The Weather Station

This weather station uses Vantage Vue weather monitoring hardware, a Raspberry Pi computer and Weewx weather software.  The station measures the weather conditions, the computer and software work together to get the data off the console, store it, and upload it to a website and to Weather Underground.

 The Vantage Vue

What you get with the Vantage Vue. The sensor cluster, a bit of mounting hardware, and the weather console.

The Vantage Vue is an entry level weather station made by Davis.  It uses an all-in-one sensor cluster that monitors wind direction, wind speed, rain fall, air temperature, and air pressure.  It has a solar panel that generates all the power it needs.  During the day, the solar panel charges a battery so that it has power over night and on overcast days.

My station.   We had an unused basketball pole and hoop next to the driveway.  So I took down the hoop and used the pole to mount the station.

The sensor cluster sends data to the console over a wireless connection.  Davis claims that the range is 1000 feet.  My console is mounted about 100 feet from the sensor on the far side of the house and I have always had a reliable connection.  The console gives you a read out on what the weather is like right now and what the trends are.  But it is a fairly basic liquid crystal display that gives you the numbers, but not much else.

Davis sells an add on that lets you interface to the console and download the data to a computer.  With Davis, this is about your only option.  There are some people out there who have been able to build their own interface, but for us mortals, this is it.  The up side is that the data logger does have some on-board storage.  So if your computer crashes, the weather data will still get stored in the data logger until you get things running again.

The Computer

You can use just about any computer to monitor the weather station.  It is not something that requires a lot of horse power.  So if you have an older system sitting around, you can likely put it to work monitoring the weather station.  The computer connects to the console through a USB port, or through a serial port.  You have to know in advance which you are going to use and order the right data logger.

About the size of a deck of cards, the Raspberry Pi is all the power you really need to run things.

Today, I’m using a Raspberry Pi computer.  This is a computer is designed and built in the UK with the hope that a small, inexpensive computer could be sold to schools to spark interest in computer science classes teaching programing and robotics.  It remains to be seen if the computer will bring about a teaching revolution.  But what it has done is create a great deal of interest in the computer hobby community.  At only $35, people can afford to buy them to play around with and try out new ideas.

The computer runs a version of Linux that has been set up for the ARM processor and the hardware this tiny computer has on board.

The Software

I’ve run a number of different software packages and all of them do the basic job.  They read the data from the console, store the data in a data base, create web pages, and upload them to a website and/or community websites like Weather Underground.  Picking one is really a matter of choice based on what operating system you are running.  Weather Underground keeps a list of what is available HERE.

I settled on weewx because I wanted to run Linux and I wanted to use the Raspberry Pi.  Weewx was easy to set up and it ran on the Raspberry, so it was that simple.

After that, all you need is a website to upload the data to.  Or you can just sign up with weather underground for free and they will take your data uploads.

 

No Weather

Right now FTP is not working for me, so I can’t upload my weather data. I have been in a week long e-mail exchange with Century Link who are telling me that it is not something they support. Even though it had been working for a year and suddenly stopped working without any changes on my end. I can still upload http, so the data at weather underground is still there. So you can go to:

http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=85302&sp=KAZGLEND25

If you need to know what the weather is at my place.

Hackintosh

Ever since I learned that you could run the Mac OS X on a home built system, I have wanted to do it.  I’ve built a bunch of Windows based computers, but building a Hachintosh is a bit harder because you have to play close attention to the parts you buy and loading up the OS is a bit harder. Because Apple updates their product lines about once a year, most of the parts are not real bleeding edge items.  This makes them a bit cheaper than the really new stuff.  But it also means that it can be a challenge to find the right parts because sometimes the most compatible parts have gone out of production and newer stuff does not work as well.

So after a few months or reading and pondering over just what I wanted to get, I was ready to use the Amazon gift cards I got for my birthday and get started.  Thanks to my wife and mother-in-law for the gift cards.  My mom gave me some cash and that went towards the case and other parts at Fry’s.

I picked out this case at Fry’s:

An all black case. The NZXT H2 Clasic

The case is all black.  Black fittings with black screws and black wires.  Its a bit hard to work on.  It soaks up the light.

I installed the motherboard:

A Gigabyte z68XP-UD3

That adds a bit of color.  It’s very well labeled and laid out.  I guess this is what you get when you buy something that is better than the on sale board at Fry’s.

Next I put on the processor:

An Intel Core i5-2500

Then the processor fan to keep it all cool.

Nothing special, just the fan that comes with the processor.

Some memory:

16 gigs of memory

And the video card;

A Gigabyte HD 6850

And that is where things are now.  I still need to connect the wires, put in the hard drive and the DVD drive.  Then it will be time to power it up and start the install process.

 

Raspberry Pi

I’ve always been fascinated with computer technology.  I’ve owned a computer since 1978 when I bought my Apple II.  I still can’t believe I paid $2500 for a computer with 24K of memory, and two 100k hard drives.  That was without a monitor. You didn’t really need one because you could hook it up to your TV.   That little computer taught me a lot.  It wasn’t long before I bought a modem and learned that I could set it up so people could dial into the Apple and use it to form a community that posted stories, opinions and sent and received e-mail.  In those days before the Internet it was all about calling into local systems to communicate with other locals who were also into computers.

I’ve owned a lot of different computers over the years.   I’ve owned Apples. Amigas, and what we used to call IBM Clones, or just a PC today.  I’ve always enjoyed the process of learning new stuff and expanding my skills.  The old Apple could only type in upper case.  So one of the first “hardware hacks” I did was replacing some chips on the motherboard and then running some extra wires between other chips to give the Apple the ability to type in lower case.  I think that came in a kit that I ordered through an ad in a magazine.  Later I learned how to add memory to my Amiga and install a hard drive on my IBM clone.  Before long I was building computers from parts.

People who are not computer pros are sometimes impressed with my level of knowledge and skill.  But that ‘s only because they don’t see the 35 years of trial and error and all the failures that have taught me what I know today.

I was lucky to be able to afford that first computer when it came out because that is what got me started.  But not everyone has that happy circumstance.  That’s why I’m excited about the Raspberry Pi project.

Raspberry Pi is a startup company putting out a really small (think a deck of playing cards)$25 computer.  This computer has 128 megs of memory, connects to your TV for a monitor and will use a SD card (like your camera uses to store images) for its hard drive.  It will run one of the free versions of Linux for its operating system.  The upgraded version is $35 and comes with a network plug and 256 megs of memory. 

Just compare that for a minute with the Apple II from 35 years ago.  It costs 1/100th of what I paid for my first computer and has 500 times the memory.  If you bought a modest 8 Gig SD card for it for $8, you would have 4,000 times more storage than I had on my two old floppy drives.  On the website, the Raspberry Pi is shown playing Doom and running video playback, so it is much more capable than my old Apple.

The Raspberry Pi Company hopes to make enough money to stay in business of course.  But its real goal is to keep these bare bones computers a cheap as possible.  They hope that schools will be able to afford them so that a school can set up a computer learning center to teach computer literacy and programming without spending a ton of money.   They hope that people without a lot of resources can get one of these, hook up a cheap keyboard and hook it to their TV to play around with programming.  They hope it is a gateway  and a starting point for people to who are interested, but can’t afford to go down to Wal-Mart and plunk down $400 for a computer.

Even though the basic price does not include everything you need, it is still an incredible deal.  If you bought the basic unit for $25, you could have it up and running on your TV for less than another $25.  Especially if you got the keyboard and other stuff from Goodwill.  A school could get a whole computer with a new monitor, keyboard and everything for less than $200 a station if they wanted to go all out on it.

I’m excited to see a company providing a low dollar pathway to learning more about technology.  And I’m excited to get my hands on one of these and see what kind of project I can build.  I think it may take over for the computer I built to update the weather web page.  I’ll bet the Raspberry Pi could do the same job with a lot less power use and I would learn some new stuff doing it that way.

Religious Freedom

The Pope addressed his Bishops earlier this week and told Catholics to understand the “grave threats” posed by “radical secularism.”  He felt that the church’s religious freedom was being eroded.

This story from USA Today goes on to explain that the Bishops are upset about the growing acceptance of same sex unions, and about the possibility that the Catholic Church’s insurance program will be forced to provide birth control as part of the new national health insurance standards.

I don’t see either of those issues as reducing religious freedom.  What it does is reduce their authority to tell other people what to do.  No one is forcing Catholics into same sex relationships.  No one is forcing the Church to marry same sex couples.  No one is forcing Catholics to take birth control.

Catholic adoption agencies that receive state funds have protested over not being able to exclude gay couples from adopting kids.  They believe that a same sex relationship is intrinsically evil.  They are wrong, but it’s not against the law to be wrong.  They can exclude people as long as they don’t take federal money.  But they want to be able to take federal money AND be able to discriminate.

You can’t do both.  Some of the state money comes from taxes paid by gay couples.  You can’t take money from those couples and then tell them they can’t use the service.  Once you take that money, you become just like any other utility or service that tax dollars pay for.  The city can’t take your tax dollars and then refuse to pave your street or pick up your trash just because they disagree with something you are doing.  Same thing for tax supported adoption.

The Catholic Church is not having its religious freedoms curtailed by being made to follow the law.  What the church wants is special treatment.  They want to be able to tell others outside the church that they have to follow the rules and customs that the church as laid down for its own members.  That is the opposite of religious freedom.  That is telling me that I can’t follow my beliefs if they differ from what the Pope has decreed is right.

It’s not just the Catholic church that has tried to play the poor persecuted victim when they have been made to follow public policy.  It’s not even just christian churches.  But separation of church and state means that no church is above the laws that the state has put in place.  Allowing any church or religion to ignore a law because of religious belief is a special privilege accorded to that faith and is a violation of the Constitution because it gives preferential treatment to one group.  To paraphrase Captain Kirk, the Constitution (and by extension the laws passed under that constitution) applies to everyone, or it is meaningless.

So the “grave threat” from “radical secularism” just means the Church has to follow the laws of the land, just like everyone else, and can’t do what ever it wants to do like it could back in the good old days of medieval Europe.  I think that is a good thing.  Because it insures that we all have religious freedom.

Yet another re-design

Yep. Another re-design

Another site re-design.  This time with a WordPress.  I have been toying with a blog for a while and this seems easier to do with the WordPress package than it was in Joomla.

The weather site is up and can be reached by the menu at the top.

I’m thinking of maybe doing a blog and maybe a forum for the people I play World of Warcraft with.

Right now there is no advantage to signing up as a member on the website.  It does not give you an e-mail address or anything else.  Yet

E-Mail Info

Most people just use the site for e-mail.  So all the e-mail information is below.

The pop server is
pop.nevid.net, the outgoing server is smpt.nevid.net.

If you are using Outlook or any other mail program you have to use your full e-mail address as the username.

( username@nevid.net).

Web Mail

Web mail is here:  http://webmail.nevid.net

You will have to enter the whole e-mail address in user name slot and then your password.

Ok just clieck the e-mail menu item right under the image.