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The Sensors

A project log for Modular Weather Station

Building a weather station using readily available breakout boards to deliver sensor data to the Internet

NevynNevyn 06/25/2016 at 16:000 Comments

Temperature, Pressure and Humidity

There are two temperatures we can measure here, air temperature and soil or ground level temperature. The air temperature will give an indication of how pleasant a day it is at the moment and the ground level sensor will give an indication of the progress of the seasons from the plants perspective. For this reason we are interested in both of these measurements.

Air pressure has long been used as a predictor for upcoming weather events.

Luckily we can get the air temperature, pressure and humidity sensor in one convenient package, the BME280. Ground level temperature will need a waterproof sensor. I think this would be best purchased as a unit rather than made so the DS18B20 with a 6 foot cable looks like it might be ideal.

Wind and Rain

All of these measurements come from the weather meter. The wind speed and rainfall sensors are simple switches that generate pulses whilst the wind direction is a resistor network.

Light

The two light measurements are the overall light intensity (luminosity) and ultraviolet light intensity. Luckily there are a couple of sensors for these two measurements, the TSL2561 and the ML8511.

The ultraviolet light sensor is an analogue sensor and so we will have to consider the stability of the supply voltage when making the reading.

The luminosity sensor uses a measurement window and a sensitivity setting to take a reading. This means that for given settings the sensor may be overwhelmed and simply give a maximum reading. The work around for this is to make the measurement window and sensitivity dynamic. So long, sensitive windows at night and short less sensitive windows on bright sunny days.

Cases and Location

The microcontroller and power etc. will need to be located in a case of some form. This will need to be weather proof as water and electricity are not the best of friends. It would also be a good idea to keep any batteries in an environment with a reasonably stable temperature. A little research into how the professionals do it.

The sensors on the other hand need to be outdoors in a suitable location for the measurements being taken.

Power Supply

The initial work can be done using a bench power supply but when the project moves outdoors it will need to either be mains or battery powered. The long term aim is to use a solar cell and rechargeable battery, as they say on Kickstarter, a stretch goal.

Data Logging and a Real Time Clock (RTC)

The Oak is a WiFi enabled board so the most obvious place to put the data is the cloud. It might be an idea to also provide some local storage in case the WiFi network is unavailable.

The RTC could have two uses, to wake the microcontroller and also provide a timestamp for the data items.

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