We all keep an eye on the weather locally and nationally as it has such a huge impact on our day to day living and I am sure I am not unique in keeping an eye on the TV weather and the various weather applications available for computers and mobile phones. The problem is they are always rather generic and even though I have an app that tells me what the ‘local’ weather is on my home computer it is always out by a reasonable bit. So many times Binbrook is reported at something up to 4 degrees C out from the thermometer in my garden and I am told it is bright and sunny when it is actually raining.
I had to do something about this and I have long wanted something specific to this village with a more precise means of measurement and with the ability to give historical data. So earlier this year (2018) I started investigating my options. I had decided I wanted a wired system and something produced in the UK and finally something vaguely sensibly priced which all pointed to one of the Instromet systems so it was ordered.
I opted for the following:
- Temperature sensing both wet bulb and normal temperature in a Stevenson screen.
- Rain fall – An infra-red system so no tipping buckets to fail at some point.
- Anemometer for wind speed and direction.
- Sun duration meter.
- Station barometric pressure.
So in theory all bases would be covered, or at least the important ones.
The next issue was where to locate the system. There are fairly specific guidelines for weather stations however they involved me owning a field and placing a tower in the middle and this was not an option. Instead I opted for a shiny new 6m aluminium scaffold pole that sits in a robust bracket to enable the pole/mast to hinge down, a bit like some flagpoles do. This would enable routine maintenance to be carried out and any repairs or upgrades without resorting to a ladder or having to completely dismantle the system. This also means I can drop the mast, carry out maintenance such as cleaning the sun duration meter and have the mast back in place in just a few minutes and without external assistance or risk to life and limb.
The anemometer and sun meter sit at the top and here it is in the down position showing the anemometer and sun meter. I machined a cap out of black nylon to tidy things up even though it is not easily visible from below, plus it prevents water running down the inside of the tube..
… Here is the pole in the up position. The trees and shrubs in the image are further away than they look and the mast is high enough to have unobstructed views to the horizon in all four directions however as our village is in a bit of a dip true sunrise and sunset detection will be out slightly.
The sensors report back to an Instromet Data-logger which in turn originally talked to a dedicated laptop running Win10 as a bare bones system however this proved to be less than robust (See the News tab for just how many restarts it saw in the 8 odd months it ran.
April 25th 2019 it was binned in favour of a Raspberry Pi3 B+ running a Debian variant of Linux. This is good as I am quite at home with Linux and it should be a lot more robust with less downtime. The system used a Micro SD card as a hard disk and the whole system including the SD card, RPi3 computer itself, a small case and the power supply cost just under £50.00 so a very modest upgrade outlay.
This is the little Raspberry Pi3 B+ with a clothes peg for scale. The sockets are basically HDMI for a monitor, some USB 2.0 connections, a LAN Port and a power point. On top of that are some GPIO connectors and a camera port. It also comes with Blutooth and WiFi Modules as standard. Plus a port for a micro SD card which acts as a hard disk. In my case the card is 32GB which is way more than I need. It really does pack a punch for an incredibly modest outlay.
This is what it looks like with a LAN Cable and data logger input hung on the back which gives an idea of size. It is completely silent and apart from a few blinking lights you would never realise it was actually doing something.
The weather software I am running is CumulusMX v3.0.0 build 3049 which has a reputation for being solid and trustworthy, gives me a local display and I can connect to the machine anywhere from within the building if needed.
So a functional weather system that is currently uploading data to here: Weather Underground This means I view our weather via an app on my iPhone. Great however Weather Underground lumps us in with Market Rasen which is our postal town despite being some 8 miles away and WU is not ideal for my needs, or dare I say aspirations.
So I decided to also push the data to our own site here: Binbrook Weather (Live)This means specific weather data for the village of Binbrook in Lincolnshire can be accessed from any internet connected computer or smart phone from anywhere in the world. The graphics were designed by Weather34 which can be found here: https://weather34.com/homeweatherstation/
As of now the system has been working since the 5th August 2018, albeit with minor teething problems along the way however such things are to be expected and hopefully outages will become a distant memory.
The data from the weather station is updated to the web page every 60 seconds via CumulusMX and although I could increase the frequency to every second I see no point as the site would be constantly refreshing. Incidentally if you keep the weather page open it will automatically update every 60 seconds without you needing to refresh the page.
I am sure there are numerous other things I will come across as the system develops and one thing I would like to do is run an app on my iPhone to view the ‘Local Weather’ site and as such an app does not exist so I might even add it to my list of dark evening jobs for the colder months. Alternatively you can browse to www.binbrook-weather.co.uk and just save the page on your desktop.