Author Topic: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting  (Read 2065 times)

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Offline AceNZ

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I'm looking for some advice on which station to get. I'm confident a high-end box would do the job, but I'm wondering if there's something less expensive that would be just as good for my needs.

I'm located in New Zealand, and would want to place the station at my home, which is near the top of a ridge, about 100m above sea level and about 300m away from the ocean.

I'm interested mostly in just temperature and wind speed on a real-time basis. I'm also looking for good-quality 12 to 24 hour forecasts for temperature, wind speed and cloud cover (solar radiance). If I could get rain and evapotranspiration details and forecasts as well, it would be a big plus, but only if the incremental cost isn't huge. Estimates of current and/or predicted optical seeing (atmospheric clarity / stability, for use with a telescope) would be awesome, although I realize it's not likely to be available from a conventional home weather station. An ability to show historical information and trends is also important, as is an open API for accessing the raw data, in case I eventually want to write my own software or export the data to other applications.

A wireless setup is my first choice, partly because I'm a ham radio operator, and long wires feeding into electrical devices around here have a good chance of acting as antennas and causing unhappy things to happen to the associated electronics unless special care is taken. A WiFi connection would be great. Davis-style commercial frequencies aren't my first choice, mainly because it costs a small fortune to have them modified to be legal in New Zealand.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

Offline Aardvark

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2013, 08:56:24 AM »
I'd go with a Vantage Pro 2 Plus, that is the model with the solar/UV sensors. A bit pricey but the solar sensor is there.
Give a good look at WeatherDisplay software, the software might accommodate you as well as it being produced in New Zealand

These folks have information on their board about such a beast you are looking for:
http://www.weather-watch.com
Davis VP2 Plus; 24h  FARS;  Soil Moisture/Temp Station;Weatherlink ;
https://www.desmoinesweather.org

Offline wxtech

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2013, 09:13:51 AM »
Welcome to the forum.  Based on my system in use, I recommend the Davis VP2 Plus.  I have the solar and UV sensors which calculates the evapotranspiration.  The Davis calculated et is accurate and more reliable than the manual ET gauge that I tested last year.  Contact Davis about the frequency of the New Zealand export model.  I use the WLIP version of the VP datalogger which provides an Ethernet route for data from the console to the online computer.  The WLIP transmits to Wunderground, CWOP, and the WeatherLink dot com site.  Your data will be online for anyone to access the data.
Historical data is mostly internal on the weather station program running on your PC.  Short term data is stored in the Davis datalogger.
Instead of reporting 'cloud cover', I use the calculated base of clouds in feet.  That seems to be a reliable indication of degree of cloudiness.
I don't know of a consumer class of transmissometer which gives lateral path of visibility reading in miles/km and nothing that measures sky clarity.  If you have unlimited finances, check Vaisala.
Forecasting from a consumer weather station; I wouldn't count on the quality of the forecast if it does it at all.

Examples: http://www.lexingtonwx.com/ site generated by my PC.
http://www.weatherlink.com/user/wxtech/index.php?view=summary&headers=0 data from the console to WeatherLink dot com no PC required.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2013, 09:26:52 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 Skywatch

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2013, 12:02:27 PM »
I agree with Aardvark. The Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus with Weather Link and Weather Display is probably what you're looking for. Weather Display takes the solar radiation data and comes up with cloud cover information. It also sends this data to Wunderground for example clear = CLR overcast = OVC and so on and so on. Weather Display can also be programmed to average the cloud definitions so let's say a cloud passes over it can say partly cloudy instead of overcast. Weather Display is very user friendly and Brian is customer friendly.
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Offline Ranger4

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2013, 05:16:52 PM »
Do keep in mind that if you purchase the Davis station from the USA you may have problems getting any warranty repairs done in NZ. This would mean you would have to return it to the USA & this would take time & probably cost a lot in freight.
I live in Australia & have the Davis VP2 plus. I bought it here in Australia so I have peace of mind for local repairs & advice if necessary.
Wireless Davis VP2 Plus & 24hr FARS.
6332 anemometer transmitter.
Extra 6312 VP2 console. Both consoles, firmware v3.12
Weatherlink v6.0.3
Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1
Queensland, Australia.

Offline Weather Display

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2013, 07:04:22 PM »
where abouts in NZ are you AceNZ ?
Brian
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Online nincehelser

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2013, 07:59:02 PM »
Here's an app I find incredibly useful for my astronomical viewing purposes.  It says it works world-wide.  I haven't found anything else on the internet that's as nicely convenient.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scope-nights-astronomy-weather/id540120977?mt=8

Personally, I'd just look for solid hardware within your budget.  Then I'd look for software and/or internet sources to round-out your needs.  Much of the what you want sounds like it's calculated with software, anyway.  Maybe consider a web-cam to judge sky conditions.

73

K5GDN

Offline AceNZ

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2013, 09:42:10 PM »
where abouts in NZ are you AceNZ ?

I'm in Nelson.

I'm confident the VP2 would meet most of my needs. The problem is price. The only reseller I've found in NZ (binary.co.nz) charges an arm and a leg for them. I could easily import one from the US, but the US wireless version operates a frequency that's used by cell phones here, so the only way an import would work is with a wired version -- which won't really work for me, as I said in my earlier post.

Maybe I can rig a wired-to-wireless (WiFi) setup of some kind right at the station?

Offline Weather Display

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2013, 11:35:43 PM »
It is a shame about the price and the wireless contraints for imported ones, thats for sure
Brian
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Offline AceNZ

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2013, 08:18:26 PM »
Here's an app I find incredibly useful for my astronomical viewing purposes.  It says it works world-wide.  I haven't found anything else on the internet that's as nicely convenient.

Thanks for the link.

For astro observing, I've been using the widget at Calsky:

http://www.calsky.com/cs.cgi?&Meteo=

It shows forecast transparency and seeing, but unfortunately it's not very accurate for my location.

Offline AceNZ

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Re: Advice on a new station: cloud cover (solar radiance) forecasting
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2013, 09:01:34 PM »
Has anyone tried a setup where you put the VP2 console next to the station in a weatherproof enclosure, wire them together, and then use an exterior-rated USB-to-WiFi box to link the console back to your PC? Should work, right?

Or is there a better (and less expensive) solution?