Author Topic: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?  (Read 405 times)

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Offline TNWeatherGuy

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Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« on: August 03, 2019, 02:38:30 PM »
Came across this forum and discovered the few of us which own Texas Weather Instrument equipment are now on our own.  Its sad, because I never seen such a solid performer.  Of course, I've had sensors fail after 7 to 10 years in the elements, but overall its not like the cheap stuff they put out today.

Anyway, I have a model WR-25 (1996) which I've upgraded numerous times over the years.  I am now in need of the network board which became an option on the WRL's back about 5 or so years (and maybe even standard equipment - not sure).  My board is starting to have issues, and I'd like to replace it before there are none to be found.

I've seen some member's weather station pics which shows this board installed.  If you have one of these, the board is not necessary to the logging operation of the unit, it just allows it to be attached to your local area network.  Since my WR-25 has no logging, I can't use software (such as WeatherView32) to access stored data since the unit does not have memory for logging.  Therefore, its been important to me to have a functioning network board.

If any owners have a WRL (or an upgraded WR-25) which contains this circuit board and you don't need it, I'd like to take it off your hands.  Let me know how much for it plus shipping ... Or if anyone knows where I may get one, that will work too.

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« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 04:36:56 PM by TNWeatherGuy »

Offline DaleReid

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2019, 10:05:22 AM »
Will wonders never cease!  I had no idea such a board was even an option, or as you say perhaps a standard issue, and the date on the board says 2009, so it was around awhile.

No, I don't have one, and the stuff I've gotten off the internet that is even close to being that new didn't have such a board.

While it doesn't do any good right now, can you tell the rest of us how that board worked?  Was it an alternative to the RS232 to get data off the unit?

Did it allow the TWI to appear on your LAN to be addressed to get data, or just send it to WU or some other place which was such a popular thing to do beginning about that time.

Where was it mounted inside, as a piggyback onto one of the main boards, or in a separate box sitting along side the station unit?

I know if you answer some of these questions it won't necessarily help you get the board you are looking for, but it would help those of us who are just curious.

Another item I'm wondering about is the active antenna for the lightning detector board.  I had or have a couple boxes that had that as an option installed and a pigtail with RG cable and a BNC connector on the end.  At one time they listed the antenna to order for a couple hundred dollars which quickly removed it from my consideration, but never anything on their web site for instructions, or mounting requirements.  Once when I talked with James or David and asked a few 'innocent' questions about the antenna I got nowhere in finding out about how it worked, but he implied it was an active antenna, not just a chunk of wire.

On the other hand their solar sensor was just a photo diode potted in a hemisphere of epoxy and mounted on an aluminum bracket for a couple hundred dollars, too.  Fortunately he said that a regular pyranometer could be made to work, and that's what I'm using now for those stations that have a solar option.

Unfortunately while most of the stations seem to have the capability to do some additional functions, the firmware had to be changed to enable them to work, and that of course is now a complete fantasy of ever having that happen to our stuff.

Kev is (patiently?) waiting for me to finish dissecting the temp/humidity board which is sitting in the same spot on my bench every time I walk into the shop.  I have to try replacing the diode and order a humidity sensor that was discussed earlier to see if there is just those two items zapped, or if there is deeper problems with the board and a couple components on it.  My summer is rapidly disappearing and as I prepare to retire from work this fall I seem to have little time (or energy when I get home) to get to that project but Kev if you're listening it hasn't fallen off my radar.

Please fill us in with just a text on what the board did and how you addressed it and so on, for historical purposes.  You are the first person I've ever heard mention this board and option, so your experience would be very nice to know, just for knowing's sake.

Thanks   Dale
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Offline TNWeatherGuy

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2019, 11:17:53 PM »
Dale ... first a little history on my station.  It will address some of your questions along the way.  I bought it because I wanted a big boy unit, plus I really liked the console.  It being a WR25, was next to the cheapest model offered by TWI (WR25-C was the cheapest).  I did accept the fact it couldn't log as I wasn't interested in storing historical data points.  But as time went on, I longed for more and began adding features to it.

In 2009, the first WR25 upgrade was adding the lighting detection.  This required the CPU to be upgraded from the first version to CPU3, & of course, I had to ship it to TWI in order for this to be accomplished.  The tidal LED's became the indicators for the number of strikes.  One LED lit = one strike. Two LEDs lit = two strikes.  Three LEDs = four strikes, 4 = 8, ... etc.  Also, the BP and Humidity window added a third numeric display to it's cycle; the count of lighting strikes in increments of 1.  Both the LEDs, and the count reset to; none lit, and zero every 60 secs.  If you look at the pic, you'll see the coax pigtail soldered to the main board in the upper right.  The pigtail terminates to a BNC connector at the other end.  From what I understand, its an inductance loop whereas as electromagnetic energy from lighting disrupts the loop, so yes, I guess that makes it "active".

Then came upgrade number 2 (in 2013), the network addition.  This required sending the WR25, yet again, to TWI in order to upgrade from CPU3 to CPU6 (which required a new main board) and install the new network "daughter" board.

So, the network board has "intelligence".  It runs a small program which cycles thru issuing ASCII commands ("R", "K", "Q" in sequence x times, then "V", "v", "s", "I", "Z" and repeats) to the main board via the main board's com port to which the network board is attached.  These commands retrieve the most current sensor data & buffers it for transmission to your LAN via the wired Ethernet connection.  The network board also runs a web server, thus you can use your LAN attached PC's browser to access the web server's "TWI main page" via the IP address acquired by the card (or you can use a host name - but that gets into networking and a whole other topic).  One of the configuration options in the configuration section, a selection off the main page, is to send your data to Weather Underground.  It accomplishes this via an HTTP session to Weather Underground (more network stuff) - look up KTNMOUNT13 (my station here in TN) & you'll see my WR25 in action.  I think you are right about adding this option as it was a popular thing to do.  I went this route because I could get my console on-line without the need of a PC to transmit the station's data. 

But, remember, your WR25 has to have the proper CPU/firmware version and proper main board installed to accommodate the network board.  Hence my comment about the WRL's as these were the units TWI advertised to have the network option.  I think you can still find this on TWIs web page since as of this writing, its still up.  The problem with my board is that lately it occasionally locks up (no transmit of data) - this after a close lightning strike a few weeks back.

My latest upgrade (upgrade 3 - just last year), I converted my rain collector and wind sensors to TE's sensors.  Had to send my unit to TWI once again for a firmware update for those to work.  I think Davis's equipment accommodates TE sensors, so maybe that will be a direction for me to go when, ugggg, my WR25 dies.  The Davis console is not that bad, but I'll miss the WR25.

You'll enjoy retirement once you get there.  I retired 6 months ago, and it took me about a month to completely disconnect.  Now I sleep like a baby.

Anyway, in addition to the network board, I also am interested in what you find with regards to the temp/humidity sensor as I know mine will eventually fail.  This is the one sensor I've had to replace numerous times over the years.  Your research will be much appreciated.

Thanks for the reply.
Rick

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« Last Edit: August 04, 2019, 11:20:00 PM by TNWeatherGuy »

Offline DaleReid

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2019, 12:10:04 AM »
Thanks for stepping through your history with that unit.

The improvements and new mother boards and so on, which are completely unlike any other manufacturer's station out there, took some pretty good engineering and design.  I wonder if they were able to do that in house, or hired a firm to do the design, testing and board layout?  Very hard to do in your basement!

I was told that the antenna for lightning was 'active' so I assumed it sent some voltage up to the antenna (sort of like the use of power on the coax to power preamps) and it was NOT a simple antenna, but maybe they were just blowing me some smoke.  Nonetheless, I have one unit here somewhere that has that board on it and a BNC hanging out the back.  When I get the pagoda figured out and documented, maybe I'll see about making some sort of antenna for it again.  BTW, how far away can it detect a strike?  A couple miles?  Half a state away?

Yes, the uninformed dumb world I was living in had TWI bypass me a long time ago with new boards and designs, I guess.

The one thing that I will agree with you and other posters here wholeheartedly is that those boxes were built like the traditional brick outhouse.  I had a very very close lightning strike which took out a lot of stuff (phone system, tv, stereos, etc) and only then did my one -25 die.  When I sent it in, they must have been slow since James spent way too much time trying to bring it back on line, didn't charge me for it, but took it as a challenge.  I have a couple of -8000s and two -25s of some sort here running and scattered about maybe three or four others if I could find sensors for them.  I love RM Young wind monitors  so three are converted to use Youngs, and the one other one I have has a wind head for TWI sensors, but a diode is burned out in the one head I have,and the other has broken the wind vane so many times I can no longer glue it back to hold.  I knew that TE was also a choice, but the one anemometer and direction indicator I have is not the optical encoded, so I'm out of luck there (I had the wind vane on the TE get scratchy, so I asked about a replacement potentiometer and the price from TE was $130! or should I say !!!   I still have that to rebuild, and they are very classy looking, reminds me of the setups that most TV stations had, and cable companies in the old days. 

Of course what they did on the boards when returned remains a mystery to me. I know James said that they 'changed out some parts' to make the Young unit work, and obviously they use different techniques so that makes sense.   And then loading the right firmware into the EPROM would have to be done.

These are pretty units, built super well, and just kept plugging along.  Maybe that is one of the reasons for their demise is that replacements just didn't happen.  I know most folks with Davis seem to 'update' every 5 to at most about 10 years.  Maybe this is old NASA Apollo techniques with ICs on the board and three layers to make it happen.  The green LEDs are readable in any room, across the room and so on.

I don't worry too much about sending data to WU, so my units are eyes on visible, and one sends info to my web page for me to peek in once in awhile from work or a few local guys like to see what's happening.  I didn't need that capability but it sounds as if your network board does sort of what meteobridge does for other stations. 

Thanks again for the info.  Kev is patiently (I hope) waiting for my further dissection of the pagoda board and seeing if we can get some work around, thanks to other users who've found a honeywell humidity chip and a diode for temperature.  The temp for sure is just a simple point to point connection to the diode.  Haven't figured out if the humidity has those diodes for clamping and noise suppression or what, but will try to get more figured out.  Shining a flashlight through a double sided board makes me crosseyed.

If I spent more time working on the project than typing, maybe I'd get this done sooner, but I'm pretty devoted to TWI and to fan any spark of keeping them going, I will and want to log what others have done, too.

Thanks for the reply and I'll keep in touch. Dale
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Offline TNWeatherGuy

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2019, 10:40:16 AM »
Dale, just a quick reply to your lighting detection inquires.  I'd say my antenna is about 35' or so above the ground (as I live in a two story and it's on a mast on the roof).  I can detect the most intense lighting strikes, as far as I can tell by looking at radar when I see some numbers appear on the WR25's display, up to 75 miles.  And I'd say I can detect the majority of all lighting within a storm or storms that are located about a radius of up to 20 miles out. 

I was introduced to electronics in the 70's.  The good ole NE555 IC was used in many projects.  Those IC's were pretty stout.  But today's world is a throw away one for sure.

Take care and keep an eye out for me for a unit that has that network board.  You never know ... one lives out there somewhere.

Rick

Thanks, Rick

Offline longmire

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2019, 03:14:24 PM »
Dale & Rick - count me in on being an obstinate owner of a very vintage TWI WR-25 (mine does not even have a serial number - it used to have a sticker on the version 1 chip - which was replaced back in 2004 I believe after a serious lightning strike nearby.

I am on my 4th anemometer assembly and third rain bucket, and I have no idea how many temp/humidity sensors I've been through over the years - but this unit has been through Allison, Ike, and Harvey and every Houston flood and summer thundersquall and just keeps on going.

So if either of you guys hears where we might get replacement sensors - PLEASE share the details, as I will if I hear anything.

It is very sad to see such a trusted and GOOD company shut down so suddenly.

Steve


Offline TNWeatherGuy

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2019, 08:26:14 PM »
Steve ... I'm sure you've been following the "Has TWI gone out of business?" posts.  Hats off to those guys trying to track down the whereabouts of one David Patterson, owner/president of TWI.  Discovered a reseller of TWI equipment, SWS Communications, located in the Houston area.  They were very nice to email me back and stated they are also wondering what happened.  Seems there are many waiting to hear something.

I just can't picture any other console sitting in our family room.  I know Dale stated he is working on reverse engineering the temp and humidity pagoda.  I think others have figured out the wind sensors, or at least making an attempt at it.

Offline Kev

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2019, 06:46:17 PM »
I never thought Iíd start such a TWI club going when I made my first post here, hehe.  Glad weíre all banding together, itís key to keeping these consoles going.

No worries Dale, I am indeed waiting patiently.  Iíve been too busy at work to do much with my weather station projects.  In my spare time Iíve been trying to deal with my Heath ID-5001 barometer.  I temporarily solved that by mounting the old transducer off a wire whip inside the housing for the LCD screen backlight where the heat stays stable.  I still want to install the temperature compensated sensor, but that will have to wait until I can find someone who can lay out what needs to be done for it to work properly, it will calibrate almost all the way, but it double zeroes at the end and there isn't anyway to change that. Did you have any luck with a rain gauge by any chance?

TNWeatherGuy, welcome to the board!  Sorry Iím late, Iíve been terribly busy with work.  Yes, I do have a 2008 WRL-32 with the network board installed, which is dated 2009, revision 0.2, part # R3040.  Same exact one as yours. I can make no guarantees as to what works on the console and what doesnít.  It had had a higher than rated fuse installed when I recieved it, which was blown.  The console does not boot.  The screen illuminates but is completely zeroed out, so itís only getting power.  There is no way for me to say definitively the network board is functional or not.  Iím pretty sure the console suffered a power surge.  I spoke with a friend very familiar with these and he said his best guess is that the main processor was fried.  I paid $116 for it. If youíre good with electronics you may even be able to get it working.  Let me know if youíre still interested.

Dale, you have seen the network board, on my WRL-32, remember you were pondering on what the third board was for?


I also have a fully functional WR-25, but I need to either build or find the wind sensors, along with building the hum/temp board.  Right now the console is just a pretty barometer and clock. I did manage to identify a temp diode which works perfectly, for both the outdoor board and auxillary probes.
Heath ID-5001-C Advanced Weather Computer (1990)
Texas Weather Instruments WR-25 (1998) (Work in Progress)

Offline TNWeatherGuy

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2019, 03:26:33 PM »
Kevin, thanks for the reply.  Yes, I'll take a chance that the network board will work.  I'll email you.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2019, 04:19:19 PM by TNWeatherGuy »

Offline Kev

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Re: Texas Weather Instruments - Does anyone have this board?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2019, 08:14:28 PM »
Just emailed you Rick, sorry again for the delay in getting back to you.
Heath ID-5001-C Advanced Weather Computer (1990)
Texas Weather Instruments WR-25 (1998) (Work in Progress)

 

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