The First Steps to Build Your Personal Weather Station
Perhaps you feel like getting into the hobby of collecting your own weather data, but think that the process of building your personal weather station will be complicated. It can actually be really easy and fun.
There are more than 12,000 public weather stations across the US. That may sound like a lot until you hear that more than 200,000 people in North America run their own devices from home and contribute with accurate hyper-localized forecasts of the North-American weather.
You can build your personal weather station, or PWS, for less than $500. Vendors like Ambient Weather and Adafruit have all the necessary parts available. Let’s start the fun.
Particle Photon and Arduino are known to be the best motherboards. Mount the motherboard in a waterproof container and then in a plastic housing that is well-ventilated. The larger housing will hold most of the sensors. Attach it to one side of the pole, a few feet from the top. The ventilation of the housing is the biggest contributor to accuracy.
Look for a waterproof coin-sized thermometer to attach to the motherboard. It looks like a cable with a stainless-steel pin on one of the ends. That pin is the part that will pick up the measurements.
You should mount it inside the ventilated plastic housing but outside the waterproof container. This sensor should never be exposed to direct sunlight as it would register inaccurately hot values.
To measure humidity you’ll use a hygrometer, which is a polymer sensor that absorbs water from the air. When water soaks into it, the electric current slows down its flow. So, the hygrometer is able to measure humidity based on how quickly electricity is flowing through it.
If you buy a 2-in-1 thermometer/hygrometer you’ve been taught all the steps above. Otherwise, mount the hygrometer near the thermometer and connect it to the motherboard as well. Only when the two sensors are very close, can they measure the exact same sample of air.
Don’t opt for an analog barometer. Instead, you should buy a digital one with an electronic pressure sensor. How does the barometer’s sensor measure pressure? As atmospheric pressure rises, more and more weight of the air will press down on the sensor. It then sends an electric signal to the motherboard.
Tracking atmospheric pressure allows home weather data collectors to help forecast storms and movements of warm and cold fronts in their location in North America. For this one, you can connect it either directly to the motherboard inside the waterproof container or next to the other two sensors, the thermometer and the hygrometer.
There you have it. These are the first steps for building your personal weather station at home. It requires a lot of your attention, but is not necessarily complicated, and it definitely is fun.
Many people stick to these three sensors, the thermometer, the hygrometer and the barometer. However, if you’re curious about collecting more data, we will teach you how to measure rainfall and wind speed and direction. We will also go over the final steps, including installing the station and hooking it up to the internet. All in a new article coming soon.