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Old 01-25-2007, 10:52 PM #1
BACKCOUNTRY
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Evaluating Sunshine potential in your plot

Sunshine is important to outdoor growers, it can make the difference between small scrawny buds and big chunky ones. Its important to know if a potential plot will provide as much light as possible.

In the northern Hemisphere, the shortest day of the year usually takes place on December 21(june 21 in southern hemisphere), this is the lowest in the sky the sun will set for the year, this is called the Winter solstice.
At the oposite time of the year you have the Summer solstice, usually on June 21(December 21 in S. Hem), this is the longest day of the year, the sun will be the highest in the sky.
Halfway between we have the Sping equinox(March 20th in N. Hem, Sept 22 in S. Hem) and Autumn equinox(Sept 22 in N. Hem, March 20 in S. Hem). The equinoxes mark the halfway point between the longest and shortest days of the year, the Sping equinox occurs while the day is getting longer heading to summer, the Autumn occurs while day is getting shorter and heading towards winter. These changes in day length are what tells the Cannabis plant when to bloom in relation to the change of seasons.

Links to Wikpedia explaining: The Equinoxes and The Solstices



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Old 01-25-2007, 10:55 PM #2
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Your Compass, and how to use it
Compass use is not as difficult as it may seem, and for the purpose of finding simple directions, its fairly easy.

Take a look at these diagrams-



On the compass dial(or benzel) is printed a series of numbers, these are your "Degrees of azimuth", N(orth) is zero, E(ast) is 90, S(outh) is 180, and W(est) is 270. All together there are 360 degrees of azimuth, each degree represents a direction on the compass.

To find a given direction, for instance 240 degrees south-west, turn the dial of the compass until the number 240 lines up with the direction of travel arrow.
Now turn your compass until the red tip of the needle lines up on the orienting arrow, pointing the same direction as it is, your compass is now pointing 240 degrees SW.
Use this same method to find any direction on the dial.

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A basic method to evaluate sunshine potential
Sit where your plants will be growing, take your compass and find east, south, then west, scan the southern sky between east and west. Is it pretty clear? No trees, or hills near by to block light? If 75% of the sky or more is clear, you have a good plot.

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A slightly more advaced way to evaluate sunshine potential
When I evalute a plots sunshine potential, I sit where the plants will be. I take my compass and find due south, this is the middle of the suns arc through the sky. Now I point the compass to my left and find 105 degrees east, then I point the compass to my right and find 255 degrees west. Now I look at the southern sky between those east and west points, hopefully no trees, bushes or nearby hill tops block this view, if they do, they might affect the quality of light hitting the spot. If it looks good, this should be enough light to grow a good crop, more unblocked sky would be even better.

As long as this portion of the sky is clear, it is advantageous to have brush and other vegetation around the plot, this will help keep it unseen from those who may pass by.

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A very advanced way to evaluate sunshine potential
But what if you have a plot with bushes or trees in front of it, and you arent sure wether they are low enough not to block light, Or perhaps you are on a steep hillside, and a tall tree or nearby ridgeline in front of the plot makes you nervous. This is where a Inclinomter and sunchart come in.

Inclinometers
Inclinometers are used to mesure angles in degrees, used with a Sunchart taylor made for your area, you can predict where the sun will sit in the sky at each hour of the day, all year long. Once you learn how to do it, it can make evaluating the sunshine potential for a plot very acurate and reliable, and can help you approve or disprove a plots potential quickly. Also , you will be able to plant in areas with more vegetation surrounding the plot for cover, since you will know exactly where the sun will shine from.

Sunchart
The sunchart shows the path of the sun in blue for each month, red lines representing each hour of the day cross the blue lines. A grid shows compass direction(Azimuth) with lines runing from top to bottom, and lines running from left to right show elevation.


I will give a example from a chart for my area, as seen above.
I want to find where the sun will be at 4PM on Aug 22, following the red time of day line, down to the Aug 22 blue sunpath line I see that the sun will appear in the sky that day and hour at @ 255 degrees west and at @ 30 degrees of elevation.

Making your own sun chart
Here is a link to a sunchart generator>>> University of Oregon SRML Sun path chart program

On the first page you will find a series of steps, fill each one out-

Step 1—Specify location: You can either write in your zip code, or enter your Latitude and

Longitude if you know them.

Step 2—Specify time zone

Step 3—Choose data to be plotted: This will select which half of the year your sun chart

will be for, I usually just make a June through December chart, also choose local standard time.

Step 4 to 6— These settings are best left as is.

Step 7-Create your chart!

Finding a Inclinometer
Inclinometers are commonly found at tool stores and at hiking/mountaineering/camping stores.
The tool store variety is used for mesuring inclines on objects like driveways, roofs and other projects where knowing the angle of a incline may be important. The ones found in hiking stores are usually built into a compass, and are used to find the elevation of objects like mountains, trees, etc.



You can even make your own Inclinometer at home from things you may have on hand, for free!
Link to directions for Homemade Inclinomter>>Making Your Inclinometer
There is also a link at the bottom of the screen that will take you to a page showing how to use your inclinomter for finding the height of objects.

Using your Sunchart, Inclinometer, and Compass together
Lets say I am evaluating a plot, I sit where the plants will grow, taking my compass I find the furthest east the sky is clear, which is 120 degrees east. Now I look at my Sunchart and find that the sun will be at 58 degrees elevation at that Azimuth on June 21(the longest day of the year) and at 12 degrees elevation on October 21(near the end of my grow season).

Now using my inclinometer, I aim it at 120 degrees east with the compass, now I raise or lower the inclinometer until the bottom of the horizen is in its sights, the inclinomter will now display the elevation I sighted at, which is 10 degrees, this means sunlight will reach my plants June through October from this direction.
I continue using these tools to evaluate the southern sky from east to west, until I am sure the sky will be clear to my plants from June through October, If my needs for sunshine are met, this site will pass the test.



Last edited by BACKCOUNTRY; 02-16-2007 at 10:25 AM..
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Old 01-25-2007, 10:56 PM #3
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Good god, your comin gout with better and better stuff all the time! Good guide!
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Old 01-26-2007, 02:12 AM #4
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Backcountry you are the man! This is good reading. ND2 had mentioned I should talk to you about a battery op pump. The thread is on PG please have a look. As are a couple swamp tube Q's I have.. Help!!!


Peace!!!
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Old 01-27-2007, 02:58 AM #5
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I'm confused.

I really want to understand this but this makes no sense to me... I don't understand how to use a compass except finding N S E W. Degrees etc are gibberish to me. Many of us did not go to Hitler Youth camp, I mean... Boyscouts.

Here is the witchcraft that I use, you can tell if if this makes any sense.

1) bring my compass to the plot
2) stand where plants will be
3) Find the North South Line, then pivot and
4) Find the East West line
5) Face south
6) Sun rises in the East, Sets in the West... with my arms, point to both East and West.
7) bring the points of my fingers over my head until they meet, marking the path of the Summer sun, which I know from experience is ALMOST straight up "(90 degrees)" in the dead of the summer. In the dead winter, it feels like the sun is about "60 degrees."

8) decide if the plot will get at least 8 hours of Direct sunlight, without intrusion of shade from trees... 10 hours is better, and 12 is even better still. You want 5 lb plants, you need 10+ hours daily.

I do not even know if I am using the term "degrees" correctly, I don't want to confuse anyone. You should learn and understand backcountry's diagrams... but maybe someone can tell me if this is ABOUT RIGHT!

thanks!
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Old 01-27-2007, 08:13 AM #6
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Yep, what you described is the rough and ready version of the basic method I described. I used a sunchart to determine where the "core" bulk of the sunshine will come from, and determined how much sky would need to be clear to provide 7 hours of sunhine per day throughout the season for the average grower in the "Temperate" areas of the northern hemisphere.



Here is a pic of my compass(I'll try to get a better one up), see those lines around the edge? With numbers like 240...260....280...., those are the degrees I speak of. The are degrees of "azimuth", which is basicly a compass direction.

Due north is 0 degrees, due east is 90 degrees, south 180 degrees, west 270 degrees. Basicly, including "0" for north, there are 360 degrees on the compass. Ever heard of someone doing a "360", or a "180"? This is where that comes from, doing a "360" would be spinning a complete circle, a "180" would be half a circle or turning from facing one direction and now facing the opposite direction.

The real point of this thread was to explain using both Azimuth(compass direction) and Elevation mesurements (with the inclinometer) to evaluate the sunshine potential.
I know it seems overly complicated, but it really comes in handy when you are planting in hilly country, in thick brushy areas, or near(or amoung) tree thickets. It allows you to be sure of where that sunshine will be coming from. You can plant in "tighter" areas and still be sure nearby obstructions won't be a problem. The area I live in is a series of deep valleys and high ridgelines, this way I know that the nearest ridge to the south won't block my light, sometimes its hard to tell.

Basicly its a handy tool for planting in the hilly rough country.
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Old 01-27-2007, 06:35 PM #7
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wow very good info. this should be a sticky for the outdoors forum.
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:31 AM #8
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I like it backcountry, I have been using my compass all January evaluating and learning sunpath. Fortunatly(and UNfortunatly), here in Cali we have had just about the sunniest winter in 10 years.

We are out of water however, and a months worth of constant downpour would be GREAT for our ground water reserves right about now!
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:35 AM #9
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Yeah, we've had a bit of snow and rain here, but its too be seen if we are going to get enough.

Would you mind if I cut and paste your method of evaluation to the top of the thread? Its truely the simplest way a newbie can evaluate effectively, I'd like to make this guide usable for everyone.
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:30 AM #10
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great guide!

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