Stats and stuff

Yesterday evening I finally got round to creating a database for my weather data (using MySQL) and writing some code that injects the data into the database. While the site itself has never been, and probably won't ever be, driven off a database doing this does help me improve the content of the site.

Having the data in a database that can be accessed with SQL means I can do all sorts of queries that'd be very tricky when working with the log files I create with Open3600's logging utility.

The first visible outcome of this is I've started a stats page on my site. There's only a couple of tables on there at the moment — I'll probably add more as other pointless ways of looking at the data come to me.

Next on the list will be re-writing the records page so that the data it uses is created from the database and so that more time periods are included. Tables for current week, current month and current year will probably happen at some point soon.

File Under: WS3600, Open3600, MySQL, SQL, Weather Database, Weather Statistics.


Short, sharp hail storm

About an hour ago it got very dark outside and the wind picked up, followed by a very short and sharp hail storm.

This showed up pretty well on the weather station. For that brief period you can see a pretty sharp rise in the wind-speed. A little while later you can see rainfall is recorded as the hail that landed in the rain bucket melted.

File Under: WS3600, Weather Events, Hail.


Yet another base station crash

Just like a few days ago, the WS3600 base station had another crash yesterday &mdash total lock-up, every part of the display turned on, nothing working.

Sadly, this time, it didn't happen while I was at my desk; it happened on a Saturday. The only reason I noticed is because I happened to check the current conditions using my PDA and I saw that an update hadn't happened for a while. Because of this no readings were recorded between around 14:00 and 16:40 (you'll see the gap here).

This business of resetting or, worse, crashing, is starting to annoy me a little now. It suggests that the WS3600 can't be relied on to work unattended — it looks like it needs lots of care and attention. I've done a fair bit of searching on the net for any information on this problem and can't come up with anything useful. At this rate I might see about getting in contact with La Crosse Technology to find out if they're aware of this problem.

File Under: Personal Weather Station, WS3600 Crash, WS3600 Reset.


Wind maps

Another one for the "because I could" department: I've been having a bit more of a play with gnuplot and have ended up creating 2d and 3d plots of wind direction vs wind speed.

For the moment they only appear on the page of graphs for yesterday's data; the reason for this is that creating these plots is a little more processor-intensive than the other graphs and, if I create them for the last 7 days they look rubbish.

File Under: Weather Data, Wind Speed, Wind Direction, gnuplot.

A little client application in GNU emacs

Just over a week ago I added a simple XML feed of current readings to my weather website. At the time I didn't really have much of a need for it, I just did it as one of those "because I can" things.

This morning I got round to writing my first client application that makes use of that data. davep-wx.el is a little utility for use in GNU emacs; it provides a command that displays the current weather readings. Simple, straight-forward, but handy. Also fun to hack together (I do like writing code for emacs).

File Under: GNU emacs, emacs lisp, elisp, Weather, WS3600.


Another strange reset

Like last month, I've just had the base station of the WS3600 reset itself for no obvious reason. As with the last time this happened, there was a beep, the backlight came on, every part of the LCD display turned on but, unlike last time, it didn't actually reset — it just seemed to hang.

After a short wait I finally pulled all power, waited a moment, and then hooked up the power again. This time the base station started up okay and, a short while later, data started to be received from the external sensors again.

This time the reset appeared to retain the rain total, the corrected pressure offset and the date and the time (although the time was the time that it had hung, not the current time). Everything else (the min/max values) were all lost.

If this keeps up it might start to get a little annoying and frustrating. Worse still, I know of one other person who has all sorts of odd problems with his WS2300 and I've had an email from one person, with a WS3600, who was having these sorts of resets on an almost daily basis. Sadly, I don't seem to be able to find any sort of explanation for them.

File Under: WS3600, Personal Weather Station, Strange Reset.

A second coat

Further to last week's update, I managed to get a second coat of paint on the shelter over the weekend. Thankfully this coat went on a lot better and it's starting to look the part now. There's still more painting to be done, I've still got to do the inside of the door (it's pretty much impossible to paint the inside and the outside at the same time without getting paint and fingerprints everywhere).

File Under: Personal Weather Station, WS3600, Thermometer Shelter.


Silly pressure problem

I've had a long-running (for "since I've been using this setup" values of "long) problem with the WS3600 and Open3600 whereby, now and again, a pressure value of 11111 hPa would be recorded (first noted back in December last year). At first I wondered if it was a problem with the base station itself but, because this high value was never being recorded as a max pressure, I concluded that it was probably a problem with Open3600.

Since then I've been getting, on average, one instance of this problem every couple of days.

The base station is say on my desk and the display is visible out of the corner of my eye as I work on my computer. Earlier today, as I was working, something caught my attention and I looked over at the base station and saw that the pressure was flashing "-----" rather than displaying a value — the rest of the display appeared to be fine. A moment later a proper value was displayed.

I then checked in the data that had been recorded and saw that another instance of 11111 hPa had appeared. It would seem that it isn't Open3600 that's at fault but it is, instead, an issue with the base station.

Knowing that doesn't actually solve anything, but at least I now know what the source of the silly value is.

File Under: WS3600, Open3600, Bad Pressure Reading.


Head in the clouds

I've noticed that some personal weather station sites, especially those that use Weather Display, display the height of the cloud base. I've often wondered how they got that figure.

Assuming that there was some sort of calculation that could be done I did a search on Google and came up with this and this. Both sites give pretty much the same method of calculation.

So, more for fun than anything else, I've added the value you get to various parts of my website. The tricky part is finding out a way of checking if it's anything close to correct (for Cumulus clouds, obviously). I doubt I'll be able to do that any time soon (doubtless there are some neat gadgets you can buy that'll let you do it).

Of course, I made the silly mistake of telling a certain Scottish-based geek about this and he just had to add it to his weather station site too (actually getting it in before me). But that's okay, I'm letting him off this time because he was kind enough to let me illustrate this blog entry with the image you see above.

File Under: Personal Weather Station, WS3600, Calculate Cloud Base, Cumulus.


Setup update

Just an update on how things are going with building the shelter. Over the weekend I had my first chance to get a coat of paint on it. I did this on Saturday afternoon and, by Sunday evening, it still wasn't quite dry. It's also going to need at least two coats (perhaps even three) — which is kind of odd considering that I'd grabbed a "single coat" paint to do the job.

I'm hoping to get the extra couple of coats on it this week so, fingers crossed, I might have it all done by next weekend. If I have the time and the weather is good I might be able to get it fixed up outside. The chances are that I won't get the time to move the thermometer itself and I'm tied up the weekend after next so it might be over a couple of weeks before I've got everything in place.

Thankfully, for the last few days, it's been overcast all the time so temperature readings have been correct. Of course, wearing my astronomer's hat, I'm sick of this overcast weather.

File Under: Personal Weather Station, WS3600, Thermometer Shelter.