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So! Had a thought today. I've always thought that there should be more craftable kit that a player can scatter about their safehouse/fortress. Barbecue pits, more furniture, tarp-covered stockpiles and so on. Things that make a barricaded house seem more like the last bastion of civilisation, and give the player more of an attachment to where they've set down their roots.

 

To that end: Crafting instruments to measure the nuances of the local weather. There could be a background trait/skillset associated with their use (i.e: Weatherman) that helps the player crudely forecast the weather, or the equipment is simply used to log the weather over time, leaving it up to the player to decide the best times to begin construction or plant crops (i.e: It seems to be raining more in August than I was expecting, perhaps I should start planting a week early).

 

I know for a fact you can make a thermometer and hygrometer from household materials, and an extremely brief Google search yields a wealth of information (e.g: http://www.salemclock.com/weather/weather01.htm ).

 

Barring any form of data logging or weather forecasting skill, a battery of homemade weather instruments could serve to give the player the likelihood of upcoming rain or storms, which could prove invaluable when planning out construction, farming or looting days. Plus there's the 'adding-shit-to-the-safehouse' angle, which I've already spoken about. Who wouldn't like to add a weathervane to the top of their new fortress? Or a nice elevated box full of sciencey goodness?

 

Best of all, you can find instructions on making weather instruments in books for primary school children, so the knowledge and materials would be easy for a character to come by. Thoughts? Comments? I'll leave you with a list of instruments that could be crafted. Tell me what you think.

 

  • Weathervane - Provides wind direction. Chicken-shape optional.
  • Thermometer - Provides ambient temperature.
  • Barometer - Measures changes in atmospheric pressure. Good for roughly predicting incoming bad weather (Low pressure tends to indicate rain).
  • Hygrometer - Provides a measurement of the current humidity.
  • Anemometer - The infamous cups spinning around in the breeze. Provides wind speed at ground level.
  • Nephoscope - Complicated name, simple device. A comb-like assembly mounted on a stick that can be rotated. A garden rack stuck in an umbrella holder would probably work. Allows you to estimate high level winds by tracking the speed and direction of high altitude clouds. More an instrument for players with more detailed meteorological knowledge than the layman.
  • Rain gauge - Collecting funnel and a graduated container for collecting rain in. A measuring jug from a kitchen could do well, or you could simply pour it into different containers to measure how much you collected.
  • Snow gauge - Open topped container with graduated markings along the side. Remember the XKCD blog post ( http://what-if.xkcd.com/104/ ) though. You have to clean the snow out every 6 hours to get an accurate reading

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I think that the fact that you say "a quick Google search yields a wealth of information" shows that it actually isn't common knowledge. Although simple to make, the people who'd know how to do them and know what they do, would be in short supply.

Also I don't think it's as an essential element as to put the development time into.

A creative idea though! :)

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I have a book written by one of the comedy central writers about weather. It actually gives a detailed section on building homemade weather equipment and how to make observations. It's a relatively simple concept and there are boojs out there even if internet is down. I think this is an excellent idea.

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That's the main reason I brought the idea up. Most people might not be familiar with making weather instruments, but almost any science/project book aimed at young kids is going to have instructions on making a barometer, thermometer and hygrometer. The last one is generally a strand of human hair holding a slightly weighted stick against a piece of card. As the moisture in the air changes, the hair expands and contracts, causing the needle to point up or down.

 

What I'm getting at, is although the average person might not know how to make these things, the odds of finding out how in a book are extremely high. Provided they hit a library, the school, or a house which had children living in it before the outbreak. The materials used are extremely common, straws, balloons, jars and so on, so there shouldn't be any trouble finding them.

 

About the only tricky one to make would be an anemometer. You'd probably need a stopwatch, electric motor and a multimeter. Get the motor spinning from the breeze, take a voltage measurement every few seconds, and you could average out a 'wind speed' (i.e: high voltages = more wind). Hell, taking the size of the wind-catching arms, the diameter of the motor, etc, and you'd have a chunk of math to work through. Not saying that the player would need to do it, but having a problem like that might be calming in the zombie apocalypse, like a crossword puzzle. Something tricky to wrap your mind around and all.

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