FAQ - SailTimer Wind Instrument

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Solar charging & battery care. Please go to this page for the FAQs on solar charging and battery care.
Android questions? Please go to this page for the Android FAQs.
What mobile devices support Bluetooth 4?


iOS:  The Wind Instrument can transmit directly the following devices or newer models:  iPhone 4S, iPad 3rd generation, iPod Touch 5th generation, and iPad Mini. Android:  The specifications of your device may indicate if it uses Bluetooth 4 (also called Bluetooth Smart, and Bluetooth LE - Low Energy).  Bluetooth 4 works on Android version 4.4 (KitKat) and newer versions such as 5.0 (Lollipop) and above.  If you need to check what version of Android you have, it is in Settings - About Phone. 
Can I still use my boat's wifi network?
Yes, the Wind Instrument uses Bluetooth 4, so that you can still use your mobile device for wifi and/or internet access.
Should the Wind Instrument be visible under Bluetooth devices in Settings? No.  On Android and iOS, you should scan for the Wind Instrument in the API, not in general Settings on the mobile device.  In iOS, after the Wind Instrument is connected to the API using Bluetooth, it appears on the list in Settings, but not before.  That has a security advantage, so that others cannot see your Wind Instrument in their Settings.
If my mobile device is connected to the Wind Instrument on Bluetooth LE (4), can I connect to other Bluetooth 4 accessories at the same time? Yes.  One of the advantages of Bluetooth over wifi is that you can have multiple connections at the same time.  (With wifi, you can only be on one network at a time.)  So your mobile device can connect e.g. to a Bluetooth 4 GPS receiver, Bluetooth 4 speakers and the SailTimer Wind Instrument™ all at the same time.
Could I accidentally receive wind data from a neighbouring boat? No, when you connect to your Wind Instrument, you can rename the connection (under the "i"), which makes it clear that you are connecting to your own Wind Instrument.  The Bluetooth 4 protocol contains a number of measures to protect your data.  For example, your transmissions from the masthead are encrypted.  Also, to save power the Wind Instrument only allows one connection at a time (so no-one else can get your data).
Will the VHF antenna on my masthead affect the digital compass in the wind direction arrow? No, we have not seen any examples of a masthead antenna creating Bluetooth interference or magnetic fields affecting wind direction. 
How much space does the Wind Instrument need, for rotating? If you have an antenna or perhaps a light on the masthead and are wondering if you have enough space to put the Wind Instrument there (or will need an extension bar), click here to see some of the dimensions in a new tab.
Can I maintain the Bluetooth 4 connection when my tablet/smartphone goes to sleep? Yes, the API will keep the connection running in the background even if you put your tablet/smartphone to sleep.  That's handy for crowd-sourcing your wind data while preserving battery power in your device.  But when putting the tablet/smartphone to sleep, you can also press Disconnect in the API if you need to preserve power in the Wind Instrument (since it uses more power when connected).   

On iOS, If using the SailTimer app (or Charts Edition), your iPad/iPhone won't automatically go to sleep.  But if you manually put the device to sleep, the data connection from the API to the app is terminated. Therefore on iOS, leave the screen on the API if you want to put your iPad/iPhone to sleep and keep the Bluetooth 4 connection on.

My 2016 wind cups have started making sound when spinning;  what can I do? This is not an issue with 2017 or later Wind Instruments.  For earlier Wind Instruments, the best solution is to upgrade to the quiet, maintenance-free AirGap Axel™ (shown towards the end of the accessories page).  Or, occasional maintenance (lubrication) can eliminate any sound (instructions). 
Are there privacy or security issues if I crowdsource wind data? We respect your privacy.  The Wind Instrument is also very secure, and uses encrypted data.  You can share wind conditions for the live wind maps with no identifying information.  Sharing your wind data is optional, with the Share button in the API.  More details here.
The tail looks much bigger than the nose cone;  do they balance? Yes, the Wind Instrument is designed to be perfectly balanced, and has adjustments for balance.  It is an optical illusion that the tail is heavier than the nose cone.  You can easily stand it up and turn it around without attaching the mounting rod, as shown in this YouTube clip.  The tail is thin, and has three large air gaps in it:  one in the hollow between the solar panels, and two at the bottom of the board for the Bluetooth 4 LE antenna.  Also, the battery is moved to the leading edge of the circuit board, close to the axis of rotation.  The nose cone serves as a counterweight out on the end of the pointer to provide leverage and balance without adding too much extra weight.  
In the 3rd-gen Wind Instrument from early 2016 the coating on the tail ambered in the sun over time; does this affect the solar charging? No, the solar panels are actually protected by crystal-clear epoxy.  They have just a very thin film of the coating.  The thinner the coating, the less amber it is.  So there are no effects on solar charging.  Wind Instruments after mid-2016 use a different type of encapsulation that stays clear. 
Is there a smoothing function for the Wind Instrument? Yes, there is averaging in the API: on the line with the name of the Wind Instrument at the right, click on (i). On the panel that opens (screenshot), there are some advanced settings including Wind Direction Smoothing. You can set the smoothing (averaging) period.  This was originally in the iOS version of the API, but in Feb. 2016 is also being added to the Android version of the API (the next version after 2.0).
Do I need to protect the digital compass in the tail from magnets? Yes, the wind direction is determined by a digital compass that is insanely sensitive, even though it is only about the size of the head of a pin. Like all compasses, it needs to be kept away from magnets, magnetic fields, speakers, hard drives, electric motors etc. The blue cap for the off-switch contains a magnet, so as noted in the Owner’s Manual (p. 11), it is important to only snap it into place on on the top edge of the tail section, but to otherwise keep the blue cap away from the electronics.
What is the Cloud Server Activation on the order page, and why is it necessary? With the Cloud Server Activation, we split the costs of the hardware and software. We didn’t used to do this, but it is a way to reduce customs fees, taxes and duty for customers outside of North America. The cloud server just refers to the Wind Instrument software, which also gives you the option of viewing live wind maps online from a server. If you are in North America, this payment for hardware and software individually doesn’t affect you.  You need both the hardware and software, and together they give you a price that is far lower than standard masthead anemometers.
How can my Raspberry Pi get data from the Wind Instrument? The SailTimer Mini-Server™ accessory is the best way to get the data to your Raspberry Pi. The wind data is sent from the masthead on Bluetooth 4 (Low Energy), to the Mini-Server. The Mini-Server can then retransmit on wifi to your Raspberry Pi.   (Although there are Bluetooth 4 dongles available for the Raspberry Pi, there is no driver for the Bluetooth 4 data protocols and encryption used by the Wind Instrument.  Bluetooth 4 is too new, and only has standard protocols for devices like wireless keyboards and wireless speakers.) Fortunately, the Mini-Server can send NMEA 0183 sentences from the Wind Instrument using TCP port 55556. Then on the Raspberry Pi you can use a command like “nc miniserver.local 55556” to access the wind data.  If your boat is in a place with wifi and internet access, the Mini-Server can also be accessed online, so that you can check wind conditions at your boat from home or work.

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