There is no lack of local weather data in my part of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, Metroplex. I’m located about 5 miles due north of NOAA’S National Weather Service, which serves the North Texas area. I’m about 5 miles due south of Alliance Airport, and only 15 miles from the official reporting station for Dallas/Fort Worth at DFW International Airport. That’s nice, but much different weather can be happening just 5 miles away, and yesterday is a perfect example. My house didn’t get a drop of rain yesterday, while DFW Airport got almost a quarter of an inch, and Alliance Airport, just 5 miles away, got almost an inch of rain! Having a personal weather station now lets me know what really happened at my house, which is good for practical reasons such as knowing whether to shut the sprinklers off for a couple of days. [Note: Images link to large versions in new windows]
Why Davis Vantage Pro2?
I purchased a wireless Davis Vantage Pro2 from the WeatherBug Backyard program, which lets users upload their weather station’s data to WeatherBug, allowing all with Version 6 or higher to view their weather conditions. I did some research and found that reviews were positive for the model I purchased. There are more expensive models out there, including a higher-end Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus that measures solar/UV radiation, but the model I have does everything I want and does it for a total cost of $500. Best value, that’s what many wrote about Davis Vantage Pro2 as I was researching.
Not too difficult. It took me about two hours to piece the rain bucket and anemometer (wind gauge) together to the point that it was ready to be mounted to, in my case, a steel pole. The instruction manual was easy to understand and had plenty of illustrations to help me along.
I could have mounted the station to my fence, but opted for a pole installation since it would make the station more level, and since the solar panel should be facing south and the anemometer north, and my neighbor behind me might have had something to say about this white panel hanging over their side of the fence.
I had a pole with an outside diameter of 1-1/4 cut to 8 feet at Home Depot and bought some Qwik-Crete. With a post-hole digger, the whole process took a couple of hours, mostly because I chose to do this in the middle of a 100-degree day and I was taking frequent water breaks. Basically, I received the weather station in the mail Tuesday and had the thing mounted and sending data to my computer, Web site and WeatherBug by the next night.
I love the console. Among other measurements, it displays every 2 seconds the temperature inside and out, heat index/wind chill, wind speed/direction, lunar cycle, barometric pressure, humidity in and out. rain rate/day, 24-hour forecast, and it has a neat little graph that plots, by hour, any of the mentioned features over the past day. The console also has many options for different units of measurement and a nice backlight that will stay on permanently if you tell it to. Three C batteries are placed in the back for a backup power supply, and a port in the back feeds data to your computer via a serial port or USB. The data can be updated to WeatherBug or your own web page every minute.
WeatherBug Publisher installs quickly and, once installed, it runs quietly in the background, uploading data every minute or so depending on the connection setting you choose. The actual WeatherBug application does not need to be open, even in the tray, for the data to be sent to WeatherBug. You can also install and run the WeatherLink software Davis provides, which allows all of the data (or whatever you choose) from the station to be uploaded to a web page. You can use one of their templates to create a page, or create your own, which is what I did here. It doesn’t take long at all. There are simple HTML tags for each measurement, and the page you create on your C drive can be easily uploaded to a web server with some simple FTP settings in the WeatherLink settings. I have mine set up to upload once every 5 minutes, though I am doing it as two different publishes to make sure that WeatherLink and WeatherBug are not fighting for my computer’s COM port. It seems to work best that way, and both servers are getting new data at least twice every 5 minutes. (more…)