WS3600 installation

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the personal weather station (a WS3600) is finally installed and up and running.

The first job of the day was to fix the bracket of the installation kit to the wall of the office. Given my lack of DIY skills I was anticipating that this would be one of those jobs that wouldn't go smoothly. I couldn't have been more wrong. It probably took me about ½ an hour to get it marked up and get the holes drilled (using the 10mm masonry drill bit that was supplied with the installation kit). The bracket itself screwed into the wall without any fuss using the provided bolts and wall plugs. The hardest part of the job was all the climbing up and down the ladder.

Once the bracket was on the wall the next step was to fit the wind vane to the top of the pole. I'd anticipated that this would be the easiest job of the day. Again, I was wrong. One of the nuts that came with the weather station had an incomplete thread and so wouldn't screw onto the fixing for the vane. Not being a DIY sort of person nuts and bolts aren't the sort of thing I have kicking around so, at that point, I thought I was stuck and would have to give in and wait until I got the chance to visit a DIY shop. At that point I started to have a look around the office for any old equipment that might have the right kind of nut on it that I could use. Luckily I managed to dig out an old Anglepoise-style lamp and, in one of the joints, I noticed that the mechanism that is used to tighten the joint had a nut of exactly the right size. Even better, the lever that the nut was in (it's used to lock the joint of the lamp in place) turned out to be the perfect tool to tighten all the nuts on the vane fixing.

So, thanks to a bit of junk that I'd not got around to throwing out, a minor disaster was averted.

The next job was to fix the pole to the bracket. This was another job that I'd anticipated would be rather tricky — I'd imagined that being up a ladder, holding the pole and using a spanner would be the sort of job that would require at least three hands. Again, it turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be. It took little effort to get the pole into the fixings and to tighten them enough to hold it in place. Next, using the compass that came with the installation kit, I lined the wind vane up with north, checked that the pole was as level as possible, and then fully tightened the bolts.

After that all I needed to do was to install the thermo/hygro transmitter and the rain gauge. I decided to fit the transmitter near the bottom of the pole (looking back this might not have been the best idea — see below) and, after fitting it, I plugged the anemometer into the transmitter and tidied up the cables with plenty of cable ties. Finally, I plugged the rain bucket into the transmitter and tacked its cable down the wall of the office.

Currently I don't have anywhere useful to locate the rain bucket so it's sat on top of a coal bunker that's by the side of my office. This probably isn't the best of locations due to the fact that the office shelters it from the west. When I get more time I intend to find somewhere better for the gauge (this isn't made easy by the fact that there are no flat, exposed surfaces available nearby).

All in all it took about two hours from start to finish, allowing for the odd break and the time taken to find a new nut.

Now for one possible problem: Yesterday, close on to lunchtime, I noticed that the WS3600 and my simple Maplin wireless thermometer disagreed on temperature by about 3°C. I then checked with another personal weather station in my area and noticed that it's temperature value was closer to the one that the Maplin unit was showing. On top of this, the nighttime minimum temperature that I'd recorded more or less agreed with the nighttime minimum for the station over in Grantham. This would suggest that it wasn't an overall problem with temperature readings.

I suspect the reason for this might be that, currently, the temperature gauge for the WS3600 is in a location where sunlight falls on it during the morning (it's on an east-facing wall) — the Maplin thermometer is constantly in the shade and on a north-facing wall. I had wondered if this was going to be a problem but, given that the WS3600's thermometer comes with a shade, I was hoping that it was something I wouldn't need to worry about.

Annoyingly, given where I've got everything installed (the location being dictated by the best place for me to site the anemometer), there isn't a shaded location where I can place the thermometer. I'm going to have to monitor this and see if this problem continues (it's a sunny day again today so the Sun will be falling on the thermometer in the next hour or so). If this is the cause for the temperature difference I'm either going to have to try and find a better location for the thermometer or I'll have to try and put some form of shade around it.

So, what next? First up will be hooking the base station up to one of my computers and seeing how well the computer link works. I've got a choice of either using the supplied software and my Windows box (I've not looked at what the supplied software is yet) or, ideally, some Free Software on one of my GNU/Linux boxes. The current Free Software front-runner looks like Open3600.

Once I've decided on how I'm hooking it up and which software I'm using the next step will be to build a website around the data. I doubt I'll have that working any time before the end of this year.

Other things to consider and/or sort out are:

  • Double check my height above sea-level, work out the pressure difference based on this and program it into the base station. This shouldn't be too hard as I can either check on an OS map or I can check it with my GPS unit.

  • Decide if I want to carry on using the wireless link or if I want to go wired. This will depend on the length of the supplied cable (I've not checked it yet) and if I can easily run it from the transmitter to the base station.

  • Look into hooking up with Weather Underground.

and probably some things I've not thought about yet. Seems like I've got plenty of things to play with over the xmas break.

File Under: Personal Weather Station, WS3600, Installation.


Anonymous said...

Good luck on getting a good wind reading ! The wind is roaring and the wind strength ? 2.9 knots !! Look up WS3600 Wind vane on google to find other disgruntled users !

Dave Pearson said...

I have seen mention of this issue before, and not just with the WS3600 either. I get the impression that the wind speeds I record are lower than they should be but, then again, I don't have the anemometer in a really well exposed a location.