Weather Station Log

This is just somewhere I can record station events.... which usually means equipment failures!!!

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26 Oct 2014

Well, after getting all the problems sorted earleri in the year, as ususal the weather station and server has been plodding along just fine....

... until last week, when I found I couldn't access the website. I checked the server and it was recording data, and sending somewhere, but th website wasn't available.

From what I can gather, the rumours going around the weather community is that the owner of my hosting company (e-rice.com), has died, obviously not paid the bilss, and the company he rented the servers from has been turning them off..!! So of course no website.

I've been looking around for another webhost, then found the site was back up. Again, the rumours are that its the server retal company put them back up so people could get their data off.... I've backed it all up onto my PC.

Basically, this means that the website could vanish again in a few days.

I'm still looking for another webhost, but I'm also still wondering if its all worth it... its been an interesting few years running the website, but I'm getting frustrated with things that occasionally break down... like the solar sensor which has just stopped working...again...

If the website disappears again, please be patient, and it may be back up shortly on a new host.

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5 January 2104

As usual, everything chugs along nicely for a while, then it all falls over....and I seriously wonder if its worth keeping this up...

First, the UPS that protects the server failed... the mains power level dropped, and the UPS should cut in and continue to run the server at 240v... it didn't, it died too..so a new UPS is ready to be connected in today.

This morning I had an email pointing out that my rainfal radar screen wasn't updating.... it seem that the site i get it from has changed their site, so my link didn't work. That was easily fixed.

The solar readings have been messed up for a couple of weeks.... the solar sensor is a mini solar panel, generating a (very small) voltage when light hits it, but for some reason there is a constant voltage coming from the sensor, no matter what the light levels are. Theres either a short in the cable somewhere, or the actual sensor is faulty... this is still to be resolved.

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21 August 2013

Some good and bad news.... the old Stevenson Screen, the box that the temperature and humidity sensors are in, was on its last legs... literally.... one of the 4 legs had rotted through and fallen off, and one of the remaining 3 was almost gone, so it was time for a re-vamp.

Its now mounted on a new 3" post, with a new base and lid, and the whole thing has a couple of coats of white paint.

The bad news is that I made a bad judgement, and over the few days the re-vamp took I left the sensors connected... and as they forcast showers, I covered them with an old plastic milk container. this was effectively a greenhouse, so today, when the temps got up to approx 26-27 degrees, my sensor recorded 39 degrees..!!

I know from experience that its going to be a real pain to try to correct, or even delete these extreme temps, so I'd have done much better to just disconnect them and accept the loss of data.

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23 July 2013

AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH more lost data....!!!

Biggest thunderstorm of the year so far overnight, and I'm watching it thinking how impressive the graph will be.... login this morning, and the lightning detector had recorded... absolutely nothing..!!!

I think (hope!!) the battery had died, so thats been replaced this evening, ready for more storms, hopefully, tonight

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29 June 2013

Ok, new anenometer (same as the original) bought and fitted this morning, had to lower the pole, take old one off, including cutting the cable, then cut cable off new one and solder to the cable that goes to the sensor box. (Making note which of the 4 wires connected to which!!). All seems to be working fine.

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14 June 2013

Problems with the anenometer now...i noticed a few days ago that the cups were not turning, even though it was a breezy day. I found a long cane and poked it, and it started turning again. I've had to do that a few times now, so it definately seems time to buy a new one. the question is, do i buy a simple replacement, or improve the station a bit and go with a "1-wire" anenometer..?? we'll see....

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27 April 2013

Service has been up and down a bit over the last couple of days, due to a problem with the server. I'd been away for a few days, then yesterday went to save some photos to the server and found the photos drive no longer existed...!!

I tried rebooting the server, and it didn't want to reboot. This morning I managed to get it to boot, but I've definately lost one of the drives, sadly the one with all my digital photos from the last few years. Luckily, I found a backup I'd done last year, so at worst I've "only" lost a years worth...

A lesson for us all.. backup valuble files regularly...

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Thursday 23rd November 2012

Its been a while...everything seems to have been ticking along nicely, until today, when it seems the rain guage gave up the ghost. I think it probably just wore out, with all the rain we've had recently..!!! After a bit of tinkering over the next few days I discovered that the reed switch that senses the tipping cups had died. I got a replacement from Maplins and fitted it on Tuesday (27th Nov) evening, so it should all be working again now... we'll see when we next get some rain..!

During the tinkering and repairs, the gauge has recorded approx 45mm of rain, but as I've probably missed at least that amount, I'll leave it as.

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Saturday 19th November 2011

An actual planned downtime...!! As the power had to be turned off to allow for some kitchen work, I closed the server down.... but when the power came back on, the server wouldn't boot..! the dreaded "no operating system found" message :-((

After some playing around with the drives, it decided to work again....at least the server got dusted out..!

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Wednesday 9th November 2011

More lost data.....I tried looking at the website before work and found it wasn't working. When I tried to log into the server I couldn't, it had locked up.

When I got home from work I tried again and still couldn't login to the server, so had to press and hold the button to shut it down. When it re-booted it all seemed fine, although it had stopped recording data a day or so before.

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Friday 28th Oct 2011

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

More problems.... I'm almost ready to give this all up....

Looked at the temp this morning and thought how mild it was, until I went outside...!! The weather station said 12 degrees, but a thermometer outside said 4 degrees.

I then realised that the station had locked up at 15:16 yesterday, so all the data was flat-lining since then. I powered down the station and after a while it reset, by which time I was running late for work.

The problem was that the connection to the server didn't reset, so although the station was sending the correct temps and wind speed, it wasn't being recorded. I've restarted Weather Display a few times and it now seems to be working again.

... but the solar sensor is still not working correctly....

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Monday 25th Oct 2011,

More problems.... After the last issue I didn't think the solar sensor was working correctly, and tonight we've had some lightning, but the lightning detector didn't pick them up, so it looks like the "1-wire" sensors (solar and lightning) are broken, loose wire or bad connection somewhere.

I've got a lot on at the moment, so I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to trace the fault

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Tuesday 4th / Wednesday 5th Oct 2011

It seems that the internet lost my website on Tuesday..!! The www.jizzyland.co.uk/weather wouldn't work, but if I typed in the external IP address it worked. It must have been some DNS problem, I cetainly couldn't find any problems at this end... I tried restarting everything, including the server, but nothing worked, but eventually the website came back on its own.

When I restarted the server it looks like "Weather Display" didn't load properly, as it remembered the last readings from Tuesday and then didn't take in any new data all day Wednesday... I only realised this evening when I realised the wind, which has been gusty all day, was constant... VERY CONSTANT..!

I've restarted everything again and it all seems to be updating correctly now... but another day of lost data :-((

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Thursday 14th July 2011

Just got back off 10 days holiday, (with no internet access) and found the website not working... :-(

When I checked my emails it seems my Dynamic DNS service have "improved" their service, which meant the internet couldn't find my webpages. After a while of tinkering, and another while for the DNS service to update, the website is now back.

Apologies to anyone who missed it...

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Friday 4th March 2011

arrggggg...!!

Lost most of todays data by tinkering just before I went to work. When Weather Display starts other sub-progams also start and Windows 7 wants me to give permission for them to run. This morning I missed one, and WD was sat there all day waiting for me to click "Ok".

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Friday 14th Jan 2011

Final tweaking of the new solar sensor done today, modified photodiode in place, extended a bit further from the circuit box and the box moved, as I've been concerned that it was affecting the anenometer.

Getting good readings from the sensor, although as I'm not sure if the new photodiode is more, or less, sensitive that the old one, I need to wait for a clear sunny day to calibrate it.... could be a long wait in January..!

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Sunday 9th January 2011

Everything seems to be happening at once over the last few weeks, with the phone line going down and the server crash, then on the 4th Jan my ISP bars my internet connection for 2 days over a misunderstanding over payment!!

The Internet was reconnected on the evening of the 6th Jan, after several hours of frustrating phone calls.

The next thing was that I noticed that the solar sensor was giving intermittant readings, so yesterday I took the sensor apart and found the actual photodiode that measures the amount of light was corroded and falling apart.

I had ordered a couple of spare diodes so I fitted one of those and it seems to be working fine again, although I may need to do some tweaking to get the readings about the same as previously.

Hopefully nothing else will go wrong for a while...!!

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Thursday 30th December 2010

As I say, equipment failures......

We had a power outage on the morning of the 26th December, which resulted in the server hard-drive crashing. I tried rebooting the server and it came up with "No OS found"..!

I've got a new hard drive, and installed Win 7 on it (an upgade to Vista!!), re-installed Weather Display, and spend several days trying to remember how to set up PHP and Apache

As of this evening the website is back up, showing the current conditions, but as I've probably lost all the past data, things like the all-time records may not be correct.

I'm hoping I may be able to retrieve some of the data, otherwise it will have to be a clean start.. :-(

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Saturday 18th December 2010

Its been a while since I made an entry here, but the station has been chugging along quite happily

The station was down for a few days at the beginning of Dec when we lost the phone line for 3 days until TalkTalk came out and fixed it. As the website is hosted from a server under my desk, no phone line meant no website...

Obviously the main talking point is the extreme weather the UK has had in the last month or so, although here in the middle of Cambridgeshire we've gotten away lightly, no more than 2-3 inches of snow in total.

We have had some record low temperatures thought, -9.5C on the 7th Dec, coldest day (average temp betweem 6am and 6pm), and coldest night, (again, the average betweem 6pm and 6am), were also on the 7th Dec.

These are the coldest temps I've recorded since Jan 2008.

Roll on summer....

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Sunday 19th July 2009

Lost a day of recording yesterday..!!!

I'd restarted the server as Vista has done some updates, but I'd forgotten to actually login, so Weather Display hadn't been started.

I happened to look at the website today and noticed the date was wrong, so checked the server and realised that WD wasn't running, so no data had been recorded and the web pages hadn't updated for about 24 hrs. :-(

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Monday 23rd March 2009

Yep, equipment failures..... doncha just love them....

We had a a couple of sharp showers today, and the rain guage didn't record them... I'm sure theres a problem, bad connection or something, with the rain gauge so I went out this evening and tried to sort it. Tried re-crimping the cable and cleaning the contacts in the socket, then tipped the rain gauge a couple of times... nothing. I then noticed that the anenometer had stopped recording!!! It was working fine before I tinkered with the rain gauge cable.

I then jiggled the anenometer cable, and it recorded a gust of 53mph!! I know its been windy today, but not THAT windy!! I had to stop Weather Display, find the log file, delete the spurious gust, then restart WD.... and the anenometer is still not working..!

... I'll have another look at it tomorrow evening...

2hrs later....

Went back and looked on the website and found that while the anenometer isn't working properly, its recording spurious data...saying we'd had an average windspeed of 100mph and a 114 mph gust!! I went out and disconnected the anenometer as I'd rather have no data that spurious data. Took another hour to get the proper all time, yearly and monthly records correct again.

Update 24/2/2009

All sorted now.... looking at the cables in daylight i saw that both the rain gauge and anenometer cables had broken wires where they went into the RJ11 plugs.... I did them when I first got my crimping/cutting pliers, and think I probably nicked them when taking the outer shroud off... and being moved a few times broke them.

Luckily I had 2 spare RJ11 plugs, so I cut the old ones off and (carefully!) put new plugs on... wind speed is now working fine, and I'm hoping the next rain will be recorded!!

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Saturday 14th Feb 2009

Fun and games today..!! I had bought a wireless network card and a USB card to fit in the server that runs this site and all the weather data, so this morning I shut down the server and took the cover off. First I found that the USB card wouldn't fit....it seems there are 2 types of PCI slots, 3.3 volt and 5 volt, and you can't fit the wrong card in the wrong slot (although you can get "universal" cards, which will work in both). Guess what... the server has a 3.3 volt slot and the USB card is designed for 5 volts...!

....so I only fitted the wireless network card, (which has 2 cut-outs, so it should be "universal"), put the cover back on, connected all the cables, turned it on and.... nothing...no fans or drives whirring, no boot up.!!

I though maybe I'd blown the power supply, and tried various things to get it working, then tried taking the wireless network card out... the server booted up fine..! I tried putting the card in the other PCI slot, but the server wouldn't boot again, so I've ended up not being able to use either the USB or the wireless network cards!!

On the good side, today I mounted the Solar sensor and lightning detector on the post at the bottom of the garden... I did wonder what else could go wrong after the PCI cards, but the mounting went well and the sensors worked first time when I reconnected everything. :-))

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Saturday 7th Feb 2009

Following the snow thaw and some sleet last evening, then a hard frost over night, the wind vane froze in position again last night. I had to go out and tap it to get it to move!!.

Over the next week or so I'm planning to move the lightning detector from the loft to the anenometer post at the bottom of the garden, housing it in the same box as the new solar sensor. During this time both of those sensors will be offline periodically. (not that many thunderstorms are likely at this time of year!)

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Wednesday 4th Feb 2009

New Toy....!!

My new solar sensor arrived today all the way from Hobby-Boards in Alabama USA. Spend the evening trying to get it working, and everything seems fine. All I need now is to be at home on a nice sunny day so I can calibrate it, and then decide where in the garden its actually going to be sited. Down at the bottom of the garden is probably the best place, but do I really want to run another cable all the way down the garden?!?!

Once its all calibrated and working properly I'll add a page to this site dedicated to solar levels, hours of sunshine, etc.

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Thursday 1st Jan 2009

Following on from the problem below, which comes and goes but over Xmas and New Year was particularly bad, I've now run a cable from the base station down the garden to the sensor, so now its running wired, not wireless. Hopefully this will solve all the problems!

The cable has only temporarily been laid down the flowerbeds, so once the weather gets warmer I'll protect it with something and bury it.

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Tuesday 2nd December 2008

Weird problem.... the Stevenson screen holds 2 wireless sensors, one that provides the data for this website, and my old sensor which just displays on a console in the kitchen. Yesterday at approx 12:45 BOTH sensors stopped transmitting.... if one had stopped it could have been the batteries gone, or the unit malfunctioned, but both of them?!?! I tried changing the batteries in both the sensors, and the consoles, and resetting them, but nothing I could do would make them work.

Eventually, about 23:00, they both started working again, so I'd lost about 10 hours of data. I've come to the conclusion that it must have been caused by electrical or radio interferance from something nearby.

If it becomes a regular event, I'll have to run a cable down to the sensor, so its not using a wireless link.

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Wednesday 29th Oct 2008

It rained last night, then froze, which caused the wind vane to freeze in one position. Happened to look on the weather website and noticed wind had been blowing from the exact same direction for the last 6 hrs...!! Went out with a pole and tapped it a few times which moved it, but not freely enough for the wind to blow it. Eventually the sun warmed it up enough and it moved freely. No idea why it froze, we've had rain and lower temps before with no problems.

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Sunday 26th Oct 2008

Laid in bed this morning listening to the rain for a couple of hours, then got up and checked to see how much rain we'd had.... station said none..!! Went out in the rain and jiggled the cable from the rain gauge to the transmitter, then waited 30 mins to see in anything registered... nope, so out in the rain again and took the cover off the rain gauge and found the "seesaw" stuck in the middle position. I flicked it up and down a few times to free it, then replaced the cover. Now seems to be working ok.

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Saturday 18th Oct 2008

To replace the cable ties that hold the anenometer mast, (that broke a couple of weeks ago), I cut a 1 inch wide strip of 1mm thick galvanised steel, and bent it to shape around the fence post and anenometer mast, drilled some screw holes in it and screwed it to the post and mast... that shouldn't come down!!

When I have the time/inclination I'll cut another strip for further down the post.

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Tuesday 13th Oct 2008 (still on-going)

Just got back from the business trip and while I was away I bought a 2.0 Megapixel webcam for the website to improve the image. but it seems that Vista doesn't like the new cam and when I try to change a cam setting, it crashes the server!! It also seems that the "auto exposure" on the cam doesn't work very well, so the image is either too dark for most of the day, or the sun washes everything out as soon as it come up, and the image is totally white until sunset!!

I'll keep tinkering, but I think I may have to move the cam to another window that doesn't catch the sun... this means extending the USB cam by cat5 cable to another part of the house.

Also just found that the auto focus feature of the camera means that when it rains, the camera focuses on the rainspots on the window, instead of whats outside the window!!

1/11/08 - went back to the original webcam... it may be low resolution, and occaisionally has a slight colour cast to it, but it works... all the time, with reasonable auto exposure, so its better than these high res cams that don't want to work!!

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Monday 6th Oct 2008

Happened to look out of the window and thought something was missing... then realised the mast with my anenometer on wasn't stood up at the bottom of the garden!! I found that the plastic cable ties that held the mast to the fence post had snapped at some point in the last 12 hours and the mast had fallen into the brambles behind the fence. Luckily this stopped the anenometer touching, and possibly breaking on, the ground.

As I was going away on business that morning I temporarily fixed it back up with cable ties again.