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Don’t worry the weather is now being mended

Written by stephen gale

Well, our new weather station provides a short forecast – the usual kind of stuff – but today, apparently, the weather is “Changeable, mending”.  And I didn’t even know it was broken!

weather-capture

New weather station

Written by stephen gale

I have eventually managed to get our new weather station online this weekend.

To be fair, installing the new weather station was a breeze!  It is a set up in terms of quality from the previous weather stations that we have had.  Unfortunately, it was a step up in price too!  It was made even more expensive since I bought two consoles – one for connection to the computer that uploads the data and one for general use inside the house.

The weather station is a Davis Vantage Vue and is aimed at the semi-professional and educational markets.  It is installed in the top field with the outdoor sensors being attached to a newly acquired TV aerial mast and standoff bracket from Screwfix.  I have attached the mast to one of the large stone gate posts using some threaded bar sunk and glued into a set of holes.  This means that the mast can be unbolted and relocated if necessary.  At the moment, we are using just one section of pole even though it came with two sections in the pack.

This is positioned about 75m from the house and works perfectly.  The fact that all the sensors are in one unit makes it look a lot neater than some of the other products.

This is positioned about 75m from the house and works perfectly. The fact that all the sensors are in one unit makes it look a lot neater than some of the other products.

I drilled some over-sized holes into this stone gate post.  I then used anchor set to fix some threaded bar into the holes (actually, these were bolts with the heads cut off).  I then used some nuts and washers to adjust the pole so that it was fixed in the upright position. Shame the camera wasn't level!

I drilled some over-sized holes into this stone gate post. I then used anchor set to fix some threaded bar into the holes (actually, these were bolts with the heads cut off). I then used some nuts and washers to adjust the pole so that it was fixed in the upright position. Shame the camera wasn’t level!

New weather station in position.  It is probably about 6ft high as we are only using one section of the TV mast.  The pole is raised off the ground so that we can strim underneath it.

New weather station in position. It is probably about 6ft high as we are only using one section of the TV mast. The pole is raised off the ground so that we can strim underneath it.

The main issue has been how to get the weather station to upload data to the Internet.  The supplier that I used suggested that I needed to use the Davis Weatherlink software for this, but we are currently using the Cumulus software that can be freely downloaded from the Internet.  It provides all the features that we need, plus it supports a wide variety of weather stations including our new one.  What could have been simpler!

Well, the Cumulus software wants to communicate with the Davis weather station via a serial port and the data logger dongle on the weather station is USB.  So there are two tricks to get this to work…..

Firstly, you need to map a serial port on your computer to map onto the USB port.  You are going to need some software to enable this, but the good news is that you can download this for free.  I used the UART bridge software from Silicon Labs.  You will find it here.  Download the correct version for your Operating System and then plug in the weather station via a USB port to activate the software (the COM port will not show up in Device Manager unless there is an active device connected to the COM port).

Secondly, you need to configure the correct port on Cumulus.  This is relatively straightforward, but confused me for a while.  Once you have the software installed above, plug in your weather station and go to device manager on your computer. If you look at the ports in the list, it will show which port number is being used for the USB.  It is probably either port 3 or 4.  Now go to the configuration page in the Cumulus software and enter the port number in the appropriate field.  You will need to save the configuration and then restart the software.  Bingo!  It should now work.

With the software installed and the weather station attached, device manager is showing that one COM port is active. In this case, it is COM3.

With the software installed and the weather station attached, device manager is showing that one COM port is active. In this case, it is COM3.

 

You need to select Serial in the Davis Type and then select the COM port number (in this case 4). If you don't, you will get an error -32701 from Cumulus when it tries to initialize the weather station.

You need to select Serial in the Davis Type and then select the COM port number (in this case 4). If you don’t, you will get an error -32701 from Cumulus when it tries to initialize the weather station.

Weather station has died (again!)

Written by stephen gale

Our second weather station has stopped working.  It was installed in November 2014 and had worked reasonably well, but has now ceased working.  Our first weather station (which was installed in January 2013) lasted a similar amount of time. I have put new batteries and cleaned all the contacts, but the base station only seems to connect to the display unit for a few hours at a time.  I am getting fed up with rebooting it and a weather station is of limited use if it only works for a few hours at a time.  I think it is the weather (and the spiders) that get to the outdoor instruments.  Also the plastic has started to suffer with the affects of excessive UV (yes, even up here in Yorkshire).

Given that this was the second one of these that we have had, I think it is about time that we either give up with the weather station or trade up to a more professional unit.  This looks like it is more up to the job, but it does come at a price (particularly when you consider that a USB connector is extra).

Having done a little bit of research, this seems to be the next logical step up in weather station. It comes with a 2 year warranty and given that our existing weather stations only seem to last about 12-18 months, this might be a really benefit. But it does come at a cost.

Having done a little bit of research, this seems to be the next logical step up in weather station. It comes with a 2 year warranty and given that our existing weather stations only seem to last about 12-18 months, this might be a really benefit. But it does come at a cost.

Just a random photo

Written by stephen gale
Just a random from around the house.  We have slowly finishing things off - installing stair lights, hanging pictures etc.  It all makes a difference.

Just a random from around the house. We have slowly finishing things off – installing stair lights, hanging pictures etc. It all makes a difference.

Odd jobs – 3

Written by stephen gale

We put the last of the concrete floors in to the outbuilding earlier in the month.  We will use this middle shed as a workshop and have decided to dry line and plaster this shed.  This will make it a little more free from dirt.  Hopefully, we will get this plastered in the next couple of weeks.  When we think about the amount of money been spent on these outbuildings, we might have been better off knocking them down and starting again.  The upside is that the outbuildings which have probably been here 200-300 years have a new lease of life.

We have put down a concrete base in the middle shed in the outbuilding, now all three sheds have proper concrete floors.  This means that the outbuilding is now a lot dryer than it has been in the past.  We have decided to get this shed drylined and plastered.  This should make this shed a bit more dirt free (this area had been used previously as a coal hole!).

We have put down a concrete base in the middle shed in the outbuilding, now all three sheds have proper concrete floors. This means that the outbuilding is now a lot dryer than it has been in the past. We have decided to get this shed drylined and plastered. This should make this shed a bit more dirt free (this area had been used previously as a coal hole!).

In advance of the middle shed being plastered, we have put in a new door frame so that the dry lining can be fitted up to the frame.  For now, we have put the old door back on (with new hinges and trimmed to make it a little more square).

In advance of the middle shed being plastered, we have put in a new door frame so that the dry lining can be fitted up to the frame. For now, we have put the old door back on (with new hinges and trimmed to make it a little more square).

Snow

Written by stephen gale

We have had some snow already this winter, but this morning we had around 3 inches.  This was enough to stop the traffic for a while and it was eerily quiet for a while.

January 2015 and we have around 3 inches of snow on the ground.  It was enough to stop any traffic on the road which meant that it was eerily quiet for a while.  It was a good day for sitting in front of the fire with a book.

January 2015 and we have around 3 inches of snow on the ground. It was enough to stop any traffic on the road which meant that it was eerily quiet for a while. It was a good day for sitting in front of the fire with a book.

The view from up the hill SAM_1265 SAM_1271

New weather station

Written by stephen gale

After the demise of our last weather station last week, we have installed a new one.  It is remarkable similar to our previous weather station, however, this does have a solar meter which measures daylight.  Our previous weatherstation was a Weathereye-WEA22.  The new one is a Aercus WS3083.

This one simply plugged into the same PC (via USB) as the old station and it worked.  I had to tell it that it now had a Solar meter, but that was about the only change.  The data is uploaded to the website every 15 minutes and you can access the page from here: http://www.haggleysfarm.co.uk/weather.

It looks very similar to the old one, except this one is well screwed onto the shed.  Although it is a different make, the outdoor attachments are identical (except this unit has a solar meter).  It simply plugged into the PC and started uploading data.  It took no more than 60 minutes to assemble and set up.

It looks very similar to the old one, except this one is well screwed onto the shed. Although it is a different make, the outdoor attachments are identical (except this unit has a solar meter). It simply plugged into the PC and started uploading data. It took no more than 60 minutes to assemble and set up.

Porch

Written by stephen gale

Ever since we moved in, there has been a pallet for a step underneath the canopy by the front door.  Fingers crossed, we will get this flagged next week – particularly if the weather is bad as this spot is somewhat sheltered from the elements.  It was getting to a point where we had got used to the pallet!  Time for a change.  The old tarmac has now been taken up ready for the flagstones to be laid.

Now we have the flagstones laid in the lower part of the sunken garden, we have started to realise how nice it looks!  We thought it was about time that we sorted out the porch at the front of the property.  The flagstones will be laid some time next week, but the area has already been prepped. Since this area is out of the worst of the weather, Paddy and Jonny may keep this piece of work in case the weather turns really bad next week!

Now we have the flagstones laid in the lower part of the sunken garden, we have started to realise how nice it looks! We thought it was about time that we sorted out the porch at the front of the property. The flagstones will be laid some time next week, but the area has already been prepped. Since this area is out of the worst of the weather, Paddy and Jonny may keep this piece of work in case the weather turns really bad next week!

Loxone kit: Part 1

Written by stephen gale

A couple of people have asked what the Loxone installation actually looks like and I realised that I hadn’t posted any photos since the installation had been completed.

The Loxone kit operates as two “stars” that are linked together.  One of the stars is in the older part of the building and one of the stars is in the new extension.  The main electricity feed comes into the new part of the building, but this then feeds a distribution board in the older part of the building.  While it sounds complex, it is actually straightforward.

To make things a little easier to understand, I will go through the set up of each of the node separately.  Let’s start with the node in the older part of the property. You will find Part 2 of this subject here that covers the newer part of the house.

The Loxone kit is house in two Hagar cabinets.  While they are a little expensive, they fitted in the space that I had and will comply with building and electrical regulations.  The top unit houses a TDK 24v supply, the Loxone miniserver and an extension.  The bottom unit houses another extension, a dimmer unit and an RS-232 module (to connect to the burglar alarm).

The TDK power supply is feed by a switched fuse spur and the power to the Loxone kit is fed by two further switched fuse spurs.  This means that all the Loxone kit can be power up, but the 240v power supplied to the mini-server, extension units and dimmer can be switched off separately.

We are using Cat5 cabling for all of the light switches.  All of the cables from the light switches terminate in a Cat5 patch panel.  It is then a simple case of making up a “fly lead” to go from the patch panel and connect it to the relevant Loxone unit.  The cable at the light switch is terminated using a standard RJ-45 plug.  This means that it is a straight connection from the plug at the light switch through to the patch panel.  This makes it very easy to test and also means that we can easily change the switches at a later date by just making up a new fly lead to connect to the Loxone kit.

All of the network connections are terminated in one of two patch panels.  There is one on top and one below the Netgear switch.  The TP link router connects to the switch and then patch leads are used to connect the relevant network ports to the Netgear switch.  We are using Schneider switches through the property and the stainless steel covers are a push fit.  If you lift the plate off, there is a label on the inside that indicates which port in the patch panel it connects to.

There is a telephone panel underneath.  This takes the incoming telephone line and splits it into 4 outgoing RJ-45 connections.  It is a simple task to connect a network port in one of the rooms to a spare telephone port. You need an adapter at the telephone end to convert the Rj-45 socket into something you can plug a UK telephone into.  This makes it very easy to more the telephone points around.

This shows the 3 distribution boards that house the Loxone kit and the RCDs for the older part of the house.  The datacomm cabinet at the bottom houses the patch panels, network switch and telephone distribution panel.

This shows the 3 distribution boards that house the Loxone kit and the RCDs for the older part of the house. The datacomm cabinet at the bottom houses the patch panels, network switch and telephone distribution panel.

With the covers removed, you can see how the Loxone it is wired up.  All of the low voltage connections have crimped ferrules attached; this makes it much easier to get good, reliable connections.  This is the lower of the two distribution boards that holds Loxone kit for this part of the house.

With the covers removed, you can see how the Loxone it is wired up. All of the low voltage connections have crimped ferrules attached; this makes it much easier to get good, reliable connections. This is the lower of the two distribution boards that holds Loxone kit for this part of the house.

RIP: Weather station

Written by stephen gale

We had some particularly strong wind over the weekend and our weather station got blown down.  Unfortunately, it smashed on the ground and I suspect that the plastic is too brittle to glue back together.  We will replace it in the next week or so.  Ho hum!

Unfortunately, a big gust of wind blown this off the shed at the weekend.  Although we have all the bits, I suspect the best option is to buy a new one.  The weatherstation will be out of action for the next few days.

Unfortunately, a big gust of wind blown this off the shed at the weekend. Although we have all the bits, I suspect the best option is to buy a new one. The weatherstation will be out of action for the next few days.