The Beginning

A project log for Reverse Engineering The Weather STAR 4000

The Weather STAR 4000: A Journey of reverse engineering the hardware to an iconic machine of the 1980s/90s.

techknighttechknight 03/08/2021 at 19:170 Comments

When I grew up in the 90s, I was always fascinated by the LOT8s and how they were able to pull that off. early in my childhood, I was contemplating whether I was going to remain in Technology, or if I was going to become a meteorologist. I was fascinated with both at the time. 

Eventually, I stayed on the path of electronics and technology as it seemed to peak my interest a bit more. But, I never forgot about weather, and I certainly never forgot what groundbreaking technologies that TWC was doing at the time, Since this was before smartphones, etc... the internet was still a very emerging thing in its infancy even though its been around for several years at this point. 

But in 1982 when the weather channel was launched, the things they pulled off were nothing short of amazing. TWC today is only a shell of its former self. Changes in ownership, changes in management, changes in technology on how weather information is obtained, etc... the list goes on. 

Regardless where TWC is today, we cannot forget its legacy and what it once was, and the impact its made in both teaching weather, and the technology behind what drove TWC. 

At the same time, I was always into computers/technology, especially these days with the boom of retrocomputing. So i figured, cable headends must retire this equipment and it ends up on the 2nd hand market, right? Well yes and no. Alot of times cable companies go through specific recyclers and you never see that stuff again. Other times, they sell the equipment at auction, or the recycler decides to sell the equipment 2nd hand and it ends up on eBay. 

I have always had an interest in a WeatherSTAR 4000. but it wasnt until recently when I finally discovered one on eBay. 

Fast forward to December of 2018: 

I awoke one morning a few days before Christmas and checked my email on my phone just before work, as I always do. Low and behold I got an eBay saved search notification on a 4000! I went straight into heart palpitations, and nervousness because I have been looking on and off for years and never ran into one. Then within the last 2 years, a wave of them showed up here and there. Now its quiet again. 

But I digress. I decided to look at the eBay auction, turns out it had a buy it now saved on it. But it was very expensive which turned me off a little bit. However, I did a best offer, and won! 

At this point I was very happy. the one piece of technology of my childhood that was intangible was now a reality. That set things into motion. 

But..... big disappointment. I failed to do my research when looking for one of these. That is, the software was downloaded over satellite and stored into RAM. when the machine is powered off, all that is lost and it has to be redownloaded again. I was blindsided to searching and owning one, that I overlooked this little fact. So i effectively bought a doorstop/boatanchor. (And probably so many others). 

.....Or did I? To be continued....