Wind Vane

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What is a Wind Vane?

A wind vane is an instrument that helps to show the direction of the wind. It is a common sight on buildings, especially on the highest point of the building. The word "vane" actually comes from "fana," which means flag. A wind vane is highly functional but also used for decorative purposes nowadays. Some common motifs which are used for wind vanes are ships, arrows, horses, and cockerels. The direction which the motif faces is generally the direction from which the wind is blowing. 

The first Wind Vane was recorded in 48 BC by Greek astronomer Andronicus. The motif on the wind vane was of Triton (the Greek god of the sea) with a wand, which indicated the wind direction. Nowadays, there are many kinds of wind vane. The world's most giant functional wind vane can be found in Montague, Michigan. It measures 48 feet (14.6 meters ) tall with an arrow measuring 26 feet (7.9 meters) long. It has a traditional arrow shape with a ship on top.

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Wind Vane Working Principle

A critical principle in the working of wind vanes is that the design and construction should allow unrestricted movement of the wind. This means that there is free movement of wind, especially around the vertical axis of the structure. Another critical factor to keep in mind is that the construction works best when the design is not symmetrical. This helps so that the lighter and smaller area can face the direction that the wind is coming from. Although the shape can be unequal, the weight has to be equal on both sides of the structure's vertical axis. The wind vane rotates on the axis, and it also allows it to spin freely. 

To read the wind vane accurately, it is essential that it is marked correctly. It is crucial that the directions - north, south, east and west, are marked on the wind vane. This allows us to read the wind vane accurately, even from a distance. Another factor that affects the wind vane's working is the height at which it is installed. It should ideally be installed at the highest point of the building. This prevents any other tall structure of building from manipulating the wind's direction and affecting the wind vane's reading. Observing and following a wind vane's model accurately makes it easier for us to understand how it works.

How to Make a Wind Vane?

There are lots of different ways in which you can make a wind vane. This is also a great science experiment.
Things you will need:

  • Thick paper

  • A pair of Scissors

  • A pin

  • A pencil with an eraser on top

  • Clay

  • A drinking straw


Using a ruler, you can cut a triangle that can be a pointer for the wind vane. This should be approximately 4 cm at the base, and 5 cm tall. Next, you can draw a square that is about 7 cm on each side. Now, the square and the triangle can be the two sides of your wind vane. Once you have both the pointers ready, you can cut evenly measured slits on both sides of the drinking straw. It is best to keep the lengths identical but not necessary. These slits should be approximately 1 cm in length. Once the slits are made, you can open the straw up at the top and stick the triangle on one side and the square on the other side. Your structure should look like an arrow now. 

You can now insert a pin right in the center of the straw, then attach it to the eraser on the top of the pencil. This should be stable for a well-made wind vane. The other end of the pencil that we usually use to write can go into a block of clay, so it is kept stable. You can roll the clay into a ball first, and then put the pencil in. For the base of the wind vane, you can copy a compass and mark east, west, north, and south on it. You can push the clay and stick it in the middle of this compass like base. Your wind vane should look like the picture shown below. To keep it still and stable, you can attach this structure to another heavy object like a can with stones or sand in it. 

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1.What are the Ten Uses of the Wind Vane?

A. The primary purpose of a wind vane is for weather assessment.

  • Wind vanes are instrumental in the prediction of weather patterns. 

  • In a lot of countries, it is used for decorative purposes now. 

  • It is beneficial for air-traffic controllers to determine the direction of the wind. 

  • In a few countries like Greece, wind vanes are a way to honor old traditions. 

  • Wind vanes can help predict the intensity of storms

  • Wind vanes were often used as compasses in olden times. 

  • Wind vanes are used by sailors to determine the wind direction

  • It is useful in sports like Golf when players can assess their moves according to the course of the wind

  • In aviation fields, it is used as a backup to any weather data. 

Q2. What are Some Disadvantages of Using a Wind Vane?

A. If a wind vane is hand made, it might not be very accurate. Moreover, the weight balance is the core principle and needs to be extremely precise for a reading. It might not show the wind's real direction if the wind is manipulated by other trees and buildings. It might be unreliable when the principles are not followed very accurately. Wind vanes can also be unpredictable when it comes to determining the speed of the wind.