Author Topic: Canebas Weather Station turns 10 years old!  (Read 125 times)

elagache

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Canebas Weather Station turns 10 years old!
« on: October 01, 2019, 11:53:23 PM »
Dear WeatherCatters new and old,

On October 1st 2009, LWC (WeatherCat's ancestor) started to record the first data from Canebas weather station.  Here is the first temperature data on a graph:



As it typical in such situations the story is a bit more complex than that.  The year earlier I had purchased an Oregon Scientific 968 station and contented myself with simply monitoring the console because I had no idea it could be connected to a Mac.  Within a year, the anemometer failed.  By then I was hooked and decided to upgrade to a Davis station because . . . . . . it came with software to connect to a Mac . . . . .   [rolleyes2]

As soon as I tried WeatherLink for Mac I was appalled!  :o  That led to a search of MacUpdate see what other software was available.  I found 3 possible candidates.  After exploring each one, I finally settled on one written by a fellow all the way on the other side of the pond in Scotland.  One could say the rest is history, but there are some interesting highlights nonetheless.

As a consequence of the older station, I wanted to keep my temperature-humidity probe under our deck because that was a much better radiation shield than anything you could buy commercially.  Naively, I bought a second Davis temperature-humidity station and tried to get the console to take that as the primary temperature.  As it turned out, this wasn't possible, so instead I ran a 50 foot stretch of 6 conductor phone cable from the deck to where I wanted to install the ISS.  This would come back to haunt me years later.  Here is how the external sensors were originally setup:



Note the close-up at the bottom zooming in on the temperature-humidity sensor.

The other thing I decided to do was to use a USB for Cat-5 connection to keep the console in a central location while keeping my computer in a bedroom.  More on this shortly.  The original hardware configuration looked like this:



The station started out with an amazing weather event on the 11th:  the October 2009 North American storm complex.  Here is the Wikipedia article about it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_2009_North_American_storm_complex

Here is the graph of rainfall for that storm:



It is a day I won't soon forget because as luck would have it, we had scheduled replacing our garage door that day and all the cars had to be outside.  Needless to say, da' trusty wagon was most definitely not amused to be outside in the deluge!

Time marched on, but problems didn't exactly disappear.  The USB over Cat-5 connection was never robust enough to avoid losing data.  In desperation, I wrote an AppleScript to announce when the weather station was offline.  This is the timid start of my famous (infamous?) Applescripts.

More extreme weather was only around the corner.  Late January 2010 brought a spell of heavy rains and the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded at the station:



That storm also brought lightning and one bolt struck the house.  We lost electrical power to about 1/3 of the house which would not be repaired for 6 months.  In addition the lightning disabled: 1 computer, some other electronics, and the USB over Cat-5 connection between the console and my computer.  Because I didn't know better, I walked my laptop over to the console every day to download the data under I was able to repair the connection.

By 2011 I gave up on the USB over Cat-5 setup and instead switched to a Davis Weather Envoy.  That way my console could still remain centrally located but data would go directly to my Mac.  Here is the diagram from the period:



Later that year there was another sort of crisis that would shake the whole community but ultimately bring forth the program we now know as WeatherCat.  Late in the summer, we were shocked to be informed that LWC was going to be abandoned and all support (including the forum) would be shutdown.  Such was the strength of the user-community even then that we managed to start-up a new forum and soldered on as a community.  I tried to keep the LWC users happy with as many enhancements as I could cobble together in AppleScript.  Alas, this might have ultimately contributed to the demise of those AppleScripts.  In the haste to get new functionality, I didn't write the code as carefully as I would have normally done.

Fortunately, this tale would have a happy ending.  Around the first of year 2012 Stu secretly started to contact some of the LWC regulars to announce a new program was under development: WeatherCat.  WeatherCat hit the streets in May 2012.

In the meantime, Canebas weather station continued to dutifully collect data.  However, there were some serious issues along the way.  The most bizarre was one started in the autumn of 2014 in which the Davis Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS) started to generate sensor errors for apparently no reason.  It is documented in this harrowing tale:

Da' dreaded ISS battery "eatin'" syndrome! http://athena.trixology.com/index.php?topic=1434.msg12044#msg12044

I never did figure out why my ISS wasn't working correctly.  However, I did eventually learn that the temperature-humidity probes of the period was extremely sensitive to the length of cable between the sensor and the ISS.  The only way I could continue to use our deck as a radiation shield was to move the ISS next to the sensor and instead run extended cables to the anemometer, rain gauge, and solar radiation sensor.  I finally managed to complete the swap in early February 2015.   The ISS was now in another sort of enclosure and was now powered by AC current instead of solar:



Alas, that wasn't the end of the problems because of a silly assumption on my part.  In March 2015, I started to get errors once more.  As usual, I turned to the forum for help:

*Sniff* . . da' darn "mellar-drama" continues!! https://athena.trixology.com/index.php?topic=1614.msg13744#msg13744

Eventually, I figured out that the problem was caused by having my console serve as a relay for the data from the ISS to my Weather Envoy.  I was concerned that the signal would have some difficulty getting through the steel mesh that supported our 72 year old plaster walls.  Instead the ISS signal was more than strong enough to reach my Weather Envoy.  Having two transmitters in close proximity to one another will allow them to interfere with one another.  Thus, instead reinforcing my data collection - I was losing data.  Finally, things started to work properly once I turned off the console relay.

There have been a few other improvements and maintenance.  In October of 2015 I added a PC case fan to aspirate my temperature-humidity probe:

https://athena.trixology.com/index.php?topic=1865.msg16710#msg16710

Last year I had to replace the station's anemometer:

http://athena.trixology.com/index.php?topic=2820.msg27366#msg27366

About a month ago I had to replace the station's temperature-humidity sensor

http://athena.trixology.com/index.php?topic=3017.msg29257#msg29257

It has certainly been a decade full of twists and turns!  Here is what the station looks like today.  Here is the anemometer, radiation sensor, and rain gauge:



Here is the ISS and temperature-humidity probe after the recent sensor replacement:



Many thanks to Stu (Stuart Ball) for his continued support of WeatherCat no matter what his day job threw at him. ThU5:-)

By all means thanks to all the great folks on this forum!   [cheer]  It has been an amazing 10 years!

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

wurzelmac

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Re: Canebas Weather Station turns 10 years old!
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2019, 01:28:50 PM »
Happy anniversary!  [cheers1]
Reinhard


Steve

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Re: Canebas Weather Station turns 10 years old!
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2019, 02:31:11 PM »
Happy Annymometer!! :)

I remember those drawings and description from the old MacWeather and LWC forums. Seems forever ago.
Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA


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Blicj11

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Re: Canebas Weather Station turns 10 years old!
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2019, 03:14:29 PM »
Congratulations Edouard. You are a fine story teller and I enjoyed reading a summary of the highs (and lows) of a decade's worth of WeatherCatting. May the next 10 years work out as well as the last, trouble shooting aside.
Blick


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Re: Canebas Weather Station turns 10 years old!
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2019, 05:24:36 PM »
Congrats, Edouard! Your perseverance is encouraging and helpful! ThU5:-)

elagache

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Thanks everybody! (Re: Canebas Weather Station turns 10 years old!)
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2019, 10:09:48 PM »
Dear Reinhard, Steve, Blick, X-Air, and WeatherCat faithful,

. . . . . You are a fine story teller and I enjoyed reading a summary of the highs (and lows) of a decade's worth of WeatherCatting.

Honestly, I hadn't planned on doing that at first.  I started remembering that difficult garage door installation and then the memories started to come.  I decided perhaps it was worth putting down somewhere the WeatherCat experience at least from one man's perspective.

I remember those drawings and description from the old MacWeather and LWC forums. Seems forever ago.

You are so right!  To be honest, I had forgotten all about them.  As I started writing this up, I started rummaging around on my server file-folders and there they were!  Having found them, I couldn't resist including them.

Thanks again!  ThU5:-)  Let's all hope for fortuitous weather and reliable weather stations for the next decade!

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]