In my opinion, the Windtronic 2 is the perfect wind meter for kite
fliers. Got one for Christmas, and it's the best toy this single-line
nut ever had ;-) In fact, this handy little device has been my constant
companion on nearly every kite-flying outing of ours since that Christmas Day.
At first glance, this wind meter looks and feels like something of a toy. Sleek light-gray finish, plastic feel and surprisingly light weight. Then you have to remind yourself that it cost well over 100 bucks when first released and is most definitely a precision instrument! Some respect is due. To re-express that in practical terms - don't let your 4 year old near it! Or your dog, if you have one.
A very neat, simple and sensible feature of the Windtronic 2 is the standard camera screw-mount in the base. Many kinds of tripods for cameras can therefore be used to mount the wind meter for ... ahem ... Wind Energy Data Logging.
That simply means the maximum gust strength and the average wind-strength are continuously updated from when the meter was switched on.
To begin with, I was concerned that the mini tripods for digital cameras wouldn't let the meter catch much wind. A ruler beside the mounted meter measured the rotating cups at about 22 cm (8 3/4") off the grass. However, I've found that in light winds, the speed this close to the ground is not much different to the wind speed at shoulder height. However, in strong wind, the difference is easily measured.
This meter has been a great help when flying any of our many kite designs...
The Big MBK Book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for making many kites large and small.
Feature List For The Windtronic 2
Here are the features in concise list form. However, I've also expanded on each point, sometimes with my own experiences or opinions...
Our Windronic 2 meter
- Clearly Legible Large LCD Display
The display shows the following readings:
Current wind speed. (Logically, these digits are huge and very easy to read! Good for us over-40's with 'old age sight')
Maximum wind speed. (MX) (At ground level, and inland, I have found this is usually about 2 or 2 1/2 times the average)
Average wind speed. (AV) (Since the meter was turned on)
Beaufort number. (A bar graph showing current value is always displayed, regardless of wind speed units. A nice touch!)
- Comes with FREE Protective nylon case and 2 Year Manufacturer's Warranty.
Both of these you would really expect of a quality product.
- Manual or Stationary Operation
In other words, hold it up for a quick check, or leave it sitting for a while on a camera tripod to get a more accurate average.
Our Windronic 2 meter
- Selectable Units
Very simple. Just push a button repeatedly, to cycle through KM/H (Kilometers/Hours), KTS (Knots), M/S (Meters/Second), MPH (Miles/Hour)
- Wind Energy Data Logging
As already noted, this just refers to how the unit remembers the maximum gust strength and average wind strength since the unit was turned on. After 8 days of continuous running, it shuts itself down, to prevent over-use. It's not designed to be a piece of weather-station gear!
- Accurate Readings
The claim for the Windtronic 2 is... "A combination of precision mechanics and quartz-controlled electronics guarantees the highest level of accuracy over the entire temperature range."
Certainly sounds good, and seems in keeping with the purchase cost. Sensibly, wind speeds are only displayed to the nearest whole unit once the figure reaches 2 digits.
- Minimal Energy Consumption
Well, I haven't flattened the battery yet, but I expect it to last a long time since I never use the unit for more than an hour or 2 at a time. We'll see!
UPDATE: The Windtronic meter was once available from Amazon and many other outlets, but sadly no more. The device has apparently gone out of production.
On the bright side, there is an amazing level of choice, when searching online for these type of devices! In particular, try the Amazon link down near the bottom of this page and then search for kestrel wind meter.
Final Thoughts And Day-Dreams
Due to its remarkably light weight, I fully intend to hoist my
Windtronic 2 up under a large kite one day, to get wind readings at
various altitudes! Even a 1.5 meter span kite could probably hoist it up
in moderate winds. Of course, great care would need to be taken to
protect the unit from shock. I'm considering a cage made from bamboo
skewers - light, strong and bendy to absorb the occasional bump!
Now this one is firmly in the 'day-dream' realm...
How about providing a super-accurate wind gradient service to the
local airport :-) With a bit of thought and organization, it should be
possible to take readings of wind speed and direction at 25, 50, 75,
100 feet, going right up to 300 feet. You'd need to attach a vane to the
bamboo cage to get direction. By standing under the kite with a
compass, you could read off wind direction to the nearest 15 degrees.
The Windtronic 2 is a great companion for any single-line kite
flier, as I can attest from experience. Get a true idea of what weather
each of your kites does well in. Of course, single-liners are just the
tip of the ice-berg here. Owners of anything from stunt kites to sailing boats to
paragliders could also make good use of this anemometer.
The video below shows the device in action. I had to take
it in the shade so the LCD display would be glare-free and thus
readable. Note how the spinning cups are slowed down, and even frozen occasionally, by the frame-rate of the camera! You can stare at it, mesmerized, for a full 30 seconds if you want to...
If you're into DIY kiting, this is a useful resource...
The Big MBK Book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.