recommendations for home weather station?
October 4, 2007 11:25 AM   Subscribe

i'm looking for recommendations for good brands or distributors of home weather station equipment.

i'm thinking of an anemometer, rain gauge, air pressure and temperature sensors. the mission includes piping the output into a server to be broadcast on the web, preferably in real-time.

i'm looking for recommendations for reasonably inexpensive but hardy gear available in canada, and able to survive and record some violent wind/rain storms.

note that it's not critical that this equipment be accurate or precise enough for scientific work, it's more to entertain my inner weather geek and build real-time reporting applications for the web.
posted by klanawa to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oregon Scientific.
posted by everichon at 12:16 PM on October 4, 2007

Also have a look at RainWise, headquartered right here in Bar Harbor, ME.
posted by mikeg at 12:20 PM on October 4, 2007

Response by poster: are these recommendations based on personal experience?

(thanks, btw.)
posted by klanawa at 1:13 PM on October 4, 2007

I see AAG Electronica recommended a lot for this sort of thing, and it's probably what I'll be making my network-connected amateur weather station out of in the near future.
posted by hades at 2:19 PM on October 4, 2007

Are you planning on using rrdtool to make nifty graphs like this? If so, this page references wx200d, which references particular hardware and the ability to pipe the output to, as well as make your own nifty graphs.

Hope this help!
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:26 PM on October 4, 2007

I had a chance to talk with some folks from Peet Bros. at the last Hamvention and they seem really on the ball. The stuff they sell is designed for automated data collection and reporting.

Also have a look at APRSWorld, whose name only touches on part of their business. I met them at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair and we talked packet data for a while. They're all about telemetry, wind and weather datalogging, and reliable weatherproof systems. None of it is cheap, but it's all built for the long haul. Logging to an SD card for locations without telemetry is nice, too.

Personally, I cheaped out and bought a BIOS-brand weather station when it was on sale at Radio Shack, and I've hated the decision every moment since. The interface is a steaming pile of crap, with the device not even able to set its own clock over the USB interface. (You use buttons on the receiver for that.) Why it needs an independent clock when connected to the PC is beyond me, but if you don't set it, your data gets logged to the wrong century.

The software would earn a first-year C programming student a D-minus, if extreme leniency were granted for the fact that the student was a chimpanzee with a degenerative brain disorder. It forgets metric/imperial settings between reboots, the "show graph" button makes you pick a new date every time (starting with invalid values every time), and there's no facility to export the data. If there's no signal for a moment, a dialog box pops up, and doesn't disappear when the signal comes back. Over a few days with spotty reception, thousands of these boxes will eat up all of Windows' GDI resources, crashing the PC and trashing your gathered data. The RF reception is terrible, the transmitter eats batteries like candy, and the humidity sensor is on the indoor unit, not the outdoor. The BIOS Home Weather Station for PC or TV is an appalling dump heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable. (Mangled up in tangled up knots, too!)
posted by Myself at 12:08 AM on October 5, 2007

Response by poster: so i think i'll put BIOS in the negative column!

the rainwise stuff looks cool, but pricey. i like the fact that it sends updates every 2 seconds, which is much closer to real-time than some of the other brands.

i'm actually a flash developer and i'm looking to use rtmp (red5 server) to stream real-time data out to a flash app that will display conditions as they change. the only measurement that's interesting on the human time scale is wind direction/velocity, or course, but it would be fun to build a weather center that's fun to interact with and doesn't look like crap.

and Myself's recommendations have taken me back to an idea i had to use flash for monitoring renewable energy installations...

i should be looking closely at the ways that the intrument output gets into the computer (a linux box), so i can get it into the server. aprsworld looks like they have some experience with that. i'm not an electrical engineer, so low-level mucking around will probably just lead me to grief.

thanks a lot! i'll be studying these closely.
posted by klanawa at 9:32 AM on October 5, 2007

Chiming in late, but my Peet Bros gear is good, solid and reliable, but a bit uncommon, and I have been looking for a rain gauge for years at a price that is decent.
So I can recommend it if you are price insensitive and care about quality.
Their older gear is not set up for internet use, it relied on modems for remote collection and the software was clunky.
The newer versions look much better, but I suspect they are trying to retrofit it to the old design, so you might want to check it does everything you want before you commit.
I think their first design goal was to get everything working via the control box, then added on a PC interface as an afterthought.
posted by bystander at 3:22 AM on October 8, 2007

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