As mentioned in a previous blog post, in 2005 and 2006 six hikers carried iButton thermocron devices 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail. These devices consist of a sealed canister about the size of five stacked dimes. Inside the canister is the following:
- A piece of computer memory
- A digital clock
- A thermometer
Each hour, these devices were programmed to check the temperature and record it to the memory. Upon returning from the journey, the devices were connected to a computer and the data was extracted. All told, there are about 18,522 data points – too many to be plotted in any one graph. As a result of the struggle to make meaningful use of this data, the applet below was created.
Applet and Java Project
This applet was created as a final project for Java: Discovering its Power, a
class offered by University of California Berkeley Extension. The source
code is on github, and modifications or updates are more than
welcome. You can find the hiker’s raw data in the data directory. You
will see that it is in
.csv format. The fields are: month, day, year, hour, temperature).
To use the applet, simply select the date range that you are interested in displaying, the time of day that interests you, the hikers whose data you want to see, and press the ‘generate’ button.
Caveats and Warnings
There are a few caveats about using this data:
- The primary caveat is that these results are all passive data, which is to say that these measurements were not taken by a careful experiment, but rather by a device that was carried somewhere in a backpack for the length of a five month journey. As a result, the figures shown can vary greatly depending on how the device was treated, where it was when it took its measurement, and any number of other factors.
- Ground temperatures and solar energy can be very extreme. Many of these hikers carried their iButton in a pack that might have been set within one or two inches of the ground or directly in the sun, where the temperature can seem unreal. I have seen measurements ranging from about 10 to 160 degrees F. These are actual measurements.
- Different hikers move at different paces, and take off-trail days at different times. There is no guarantee that the figures you are looking at were measured while the hiker was on the trail.
Hiker Start and End Dates
Adam Bradley: 5/15/06 to 9/24/06
Matt Church: 4/28/06 to 6/22/06
Robert Francisco: 4/25/06 to 9/26/06
Michael Lissner: 4/21/05 to 9/12/05
Jeff Singewald: 4/22/06 to 9/6/06
Bugs and Questions
Inevitably, we shall find bugs and problems with this applet. When that happens, please post them on Github.
Any questions about the use of this applet are more than welcome. Just send me a jot or make a comment below.
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