The Weather

12 10 2009

I’ve always had an interest in the weather, but then, don’t we all? Except, I’ve always been interested in how it works, what it does and why it does it, as well as figuring out how to tell what it might do next. Weather forecasting is.. well ask Michael Fish!

So, a little  over a year ago I installed a weather station. This is made up of a base station which sits on my desk and via large display tells me what the weather is doing now and what it has done historically, it also attempts to provide a basic forecast. It does this by taking measurements from a weather station outside, this has sensors for

  • Temperature
  • Pressure
  • Humidity
  • Wind Speed
  • Rain Fall

The weather station is a WS2350, it is sold under a few different brands and is generally around the £110.00 mark. This price point is pretty much the entry level for a station that can be linked to a computer. In the 14 months its been working Ive not had any problems with it.

At first I used the wireless feature to link the sensors to the base, the obvious benefit being no drilling holes into the house for wires. However, there are two downsides to this. First it means the sensors have to be battery powered, not a big problem really, a decent set of batteries ran for 6 months. The second issue is more important, when connected wirelessly the sensors only take wind readings every 120 seconds or so, when connected with a wire its 8 seconds. This I found proved a bit of a limitation so quite recently my office wall acquired a hole and now base and sensors talk over the wire.

Being a tech junkie this couldn’t possibly be enough though, could it? No, of course not, we need to grab all that data and publish it online.  At first I used the software that came with the weather station I bought, this proved to be very limiting and unreliable. Searching the interweb revealed various other software systems. First I tried WUHU which is the software from Weather Underground, this allowed me to grab the data and publish it to different web sites. I still publish to www.wunderground.com and also publish a web cam image looking out over the garden.

The Weather Underground web site is very good and the features and maps are fantastic, but its not ‘my’ web site. Further trawling through the interweb revealed Cumulus from SandaySoft. This is a piece of donationware, free but if you find it useful you are asked by Steve, the author, to make a donation to fund further development. I’ve dealt with Steve via the forums he provides for help and support and both he and the Cumulus software are first class. In my opinion if you are going to set up a weather station, you use Cumulus.

So, my weather website. Well its currently more or less the default site generated by the excellent Cumulus software. Its ‘live’ most days but I tend not to run the PC that uploads the site and data all night. The site updates every minute and there is a weather feed via twitter @RedwoodWeather

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