Over the last many weeks I’ve been trying to install my own Personal Weather Station.
It’s a really nifty piece of equipment.. if a little pricey.
I’ve never been very happy with the weather conditions coverage for my hometown of Port Alberni. We’re one of those towns that’s big enough to get on the odd nightly weather forecast… but it’s hard to find hard data for all manner of weather stuff.
I have always found this odd because, in my region, Port Alberni is a fairly unique little place. We get colder than most on southern Vancouver Island… get a little more snow… a lot more rain and wind in winter… and a ton more heat in the summer. All owing to our beautiful mountains and valley.
So. I’ve taken upon myself to rectify the situation.
I present to you:
This is just a snapshot of the Frontpage of the website. It includes a summary, full Almanac, Current Conditions, and summaries of the last 24 hours, Month, and Year.
There are graphs and dials to show the various weather conditions as well.
It’s a great website. Which brings me to the equipment and software that I’m using.
The software that generates the graphs and webpages (as well as notifies the NOAA and Weather Underground citizen weather services) is called WView. It’s free and open source software being maintained by one very hard working guy.
I have it running on an old PC that I put together from spare parts (so its’ free too) running a very small installation of Linux. One of the nice things about this software is it is very small (the weather data itself only takes up about 20MB of space a year) and it doesn’t need much horsepower. The PC is a Pentium 2 300MHz with 128MB RAM and a 7GB HD.
The Weather Station hardware is a bit of a different story. It’s top-o-the-line stuff. From Davis Instruments, the Vantage Pro 2 (cabled). It cost me about $CAD500 from Ebay… plus about $200 for the “data logger” to capture the data and send it to a computer.
The whole thing is mounted on my roof. It includes thermometer, barometer, hygrometer (humidity), anemometer (wind), and a rain gauge.
I can get a UV sensor and Solar Radiation sensor (what’s the difference? I’m not sure yet…) as well, but they’re add-ons.. for $US150 a pop. Ouch!
That said, for the amount that I’ve already gotten out of this station, it’s well worth the cost! I’ve started to overcome my fear of heights (our roof is FREAKIN’ steep man). My next project will be to cut a “hatch” in our dormer/bathroom attic to get to the roof a little more safely 🙂
I never imagined the funny connections I’ve started to make. I’m now apparently “known” by various meteorologists in the area. And I’m joining Environment Canadas’ “Severe Weather Watcher” program. So it’s pretty cool!
Anyway, that’s about it. I just wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to. This system was NOT hard to set up at all. The computer was the toughest thing to get -just right-, but that’s just because I had to keep it to a bare minimum. Aside from that, my fear of heights/ladders was my biggest problem!