Category Archives: Weather Site

Davis Vantage Pro2 Fan Change

I check and clean my weather station twice a year, just before Christmas I noticed the  FARS (Fan Aspirated Radiation Shieldfan which draws air past the external temperature and humidity sensor had stopped working, (write up from a previous blog on how I installed it is here –FARS Link).

As an interim measure I increased the voltage to the fan from 1.7v to 2.8v, which kept the motor working for a few more weeks before it finally wouldn’t kick into life.

In February 2014 I had bought 5 spare motors (minimum order but cheap as chips) from Jameco.com, so today I decided the weather wasn’t going to catch me out  and I made a start on replacing the fan.

Disassembly of the unit is very easy, removing the Rain Bucket exposes three cross head screws which hold the FARS in place, whilst holding the base of the FARS, undo each of the screws until you have the weight of the FARS in your hand, slowly lowering your hand the weight of the unit will be held by the interconnecting wires to the ISS.

The power to the fan is via a small plug and once removed, the fan assembly slides out of the shield as one unit.

The fan is held onto the motor by an interference fit, pulling on the fan will remove it from the motors shaft.

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The motor is held in the fan body by silicon, I used a craft drill with a tapered bit to remove this.

2016-01-23 09.41.35It didn’t take too long to get the motor out, the next job was to tidy the fan body socket and de-solder the old fan motor wires.

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New motor from Jameco compared to the one removed just in case I had ordered the wrong one!

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The motor needs packing to center it in the fan body, jerryg on the WXForum gave his solution of using insulating tape to build the diameter and this works really well, I made it so the motor was a snug, but not tight fit (as the motor uses brushes to make electrical contact to the rotating commutator, the motor will inevitably fail and need replacement).

The motor has three holes at the shaft end of the body which in the the original motor had been taped over, so I did the same, pushing the motor in the body I used a few dabs of silicon to hold it in place and pushed on the, the last part of this job was to solder wires on making sure the red wire went to the terminal marked with a + sign!

Once connections are made, a cable tie holds the wires neatly to fan body.

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While everything was apart, I checked the voltage regulator to the fan to make sure everything was ok, this is a Velleman unit with 24vAC in and I have removed the potentiometer and replaced it with a fixed value resistor giving a stable output of 2.8v DC.

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After a washing  down with soapy water the tipping bucket, Stevenson screen and rain bucket, everything was put back together, the total time taken was about an hour, now I know what I need to do, this could be done in under 30 minutes.

If you prefer to simply change the complete fan unit (Davis 7758), this can be bought from Weatherspares  in the UK who offer exceptional customer service.

Just got to see how long this motor lasts, once all the motors I’ve bought are gone, I’ll put a PC fan motor in and monitor the output to generate an alarm, I have made a a circuit based on this site, but I need to play a bit more to get it to work properly.

 

Chatteris Weather Page Updates

Over the festive break, I’ve taken the opportunity to tweak my weather web pages and add a few features:-

  1.   Meteotemplate

This is a new style dashboard accessible from the menu bar of Chatteris Weather, if you prefer this template, save it as a favorite.

Jachym, the author of the script is continually adding new functionality and wherever possible I will adjust my site to incorporate his hard work.

2.   International Space Station (ISS)

I have always had a link to the ISS, but now Maj Tim is orbiting, I thought it would be fitting to have a bespoke page showing the live camera stream and graphical overlay of where the ISS is in real time.

3.   Live Webcam

I have recently fitted a Hikvision IP webcam which is streaming live video 24/7. I’m working on the time lapse feature and this will follow shortly.

4.  Supercounter

I have had revolver map on my site for a while as well as a whos-online script and PHP Web Stat, Supercounter was very easy to set up and implement, site statistics are available from the above link, what is of interest is that the majority of refers have come from webcam sites.

5.  Page Header Image

New design which will change to reflect either a reason to celebrate, when not a special header, a new standard image will be used with a change of title from Chatteris Weather to Chatteris Weather Station.

6.  Status Page

Added a screen grab image of the Weather Display program which drives Chatteris Weather, looking at the image you can see at a glance the overall conditions which are updated every 5 minutes.

Construction of More Blitzortung Lightning Detectors

I offer my help to the Blitzortung Forum members who find soldering is not for them, especially the tiny components; the  boards below are:

Top Left –  Blitzortung Controller with pre made daughter board plugged in

Top-Right – Amplifier which interfaces the antennas (not shown) to the controller

Bottom Left – E-Field Amplifier connects to controller

Bottom Right – E-Field Pre Amplifier  connects to E-Field Amplifier

SAM_5587 (Medium)The owner of the boards (Julian – Bremen, Germany) had kindly put all the parts in uniquely identifiable bags which certainly saved me time usually spent in sorting out the components.

In total I spent about 9 hours building up the boards and installing the firmware in the daughter board, hopefully that will be another one on the Blitzortung network.

General Web Site Maintenance

Decided to do a little bit of autumn maintenance of the weather web site:

  • Added London Underground service status to the Trains page
  • Added a link to Solent Harbor radio to replace the broken audio media player
  • Repaired the link to Talking Chatteris Weather on the web front page
  • Changed the time lapse video feed to mp.4 format and configured a JW Player in an iframe to show this
  • Rationalized some of the menu to make navigation easier
  • White listed my ip address in ZBlocker after I locked myself out of the site 🙁
  • Added  more Chatteris related community interest links and checked existing ones, adjusting to newer links where needed
  • Changed some of the upload times to the correct value in the page text

If you find any broken links, please use the Contact Form to let me know.

 

Weather Station – Relay Outputs

My weather station software is Weather Display which is unbelievable in what it can do, the author of the software is very receptive to ideas and modifications and has introduced a feature which I and others have asked for, that is the ability for a physical relay to change state when a condition has been met.

Weather Display used to have the feature to operate a 1-wire single relay, but this has been superseded by an 8 Relay module which was not coded to work with the program.

I bought a board and sent it to Brian Hamilton of Weather Display, and within one afternoon had it working  (it did take a few days to get there as Brian lives in New Zealand)!

The feature Weather Display offers is not only control of relays via Weather Display, but using a Phone or Tablet app.

hobbyboard1

The relays can be assigned to Temperature, Wind Speed, Rain, Lightning (depending on sensors) or a timed schedule, these parameters are set and adjusted from a tab within the program.

SAM_5542 (Medium)

The relay board is powered by an external 12v supply with a 1-wire data lead going through a USB interface to the PC, activated relays are indicated by the LED.

SAM_5537 (Medium)

The app allows full control of the relays if configured, or for relays that have been set to ‘monitor’, the state of the relay is reflected on the app.

This addition has brought a new dimension to the weather station, and I will be connecting the ham radio mast motor to the relays, so that on detection of high wind or lightning, the mast will automatically retract (and maybe ground all the antennas so the transceivers wont get damaged).

A further benefit not related to weather is that a relay could be remotely switched to operate the heating or lighting etc, I’m using one to turn on a power supply unit so I can remotely operate power to my transceivers.

Note:   The HobbyBoard relays are not rated for high currents, I will be using these relays to operate higher switching capacity relays.

8 Channel Input/Output Manual shows the versatility of this module.

Lightning Storm

Chatteris had a lighting storm right overhead for some time in the early hours of Saturday 4 July, the strikes were spectacular and the whole sky was alight with activity.

The first alert my Boltek lightning detector e-mailed was at 12.22am, the storm was successfully tracked until 02.40am when the severity of the storm took out the electrical supply to my part of the town, it was just over 4 hours when the power returned.

4715 (Custom)

Screen grab from weather PC just before the UPS batteries exhausted themselves, shows over 23800 strikes with a current rate of 447 strikes per minute (these could be inter cloud, cloud to cloud or strikes to ground).

While the wife loved natures display of power, the dog certainly didn’t!

Blitzortung Station Ident Changed

Due to a user error (me), I inadvertently blew the Blitzortung STM32F4-Discovery daughter board, fortunately this was the only element damaged.

The new station identification number is now 1354 from the previous ident of 755, the original station was 675 but after each daughter board change, the station is reassigned a new number based on the embedded code within the discovery board.

I was off line for about two hours, but everything is working as expected again.

Second Hard Drive Added to Weather PC

Added a 1Tb secondary hard drive to the weather PC, this was bought from dabs.com and was delivered within a few days, I’ve always had excellent service from dabs.

The Dell Precision 490 has a spare bay for a hard drive but it needs a special caddy, these are less than £5 from Charles Computers on Ebay.

The fitting is really straightforward as all the required cables are pre-installed, once plugged up, the PC is turned on and as soon as the Dell logo is shown, pressing F2 enters the BIOS, here the SATA drive is enabled, before rebooting.

I’m using Acronis True Image 2015 and using the Tools>>Clone Disk option made the secondary drive bootable and also this will be where backups are stored.

I have set Acronis to generate ‘Version Chains’ it does this by making a full backup first and then differential backups, every fifth backup is a full one and the chain starts again, any version older than six months is deleted.

The Version chain is ran three times a week to the secondary drive with a full backup to an external drive being done weekly.

Changed Weather PC

Over the past few weeks the reliability of my dedicated weather PC was getting worse, probably due to the number of concurrent applications running and the fact that it is never switched off.

I decided to get a more ‘gruntier’ one, not sure if that’s the correct word, not only to  server my weather site  but become my main PC, therefore a number of radio related applications needed installing as well.

I used GNG computers in Huntingdon who I have used a number of times before and have never been disappointed on cost, quality or speed of delivery.

The PC is a Dell Precision 490 and has duel Xeon 3Ghz 2 core processors, 8Gb of RAM and two hard drives (well the second one will be fitted soon) 650Gb and 1Tb, the 1Tb will be a mirror of the main drive and have the backups on it.

The process to transfer the weather programs was a nightmare as a number of them were licensed to one PC, moving the programs meant transferring licenses, so I’ll bore you with the programs I transferred or installed: –

Orbitron, WSPR, Dl-Digi,Fl-Digi, Ham Radio Deluxe, HDSDR, MMSSTX, DX Atlas, Echolink, Raidar, CCleaner, Notepad++, Filezilla, Google earth, Microsoft Office, Kaspersky, Teamviewer, Livezilla, Diffmerge, The Owl, VXM remote, Arduino, Z-Zip, LifeCam, Olympus digital camera, Dropbox, Google Docs, E-mail, Weather Display, Nexstorm, Startwatch, StormvueNGX, Sentry, Sebectec, Wxsim, Wxmate, WASP2, Discharge, Acronis 2015, System Scheduler, WDL configurator, Microsoft Expression, Strikestar EU, Skype, Visio and Image resizer!

I must say that it is blisteringly fast and I can comfortably now do more than one thing at once, which is quite an achievement for a bloke.

 

 

 

Installed zbblock Spam & Hack Prevention Tool

Installed  zbblock  to reduce the number of rouge search tools which are constantly crawling all over the site, I’m working through the settings, but it will take a while to ‘tune’ the program.

If you happen to get a warning, I have put a contact e-mail on the alert page for genuine visitors to get in touch so I can allow access, obviously if you try to many times, the system will lock you out completely and you wont be reading this 🙂