From the Weather Lab

GF_Circuits_red800This page is a gateway to a collection of informal notes on products and activities that may be of wider interest. The emphasis here is on prompt ad-hoc additions whenever there’s anything new to say on current projects, so you’ll need to look past any lapses of English or layout and allow for the fact that pages will sometimes be incomplete. Topics covered will include:

  • Complete weather station installations that are unusual in some significant way or which are prototypes under test with the aim of overcoming particular operational issues;
  • Investigations of new types of weather-measuring products, sensors and configurations ;
  • Developments in software utilities and web page presentations;

In time these topics may extend over several web pages but for now we’ll try to keep the number of pages to a minimum and only add topics and pages as and when there’s something worthwhile to say.

6620 Connect Unit – Beta Test Report

We’ve now (April 2013) had the opportunity to beta test a pre-production 6620 Connect unit in a basic VP2 test rig here in the UK for a number of weeks – see image right, which shows a complete VP2-based installation mounted on a 7716 tripod.

New_connect1The most notable feature of the Connect product – assuming of course that you do have mobile phone reception at the proposed installation site – is perhaps the simplicity of setting it up.

GFConnect300All that’s necessary is to install the 6620 Connect unit within wireless range of eg a Vantage Pro 2 ISS, register an appropriate account at the weatherlink.com server and power up the  modem unit. There are a few LED flashes to check but within a few minutes, the cellular (mobile phone) modem should register with our local cellular base station and start, automatically, uploading data every 15 minutes to your weatherlink.com account via the mobile phone network. and with data currently visible via the usual web pages at weatherlink.com. Full configuration of the Connect unit can be achieved remotely via the unit’s web interface, once the communication link was fully established.

There is really not much to add: The Connect unit performs exactly as intended – for anyone already familiar with the live data presentations available at weatherlink.com, the Connect products provide exactly this but with uploads mediated via the mobile phone network rather than a local Internet connection and all with an absolute minimum of setting up.

Our Connect is a final development/test unit and as such we’ve been requested to make various upgrades to the unit and its firmware as part of the testing and validation process, with occasional hitches as the detailed configuration has been finalised. But any issues were transient and quickly resolved and we’ve achieved a configuration which seems fully robust and stable. Our experience with this preproduction unit confirms that this is already a product that is working satisfactorily in its current configuration and so must be getting relatively close to its formal launch.

One detail that has evolved during the late development stages is which mobile networks the data plans will be supporting. Please contact us for further details of the currently supported networks.

The Great Fen weather station

The Great Fen station is an experimental installation located out in the Cambridgeshire fens near our base here. Its purpose is to assess the feasibility of running a (relatively!) low-cost automatic weather station that reports continuous live weather data at a location with no mains electricity supply and no means of data communications other than mobile phone reception. This is an ongoing project that generates a significant amount of both data and issues and so this Great Fen AWS project is described in detail on other pages, as follows:

  • Overview of the Great Fen project;
  • Design of the solar power supply;
  • Testing and performance notes (not yet added);

New products and sensors

The Hydreon RG-11 Rain gauge

This is an unusual and inexpensive optical rain gauge sensor that we have in for testing. Further report in due course.

Inexpensive offline rainfall logger

This is a promising idea for a relatively inexpensive (ca £150) automatic rainfall logger that:

  • Operates offline (is not connected to a PC except very occasionally for data downloads);
  • Runs for extended periods from a small inexpensive battery;
  • Is suitable for longer-term (eg 1 month or more at a time) set-and-forget rainfall logging in the field;

Again, a further report will be posted in due course;

Software utilities and website presentations

TBA