CIRCUITS AND DEVICES
CAN THE WEATHERMAN
With the holidays sneaking up on us again, it might be useful to consider some devices for the techno-geeks
on your list (such as yourself). One possibility is the WS-
2080 Wireless Home Weather Station from Ambient
Weather ( www.ambientweather.com) which is as much a
hobby as an appliance. The station measures wind speed,
wind direction, temperature, inside and outside humidity,
and barometric pressure, plus it keeps track of rainfall.
Weather parameters are displayed on a wall-mounted or
desktop LCD screen, and the console includes a USB port
for connection to your PC. It comes with Easy Weather
software (apparently for Windows only) that allows real time
monitoring, and can be used to program station parameters
and alarms. It also provides data logging capability. An interesting (free) add-on is Cumulus software from Sandaysoft
( sandaysoft.com) which allows you to become an official monitoring station for Weather Underground
( www.wunderground.com). Cumulus is not Mac friendly, but it appears that Mac users can accomplish the same thing
using WeatherSnoop software available from Ambient (requires OS X 10. 5. 8 or higher), or wview that’s available at
www.wviewweather.com. Weather Underground doesn't actually pay you anything for your efforts, but they will give
you a free membership which usually costs $10. That gets you ad-free screens when you log on and ad-free forecasts
and alerts via email. The system runs a somewhat modest $109.95. ▲
■ The Ambient WS-2080 weather station.
RC AIR SWIMMERS
For the kids, it's always nice to find something that's exciting, harmless, and relatively cheap, which brings up the "air
swimmers" remote controlled fish from William Mark Corp.
( www.airswimmers.com). Available in shark or clownfish
versions, they are 57 in (1.45 m) long and 3 ft (0.9 m) tall, with
climb, descend, and tail fin controls. Powered by four AAA
batteries, they have a range of up to 40 ft. The only caveats are
that (1) you have to get your own helium from a supermarket,
florist, or party store, and ( 2) it's highly inadvisable to fly them
outside, where a wind gust could take them to Oz. They're
available from M and M Toys ( www.mandmtoys.com) for $42
each or $79.80 for the combo pack. Replacement balloons
will only run you $5, so don't worry if the cat gets to it. ▲
■ The Air Swimmers remote control clownfish.
A SAUNA IN YOUR PANTS
Hereby nominated for the worst gift idea of 2011 are Sauna Pants, imported from the folks at Wellmax Industrial Co (www.well
maxchina.com) and sold through Amazon and other retailers for about $40.
You might need to be retailed after you burn your tail off at temperatures
up to 160°F ( 71°C). According to product literature, the pants take excess
weight off by allowing you to focus heat on your "trouble spots," which
leaves too much to the imagination. You just strap the things on to any
waist up to 54 in (137 cm) in diameter, affix them with the velcro straps,
and sweat your — well, you know — off. Don't forget to pick up an inverter
unit so you can wear them as you drive to work! ▲
■ Sweat yourself thin in Sauna Pants
from Wellmax Industrial.