Author Topic: General information on Meteobridge - Pros and Cons (??)  (Read 7679 times)

elagache

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General information on Meteobridge - Pros and Cons (??)
« on: January 13, 2017, 12:07:48 am »
Dear WeatherCat hardware junkies,

We haven't had this problem in a while, but there are WeatherCat users who really don't want to run their Macs 24/7.  Until recently there was no way to continue submitting data to various online services unless your computer was running.  However, there is a relatively new product out there called Meteobridge.  Because I suggested that a newcomer look into it, I decided I should do the same.  It turns out Meteobridge is actually a software package, not a device.  The device that it runs on is TP-LINK router TL-MR3020:

http://www.tp-link.com/sa/products/details/cat-14_TL-MR3020.html

or the TP-LINK router TL-MR3040

http://www.tp-link.com/lb/products/details/cat-14_TL-MR3040.html

These little machines actually runs a version of LiNUX.  Meteobridge is a software package also written in LINUX that runs on the TL-MR3020/40.  It is described as shareware and it costs 65 Euros (~ $70) to purchase the software.  The TL-MR3020 and TL-MR3040 can be had for under $30.  So you can have a running Meteobridge for about $100.  However, you have to go through the trouble of installing the Meteobridge software on the router yourself.  This isn't particularly difficult, but it is not nearly as user-friendly as WeatherCat for example.  The instructions can be found on the Meteobridge website:

http://www.meteobridge.com/wiki/index.php/Preparing_Hardware

If you don't want the hassle, Ambient Weather as a turn-key version of MeteoBridge:

http://www.ambientweather.com/weatherbridge.html

However, it costs $209 so you'll pay twice as much for your laziness.  The Ambient Weather manual has a good overview of what you can do with the Meteobridge:

http://site.ambientweatherstore.com/Manuals/weatherbridge.pdf

There are a number of WeatherCatters using a Meteobridge including DFW who I've asked to comment on this thread.

It seems to me that there are a few situations where Meteobridge makes good sense:

  • Someone running WeatherCat on a MacBook that does get used outside of the house.  When MacBook is on the road, the Meteobridge keeps uploading data.
  • Places were extreme weather is common.  You might want to be able to shutdown your Mac so avoid damage from lightning, etc. but still have data being uploaded by the Meteobridge.

There are some situations where Meteobridge doesn't make any sense:

  • If you are running a custom website that is generated by WeatherCat.
  • Your Mac is stationary and runs 24/7 for other reasons (say as a jukebox.)
  • If you beta-test WeatherCat!!  :D

There is at least one situation where I'm simply unsure.  Many users are trying to save money on their electrical bill.  Alas, there is no power usage information on the TL-MR3020.  While it would appear that a Mac would be using much more power than a small router, the Mac has a lot of power saving features and when the Mac is basically idling, it should be using a lot less power overnight.  On the other hand, the TL-MR3020 must be used 24/7, so during the day when your Mac is used, you will be using more power than normal (Mac + TL-MR3020.)  Finally, you have to prorate the additional cost of the TL-MR3020 and Meteobridge software.  $100 buys a lot of electrical power.  In short I just don't know if this really makes sense or not.

Now I want to turn this thread loose on the WeatherCat community.  What you all think about Meteobridge?  When does it make sense to use it?  When would it be another unnecessary complication?  Meteobridge users out there - what is your experience?  Any special issues using Meteobridge with WeatherCat?

Let's hear it gang!


Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

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Re: General information on Meteobridge - Pros and Cons (??)
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2017, 08:25:03 am »
Edouard:

Thanks for taking the time to pull together this nice summary of Meteobridge. I've heard about it and read a little, but this is a very nice compilation to introduce the technology.
Blick


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Meteobridge
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2017, 09:04:59 pm »
I've used and love my Meteobridge for longer than I've used WeatherCat. If you are on the fence about a Meteobridge, I recommend just getting one. They are cheap, a fun project, easy to work with, and provide a lot of backup to a WeatherCat only setup.

I mainly use WeatherCat for storing all my data and building my website. You can see my WeatherCat website here. However, the Meteobridge is also capable of making a simple website via the Saratoga templates and you can see my Meteobridge website here. Finally, for more money, the Meteobridge Pro has all the features of the standard Meteobridge, but will store data. I didn't spend money on the Pro because it is basically redundant if one runs WeatherCat 24/7.

The Meteobridge is just a router, using essentially zero power, and I'd say way less than even a sleeping Mac, because it runs on USB power levels. This is great because even if the power goes out, with a UPS attached to both it an your internet modem, you would possibly be able to run your uploads and website for hours or days (if your internet connection remains alive).

My setup is to use the Meteobridge to make all my uploads to all the service providers I send data to, and use WeatherCat for data storage and graphing. Essentially, Meteobridge becomes a more reliable source to upload with because there isn't data stream interruptions when you sleep or restart a Mac, and all your upload services aren't put into one basket, as it would be by only using WeatherCat for everything. I'm big on having backup avenues and the Meteobridge helps compliment WeatherCat in that regard.

Further, about once a month around here, someone has trouble with a USB driver for connections between a Davis console and their computer, etc. With Meteobridge, those problems all disappear because WeatherCat gets its info from the Meteobridge via a LAN connection, with no USB connection to the Mac. It's more robust and never needs driver updates. To me, that's huge (sorry, it's 2017: that YUUUGE).

So, to sum up, I have Davis Console -> USB Data logger -> Meteobridge -> Ethernet cable -> Switch -> iMac. The Meteobridge, then, is just another device on your network. Mine is wired, but it could be wireless, too. WeatherCat "sees" the Davis Console on the network and the Meteobridge is transparent to WeatherCat. If the Meteobridge dies, I can use WeatherCat for uploads; if WeatherCat suffers a kernel panic or iMac reboot, the Meteobridge doesn't care and just keeps uploading. I'm pedantic about not having data gaps in my uploaded data. My neighbors and even my Rachio irrigation controller use my PWS data so I don't want uploads to stop because I have an iMac issue.

Send me a PM if you have any questions about Meteobridge and WeatherCat. All the best,

dfw
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elagache

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Which driver? (Re: General information on Meteobridge)
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2017, 11:20:17 pm »
Dear Blick, DFW, and WeatherCat gadget fans,

Thanks DFW for your enthusiastic endorsement and basic information.  I'm just confused about one thing.  You write:

So, to sum up, I have Davis Console -> USB Data logger -> Meteobridge -> Ethernet cable -> Switch -> iMac. The Meteobridge, then, is just another device on your network. Mine is wired, but it could be wireless, too. WeatherCat "sees" the Davis Console on the network and the Meteobridge is transparent to WeatherCat.

I don't understand exactly what you mean by this.  Are you saying that you use the WeatherCat's interface to the Davis IP Data Logger and give the the IP address of your Meteobridge?  If so, are you using the Virtual VP mode of that driver as described on page 74 of the current WeatherCat manual?

If there is enough to write down, I'll try to add a small Wiki entry with whatever special instructions are needed to use WeatherCat with a Metrobridge.

Thanks, Edouard

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IP Address
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2017, 12:20:52 am »
Quote
Are you saying that you use the WeatherCat's interface to the Davis IP Data Logger and give the the IP address of your Meteobridge?
Correct. I tell WeatherCat I'm using WeatherLink IP on the station comms preferences, and give it the static IP address of my Meteobridge. Works like a charm (however, as a best practice, give the Meteobridge a static IP on your network so the IP doesn't change).

dfw
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elagache

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New Wiki page (Re: General information on Meteobridge)
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2017, 11:12:43 pm »
Dear DFW and WeatherCat gadget junkies,

Okay, I went ahead and created a Wiki entry:

http://wiki.trixology.com/index.php?title=Meteobridge

If anybody spots errors or has additional information that should be included please let me know.

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

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Re: General information on Meteobridge - Pros and Cons (??)
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2017, 06:29:20 pm »
To add on with my experience and decision process using a Meteobridge, my Weather environment today is:

- Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus ISS, dual Vantage Pro 2 consoles
- Davis WeatherLinkIP (I actually have 2)
- Ambient Weather WeatherBridge (a pre-built and already-licensed Meteobridge using a TP-LINK router)
- Apple iMac 5K (Quad-core, 512GB SSD, 16TB Drobo, etc...)

Some Basic Context:
- I want to continue being a Mac-centric guy, but I do keep a very cheap $200 Windows laptop around for the occassional Windows-only support need.  I was an IT-kinda guy in my early professional life and can still get into geekie things if I must, but am honestly trying to keep my life simpler these days.  ;)
- I try to save a bit of energy when I can.  My iMac is turned-on when I get up each day, is turned-off when I'm done with it at the end of the day, and sleeps when not in use.  Keeping it on 7x24x365 is not desired.
- I have a UPS to provide several hours of backup power for my home routers, landline and other key (relatively low power) peripherals.  My Mac has a second UPS, but only runs for an hour or so without 110V, given it's larger power requirements, especially with that 27" display.  ;)
- I had a personal website I maintained for the past 17+ years, but have almost completed shutting that down in my effort to simplify my life.  I therefore have no need or desire to put my weather information up to my own site.

My Weather-specific Objectives & Considerations
- I have had a Davis Vantage Pro2 for years, but it was NOT connected to any weather networks -- only to my dual Davis Consoles in my home.  I decided to re-site my weather station, and in the process upgraded my ISS with a new Plus model, before connecting it to the outside world.

- I use a Davis WeatherLinkIP logger in my Mac-centric world.  It comes as a "Windows Device" and I suppose is not officially supported by Davis on a Mac, but works just fine.  Initial setup (static IP) of the WeatherLinkIP is via Chrome or Firefox running under macOS.  No problem.  All other setup and sensor calibration is done via the Davis Console, so that's not an issue.  If I should ever need to update the WeatherLinkIP firmware, I can do it with my cheap Windows PC.  Of note is if you need to update Davis Console firmware like I did as part of the ISS upgrade, they only provide that utility via a Windows .exe, so I had to have the PC anyway having bought into the Davis world.  Using the WeatherLinkIP vs. the officially supported USB version with a Mac has a number of benefits, but the greatest for me was the logger does not need to be physically connected via USB to my Mac and can be located anywhere my home network allows -- it's just a lot more flexible in that regard, AND I can use a ISS Plus model (UV & Solar) or any of their other devices some day -- The USB version supported with a Mac has major restrictions in that regard.  All major weather reporting apps on a Mac also support the WeatherLinkIP, so the decision ended-up being a no-brainer for me.  It costs a little bit more up-front, but is just a much more robust solution for my needs today and hopefully the future.

- I elected to use a Meteobridge as the way for me to get my data up to the Weather Networks.  Key things I like about it:
-- It's cheap.  Just over $100US for the TP-Link and License if you want to DIY and are OK doing some Linux work, otherwise it's $200 for a ready-to-go version from Ambient Weather that works out of the box and you never have to deal with the underpinnings.
-- I don't have to keep my Mac on 7x24x365 to keep reporting to the Weather Networks
-- It takes perhaps 1-2 watts to run -- less than a night light.  That works well with my trying to conserve energy where I can, and placing it and my Davis Console with the WeatherLinkIP on my existing UPS, communication will likely continue for several hours if there is a power outage.
-- It updates itself with the latest code any time you reboot the registered device for life.  Simple.  No intervention required.
-- It provides a "pass thru" ability, such that you can use a concurrent software applications such as WeatherCat to access the logger at the same time.  I just tell WeatherCat I have a WeatherLinkIP and provide the IP of the meteobridge (not the WeatherLinkIP), and it works.
-- All the major Weather Networks are supported, along with custom FTP ability if you want to use it for say connection to other WWW templates or SQL databases
-- It provides some capabilities to work with webcams, manipulate say static camera images, and an extremely powerful way to set up to 20 custom alerts and notifications via a number of communication methods.  I use the latter to notify me of icy conditions, the battery is low on my ISS, or some of the sensors go offline.
-- It comes with a standard option allowing me to not only logon and manage the Meteobridge locally, but REMOTELY if I'm away from home.  No futzing with remote IP management to accomplish that task.  Easy.
- Davis ISS are not the only supported weather stations -- the list is pretty large.
-- and more.

- For my own analysis and real-time display while I'm using my Mac, my present tool of choice is of course, WeatherCat.  WeatherCat catches-up with archival data from my WeatherLinkIP logger when it starts up with my Mac each time, so I'm only loosing a bit of data granularity when my Mac is off, that in the scheme of things is likely not that important for my needs.  Data is still going up to my Weather Networks of choice 7x24x365 on the schedule I've established.

Summary
There were not a lot of drawbacks for me making this decision to use a Meteobridge in my setup.  I love WeatherCat -- it's refined; provides me some flexibility; this forum is THE BEST; and the combination is a large part of the reason for me to recently expand my weather hobby as I have.  But I'll also be honest and say that I don't use many of WeatherCat's capabilities because they are offloaded to the Meteobridge and I don't need most of the website functionally either provide.  The more recent change in WeatherCat to force my Mac to never sleep is bothersome.  It's what had me looking at alternative applications that don't assume they are always running 7x24.  I'll likely stick with WeatherCat because I'd miss it AND all of you reading this ;), but hopefully the developer will consider my suggested enhancement in this regard (http://athena.trixology.com/index.php?topic=2371.0) before too long.

My next project is getting my new Sharx 3924 camera going as a weather cam.  I have not decided on everything with that quite yet, but that's for another thread some time.  :)

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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2017, 06:41:30 pm »
I forgot to mention in my first post that I also update my 100 million+ Twitter followers with the built in Twitter publishing ability in Meteobridge.

Here's the twitter page.
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elagache

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Thanks for sharing! (Re: General information on Meteobridge)
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2017, 11:46:17 pm »
Dear Bert, DFW, and WeatherCat fans of technology that does its job!

To add on with my experience and decision process using a Meteobridge, my Weather environment today is:

- Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus ISS, dual Vantage Pro 2 consoles
- Davis WeatherLinkIP (I actually have 2)
- Ambient Weather WeatherBridge (a pre-built and already-licensed Meteobridge using a TP-LINK router)
- Apple iMac 5K (Quad-core, 512GB SSD, 16TB Drobo, etc...)

. . . .

Thanks for sharing your experiences.   :)  You are indeed the very sort of person for whom the Meteobridge looks like an excellent solution.  Thank you for pointing out that you successfully got your Meteobridge to work with the Davis WeatherLinkIP and WeatherCat.  I thought it was extremely likely that this would indeed work, but you have provided the confirmation.  I have updated the WeatherCat Wiki entry on Meteobridge to reflect this.

http://wiki.trixology.com/index.php?title=Meteobridge

If there are any additional instructions you would suggest adding to the Wiki entry, let me know and I'll add that information.

Thanks again!  :)

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

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Re: General information on Meteobridge - Pros and Cons (??)
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2017, 11:48:26 pm »
Edouard: I am following you around the forum this afternoon. Stalking.

Bert: Thanks for taking the time to collect and post your thoughts. Stuff like that is very helpful to the rest of us.

DFW: Congrats man, I think you are the first 100 million+ Twitterer on this forum. Keep 'em coming (after you write up the Wiki article on backing up).
Blick


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Re: Thanks for sharing! (Re: General information on Meteobridge)
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2017, 04:41:14 pm »
Dear Bert, DFW, and WeatherCat fans of technology that does its job!

To add on with my experience and decision process using a Meteobridge, my Weather environment today is:

- Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus ISS, dual Vantage Pro 2 consoles
- Davis WeatherLinkIP (I actually have 2)
- Ambient Weather WeatherBridge (a pre-built and already-licensed Meteobridge using a TP-LINK router)
- Apple iMac 5K (Quad-core, 512GB SSD, 16TB Drobo, etc...)

. . . .

Thanks for sharing your experiences.   :)  You are indeed the very sort of person for whom the Meteobridge looks like an excellent solution.  Thank you for pointing out that you successfully got your Meteobridge to work with the Davis WeatherLinkIP and WeatherCat.  I thought it was extremely likely that this would indeed work, but you have provided the confirmation.  I have updated the WeatherCat Wiki entry on Meteobridge to reflect this.

http://wiki.trixology.com/index.php?title=Meteobridge

If there are any additional instructions you would suggest adding to the Wiki entry, let me know and I'll add that information.

Thanks again!  :)

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

Edouard, one thing I'd suggest you tweak in the wiki is which weather stations are supported.  Meteobridge is very broad in it's support.  Davis is certainly one of the most robust it supports, but that's the case with WeatherCat too, isn't it?  Take a look at http://www.meteobridge.com/wiki/index.php/Stations for supported ISS.  Pretty big, huh?  ;)

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How to connect with WeatherCat? (Re: General information on Meteobridge)
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2017, 11:42:15 pm »
Dear Blick, Bert, and WeatherCat system integrators

Edouard, one thing I'd suggest you tweak in the wiki is which weather stations are supported.  Meteobridge is very broad in it's support.  Davis is certainly one of the most robust it supports, but that's the case with WeatherCat too, isn't it?  Take a look at http://www.meteobridge.com/wiki/index.php/Stations for supported ISS.  Pretty big, huh?  ;)

Point well taken, but there is a problem that at least I don't know how to solve.  The vast majority of stations that WeatherCat supports are connected using USB.  The only exceptions are Davis, WeatherHawk, and perhaps Columbia Weather Systems stations.  Is there some way to connect your Mac to the TP-LINK router via USB so that you can use the USB driver that WeatherCat expects for most of those other stations?  Alternatively, exactly what does Meteobridge pass on in its data format?  If you connect an Oregon Scientific WMR 200 to Meteobridge, does it send data in Oregon Scientific format or does it use the Davis data transfer protocol for all stations?

If you can answer that question for me, I'll be glad to update the Wiki appropriately.

Cheers, Edouard

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Re: General information on Meteobridge - Pros and Cons (??)
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2017, 12:40:16 am »
I appreciate the history of USB with WeatherCat.  My point was only trying to be that the Wiki as it read to me, left the impression only a Davis ISS is supported by Meteobridge, which isn't the case -- there are many other stations that are also supported. 

The second part of the equation then to me is Meteobridge's passthru capability I can use to concurrently access my ISS from another program such as WeatherCat.  With my WeatherLinkIP, it's full-function, including access to all history parts of the logger, setting of it's recording duration, etc -- I've tried all that with WeatherCat, WeatherSnoop and Weather Display on my iMac and it works flawlessly.

OTOH, I have never used or explored using a USB interface to WeatherCat or to Meteobridge, so I can't represent exactly how it would operate with certainty.  http://www.meteobridge.com/wiki/index.php/Select_Station indicates USB is SUPPORTED with a Davis ISS and the screenshot happens to show it being selected.  The description for the Davis Stations as you'll see goes on to suggest passthru is available for Davis ISS with USB, but again, I've never used it, nor have I taken the time to research it.

Don't forget, there is nothing stopping an individual from owning multiple loggers when it comes to a Davis ISS.  I e.g. already had two Davis Consoles receiving data from a single ISS, so I now also have two WeatherLinkIPs... one "owned" by my Meteobridge, and the other is what I use as a backup and for daily connection to my Mac apps like WeatherCat when it's running.  I then also have a 3rd way to get to my ISS data using the Meteobridge passthru if I want to.  (The only reason I have two physical WeatherLinkIPs is because I didn't understand the use of passthru well enough and some non-english speaking folks on the forum using Google Translate that were trying to assist me, set me off in an incorrect direction.  Once I figured out how to make pass thru work (it's easy!), I was 32 days after purchase, so couldn't return the 2nd WeatherLinkIP. Sigh. ;))

No problem if you don't want to change anything.  I was only trying to help since you asked for input.  I'll let it stand as-is with whatever you'd like to do.  My best!

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Elaborated on problem (Re: General information on Meteobridge)
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2017, 10:27:40 pm »
Dear Bert and WeatherCat gadget fans,

I appreciate the history of USB with WeatherCat.  My point was only trying to be that the Wiki as it read to me, left the impression only a Davis ISS is supported by Meteobridge, which isn't the case -- there are many other stations that are also supported. 

The second part of the equation then to me is Meteobridge's passthru capability I can use to concurrently access my ISS from another program such as WeatherCat.  With my WeatherLinkIP, it's full-function, including access to all history parts of the logger, setting of it's recording duration, etc -- I've tried all that with WeatherCat, WeatherSnoop and Weather Display on my iMac and it works flawlessly.

OTOH, I have never used or explored using a USB interface to WeatherCat or to Meteobridge, so I can't represent exactly how it would operate with certainty.  http://www.meteobridge.com/wiki/index.php/Select_Station indicates USB is SUPPORTED with a Davis ISS and the screenshot happens to show it being selected.  The description for the Davis Stations as you'll see goes on to suggest passthru is available for Davis ISS with USB, but again, I've never used it, nor have I taken the time to research it.

. . . . . .

No problem if you don't want to change anything.  I was only trying to help since you asked for input.  I'll let it stand as-is with whatever you'd like to do.  My best!

I appreciate your enthusiasm for Meteobridge, but there is a fairly direct limitation that prevents WeatherCat from using passthrough data from the Meteobridge for any station that doesn't have an IP driver.

The two TP-LINK routers compatible with the Meteobridge driver have exactly 1 USB port.  That port must be used to connect to any weather station that uses a USB or serial interface.

The WeatherCat drivers include the business of making the connection to the weather station.  So all the WeatherCat USB drivers include the communications with the station - via USB.  The only way Meteobridge can passthrough data is via an IP connection.  WeatherCat does not have an IP version of the USB drivers and with good reason, until now these weather stations could only be accessed via USB.

Metrobridge is apparently creating virtual IP drivers for any weather station it can connect to.  This is something completely novel and WeatherCat isn't equipped to take advantage of this. 

Since the only station that Meteobridge and WeatherCat both support with IP drivers is the Davis line, effectively that is the only station that can be used with WeatherCat and Meteobridge.

I did revise the Wiki text a bit to make this more clear.

Cheers, Edouard

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Re: General information on Meteobridge - Pros and Cons (??)
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2020, 09:06:48 pm »
Can somebody help - for many years I have used a Vantage Pro 2 -> Console -> Weatherlink IP -> Mac.   All at a remote site which I can log into easily via VPN but am not physically present - the Mac runs 24/7 on a UPS and can be easily accessed.

The problem I now have is my Weatherlink IP keeps crashing - becomes unreachable - which requires me to physically power it down by disconnecting it from the console and the powering it back up again.  I have tried updating the firmware but it still goes down every 2-3 months - I cannot work out why.  Having just gone down AGAIN requiring a 500 mile round trip to reset it I need a more reliable alternative - or one that can be reset remotely.  Also I see Davis have discontinued the Weatherlink IP (are the two things connected?).  My Mac runs WeatherCat and uploads to my own website - plus sending data to some third parties. 

Now would a Meteobridge Pro Red be the best solution here?  Replaces the console/Weatherlink IP and is remotely re-bootable - I can power it down remotely via the UPS.  Am I right in thinking I can get WeatherCat to pull the same data from the Meteobridge and still build all the custom graphs for my website - as it does with the current set up?  Looking at everything I think this will work and about to make the investment - ahead of the 500 mile roundtrip to re-plumb it all.  Am I right and does anybody have experience of making this work?

Many thanks for any advice.