Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New weather station

This is officially the geekiest things I’ve blogged about and you’re welcome to make fun of me. But I have a thing for the weather—as you might have gathered from my frequent weather references. I had a simple weather station, basically just an outdoor remote thermometer, but it croaked a few weeks ago. The only other outdoor thermometer is coupled to an atomic clock downstairs, but I wanted something in my home office where I spent 10+ hours a day. I’d done a bit of research of online but all the weather stations I was even remotely interested in were much too expensive.

Last weekend, on our way home from UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, my daughter and I stopped at a Costco warehouse and to my delight I came across this “Wireless Professional Weather Center” from LaCrosse Technology for under $80. On the their web site it’s listed for $279.95, and while I’m sure nobody pays retail for it, I still feel like I’ve gotten a good deal.

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The Weather Center comes with a combined thermometer and humidity sensor , solar-powered wind speed and direction sensor, rain sensor, weather display station, mounting brackets and all batteries. More than I needed or wanted, but I now feel like I have my own Wunderground personal weather station right in our backyard.

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I’m not a very handy person and am in constant awe of the things gardeners build (yes, I’m thinking of you and you), but installing the sensors was not difficult. All I needed was my trusted power drill/driver and a length of wood suitable as a pole for the wind sensor.

Following the manufacturer’s directions, I mounted the thermometer/hygrometer on the north side of the house. After thinking on it some more, I’ve come to the conclusion that it might make more sense to mount it away from the house, but still in a shady spot, to get even more reliable readings. But that falls under the category of “tweaking.” For now, I’m happy I got the d*** thing up in the first place :-).

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Here is the wind sensor that measures wind speed and direction. It’s on a pole about 8 ft. above ground.

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The rain sensor is the one component I don’t have much use for, considering how little it rains here. Instead of mounting it in a permanent spot, I’ve decided to use it in a roving manner, i.e. when there’s no rain, I’ll simply put it on top of the air conditioner, and when rain is in the forecast, I’ll set it in the middle of a vegetable bed. A more permanent and elegant solution may be forthcoming, but I don’t want to be too bold off the bat.

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Here’s an overall view of where all the various components are located.

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The nerve center is the display unit on the window sill next to my desk.

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It displays the information received from the various sensors as well as the time.

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In addition, the weather station is connected to my PC via a USB transceiver which sends an ongoing stream of data to LaCrosse Technology’s Heavy Weather software.

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The transmission frequency can be set as desired, and measurements can be exported in text format for further use in Microsoft Excel. I’m not sure how much analysis I’ll be doing, but it’s good to know that option exists.

In the meantime, expect even more accurate weather information sprinkled throughout my blog posts.

And don’t feel guilty if you’re overcome with the urge to laugh out loud at my nerdiness. I won’t hold it against you—although my weather station does have a secret sensor that can detect your response to this post!

6 comments:

  1. I think gardening and weather monitoring inherently goes hand in hand! Your new weather station is a worthy piece of investment :)

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    1. The weather gods must have liked my new toy because they rewarded me with 0.36 inches of rain last night!

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  2. I've thought about getting something like this before, but I usually decide against it. I don't even have a thermometer outdoors!

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    1. Since I'm constantly pushing the limits of our zone, I do want to know what the temperatures in various places of our yard are. We have several cheap (under $20) atomic clocks that come with outside thermometers. Very handy!

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  3. Laugh!? No way...I'm crazy jealous. I think weather geekery and our style of gardening go hand in hand. I'd love one of these but instead make do with 2 outdoor thermometers with inside monitors. One is in the garden (it gets moved around a lot) and the other is inside the shade pavilion greenhouse.

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  4. There is an old saying,"People talk about the weather a lot, but never do anything about it!!!" This set up sure gives you a lot to talk about! DUDS

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