Evaluating Meteo-Pi (Part 1)

What is Meteo-Pi?

Meteo-Pi is a low-cost, two-part cabled adapter linking a standard Davis weather station console (VP2, Envoy or Vue) to a Raspberry Pi computer. The two parts are: a console interface that fits into the console much like a traditional logger and a Raspberry Pi input adapter in the form of a microHAT (µHAT), which means that it plugs directly on to the interface pins of the Pi. The two parts are joined by a short, Davis-compatible cable with RJ11 connectors. More product details of Meteo-Pi can be found on its product page.

Where Meteo-Pi fits in

Connecting a Davis station to a computer adds hugely to the data storage, analysis and Internet publishing features that are possible. Traditionally, the linked computer was a full-sized Windows desktop or laptop. And if you want continuous, real-time data handling this calls for the computer to be dedicated and running 24/7, which can be costly both to purchase and to run.

One recently-introduced alternative approach is the combined logger + Single Board Computer (SBC) class of devices such as the WiFi Logger and the Meteobridge range. These are both excellent devices and will be a great solution for some users. But both are also significantly limited by their available computing power and memory, plus the fact that there is obviously no option but to use the built-in firmware/software – if you’re not getting on with the features or interface, you can’t just switch to an alternative program.

Meteo-Pi works around these various limitations by moving all the data processing on to a Raspberry Pi computer, which confers three main benefits:

  • A Pi computer is very inexpensive to buy and also to run – it consumes minimal electrical power and can be left running 24/7 without any concern. Pi devices are also relatively tiny and so can be located inconspicuously;
  • Despite their small size, Pi computers are surprisingly powerful as a dedicated weather computer, especially so if one of the more powerful Pi versions such as 3B+ or 4 is chosen;
  • The choice of weather station software is entirely up to the user. If one program doesn’t live up to your expectations then switch to another. Obviously any program must be compatible with a Pi, but there are already several suitable programs available, including some free ones, and we expect more to launch in the future;

Perhaps the main challenge in switching to a Pi-based weather computer is that Pi’s typically run a version of Linux as the operating system. There is certainly something of a learning curve to making the switch, but it is gentler than some might imagine, as this blog post sets out to describe by setting up a Meteo-Pi unit in conjunction with a Raspberry Pi Zero WH unit and CumulusMX software.