Author Topic: Rebuilding an Automated Weather Source Station  (Read 922 times)

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Offline Dewster

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Rebuilding an Automated Weather Source Station
« on: October 28, 2023, 04:25:50 PM »
Hello all,

First post here. I recently acquired some old IT equipment from a closed school that included weather station hardware. I have a WeatherBug Blue Bug Box, an Automated Weather Source tabletop digital display, and the metal housing for a temperature sensor. The two pieces power on just fine, but the actual rooftop sensors are long gone unfortunately. The WeatherBug box was connected via RS-232 serial to a PC, but with the PC's hard drive removed, I wasn't able to grab any weather software off it.

Which leads me to some questions... I'd like to restore this former station to a functional state and that means finding the missing components. Looks like some of the AWS branded stuff was made by Texas Weather Instruments (TWI). One piece I'm missing is a vital junction box located inside the temperature sensor metal housing. From reading manuals, this box has three connectors for "Data", "Wind", and "Rain" sensor cables - and I think is also part of the TRH (temp/relative humidity) sensor. I wasn't sure if this piece converted any sensor signals into readable data for the control box or if this piece is just a signal passthrough box with no logic.
I'm also missing the rain gauge and anemometer. The anemometer was an RM Young unit, but am unsure if the rain gauge was made by TWI. Basically, are there other sensor brands I could substitute in place of the original AWS/TWI sensors?

Another thing is software - I'm intentionally aiming to have this WeatherBug box interface with an older computer to mimic it's original setup. AWS made some software called PC-MET (for Windows), MacMet (for MacOS), and AirWatch 4.5 (Windows, I think) to be able to visualize the control unit's data on a PC. The Internet Archive doesn't have them archived and the only thing I can find is a TWI instrument calibration utility.

By a long shot, does anyone have the mentioned software or resource CD for this AWS equipment?

Thanks,
Ian

Offline zoomx

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Re: Rebuilding an Automated Weather Source Station
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2023, 07:50:37 AM »
I have a WeatherBug Blue Bug Box, an Automated Weather Source tabletop digital display, and the metal housing for a temperature sensor. The two pieces power on just fine, but the actual rooftop sensors are long gone unfortunately. The WeatherBug box was connected via RS-232 serial to a PC, but with the PC's hard drive removed, I wasn't able to grab any weather software off it.

Which leads me to some questions... I'd like to restore this former station to a functional state and that means finding the missing components. Looks like some of the AWS branded stuff was made by Texas Weather Instruments (TWI). One piece I'm missing is a vital junction box located inside the temperature sensor metal housing. From reading manuals, this box has three connectors for "Data", "Wind", and "Rain" sensor cables - and I think is also part of the TRH (temp/relative humidity) sensor. I wasn't sure if this piece converted any sensor signals into readable data for the control box or if this piece is just a signal passthrough box with no logic.

I don't know at all this station but I believe that if the missing box is a pass through then data will carry all signals separated to the WeatherBug box. So the question is how the connector data in the WeatherBug box is made.
Amateurs sensors are usually without much electronics, communication is usually analog but instead professional sensors may have it and communicate digitally by using RS-422, SD12 or other protocols/bus.

Offline longmire

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Re: Rebuilding an Automated Weather Source Station
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2023, 02:35:26 PM »
Ian - you can substitute any rain gauge which just closes a switch once each 0.01 inches. I bought a TR-525USW Rain Gauge from ScientificSales for mine and it works perfectly. (It was a bit costly, but I was tired of climbing on the roof to fix/replace the plastic ones)

-Steve

Offline DaleReid

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Re: Rebuilding an Automated Weather Source Station
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2023, 07:28:11 PM »
Dewster:
I used to have the green LED, light oak framed indoor display but that was it.  I never was either able to track down the rest of the stuff, nor find a manual or setup sheet for it and a few years ago ended up trying to get the LEDs out but finally just tossed it with so many other projects with more potential.

Back when TWI was still  in business down in Texas I was talking with one of the tech (Steven and David?) guys about a WRL-8000 mod and I casually mentioned that the AWS display looked a lot like their work.  He said that they had built a 'lot' of stuff for them, but I didn't have time to find out if it was just the display, or the rest of the hardware or what.  I was under the impression that the AWS project was the brainstorm of some guy and was pushing to get it into a lot of schools out east, at least to start.

AS was typical of TWI, they were very tight lipped about how things worked and no diagrams, etc. were available for any of their stuff except the wiring harness and things that Kevin at one time had on this site.  I probed a bit about a solar sensor that I had, and original TWI issued, which was basically a 1/2 sphere of epoxy on a foot long aluminum angle iron, and if something else would replace it since they wanted a whopping $300 for one of theirs!  I didn't manage to get diddly out of them, but one later phone call I got the friendlier of the two and he hinted that taking a LiCor and putting it on and fiddling with the scaling factors would do the same thing.  He never would tell me the photodiode they used for their sensor.  I think I have had like six solar sensors over the years and none from TWI.

The last pictures I saw of their storefront were from another guy on this forum (or had been) and there were a couple of work benches covered in piles of manuals and schematics, along with a few 4 drawer filing cabinets with manuals and paper stacked in the drawers.  I would imagine all that proprietary stuff got stored, probably to never see the light of day again, and things like the EPROM code would be nigh unto impossible to re-create.  And along with it, most likely the AWS stuff too, but while this doesn't solve your quest for what is inside the box, I just  thought I'd pass this along

Dale

PS, I always thought that the stuff was advanced for it's time, and since wirelless hadn't come along, they were doing a lot of stuff with hard wired stations.  And, as one of the techs admitted, was so well built that it lasted a decade or so and was still chunking along, so repeat business for new stuff was the only income, very little in repair.  Dale
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