Author Topic: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS  (Read 10816 times)

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Offline talbert1952

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Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« on: March 15, 2011, 11:44:05 PM »
I haven't seen anything about remote weather monitoring via APRS so I started this topic.

APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) provides amateur radio operators a simple and convenient way to retrieve data from a remote weather station. All you need is an APRS compatible weather station, an APRS modem, a VHF tranceiver and antenna. Davis and Peet Brothers make stations that work well with APRS.

I have a Davis VP2 at 2200' on Sauratown Mountain, NC about 10 miles from and 1200' higher than my home location. The station is at a 2 way radio site. There is power available but no phone or Internet. I can receive data from this station at home or mobile with no monthly fees or subscriptions. I can also view the data via the Internet. The weather data for this station can be viewed at this URL.

W4SNA-2   http://aprs.fi/weather/a/W4SNA-2

I am in the process of installing another VP2 linked via APRS on Pop's Peak in Fancy Gap, VA. The anemometer will be mounted on top of a 60' tower so it will feel the full force of the wind blowing across the mountain. Wind gusts of over 100 mph have been recorded on I-77 about three miles to the West. I will post the URL when the station is online.

Anyone else out there using APRS for weather data?
Tom
W4SNA
IRLP 4069 - Echolink W4SNA-R

http://tobaccovilleweather.com/
Hardware: Davis 6153 wireless VP2 with 24 hr fan aspirated radiation shield, WMR968, Boltek Stormtracker PCI,
  Hamtronics R139, stacked Woodhouse 6X6 beams on Yaesu G-5500 az/el rotator
Software: Weatherlink, VWS, Image Salsa, Lightning/2000, GRLevel3 with Allison House data feed, WxtoImg

Offline Flag

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2011, 12:15:00 AM »
Have used the APRS streamed data capability to a dial-up real-time voice system which basically negated the need to do all the loop reading stuff, just read the ascii strings as most of the date I wanted existed in the APRS output. So it's not really using the APRS logger specifically for what it is designed.   

Offline SLOweather

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2011, 10:53:44 AM »
I got involved with APRS just so I could see the weather conditions at home on the screen of my radio while driving around in my truck.

My CWOP ID is AP204 (the 204th one issued) and there now seem to be about 11,300 stations, so that's an indicator of how long I've been doing it.

 Until the weather programs got more sophisticated and APRS-aware and VVP came out, I used a B&B serial Data Tap to split the Davis data into 2 streams, and had 2 serial ports on my computer, one for WinAPRS for the weather reporting, and one for VWS for the computer/Internet.

That led me to install a digi on Tassajera Peak in the Los Padres NF, which filled in a huge gap between Santa Barbara County and Monterey County, CA. I suppose that digi must have been up for +/- 10 years now.

Offline talbert1952

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 04:53:49 PM »
Pops Peak, Fancy Gap, VA APRS weather station is online.

W4SNA-3
http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/wxpage.cgi?call=W4SNA-3&last=24
http://aprs.fi/weather/a/W4SNA-3

Installer mounting Davis anemometer on top of 60' tower.


Davis wireless Vantage Pro 2 with 24 hour FARS. The station is mounted on a
left over Direcway (now HughesNet) satellite dish mount.


Davis console, APRS radio and modem, radio power supply.
Tom
W4SNA
IRLP 4069 - Echolink W4SNA-R

http://tobaccovilleweather.com/
Hardware: Davis 6153 wireless VP2 with 24 hr fan aspirated radiation shield, WMR968, Boltek Stormtracker PCI,
  Hamtronics R139, stacked Woodhouse 6X6 beams on Yaesu G-5500 az/el rotator
Software: Weatherlink, VWS, Image Salsa, Lightning/2000, GRLevel3 with Allison House data feed, WxtoImg

Offline Flag

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 06:19:04 PM »
Is there any particular reason for using a console in this type of setup? Do people on site need to view the data etc

Offline talbert1952

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2011, 07:40:33 PM »
Is there any particular reason for using a console in this type of setup? Do people on site need to view the data etc

The console was included with the station so I used it.

The console is used by people visiting the site.  The console is the only way to read the highs, lows and totals since there isn't a computer at the site.
Tom
W4SNA
IRLP 4069 - Echolink W4SNA-R

http://tobaccovilleweather.com/
Hardware: Davis 6153 wireless VP2 with 24 hr fan aspirated radiation shield, WMR968, Boltek Stormtracker PCI,
  Hamtronics R139, stacked Woodhouse 6X6 beams on Yaesu G-5500 az/el rotator
Software: Weatherlink, VWS, Image Salsa, Lightning/2000, GRLevel3 with Allison House data feed, WxtoImg

Offline johnd

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2011, 02:54:49 AM »
Is there any particular reason for using a console in this type of setup? Do people on site need to view the data etc

Depending whereabouts in the world you live, there may be little or no difference in the cost of buying an Envoy-based system vs a standard console. Here in the UK for instance, 6152+6510 is typically available as a discounted bundle whereas an Envoy system has to built up from its component parts.

So typically cost isn't a factor and many users will prefer to have the LCD screen available as a guide eg for setting up or troubleshooting checks, even if it's not going to be viewed routinely. It can also be handy to have the wireless diagnostic screens available if for any reason reception is marginal rather than easy.

The other pros and cons we've discussed before:

The Envoy console will auto-reboot, which can be a major plus, which the standard console cannot.

The Envoy console only takes AA batteries and so has much shorter life on internal batteries only.

If there is no other shelter available at the remote site and a Davis weatherproof box needs to be used then the Envoy will fit into the much cheaper 7728 shelter, whereas the std console needs the 7724 shelter.
Prodata Weather Systems
Prodata's dedicated Davis EnviroMonitor website
UK Davis Premier Dealer - All Davis stations, accessories and spares
Littleport, Ely, Cambs UK

Offline Flag

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2011, 05:22:12 AM »
My preference with the Envoy is that is has no keyboard hence stops the inquisitive fingers from button pushing.

Yes the console is also usefull with re diag screens, trouble shooting  etc but this can be something that forms part of the tool kit. 

Backup batteries? The Envoy is simply miles in front when it comes to customizing backup backup. Very simply to keep an Envoy running for many many months but of course not on AA.

This is one area where Davis could very simply improve backup capacity especially for remote locations requiring extended backup capacity.   

Offline talbert1952

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2011, 02:16:32 PM »
My preference with the Envoy is that is has no keyboard hence stops the inquisitive fingers from button pushing.

Yes the console is also usefull with re diag screens, trouble shooting  etc but this can be something that forms part of the tool kit. 

Backup batteries? The Envoy is simply miles in front when it comes to customizing backup backup. Very simply to keep an Envoy running for many many months but of course not on AA.

This is one area where Davis could very simply improve backup capacity especially for remote locations requiring extended backup capacity.   

I'm not concerned about button pushing. You can't do damage pushing buttons on the console keyboard unless you know the proper key sequences. Also, my equipment is located at secure commercial communication sites. People accessing the sites know to keep their hands off equipment that doesn't belong to them.

The Davis console will run for months on internal batteries. If you need more run time it would be trivial to make a large dry cell battery pack that could be plugged into the console via the AC adapter jack. Console battery life isn't the problem. The problem is getting the data from the remote site to its destination. Moving the data will take 99% of your power budget.

There are pros and cons to every setup. I tend to use what is at hand even if it isn't the best solution. This was a used station. It had a console not an Envoy. Buying an Envoy was not an option. Also, I don't have to haul a laptop loaded with Weatherlink to the mountain to configure the station or adjust calibrations. I can do it all through the console keyboard.

I started this thread to discuss APRS as a method of remote WX monitoring. I wanted to find out if other folks on the forum are using APRS for reporting weather conditions from remote sites and how they are implementing it. I welcome any questions about details of my setup.



Tom
W4SNA
IRLP 4069 - Echolink W4SNA-R

http://tobaccovilleweather.com/
Hardware: Davis 6153 wireless VP2 with 24 hr fan aspirated radiation shield, WMR968, Boltek Stormtracker PCI,
  Hamtronics R139, stacked Woodhouse 6X6 beams on Yaesu G-5500 az/el rotator
Software: Weatherlink, VWS, Image Salsa, Lightning/2000, GRLevel3 with Allison House data feed, WxtoImg

Offline Skywatch

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2011, 08:36:06 PM »
My preference with the Envoy is that is has no keyboard hence stops the inquisitive fingers from button pushing.

Yes the console is also usefull with re diag screens, trouble shooting  etc but this can be something that forms part of the tool kit.  

Backup batteries? The Envoy is simply miles in front when it comes to customizing backup backup. Very simply to keep an Envoy running for many many months but of course not on AA.

This is one area where Davis could very simply improve backup capacity especially for remote locations requiring extended backup capacity.  
The Envoy can be solar powered can't it?
I'm not shure if this is exactly relevent, but if were talking power sources, solar is a valuable resource. http://davisnet.com/weather/products/weather_product.asp?pnum=06610
« Last Edit: June 20, 2011, 08:38:25 PM by mckTXaws »
HARDWARE
Davis VP2+ with leaf/soil, extra temp/humid station custom wind. Purple Air PA-II. Boltek LD-250/Microsferics TOA kit.
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WD 10.37

Excelvan WH2310 WD 10.37

Offline Flag

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2011, 05:23:43 AM »
Quote
Moving the data will take 99% of your power budget.

But with hindsight 100% of the power budget has to be put into keeping the data intact regardless of if it can be moved or not. When there's no data to move it takes 0% of power to move it.

Simply concentrating on the external power leaves a single thread failure possibility and where the backup power must be really given more importance even if it is to protect and continue data collection.

This principle applies equally be it serial or APRS (USB isn't a consideration) and even more so (much more) with WLIP.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 05:25:32 AM by Flag »

Offline talbert1952

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2011, 12:57:36 PM »
Quote
Moving the data will take 99% of your power budget.

But with hindsight 100% of the power budget has to be put into keeping the data intact regardless of if it can be moved or not. When there's no data to move it takes 0% of power to move it.


If the data is that important how will you know if the station sensors are operating properly if you aren't collecting and examining the data fairly frequently? Also, the Davis logger has finite storage capacity. Even if you have uninterrupted power the logger is eventually going to overwrite old data if you don't download it. The logger can hold 1.7 days of data at a 1 minute archive interval and up to 213 days of data at a 120 minute archive interval. According to Davis specs a set of console batteries will last about 9 months without external power. The logger is going to fill up long before the batteries run down. As I said before, downloading the data is going to be the major power consumer whether it be via APRS, some other wired or wireless means or burning gasoline to drive to the site to collect it locally.

You mentioned single point failure taking down the system. There are lots of possible failures that can lead to data loss or corruption other than loss of power to the console. All WX station sensors are subject to failure especially the ones with moving parts like the anemometer. Redundancy is nice but you must weigh the cost of implementing it against the cost of losing the data. How valuable is the data? What do you need to guarantee you have data? A second console? Two complete stations?

I am happy with my APRS WX stations. They give quasi-realtime WX data for the sites while the consoles capture and store the extremes and totals for later viewing. I don't have any plans to change the current setup.
Tom
W4SNA
IRLP 4069 - Echolink W4SNA-R

http://tobaccovilleweather.com/
Hardware: Davis 6153 wireless VP2 with 24 hr fan aspirated radiation shield, WMR968, Boltek Stormtracker PCI,
  Hamtronics R139, stacked Woodhouse 6X6 beams on Yaesu G-5500 az/el rotator
Software: Weatherlink, VWS, Image Salsa, Lightning/2000, GRLevel3 with Allison House data feed, WxtoImg

Offline Flag

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2011, 06:09:25 AM »
Yes it is the data that is important, loose a sensor and you have lost that particular sensor's data, loose power and you have lost everything regardless.

There needs to be several layers of redunancy to ensure integrity and yes with some systems I have three levels of data capability and organized so that one can determine what sort of failure has occured so it can be fixed with minimal loss of data.

Real world tests have not proved the 9 months claimed battery backup life as what kills battery life real quick is activity, accessing, downloading type activity. Just imagine what can be done with an Envoy running on "D" cells or even "C" cells comapred to a console running "C" cells, the difference is considerable. This is where most users relying on the typical backup configuration is lost as much more can be achieved and actual real achievement with a little bit of lateral thinking.   

One thing is certain loose power and it is all over regardless of the sensor status. 

Offline greentwins1

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2018, 07:33:45 PM »


GAPCON
GAPWX

Our two completely off grid, solar powered, APRS, RF only. Weather stations :)

Offline Mattk

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2018, 08:34:08 PM »
Station backup in remote installations have to be the primary consideration regardless of the how the data is transmitted or loggers used and it is something that the user has 100% control over. And yes multiple layers of redundancy can be put in place by the user to help maintain the data as well as be an indication when things do go wrong as it is not always convenient to just nick up to a site straight away and fix something, it could be months and this type of redundancy and feedback can be built into most stations   

Offline miraculon

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Re: Remote WX Monitoring via APRS
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2018, 09:10:49 AM »


GAPCON
GAPWX

Our two completely off grid, solar powered, APRS, RF only. Weather stations :)

Nice setup. Having a digipeater 785 yards away must help. What kind of TNC/Tracker are you using? Is this a low-power transmitter? (being so close to GAPCON you don't need much)

Unfortunately, my LOS and distance is too far for anything other than my own gateway/digi.

73 de KE8DAF
Greg H.