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For many, many years, I've wanted a weather station. (I took 9 credits worth of meteorology courses in college, and would have majored in it, had any colleges in Southern California offered it, at the time) But weather stations are insanely expensive, and require all kinds of crazy wiring.

Then, I found the Oregon Scientific CableFree Weather Station at Costco.com. MSRP for this kit is about $500. Costco sells them for $225. BUT, last week only, they had a $30 coupon for is! $195! HUZZAH!

The kit arrived today, so as soon as I got home, I tore into the box. There's a base unit with an RS-232 serial interface to connect it to my computer. It's got an indoor thermo/hydro/barometer unit, a rain gauge, an outdoor therm/hygrometer, and a wind vane/anemometer, all 433 MHz wireless and all solar powered.

It was getting about 6:00 in the evening, but I couldn't wait. I dug out my multi-function folding ladder, gathered some tools, and climbed up onto the roof to hook up the wind instruments. Unfortunately, I found that the base segment of my antenna mast is too thick for the mounting bracket, so I pulled the ladder up, refolded it into a step ladder, and climbed up about 6 feet above the roof, stretched out as far as I could, and mounted it to the thinner middle segment of the mast.

Then I had to figure out how to mount the solar panel. The mast was too thick at the base, and I wasn't about to climb up the ladder again to attach it higher up, so I had to unfold the ladder, drop it back to the ground, climb down, find some screws, then climb back up onto the roof and screw the solar panel onto the wooden base for the mast. Scraped up my knuckles pretty good trying to drive a heavy screw inches above the rough roofing material. Unit 1 installed.

I screwed the temperature probe to the back of one of the supports for the patio roof where it will be in the shade all day, then hooked up the solar panel to the north side of the patio. Driving those screws was a major pain, literally. Unit 2 installed.

The barometer/indoor temperature/humidity unit was easy to install, just drive a nail and hang. Unit 3 installed.

I still have to figure out where to put the rain gauge. It has to be mounted level, and it should be mounted well above ground to prevent splashes from sprinklers/hoses/etc. That means it goes on the roof. But there really isn't any level place on the roof, everything slopes. The patio is the closest, but it's got about a 10 degree slope, and the roof material is made of aluminium, I don't know if I can drive screws through it to secure the unit. I guess I'm going to have to buy some wood shims or something to level it out. Fortunately, it's probably going to be quite dry for the foreseeable future, so there's no hurry in getting it installed.

I discovered that the base unit is compatible with the RadioShack temperature/humidity sensor I already had. I may buy a couple more (there are 3 open channels) since RadioShack's units are cheaper than Oregon Scientific's.

When I get the money, I'm going to buy the web hosting software so I (or anyone else) can check the local conditions from anywhere in the world. :)

Currently, the barometric pressure is 29.56 in, winds are calm. Outside temperature is 64.6F, humidity 76%, and dew point 57F. Indoor temperature is 73.2F, humidity 57%.


Jun. 24th, 2005 04:17 am (UTC)
Can't you just whip up some database/script or something and then push it to a web server?
Jun. 24th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)
I'd need to know what kind of format the data is in, the communications settings, etc.

I've been searching around to see if perhaps there was some kind of open source or free weather station software, but no luck so far.