Live updates are down because our machine that runs it is broken. Hope to get it back online soon.

Getting into the hobby

Choosing what to buy is hard. It took me months until I finally made a call. It really depends on what you want to achieve and that in itself is something that is hard to know. I wanted to create a weather station and have it display on the internet so when I am away, I can see my place. I wasnít sure how much I would get into this and if it would last. What tipped it for me was listening to the radio one day and hear ďin Banksia Park, itís xx degreesĒ (I canít remember the temp itself, but the fact they were using my data was sort of quite nice). Another factor is what your skills are in electronics, soldering, web page design, computers and programming.

(Dollars are Australian dollars unless itís marked as US$ and they are all subject to change as I donít control them, just included here for you as a guide at time of writing)

Iím going to try and categorize the weather stations available today:

Wireless or wired

Everyone I know including me wanted to go wireless when starting out. Why have wires. Their messy. Well here is what changed me.

There is a very big tradeoff when going wireless. Any radio transmitter requires power and quite a bit, or itís range will be %#*&. So do you run a wire to the remote sensor for power (your no longer wireless) or do you go every few days and replace the batteries. Add to this the frequency of update is typically a lot lower with wireless to try and conserve battery power. So very quickly I ran a wire to run the Lacrosse external sensors. I also wanted something I could set and forget from that part. (Iím now building a Stevenson screen to put it in the backyard. Ah! Woodwork, another great hobby!)

Side note, why is update frequency important? Itís for wind speed. My Lacrosse ran for 18 months. In that 18 months I recorded a wind spike of 90km/h (a single spike amongst about 45k and 50k gusts) and itís the only time itís recorded anything like it in 18 months. The Lacrosse in wired mode does updates every 8 seconds. In wireless every 32 secs in high wind otherwise every 128 seconds. Now Iíve gone with a 1-wire system and itís update is every 1 second. Iíve read 137km/h gust. Some comparisons: 21 Nov 2008 and 1 Nov 2009. 1st one is the Lacrosse on very windy day, the second is the Inspeed Vortex 1-wire on a very windy day and is the difference between 8 sec readings and 1 sec readings. If you think about it, the chances of catching a gust with 8 sec reading (or 32 sec in wireless mode), is pretty low. Thatís why there is such a difference.

Weather-Display

Clunky, complicated, frustrating, excellent piece of software! Itís something that has so many options and handles so many variations of input and output, itís going to give you what you want regardless of what you want. With the exception of writing your own software, there is just nothing that comes close to it and at US$70 for a lifetime license, itís why itís become the leader in the weather hobbyist market. Donít get me wrong, it will frustrate the hell out of you like it does me and so many others. There is also quite a few little add-ons that use the WD standard for communicating weather data, the clientraw.txt file. You don't need this straight away. There is a fully functional trial you can download as well. Weather-Display Web Site

A little about 1-wire and why I went this way

Some of the expansions are:

(Note: the last three dont work with Weather-Display unless Brian decides to further expand Weather-Display. There not really weather related as such.)

DIY

Donít discount DIY if youíre not skilled. Electronics is a hobby for many people, myself included. The enjoyment from building things, learning and making them work is great and often an excuse is all it takes. Why donít I make money from it, well here in Australia if you sell something you have to guarantee it. Add the money it makes, and itís just not viable for someone like me. However if someone were to pay for the parts and donate to the consumables and equipment, Iíd certainly be interested within reason of course. In America they donít have the same laws, so itís quite easy to say things like ďno guaranteeís but weíll help if we canĒ. Donít get me wrong, I donít think we should change here in Australia. These laws protect the not so aware from the not so ethical. To give you a price clue, the parts for the basic 1-wire system would come in at about $280.