hoping to be able to get a set of the instruments and if I do, I will write up a report on them and how they perform.  For the tech savvy weather weenie this is a MUST HAVE piece of equipment.  It can be frustrating to set up, but it is worth it.

P.S.   I forgot to explain the plastic shield.  This does not come with the unit, in fact it's not anything BloomSky.  The unit is waterproof, but I found that water will lay for longer than I like on the camera lens so I adapted this to the unit.  The water rolls off and evaporates quicker that way.  The one problem is that reflection when the sun is shining down on it of the camera face that is seen in the earlier photos.  It kind of looks like the Martian camera that Gene Barry hacked off in the first War of the Worlds movie (I know I'm dating myself).


12/15/16

Update

This is image was taken this morning by my BloomSky.  The camera is is still doing a great job.  The weather instrument package has been delayed for the near future.




Update 1/6/17



Oops!  Photobomb!  Hello from snowy Boyertown.


Update 2/12/17

Latest Time Lapse

Time lapse 2/12/17


Update 6/7/17

BloomSky now operating at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa.


StarWatch 1073

BloomSky for Everyone

Yes, the sun is rapidly climbing, its warming rays becoming a little more direct each day; but Mother Nature seems to have other plans for the immediate future, including a significant cool down and the possibility of a major winter storm.  My prediction is that all local schools, including Moravian College, will be closed on Tuesday.  You now can watch the weather unfolding right from the Collier Hall of Science’s Sky Deck by downloading a free application on your smartphone called BloomSky, and then searching for “Moravian College” to observe the weather right from North Campus.  The nearly all sky camera takes a picture every five minutes or so from dawn to dusk and gives temperature, humidity, and dew point readings 24/7.  The unit came to Moravian via a circuitous route:  BloomSky, a California company, sent a unit to Ronald J. Shawley of Johnstown, PA, who then sent it along to David Fisherowski in Boyertown.  Both individuals already had a BloomSky system, so Dave contacted me and offered it to Moravian College with the proviso that patience was the byword to getting the unit operational.  I eventually got it working in my backyard and began producing daily YouTube videos under the name “Moravian College Wx1,” but it was the Herculean efforts of Moravian’s IT gurus that made it succeed on Collier’s rooftop.  Thomas Mondschein, assisted by David Brandes, Chris Laird, and Scott Hughes brought it all together, first by having Mike Sanderson from Sanderson Communications install an access point on the Sky Deck.  After about one week of experimentation, Tom, Chris, and David finally got the unit to connect successfully with the BloomSky “Mother Ship,” the most difficult part of the initiation procedure.  Now it’s BloomSky for everyone.  Download the BloomSky application to your iPhone or Droid system.  Search for Moravian College, and you’ll be taken to our site.  See daily video compilations on YouTube at Moravian College Wx1, and watch it snow—snow—snow on Tuesday.  Look for whiteout conditions when the unit finally gets covered with snow.  Photos can be found at http://astronomy.org/StarWatch/March/index-3-17.html#3-12-17.


Time Lapse from Moravian College BloomSky

Time Lapse

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