I’ve decided it would be fun to build a homebrew weather station.
I purchased a Lantronix Matchport Kit a few months ago from GridConnect. My original idea for an entry in the Lantronix Wireless Design Contest was a robotic watchdog that would wander around the house and record suspicious activity to a PC connected through a wireless LAN. However, I decided that the project was too ambiguous to tackle and shelved it.
This week, we had our first serious cold snap and I got to thinking about how cool it would be to know what the weather conditions were outside without having to actually go outside or login to an online weather site. My daughter and I had just finished planting some late season tomatoes and I was wishing I had some way to monitor the temperature since the forecast called for sub-freezing temps.
My mental ramblings brought my attention to some interesting sensors available for robotics hobbyists and I realized many of them could be adapted to building a weather station. After realizing the costs involved, I decided it would be more fun to build it all myself. Then I thought about how fun it would be to link it to Wunderground. Then I remembered the Matchport kit and figured this would be a cool project to implement wirelessly. Using solar power and a Wifi adapter, I could put the station anywhere and not have to deal with power or data connections. With commercially available personal weather stations running upwards of $1,000, I am pretty confident I can build this beasty for a fraction of the retail price.
The data logging interface to Wunderground is bonehead simple. It uses a simple Get Request posted to a webpage. I plan to build a data logger using a Parallax Basic Stamp 2 microcontroller and some home brew sensor circuits and designs for the input measurements.
For my initial design, I’ll tackle the basic six parameters addressed by commercial weather stations – wind direction and speed, temperature, humidity, pressure, and rainfall. Time permitting, I may work on a PC based app to interpret the incoming data for graphing and perhaps even alarm thresholds. If nothing else, it will be fun to try.