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As a pilot, weather information is crucial, especially cloud height above the ground. Are there any economical open-source solutions to do this?

I would like to be able to add the ability to measure cloud height to a local weather station. Since I like on a private airstrip, there are no weather sensors in place to measure this crucial information. What I am looking for is (I think...) an affordable LIDAR sensor with a range of appx. 3000'. Thanks in advance for any ideas!

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January 13, 2020 08:38

Having read Brad's interesting reply, I was intrigued and yes a very difficult sensing project. It's for you to look at this link to see if of any use, but this was the best I found in the DIY area.

January 10, 2020 08:52

A quick search didn't find much.
If you build one, that only gives you the cloud height at one location. It could be useful if you have an airport in a remote area, not currently equipped with a ceilometer. But most aviation-certified units cover a range closer to 10000'. If the unit is to be unattended, you have to worry about snow, ice, and dirt obscuring the lens.
If the information is going to be made available to pilots other than the instrument's owner, liability issues get involved, especially if the unit isn't certified. And certification is a process not typically economical for home-built units, where quality/reproducibility of manufacturing may require each unit to be certified independently.

Clouds are a different target than many terrestrial Lidars are designed for, too.

If you only need one unit, I think I'd look for a used/surplus already-certified model.

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