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!
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.
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.
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).