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Integrating Weather Reports into a Webserver? 61

Posted by Cliff
from the instant-forcasts dept.
meteorologist asks: "I work at a small college (300 students) in a small town (1500 people), and on our website we have a weather section. The problem is that it can only get weather information from a town 40 miles away. There is one local reporting station, but it reports exclusively to weatherbug, which slows down computers, and inevitably leads to spyware infections. How do I go about setting up a weather meter (temperature, humidity, wind velocity, and so forth) so that its results can be integrated into an already established website?"
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Integrating Weather Reports into a Webserver?

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  • roll your own? (Score:5, Informative)

    by way2trivial (601132) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @07:48PM (#13671838) Homepage Journal
    http://wx200.planetfall.com/ [planetfall.com]

    good luck...
  • Google (Score:2, Funny)

    by Seumas (6865)
    Fire up google and search for "home weather meter computer kit".

    Wow amazing! It's like a knowledge index for websites that returns results for stuff you want to know about!

    • Re:Google (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <[slashdot] [at] [stefanco.com]> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @08:15PM (#13672019) Homepage Journal
      It's like a knowledge index for websites that returns results for stuff you want to know about!

      Although, frequently Google mostly returns results for stuff the Vendors want you to know about. The stuff YOU want to know about is burried deep within one of the 1,040,000 results, and you'd be better off asking your fellow geek. Who knows, maybe you'll spark a conversation or two.

      Sometimes asking a question to a discussion forum/newssite isn't wrong.

    • Fire up google and search for "home weather meter computer kit".

      Wow amazing! It's like a knowledge index for websites that returns results for stuff you want to know about!


      "Dammit Seumas!! I'm a meteorologist, not a computer scientist!"
    • Or you could post a question to a website where thousands of knowledgable geeks with similar interests post every day, thereby creating a page that contains a large amount of information about the subject for Google to index.
  • How funny, I'm working on this today.

    I use a weather station made by La Crosse [lacrossetechnology.com].

    The station measures temperature, rain, humidity, wind speed and even calculates the dew point. It also functions as an atomic clock receiver.

    The sensors are outside, and connect to a base station inside the house through a wired or wireless (433 MHz) connection. The base station connects to a PC over a serial connection. The sensors are battery powered. Mine have been running for 6 months off of NiMH batteries.

    The stations come with software for Windows, but you can also use connect via Linux using the Open2300 [lavrsen.dk] project.

    2300 includes most everything you need: The C programs read from the device via a serial port and write the information to a flat file or to an optional MySQL database.

    Using a set of PHP scripts, you can host the data on any Apache webserver. As an alternative, you can upload the data to Weather Underground [wunderground.com], or even broadcast it over a HAM radio (Citizens Weather-- but I know nothing about this).

    The weather stations also listens to the NIST Atomic Clock in Boulder, Colorado. I'm looking at ways of using my weather station to set the time for my NTP service.

    It's all pretty straightforward, and requires very little technical knowledge if you use the vendor-supplied versions of MySQL, PHP (With GD) & Apache.

    My station for Berkeley [wunderground.com] has been setup for a month, but I need to remount the temperature sensors to a location that doesn't collect as much heat. It's not really 85F in Berkeley right now-- it's 85F right outside the office door, and a cool 80F inside.
  • Wrong way (Score:5, Informative)

    by Solder Fumes (797270) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @07:55PM (#13671896)
    See if NOAA has forecasts for your area. Then hunt down PHP code, or develop your own, to process METARs for current conditions and TAFs for weather forecasts. This stuff can be pulled straight from NOAA. I know there's a PHP Services_Weather class out there.

    If you try to simply display data from a cheap weather sensor kit, you won't get forecasts or anything.
  • by fred fleenblat (463628) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @08:05PM (#13671965) Homepage
    Wireless Weather Rock -- Tie a rock to a rope and hang the rope from a
    piece of wood stuck in the ground.

    If rock is wet: It is raining

    If rock is white: It is snowing

    If you can only see top half of rock: It is really snowing

    If white things are bouncing off side of rock: It is hailing

    If you can see shadow of rock: It is sunny

    No shadow: It is overcast

    If you cannot see rock: It is night time

    If rock is slowly swinging back and forth: It is windy

    If rock is pulling rope horizontal: It is a hurricane

    If rock, rope, and stick are gone: There was a tornado
  • Easy Answer! (Score:5, Informative)

    by cjsnell (5825) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @08:35PM (#13672146) Journal
    Wow, I've been waiting for this topic to show up for, what, six years now? :)

    What you want is a Davis Instruments [davisnet.com] station. These stations hook up, via serial cable, to any PC. If you're running some form of *nix, I highly recommend the Device::WxM2 [cpan.org] Perl module. I've written various collection daemons that use WxM2 to pull weather data from the station and store it in RRD [rrdtool.org] format or in a PostgreSQL database [postgresql.org]. I even wrote an AGI script that allows people calling my Asterisk [asterisk.org] PBX to hear the latest weather data. I also wrote a handy widget [chrissnell.com] for Konfabulator [konfabulator.org] that lets you watch the weather on your Mac/PC desktop in real-time.

    Shameless plug: if you decide that the Davis station is right for you, stop by my employer's website [weathertools.com], where we have a variety [weathertools.com] of Davis Instruments choices.

    One word of advice: we sell cheaper stations than the Davis models but if you are planning on putting this up on a roof and leaving it for 5+ years, you really want to go with a quality peice of equipment, not a Radio Shack toy that will disintegrate after a year in the sun.

    Questions? Ask and I'll be glad to answer.

    Chris
    • A few more... (Score:4, Informative)

      by cjsnell (5825) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @09:01PM (#13672321) Journal
      Digging through my bookmarks, I found a few more. There is Meteo [othello.ch], which does data collection with a C program, storage using MySQL and delivery via PHP (and, apparently, RRDtool).

      Here's another neat one: Joe Jaworski's vproweather [joejaworski.com] uses a C-based program to pull the data from the Davis VantagePro stations, and some Bourne shell scripting to glue it all together. One neat thing about his approach: he is using SerialEthernet converters [troygroup.com] and a little program called remserial [lpccomp.bc.ca] to tie his stations to his computer. This costs more than my method of using the Davis station's wireless capability to transmit the data, but is capable of sending the data over much longer distances--even around the world, I suppose.

      Finally, these guys [earlham.edu] are using C, PostgreSQL, and Perl for their Davis-based station.
    • Also check out wview [wviewweather.com]. We have been talking about getting a Davis weather station at work. I am planning on using wview. From the wview site:

      wview is a linux/*BSD/unix/MacOSX-Darwin application that controls a Davis Vantage Pro or Vantage Pro2 weather station console to retrieve archive records and current conditions. The archive records are stored in the Davis WLK file format (thus Weatherlink generated archive files can be used by wview). Archive records may optionally be stored in a relational database

    • I know where I work; we used to use davis equipment. Just don't go wireless (at least there older products), it tended to be a bit flakey. We ended up using one of these http://www.rainwise.com/mk3/mk3wt.htm [rainwise.com]. Interfaces via RS-232, and somewhere they published there protocol online (couldn't find it with a quick search). It was trivial to integrate into LabVIEW, and a quick program in any language would be easy. Ours has been up and running for over a year without any problems. btw, whatup Joey/Chris?
  • by teevoh (866693) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @08:35PM (#13672148) Homepage
    Some ham radio guys have their weather stations send the current WX conditions to the internet. Try going here [aprsworld.net] and entering in your city and state into their search. From there look for stations with a blue circle with WX in the middle. Those stations send out weather data. In my case [aprsworld.net] the station CW2113. Click on the date to get the raw packet [aprsworld.net]. From there you can decode the data.

    CW2113>APRS,TCPXX*,qAX,CW2113:@290007z4138.23N/087 49.28W_356/007g...t056P057h87b10047.DsVP

    Ignore everything before the @
    29 is the Day
    0007z is the zulu time
    4138.23N/08749.28W are the lattitude and longitude of the station
    356/007g wind is from 356* at 7MPH
    t056 tempature is 56*F
    P057 0.57" of precip have fallen
    h87 is 87% humidity


    Alternatively you can buy a scanner and a TNC and listen to the packets yourself on 145.390MHz.
    Some other interesting sites are jfindu [jfindu.net] and googleAPRS [googleaprs.com]
  • by snopes (27370) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @08:42PM (#13672198) Journal
    Weather station and accessories based on the Dallas 1-Wire and iButton components:
    http://www.aagelectronica.com/aag/index.html [aagelectronica.com]

    Linux software:
    http://oww.sourceforge.net/index.html [sourceforge.net]

    I'll be honest. I bought the kit, got the basics running with the software, couldn't get the wind vane calibrated, and ran out of time (new home, new baby, etc.). However, it all seems to work just fine and lots of people that report into wunderground.org seem to use this kit. I just haven't gotten it fully going myself.

    Just saw the the guy that maintains the unix/linux/risc os s/w has it running on a Linksys NSLU2. Cool.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've been running the above combo for my weatherstation a few years now. Works real well.

    You don't have to spend big bucks, either. You can do quite a bit with just a few hundred dollars.
  • If you use Zope... (Score:2, Informative)

    by jalet (36114)
    Then download and install my ZWeatherApplet [librelogiciel.com] Zope Product.
  • Not that I know about Weatherbug, but It seems to me that with a little bit of perl, WWW::Mechanize and WWW::Mechanize::Shell, maybe a bit of greping through some binary data (if Weatherbug reports through an ActiveX thingy) would enable you to get your weather data without using IE. Should only take a couple of hours, unless Weatherbug is really broken.
  • The US Gov't has free fully buzzword compliant ready-to-wrangle weather data in elaborately documented formats, see NOAA Experimental National Digital Forecast Database XML Web Service [weather.gov]. Using these and the data from Organization - NOAA's National Weather Service [weather.gov] you should be able to create a completely customized local forecast (if not exact local condition reporting) for seamlessly embedding into your online services.
  • by Ben Beroukhim (918803) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @03:21AM (#13673984)
    I am a programmer for WeatherBug. You can use a recently developed tool from us called WeatherBug Stickers. http://stickers.weatherbug.com/ [weatherbug.com]. It alows you to integrate our weather station data directly to your web site very easily. You can also use our API to integrate our data directly to your application http://api.weatherbug.com/ [weatherbug.com] We are owners of largest weather station network in U.S. and I would say the world. We own 8,000 Weather Stations and 1500 Weather Cameras. We provide data to US homeland security, energy, transportation and much more. Weatherbug is not Spyware, or in any way harm your computer. With such assets we will be nuts to do such a thing. Ben
    • Your right, weatherbug doesn't harm your computer nor is spyware, it's those third party apps that you bundle with it that do. It's nice to be able to farm the harm to third party apps and claim zero libility when they royally f*** up a computer.
    • It may not technically be Spyware, but the newer versions are huge memory hogs without there being an equally huge jump in the information being provided. Most people consider it "AdWare" and while the idea of WeatherBug is nice, I don't need something else in my system tray that is hogging up HUGE amounts of resources for the basic stuff that it does. Ideally, it should be a tiny system tray icon that if clicked, opens up a browser. You guys took a wrong turn when you tried to integrate everything into th
  • by flok (24996)
    I bought a couple of temperature-sensors at cleware [cleware.de]. They connect through USB and work really well. Wrote a tool for it for easy controlling their devices: clewarecontrol [vanheusden.com]. They also have humidity sensors.
  • If you want to build it into your Web site: the National Weather Service has a per state RSS feed containing weather alerts. The URL is:

            http://www.weather.gov/alerts/ [weather.gov].rss

    Where is a two letter state abbreviation. If you just want to let users access (quickly) weather reports via browser; I highly recommend the 'ForecastFox' extension to Firefox.
  • Point a webcam at a weather rock [windycreek.com]
  • phpWeather (Score:2, Informative)

    by kcornwell (555464)
    I wrote this hack some time ago. It uses the weatherbug data from several thousand weather stations around the country. I also did it in VB 6.0. Both are found here... http://www.munchfoot.com/forums/index.php?dlcatego ry=3 [munchfoot.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Try http://www.ambientweather.com/ [ambientweather.com]. The Weather Exchange program is virus / adware free, no networking fees, and you can create your own website.
  • Seems like there are a lot of methods to acquire data from sensors. As I am not a web person, what is the simplest method effective method to periodically update a website with the acquired sensor information (and potentially data trend images). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Geccie

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