On personal and professional weather stations

Please allow me a bit of self indulgence here. As some of you may know, the technology of measuring and displaying weather is my specialty. I operate a business in this area. Once a year, like many other merchants in the USA, we offer a Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday Sale. Such is the case this year.

If you’ve ever considered buying a home or office weather station, once that is accurate, reliable, and feature rich, including being able to be put on the Internet with ease from your home Internet connection and that also has iPhone and Android apps to allow monitoring from anywhere, now is the time to get one. Not only are they discounted on sale, but free shipping is offered in the USA. Plus, a free retail copy of our StormPredator personal radar program.

See our list of weather stations on sale here. Thanks for your consideration. – Anthony

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F. Ross
November 28, 2013 8:49 pm

Hope you sell a million of them!
Happy Thanksgiving Anthony and mods

November 28, 2013 9:04 pm

Most cars have ambient temperature and barometric pressure these days, and with a $15-$20 bluetooth interface and Torque for Android, you can display it. Someone needs to link these to some crowdsourcing (add some gps metadata besides the location and time so it knows if the car is moving and thus not in the garage and such). Then it wouldn’t be just the few Samsungs that have baro/temp sensors.

November 28, 2013 10:23 pm

Good prices (did they fall off Sanat’s sligh?) but too much of a UHI at my place for sensible results.
Even the nearby agricultural research station’s data show an increase in average minimum temperatures as a “step change” of 0.7⁰C after the waste water treatment (and groundwater injection) plant next to it was expanded. Big impact in a dry climate.

Brian H
November 29, 2013 12:11 am

Yabbut would a super typhoon tear one apart? >:)

Steve Case
November 29, 2013 12:50 am

Typo – Once/one

Bloke down the pub
November 29, 2013 1:51 am

‘once that is accurate,’
Dr Freud is ready to see you now.

November 29, 2013 2:20 am

Hope your bussiness goes well Anthony despite all your work for this blog, you deserve it!
Meanwhile we follow the weather at home (and the automation inside home: temperature, lights on/of, blinds closed or not, sunscreen position, watering the tomatoes in the greenhouse…) thanks to an Oregon Scientific WMR100 station and a small computer…
The weather station is not that accurate, but good enough to see that it is cold at home and raining as usual, while we baked in the sun somewhere on the West Coast of Australia (last year) or another nice place while travelling…

November 29, 2013 7:28 am

I bought the original Davis Vantage Pro 11 years ago from a TV meteorologist who used it at home. (He was upgrading to the fan aspirated model.) It still works very well. The not-strong-enough radio link is fixed in the VP II, I don’t know about whether they have a better source for “super capacitors.” I replaced mine with some from Digikey, but I think I have to replace those next spring.
Very good system.
See my recent data at http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wx/current.htm . (Personal software, not WeatherLink or other Davis or third party software.)

Stu Miller
November 29, 2013 9:11 am

This is a good opportunity to say that I bought one of your weather stations a couple of years ago and love it, especially the notice that appears on occasion that it is “raining cats and dogs”. I am, however, curious about the rainfall rate that triggers this message.
Stu Miller
REPLY: IIRC the “cats and dogs message” triggers at “heavy rain” rainfall rates > 7.6 millimeters (0.30 in) per hour, up to 50 millimeters (2.0 in) per hour
There’s another level above that, with “flash Flood Advisory” displayed when the rainfall rate is > 50 millimeters (2.0 in) per hour, which qualifies as “violent rain”.

Keith Sketchley
November 29, 2013 10:24 am

Farmers may be a market, large farms need multiples due variation of wind and temperature with elevation (valleys and ridges).
One farm in the Peace River area of NE BC and into AB set up their own in order to determine whether or not rainfall and temperature values from the nearest normal reporting station (a city like Dawson Creek) correlated to their farm. IIRC one of those two parameters did, the other did not.
Another market is schools, some have them for science teaching (and econ-nut activities).
Another is muncipalites of varying geography, Langford BC has a few stations to measure rainfall so they can jump on high rates that might overflow drainage systems.

Steve C
November 29, 2013 10:35 am

Very nice-looking kit, but sadly you’ll have to write me off as just quietly coveting from afar. Living deep in a UHI as I do, I can hardly really justify my cheap Chinese model TBH, although to be fair it generally predicts better than it ought for the price. (And it doesn’t embarrass me by putting such arbitrary information on the net …)
Anthony, are you close enough to the actual programming of your machines to be able to point me at somewhere I can read more about the algorithms used by electronic weather stations for short term forecasting? I’m currently looking at the Sager algorithm, but a bit of exposure to others would be nice. Thanks. (Love the “cats and dogs” message btw. I hope the clock has an “About ten to two” mode to match!)

Bob Jakicic
November 29, 2013 10:56 am

Anthony, I live near Fairbanks Alaska and have a Vantage Pro 2 with the standard radiation shield. Is there any way you could update / upgrade it to display and record temperatures lower than -39 degrees F?
REPLY: No, I’m sorry there isn’t – Anthony

Bob Jakicic
November 29, 2013 11:19 am

REPLY: No, I’m sorry there isn’t – Anthony
Thanks Anthony. Is there an alternative you could recommend and supply?

The Quiet Farmer
November 29, 2013 12:46 pm

Do you ship down under. You know the 54ish state before Julia divorced Barack, or was it the other way round.

Scott C
November 29, 2013 5:51 pm

Hi Anthony,
I’m sorely tempted! One thing I am unclear on, however, is whether or not I can log data to a computer without the purchase of one of the additional software packages. I’m comfortable programming, so if I can hook up to the basestation and download the data, that would be good. I’d also like to do this on a Linux computer, so if I could avoid having to use the Mac or Windows software, that would be a big plus!

JFA in Montreal
November 29, 2013 7:14 pm

I know this post will somehow hack into Anthony’s business… However, as much as I dream of having my own fancy weather station, I cannot afford it.
But I can afford this:
An Arduino (Arduino means “Strong Friend” in Italian) microcontroller interfaced to the web (ethernet shield), or a Raspberry Pi, or a Beagle Bone or a pcDuinoV2 MiniPC with Arduino headers Linux Android and simple sensors can yield amazing results. Use a high precision I2C bus precision sensor. The Arduino comes with tons of examples. Each of these microcontrollers can be bought for 15 to 60$ (bought from the western world suppliers or from Hong Kong (HobbyKing, genuine boards from Italy). The sensor probably costs five to twenty bucks.
Note: I am not commercially affiliated in any way with HobbyKing. It simply is the most affordable source of hardware.
Power supply: PRODUCT ID: 381000102 price: $3.78 USD
Arduino LM2577 DC-DC Adjustable Step-up Power Converter Module
Input voltage :3-34V Output voltage: cont. adjustable (4-35V) Output Current: 2.5A (MAX)
Real time clock: PRODUCT ID: 381000099 price: $6.47 USD
DS1307 RTC Clock Module I2C bus output
There is also a more accurate Real Time Clock , same price range, that is using the ICSP bus (also easy to program on the Arduino)
Barometric sensor: BMP085 Breakout I2C bus interface Price: $9.87 USD prod. ID 381000109
Or item # 074000073, even cheaper, same chip, comes with cables !
measuring range: 300 to 1100 hPa with an absolute accuracy of down to 0.03 hPa.
(yeah, that’s 0.023 mm of mercury, or 0.306mm of water column ! ! ! )
voltage supply: 1.8 and 3.6VDC.
Digital Temperature Sensor Module DS18B20 V2.0
calibrated digital temperature readings directly and precisely without complicated calculation in code from -55°C to +125°C (-67°F to +257°F) with ± 0.5°C accuracy from -10°C to +85°C.
[Note by me: this thingie has an analog output… you have to make sure your Arduino A/D converter is accurate too…]
Arduinos easily interface with the popular and reliable XBee transmitters (with up to several km of range). All the libraries are written to facilitate their interfacing on Arduinos microcontrollers.
There is a wide gamut of sensors available. GPS sensors, distance sensors (ultrasonic, infrared), pressure, acceleration, angle, etc. Very cheap.
The revolutionary fully integrated automatic pilot (diydrones.com) (GPS, 6 axis accelerometer/gyro, 3 axis magnetometer, precision altimeter, programable for fully autonomous flight, retailing at around $110USD ) is running on an Arduino 2560 (about 19 bucks at HobbyKing).
As for Arduinos themselves, just google for them, or go to Arduino.cc (creative commons top level domain name). It is an open platform, copylefted microcontroller based on the Atmel ATMega 328 or 2560 chips. All schematic are copylefted, you can start manufacturing your own and sell if it you want. There are all flavors of Arduinos variants, some with ethernet built in, some with other functions built-in (data loggers, etc). The physical layout of Arduinos is such that you can stack functionality modules (called “shields) atop the controller: sensors, LCD displays, wifi, transmitters/receivers, motor controllers, sensors, SD cards, and you name it! The microcontroller is pre-loaded with software that makes its programming easy in a C-like syntax that does not require the arcane C function definition and set-up. It has several analog (10 bits) inputs, a dozen digital I/O, programmable as regular TTL outputs, or as Pulse Width Modulation pseudo-analog output. It has timer interrupts, and pin interrupts. Various flavors of Arduino have more or less of these capabilities.
You can get a very respectable board for about $9.95 USD (Arduino Nano).
Everything is programmable directly from your USB computer port, and the software to program it is simple (kids use it aplenty).
There is an event-driven graphical programming environment that is coming out soon (mid-december) called ArduBlock. The released version is very sketchy, but some beta releases are interesting (must ask and dig for it quite a lot to find them though).
For excellent tutorials, search for Jeremy Blum Arduino on Youtube. Again, I am not affiliated in any way with him. He’s a kid just out of engineering school, and did a mighty job at creating these easy tutorials.
My guess, you can build a decent weather station for approx 50$, with some careful casing work and OCD calibration of your sensors… Oh, they also have relative humidity sensors.
HobbyKing’s inventory fluctuates, is always changing.
You can use the interrupt input to measure the toggling bucket from the rain sensor.
You can use an analog input to measure the voltage from a small DC motor to measure wind speed.
You can possibly use a laser diode and a photo transistor and an analog input to measure haze in the air.
You can use differential optical sensors to measure sunlight.
You can use color sensors to possibly measure blue sky.
It’s never easy, but it’s feasible.
And you can pump all of your data on the net, the software probably already exists, at least base modules that comply to some established standards.
All of that is done by “makers”, people who build for the passion of building.
JFA in Montreal

Bob Jakicic
November 29, 2013 10:09 pm

JFA, lots of great info there, thanks. One correction however. The DS18B20 outputs a 9 or 12 bit digital word using the 1-wire interface to represent the temperature, not an analog signal requiring A to D conversion. Thanks again.

Jeff Alberts
November 29, 2013 10:11 pm

I think my place would be a perfect spot for one. I can place it 100 feet from buildings or asphalt, on grass. Sadly, I can’t afford such a luxury these days.

Rick Morcom
November 30, 2013 4:57 am

Thanks, Anthony. I bought a Davis Vantage Vue from you about four years ago, and it is wonderful. It has been totally reliable, and I record most of the data it presents via longhand in a log book. Great way to correct people who say things like “hasn’t this been the wettest summer we’ve ever had”, or the coldest Spring or whatever. I’m able to check my data (including my pre-Vantage data) and confirm that actually, no, it was pretty average! I don’t upload to the web, though, but it is a great piece of kit. Thank you!

Robert of Ottawa
November 30, 2013 3:10 pm

Anthony, I would love to buy one. I could even calibrate with out-of-suburb temperatures, and compare with the French guy’s siting rules.
BUT, I need something that goes below -40F (or C) as it does occasionally get bloody old here in Ottawa. I woke up this morning, it was -23 C. Max temp today, a supposed but not sensed -6C.

Peter Gay
December 1, 2013 5:33 am

I have a wireless Vantage Pro2 here in Kent, England, feeding into my computer – very reliable, I wouldn’t be without it. I also monitor manually, using a Stevenson screen – old habits die hard. Experience suggests that tipping bucket rain gauges are not very accurate (I have two in different positions) so I rely on a classical Met-Office approved copper manual gauge to verify the readings.

December 3, 2013 6:35 am

Thanks for the sale Anthony. I’ve been wanting to buy a wireless Vantage Pro 2 for awhile now and your great prices put me over the edge. Thanks to my wife too for allowing me to buy my own Christmas present.

Keith Sketchley
December 4, 2013 12:19 pm

Hmm, Robert of Ottawa, need to get Davis designers to AK to understand cold, or to YT where it may get even colder.
One day in the YT a Transair 737 crew asked station agents to get everyone on board to depart early as the temperature was headed to below the approved limits for operation. (Newer models may have somewhat lower limits, on the other extreme they have to cope with temperatures in some desert areas.)

JFA in Montreal
December 9, 2013 8:49 pm

Thanks Bob Jakicic for the info. I hadn’t checked all the specs of the available stuff. There is so much break-out boards that pop in and out of the market, I can’t follow it all.
For accurate measures, I wouldn’t trust those semiconductor thingies out of the box. I’d prefer an RTD. I don’t know what the Vantage system use. I know that that there is a RTD break-out board, complete with 24 (?) bit A/D converter I think. It sells for (from the top of my head) in the 17$ range, but then, the RTD itself is expensive (I dunno if it can accomodate copper RTD). But again, the Arduino, and any break-out boards would require a lot of elbow grease, as any A/D conversion accuracy within the full range of temperature can be put in doubt. Maybe a less precise sensor is required to add temperature compensation of the conversion circuit. Maybe not, but I would not assume right out of the box that things would work, and careful calibration would be in order, both of the sensor and of the circuitry. It is not a trivial thing. If your time is cheap, Arduino is the way to go. If your time is expensive, the already tested Vantage is the way to go, if the data is to have any value. My 2¢.
But it’s a fun project.

JFA in Montreal
December 13, 2013 7:13 pm

That just came out: $39.95 USD
Weather Shield for Arduino. Some assembly required. And I would have put the temp sensor on a separate break-out board that you can locate some distance from the main board.
Weather Shield
DEV-12081 RoHS Compliant Open Source Hardware
Description: The Weather Shield is an easy to use Arduino shield that grants you access to barometric pressure, relative humidity, luminosity and temperature. There are also connections on this shield to optional sensors such as wind speed, direction, rain gauge and GPS for location and super accurate timing.
These Weather Shields utilize the HTU21D humidity, MPL3115A2 barometric pressure, and ALS-PT19 light sensors and relies on the HTU21D and MPL3115A2 Arduino libraries. Each shield comes with two unpopulated RJ11 connector spaces (for optional hook up of rain and wind sensors) and a 6-pin GPS connector (for optional hook up of a GP635T GPS module). Finally, each Weather Shield can operate from 3-6V and has built in voltage regulators and signal translators.
Note: The Weather Shield comes as a stand-alone board. Headers, connectors, and additional sensors will need to be purchased separately, check the related items or wish list below!

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