Weather stations are a popular project for experimenting with various environmental sensors, and for wind speed and direction the choice is usually a simple cup anemometer and wind vane. For [Jianjia Ma]’s QingStation, he decided to build another type of wind sensor: An ultrasonic anemometer.
Ultrasonic anemometers have no moving parts but come at the cost of significantly more electronic complexity. They work by measuring the time it takes for an ultrasonic audio pulse to be reflected the receiver across a known distance. Wind direction can be calculated by taking velocity readings from two ultrasonic sensor pairs perpendicular to each other and using a bit of simple trigonometry. For an ultrasonic anemometer to work properly, it requires a carefully designed analog amplifier on the receive side and a lot of signal processing to extract the correct signal from all the noise caused by secondary echoes, multi-pathing, and the environment. The design and experimentation process is well-documented. Since [Jianjia] does not have access to a wind tunnel for testing and calibration, he improvised by mounting the anemometer on his car’s roof and going for a drive. This yielded readings that were proportional to the car’s GPS speed, but a bit higher. This might due to a calculation error, or external factors like wind, or disturbed airflow from the test car or other traffic.
Other sensors include an optical rain sensor, light sensor, lighting sensor, and a BME280 for air pressure, humidity, and temperature. [Jianjia] plans to use the QingStation on an autonomous boat, so he also included an IMU, compass, GPS, and a microphone for environmental sounds. The fact that none of the sensors have moving parts is a major advantage for this use case, and we look forward to seeing the boat project. All the hardware and software are open-source and available on GitHub.
There’s no shortage of cheap weather stations on the market that pull in data from several wireless sensors running in the 433 to 900 MHz range and present you with a slick little desktop display, but that’s usually where the flow of information stops. Looking to bridge the gap and bring all that local climate data onto the Internet, [Jonathan Diamond] decided to reverse engineer how his weather station worked.
The first phase of this project involved an RTL-SDR receiver, GNURadio, and a sprinkling of Python. [Jonathan] was able to lock onto the signal and piece together the data packets that reported variables such as temperature, wind speed, and rainfall. Each one of these was a small puzzle in itself, and in the end, there’s still a few bits which he hasn’t quite figured out. But he at least had enough to move onto the next step.
Now at this point, he could have pulled the data right out of the air with his RTL-SDR. But looking to push his skills to the next level, [Jonathan] decided to open up the base station and isolate its receiver. Since he already decoded the packets on the RF side, he knew exactly what he was looking for with his oscilloscope and logic analyzer. Once he was tapped into the feed coming from the radio, the final step was writing some code for the ESP8266 that could listen on the line, interpret the data packets, and push the resulting variables out over the network.
In this case, [Jonathan] decided to funnel all the data into Weather Underground by way of the Personal Weather Station API. This not only let him view the data through their web interface and smartphone application, but brought their hyperlocal forecasting technology into the mix at no extra charge. If you’re not interested in sharing your info with the public, it would be a trivial matter to change the firmware so the data is published to a local MQTT broker, or whatever else floats your proverbial boat.
The votes for Hackaday’s Data Loggin’ Contest have been received, saved to SD, pushed out to MQTT, and graphed. Now it’s time to announce the three projects that made the most sense out of life’s random data and earned themselves a $100 gift certificate for Tindie, the Internet’s foremost purveyor of fine hand-crafted artisanal electronics.
First up, and winner of the Data Wizard category, is this whole-garden soil moisture monitor by [Joseph Eoff]. You might not realize it from the picture at the top of the page, but lurking underneath the mulch of that lovely garden is more than 20 Bluetooth soil sensors arranged in a grid pattern. All of the data is sucked up by a series of solar powered ESP32 access points, and ultimately ends up on a Raspberry Pi by way of MQTT. Here, custom Python software generates a heatmap that indicates possible trouble spots in the garden. With its easy to understand visualization of what’s happening under the surface, this project perfectly captured the spirit of the category.
Next up is the Nespresso Shield from [Steadman]. This clever gadget literally listens for the telltale sounds of the eponymous coffee maker doing its business to not only estimate your daily consumption, but warn you when the machine is running low on water. The clever non-invasive method of pulling data from a household appliance made this a strong entry for the Creative Genius category.
Last but certainly not least is this comprehensive IoT weather station that uses machine learning to predict rainfall. With crops and livestock at risk from sudden intense storms, [kutluhan_aktar] envisions this device as an early warning for farmers. The documentation on this project, from setting up the GPRS-enabled ESP8266 weather station to creating the web interface and importing all the data into TensorFlow, is absolutely phenomenal. This project serves as a invaluable framework for similar DIY weather detection and prediction systems, which made it the perfect choice for our World Changer category.
We’re no strangers to DIY environmental monitors around these parts, in fact, it seems like that’s one of the most common projects hackers take on when confronted with the power of a modern Internet-connected microcontroller. But among such projects, this miniature nRF52-based weather station built by [Andrew Lamchenko] is among the most polished we’ve seen.
Externally, this looks as though it could easily be a commercial product. The graphical interface on the ePaper display is very well designed, delivering plenty of data while still looking attractive enough to hang in the kitchen. The enclosure is 3D printed, but [Andrew] poured enough elbow grease into sanding and polishing the front that you might not realize it at first glance.
Internally it uses the popular BME280 sensor to detect temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure, though the custom PCB is also compatible with the similar SI7021 and HTU21D sensors if you want to switch things up.
That said, you really want the ability to measure pressure, as it allows the firmware to do its own basic weather forecasting. All the collected data is beamed out over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), where it can be collected by the open source MySensors IoT framework, but we imagine it wouldn’t take much work to integrate it into your home automation system of choice.
For most of us, getting weather information is as trivial as unlocking a smartphone or turning on a computer and pointing an app or browser at one’s weather site of choice. This is all well and good, but it lacks a certain panache that old weather stations had with their analog dials and stained wood cases. The weather station that [BuildComics] created marries both this antique aesthetic with modern weather data availability, and then dials it up a notch for this enormous analog weather station build.
The weather station uses 16 discrete dials, each modified with a different label for the specific type of data displayed. Some of them needed new glass, and others also needed coils to be modified to be driven with a lower current than they were designed as well, since each would be driven by one of two Arduinos in this project. Each are tied to a microcontroller output via a potentiometer which controls the needle’s position for the wildly different designs of meter. The microcontrollers themselves get weather information from a combination of real-world sensors outside the home of [BuildComics] and from the internet, which allows for about as up-to-date information about the weather as one could gather first-hand.
The amount of customization of these old meters is impressive, and what’s even more impressive is the project’s final weight. [BuildComics] reports that it took two people just to lift it onto the wall mount, which is not surprising given the amount of iron in some of these old analog meters. And, although not as common in the real world anymore, these old antique meters have plenty of repurposed uses beyond weather stations as well.
We love getting our weather in a flurry of different methods, but have you tried building your own sensor suite to harvest the data for you? [Giovanni ‘CyB3rn0id’ Bernardo] needed to monitor isolated locations outside the reach of WiFi. His ray of hope is an ESP32 controller coupled with a LoRa module to beam data to a remote station that can access the cloud.
At the base station, live readings are shown on an OLED screen, but you can also connect to the ESP32 through your phone like a hotspot. If you keep a memory card installed, it will cache the readings in a perpetually-updated CSV file. In regular operation, the LoRa module overcasts the telemetry to its sister unit that acts as a Wifi/LoRa bridge so anyone can view gauges and graphs in real-time on ThingSpeak.
The crown jewels of the Earth’s mountain ranges, the Himalayas, are unsurpassed in their beauty, their height, and their deadly attraction to adventurers, both professional and amateur. The gem of the Himalayas is, of course, Mount Everest, known as Sagarmatha to the Nepalis and Chomolungma to the Tibetans. At 8,848 meters (29,029 ft) — or more; it’s a geologically young mountain that’s still being thrust upward by tectonic activity — it’s a place so forbidding that as far as we know the summit was never visited until 1953, despite at least 30 years of previous attempts, many of which resulted in death.
The conquest of Everest remains a bucket list challenge for many adventurers, and despite advances in technology that have made the peak accessible to more people — or perhaps because of that — more than 300 corpses litter the mountain, testament to what can happen when you take the power of Mother Nature for granted.
To get better data on the goings-on at the Roof of the World, an expedition recently sought to install five weather stations across various points on the route up Mount Everest, including one at its very peak. The plan was challenging, both from a mountaineering perspective and in terms of the engineering required to build something that would be able to withstand some of the worst conditions on the planet, and to send valuable data back reliably. It didn’t all go exactly to plan, but it’s still a great story about the intersection of science and engineering.