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Posts Tagged ‘weather station’

New Weather Station

June 4th, 2012 No comments
Davis Vantage Pro 2

Davis Vantage Pro 2

After more than 10 years of wanting one, I finally replaced my old weather station with a new Davis Vantage Pro 2 system. For the last 6 years I had been running an Oregon Scientific WMR968 system, with some success, until the anemometer and barometer both decided to die in April. Rather than spend a couple hundred dollars for new parts I put together some money from a couple of sources and splurged on the ultimate weather geek gift.

I just got everything working a couple of evenings ago and am excited that everything is back up and running.

I’ve created a new page on this site which aggregates weather forecast information for my local community, and I’ve posted details about my station on it’s own page.

Check them out.

Categories: Technology Tags:

Dedicated Weather Watcher

September 25th, 2010 1 comment
Thanks Berteun & Wikimedia Commons

NO!

I am a big fan of dedicated devices. By that I mean I usually prefer a device built for a specific task rather than a device built for multiple uses. So yes, I’d rather carry a Buck knife, a saw, tweezers, and scissors separately in my backpack than a single Swiss Army Knife.

This applies to electronics too. I have an iPhone, but I don’t have a single song or video on it. I use my iPod for that. I could use my laptop to listen to internet radio at home, but instead I have a Logitech Squeezebox internet radio. I have a cordless drill for drilling, and a cordless impact driver for driving screws. Drills don’t drive screws – they drill holes.

And so, finally, I’ve found the perfect dedicated device for people who have weather stations at home and want a dedicated system for logging and uploading the data. A company called Ambient Weather makes a small plug computer loaded with an awesome weather data logging and uploading package. Yes, I’m a weather geek. And for years I’ve had a weather station at home and uploaded my data to the internet. You can usually see a real-time display in the right-hand sidebar of this page. But on April 21, 2010 the PC that had been collecting and uploading the data from my station had a catastrophic failure.

For about two and a half years I uploaded data from my system using a desktop PC that I built from parts from Tiger Direct. It was nothing special, just an 1.2 GHz AMD Athlon processor on a Asus motherboard. It ran Windows XP and had a Western Digital hard drive in it and it ran Ambient Weather’s Virtual Weather Station software to handle the data. And honestly, it was a royal pain in the ass to keep running. First, because it was a system in my home office, it had accounts for my wife and me on it in addition to the one that ran my weather station software. And over time the system got polluted with drivers and software that made it unstable. Then there is the problem that consumer-grade parts, like cooling fans and power supplies, just aren’t designed to run 24/7/365 without wearing out. So the case fans were constantly making grinding and squeaking noises and the thing was constantly shutting down. So when it died, I just couldn’t bring myself to rebuild it. So for five months – no weather data.

In addition to the hardware and software problems, I also realized that running an entire PC 24/7 with a 350 watt power supply wasn’t the greenest or most efficient way to get data from a weather station to the internet. The thing threw off all kinds of heat and I’m sure it cost more than a few dollars a month just to have running. There had to be a better way. After a few months of no PC I considered building a dedicated server for the weather station using a micro ATX style case and a simple motherboard. But I’d still have the problem of running a couple hundred watts 24/7 for no good reason.

The WeatherHub 2

WeatherHub 2

Then, while looking at the Ambient Weather site I discovered their WeatherHub2 dedicated server. It seemed too good to be true. Someone was selling a complete kit with the fantastic MeteoHub package installed and configured on a SheevaPlug server. It promised to do everything I needed and use only 2 watts at idle and maybe 7 watts at 100% use. The plug server runs a 1.2 GHz ATOM processor made by Marvell and an embedded Linux OS. Normally the SheevaPlug ships with Ubuntu installed, but for the MeteoHub package, a version of Debian is installed and then the MeteoHub package is installed on top of that. The server has a USB port which can connect to the weather station and an SD card slot which can be used to store weather data.

So, for $279 I ordered one and I can say that I’n not disappointed. It’s only been running for about 3 days (so I’ll save the detailed review for later) but it does exactly what I need with a minimum of configuration necessary. Honestly, I took it out of the box, followed the quick setup instructions, and was completely up and running in under 2 hours. And most of that time was spent figuring out a quirk (OK, bug) in the MeteoHub software that requires data collection to be enabled manually after making certain changes.

So, no more big hulking loud PC for me. I now have a dedicated weather station appliance taking up 1/10th of the room of a PC and using 1/100th of the electricity.

You can see the data from my weather station in the sidebar or directly on the WeatherUnderground website at http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KMANORTH12. I also submit my data for quality control checking via the CWOP/MADIS program. You can see my quality reports at http://weather.gladstonefamily.net/site/search?site=as792.

2009 Weather Review

January 1st, 2010 1 comment

As is my New Year’s custom, I reset annual totals on my home weather station last night. And in case you’re interested, here were the local highs and lows for my backyard in 2009:

Low Temperature -4.2° F on 1/16/2009
High Temperature 90.2° F on 8/16/2009
High Wind 43.3 mph on 2/8/2009
Total Rainfall 62.29 inches!
Wettest Month July 2009: 18.23 inches
Longest period with daily measurable rainfall July 20 – July 28

As always, you can see the data on the Weather Underground. The 2009 graphs are at http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KMANORTH12&day=1&year=2009&month=1&graphspan=year. Also, my weather quality information can be found at http://weather.gladstonefamily.net/site/search?site=as792;Get%20information=Get%20information;tile=10;days=3#Data. My station reports to the National Weather Service via the CWOP/MADIS program. My station ID is AS792.