The first thing to think about when setting out to buy a weather station is to create a list of requirements that you want it to fulfill. Next is what are you going to do with the data collected and last, but not least, what budget have you got to spend and can it be spent at once or has it to be spent over a period of time.
Sit down with a piece of paper and think of what you want the weather station to measure, put it down and have a think about what you will do with the data and how you will process it. We will look at suitable software later on but it is worthwhile starting to look at what is available and what will run on your computer if, of course, you are going to record the sensor measurements. Below is a list of sensors you may wish to include in the PWS you are setting up. You may want some now and add others later or you may not want some of them at all.
|Inside Temperature||Outside Temperature|
|Inside Humidity||Outside Humidity|
|Wind speed||Wind Direction|
|Barometric Pressure||Solar Radiation|
|Ultra Violet Level||Lightning Strikes|
|Soil Moisture||Multiple Temperature Sensors|
|CO2 level||CO Level|
|Leaf Wetness||Snow Depth|
The table is not an exhastive list of sensors but covers the basics plus some rather more specialist devices which may be appropriate for agriculture or linked to your hobbies or interests. Geographic location is also an issue for example you may not need a snow depth sensor if you never have any snow.
Most people go for a console in the house so that the readings can be easily seen but if you are going to read the data from the station and manipulate it you will need to consider what computer you will use and where it will be located in your property. If it is going to be in the living area and the domestic authority needs to be appeased you will need to consider its aesthetics, possibly going for one with a pretty colour screen even though the colours don't make the weather any better.
Almost all the weather stations link back to the console wirelessly but some of the high end models are wired back to the console and cable routing may have to be considered if you put the sensors at the back of the house and the console at the front. You also need to check what frequency the sensors operate on. It is easy to buy online what appears to be a cheap import but it may not work on a frequency permitted in your country. In the UK the two frequencies are 433 MHz or 868 MHz. US models can be on 315MHz and the use of these are illegal in the UK and much of Europe and could render you liable to prosecution by OffCom.
As stated previously most PWS are connected wirelessly between the sensors and the console or data logger. Where you site the two ends of this wireless link can influence your choice of setup. If the sensors are going to be mounted where they can't be easily accessed to change batteries then the wired option may be the better option. Normally the batteries only need changing once every 12 to 18 months because they receive a lot of their power from a solar panel. These obviously don't work very well during the night, especially in winter when the days are short. The batteries keep it all working when in darkness. If you live somewhere where there is more darkness, for example in the far north, then expect to change the batteries more often.
We will look in more detail at the positioning of the sensors later on.