Category Archives: Weather Site

Davis FARS Upgrade to a Monitored PC Fan

Link to original Davis Fan Motor change

When the original Davis FARS motor failed I installed a new motor and kept back some spare motors, waiting for the inevitable motor failure to occur, reading online, changing from the Davis Fan to a PC varient made a lot of sense and not only is the life of motor excellent, but it is possible to monitor the motors output for operation.

I was interested to know the existing Davis fans air flow, mine was running at 2.4vDC and showed 9.7m/s:

The PC fan I bought was a Noctura NF-R8 redux -1800 PWM for £9.99 of eBay.

With the David FARS removed, the existing fan assembly slides out of the housing as a complete fan & surround, the hole left will take the 80 x 80mm fan with only a very minor filing of the fan case body to make it slide into the body of the FARS.

No modifications are made to the existing FARS body allowing reversion back to the existing fan if I wish (can’t think why, but you never know!).

To form a seal around the gaps, I used self adhesive door/window strip seal.

The finished fan after the seal is applied and checking that the fan is sucking, rather than blowing:

The oringinal fan ran on 2.4v, I replaced the voltage regulators fixed value resistor for the correct one to give 11.54vDC output and this feeds the motor and the motor monitoring Tacho.

The air flow of the PC fan when installed and connected was 5.5m/s, this is less than the original davis fan, but this is still better than static air within the sensing chamber.

The Davis wetaher station I have is the wired version, and I used Cat5e cable rather than the supplied 4 core cable from the ISS to the console, using the Cat5e unused cores, I fed the supply voltage to the fan and the Tacho pulse into the house where they are connected to a 52mm (2″) counter tachometer guage RPM, this was bought off eBay for £6.70 + £1.69 postage.

Tacho installed in the equipment cabinet:

The PC fan connections are:

  • Black – Negative 12v
  • Yellow – Positive 12v
  • Green – Tacho Pulse
  • Blue – PWM (Not Used)

The Tacho is set for a 4 cyclinder engine using a switch on the back of the unit, with the fan running the backlit RPM display is showing just under 1000RPM (reading slightly low due to voltage drop introducd by the distance from the ISS to the end point), to the left of the Tacho is my Meteobridge Pro  weather station server to the internet.

The motor is guaranteed for 6 years, replacement will be very easy and I’m able to remotley monitor that the fan is functioning, all for less than £20.

 

Shack/Office Refurbishment

Well what a job!!

My home office is also my shack and like most things, the infrastructure grew rather than was managed, so I knew the electrical power was not ideal and the network patch panel was full. The thing that brought it to a head was the need for a new floor covering, and so it began.

First job was to put in a new final circuit ring main to the office dado trunking and add a couple of additional power points for the UPS and mobile air conditioning unit.

As the cables are ran in the loft, I decided to install a decent fold down loft hatch and sliding ladder for ease of access, the loft lighting was also improved by installing 4 x 4′ fluorescent operated by a pull switch fed from its own dedicated circuit, this lighting made a huge diffence.

To move everything out of the office to get access to the floor meant it needed to go somewhere, and the obvious choice was the loft, so off to Homebase for loft flooring and loft legs and of course it was boarded during the hottest days of July.

Once everything was out, I could start tearing down to rebuild:

The existing home network hub needed to come out:

MB Pro fitted

No going back now!

New cable drops for additional tap points near the TV and existing TalkTalk router are shown, I did move/rationalise other tap points around the house and in the garage. In the lounge I drilled through to the external wall and installed conduit in preparation for when Virgin Media install fibre to the home.

The network cables were in and tested using a cheap and cheerful wire mapper and did find a faulty tap point, so well worth £2.59.

Once the power was sorted out, it was time to start on the cabinet, this is a 12U wall mounted jobbie and cost £48.49 from eBay, the power distrubution unit is fed via an 800VA MGE Pulsar Evolution UPS as is the red sockets.

Cables identified and marked up, rather than numbering the tap points, I opted to use a convention which accomadated change easily:

  • OFnn =Office, tap point nn
  • BD2/nn  = Bedroom 2, tap point nn
  • BD3/nn = Bedroom 3, tap point nn
  • LOnn = Loft,  tap point nn
  • Lnn = Lounge,  tap point nn
  • Gnn = Garage,  tap point nn
  • Hnn = Hall,  tap point nn

I, well me and my XYL took the oppertunity to start to spruce the place up with a coat of paint as well. This shows the wall ready for the roller.

Wall cabinet finished, I added a small temperture controller which switches on the cabinet fan and the ceiling mounted fan within the cupboard where the cabinet is fitted.

Working top down:

  • 2U blank plate
  • Telephone line IN, OUT via ADSL filtered ports
  • Temperature controller
  • 24 port patch panel wired in Cat5e, two ports spare
  • Brush strip to hide surplus cable or manage surplus cable if your a purist
  • Netgear JGS524E Managed Gigabit switch
  • 1U blank plate (behind this is a 6 way PDU fed via UPS)
  • 19″ 350mm deep shelf

Bottom shelf from left to right:

  • Meteobridge, Chatteris weather stations link to the internet
  • Low noise linear 5v PSU for Blitzortung lighting detector
  • 12v PSU to Network Attached Storage (NAS) and CCTV interface
  • CCTV controller interface
  • Netgear Duo 500Gb dual hard drive NAS

Cabinet closed and locked after making sure it didn’t hit the ceiling light.

Room with everything put back in and tidied up.

To make life easier for working on the radio equipment cables and connections, I didn’t push the desk right back to the wall and also no radio related equipment is on the floor (PSU), apart from the foot operated PTT.

Radio wise I didn’t do much, I added a seperate 12v PSU for auxillary equipment, such as the led signage, VSWR panel lights and SG autotuner to name a few, I also added a common RF earth board for the shack equipment to connect to.

Radio all put back together and cables tidied up, not sure how long the office will stay this neat 🙂

Update

The cheap and cheerful cable tester unfortunatly didn’t last the test of time and started giving some strange mapping indications, returning to eBay, I found a SC8108 Network Cable Tester for £17.98, this is superb value, and hopefully it will last longer than the last cable tester.

 

The SC8108 is very easy to use and has a number of usefull, menu driven features, but for my small home network, wire mapping is the primary focus.

£17.98 SC8108 Network Cable Tester showing the mapping test results for a remote tap point from the patch panel.

 

Davis 7346.174 – Pro2 Upgraded Digital Temperature Humidity Sensor

I decided to give the weather station a revamp, the two mini projects are the replacement of the Fan used to asperate the temperture/humidity sensor and the replacement of the original Davis temp/hum sensor with the more accurate chipset SHT15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bought the Davis 7346-174 upgrade from Scaled Instruments in Florida for $67.50 delivered (£51.94), the unit arrived very quickly as expected as I have used Scaled Instruments before and the service is exceptional.

Disassembly was quite straightforward after putting the station in install mode, what I was suprised by was the amount of dirt that had been drawn into to the fan guard and other parts of the Stevensons Sheild which all need a good wash with soapy water:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original sensor is secured with two machine screws and the cable by a ‘P’ clip:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The replacement sensor was a direct fit as you wpould expects apart from the fact that instead of a ‘P’ clip, the environmental coating was used to form a cable clip, thit need a stand-off and additional machine screw to enable the sensor wire to be secured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the housing was reassembled, sensor plugged up, fan reconnected and the station taken out of install mode everything worked just fine.

I’m awaiting the new fan to be deivered, so the second part of this will be blogged soon.

Boltek LD-250 Relay Interface

boltek

 

 

 

 

The LD-250 Lighting Detector from Boltek has an internal output for a relay interface, the manufactures units are quite expensive, so I decided to make my own.

relay
RLO-10 Boltek Relay Interface

Inside the LD-250 is a 14 way header which connects via ribbon cable to the RLO-10, off eBay I bought the 14 way ribbon cable and IDC cable mount socket for £5.00.

Opening the LD-250 the header JP1 is immediately obvious:

inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using my multimeter, the header output pins linked to the front panel LED’s and the operating voltage was quickly found.

diagram

Using a spare strip of veroboard I mounted a magnetically shielded reed relay 5v, with flywheel diode across the coil, and the switched Normally Open reed output to a 2.54mm x 2 pitch connector, I also put veropins in the board so I can select which function I want the relay to operate on, should it be needed in the future.

The reed switch is used to switch 24v DC to an indicating LED and a a PLC input, the total load was measured at 21.49mA, well within the 500mA rating of the reed switch.

The module was placed in a small enclosure:enclosure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ribbon cable was then plugged into JP1 inside the LD-250:

ribbon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Switching on the Boltek performs a self test of the front LED’s and internal buzzer, as I have used the output from the ‘Close’ LED, the reed relay operated and the mast which was raised, automatically retracted.

All in all the project performs as expected and cost me £7 (enclosure was £2) saving me £58.95 on a factory unit.

UK Weather Network & Meteobridge Pro

Chatteris Weather has been publishing weather data to UK Weather Network (UKWX) for a number of years when Martin from UKWX Admin mailed to let me know my data was no longer being shown.

Originaly Weather Display was configured to send data to UKWX and during the changeover to Meteobridge Pro this got missed, fortunatly in Martins mail alerting me to the problem was a link on how to configure Meteobridge.

MB instructions

I followed the above steps but couln’t get it to work, Martin kindly gave me the details of Bob Montgomery owner of Bishop Sutton Weather Station who also uses a Meteobridge, and he was very willing to offer advice in order to help me get the data created in a format which UKWX can injest.

This is what I learned with help from Bob:

  1. Open MB_stickertags-template.txt
  2. Copy the contents of the text file and past it into Notepad (I use Notepad ++)
  3. Save this file as MB_stickertags-template.txt
  4. Upload this file to your server, for ease I placed it in the root directory
  5. Set the file permission to 666
  6. In Notepad create a blank file and save it as MB_stickertags.txt
  7. Upload this file to your server, for ease I placed it in the root directory
  8. Set the file permission to 604
  9. Open Meteobridge Pro and select the Services tab
  10. Create an FTP and select periodical upload
  11. Enter your site details and update frequency as per the example below  (don’t forget to use yoursite) and press SAVE
  12. .Press TEST
  13. Using your browser enter www.yoursite/MB_stickertags.txt and you should be able to see your data
  14. Using the UKWX Contact Form, let admin know of your details
Example MB
Example MB Pro Services Setup

 

 

 

All done and time for a coffee!

Meteobridge Pro

Tidied up the installation of my Meteobridge Pro as originally it was inside a metal patch cabinet and I wanted to try using it on wi-fi.

The unit has been on test since it was returned from repair and has performed really well with no issues requireing a reboot, dropped uploads have been attributed to network problems, hence moving it outside of ther cabinet and off the wired LAN.

I monitor uptime from the Status Page of my weather web site, cumulative downtime is recorded in a rolling 7 day period within the MORE setting HERE.

The front USB port has a micro 16Gb thumb drive for saving scheduled backups.

SOHO cabinet

Power for the Meteobridge Pro and the Davis Vantage 2 Pro are both  fed from a UPS in order to filter the mains to the adapters and to keep the units active during short duration ‘blips’ in power.

The screenshot below shows all the services the MB Pro is running perfectly with the bonus of significantly reduced power consumption.

Meteobridge live data

Power Data: 5.47V 413mA 2.26W  (Box Climate: 51.5°C 11%)

Meteobridge Pro failed hardware

Due to a fault with the Meteobridge Pro, I’m unable to publish data from my weather station, the unit has been sent to Germany for repair and as soon as I receive it, normal service will be restored.

16 January 17 – Meteobridge Pro returned, fault identified as:

“There have been some pins
not correctly shortened that caused shortcuts on the USB path.”

 

Back up and running at 16:45.

Replacing PC with Meteobridge Pro

I have had a number of PC to run my weather station and as I built the station up, the load on the PC got greater and greater until I ended up with a beast of a PC which will handle anything I throw at it.

Dell PrecisionDell Precision 490 PC.

The problem is power consumption at 250watts, the cost to run this 24/7 is over £300 per year at current cost per unit of electricty.

Meteobridge Pro is an alternative to a PC, this device takes the feed from my Davis Vantage Pro2 weather station, (in my case cabled from the data logger, however, they do a wireless interface to pick up the ISS), and from this, control how your data is sent to websites via the internet.

Meteobridge ProThe unit fits in the palm of your hand.

SOHO cabinet

The Meteobridge Pro fits neatly within my 10″ cabinet.

Although extremely versatile, it is not meant to match the grunt of a PC, especially as the power consumption is only 2 Watts! however, what it can do is very impressive.

I bought the unit from Prodata in Ely and it came fully licenced and with the latest firmware updated.

I started updating the website on the 15 Dec 16 , converting the Saratoga Template, to the MB Plugin version.  The website was previously fed with data from the superb Weather Display software, due to the natural limitations of the Meteobridge pro a number of pages and features from my site will no longer be available.

For the latest information on the effects of the change, check HERE.

Cloud Cam Installation

Chatteris Weather used to have a dedicated camera looking at clouds, this was a CCTV camera with a USB converter enabling me to get pictures uploaded, unfortunately the image quality was very poor and eventually when the USB converter died, I replaced the CCTV image with a fixed digital camera taking snapshots which is in use now.

The problem with the fixed camera and my live cam is that they are mounted under the soffit to keep the elements off them and because of this I can’t lift them to point upwards, after a web site user contacted me about the lack of cloud observation, I decided I must get this sorted, especially as the CCTV camera housing was still in places.

My original idea was to get a WiFi enabled IP camera and use the existing CCTV camera power for the new IP camera, and use my wireless network to get the camera images on the computer.

The camera I decided on was £33 off eBay and is a Szsinocam 1080p 2mega pixel with WiFi capability.

ipcloudcam

The camera only took a few days to arrive and comes complete with UK plugged 12v wall wart power supply, fixing bracket, instructions and CD.

I’m using a Windows 7 Operating Systems and my PC has a CD drive, first job was to set it up on the bench and to run the CD for the ‘Search Tool’, once this was installed, I powered up the camera and plugged in an Ethernet lead into my router after first removing a device with a conflicting IP of 192.168.1.100.

Using the ‘Search Tool’, discovery of the camera was done within seconds, from here access into the cameras range of menus is possible, the instructions guide you through the setup process which was fairly straightforward,  the cameras IP and  WiFi enable were the first things I did, refreshing the ‘Search Tool’ now brought up two IP’s one for the Ethernet the other for WiFi.

The image quality is very good, the WiFi is about as good as a chocolate fireguard as it keeps dropping out, and I found it to be totally useless. Plan B now involves running a new Ethernet cable to where the camera is to be mounted, something I didn’t really want to do!

20160528_190012 (Medium)

The router is on the other side of the wall to the shed, I ran a Cat5 cable into the shed and then out to the camera using 10mm convoluted tube.

20160528_190032 (Medium)

Camera mounted within the old CCTV enclosure.

20160528_185954 (Medium)

Power for the camera comes from the 12v wall wart plugged in the shed, I used a 2.1mm ‘inline connector’ to plug the output from the power supply to the lead to a junction box, where I have spliced into the Cat 5 cable to allow me to use the unused conductors to double up and take power to the camera.

cat5poe

The software I use to get image to my website is iptimelapse, finding the streaming address was a nightmare and took far longer than I thought, it was only after I came across a thread in a CCTV forum that I had success, initially I used VLC Media Player to find the working camera stream, but once I knew it was possible, getting it working on iptimelapse was easy.

The program also adds weather conditions to the image which is a great feature.

iptimelapse

iptimelape takes a snapshot from the camera, in my case every 5 minutes from Sunrise until Sunset, after which time the program goes into ‘idle’ mode until it’s time to start, the timing is automatically configured from my long and lat coordinates.

Rather than have a static image of the last image on Chatteris Weather, I found a script on WX Forum which allows a new image to be displayed when a condition is met, I have used this to put a testcard on the site when no fresh image is being sent.

cloudcam_offline

My web site already had a Clouds page, so I thought the best place for a Cloud Cam was on this page.

Hope you enjoy the images.