There's an old adage that goes, "Everyone talks about the weather, but no one seems to do anything about it." This page is my attempt at doing something with the weather.
I was at The University of Michigan in the early 90's getting my computer science degree, and was lucky enough to have been a user of The Michigan Terminal System in the last years of its life. Believe it or not, there was a network before "The Web", and back then two very cool places that the "Which Host?" prompt could take you were The Last Outpost , a multi-user "Dungeons and Dragons" text adventure game, and a weather service called "um-weather". Surprisingly, both of the services continue to run today, nearly 15 years later. As you may have guessed from the banner on this page, I run The Last Outpost. UM-Weather, which was run by a another UM student, Jeff Masters, went on to become The Weather Underground , the most comprehensive weather site on the 'net.
As I've been a silent user of wunderground since its inception, I thought it would be cool to set up a weather station at the house and give some data back to them. I asked for and received a Lacrosse WS-2310 weather station as a Christmas gift from my parents (thanks pop!) Now when I describe the weather here in Hayward, California, as "Really Great", I can do so with meteorological precision!
The weather station does not come with a mast to mount the sensors on. I had to make one out of parts left over from the sprinkler system install a few summers ago.
As you can see, I've mounted it to a standpipe. I had originally set it up with the temperature sensor mounted onto the mast just underneath the wind sensor. Sadly, I discovered that the 'rain protection cover' is only that. It doesn't do much to shield the temperature probe from direct sunlight. I had to move the sensor down under the eaves, which means I have cables running across the roof now. The upside is that because of the new location of the temprature unit, I'll be able to move the mast up to the highest standpipe without having to get onto the scary part of the roof whenever the batteries need replacing.
The software that I use to pull data from the weather station down to my Linux box is the Open2300 package of software tools. The software compiled perfectly on the first try, despite not having a ./configure script.
On my Debian Linux system, I run the open2300 software from /etc/cron.d/open2300, which I had to compose myself. It looks like this:
# /etc/cron.d/open2300 Jobs relating to the weather station. # keep an hourly record for me. 0 * * * * root /usr/local/bin/log2300 /var/log/weather # and four times an hour to wunderground. 7,22,37,52 * * * * root /usr/local/bin/wu2300
I tried out the windows software that came with the station, it seems to work as advertised.
And thats it! Setup was easy. It took a morning to make the mast and get everything mounted, and maybe an hour to get the software going. So far, everything is working fine. I'm curious about how long the batteries in the sender will last. When I go through a set, I'll be sure to add it to this page.
I have not had to change the batteries in the sender yet, which is great. They have been up there for about three months. Sadly though, moving the temprature sensor under the eaves hasnt helped its little problem of spiking up on sunny days. I suspect it is just very warm up there on that black shingled roof. I'm thinking about moving it again, hopefully to somplace less effected by the sun, if I can think of one. If anyone else has had this problem, I'd love to hear how you solved it.
I dont have weather data into the Mud yet, but I've added a display hack to my Roku that shows the hourly weather from from the weather station downstairs on my stereo gear. It is kinda neat.
I still have not changed batteries in the sender yet! I moved the temp sensor from under the eaves back onto the mast. I think the direct sun on the rain shield, but up in the breeze, is probably less hot than sitting there sweating under the eaves. It sure felt that way up on the roof!
Turns out there was an immediate difference of about 10 degrees. You can see it on the Wunderground history for KCAHAYWA12 at about 12:30 pm 25 Jun 2006 .
The only problems that I've had with the weather staion so far have been the placement of the temp sesnor, and some spiders that gummed up the rain sensor after they took up residence in it. That seems pretty good to me for sensors that sit outside in the blazing sun all day.
I've had one outtage with wunderground, they made a change to the posting server that couldnt deal with open2300's posting method. There was a one or two line patch that I had to apply to open2300 get things working again. Wunderground is a great service, well worth the price of membership!
So far this has been a really great weather station, an excellent gift!
I've changed the batteries twice since putting the station up, once because I had to, and once because I was already up on the roof anyway doing repair work. I wish I had written down the dates, but I didn't remember to do it at the time. All I can say is that the battery life on this thing is uncanny.
The station is starting to show signs of age, however. The anemometer seems to have stopped working in May of 2010. I haven't had cause to climb up on the roof since then, but last time I was up there, the little fan looked like it was wobbling around in its cage a bit as it spun. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that its bearings were shot. It also seems like the wind vane may be sticking a bit too and not registering light wind changes like it used to. More spiders, maybe? Still, after five years on the roof roasting in the California sun... Not bad, I'd say.
I also had a little problem when I moved the computer that connected to the base station down into the basement. That was too far away from the instruments on the roof for the base station to get a good feed. The station was offline from mid June to mid August while I figured out how to fix it. I ended up plugging the base into a computer in my study, and moving the open2300 software to that system. That solved the problem.
The anemometer is shot. I was on the roof hanging up christmas lights and found that the fan was completely frozen up. It looks like there was a ring magnet mounted to the fan that had delaminated and rusted. When I tried to wiggle the fan free, the remains of the magnet crumbled away into my hands. Oh well, se la vie. (I'm resisting the urge to write "that blows", and finding myself unable to do so.)
The wind vane does feel a little tight. I spun it around a few times and gave it a jiggle, and it seems to be more free now. We'll see. The rain guage had quite a few more spiders and and webs in it than before, but still seems to be working as well as it ever did. I evicted the spiders in the name of science anyway.
I did not change the batteries, as I didn't have a fresh set handy, but its still sending updates from the remaining sensors, no problem!
Here are some yearly graphs from Weather Undergound of my weather
station, for your viewing pleasure.