Saturday, January 01, 2011

I've always wanted a weather station...

Lo and behold, Santa Claus delivered a LaCrosse WS1510U-IT weather station this Christmas, thanks to a little bird who told him I'd wanted something along those lines. On New Year's Eve Day the weather warmed up to 49 degrees, melting the snow and making the installation task much more tolerable.

I knew the biggest problem with any weather station installation in my residence was going to be having the wind vane and anemometer seeing winds that would otherwise be masked by the height of the house. Were I to place the system further out in my back yard, I'd probably exceed the 300 foot range of the remote transmitters to the base unit. What to do?

My deck on the south side of the house is already 6' up off the ground, so that gave me an idea. I bought 2 each 10' sections of 1 3/8" galvanized steel chain link fence tubing, and a half-dozen clamp brackets to anchor things securely. My intent was to make a 20' instrument pole, and secure it to the 6' high deck for a total of 26' instrument height. That should allow the wind vane and anemometer to see winds coming over the house from the north, but if I didn't anchor things really well, I'd also have something that would dance nicely in heavier winds if it didn't plain fall over.

I used 5 of the clamp brackets to secure the instrument mast to the deck and upper railing. I'd considered drilling both a clamp and the mast to use a sheet metal screw for rotational stability, but I can't twist the mast now with 5 clamps holding it, regardless. I'm going to leave that portion alone for now, because I plan on taking the rig down later this summer for modifications.

Here's the mast as attached to the deck:

The thermometer/hygrometer/transmitter is visible attached to the deck support. The wind data wire coming from inside the mast attaches to the unit, so that it can transmit everything but the rainfall amounts - which are handled by a separate tipping-bucket rain gauge mounted elsewhere. I placed the thermometer/hygrometer/transmitter under the deck, to protect it from rainfall and also keep the summer sun from exaggerating temperatures via direct heating.

The upper portion of the mast mounts were attached to the deck railing, along with the aforementioned rain gauge. The rain gauge is mounted on standoffs to allow the measured rainfall to dump directly to the ground below. Looking up, one can see how it sits:

That's a makeshift plywood dog gate at the top of the outside deck stairs, until I come up with something a bit more substantial. The two 10' mast sections fit together via a 4" end section that's swaged down to about 1" in diameter. It made for a tight fit, but I added extra insurance in the form of a few sheet metal screws installed through the overlapping pipe sections. They're just barely visible near the joint in this view of the mast looking up towards the instruments:

As it looks from a normal vantage point on the deck, the rain gauge sitting nearby:

If you take your camera and point it up towards the instruments, then hit the zoom, you can see them way up there:

The top portion of the mast looks unfinished to me, even with the wind vane swinging and anemometer spinning away. So later this coming summer I will take everything down and install a 12-volt high brightness automotive red LED taillight bulb as a mast cap, illuminating the wind vane and acting as a beacon of sorts. This will serve as a visual reference in late evenings when the wind gusts are heavy during thunderstorm season, and also act as a landmark to see my house from the highway at night.

Once the three sets of batteries were installed, it was time to see what the weather station reported. I fired up to synchronize my barometer readings and compare the displayed data with that of other local public and private weather stations, and was pleased to see it matched theirs almost exactly! Now that's what I'm talking about!


Anonymous said...

I strongly suggest that you attach a ground wire to this pole and run it to a good "Earth Ground".

You don't want lightning frying your setup.

Gewehr98 said...

Yup. Ground strap and ground rod already purchased, just waiting for the frozen Wisconsin tundra to thaw a wee bit before I try to drive the ground rod into the earth.