Hardware involved in the weather web site:
The Reata Place Weather web site uses many different technologies to create the weather page. In this article seven will be discussed to provide a behind the scenes look into each of these technologies to give you an understanding of how the weather web site works.
- Weather Station
- Data Logger
- Web Camera
- Weather Station Software
- Daily Weather Import Software
The weather station is a Davis Instruments Wireless Vantage Pro 2 Plus. The Weather Station gathers weather readings using three major components: The Integrated Sensor Suite, the anemometer and wind vane, and the Console (the brains).
Integrated Sensor Suite
- The Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS) houses the Rain sensor, UV Sensor, Solar Radiation Sensor, Temperature, and Humidity sensor.
- The Rain bucket (large black bucket) measures rainfall in hundredths of an inch.
- The UV Sensor (upper left) measures Ultra Violet Radiation which is harmful to your skin and causes sunburn.
- The Solar Radiation sensor (upper right) measures Solar Radiation and figures into evapotranspiration calculation (drying factor).
- The Temperature and Humidity sensors are housed in a radiation shield at the bottom of the ISS. The Radiation shield protects these sensors from direct heat from the sun and provides a more accurate temperature reading.
Anemometer and Wind Vane
Davis Vantage Pro Console
The Weather Station has collected all of the weather data and displayed it on the console. To get that data from the console into a program(s) to generate the website I use Davis' Weather Link. Weather Link is a hardware extension to the Weather Station Console that relays the data from the console via USB to Weather Link. The Weather Link data logger also stores weather information for download later in the event the connection is broken.
Weather Station Software
Raw data is collected from the weather station console by wview through Weather Link (hardware) via USB port. Wview also takes care of communication to Weather Underground and CWOP. HTML and graphics are generated by custom software written in PHP. The basic functions are:
- Creates the HTML from the data contained in the wview archive table.
- Connects to the Web Camera and downloads an image, and saves it as a file.
- Polls the National Weather Service for Forecast information and weather advisories.
- Retrieves the Sun and Moon Rise/Set data.
- Produces the summary chart (1 year ago, yesterday, and today).
- Produces a RSS feed containing weather information.
Daily Weather Import Software
This is a program I wrote that runs every minute and takes the raw sensor data from wview and loads it into a MySQL database. This database has several summary tables in addition to the minute-by-minute raw data. The database is the final storage place for my weather data. On a side note, I've been collecting weather data since September 22, 2000 when I received my first weather station as a wedding anniversary present. As of July 21, 2009, I have 4,452,323 total weather data records. For those who don't know very much about databases, they are a fantastic way to store data. Almost 9 years of data uses only 332MB!
The final component is the Website itself. As alluded to above the Weather Station software generates the HTML and collects information from the web camera and database. The final step is a sFTP script to upload all of the Images, HTML, and RSS to the website. This process runs every 15 minutes.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you found this article enlightening. Most of all I hope you find the website useful! It's been a fun hobby of mine and I enjoy providing the service. Scott Carr