Author Topic: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS  (Read 26461 times)

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Offline wxtech

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The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« on: October 12, 2011, 11:50:34 AM »
Some new private weather stations from manufacturers are coming available soon.  The designers didn't ask our opinion first, so let's make a list of the features we need in a personal weather station.  We can compile the ideas into a realistic list of features.  Should options of cheap plastic console vs wood and glass cabinet be offered?
I'll start with the idea of 'make it modular', so we can pick the options we wish to pay for and add more features later.
It should be wireless communications from the outside sensors to the console or computer interface.
The outside sensors should be solar powered and the back up battery should be recharged by the solar panel.
The wind sensor anemometer and wind vane should be remote from the other outside sensors so that the winds can be measured higher on a mast.
The temperature and humidity sensors should normally be fan aspirated with the option of no fan.
The computer interface (datalogger) should be included in the base price with options of USB, serial, or Ethernet.
The communications protocol should be compatible with 1 of: VWS, Cumulus, Weather Display, Heavy Weather, or others (don't create something new).
The console or computer interface should be battery and AC powered.
An optional snow detector and snow depth sensor should be available.
Heaters should be optional for the rain gauge, anemometer, and direction vane.
The system should be capable of networking, i.e. connect more than one temp sensor, rain gauge, or several wind sensors, at more locations similar to the 1-wire concept.
Tell us about your dream wx machine.
Al
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 12:31:54 PM by wxtech »
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.

Offline SlowModem

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2011, 12:00:39 PM »
Tell us about your dream wx machine.

I agree with what you've started with.  I would add that maybe the sensors/transmitters be separate like the WMR968 to add flexibility in positioning.

I would also add that the unit needs quick frequent updating or polling of the sensors.

I would also add that the rain gauge needs to measure 0.01 inch increments.

The console needs to have a datalogger made into it.  Then you could order a serial or usb console and not have to pay extra for a datalogger.

I rarely look at the console, but some might like a color display.



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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 12:13:04 PM »
Quick polling definitely.  How often should the 'rapid fire' update?  2.5 seconds like VP2 or every second?
Polling the anemometer & vane needs to be fast.  The console should have separate wind speed and wind gust indications.  
I saw some new security system recently where the USB cable from a computer was used to program the device console.  Then the cable was disconnected and the console operated without all the buttons and controls.  There are buttons on the VP2 console that are rarely used.
I think the serial option can be dropped because new computer don't have the legacy serial port.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 12:15:03 PM by wxtech »
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.

Offline xykotik

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 12:19:33 PM »
How about a programmable output interface with dry relay contacts for alarm events to control things like pipe-heaters, sprinklers, awning motors, skylights.

Software-wise, integrate camera and include sms or email notifications.  They'll sell a million units if there is an iPhone app/service directly fed from the station.  Don't forget a built-in template editor, designed for weathertags, etc.

Standalone (computerless) interface, configurable remotely through a browser.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 12:21:04 PM by xykotik »


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Offline wxtech

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2011, 12:28:23 PM »
All excellent ideas! :grin: Make it easy to use.
Make it easily repairable.  Make the sensors with quick change modules so that anyone can change subassemblies for a quick and cheap repair.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 12:36:27 PM by wxtech »
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.

Offline SLOweather

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2011, 06:02:12 PM »
Weather Station Legos...

I started that in jest, but the more I think about it...
Totally modular sensors, displays/consoles, and interfaces. Kinda like one-wire, but without the hobby aspect. The problem will be making it simple enough for the newbie, but sophisticated enough for us hard-core users.

Oh, and open-source software and comms protocols.

What I really want is an affordable all-in-one home automation SCADA type system that includes weather and other sensors.

Offline Bushman

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2011, 06:56:08 PM »
And I want a Ferrari and a date with a super model.  :)


Offline SlowModem

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2011, 07:29:28 PM »
And I want a Ferrari and a date with a super model.  :)

Perhaps a Lamborghini like in Cannonball Run?

Greg Whitehead
Ten Mile, TN USA


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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2011, 07:42:53 PM »
Since I am stubbornly (and frugally) clinging to my One-Wire setup, it is interesting to see the references to "one-wire like networking" capability.

I agree with the modular approach. You could start very basic (as I did with One-Wire) and add onto the system as time and budget allow.

Wireless is a real advantage for installations where wire runs are difficult. How about WiFi modules with wired Ethernet option that can be powered by PoE (Power over Ethernet)? For the solar powered wireless items, they need to be able to charge up in the Winter with overcast skies and short days. Each device could have an IP address, similar to how One-Wire has unique addresses. Could be MAC based or some kind of DHCP scheme.

I will reiterate the need for an affordable directional lightning detector that could be added to the dream system.

The snow gauge idea is intriguing, but since snow depths vary quite a bit over my yard I am not sure how this would work.

Staring at a stuck wind vane after freezing drizzle for days last winter has me supporting the heater concept, but I would settle for a design that didn't tend to get stuck in the first place (with minor icing). Heavy ice storms might still need the heater.



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Offline Scalphunter

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2011, 09:46:49 PM »
 Add  to the list that temperature sensor goes  below 40 below and not like most of the junk  that calls their selfs professional machines. 60 below  would be an resonable target range. Lot of lower 48  states can get down to 45 below or so and any of northern Canada, Europe and Alaska  can see the tempsI mention  above.


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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2011, 11:31:26 PM »
I've always found UV and solar radiation or light intensity to be of intrest. It's always fun to watch light changes from day to day.

And also lightning detectors. There are no consumer level lightning detectors on the market at an affordable price.
For lightning have a similar display to wind. Have the compass indicating the direction of the lightning and a number based on how close it was.
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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2011, 11:56:58 PM »
Since I am stubbornly (and frugally) clinging to my One-Wire setup, it is interesting to see the references to "one-wire like networking" capability.
I agree with the modular approach. You could start very basic (as I did with One-Wire) and add onto the system as time and budget allow.
My early build-my-own was 1-wire based.  Then I traded that for other toys.  I'm eager to learn more about your system.

I'll let this topic run for a few days then compile a list of reasonable features.  Not try to accommodate the world and just work on a U.S. design.
0.01" rain increments; addressable relay driver output; make the modules inexpensive to repair and owner replaceable; the owner can return a module for NIST certified calibration as often as they wish.  
The snow depth sensor may need to have multiple sensors and averaged for an area snow depth report.
The lightning detector may need to be offered in 2 versions; a minimum count detector, and a deluxe model that indicates direction and distance.
Make it a group designed, open-architecture system so that it can be built from the design, or purchased as a kit of parts, or completely built and calibrated.
An afterthought:  Just because we are designing our own modular and DIY system doesn't mean that it will be cheap.  The low quantity production will cause higher cost.  Design will be free, but prototyping can get expensive.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 12:10:40 AM by wxtech »
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.

Offline DanS

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2011, 04:49:04 AM »
Some new private weather stations from manufacturers are coming available soon.  The designers didn't ask our opinion first, so let's make a list of the features we need in a personal weather station.  We can compile the ideas into a realistic list of features.  Should options of cheap plastic console vs wood and glass cabinet be offered?
I'll start with the idea of 'make it modular', so we can pick the options we wish to pay for and add more features later.
It should be wireless communications from the outside sensors to the console or computer interface.
The outside sensors should be solar powered and the back up battery should be recharged by the solar panel.
The wind sensor anemometer and wind vane should be remote from the other outside sensors so that the winds can be measured higher on a mast.
The temperature and humidity sensors should normally be fan aspirated with the option of no fan.
The computer interface (datalogger) should be included in the base price with options of USB, serial, or Ethernet.
The communications protocol should be compatible with 1 of: VWS, Cumulus, Weather Display, Heavy Weather, or others (don't create something new).
The console or computer interface should be battery and AC powered.
An optional snow detector and snow depth sensor should be available.
Heaters should be optional for the rain gauge, anemometer, and direction vane.
The system should be capable of networking, i.e. connect more than one temp sensor, rain gauge, or several wind sensors, at more locations similar to the 1-wire concept.
Tell us about your dream wx machine.
Al


In addition to the power sources, batteries to be standard "off the shelf", commonly available, types. No shrink wrapped multiple cell packs with a special plug fitted types. Also in the console/computer interface use rechargeable type (NiMh?). When the AC power drops, you don't and they keep topped up from the wall wart as opposed to regular Alkalines where you have to keep a closer eye on their condition.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 04:52:13 AM by DanS »

Offline xykotik

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2011, 09:57:01 AM »
Since this is a "dream" system and cost is no longer an object, let's spec a self-plumbing telescoping 10m mast using gyros, piezos and servo motors for guy-wireless stability at any location.  Also an (optional) invisibility cloak, to hide it from thieves, vandals and HOAs.


Facit solem suum oriri super bonos et malos et pluit super iustos et iniustos.

Springtime in Seattle...  March comes in like a lion and out like a wet lion.

Offline wxtech

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2011, 06:27:45 PM »
The wish list is interesting, thanks for the ideas.  The Ferrari and Lamborghini didn't make the list and the gyro mast is last on the list.
We already have a design and parts list for a high quality solar detector.  Hobby boards has a no frills $33 lightning detector.  I want to adapt a R M Young 05103 wind monitor for this system.  The console can be a digital picture frame, color of course.  A universal IR remote can be used to select what data to display.
Each sensor can be detached from its transceiver for troubleshooting.  Its getting more like those Legos, eh?
Post your ideas now before the design gets closed.
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.

Offline Bushman

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2011, 06:31:12 PM »
Add 4-20 and 3-5v inputs - for sensors of MY choosing (like water depth).  And for the love of all that is good, how about some SMALL remote temp/hum sensors.  These days you can get a radio control plane receiver that weights a  few grams, transmits full  aircraft telemetry back  to the pilot (tx) and is the size of a postage stamp.

Offline xykotik

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2011, 07:54:09 PM »
Is it going too far to spec a spider/ant zapper integrated around the perimeter?  (Just below the gyro gimbel)  I've been buying those tennis-racket zappers for about $3 when on sale at Harbor Freight Tools (they make great summer party gifts).


Facit solem suum oriri super bonos et malos et pluit super iustos et iniustos.

Springtime in Seattle...  March comes in like a lion and out like a wet lion.

Offline LFWX

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2011, 12:48:34 AM »
Of the items listed, a heater for the anemometer tops my list! (time to consider some experimenting before winter arrives again)

Cloud cover/height detection would be great.
Mist/drizzle detection would be great. (i.e. http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?board=108.0)
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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2011, 08:16:43 AM »
OK, lets get to work!
Are you ready for some task assignments?  This can be a group effort if WxForum members will pick a favorite topic and research or design.
If you'll work on it, it'll happen.  If the group doesn't work, it'll remain only a fantasy weather instrument.  If anyone doesn't agree with my effort; change it.
These topics need research for design & prototyping later:
  • 1 Cloud height detector
  • 2 Lightning detector
  • 3 Snow depth, snowfall detector
  • 4 Mist detector (time of rain begin & end)  Can we use Hydreon RG-11?
  • 5 Universal small transceiver for sensor modules (or module communication scheme)
  • 6 System communications protocol (console to PC/Internet)
  • 7 Anemometer anti-icing or heater
  • 8 Add your suggestion here
Send me your research or ideas to my email address listed in my profile.  Do not copy or reverse engineer equipment designs without the owners permission.  Do not plagiarize documents.  You will receive credit/acknowledgement for your work.
Note: If you don't agree with my scheme, do it better.
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.

Offline DanS

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2011, 08:36:24 AM »
OK, lets get to work!
Are you ready for some task assignments?  This can be a group effort if WxForum members will pick a favorite topic and research or design.
If you'll work on it, it'll happen.  If the group doesn't work, it'll remain only a fantasy weather instrument.  If anyone doesn't agree with my effort; change it.
These topics need research for design & prototyping later:
  • 1 Cloud height detector
  • 2 Lightning detector
  • 3 Snow depth, snowfall detector
  • 4 Mist detector (time of rain begin & end)  Can we use Hydreon RG-11?
  • 5 Universal small transceiver for sensor modules (or module communication scheme)
  • 6 System communications protocol (console to PC/Internet)
  • 7 Anemometer anti-icing or heater
  • 8 Add your suggestion here
Send me your research or ideas to my email address listed in my profile.  Do not copy or reverse engineer equipment designs without the owners permission.  Do not plagiarize documents.  You will receive credit/acknowledgement for your work.
Note: If you don't agree with my scheme, do it better.

Firmware in the console to process all the sensors input.

Offline wxtech

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2011, 09:14:06 AM »
These topics need research for design & prototyping later:
  • 1 Cloud height detector
  • 2 Lightning detector
  • 3 Snow depth, snowfall detector
  • 4 Mist detector (time of rain begin & end)  Can we use Hydreon RG-11?
  • 5 Universal small transceiver for sensor modules (or module communication scheme)
  • 6 System communications protocol (console to PC/Internet)
  • 7 Anemometer anti-icing or heater
  • 8 Firmware in the console to process all the sensors input
  • 9 Add your suggestion here
I created a page on Facebook for those so inclined to use that communications:
The Weather Machine
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Weather-Machine/208403395895938#!/pages/The-Weather-Machine/208403395895938
I will monitor WxForum and FB.  FB page is easier, faster and will be a better way to share photos.
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.

Offline chief-david

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2011, 02:13:10 PM »
and make a decent cup of coffee   :grin:

WXtech-when you talk about what you try, can do and what you have done- I am amazed.
most of it goes over my head.   What a cool life.

Hopefully my students and kids have some of those opportunities.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2011, 02:15:12 PM by chief-david »
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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2011, 02:42:14 PM »
and make a decent cup of coffee   :grin:

WXtech-when you talk about what you try, can do and what you have done- I am amazed.
most of it goes over my head.   What a cool life.

Hopefully my students and kids have some of those opportunities.

United States Air Force
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.

Offline linuxfreak

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2011, 05:11:22 PM »
I think the serial option can be dropped because new computer don't have the legacy serial port.

Al, if the end user is going to use a low power Atom motherboard to make up the computer end of the system, leave the option of a serial port, the last couple of Atom motherboards I looked at had either 1 or 2 com ports, one back panel and if available onboard as a DIL header for the second port.

Just my $0.02.  ;)

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Re: The Dream Machine - Design Our Own PWS
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2011, 07:19:15 PM »
Here are detailed construction plans for a solar sensor: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hre/pubs/pubs/1084.htm

Does anyone have preferences for a specific wind speed and direction sensor?
I built a DIY anemometer using Davis parts and copper plumbing pipe.  I only built 1 because I couldn't find a source for the vertical shaft and bearing hub.
http://www.lexingtonwx.com/anemometer/diy/
Al Washington, Lexington, Ga.,  NWS Coop station=LXTG1, Fischer Porter, SRG, MMTS. 
CoCoRaHS=GA-OG-1. CWOP=CW2074.  Davis VP2+ WLIP 5.9.2, VP(original) serial, VWS v15.00 p02. ImageSalsa, Win7 & Win8 all-in-one.