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Handbook No. 1
See recent photos from NDBC weather buoy 42039 in the Gulf of Mexico.
Virtual Tour - Station Operation
A C-MAN station at the end of the Lake Worth, FL, pier including a close-up of the payload.
All buoys and many C-MAN stations located in offshore areas operate on marine batteries which are charged by solar cells. Data collection, averaging, and formatting for satellite transmission are controlled by a payload computer system. On buoys, the payloads and batteries are located inside the hull; on C-MAN stations, they are located at the base of the tower.
NDBC uses commercially available sensors such as anemometers to measure wind speed and direction and barometers to measure atmospheric pressure. On the buoys, wave data are collected using an accelerometer which measures the vertical acceleration every 2/3 of a second for 20 minutes. Wave heights and periods are mathematically calculated from these time-series accelerations.
Offshore servicing relies primarily on support from the USCG. Stations are serviced as required to repair damaged or degraded equipment. In addition, all buoys are serviced about every 2 years for routine maintenance and to install newly calibrated sensors. The Great Lakes buoys are retrieved every fall because of potential damage by ice. Moorings are designed for a 6-year life span, but often last up to 10 years. The type of mooring used depends on the hull type, location, and water depth. For example, a buoy in shallow coastal waters is moored using an all-chain mooring. A buoy deployed in deep ocean requires a combination of chain, synthetic nylon, and polypropylene.
NDBC Standard Mooring Systems