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.

Hot Water to Outside Tap

When we first moved into the house I installed an external bibcock tap which I fed by ‘teeing’ into the cold water feed line in the garage which is  used for the combination boilers filling loop.

In the previous house I had hot and cold available outside to wash the car, so the project was to do the same here. The two problems were the lack of available hot water pipes in the garage and no more wall space to add another external bibcock dedicated to hot water.

First things first, locate a source for the hot water, fortunately on the other side of the garage wall is a small utility room with a sink and plumbing for a dishwasher and washing machine.

Isolating the cold water fill to at the tank, I drained the hot water down into the utility sink and emptied the dead leg of the washer fill line using the tap at the bottom of the pipe, once this was done, I put the plug in the sink and removed the sinks waste pipe for ease of access to where I would be cutting and soldering.

Drilling a 15mm hole through into the garage from the house was easy as the internal double skin walls are built using low density thermalite block.

Pipe installPutting some tape over the open end of pipe, I pushed it through the hole into the garage where I soldered an end fed elbow with stub to a compression fitting isolation valve. From the isolation valve a stub with a tee and drain cock were soldered.  A stub pipe from the tee had a plastic stop end fitted, the pipe was then pushed back into securing clips fixed to the garage wall.

soldered bridgeUsing the pipe slicer tool shown in the first picture, I cut out a small section out of the hot pipe and put on a 15mm copper tee, using a half crossover to bridge the cold pipe, I then used a short piece of pipe to connect an elbow to the pipe to the garage.

Once the dry fit went ok, I dissembled it all to clean and flux the pipe and fittings before soldering, all the fitting were end fed here.

Once all the joints were soldered and making sure all the valves are closed, I cracked open the hot water tank fill valve and went to check for leaks after venting air from the system and running water through the garage drain valve to flush out any debris.

Pipe pull

The garage has been converted into a workshop and I didn’t want to damage any exposed pipe  when I throw stuff for storage, so the best option was to use plastic pipe and fish it behind the false wall as their was just enough room.

Drilling 110mm holes, allowed me plenty of room to push trunking lids taped together for the 4.5m run, string was attached to the end of the lid and pushed in place.

At the other end it was a pain to fish for the string using a torch, mirror and bent hook, however, once grabbed, I tied on stronger blue rope  to the string and pulled this back to secure on the pipe as shown, (the last thing I wanted to repeat fishing!).

At the utility isolation valve end, I clipped the John Guest Layflat Speedfit pipe to the wall and used a cold form bend to hold its radius and take strain off the ‘plastic to copper’ coupling.

The design to allow me to use one external bibcock tap was to use a three port valve, this suggestion came from DIYNOT plumbing forum.

SchematicParts

The pressure reducing valve, 3 port valve, double checkvalves and themostatically controlled valve were from eBay, all other parts from Screwfix.

How it works

The cold water has a local isolation valve for ease of maintenance, a double check valve stops contaminants getting back into the upstream water system, a ‘tee’ allows the pressure reducing valve to be bypassed, and if the 3 port valve is in the right position, allows full mains pressure at the outside tap for use with the hose.

The pressure reducing valve is set for 3.5bar which is the same water pressure as my unvented hot water tank, therefore the water pressure for both feeds to the thermostatically controlled valve (TCV) is the same.

The hot water also has a local isolation valve and double check valve before it feeds the TCV, the temperature of the blended water leaving the TCV is 42C.

Garage pipeAs the cold water was available, I connected this first to the valve and allowed pressure testing, the biggest problem I had was sealing the 1/2″ BSP threads on the 3 port valve.

I tried using fibre washers, PTFE tape and jointing paste but a couple of joints would still weep very slowly over time.  I searched the problem in the DIYNOT forum and the advice from experienced plumbers was to use Locktite 55 , following the instructional video on the locktite site, I applied the sealing material onto the prepared threads and it worked, no more leaks.

At the end near the bibcock tap, I used another ‘plastic to copper’ coupling and piped up and over to the hot water isolation valve.

A hot water drain cock was installed where the pipe emerged from behind the false wall so I can drain down if needed.

Hot pipeThis shows the hot water pipe coupling about to be soldered, hence the heat resisting mat, on the right of the picture is the cold water valve which is open and testing for leaks.

In the garage is another isolation valve directly behind the bibcock, this stops unauthorised use of the external tap.

The final job was to flush the system thoroughly and check that the water coming out of the bibcock tap is at the correct temperature, once proven, all exposed pipes were insulated and where the risk of damage was high, boxed in.

The most expensive part of the job was the plastic pipe as this comes in a minimum of a 25m roll and I only needed 4.5m. The option of pulling in straight lengths with a connecting coupling behind the false wall was discounted as I didn’t want any inaccessible joints, so I had no choice but to pay for more than I needed.

Apart from hassle of sealing the weeping threads, the job went well and I’m happy with the result.

Lagged pipe

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.

Bat Detector

For a few years now we have had bat which regularly flies round the garden, Googling about bats I came across a bat detector circuit from  Tony Messina.

Tony’s site is packed with interesting information and a link to the UK where you can buy the printed Circuit Board if you didn’t want to use veroboard.

The PCB is from Lee Rogers (mail: lee@lrogers.co.uk) in the UK for £5 including p&p, the majority of the parts are available from Rapid Electronics , things out of stock at Rapid can easily be found on eBay.

UK parts list Rapid

The testing and adjustment was done by pointing at running water or rattling keys and tweaking the volume to a comfortable level as you go.

The total cost of the project was £28 and took about an hour to construct.

SAM_5686 (Medium)

Just got to test it on the real thing now 🙂

SDRPlay

This will be work in progress, please keep checking back until this message is removed.

sdrBought an SDRPlay and ‘m in the process of seeing what it will do and how it interfaces with HDSDR and Orbitron satellite tracking software, my initial aim is to receive and decode weather satellite images using WXtoImg.

Using the excellent construction details and templates from www.askrlc.co.uk for a Quadrifiliar Helical Antenna (QFH), I had a stab at making one.

The local plumbers merchant had the 32mm waste pipe and 8mm copper pipe along with an endstop, the total value of material was £26.00.

First job was to cut a piece of single sided copper board to fit in the pipe, once this was done, I cut a track in the disk as per the instructions, the dremel equivalent drill came into its own on doing this.

20160729_161139

Using the template and measurements from the website, I drill the holes for the 8mm pipe, I then used the dremel to cut a notch in the top pipe stubs the same width as the copper board, so that as I pushed each top stub in, it held the disk in place, allowing me to drill and use self tapping screws to secure the pipe in place.

20160729_174836 (Medium)

Checking with the MFJ-269C, the VSWR was 2:1 at 137.00MHz so very pleased with that.

The next step is to mount a Mini Whip on the top of the mast and get it all mounted, more info and pics will follow soon….

noaa-19-201608291343-mcir29 August 16, very first satellite download using SDRPlay and QFH antenna, lots, to tweak to get a better image, but I’m on the right track.

 

 

Radio Mast Automation – Part 4 – FINISHED (or so I thought)!

It has taken quite a while and a fair bit of work, but the ham radio mast automation project was finally  commissioned and tested today.

The links to the previous parts are here –

The main bulk of the final part was the drawing out of cables from my 40mm duct and replacing the aluminium tube from the rotator with a slightly longer one, this will give me more room for antennas should they be needed at a later date.

So that I dont have to run more antenna cables from the mast to the shack, I have fitted an Ameritron RCS-8V mast head 5 input antenna relay linked back to the shack by a multicore cable.

SAM_5640 (Medium)

Mast winched down to allow the longer pole and relay unit to be fitted, while the mast was down, I added some more ‘P’ clips the tidy the convoluted tube.

SAM_5642 (Medium)

The ‘kick’ in the tube allows the mast to sit in the top bracket recess without snagging any cables.

SAM_5647 (Medium)

The cables from the mast were put inside an protective sleeving up to the point where they enter the duct, the cables from the mast are:

  • 1 x RG213 for X200 Co-linear
  • 1 x RG213 for 2m/70cm Beams
  • 1 x RG213 to Antenna Relay
  • 1 x 8 core multicore from Antenna Relay (two cores were used for the beam relay which is separately housed on the mast)
  • 1 x 7 core rotator cable

From the external control, a 12 core multicore cable is also drawn in the duct.

SAM_5652 (Medium)

The 12 core is wired into the shack mast control unit, the unit is currently showing that the mast is in the raised position, a cable from this unit goes to the weather station Hobby Board relay interface.

SAM_5653 (Medium)

The supply for the Hobby Board interface is derived from the 24v supply which is used for the mast sensors (within the interface is a voltage reduction circuit so it operates at 13v).

The Weather Display Hobby Board program has bee set to output a ‘mast lower’ signal if any of these conditions are met:

  • Wind speed exceeds 27kts (31mph)
  • 30 strikes per minute of lighting are detected

The lightning count was originally 8 strikes per minute and as the detector was picking up lightning approximately 30 miles away it triggered the mast to lower, which it did.  As their is no distance calibration, I have increased the strikes per minute as I’m assuming the strike rate will increase as the storm gets closer.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch.

January 17 Update

Without my weather PC running Lightning Data could not be used, in Jan 17 I turned off the PC so now the weather related mast condition is from a standalone wind speed device.

Please see Part 5 HERE.

Radio Mast Automation: Control – Part 3

Third installment of the thrilling journey to install automation control to raise and lower my 12m radio mast, Part 2 is HERE.

As it was such a lovely few days weather I thought I’d spend some time working on mast automation, the proximity sensors (link to sensor blog) have been installed previously, so it was time to wire them up.

I bought some 10mm convoluted tube and ‘Tee’ fittings from Hilltop Products, 3/8″ P clips came courtesy of  eBay, the existing mast control wiring arrangement was completely removed and replaced with new tube and clips, an 8 core cable (Alarm cable 7/0.2mm) was drawn in, each of the four mast sensors had a unique signal cable, the other four cores were doubled up for 24v power to the sensors.

The ‘Tee’ pieces were ideal to close on the Superseal connector rubber boots and gives a great finish.

20160603_174800

I fitted an Emergency Stop button to the side of the mast and added a longer length of cable to the solar panel via a Superseal connector, existing control relays in the battery box were also removed and enclosure holes sealed.

20160604_180638 (Medium)

It was at the point of cleaning up the battery box that I measured the current draw taken by the high current relay when energized, I had factored about 1A, however it turned out to be 2.5A, this meant that my controllers wiring loom switching wires were underrated.

I had neatly lace wired with waxed cord my loom, and it took me ages to undo that good work and replace the switching wires with 0.75mm2 singles, one this was done, it was out with the waxed cord for round two.

The reason so much effort was taken with cable identification and looming was that all the kit had to be striped from the wooden backboard in order for the board to fit back in the enclosure, once in, the kit gets remounted, it’s not a big space to work so I knew I had to make it robust against wires coming out.

20160605_160545 (Medium)

Once installed and powered up, I tested the speed of operation of the emergency stop button, fortunately its as near as instant as I could perceive, so I pressed and released the mast raise switch, and stood back with my hand on the E-Stop in case it overshot the limits and the run timer was set too long, as it was it work perfectly, as did the lowering operation, the picture was taken after I pressed the Battery Charge override button, this disconnects the battery from the solar panel charger as the 4A charge is ON, battery voltage is displayed on the Mast Controller box and when this reaches 14.14v, the PLC will turn the charging relay off, reconnecting the battery to the solar charger once more.

Every four lifts of the mast or every Sunday at 01:00 whichever is sooner will cause the charging sequence to begin, in case the battery is unable to reach the set-point voltage, the PLC will disconnect the charger after 10 hours of use.

The white pipe at the bottom of the enclosure is for a single 12 core to the remote control unit in the shack, this is the next job to wire.

Power to the motor is from  a 45Ah 360A battery, the original 063 type from Halfords was beginning to signs of aging, so I bought the one below from eBay for £24:50 in January 17:

The battery is maintained by a solar panel and after 4 lifts, a 4A charger kicks in, solar panel charging currrent is 502mA:

Current drawn by the motor raising the mast is a little over 23A, the duration is approximatly 47 seconds for the mast to reach full height.

The Load and time taken to lower the mast is a lot lower at 8.86A.

Please see Part 4 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.

General information and status updates.

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