What Makes a Weather Station?
At it’s most basic, a weather station is any system that gathers environmental/climate data. While more useful as a network, I designed a single node as this would be a practical introduction to weather data gathering. I wanted the system to collect and store a handful of metrics: wind speed, light, humidity, temperature, pressure, and air quality. The weather station has a lot of distinct parts and goals; to simplify the design process I broke it down into three distinct parts: electrical, hardware, and software. Here’s a brief breakdown of each:
I wanted to the make the weather station low maintenance, so I decided to make it solar powered with a built-in beefy (by embedded project standards) Li-Po battery pack. This setup allows the station to run remotely and, barring excessive daily darkness, a reasonably endless run time. The Edison board has very low current draw and Bluetooth and WiFi radios should I want to add wireless connectivity later on. The electrical design and components are discussed in depth on the following step.
The main body consists mostly of parts available from a hardware store. A conduit tube forms the core of the body and a solid mounting point for the other components. A series of laser cut panels form the headpiece for mounting a couple of the sensors, and a solid mount place for the solar panel and power electronics. A large galvanized ventilation tube provides a weather resistant housing for the the additional sensors that need to be “exposed” to the elements for proper data collection. The hardware design is explained more in-depth on step 5.
In order to minimize the amount of time I spent writing code, I chose sensors that were already well documented and had either libraries or simple analog interfaces. The actual software is the Wiring language written in Intel’s custom Arduino IDE. Developing with Arduino style syntax allowed me to work quickly, since it is my go to environment for interactive projects. The software is discussed more in detail on step 10.
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