Author Topic: Weather station for school  (Read 981 times)

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Offline StormShadow

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Weather station for school
« on: November 30, 2017, 11:56:57 PM »
I want to get a weather station installed at the school I work at. I don't own a weather station of my own, but I've read up on some of the more popular weather stations on this board. I also attended a demonstration by Earth Networks, a professional weather company. It wants to install a fully professional weather station on our school, complete with its own software package.

There's no doubt that professional equipment installed and maintained by Earth Network's professional meteorologists is a more accurate solution, but compared to the $300-$700 or so cost of a consumer weather station, the $6k that EN charges for its most basic station is pretty steep. EN says its station gives more accurate data, that all the data is vetted, and all historical data from the station and their entire network is available for download. The latter bit is useful from an instructional perspective.

What do you think the best choice for a school is? Can a sub-thousand-dollar station work well? Will it break more frequently or need more maintenance than a professional system? How easy is it to grab historical data from consumer level software? Any guidance here is useful. Thanks in advance for any replies!

Offline Wtronics

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Re: Weather station for school
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2017, 03:07:13 AM »
They have a very high end website but the pages are seriously missing specifics.

I just bought a new car and this looks a lot like my fist impression of certain dealers I visited. But there are some really outstanding high end auto dealers around the country. As an example, the EN "leadership" page seems to be missing PhD level meteorologists and/or educators.

In this, as in any complex and expensive technical decision, you will need to become an expert or at least very fluent in the products offered before you can buy. Product grouping is a very complex issue to decipher and analyze. I am afraid this kind of decision will take weeks if not months to be able to compare  "apples to apples" so to speak.

I would gather all the specific information and all the specific costs, specs, service costs, etc. and place them side by side with known weather stations and manufacturers to make a good decision. I would also find real users who have no skin in the game and spend some quality time with them. they back and guarantee their specs with "money back" support, in writing as one small example.

And with networking you will need a whole new set of skills in terms of data storage, monthly costs, service costs, access to deeply knowledgeable experts in both hardware and software. Software development costs are almost always understated and underfunded - even in places like Intel and Boeing.

This may be a very fine group of people but watch the costs. Davis is mentioned, Davis may have an opinion or suggestions.

Take your took me 3 months just to buy a car and this is far more complex.

Offline ValentineWeather

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Re: Weather station for school
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2017, 04:25:57 AM »

There's no doubt that professional equipment installed and maintained by Earth Network's professional meteorologists is a more accurate solution,

Actually there is a thin line between Davis instruments VP2 and professional stations. Davis stations are probably more accurate with temperature and humidity using the solar aspirated shield. Less accurate using the Davis rain gauge while the wind instruments are probably equal.
I couldn't recommend the Davis Station unless willing to spend time learning and maintaining because everything breaks eventually. We do have school teachers on forum that run and maintain Davis stations at school with issues dealing with school networks being one of the biggest headaches.

Offline johnd

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Re: Weather station for school
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2017, 04:44:18 AM »
The claims made by EN & associated 'features' seem to be:

* Greater accuracy;
* 'Vetting' of data;
* All historical data available for download;
* EN (presumably) do the installation;
* EN (presumably) do any ongoing maintenance (Q's: how often? Is there an on-cost for this, separate from the initial cost?)

If you were to compare this to a quality prosumer weather station like a Davis VP2 that was connected to the Davis cloud service for instance then against these criteria I'd comment:

Accuracy is not likely to be noticeably better with the EN station. But accuracy on a weather station depends critically on the exposure of the sensors. A well-exposed VP2 is going to be more accurate than an EN mounted in a compromised location. Also, for an educational application, how much do you honestly need ultimate accuracy - respectable accuracy is probably good enough?

All historical data is readily available with a VP2 system and you might be quite impressed with the data presentations that are available online and with smartphone apps via the Davis service.

The vetting/installation/maintenance aspects depend on whether you have someone at the school who is prepared to act as a 'champion' or manager of the weather station. Vetting simply means someone eyeballing the weather data on eg a daily basis and checking that all the readings make sense (eg rainfall _was_ recorded in a roughly proportionate amount after a day on which it rained). The sensors from any weather station may need maintenance after a period of time and it's simply good practice for someone to make a regular reality check on the data to get early warning of any emerging issues.. I guess this could be a well-supervised student group.

Similarly, installation and maintenance on a VP2 is straightforward but obviously someone needs to organise and to do it.

Overall, there's no reason why a locally installed and managed VP2 couldn't rival an EN station perfectly well, but you do need some person or group prepared to do the simple 'manager' role and to stick with it.

« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 05:10:18 AM by johnd »
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Offline vreihen

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Re: Weather station for school
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2017, 06:15:54 AM »
I have been contacted by a school near where I work, for help with their broken weather station.  Seems someone came knocking at their door, with a weather station proposal that even came with grant funding/writing assistance.  It uploads to WeatherBug, and you can connect the dots from there because I have never seen the actual paperwork that they signed to know who they were actually dealing with.

As for the professional installation, they installed the anemometer on a 3' high mast in the middle of the black rubber membrane roof on the single story school building.  It is not at the standard 10 meters elevation, and not even in clean air from a few directions.  Don't know where the temp/rain sensors are, but suspect that they are also on the black membrane roof.  I was wondering if a local cable TV contractor did the installation, because it wasn't performed up to even my cheap home station's standards.

The reason why they contacted me is that the console was apparently zapped a few months after installation by a nearby lightning strike, and the company that came knocking with the great deal and assistance in writing a grant told them to buy a new one without even sending someone out to look at the problem.  Long story short, check references with other installed schools before you sign with any weather station provider, and specifically ask to see any curriculum and post-sale support they provide to those schools.....
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Offline chief-david

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Re: Weather station for school
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2017, 08:04:04 AM »
I am a teacher-have a station at school. I am not a fan of the Earthnetwork/weatherbug thing

You can set up your own system for a lot less money and customize your website.

heading off to school. here is my website.

This is from another post--
I teach in MPLS and have a VP2 on the building.  Had a station for 7 years.

Get the Davis-it is worth the money. Goes through most building infrastructure. Ours has a solar and uv sensor too.  It adds to the functionality by making a TSHW number.

I do not have the fan shield even though it is a tar and pebble roof.  It does not seem to make a difference with the stations around me.  You could have two stations next to each other and not agree on temps.

Our station is put up with a tripod on top of 2x4's in different directions, and sand bags. I put a lot of sandbags on them. I also took an 80 mph wind a few years ago and was fine.
There are flat roof mounts around.  You may have to talk to your Building supervisor.
There are threads about it.

Get the data logger. Send it to a website and something on your school site
Buy a webcam. they are cheap.

You be the one in charge of it.  There are two other schools that had one after me,  neither are used or taken care of. I am almost fanatical about my site.

Ask IT for a dedicated computer. Have it run all the time. They may have to set it up to do that.
Put on teamviewer. That way you can access it when at home, if an issue occurs. It goes through the fire wall.

Ask for help.  Me, other, wxforum. Lots of knowledge here.

Any questions let me know. Will be glad to help.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 11:10:49 AM by chief-david »
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Offline WCVMS

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Re: Weather station for school
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2017, 09:07:55 AM »
I have a Davis Pro2 at my school. I am technologically challenged, but for the most part I have figured it out. I wrote a Lowe's Home Improvement grant to purchase it. My writing skills aren't the greatest, that is why I teach science. I have plenty of help on this website from teachers and former teachers. Good Luck.