Weather monitoring kits…

Nice selection of weather monitoring kits (anyone use these / build these?)….

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  1. Oooh! Thanks for the link! I see two items I just might want.

  2. I’ve used several of these kits, including the Temp/Humidity/Solar sensors, the soil moisture sensor, the dual-counter(for reading electric and water pulse sensors). All of them use the Dallas 1-Wire ICs and comms protocol.

    For hobby usage, their not bad, but be prepared for some code hassles as you get the 1Wire API up and running to get data. If you want to talk to them via MCU rather than using the java API, expect more time needed. Some suggestions I would make having lived through the 1Wire lifestyle for a while now:

    If you are going to drive 1Wire sensors from an MCU, invest in a 1Wire driver IC from Dallas (Maxim-IC). I prefer the DS2482-100 or DS2482-800. Trying to bit-bang the 1Wire protocol is just asking for intermittent problems as the timing is very tight. Let a driver IC handle shaping on the wire and just talk to it via I2C.

    When you read up on 1Wire, you will hear all about wire distances of up to 1500 feet. The best I ever achieved was 200 feet without problems. Know the capacitance of your wire, and know the limit of your driver IC. Also be very conservative on the network topology and number of sensors sharing a single wire.

    You will come across a couple of happy little 1Wire to Ethernet converters on the web, most of which are terrible. I have one of my own design that is pretty solid and should hit the web for sale this month.

    If accuracy is any concern, then these are the wrong kits for you. The temp/humidity sensors list 1% accuracy in the datasheets, but real world testing gives me +/-3%. The soil/leaf moisture sensors are closer to +/-7% accuracy at best, and the solar radiation sensor is a purely relative reading. The dual counters are decent up to 1kHz, but that IC is EOL from Dallas very soon.

    I never played with the relay boards, but have heard they are solid. I never tried their complete weather station, but a friend has had no end of problems with his.

    In short, these are some fun kits for hobby usage. Just know the limitations and prepare for some serious code time as part of your project.

  3. Correction to that last comment. The moisture sensors are also purely relative readings. The accuracy level I mentioned on those is wrong. I was thinking about a different moisture sensor I played with a while back.

  4. I had a dallas one wire weather station – just the wind direction, speed and temperature unit.

    It broke. A lot.

    The board in the first one had no coating on it, so there was corrosion galore on it from condensation.

    The second one I sealed up with liquid electrical tape over everything important – 3 of the reed switches were dead within a year.

    Replaced those just fine, but then I lost the wind direction arrow (the nut came undone) – found the arrow but it seemed Dallas used a strange thread on it that I couldn’t find anywhere in a stainless lock-nut. So it sits on a shelf here unused.

    IMO there is no reason to use the 1 wire protocol, when inevitably you end up with more wires up to the weather station since they don’t make single pair cable. If you are going to have to mess around with a dodgy unbalanced protocol over balanced cabling just to get it working sometimes, its very disappointing to see that the whole thing turns to custard when the wind direction is swinging wildly and it will often not update for 3-4 seconds, missing gusts.

    The Dallas case seems OK, but I would re-do the board with something using hall effect or optical sensors, and just have a shift register and some opto-couplers so that it is given 5v ground and a clock, and back comes a data stream on another pair. It seemed to me that when the wind direction was briefly passing the switches it would get the bus locked into a state that took time to reset from. Apparently the later boards didn’t use 8 chips appearing and disappearing from the bus so may be a little better.

  5. I have some experience with their Temp/Humidity/Solar sensors, lightning counter, and 6-port hub. As Spiffy mentioned, the accuracy isn’t great but for hobby use it should be sufficient. I also agree with the recommendation of getting a driver IC… on my setup I just have a bit-banger over a USB-to-serial connection and it works OK on a small network. They may be a bit pricey but I highly recommend them for anyone doing some DIY weather monitoring projects… there is a lot of potential to make something quite nice with a little bit of work.

  6. owfs will put all the 1-wire devices w/ an adapter on a file system on linux. There is an owhttpd that lets you use a web browser from another system.

    thermd is a perl app that will track & graph owhttpd thermometers. No programming needed.

    ha7net is a 1-wire (3 runs) to ethernet adapter.

    I’ve been happy with the temperature sensors I have gotten from Hobby Boards.

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