Monday, May 28, 2007

Weather Station Setup - The overly-complete guide (we didn't miss a thing, we hope)

After setting up my home weather station, I had a ridiculous amount of people ask me how to set one up themselves. I'm going to stop beating about the bush and write this article I've been meaning to write for the longest time.


First, before you begin on your so-called "noble adventure", you're going to need a few things:




  1. A La Crosse Technology WS-2315 Wireless Weather Station (buy)


  2. Some PVC Piping and Joints and a three-way-connector to house the Weather Station's Wires. You can go pretty thin, as long as you can still fit wire inside that has been tie-rapped and have enough room for the instruments to rest on various parts (explained later) (you can pick these up at Home Depot, Lowes, or your corner plumbing store)


  3. Some special plastic glue that in effect melts the plastic (I don't know what this is called)


  4. HeavyWeather 2.0 Beta Software (not the program that comes with the weather station) (get)


  5. WUHU (Weather Underground / HeavyWeather Uploader) Software. The HeavyWeather Uploader program does NOT WORK! (get [because they are constantly updating this software, scroll down the page until you see 'Current Release' and click the download link. It's also a good idea to read the whole page first.])


  6. A (hopefully) devoted PC running Windows 2000 SP4 or newer. THIS CANNOT BE WINDOWS 98!! This PC can also be a server PC that is hosting a website, since the software shouldn't interfere with the web hosting services.


  7. About a month's worth of time.


Okay. You've just gotten your sparkly new weather station. Great!! Let's start from the beginning.





Building the "Weather Tower" (thanks go to JFDaddy for writing this section)



Section comming soon!





Running the Station



Once you have your weather tower done, find a comfortable place where you can view the display inside, near a phone jack (or the devoted PC) and the Weather Tower. With the instructions included, configure the wireless to work with the tower. I tried it wired and it didn't work at all. Even though the update speed with wireless is 30 sec. vs 8 sec., it's well worth it.



That's it! That's all you have to do to run your station. Why did I tell you to get all the extra parts then? That's because we're not done yet!



Connection Options



The connector included with the Weather Station connects directly to your computer's serial port via Phone-Like jack. Because of the latter, you have two options:





  1. Connect the station directly to your computer.


  2. If you have a house with a phone punch board, you can punch down the station to run it's system over phone lines, not disrupting your computer. This way is better because your computer can be down in your basement in some far off corner, and the Weather Station can be wherever it gets signal and there is a phone jack.


Plug-In...



This way is pretty basic. Just plug in and go. Make sure you have installed the software (explained in the next section) and you're off to the races!



Punch-Down...



If you have the resources, Punch-Down works better. Simply use a regular phone cable (test it first to make sure it has 4 wires, not 2), plug it into the back of the Weather Station where you would plug the serial cord, plug the other end into the jack, go to your board, find the right plug, and connect the serial plug from there to the back of your computer.



Software Party Time



Now that you have all the connection issues out of the way, now it's time to start the software going! This is a semi-easy, 4 step process:





  1. Install and run HeavyWeather Beta 2.0.


  2. Create an account on Wunderground.com. (Weather Underground is a large weather site that supports small weather stations)


  3. Create a New Weather Station on Wunderground.com


  4. Install, run, and configure WUHU.


  5. Test it! (this is not an official step, but it is inportant)


1) Install and run HeavyWeather Beta 2.0



Download HeavyWeather Beta 2.0 (NOT HeavyWeather 2.1. Why 2.0 is newer, I don't know) and install it. It's pretty much a click-through installer. Leave all the locations the same, unless you use a different hard drive for programs. Plug in the Weather Station and POOF! it works. The program may require a little bit of tweaking to work just right, but otherwise it should be fine.



2) Create an account on Wunderground.com



Sign Up on Wunderground.com and make sure you uncheck the Upgrade My Membership option. For some reason it gives you a paid version anyway, but at least if you get in trouble, you can say that you did uncheck the box.



3) Create a New Weather Station on Wunderground.com



Sign in and go to the Personal Weather Stations tab. Click Manage my Personal Weather Stations. Click New Weather Station. Type in all your details. The page will give you an address of the station. For example, mine is http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KMDTOWSO3 The last part of the address after the equals sign is the most important. The MD means Maryland, the TOWSO means Towson and the 3 means I wasn't the first person to sign up. Keep the ending part handy. We'll call it the PWS ID


4) Install, run, and configure WUHU



This may be the biggest step so far. Download the latest version of WUHU from http://home.comcast.net/~wuhu_software/. Warning: Configure a printer first. It needs it for ActiveX to run properly.

Extract the ZIP file and run the Install.exe program. Click through the screens and choose to run the program when the install finishes.



The WUHU Window

Type in your PWS ID and your password (NOT YOUR USER NAME AND YOUR PASSWORD) into the appropriate boxes in the Weather Underground section and click start. You must have HeavyWeather running to do this and the currdat.lst file MUST be in C:\HeavyWeather\currdat.lst or whatever your hard disk letter is. Make sure Rapid Fire is checked.

5) Test it!

Now that you're done, visit your station online to see it. It may take a day or two, but after a while, when you type in your local zip code or area, scroll down and your weather station will be ether the first or second on the list! People will be able to access it with WeatherExchange, from wunderground.com or through the station's website. You can even post it on your own site!

Isn't it amazing what you can do? You're all done now!!! Go ahead into the world of weather! Hopefully this helped you a lot.