Publishing Weather and my WX station
Due to my family’s interests in Farming, Flying, Running, Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Astronomy and Amateur Radio, we are a very weather oriented family. We have wanted a weather station for some time, but finally got around to purchasing and setting one up. We are now pushing data to the Weather Underground and the NOAA CWOP system as well as observing weather in our own home on the console.
So, how did we do all of this?
First, I did a lot of research into weather stations. The sensor units are going to spent their entire life outdoors in all weather conditions, heat, cold, light breeze or brutal gust. Thus, I placed a lot of emphasis on purchasing a high quality system. I don’t want to purchase a new one every year or have to send my unit away for repair every other week. There are a lot of junk systems out there.
I decided to go with the tried and true Davis weather systems. They are a bit more expensive than other similar systems, but their quality make it worth the extra money. When reading reviews of the Chinese clones, you see things like “Worked great for a year, then had to purchase a replacement” or another common theme was “My sensor was only 100 feet from my console, but it would not receive data from the sensor unit.” On the other hand, with Davis you see reviews such as “Installed mine 8 years ago, still going strong” and “My sensor is 1500 feet from the console, 500 feet further than the advertised limit and I’ve never had a problem receiving data.” This (and the fact they are made in the United States, my home country) is why I purchased a Davis Vantage VUE system.
Now that I chose my weather station, where to purchase it? Seems that everyone has their base price and that didn’t change much from store to store until I found Scientific Sales. They have their normal price, but then clicking on the links to get their best price, wow! It was such a good price, I was a bit skeptical. I did research on them and everything seemed just fine. I then called and talked to them. I very pleseant conversation about weather stations ensued and I placed an order. 4 days later (was cheap and used the free shipping option) my weather station arrived and was everything I expected. I highly recommend purchasing from them. I wound up purchasing the station and the data logger/computer interface for less than what other stores are selling just the station for.
Monday was cold and windy, who wants to install a weather system? For this reason, my installation was quick and simple. I bolted the Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS) on a strong aluminum pole, ran it out to the apiary and aligned the pole next to the corner fence post, which is a strong post on the farm. I then took a thick rope and wrapped it around the fence post and aluminum pole from the ground up and tied it off. Doesn’t sound very secure, does it? A few years ago I built a simple antenna for my ham radio and to try it out I used the same system just for testing. Once everything worked, I was going to install it more securely. Two years later, the same antenna (with a much larger wind profile) is still in place, untouched by human hands.
The instructions were simple, but it did take reading them to get the console setup properly. I didn’t understand by looking at the console how to get out of the initial setup mode. Once that was determined, everything else was cake.
Once the station was installed and reporting data to the console, it was time to integrate it with the computer and thus the Internet resources Weather Underground and the NOAA CWOP. This was easy, once I got the newest USB drivers. I have not decided on a weather application yet. I can say that Weather Link from Davis kinda stinks, IMHO. Terrible UI and nothing worked as planned. Clicking save buttons wouldn’t save data, connecting to the WX station didn’t connect. It outright crashed a few times on me. I never got it working. Thus, I went searching. I found two products that work great but have not decided between the two. I am using trial versions of each of them. Right now I am concentrating on using Weather Tracker by After Ten Software. It supports the Weather Underground Rapid Fire protocol as well as NOAA CWOP. In addition, it will create custom HTML exports with graphics for uploading to your own website. I have only implemented the Weather Underground and NOAA CWOP uploads.
On the next day above 40F I will be going back outside and mounting the ISS on a taller pole, more securely.
Viewing my data
You can view real time weather data from my station via the Weather Underground, station KOHNORTO2. I appear to be the closest station for the cities of Wadsworth, Norton, Barberton and Doylestown. You can also view my CWOP data, however, this is a preliminary page as my data is still being validated by the NOAA before going live. Once live, though, my data will be added to the global pool of weather information to help weather forcasters make more accurate forecasts! How cool is that?