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Researching Weather Stations – a sea of options..


I’ve got design criteria for this project. Now it’s time to see what options are out there.

Wow! After many evenings spent google searching weather station designs, I’ve learned some things:

  1. There are lots of open-source arduino and raspberrypi projects
  2. There are some cool edu focused projects 
  3. Not many people want to go completely off grid, most rely on AC power and WiFi
  4. Ready-to-Go stand-alone systems are horribly expensive, you can easily spend as much as $10K USD!

So, here are some things I found and some commentary about applicability to my project:

Weather station design for a UK RC flying club:

http://cmfc-weatherstation.blogspot.com/2016/09/arduino-based-gsm-weather-station-for.html

What I like: Nice design based on economical components. Rugged build, designed for harsh weather and theft. Good use of cheaper components.

What I don’t like: Kind of clunky design with lots of pieces and parts. It uses solar but it is also connected to 12V electric fence power supply. Arduino design is cool but is very power hungry.

Raspberry Pi Weather Station

http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Solar-Weather-Station/

What I like: Very small footprint, using inexpensive gear, pretty well-documented project, I have experience with Raspberry Pi.

What I don’t like: Power hungry arduinos (what I’v heard), very complex programming and build, care and feeding will be ugly!

Arduino Weather Station for Kitesurfing

https://www.toptal.com/c/how-i-made-a-fully-functional-arduino-weather-station-for-300

What I like: Very durable and inexpensive station, it is focused on wind measurement and logging. Nice durable design that does not require much power. I love the use of inexpensive components.

What I don’t like: OMG – much too complex for me. The wiring and coding looks brutal.

Popular off-the-shelf budget solution

http://www.ambientweather.com/west.html

What I like: Lots of low-cost options and this is a very popular “budget” option.

What I don’t like: If you want to go cellular you are spending over $700 and that does not include solar/battery/enclosures. Price will quickly go north of $1000!

Wonderful RC Flying Field Weather Station

http://jeffcoaeromodlers.com/weather/

What I like: I love the detail of the data and the ability to review historical data. I love the fact that is all on the club website. I love the live camera feed. Looks like they are using AcuRite equipment and the WeeWx opensource project to get data to the web.

What I don’t like: Argh – this club has power at the field and looks like they have a permanent field house.

OpenSource Weather Server

http://weewx.com/

What I like: Powerful and flexible platform to collect weather data. Active community and lots of cool templates. Can run on any hardware, including Raspberry Pi.

What I don’t like: Very steep learning curve. This could bite us when it comes to deployment and maintenance. JeffCo club might be willing to help us since they use it.

Another OpenSource Weather Server

http://www.meteobridge.com/wiki/index.php/Stations

What I like: Same benefits as WeeWx, but easier to deploy and manage. Runs on ultra-cheap, low power hardware. Tailor made to upload to WunderGround. You can use a variety of weather equipment (sensors and base stations).

What I don’t like: Requires you to donate to OS project, cool hardened servers are expensive. Not as active community as WeeWx.

Affordable Weather Station Hardware

https://www.acurite.com/environments/weather-stations.html

What I like: Very cost effective and seemingly ready to go gear. A complete weather station for about $150 or so. Other clubs are using this.

What I don’t like: Seems too good to be true.

WunderGround PWS

https://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/overview.asp

What I like: Free! Wonderful way to upload and host weather data on the web. Each PWS has a web portal with graphing and history. And there is support for FTP uploads of webcam snaps.

What I don’t like: We’d be locked into using this service. I hope they don’t start charging for it!

_______

OK – the above links and review covers about 2 weeks of casual web research. In the next blog post in this series I’ll go over my initial proposed design and maybe even sketch out a concept diagram or two. 

 

 

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