I’m one for gadgets and the Vaavud Sleipnir is the perfect gadget for any weather nerd! I was familiar with the whole crowd funding program around Vaavud and their original wind meter but it was not until I wandered into Fogh Marine in Toronto that I saw the Sleipnir sitting in a cabinet.
I had a choice of three hand-held anemometers ranging from a standard Kestrel to a Davis ultrasonic device but the Vaavud unit was the cheapest of the three and had one major benefit, it could store and share the wind data. The Vaavud needs a compatible phone to make the unit work since it basically uses the microphone/stereo/trrs jack to send data to an app that turns it into usable information.
During my initial testing of the Sleipnir I was very impressed with the directional accuracy and velocity data resolution. I compared it against a few more expensive anemometers I have including my Davis Vantage Vue and a brand new Vortex Inspeed unit, and the Vaavud was basically on par with both units but additionally able to catch some of the more subtle micro gusts.
The unit as a whole is super responsive and seems to take measurements several times a second catching all the smaller gusts. This data can then be graphed in the program, shared to a larger map and database or even automatically uploaded to DropBox. It’s a great device to keep in your pocket, or somewhere in your car. The one detriment is that it seems to eat up your phones battery and while most all iPhones seem to work fine with it, my Android devices are hit and miss. Plus, if you’re using it in really wet conditions then you have the issue of water getting into your phone by leaking down the pin into the audio port and damaging the internal electronics. Obviously you have to use it with care and caution or for shorter periods in rainy weather.
For my storm chasing and weather needs I developed a vehicle mounted solution. Originally I had simply stuck my iPhone and all to the roof of the car by using a suction mount and RAM X grip. While it works perfectly, the phone is still exposed to any elements and not easily accessible. Plus I accidentally drove away a few times with the phone up there and had the mount failed I would have been out of a phone and $600!
The solution was to purchase a 2 meter long StarTech TRRS cable from Amazon.ca and keep my phone/tablet inside the vehicle while leaving the Vaavud unit mounted outside. My initial testing reveals that the Sleipnir operates just fine with the extension cable. I have yet to really test how waterproof or weather/dust resistant the anemometer is but at last I can now mitigate any risk to my phone/tablet. This is especially important when your inside of a powerful thunderstorm.
The one draw back is that the digital compass data is lost when inside the vehicle. This means the directional wind component of the Vaavud becomes useless. But overall that’s a small price to pay for having recorded and geotagged wind data that will catch all those smaller but important gusts.
I’ll continue testing the vehicle mounted unit and update the blog with my findings. Once the weather is warmer I intend to build a small 30cm tall post to get the anemometer as far away from the vehicle body as possible to increase accuracy.
You’ll find a short video below showing fellow storm chase Colin using the Vaavud in 80 km/h winds.