Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Weather Station

I got a LaCrosse WS-2317 weather station from
Amazon. When I got it, it was $99 marked down from $279.95. Too cheap not to get.

I had been trying to accumulate parts / to build a DIY weather station using an
Arduino, along with some parts from Sparkfun. Like Weather Board with pressure temperature and humidity. But at over 200$ it wasn’t on top of my list of projects.

I was impressed with what I got with the WS-2317 – a huge box with the base unit, a Rain gauge and a anemometer. Both with long (~30’) wires, simple telephone type connectors that connected to a outdoor wireless sender and a indoor LCD base unit. I finally found that you could plug the inside into the outside unit with a supplied cord, and it would power it, allowing the batteries to act as a backup.

Placing the Anemometer is proving to be a problem it likes to be higher that the surrounding structures – like at least 10’ over anything around – with a two story house and a line of 40 feet trees next to the house – I’ll just have to suffer until I get the nerve to climb the roof and put up a 15’ tower to support it. If the wife will approve (which I doubt, I just ain’t a-gona ask :0)

The included software allowed the base unit to be plugged into a serial port and get the information from the base unit. This was the primary purpose of this exercise, after all. The software included is rather disappointing – looks to be a VB app and is rather limited. But it wrote a DAT file and allowed some what of logging of the data. I settled down with Java and DOTNET to develop something better. In my wandering around the net looking for someone else that walked this path before for some pointers I found
Open2300 – which was a nice interim solution – then I tripped over Weather Underground / Heavy Weather Uploader (WUHU) group on Yahoo and their WUHU application. It is somewhat astounding in that it will read directly from the WS-2317 and then send the data over to the Weather Underground, as well as AWEKAS and HamWeather.

The only problems I have had so far is that a spider decided to set up shop inside the rain gauge ceasing its functionality and until I evicted it.

I hooked up the webcam to
YAWCAM and uploaded a picture out the window to the Weather underground. A nice touch.

The computer that I was using for the Weather station was my Internet computer -= partly because it was the oldest and least used – and it was the only one that had a built in serial port. That meant that I had to leave it turned on all the time – and that meant that that there were three computers on in the loft and it can get quite toasty up there, and of course it was the noisiest. So I got a
cheap PCI serial card and stuck it in the HP and moved all the software over and set up shop there. The serial port installed as com18 and com19!!! – I guess that with all the USB serial cables I use with the Arduino I have instantiated a few ports. I though it was going to be a problem with WUHU but it found each and every one of the ports. Heavy Weather would not have it only knows about com1-4.

So now I can sit at work and see what's happening at home and what is going on around me in the weather world. Kinda neet - Huh?