Setting Up a Weather Station Tips

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Can I create a sophisticated home made weather station?

Home Made Doesn't Mean Crude

Your home made spice rack is the envy of your arts class. You cobbled together your own quadrophonic stereo system.
But can you build a weather station that goes beyond a weather vane and a thermometer?

At the very minimum, you'll need a...

--strong wind-resistant thermometer that stakes in the ground
--sturdy wooden or metal box
--shady spot in your backyard or on your porch
--manual rain gauge
--manual hygrometer

The best spot to set up this low-tech home made weather station is in the north side of the building or wherever there is the most shade. You don't have to skip style when setting up a weather station that you've built from basic weather equipment. Outdoor wooden or metal thermometers and barometers can be elegant as well as functional, adding to the decor and outward appearance of your home.

The only problem: Reminding yourself to check the weather station now that you have it installed. An atomic clock with alarm and temperature can be an excellent reminder, and validate the data you've collected with your home made weather station. You're not a slave to technology, but you did set up that stereo system.

The readigns on my weather station are wrong, did I cause this?

Incorrect Weather Station Setup?

Your indoor weather station monitor predicted rain in three days, so you didn't water your plants. Now, a heat wave has assaulted your plants for three days. Did you build a weather station incorrectly?

To err is human, to forgive divine, but to really foul things up requires a computer. So says one of Murphy's sub-laws. Weather stations are designed to be 75 percent accurate (most weather forecasters on television would be happy for that success rate). Weather forecasts are based on chanegs in air pressure.

Ah, you say, but when setting up a weather station, I changed my mind and moved a sensor from the roof to the wall.

Moving weather sensors doesn't cause erroneous readings. The most you can do is create variances between two sensors when you move them too close together. Just be sure to keep weather sensors away from paved areas, which can distort readings. Avoid direct sun exposure unless the sensors are solar-powered and/or have a radiation shield. If you've done all this, you shouldn't have any significant errors.

You can be confident when you build a weather station that if the weather report is a mistake, either the computer or, more significantly, the weather is responsible.

Can kids set up a weather station?

Kids and Weather Stations

Your digital monitors may be cool and educational, for your children. But there's no question children learn by doing, and spend too much time staring at electronic gadgets. The next time your child wants to play with your weather station, help her build a weather station all her own.

Setting up a weather station with your child is a wodnerful way to teach:

* Weather principles
* Weather safety
* Measurements
* Science principles
* Being prepared, such as knowing when to wear rain gear to school

Your local science museum or library will have resources on how to create a home made weather station. You usually need simple materials:

* Rulers
* Containers for rain collection and barometric pressure readings
* Arrows for wind "sensors"
* Arrows for hygrometers to detect humidity
* Notebook so kids can keep track of weather conditions
* Paper cups and plates for homemade anemometers
* Regular thermometer

You and your future meteorologist can learn about weather together while setting up a weather station that may not be high-tech, but will definitely be educational. Your child will probably have more fun with it than with the digital monitor!

Does my home monitor's appearance have to match my sensors?

Matched Set: Weather Station Setup

You've never believed that a Ferrari can't perform as well as a workhorse car, or that a coat has to look practical to protect you against the weather. So why should your weather station look strictly functional?

When setting up a weather station, you may not have much choice about the look of your sensors, although the LaCrosse Solar Radiation Collector has a rocketship space-age cool appearance. You can, however, choose the appearance of your home unit that displays your data. When you build a weather station, you can make it fit with the appearance of your home. Some other tips:

--You don't have to mount wind direction sensors on the roof. You can place them on the wall and they'll work just as effectively.
--Your sensors may be all white, but you can choose a LaCrosse weather station home monitor with hardwoood trim, such as the Classic Hardwood Weather Station.
--You don't have to conceal your weather sensors, though they can be inconspicuous. In fact, hiding them with obstructions such as vines and plants can interfere with wireless readings.
--Yes, you can have a Ferrari-style weather station thanks to Oregon Scientific, so when setting up your weather station you'll know your system combines performance and good looks.

Style and function. You know you can have both. But the function of the weather station is to keep your home safe and free of weather damage, so that you always look good.

How do I weatherproof my weather station?

Protecting Weather Stations Against Weather

We've heard of a weather sensor being destroyed by lightning. True? Yes. You can predict the weather but you can't control it.

When you build a weather station, how do you know if your sensors are weatherproof? Usually the coatings on the sensors will be waterproof and free of UV interference or radiation.

You can prevent "lightning rod" rooftop sensors by placing wind direction monitors and remote sensors on tripods firmly staked in the ground within wireless range of the main indoor unit. If you must have a high-gain antenna that can gather weather information from several miles away, let the lightning story be a warning. Make sure your system can temporarily survive without an antenna and that you have backup sensors. You can attach a lightning rod to your antenna for double protection.

After all, you don't want to be the "News of the Weird" story on the Internet about a weather forecaster getting hit by lightning while setting up a weather station.

Can I use other soil probes with my weather station?

Independent Soil Probes

You're not sure of the readings you're getting from your weather station. When setting up a weather station, you think, don't you receive the readings the manufacturer specifies? Of course--that's why you buy a LaCrosse weather station rather than creating a home made weather station.

Still, like all independents (you tend to doubt the "official" story about anything, from the JFK assassination to the dinosaur extinction), you want objective confirmation of data.

You've seen a nifty soil moisture probe in garden shops. Will it work with your weather station? Don't rush to suspect a conspiracy, but when you build a weather station, you need to use the soil/leaf moisture probes that the manufacturer recommends. Is it a vast weather conspiracy? Have UFOs visited the earth? Can you trust the soil data you're receiving?

Sorry to disappoint, but the data from approved temperatured probes is valid. You'll have to save your conspiracy suspicions for political conventions.

What do I need to make a home made digital weather station?

Home Made Digital Weather Station

You're an expert at setting goals. Your number one goal: setting up a weather station that doesn't take all day.

You have the correct barometric pressure measured so you can calibrate your sensors. Now all you need are sensors. What else do you need for a digital weather station? Keep this basic list handy.

1) Home receiver(s)
2) Remote temperature sensor(s)
3) Barometric pressure sensor
4) Thermo-hygrometer or humidity sensor
5) Wind direction sensor or anemometer
6) Data logger
7) Weather simulation software such as WeatherLink, WeatherHawk, WeatherView 32
8) Adapter to connect data logger with computer
9) Elbow grease
10) Patience
11) Hard work
12) Passion

Now your goal is to sit inside your screened-in porch monitoring the rainfall from your rain collector. Oops, you forgot the rain gauge. Add it to your to-do list, and you can safely predict a well-built home made weather station.

How do I set up a modular weather station in my kitchen?

Kitchens and Modular Weather Stations

You have a kitchen right out of HGTV. As a matter of fact, HGTV is your source of wisdom. When you saw that HGTV recommended the Oregon Scientific modular weather station, you knew that you just had to set it up, preferably in your kitchen. That's where you spend the most time, after all, and it's right outside the kitchen garden you created. You want to know what's going on with your asparagus even when you can't get down in the dirt.

You detach the three monitor modules and display them around your kitchen counter. But should they all be in your kitchen? Perhaps one monitor could stay in the bathroom you're redoing?

When setting up a weather station, except for analog backyard stations, it's wise not to cluster monitors together. The whole point when you build a weather station is to make weather forecasting easier. No matter how much you love your kitchen, there are some HGTV ideas you want to try in the kids' room. You can minitor your garden from there.

Just make sure the one remote sensor is positioned within 90 feet of whatever you're monitoring. You can get wireless repeaters to extend your reach at least 300 feet.

However, if your heart is set on the kitchen and you want to build a weatehr station for the kitchen, you can cluster the monitors together and watch the combined monitor as you wash your fresh asparagus for a recipe you discovered while watching HGTV.

What do I need to know if I cable my weather station together?

Cabling a Digital Weather Station

You have miles of fiber-optic cable and no place to use it. You're definitely a collector of home improvement stock. What better way to clean out that basement or junk shed than by creating a home made weather station?

It's not entirely home made, of course. You have digital sensors and monitors you bought secondhand.

News Flash: Always make sure when setting up a weather station that your components are the same brand, or that they're compatible. If not, spend some extra cash and buy workable components.

All you need now is to cable the whole setup together, because you aren't an expert in wireless technology.

When you install that fiber-optic twisted-pair cable, be sure that your connectors fit the outside sensors and the indoor home unit. Also, if the cable has lain neglected in your shed or basement, check for fraying or damage.

Now that you've finished building your home made weather station, perhaps you can do something with your collection of one hundred spark plugs.

How do I know the readings on my home made station are accurate?

Home Made Weather Station Accuracy

Decisions, decisions: do you follow the experts or do you trust your own backyard wisdom when setting up a weatehr station?

You check your analog thermometer, and rush inside to look at the Weather Channel. Your weather journal shows that high and low temp, high and low barometric pressure, lag behind or exceed the Weather Channel. How can you trust your home made weather station? Or is it the multi-billion dollar weather forecasting industry that's wrong?

Actually, like all weather systems, a home made weather station nresponds to changes in air pressure. It's receiving local conditions within your microclimate. When you build a weather station, you tailor it to suit your environment. No two microclimates are alike. Different weather conditions have been recorded in two similar vineyards in Napa Valley. Even your pool area won't have the same temperature as your front yard.

You can understand your local market without doubting the national trends. In fact, you might even be able to help the weather industry by supplying local data. Backyard home made weather station wisdom and technology can work hand in hand.

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Susan Sayour