Weather Station Software Tips

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Can I receive data from my PC weather station on my cell phone?

Cell Phones and Wireless Weather Software

Although carrying a handheld weather forecaster might mark you as a weather nut, you want to see if it's snowing in your home in Colorado while you're in the south of France.

N.B.: European data transfers, especially the Vantage Pro Console Link, operate on different frequencies than US data transfers. If you're linking your computer and cell phone with your Weather Wizard, make sure you're tuned to the correct frequency. For US users, it's 916.5 MHz; for overseas users, it's 76170 VO.

Once you have the language barrier out of the way, can you receive data on your Motorola? Absolutely--just check your cell phone manufacturer and handheld OS. Your manual will provide instructions on how to configure the data link between your Nokia and your Dell desktop. Actually, so far we've only seen compatibility with Motorola technology, but this may change.

After all, while you're not weather-obsessed, you'd like to make sure your sidewalk doesn't crack while you're on business soaking up the sunshine.

Can my PC weather station keep track of conditions inside my house?

Garage Band Data

"Kids, don't leave the hose on in the garage."

"We didn't."

"Then why does my PC weather station say the humidity is 70 percent in there? It was minimal a month ago."

"We didn't touch the hose. Dad did."

Then you remember...your husband washed the car last week and replaced the hose as he always does. But as usual, he forgot to turn off the hose...immediately, that is. Naturally, he caught the error...but now you have a problem. The garage is damp.

While your hubby is cooling the garage with several fans and adjusting the thermostat, you're smiling. Thanks to your PC weather station, you monitored the moisture in the garage. The downside: your upholstery project is worse for wear, but your hubby can fix that too. Now you can check the data in the basement where you have your darkroom.

How do you keep track of these zones? You set your software to record and track data from several different sensors and label the data "Garage," "Basement," "Greenhouse," and "Pool." That way, you'll remember that, oops, you left the pool cover off. By the time your hubby finishes his chores, you'll have the problem fixed...but first, your kids want you to show them your computer weather station. They'll be sure to remind your husband to turn off the hose, because Mom's watching!

Can I view my weather station data from my work computer?

Multiple Computer Weather Stations

Your home computer links up with your work computer. Now you have to be careful that the boss doesn't find out about your new obsession: viewing your home PC weather station on your work computer.

A safer bet for your job is setting up another home computer or laptop and installing the software on both so that you can view updated weather data hourly, chart rainfall from your self-emptying rain collector, and decide whether you should get to work early to beat the early morning rain.

When you arrive at the office, you might even have time to check in on your PC weather station remotely. We recommend, though, that you do this when you're traveling on business and not when your boss needs to get that business loan application processed for a major client. Otherwise, monitoring weather at work may mean the boss is monitoring you.

Is WeatherLink available for Oregon Scientific and LaCrosse stations?

Cross-Platform PC Weather Stations

PC versus Mac. Windows versus Red Hat. You're not interested in that debate. You want to know: Does WeatherLink weather station software support Oregon Scientific or LaCrosse technology?

Sadly not. Do we detect a geek war here? Thankfully, WeatherView 32 does support Oregon Scientific and Davis Vantage Pro, so you can have your own PC weather station.

Where does LaCrosse stand in this debate? Actually, LaCrosse can link directly with your Dell and turn it into a computer weather station. You need the PC interface, which comes bundled with weather station software.

A caveat: Not all weather stations support both PC and Mac, or the latest version of Windows. Uh oh, is that a thunderstorm forming over Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington? Beware the wrath of Bill Gates!

How fast should my computer be to run weather station software?

Weather Station Software and Celeron

You don't clog your computer with spyware thanks to StopZilla and SpyBot. Your Gateway operating system is Windows 98 and your processor is 300 MHz. Do you need to upgrade to a Gateway with a Celeron high-speed processor to run weather station software?

Windows users know full well that bugs in older OS versions can make even the fastest processor produce the "hourglass waiting" cursor. Make sure your operating system is, well, operational. Fortunately, weather station software doesn't require a lot of disk space or computing speed by itself, but if you're creating an extensive weather database, you might notice lag times.

If you can't upgrade from your dinosaur, don't try to run a virutal Web server with your weathercam. System performance affects bandwidth and data transmission speed. You might have the most wonderful PC weather station or Mac computer weather station, but if your current Web weather info says it's storming outside when there hasn't been any rain in a month, you have a problem.

That said, remember you're not in the long-term weather forecasting business, so your computer will probably limp along in the short-term. bought your weather station to predict the weather, so shop around for a new model. Don't forget to keep fighting spyware. You want weather alerts, not Viagra popups.

How can I share the weather information my software collects?

Sharing Weather Information

You're excited about the rain in Arizona. Your pal in London is excited about the drop in humidity. How can you share your weather station software data? Over the Internet, of course. You can be a weather blogger.

You'll need:

--a weather Web site
--an online weather community or local area network (LAN) where you can post your data, say on the Davis weather station Web site
--a receptive audience such as the National Weather Service, which you can help by submitting your data to the Citizen Weather Observer Program
--a weather cam
--a fast connection such as DSL, cable, ISDN or wireless Internet
--plenty of data backups
--user-defined weather alerts, such as when your computer weather station receives sensor data on tropical winds

If you're in Florida, you definitely want to know about another hurricane, and want to share it with the weatehr experts. You and your computer weather station that could can make a difference. Or you and your friend in London can e-mail each other while gazing at each other's Web sites.

I use a modem with the Vantage Pro, why doesn't it work?

Modems and Vantage Pro

You've finally switched from dail-up to cable modem, but no matter which modem you use, you can't get your Vantage Pro to talk to your cable modem. You're trying to track precipitation trends, but hardware/software issues keep raining on your parade.

Check to see that you've done the following:

* Bought the blue Davis Modem Adapter for the Vantage Pro.
* Connected the DataLogger (which downloads the data from your remote unit to your PC) to the modem via the modem adapter
* Made sure all the segments on the LCD screens are lit.
* Configured WeatherLink settings so that they're tuned to the COM port your modem is connected to.
* Entered the phone number, if you're still using dial-up
* If using Virtual Weather System, downloaded the DSL/Cable Modem/LAN version.

When all else fails, or if you just need a break from all this tech frustration, ask your fellow weather loggers and PC weather station users on the Net. After all, you're isolated from the rest of humanity thanks to your technical problems. If your modem and weather station software won't talk to each other, at least you can converse with a human being about your favorite subject: the average yearly rainfall.

How often will my computer weather station back up data?

Storm Data Backups

Quick weather station software quiz: How often should I back up my weather station software data?

Unless you want all your data to be lost because of a storm, back up your data the minute your home receiver sends a storm warning alarm.

Most weather station software will store data for up to two weeks, but it's up to you to create computer backups for longer periods. Some tips:

* We recommend backing up your data on CD-RW.
* If you can buy higher-end tape drives, do so.
* If you're uploading data onto a weather Web site, make sure your Web hosting service mnakes regular data backups.
* If you do CD-RW backups, make multiple copies and store some in the freezer or safe...just in case the power goes out and the continued humidity you've been tracking overheats your CD-RW copies.
* Invest in surge protectors for your weather receivers and your PC weather stations so power surges don't short them out.

Now that you've predicted a blizzard's coming thanks to your software and your eight months of reports, you can back up your data with complete confidence.

Do I have to keep my data logger right beside my computer?

Remote Data Loggers

Your home computer workstation has more gizmos and gadgets than a Silicon Valley company. The last thing you need is a PC weather station data logger to rarrange on your desk. Do you need it close at hand to gather accurate data? Some data logger tips:

--Data loggers such as the WeatherLink DataLogger connect to your computer weather station via a serial or USB port. You can buy cables from the retailer that sells your weather station software.
--If you don't have either a serial port or USB port free, you can place your data logger outside, since it receives wireless signals. Protect the data logger from the elements, pollution, dirt, and animals.
--You can buy adapters to convert male to female ports and female to male so that your serial cable can connect with your computer.
--Your remote data logger won't collect data in real time, so if you're not in a hurry to record the weekly barometric pressure chart, you can retrieve archive data later. The data logger can store temperatures and percentages for up to a month.

If you want real-time data, consider retiring some of those high-tech gadgets or swapping out devices that you use infrequently. Technolgoy is supposed to make our lvies less cluttered, after all.

Can I ignore my weather monitor if all my weather info is on computer?

Don't Ignore the Main Weather Unit

Hal 9000 may have been paranoid, but your home weather station main receiver won't revolt if you view soil readings from May to August on your PC or Mac.

Even without homicidal LaCrosse main unit receivers, you shouldn't rely solely on your weather station software. After all, you bought the weather station to get away from those weather displays on your desktop or laptop. There are some things you can't find on the Internet. If you're locked into analyzing weather data on a computer weather station, you'll forget to check outside for:

* That humid damp-shirt feeling, which your hygrometer tells you is the dewpoint rising. But your weather station said you had 10 percent humidity and your WeatherLink software indicates that the humidity will be low in the next month.
* Your garden. Why do the plants look so wilted? You have them on automatic sprinkler system connected to the WeatherLink. Is this a conspiracy?
* The frost damage. Your weather trends analysis said there wouldn't be heavy frost, but the elements have battered your wooden shingles.
* The comfort zones in your house. Isn't it too chilly in here? Your fuel usage analysis said you didn't need to heat your home as much...hmmm.

Relax. You're probably feeling guilty about spending so much time with your nifty new software, which can stream data from several different sensors. Just make sure your home receiver unit doesn't feel lonely.

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Susan Sayour