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Environment

Mini Weather Station (DIY) – Part 2

Since the concept was posted in the previous blog Mini Weather Station, many friends and readers reverted with various points and questions.

Trying to address them here.

Open for comments and more questions please….

Why DIY Weather station

Do It Yourself gives a full control and understanding about what and how a certain thing is being implemented and it gives a very good hands on experience. Starting with concepts till actual deployment of the gadget, a DIY weather station is your own mechanism to accurately and directly measure and record the climate and climate changes in your area.

Pre-requisites

What all you need, is below…

  • A ventilated outdoor space, it can be a balcony / terrace, but no direct sunlight and no direct rainfall, at least where the device will be mounted.
  • A continously available WiFi data network.
  • Source of electricity to power the device.
  • Enthusiasm to participate in climate change and related activities.
Weather already on my cell phone.

Yes, smartphones of current generation do have some kind of temperature and weather data displayed on the home screen.

  • There is a very rare possibility that your phone has an actual temperature sensor inbuilt in its hardware Environment Sensors in Phones.
  • Even if there is one such sensor, the temperature displayed from time to time will be at various places including indoor and outdoor as the phone is carried along by the user. And we want to record and track the weather conditions at a specific open ambient place.
  • On most common phones i.e. without a temperature sensor as a part of their hardware, the displayed value is often fetched from some weather services website like AccuWeather
  • Real time data shown from such websites is a fairly complicated calculation, which involves the actual readings from the nearby weather stations (official, public, private, owned by government bodies or institutions) + the data continuously recorded by weather satellites at various locations. Weather satellites donot measure actual temperature but infer the values based on infra-red scanning of the earths surface. How does weather satellite work
  • So the correctness of the temperature displayed on the home screen of your phone is dependent on several factors like the distance from the nearest weather station and weather satellites.
  • Also it is important that we should be able to record data at regular intervals and later be able to compare the values year over year in form of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly min,max and average/median temperatures. Most weather services websites donot provide historical datapoints easily and free of cost.
  • There are not many known/closely located weather stations in India, or at least information about them and their readings are not published.
  • Looking at all the above points, it will be meaningful to have more weather stations through public participatory approach at various places. The data can be valuable in terms of analysing the effect of trees, water bodies, streets congested with traffic, and seasonal changes on the ambient temperature.

Why invest in a weather station?

This is purely optional and voluntary. If anyone wants to participate, it is for his/her own interest in and commitment towards protecting the environment and addressing issues related to the environment. There are many many ways in which efforts can be put in to preserve our environment. Participating in this weather station initiative is just one of them.

Costing

The cost of components used in the DIY weather station is about 1100 to 1300 INR. We are happy to assemble/package the components in a working unit and provide to the participants willing to install at their place. The recurring cost of operations is mainly in two parts.

  • Cost of the wifi data – It is estimated that the unit will post 100 characters of data over your local wifi connection every 2 to 5 minutes, that is about 72KB of data per day, lets say not more than 1 MB per day. This is really not much of data for an existing internet connection. With current data quota values supported by most of the broadband and mobile service providers, this is not likely to incurr any additional costs.
  • Cost of electricity to run the device – It is measured to consume between 2 to 3 watts of electrical power continuously, this means that within 14 to 20 days of operation the device will consume 1KWH unit of electricity, amouting to about 4 to 8 INR, which means an additional monthly electricity bill of about 10 to 12 INR
Don’t have a WiFi connection

In such a case, a dedicated mobile-SIM based data connection with a WiFi dongle can be arranged, but that will mean additional costs.

  • One time cost of the dongle device – approximately 1000 INR for most service providers.
  • Recurring monthly cost of service provider – It is approximately 100 INR at a minimum with most of the service providers in India. If there is any service provider which supports much lesser monthly charges with low data quota per day (we are ok even at, as low as 10-20 MB per day, literally) then it will be more practical.

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