Tuesday, May 21, 2019

New Weather Station Installed

I didn't really "get into" monitoring the weather until I started working at Sea Launch in 2004, and wound up being assigned to keep the Weather Monitoring and Reporting System maintained and operational. That also included the C-Band Pulsed Doppler Weather Radar System, the only one ever installed on a ship. I always had one of those multi-instrument  barometer/thermometer/hygrometers around, but never seriously studied the weather. Then one of the Meteorologists I worked with showed me his home weather station connected to the Internet, and I kind of picked up (another!) new hobby.

I went with a Davis Instruments Vantage PRO2, and went through half-a-dozen different devices to get it on the Internet so I could monitor the weather while out-of-town.

Fast forward to 2019.....

My original Vantage weather station was getting a bit 'tatty', and while it was sitting outdoors here, we had a couple of huge windstorms come through, blowing over the 5' tripod, mast section, and weather station. It smacked the concrete patio pretty good, and damaged the cover for the instrument package.

The solar cells are for a fan kit I added when the station was sited on the big, flat, HOT roof of my apartment, and kept a flow of air  going through the sensor housing during the day. This helped keep the temperature sensor at more of an 'ambient' temp to counteract the effects of it being sited on a HOT surface.

So I just kind of moved it off to the side and let it sit. A week or so ago I stood it back up, connected the cable to the display console, turned it on, and went through the setup procedure. Rats! It just sat there blinking at me, and I assumed (uh-oh....) that it was damaged, and no longer functional.

So, off I went to the Interwebz, and ordered a newer version. While waiting for the new one to arrive, I did the RTFM thing to acquaint myself with the new one, and this time I read the whole thing.

Uh-oh.....I didn't complete the setup procedure! Doing it right made the station come up and function normally. So while this one needs some mechanical repair, electrically it seems to be just fine. I'll get a plastic electrical "Junction Box" from HD, swap the guts into it, scrub it up, and either have a back-up unit, or more likely, I'll give it to one of the in-laws to use.

The new one arrived Friday, and I unpacked it, RTFM (at least Davis still gives you printed paper manuals), and commenced installation on Saturday.

And it went together, went up on the new mast, and worked 99% the first time!

This is a much better installation than the original station would have been just sitting on the tripod, as the wind sensor is in the clear, and 15' AGL. The only "better" site I have for this is up on the roof of the house, and that ain't gonna happen!

The vertical "wires" sticking up out of the rain collector are "Bird Spikes", and will discourage our feathered friends from perching on the rim, causing all manner of "stuff" to collect in the rain bucket besides just rain. The little black antenna sticking up on the Instrument Package is for the 900MHz radio link back to the display console. The cover has solar cells similar to my original station, but these are used to power the station, and charge the internal battery that gets used at night and on on days with little sunlight.

When I first installed it, I kept getting a "Low Battery On Station No.1" alert. Turns out I had the battery installed backwards! The solar cells were carrying the entire station, even at night! Yow....these must be pretty good cells. I swapped the battery around yesterday, and within 14 hours, the alarm had cleared, indicating that the cells not only run the whole shebang, but have enough 'extra' current to charge the battery. Good job, guys!

And the two stations agree very closely, unlike the "WeatherWise" station I bought last year as a 'gap filler' until I got the Davis station back on the air.

I have a little "ZOTAC ZBox" mini-pc that I'm going to use the get this on the 'Net, and I'm in the process of getting that all configured to connect to the Davis console, and our home network.

And we suffered a minor bit of storm damage from the front that went through and dropped 2" of heavy, wet snow on us.

A branch from our crabapple tree came down, nice, clean break, hopefully not injuring the tree much. I'll let this dry out, strip the leaves off it, and we'll have some nice kindling to use.


  1. So just to be sure you're you're doing the right thing, put that station as close to the dryer exhaust vent as possible, or near and AC compressor. Anywhere on flat blacktop with no shadowing during the day is also acceptable. Also make sure rain gauge is directly in the mean downwind direction of a very large heavily leafed or conifer tree. That way NOAA and the EPA can accurately compare their data with yours.

    1. Funniest thing I've read in weeks!

      Too bad it's true.....

    2. Why thank you! Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile. Cheers!

  2. That new rig sounds like fun!

    1. It's just a newer version of the one I had. This one has the radio link built in so I didn't have to run a cable to it, like I had to with my original.

      There's a guy a couple of blocks away with a Davis station like my original one. He has it mounted on a mast strapped to his chimney, and there's an HF Ham Radio vertical on top of that. His station doesn't appear to be net-connected, and I can't find a Ham Radio licensee at that address.

    2. "He has it mounted on a mast strapped to his chimney"
      ALLRIGHT! That's defiantly an EPA/NOAA approved site!

      Sorry, it's too funny not to respond to just now.
      Seriously though, it would be difficult to put one data collection point that did not have some bias. However, just as early salmonid research expanded, so did we change to try to eliminate bias as much as possible.

      It's impossible, but not just for bias. Most times, bias can only be reveled by examining the methodology
      and looking at the results. Then we improve our methodology.
      Science is NEVER settled.
      Don't get me started.
      Oh, wait, I started it. Never mind.

    3. Tut-tut, my man....that siting would only be EPA approved if it was a Solar Powered fireplace attached to that chimney, and not the pellet-stove conversions that are so popular here.

      Perish the thought of an actual -GASP!- Wood Burning fireplace!

  3. Pretty darned cool, DRJIM

    1. If I didn't keep busy with this stuff, I'd either go completely bonkers, or croak, within six months....

  4. Nice set up. I need to look into one of those.

  5. The ones made by Davis Instruments are one step under the 'professional' stuff made by companies like Vaisala, and a zillion steps above the stuff made by companies like LaCrosse, WeatherWise, Oregon Scientific, and others.

    They cost more ($400~$500 vs <$200), but they last forever, and are very accurate. My new one is within a few per cent of what the old one reads, and both are quite different from what the ~$100 WeatherWise station I have reads.

    The low-cost stuff are toys and don't last more than a couple of years.


Keep it civil, please....

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