Saturday, October 6, 2012

YAWS Assembly

Most of the rest of my hardware arrived yesterday, so Ive begun to assemble things. During my Live Tests outdoors with the Weather Board, I came across a few things which I feel I should note.

Ive revised the Sparkfun code to show the Wind Direction in Degrees (as in the code) and in Headings (N, S, E, W). This is a simple set of if-statements to display headings when the correct range is found.

Ive also updated the code to remotely reboot the board on command, as Ive found that it has issues with starting a connection once its out in the field. The software has to be running first before the Weather board, thus a reboot is required. This is simply including setup(); in the reboot function.

One of the things I wanted my Weather Station to do was display data via an LCD locally, so I can debug and view data in Real Time to make sure the station is functioning (and so I don't have to keep running back and forth to my computer). So I included a case in the code to display to the LCD screen and the serial port at the same time. I wont know for sure if this will work, but the code does compile. The way Im connecting the LCD screen to the Weather Board is via I2C using this tutorial. This requires a nifty little IC, the PCF8574P, an I2C 8-bit port extender and a 3.3V LCD screen. I'll post pics of it once its assembled and working.

I guess now is as good a time as any to warn about the importance of a grounding kit on the weather station. You don't want lightning frying your expensive electronics, or burning down the shed (or your house), so you'll want to take good grounding measures. Do plenty of research to make sure you know what you are doing. I am not liable if you ignore this warning and lightning does hit your stuff (God forbid it of course).

So that said, I used a 4-ft long piece of grounding rod (it comes in lengths of 8ft for about 10 bucks at Home Depot). Hammer it until about 1.5 ft of it is sticking out (the softer the ground, the shorter the rod should be; if the ground is hard, dry dirt, you might have to go to a 6ft rod or use the full 8 ft - this will change the amount of rod sticking out of the ground). You dont want to hammer it all the way in because the rocks in the ground will wear away the copper coating of the rod and that will accelerate decay of the steel rod. I also bought some #4 multi-stranded electrical cable, grounding clamps and a pencil-thin steel rod. All this stuff comes together as the grounding kit. A necessary expense to keep things safe.

It looks like the weather station meters will just be attached to the steel pole of the mounting kit using stainless steel pipe clamps (the image below simply shows the mounting kit, now how Im going to mount it).

Im still trying to work out all the minor things, like some extension cables for the sensors and the solar panel to reach where Im mounting the Weather Board.

FYI, There will be a post soon about setting up the Beaglebone, as Ive gotten half of the stuff I need to start that side of my project. Configuring it is a pain, but it has to be done.

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