Observation site

Technical constraints and trials

The area inland from Vence is ideal for the installation of a sky surveillance station.

There are several reasons for this :

Our objective was to create an autonomous station from an energy point of view, to be used everywhere without the constraints of an external power supply.

We therefore created our AMS taking into account this requirement, i.e., using solar panels and batteries while using low consumption components.

Initially, despite all our efforts, we did not succeed in making the station 100% autonomous: during the day the solar panels are not enough to fully charge the batteries used to operate the equipment during the night. The AMS can only function for a few days at a time, particularly after several days of weak sunshine.

Once a week the batteries must be recharged which is rather constraining in terms of carrying and installing the batteries.

Also for security reasons it is not prudent to leave the station out in the countryside too long without direct surveillance.

The AMS V1

To simplify the task and to quietly finish the first AMS prototype , we installed it on private property near a dwelling in a residential area south of the Puy de Tourettes mountain.

For evident reasons we can not specifically give the exact location of the station.

Currently (September 2008) the AMS V1 (version 1) is still installed on this property.

The camera is oriented to the north towards the Puy de Tourettes. This mountain borders the southern part of the Saint-Barnabé plateau (the Col de Vence forms the western border of this plateau).

View from the AMS. In the background, the Puy de Tourettes.
View from the AMS, zoomed in. Southern face of Puy de Tourettes.

Currently this AMS VI remains fully operational.

The AMS V2

A new version of the AMS (AMS V2) is in preparation. This system will be 100% autonomous in terms of energy (better solar panels than used by AMS V1 with solar trackers to follow the sun's path). This second version will be installed on the Saint-Barnabé plateau just a few minutes from the foot of the Col de Vence, with a northwest orientation. We will keep you posted when the installation is completed.

As for the AMS V1 , it will evolve in parallel with the AMS V2. We are thinking of transforming it and making it dependent on a power supply so that other components can be easily added without limitation of electric consumption (e.g., day camera, weather station). Thus, there will be a simplified solar version which will be autonomous and a version plugged into a power supply but better equipped.