weather station


My webcam for my weather page was in need of a home – the camera is not weather proof. The camera looks like it is weather resistant looking at the plastic bubble on the front, but the back is full of air holes for ventilation.The box I built looks more like a bird house, but it does the trick for keeping the rain off the camera. I still need to work on a more permanent power arrangement so that I don’t have extension cords strung across the patio. Weather page with camera view.

weather cam 1 weather cam 2
weather cam 3

I just added a composite doppler radar page to the weather station webpage. This page uses Google maps and pulls in radar overlays from eight National Weather Service radars. This gives a regional picture of the weather around North Texas. Click on the link. Then, below the map select 25% Opacity, Slow, and at the right top of the map select Satellite. Then using the
zoom control on the left, move in and out to see the changes. You can also click-and-drag on the map to move it around.

http://rowlett.ws/ridge.html

composite_Radar

My NSLU2 has been working as a weather/web server for a little over a month now. I have noticed several delays in the NSLU2’s ability to serve up web pages. As a weather server it would work fine. But to add the functionality of serving web pages has taxed the unit to the max. Three times during the past month, the weather software (wview) has locked up requiring either a restart of the weather daemons or a reboot of the processor.

So, I decided to get something with more power, but yet keep the power consumption low. A fan-less computer would be ideal. I looked around and found the Habey BIS-6561. This computer is fan-less, uses a 2-core Intel Atom N330 processor running at 1.6 GHz. It comes without RAM or a hard drive. I found that NewEgg had the processor and the max of 2 GB of RAM at a $20 savings. I also decided to go with a 2.5 inch sold state drive (SSD), and for this I chose the G.SKILL Phoenix PRO 120GB SSD with Read: up to 285MB/s and Write: up to 275MB/s.

100918weatherServer-1 100918weatherServer-2

Since the BIS-6561 has two external USB ports. I downloaded the 64bit version of Debian Lenny 5.0.5 to my desktop system and used a linux application [unetbootin] to create a bootable USB stick on one of my 4 GB USB memory sticks I had available. To install Debian, I plugged in a monitor and keyboard to the BIS-6561 processor, and also plugged in the memory stick before powering up the processor. The installation was really fast using the SSD. I don’t remember how long it took, but it was very fast. I know the install of Debian took less than 30 min.

The system has been up and running for two days now, with no delay serving up the web pages.

100918weatherServer-3 100918weatherServer-4

My only problem with the processor is the temperature of the box. It is currently running with an outside case temperature of 107 degrees F. In the next couple of days, I will get a small fan to place on the desktop aimed at the processor. I had three empty Altoid tins that placed under the processor to allow for some air flow underneath.

Right now, I have the server plugged into a Kill-A-Watt meter to check the power consumption. The current draw is 0.35 amps (as seen in the right photo below) and the voltage is 117 volts. You multiply the two together and get 40.95 watts. Although the Kill-A-Watt meter says the power is 22 watts ???

100920weatherServer-5 100920weatherServer-6

We got some sprinkler water in the weather station rain cup producing false rain readings.

100822weatherStation

So I raised the weather station to about eight feet above the ground. This move should also give better wind readings. Although, I did place it a little close to the tree. As the tree grows, I will have to move the weather station farther away from the tree. The weather station information is updated once a minute on line at http://rowlett.ws/
 
 

Our new weather station (Davis Wireless Vantage Pro2) arrived at 6 pm yesterday. It took me 45 minutes to get the hardware set up and running. Then another 5 1/2 hrs. work getting the software going. Today I noticed that the anemometer kept reading zero even though I saw the cups turning on the weather station. I thought that I had pressed the wind cups onto their shaft, but apparently not. I went out and loosened the wind cups with the allen wrench that was supplied, pushed them on securely and tightened them back up. Then I re-seated the RJ-11 connector for the wind measurements, came back in the house and I was then getting wind speeds above zero. I am amazed at all the parameters the wview software keeps track of. The weather station is now on line 24/7 Here.

Davis Vantage Pro2 Wireless Weather Station
Solar Powered Vantage Pro2 Wireless Davis Vantage Pro2 Console

I have had this Linksys (now Cisco) Network Storage Link (NSLU2) sitting around unused for a couple of years. I have read where people have downloaded Linux to it and have done some amazing things. After reading Mark Teel’s article on “wview” in Linux Journal this past week, I decided it was time to put my NSLU2 to work as a weather web server. This NSLU2 runs on 5 volts and only uses 20 watts of power. This could be run from a battery charged with solar cells.

weatherServer

Weather Server Computer

Before I spent money on new weather station equipment I wanted to make sure I could get my NSLU2 up and running as a web server. I saw that wview worked, or was developed using Debian Linux, so that is the Linux distribution I chose to put on my NSLU2. I happened to have a 300 GB USB hard drive sitting here, so I plugged it into the NSLU2 and away I went with the Debian install. This was straight forward and only took about 2 hours. Then I looked around found the wview binary software for the NSLU2 available here (look for “debian lenny”). That took another couple of hours to download, install and configure. I then had a weather webserver up and running. Now, how to put the webserver on the Internet for minimal cost?

I found that with DynDNS.com, you can have a free account and a free URL. This was perfect! This fit my criteria for minimal cost!

Now to order the weather station hardware. After looking at several home weather station sites, reading weather forums, and blogs, I decided to get the Davis Vantage Pro2 Wireless weather station. The only drawback is that the weather station hardware won’t be here for another week or so.

My weather station software is up and running pumping out bogus simulator data until the weather station hardware arrives next week. I live in the Raven’s Nest Subdivision of Rowlett, Texas.

Raven’s Nest Rowlett TX Weather — http://rowlett.dyndns.ws/ served to the Internet by my NSLU2.
[update 28 Aug 10] The weather station now has a shorter URL. To remember it, just think “Rowlett Weather Station” – http://rowlett.ws/