Author Topic: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station  (Read 18352 times)

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Offline smorris

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Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« on: March 14, 2012, 03:28:21 PM »
Back in January, our Avon-Weather station was featured in the Davis Instruments newsletter. Since then, I was contacted by Davis' PR firm about how we use our station and what we do with the data we gather. Gardening was a big part of the reason we bought a station with the flexibility of the Davis Vantage Pro 2. I'd asked here on WXforum about using a soil temp/moisture station, and got a few ideas. http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=14537.0 (yes, I knew about possibly getting a unit to test, which is why I was asking about it.)

Fast forward two months, and today I received a nice big box from Davis. They sent us a Wireless Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temperature Station for us to review! They included a soil temp sensor, soil moisture sensor, and a leaf wetness sensor. Plus, a Weatherlink (PC version, not Mac, which I have) and a Vantage Pro2 Console. I'm not even opening those, as I already have what I need for communicating with my existing system. http://davisnet.com/weather/products/weather_product.asp?pnum=06345

This will allow us to measure soil temperature and moisture levels for spring garden prep and planting. I'll post information as we get the system up and running.

Watch this space! :)
Steve - Avon, Ohio
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Offline Skywatch

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2012, 06:01:31 PM »
Sounds nice. Let us know how everything goes.

Shouldn't this be posted under Davis Stations? I'm just curious.
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Offline smorris

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2012, 08:09:08 PM »
Shouldn't this be posted under Davis Stations?

Yea, I suppose so. I was thinking it was different than normal weather station hardware, so stuck it under other hardware. But it is Davis specific. Hey moderator. can ya move this for me?

Thanks,
Steve
Steve - Avon, Ohio
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Offline wmcatty

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 08:25:29 PM »
What a deal Steve!
Davis Wireless Pro2 with Solar Sensor; Weatherlink 5.9.3; VWS; WLIP; CWOP DW8373; Wunderground KTXGATES4; CoCoRaHS=TX-CRL-4

Offline smorris

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 10:29:44 PM »
As an amateur photographer, I tend to document all my hobby how-to projects. I know I'm not the first person here to install a Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station, and I'm sure there are a lot of folks who can interpret the information gleaned from it a lot better than I will. And since Davis sent this to me to review, what better way than for those of you not familiar with the station to watch as I learn. Larger images can be seen on my SmugMug gallery. (CLICK HERE) Click the thumbnail to see a larger image, and then click the large image to see a full screen version.

I'm cross-posting this on the MacWeather and WeatherCat forum, and portions will be on my Facebook page.

Anyway, I'll be like the tech guys and do an "unboxing" thingy here.




Here are all the pieces parts still in their package.




All the parts unwrapped except the WeatherLink data logger and VP2 Console. I'll use my setup, and add the Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station on another channel.




Here is the complete station set up to test functioning and reception. On the lid is the Leaf Wetness sensor, the green sensor is the Soil Moisture Sensor, and the probe with the black wire is the Soil Temperature sensor. Plugging the Soil Temperature and Moisture sensors on the same channel (in this phot the Soil Moisture is mistakenly in #4, but I moved it to #1 for testing) allows the Soil Moisture to use the Soil Temperature in its calculation. If they are not on the same channel, the Soil Moisture is calculated assuming that the temperature of the soil is 75˚F.



I mounted the Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station transmitter on the same post as my VP2 ISS is mounted. I set the transmitter as Station #3, and added it to my VP2 Console and, using WeatherLink for Mac, set the Weather Envoy to use Station #3



No photos yet, but I've temporarily mounted the Leaf Wetness sensor on a steel rod driven into the ground beside my ISS post. The U-bolt is too small to fit the post everything else is mounted on. I think I'll use a 1" galvanized post and mount both the transmitter and Leaf Wetness seρor on the same post. That way I won't have wires to run from one to the other. I temporarily stuck the Soil Temperature sensor in the ground in the raised bed garden plot barely visible in the last photo above. I'm also "conditioning" the Soil Wetness sensor, as described in the installation instructions, by soaking, drying, then soaking again before planting it in the soil. I have some schedule 40 1/2" PVC, but the walls are too thick to insert the Soil Moisture sensor as shown in the manual. I'll drill it out a bit until it fits.

My soil here is very sandy, as we live on an ancient beach. All of our gardens and raised beds have been amended with a *lot* of compost, manure, and peat moss. In the raised beds, I can easily stick my hand down a foot into the soil, so it drains quickly. I might add a second Soil Temperature and Moisture sensor and bury them deeper in one of the other beds where we grow perennial crops, such as strawberries, grapes, rhubarb, or raspberries. The soil here is less disturbed and might give a better indication of the condition of the soil in the rest of our perennial flower beds and yard.

As I noted above, I added the Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station as Station #3 on the VP2 Console and WeatherLink. While I was at it, I swapped Station #1 and #2, making the ISS Station #2 and the Wireless Anemometer Transmitter Station #1. This will take advantage of the more frequent readings of Station #1 for the wind, which is the most changeable.

I'm using the public beta of Trixology's WeatherCat (Formerly Lightsoft Weather Center) on my Mac to view the data from the Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station. The Leaf Wetness has been a flatline at zero since installing, but worked fine in pre-testing. I'll see if we have dew in the morning. The soil temperature was 62˚F when I installed it late this afternoon, and has dropped to 59˚F here at 10:30 pm. That's just amazing, as out ground is normally frozen solid this time of year!




That's all I've got right now. I'll get more done tomorrow and add some more photos. Thanks for reading along, and feel free to comment or offer advices.
Steve
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 10:34:54 PM by smorris »
Steve - Avon, Ohio
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Offline smorris

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2012, 10:38:54 PM »
OK, we left off with the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station temporarily installed. It has taken longer than expected to get back to it, but I made a lot of progress today.

I used a five foot long piece of 1" galvanized pipe to mount the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station. I decided to mount it all one one post rather than have wires running from one to the other.

I used a post hole digger and dug down about 18", and then used a sledge to drive it in another 18" making sure it was plumb as I went. This left 24" sticking out of the ground for mounting the Station and Leaf Wetness Sensor.












I then mounted the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station housing and the Leaf Wetness Sensor on the new post. In conversation with Davis Support and on forums, and decided to point the Leaf Wetness Sensor north, simulating leaves not in direct sunlight. There isn't any siting suggestions in the instructions or on Davis' web site.








Next I planted the Soil Temperature and Moisture Sensors. I couldn't find the Class 315 PVC irrigation pipe that's specified for installing the Soil Moisture Sensor. But my soil is so loamy that I was able to insert it easily without. I used a broom handle and marked 10", then stuck this in the soil. I carefully removed it, and then inserted the Soil Moisture Sensor in the hole. I inserted the Soil Temperature Sensor at the same depth next to it, and then packed the soil over both sensors. I used one of the supplied wire clamps to hold down the wires in the garden bed.












Next, I wired all three cables into the Leaf & Soil Station housing, using the clamps to hold the wires in place. I temporarily wire-tied the cables to the galvanized pipe, and will organize these better later.








Below is a chart showing the Leaf Wetness, Soil Temperature, and Soil Moisture. You can see that I had the Leaf and Soil Temperature sensors attached from the preliminary setup, and that the Temperature Sensor was showing our abnormally hot day. Then both were disconnected during installation. I had "conditioned" the Soil Moisture Sensor prior to installation per the instructions, but in this weather, it must have dried out too much. The spike in the Leaf Wetness reading was accidentally getting the Leaf Wetness Sensor wet while watering the peas sprouting in the adjacent garden bed.




So, aside from tidying up the cables, the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station is completely installed, working correctly, and ready to begin testing in our gardens. I will continue to review and report on this installation. I have the Soil Temperature and Moisture Sensors planted 10" deep, as most of our garden crops are shallow rooted. I can see a desire to add additional sensors, both deeper in the garden and in the yard to give a better overall sense of the soil conditions. The latter would be of more interest to my web page viewers, as well.

As always, comments and questions are welcome. I want to thank [urlhttp://davisnet.com/weather/index.asp]Davis Instruments[/url] and Sierra Communications for making this Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station available for use to review and test.

Stay tuned,
Steve
Steve - Avon, Ohio
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Offline C5250

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2012, 11:39:56 PM »
In conversation with Davis Support and on forums, and decided to point the Leaf Wetness Sensor north, simulating leaves not in direct sunlight. There isn't any siting suggestions in the instructions or on Davis' web site.

That's an interesting idea. I've been planning to add leaf wetness sensors and have been trying to figure how to setup one for sun and one for shade. Pointing one south and one north might well have the same effect.
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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2012, 09:05:52 AM »
Davis should make a clip to attach a temp sensor to the back of the leaf sensor in order to measure the true radiation temperature of the leaf sensor's surface at night.   In high dry climates, there is a significant difference between the air temperatures and surface temperatures after sundown and it is the surface radiation temps that control dew or frost in the morning.

If I only used the air temperature and the dew point to predict frost/dew, I'd say it never happens except during a rain storm, but the leaf sensor's surface temperature accurately predicts that moisture.  I had to wire a temp sensor to the back of the leaf sensor with a twist tie.  Not the most elegant solution.
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Offline smorris

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2012, 09:15:29 AM »
That's a good idea, Dave, but don't you get excessive readings when it is in the sun? Or do you just ignore those and use it for dew/frost predictions only? Mine is a foot above the ground, and while the grass was very wet this morning, the Leaf Sensor was dry. That'll probably change as the soil below it gets wet and plants grow in the garden bed.

Interesting ideas to point two sensors north and south, CS250. That'll simulate the condition one east-west running rows.

I've got a lot to learn with this setup, and I'm eager to see whether knowing the conditions helps with the garden yield.

Steve
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Offline d_l

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2012, 10:07:29 AM »
Steve, the daytime temperatures on the leaf sensor mostly tell me how hot a surface out in the sun is.  The leaf sensor is pointed north so I guess the temperatures on it probably won't be the maximum daytime surface temperature possible.

Also I've found that on cloudy days, the leaf temperature agrees very well (perfectly at times) with the THSW temperature.  When the sun peaks out, the THSW temperature will spike above the leaf temperature.  On clear days, the THSW temperature is well above the leaf temperature and there is no correlation.   I'm guessing here, but I'll bet if I had a second leaf sensor aimed south that it might match the THSW temperatures on cloudless days.

When I say the leaf sensor helps predict dew/frost, that is only on a dry or metallic surface such as on a car or a roof.  The lawn and watered soil areas are different because the humidity immediately above those are so much higher than in the desert air here.  I would need an ISS immediately above those to determine the dew point over those non-natural surfaces.
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Offline smorris

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2012, 10:25:05 PM »
Thanks for the detailed explanation, Dave. I'm learning so much from you guys here!  =D>
Steve - Avon, Ohio
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Offline smorris

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2012, 10:25:23 PM »
I made a temporary web page with just a graph for the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station data. I'll do something different once I get an idea of how I'm going to use it and present it. Take a look at: http://www.avon-weather.com/soil.html




The Leaf Wetness is a linear scale from zero (dry) to 15 (full wet)
The Soil Temperature is self-explanatory and is in degrees F
The Soil Moisture is a scale from 200 (bone dry) to zero (soaking wet)


Below is a conversion chart for Soil Moisture for sandy loam soil I found from Montana State University




Using the current reading of 13 cB at 10", I have 1.25" of moisture content. With the current ET of .16", I have about 8 days of moisture available. (1.25/.16=7.8 ) However, we are getting a nice rain shower now, so everything will change. This is going to be interesting to keep track of!

Thanks for following along,
Steve
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 05:47:03 PM by smorris »
Steve - Avon, Ohio
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Offline KF5APO

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2012, 04:21:31 PM »
This setup would be great for me too as well, because I like the idea of being able to monitor soil Conditions.
and I can see it being a big help with the picky fruit tree's too. I'd say that a Soil moisture station is another useful tool
to any Gardener or the person who likes having the greener yard.
Thanks for Posting and sharing!.
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Offline tobyspond

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2012, 05:40:05 PM »
I'll be interested to hear your thoughts/comments throughout the growing season.  Did this equipment help to increase your yields because you are able to supply the right amount of water at the right time?  It may be interesting to compare your water usage over previous years with your water usage this year accounting for differences in rainfall.

We have a large greenhouse and garden that we irrigate using the pond when rainfall is not sufficient.

Thanks for the ongoing review,

Kerry

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2012, 06:07:43 PM »
Thanks Andy and Kerry,

In the past, we've just watered when it looked like it needed it, either by plants looking dry or sticking a finger a couple inches in the ground and seeing how wet it was. We either use an oscillating sprinkler or an impulse sprinkler raised above the garden.  We've never kept track of what we've done year to year. Our hopes are that by keeping accurate track of watering times, soil moisture, temperatures, and amount of produce, we'll establish a baseline for future years. Of course other seasonal variations can affect this as well. And we just added soil amendments last week, so that will add additional variation.  All this is new to us, so we are learning as we go.

I was also considering getting an extra temperature probe and using it in the compost pile to make sure it was working at the right temperature. But Amazon had a Gold Deal of the Day a couple of weeks ago with a good thermometer with a 36" stem for composting, so we got that instead. It'll work a lot better than the little one we had before that wouldn't reach the center of the pile.

I'll continue to report, and welcome information from others using the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station.
Steve
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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2012, 07:01:44 PM »
Steve, it is a shame you don't have Windows WL running so you could add the Ag/Turf module now that you have the separate Leaf/Soil station.
--Dave--

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2012, 08:12:29 PM »
I've been doing quite a bit of reading and looking at the reviews of the Davis weather stations since my old trusty OS WM-918 went south and so far the Davis VP2 model 6163 seems to be my Ideal weather station. though still there's lots of work to be done before I can get the new one installed. as far as site preparation goes. and I have to admit that when I had my OS WM-918 working I had a pretty good garden and the fruit and pecan trees were doing very well. though as a fellow Weather Buff I miss the days of seeing the weather happening outside my window and watching the graphs as the data was recorded, it will be great to have that back again and good to be able to share that data with the C.W.O.P. and the National weather service.
Again, Thanks for your comments and helpful information you guys post on here!.
It's a great Service to the Weather Buff Community.
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Offline smorris

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2012, 08:46:19 PM »
Steve, it is a shame you don't have Windows WL running so you could add the Ag/Turf module now that you have the separate Leaf/Soil station.

Hey, who knows? I didn't know I needed a Leaf & Soil Station until Davis asked if I'd like to test one. ;) I have Parallels software and Windows XP Pro, but haven't installed it on this new iMac. I used it on my old one to run a home copy of the 3D CAD software I used before I retired. But you may remember that I asked earlier about lightning detection software for the Mac and came up with nothing. So if I decide to add to the hardware, I can see getting a cheap Windows box. I could then run the Ag/Turf software on that. But frankly, it looks too sophisticated for my humble needs. Really, what I have now is probably more than *I* need, but then I'm a gadget junkie...
Steve - Avon, Ohio
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Offline tobyspond

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2012, 08:50:51 PM »
Steve,

That's pretty much what we do (stick finger in soil, check amount of rain, notice wilting plants :-)) to decide to water. I agree that how well any one crop produces from year varies tremendously with many variables contributing to it.  Hopefully the data will allow you to water more effectively.  Science is fun.

Kerry

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2012, 10:35:15 AM »
It has been a while since I updated this review. I made a few changes on the Avon-Weather web site over the past couple of days, and thought I'd add more information in this thread.

Over the summer I added a second Soil Temperature Probe in another of my garden boxes, also 10" deep. One was in strawberries, and the more open in with tomatoes. It was interesting to compare how well the strawberry foliage tempered the changes in soil temperature. We watered the garden when needed, trying to keep the soil moisture in the 10-20 centibar range. We tried recording watering rates, evapotranspiration (VP2 calculated and CoCoRaHS ET simulator readings), rainfall, and how well the garden produced. But like any year, some produce was more fruitful (pun intended) than others. Has having this information available helped? I think so, but I think it takes more than one summer to know if having the data is any better than not. Either way, I enjoy keeping track of the data, and we will be buying the review station rather than sending it back to Davis here at the end of the season.

I had a third Soil Temperature Probe I wasn't using, and my daughters gave me two Soil Moisture Sensors for my birthday. I was going to plant these in the spring, but then another opportunity came along. A couple of weeks ago I had a discussion with our local ABC affiliate WEWS meteorologist Trent Magill. He was asking about my Soil Station, and was looking for soil moisture and temperature at the 2" and 4" depth to determine snow accumulation for the early snowfall of the year before the ground is completely frozen. I told him I had two of each I could use to provide the information he needed, so I planted those in the open lawn. They were pre-soaked beforehand, and I watered down the soil to make sure the probes were well packed in our sandy loam soil. so they are still drying out. It is supposed to be sunny and warm all this week, so they should settle in soon. It'll be interesting to see how they work for this winter re-purposing!

I added a public link in the menu for the Soil Temperature/Moisture Station data. The page is still a work in progress, but if you are interested in soil conditions for gardening, or are just curious, take a peek under the "Soil Data" tab on the top menu at Avon-Weather.com and see what you think! (I could use the clicks. I've dropped out of the top 100. ;) ) I also added a UV Sensor, and added the UV Index graphic and link to the front page.

Thanks for the comments on this project,
Steve
Steve - Avon, Ohio
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Offline Skywatch

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2012, 11:55:17 AM »
Good for you! Will ABC use your data?


Love the web site.
I live in an apartment and for the moment am not a home weather watcher.

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2012, 12:44:47 PM »
Good for you! Will ABC use your data?
No, just this meteorologist at the local Cleveland ABC station, WEWS. Some of the local TV mets are pretty good at interacting on Twitter with viewers and enthusiasts. This one, Trent Magill, is younger and more social media savvy, so he really gets into the online stuff. He's retweeted my current conditions frequently, says he uses my temp/rain conditions for his west side source, and has commented on my posts on occasion.

And he's good humored. He tweeted a week ago about stopping at Burger King for breakfast, ordering a Coke and an egg sandwich and instead, got a Dr Pepper and sausage burrito. I replied "Maybe they recognized you as a weatherman and figured just getting close to what you expected was good enough! ;)" He retweeted that with "OUCH!" and a grin, saying he gets stuff like that all the time. :)

So I'm happy to help out, he's recognized in Tweets that he gets data from me, and I get to use my Soil Station for an interesting and educational project.

Love the web site.

Thanks! It is different than most folks on these forums, as I don't use the standard templates or weather software. And I've learned a lot as I add or change features.

Steve
 
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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2012, 01:20:08 PM »
Wish I had someone like that to talk too. As far as a weather watcher here in Texas I'm pretty lonely here. I talk to many about the weather but I don't have anyone like that who I can actively talk about the weather. Your lucky. He sounds like a great guy.


My web site is crappy no matter what I do. But it's free so I geuss that's the way the ball bounces.
I want to wait untill I get a tower computer before I spend money on a site I can upload the graphics too.

Right now I'm using an Acer laptop with a busted screen hooked into a 2nd monitor. Laptops don't seem to last long which scares me. I hope this one will last me at least untill Christmas. Is your site a part of that weather top sites community? Not sure how it works but I think they nominate best web sites and you get to put an E-ribbon on your site showing your site was selected as best web site.
I live in an apartment and for the moment am not a home weather watcher.

I am a storm chaser.

Offline smorris

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2012, 03:36:02 PM »
Yes, I am on Axevold's Weather Topsites, as well as a couple US ones, linked at the bottom of my home page. I don't know about it nominating sites. It just keeps track of visitors and my standing among other registered weather sites. I used to be up in the 60s when the local Patch.com lady retweeted my current conditions all the time and helped promote me. But she left and the new editor isn't interested in helping at all. So I've dropped off the top 100 here lately. I do have one rating on Axevold's site, but I think it is from my Mom. :)
Steve - Avon, Ohio
Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus w/FARS, Leaf & Soil Station

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Offline Skywatch

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2012, 05:14:45 PM »
Yes, I am on Axevold's Weather Topsites, as well as a couple US ones, linked at the bottom of my home page. I don't know about it nominating sites. It just keeps track of visitors and my standing among other registered weather sites. I used to be up in the 60s when the local Patch.com lady retweeted my current conditions all the time and helped promote me. But she left and the new editor isn't interested in helping at all. So I've dropped off the top 100 here lately. I do have one rating on Axevold's site, but I think it is from my Mom. :)
A friend of mine has their site on TWS and I think they got nominated. They have a blue ribbon sticker I couldn't find on the site. I'm not sure where else they got it.

I put my site on there although I'm more ashamed of my cheapo site. I wish I had a property like yours. Good job on the station.
I live in an apartment and for the moment am not a home weather watcher.

I am a storm chaser.