For those of you that may be interested in knowing “what’s under the covers” regarding our weather station…
First of all, the system is completely self-sustaining. It runs off of solar power which we already had available as charging stations for our EFlite members to recharge their batteries. We piggy-backed a second charge controller off of the existing 3 solar panels and use this second line to feed the weather station exclusively.
The weather instrumentation itself is a Peet Brothers model 800 Ultimeter Weather Station. In its most basic form, it supplies wind speed information and temperature. A rain guage can be added if desired. [Edit – A rain guage HAS been added.]
The biggest challenge facing most remote weather stations is the requirement (for most software packages) to actually run on a computer (usually Windows based). Since we had limited power available, and certainly not enough to constantly run a PC 24 hours a day, we had to find another way.
HAM radio has a system called APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) that has been used for years by HAMs to do various things…weather reporting being one item! There are various ways to implement an APRS system…the most common is using 2 meter radio.
We use a special circuit developed from www.byonics.com which takes the output of the Peet weather station and converts it for transmission by a standard 2 meter handheld radio. Besides doing the data stream conversion, the circuit handles the operation of the radio and does not allow it to transmit while another station is transmitting. Once transmitted, the data becomes part of the nationwide CWOP system. (Citizen Weather Observer Program)
This means that our data is actually used by larger organizations such as the National Weather Service and NOAA in their weather simulations and analysis programs!
There are various database systems on the Internet which allow you to read this raw data…we have some custom programming in place on our website that reads from these databases every few minutes and updates the data that you see on the website.
Many thanks go to various club members who donated either time, money or components in the development of our weather station. Special thanks go to Paul C. Wright who supplied the first-class mast system and associated “engineering” required to mount the instrumentation and radio antenna.