Author Topic: Success w/Remote Coastal Vantage Vue Setup (Even in Hurricane Sandy)  (Read 2235 times)

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Offline NorthNJwx

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Hi all,

I've started some other topics (including one in this subforum about 3G internet devices) regarding various components of my remote Vue setup. I have had the remote Vue for over two years now, and while the setup had plenty of issues in the past (many of which I've discussed in those aforementioned threads), I'd like to share the details of what has finally become a very stable, reliable system for me, so that others considering such setups will have an idea of what works and what doesn't. The station is located at the family beach house in southern coastal NJ, about 2.5 hours from where I live. I'm at the beach house up to around 50 days per year (read: as many days as I possibly can be!).

These are the components I'm using:

-Hardware
    -Vantage Vue (installed 9/16/2011)
    -Acer Aspire One netbook (since 3/24/12; used an old Dell laptop prior to that, which resulted in numerous losses of communication)
    -Davis USB datalogger (which has worked perfectly, despite early concerns that were actually issues with the old Dell laptop)
    -Internet on the Go 3G MiFi hotspot (since March 2013, and has worked perfectly, in stark contrast to the faulty DataJack 3G MiFi device I used previously)
-Software
    -VirtualVP
    -WxSolution
    -WeatherLink
    -Cumulus

All of this runs 24/7 at the remote site.

Power: the netbook, console, and 3G device all receive AC power via a UPS/surge protector. The Acer netbook's battery life seems to be very strong (I haven't specifically tested it, but it has to be several hours). While extended power outages have knocked the Acer out (see the Sandy experience below for more on that), the Vue console batteries have always kept the console going. And, even when the Acer goes down and I lose 24/7 and internet capabilities, I can still recover the datalogger data via WL after I get back on-site and start everything up again.

Computer: the Acer netbook has been rock-solid. I've run it 24/7 for several months at a time now three different times, and those streaks only ended because of extended power outages. The thing can go forever, and does not get hot. I echo what others here have said about the reliability of netbooks as wx servers.

Internet: the Internet on the Go 3G hotspot is incredibly robust. Since I installed it in March, it has not required any manual restarts to regain its 3G internet connection; it reconnects automatically. The DataJack 3G device I had before it would have an uptime of usually a few to several weeks, and then would go down, requiring me to go on-site for a manual restart to get it connected again. There's a thread all about it that I posted in this subforum. I am very happy to say that 3G internet IS a viable solution for remote weather stations where cell service is available, as long as you use a reliable 3G hotspot such as this one.

Extreme indoor temps: the beach house has neither heat (it's not winterized; it is only occupied sporadically from Apr-Oct) nor AC. Indoor temps measured by the Vue console have ranged from the low 20s to the mid 90s. In spite of these extremes, none of the indoor components, including the console, netbook, and 3G device, have shown any ill effects at all.

Sandy experience: amazingly, the station stayed online for the duration of Hurricane/Post-Tropical Hurricane Sandy last October, which made landfall only 15 air miles south of the station at Atlantic City. Power to the beach house went out at some point during the storm, after which point battery power sustained all of my components until well after the worst of Sandy had passed. I later learned that there had been 3-4' of water in the yard surrounding the beach house during the peak of the storm surge - while the station was still uploading!

Vue ISS and Console: the only thing I've done to the ISS is replace the battery once per year. I've heard that it can last longer than that, but I have replaced it each year to be safe. The ISS had some downtime during the summer of 2012 after the pole it's mounted on was knocked out of alignment by a derecho, but it was my own stupid fault that the pole wasn't secure enough - the Vue ISS itself has never had an issue. The console receives ~100% of data packets from the ISS 24/7/365. The console, similarly, has been perfect. It had no trouble surviving on its batteries for the ~3 weeks or so without power after Sandy.

Takeaways: a full-profile, reliable remote setup can be achieved, complete with sensors, console, dedicated wx computer, internet, and upload capabilities. It took me about a year and a half to get the right combination of components to work reliably, but I now know that it's possible. The remote station has been a joy for me to have, despite the many issues that plagued it at first (and which are well-documented in some of the other threads I've started on the forums!). I realize that issues will almost certainly still occur from time to time - there will always be power outages, at least - but the setup I have now has shown itself capable of operating untouched for many months at at time. If I can do it, most others on this forum definitely could as well.

I will soon be installing a new station at another beach house only 1/4 of a mile from this one, a house with different (and better) wind exposure to most directions and room for a VP2, which I'm guessing/hoping will work no less admirably than the Vue. I'll post the results of that once I get the components and set everything up.


Offline SlowModem

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Re: Success w/Remote Coastal Vantage Vue Setup (Even in Hurricane Sandy)
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2013, 04:14:41 PM »
What a great report.   =D>

I'm glad you have everything working to your satisfaction.  :)
Greg Whitehead
Ten Mile, TN USA


Offline NorthNJwx

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Re: Success w/Remote Coastal Vantage Vue Setup (Even in Hurricane Sandy)
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2013, 05:54:02 PM »
What a great report.   =D>

I'm glad you have everything working to your satisfaction.  :)

You helped to solve a lot of those issues I've had over the last two years, so you can take credit in this!  :)

Considering my difficulties with all things technical, I think it's safe to say that the remote setup would not be possible without this forum.