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  • The Internet of Things… Connected Weather Station

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on April 14th, 2015 (All posts by )

    I have been laid up for a little while and like a good shut in I was shopping on Amazon for things to buy. One item that is always of interest to my parents and relatives is the weather. A while ago I bought them an Ambient Device weather forecaster which they still use today and they find very useful (sadly, that company went out of business).

    I recently spent about $150 to buy a Netatmo indoor and outdoor temperature / weather station. It is quite fascinating. Here is the indoor module that tracks temperature, sound (in decibels), CO2, humidity, and other elements. When you push the top button it will glow based on the CO2 levels (green is “good”). I plan to hide it behind a couch so you can’t see it. The indoor unit connected to my phone via bluetooth and then I was able to get it to sign on to my wireless network. It took about 5 minutes.

    Here is the outdoor component. This unit measures humidity and temperature and connects to the “base” station above. The outdoor unit is battery powered and all weather so once you put it outside (on our porch) you can ignore it and it will send readings to the base station.

    The really cool part is that you just download an app onto your phone and voila! you can have updates and graphs and charts and see your temperature in and out of your house anytime. They also have alerts so that you can be notified if there are temperature changes (such as below freezing weather outside or interior temperatures that drop enough to freeze your pipes) and also for CO2 alerts and other customizable features. It is all very easy to understand.

    This “weathermap” from Netatmo allows you to see all the stations that are set up in your neighborhood. (The temperatures may be in Celsius; don’t be fooled.) It is fun to pick any area you are familiar with like your home town and see how many weather stations are already set up.

    They also have a rain gauge and are coming out with a wind velocity measurement system, as well. I will think about buying both of them, although the wind velocity would be more useful because my balcony is partially blocked from the balcony above which might impact the ability to accurately measure rain.

    This is a fun system and I’d imagine it will only get cheaper so I’d recommend it for anyone who is interested in weather. It could be a good gift for parents or an in-law. Also the alerts are very cool and it is nice to be able to check in on your house while you are away.

    Cross posted at LITGM

     

    11 Responses to “The Internet of Things… Connected Weather Station”

    1. Mike K Says:

      In California, at least southern California, you need only a calendar. That is a good enough weather station. Give me the date and I will tell you the forecast.

    2. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Carl: you need to be more paranoid. Somewhere in Washington DC somebody is working on a paln to use all of our connected devices to control us. 1984 was intended as a warning. They use it as a business plan.

    3. Whitehall Says:

      When I lived on the central coast of California (San Luis Obispo), our carpool would recite, in unison, the daily weather forecast when it came on the radio in the morning (“low clouds and coastal fog, clearing in the afternoon….”)

      But indeed this looks like a nifty device. Interesting how one technology “enables” so many others. A home weather station used to require running wires through the home shell. Now, outputs can be anywhere in the world for essentially no cost.

    4. Dan from Madison Says:

      I think all this would do is depress me when I see all the devices connected in San Diego and Cayman in January.

    5. TMLutas Says:

      Robert Schwartz – The technologists in the open source movement long ago worried about and worked out a solution for that. Know your code and control your own devices to maintain your home as your castle. Eventually, we’ll settle down to an open standard so you can drop in a brain module you’ve made yourself into just about anything you use. The problem is making clear to the commercial people that this really is a requirement they can’t afford to pass on.

    6. Carl from Chicago Says:

      Funny on the outdoor module I thought I had placed it carefully so that it would be out of the sun but I was obviously wrong because it said it was 85 degrees today on my deck. I hid it in a flower pot and tomorrow I think I will get more accurate readings.

    7. Andrew X Says:

      Funny about Whitehall and Mike K. – I’m a Cally native who moved to the East Coast a couple decades ago. I am constantly asked (I am in a service industry and deal with thousands) “How could you leave California, the weather is so wonderful!” I tell people that, other than the fact that California has been governed by monsters for the past decades, I tell them that California weather (coastal, Southern, and valley) bores the living hell out of me!

      NOTHING ever happens! If I saw lightning once a year, that was a big deal. And now of course, there is a horrifying drought which literally, and I do mean literally, would drive me to utter madness if I lived under it. I lived it lesser scale wayyyyy back when…. Jerry Brown was governor. :-) It still horrifies and scares me from 3000 miles away. To this day I love rain, every time I see it. (within reason.)

      No, give me weather — seasons, snow once in while, summer thunderstorms that rock the house. Miserable Februarys (Augusts) make for magnificent Aprils (Octobers). I love it all. I have never regretted leaving, though it is nice to return to on occasion.

      God, please give them rain. (and saner governance, though both may be a lost cause at this point.)

    8. badgerwx Says:

      Good thing there are no weather police or they’d come after you for putting your temperature sensor on a porch!!! Seriously, you won’t get good results with it next to your house like that.

      Below are the guidelines for NWS cooperative network instrument siting. Since you’re not taking any kind of obs to be reported to anyone else (I hope) you don’t need to follow all these rules but you do need to get your sensor out away from any structures or trees & shelter it from direct sun somehow.

      Temperature sensor siting: The sensor should be mounted 5 feet +/- 1 foot above the ground. The ground over which the shelter is located should be typical of the surrounding area. A level, open clearing is desirable so the thermometers are freely ventilated by air flow. Do not install the sensor on a steep slope or in a sheltered hollow unless it is typical of the area or unless data from that type of site are desired. When possible, the shelter should be no closer than four times the height of any obstruction (tree, fence, building, etc.). The sensor should be at least 100 feet from any paved or concrete surface.

      The shelter they refer to would be something like a Stevenson screen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevenson_screen)

    9. Grurray Says:

      That’s the argument behind Anthony Watts Surface Stations project. Most weather stations recording temperatures are operating in substandard conditions and therefore not contributing to an accurate assessment of climate conditions.

      And to Andrew X’s point about Februarys, the anticipation is often better than the destination first of all, but certainly the appreciation is that much greater after having to pass through the dead zone of late winter.

    10. Carl from Chicago Says:

      Ha ha I really don’t have much of a choice on my outdoor sensor since I live on a high floor. I put it in a flower pot which is out of the sunlight but not an ideal spot either. My rain and wind gauge would also be impaired for the reasons you list. But it is still all incremental fun for me.

    11. badgerwx Says:

      If you could replace the pot (which may act like an oven if the sun hits it) with a box with slatted or perforated sides – painted white – that is probably the best you can do in the city. It can be really hard to set up instruments to get a decent reading. I keep my outdoor thermometer under a juniper, which is at least in the shade if nothing else. The previous owner of my house attached a thermometer to a bay window in the back of the house in the direct sun.