The weather station base unit is linked to my PC via a serial cable. Data is transferred to the PC every 8 seconds. 3 programs are provided with the weather station to display,manipulate and publish the recorded data.Information is retrieved and displayed using Heavy Weather V2.0. Graphs are created with Heavy Weather Review V1.0 and finally data can be published to the web using Heavy Weather Publisher V1.0.
Heavy weather is the main application that interfaces with the weather station. It can be used to change settings and set alarms within the base unit, which is generally easier than doing so using the buttons on the front of the weather station. It displays 'live' readings sent from the weather station.
Originally I was running the weatherstation with a wired link to it's sensors. In December 2008 I changed to working wirelessly after having problems. I hadn't realised that all the problems I was having each month with corrupted or missing data in the history file was being caused by the wiring. Since working wirelessly it hasn't missed a single reading and I haven't had any 'spikes' in the readings either. When the sensors are working wirelessly they have to rely on batteries for their power. The batteries last about 6 months.
The displayed units can be set or changed at any time and the history file is updated accordingly for all data sets.
Heavy Weather Review interfaces directly with the history file created by Heavy Weather. It uses the data to generate simple graphs. Although there is only one graphing style the data can be formatted in many ways to create graphs for 1 week, 1 month or between selected dates. You can also display data from 2 sets, for example temperature and humidity, along the same timeline.
Over the last few months I have gradually stopped using Heavy Weather Review and moved over to using Microsoft Excel to create my graphs. This is partly because the problems I have been having with recording data has resulted in some months being split between more than 1 history file and there is no way of joining them back together into one graph, and partly because Excel allows me to be more creative in the way the final data is displayed.
Publisher is used to firstly create the format for the image. Pictures can be imported and the data rearranged to get the look you want. You can create more than one format but only one should be active at any one time. The resulting table is uploaded as a jpeg file at a pre-determined export interval using the built in ftp client.
From September 2007 I have added an observation line to the bottom. This shows the current weather observation, which can be quite different to the tendency picture which is simply driven by the speed of change of the pressure reading, which often shows as sunny when, in fact, it's raining. The observations are updated manually, as and when I happen to be near the computer and look out of the window. If conditions change rapidly , as they often do up here, the observation may not match the view from the webcam, or the tendency picture. In fact, all 3 could be different.
I had been looking for a good 'simple' webcam driver with built in ftp for some time. Most of the software available is far to sophisticated for my application but eventually I found Dorgem, which does just what I need and no more. It's freeware as well.It can be set up to capture still images at a pre determined time interval and then upload the saved image to a website with an added date & time stamp. The only problem with Dorgem is that if it fails to connect to the server it gets stuck in an error state and cannot reset itself. This usually happens when my ISP decides to renew my IP Address ( which they do randomly from hours to days apart ) and my router doesn't reconnect in time for Dorgem to FTP it's file. If I'm not around to restart Dorgem the website image freezes with the last picture it uploaded successfully. In May 2009 I changed the way this works. I now use Dorgem to capture the image and store it on my hard drive. I then use a small dedicated ftp program called Tinyuploader to take this file and ftp it to my website.
This is the new ftp application I have found. It is a small 'freeware' application that allows you to upload a specified file at a pre-determined interval. It works OK, and more importantly, it doesn't fall over if it fails a ftp upload, it just times out and carries on at the next interval.
As usual there has to be a catch. If you look at the time interval you will see it's set to 295 seconds. This is my attempt at getting it to update every 5 minutes. The problem is it takes it's time period from when it was last sucessfull at uploading. If I set the upload time to every 5 minutes ( 300 seconds ) and it takes 5 seconds to connect and upload the next upload will be 5 minutes 5 seconds later, then 5 minutes 10 seconds, and so on. unfortunately the actual time taken to upload varies each time, depending on the connection, so the period wanders around 5 minutes + or - a few seconds each time.
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