News items for tag weatherstation - Koos van den Hout

2017-01-27 Nice neighbours sharing their weather readings 3 weeks ago
A posting about reading 433.920 MHz signals triggered the idea I had ages ago to decode those signals and see what weather stations are available nearby. The original posting 433,92Mhz ontvangen (Dutch) was about receiving remote controls (KlikAanKlikUit) and had a screenshot of some Linux software for receiving those signals but no name of the software (that would be useful information).

But a simple google search found me rtl_433 on github which receives and decodes all kinds of signals on 433.922 MHz.

I downloaded it on the raspberry pi for radio experiments, and it is working fine receiving weather information from probably nearby weather stations. At least one outside temperature and humidity sensor, one inside temperature and humidity and one wind and temperature sensor. This last one could be nice for my weather station!
2017-01-27 21:00:27 :   HIDEKI Wind sensor
        Rolling Code:    15
        Channel:         4
        Battery:         OK
        Temperature:     3.6 C
        Wind Strength:   5.31 km/h
        Direction:       67.5 °
and a rain sensor:
2017-01-27 21:01:05 :   HIDEKI Rain sensor
        Rolling Code:    0
        Channel:         4
        Battery:         OK
        Rain:    648.2 mm
Thanks for sharing, neighbours!

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2016-04-01 Forcing a dual-band wireless card to 2.4 GHz channels 10 months ago
The wireless card of the weather station computer in the shed is dual-band but with only a 2.4 GHz capable antenna. Since the house access-point is configured to support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels the system sometimes selects the 5 GHz access and keeps having serious packet loss. I looked at ways to convince the driver to select 2.4 GHz channels only but found none, but then I found out wpa_supplicant can do this. But I configure wpa_supplicant through wpa-* options in /etc/network/interfaces so I had to find out how to configure it using those. The manpages for the interfaces file is very limited on the wpa-* options, but I found an explanation that a lot of wpa_supplicant options are supported, including the one to select frequencies. The sneaky part is that the option in wpa_supplicant.conf is freq_list and the option in /etc/network/interfaces is wpa-freq-list. A rather complete list can be found at Where can I find a full list of wpa-* options for the interfaces file? - superuser.com. So now I have in /etc/network/interfaces:
auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
        wpa-ssid default
        wpa-psk VerySecret
        wpa-freq-list 2412 2417 2422 2427 2432 2437 2442 2452 2457 2462 2467 2472
The ideal solution is to order a dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) antenna.

Update: Noticeable absent are channels 12 and 13 which are available for regulatory domain NL but are not listed when I ask the driver for available channels:
koos@ritchie:~$ /sbin/iwlist wlan0 chann
wlan0     19 channels in total; available frequencies :
          Channel 01 : 2.412 GHz
          Channel 02 : 2.417 GHz
          Channel 03 : 2.422 GHz
          Channel 04 : 2.427 GHz
          Channel 05 : 2.432 GHz
          Channel 06 : 2.437 GHz
          Channel 07 : 2.442 GHz
          Channel 08 : 2.447 GHz
          Channel 09 : 2.452 GHz
          Channel 10 : 2.457 GHz
          Channel 11 : 2.462 GHz
          Channel 36 : 5.18 GHz
          Channel 40 : 5.2 GHz
          Channel 44 : 5.22 GHz
          Channel 48 : 5.24 GHz
          Channel 52 : 5.26 GHz
          Channel 56 : 5.28 GHz
          Channel 60 : 5.3 GHz
          Channel 64 : 5.32 GHz
          Current Frequency:2.462 GHz (Channel 11)
And now I wonder why those are missing.

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2015-07-29 Finally a nearby thunderstorm 1 year ago
Lightning strikes today 2015-07-29
Lightning strikes counted today
Finally a thunderstorm passed our house today, and it got counted on the lightning strike detector!

The downside is that switching the light on in the shed a few times causes more 'hits'.

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2015-01-05 A too cold harddisk 2 years ago
A problem I did not expect to see: a harddisk getting close to being too cold. Last month of harddisk temperatures This disk in the weather station computer in the shed is a laptop harddisk and according to the specs the minimum operating temperature is 5 degrees Celcius, which was reached last week when the shed dropped just below 2 degrees Celcius.

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2014-12-16 Adding my weatherstation to the APRS maps 2 years ago
I still had the wish to submit the Weather station Utrecht Overvecht to the APRS network to get the data on the APRS maps and maybe even added to the Citizen Weather Observer Program.

APRS stands for Automatic Packet Reporting System which allows lots of information to be automatically exchanged. The most well-known one is position reporting, but there is a lot more, including weather stations.

It wasn't very hard to get this done, I just had to find the time to do it. The trigger was the mention of a new APRS server in the Netherlands at Amsterdamse APRS server - PA4TW. I played a bit with the perl modules Ham::APRS::IS and Ham::APRS::FAP. Ham::APRS::IS is for communicating with the APRS-IS network. And Ham::APRS::FAP is for parsing APRS packets. I used this module to make very sure my outgoing packets parse correctly before actually submitting them to the network (and still making a few mistakes in the process).

I used the explanation and example at APRSWXNET information by Philip Gladstone to find out what to submit and in which format. The interesting point is that wind measurements can not be omitted, but since I don't have a working wind measuring setup I have to enter the '...' values to show that the measurement is not available. And temperatures are measured in Fahrenheit so I have to convert first from my measurements.

The current outgoing packets look like:
PD4KH-1>APRS,TCPIP*:/161010z5206.6 N\00507.1 E_.../...g...t045h91b10088http://weatherstation.idefix.net/
And now the weatherstation shows fine: PD4KH-1 weatherstation on aprs.fi and Weather stations near PD4KH-1 on findu.com. Note how aprs.fi converts to degrees Celcius and findu.com stays in Fahrenheit.

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2014-11-28 Moving the lightning strike detector to the shed 2 years ago
I have noticed the lightning strike detection in Weather station Utrecht Overvecht goes completely mad when I transmit on the 20 meter amateur band. With the detector being quite close to the antenna I can understand this.

The solution will be to find a place to mount the detector in the shed. It will be lower (less reception of the radio energy of the strikes) but it will also be further away from my interference.

That also means the reading of the detector will have to be done using w1retap since that is what I use on the shed weatherstation computer. I was a bit confused whether w1retap supports this counter but I found out it's based on the DS2423 counter chip which is supported in w1retap, as part of a wind speed meter in a TAI8515 weather station, but w1retap will give the count on readout and the conversion is up to the user.

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2014-11-07 (#) 2 years ago
Interesting new problem: transmitting on 20 meter PSK31 causes the lightning strike detector of the Weather station Utrecht Overvecht to go slightly mad. If you look at the graphs it seems like there was a really heavy thunderstorm last Thursday but that's just the result of trying 20 meter PSK31 all day and making 11 QSOs (radio connections). Time to move the lightning detector to a better location: in the shed with the rest of the weather station.

Update 2014-11-08: And another side-effect: I used a really cheap gimmick USB hub to hook up the radio to the workstation because I needed an extra USB port for something else. The next thing that happened was the USB chip in the serial cable to the radio (CAT interface) completely locking up on transmitting. I also hear buzzing on speakers when I transmit on 20 meters so this is a big hint I need to change some things. At least a balun for the attic dipole is on the way.

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2014-05-25 (#) 2 years ago
After testing the gps sky view it's now time to test with ntpd. First step was to recompile ntpd because the debian default package had no pps support. Recompiling on a 500 MHz AMD Geode takes a bit of time.

Results look ok for a first test:
root@ritchie:~# ntpq -p
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
+greenblatt.idef 131.211.8.244    2 u   17   64  377    1.177  101.732  63.403
*metronoom.dmz.c .PPS.            1 u   17   64  377   19.499  100.512   6.722
+auth1.xs4all.nl 193.67.79.202    2 u   11   64  377   18.403  104.008   3.669
oGPS_NMEA(0)     .GPS.            0 l    6    8  377    0.000  114.073   7.364
root@ritchie:~# ntpdc -c loopi
offset:               0.001986 s
frequency:            94.434 ppm
poll adjust:          -30
watchdog timer:       342 s
root@ritchie:~# ntpdc -c kerni
pll offset:           3.3e-08 s
pll frequency:        94.434 ppm
maximum error:        0.175258 s
estimated error:      2e-06 s
status:               2007  pll ppsfreq ppstime nano
pll time constant:    3
precision:            1e-09 s
frequency tolerance:  500 ppm
root@ritchie:~# ntpdc -c sysi
system peer:          GPS_NMEA(0)
system peer mode:     client
leap indicator:       00
stratum:              1
precision:            -19
root distance:        0.00000 s
root dispersion:      0.00749 s
reference ID:         [GPS]
reference time:       d72cb010.dc91595e  Sun, May 25 2014 20:08:16.861
system flags:         auth monitor ntp kernel stats pps 
jitter:               0.006714 s
stability:            0.000 ppm
broadcastdelay:       0.000000 s
authdelay:            0.000000 s
It will need some more calibration probably.

Update: It keeps looking nice after some calibration. Stats gathered at NTP server ritchie.idefix.net stats.

This does mean one of the old project sundial goals has been met: the weather station computer in the shed is now also a time server.

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2014-05-07 (#) 2 years ago
Free unscheduled UPS test this morning courtesy of the local electricity company this morning. As logged by the UPS:
Wed May 07 08:47:09 CEST 2014  Power failure.
Wed May 07 08:47:15 CEST 2014  Running on UPS batteries.
Wed May 07 09:27:39 CEST 2014  Battery power exhausted.
Wed May 07 09:27:39 CEST 2014  Initiating system shutdown!
The weatherstation computer for Weather station Utrecht Overvecht doesn't power up automatically, so it's not available at the moment.

It's annoying that my websites are unreachable and Internet access is down. But no money is lost, so there is no reason to invest in backup links and resilient hosting.

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2014-02-21 (#) 3 years ago
I almost started to digres in my last post getting an APRS report out using an android device, aprsdroid and a wouxun radio about the privacy implications but decided to separate that issue. It works, and I am not going to invest in it.

APRS is nice, but for me it has privacy implications: it reports my position in real-time which is more than I want to share with the world, even as an amateur radio experiment. I know there are people who will post their bicycling tours or runs on-line as they happen but I don't like publishing my wereabouts, especially not in (near) real-time. Enough people can browse the mobile telecom location registers as it is.

So I think I'll leave the APRS location experiments at this and I'll go look at other amateur radio stuff. There is enough to play with!

I know APRS is bigger than just reporting location. Getting my weatherstation in Utrecht Overvecht to report weather to the APRS citizen weather observer program is on my wishlist.

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2014-02-03 (#) 3 years ago
In searching for information about the Alix 1.c bios upgrade I'd like to do I came across mention of flashrom, a command line utility which can do firmware flashing for a lot of systems right from the commandline. No more long downtimes due to being busy with bootable floppies, cd's, usb sticks or slow update programs.

Initially the program gave a warning on ritchie, but with one "I am sure what I am doing" option:
root@ritchie:~# flashrom --programmer=internal:laptop=this_is_not_a_laptop -r oldbios.bin
flashrom v0.9.6.1-r1563 on Linux 3.12-1-486 (i586)
flashrom is free software, get the source code at http://www.flashrom.org

Calibrating delay loop... OK.
========================================================================
WARNING! You may be running flashrom on an unsupported laptop. We could
not detect this for sure because your vendor has not setup the SMBIOS
tables correctly. You can enforce execution by adding
'-p internal:laptop=this_is_not_a_laptop' to the command line, but
please read the following warning if you are not sure.

Laptops, notebooks and netbooks are difficult to support and we
recommend to use the vendor flashing utility. The embedded controller
(EC) in these machines often interacts badly with flashing.
See http://www.flashrom.org/Laptops for details.

If flash is shared with the EC, erase is guaranteed to brick your laptop
and write may brick your laptop.
Read and probe may irritate your EC and cause fan failure, backlight
failure and sudden poweroff.
You have been warned.
========================================================================
Proceeding anyway because user forced us to.
Found chipset "AMD CS5536". Enabling flash write... OK.
WARNING: unexpected second chipset match: "AMD CS5536"
ignoring, please report lspci and board URL to flashrom@flashrom.org
with 'CHIPSET: your board name' in the subject line.
Found SST flash chip "SST49LF040B" (512 kB, LPC) at physical address 0xfff80000.
Reading flash... done.
Checksums for the saved bios file match with the bios image I have from the last upgrade.

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2014-02-03 (#) 3 years ago
I had a closer look at the available PC Engines alix 1.c bios updates and noticed alix0.bin and alix2.bin images in the .zip file. A bit of searching found 3D3 BIOS-Upgrade: Which one is the right file? - PC Engines support forum which lists alix0.bin for alix.1 systems and alix2.bin for alix.3 systems. Should work with the provided sb.com.

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2014-02-02 (#) 3 years ago
The change to the new weatherstation computer also means the powerline network is now gone. And I mean gone, not just disconnected "just in case". The adapters are back in a crate. And this should mean the HF spectrum should look nicer than in my earlier measurements. Future measurements may confirm this.

The weatherstation computer now uses Wi-Fi to talk to the rest of the network. Since the access-point is on the same ground level the signal quality is good and speed is high enough.

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2014-02-02 (#) 3 years ago
Today there was time to change the computer in the shed to ritchie, the alix 1.c based system. The system decided this was a great moment to run into the "system won't boot without monitor present" issue. I found a funny workaround: I disabled the video memory. This does mean the display doesn't work at all, but at least it boots. I'll do a bios reset and upgrade sometime in the future. The PC Engines alix1c product page lists possible problems with a vga boot hang as fixed in a newer bios.

After that the system started working nice, talks to the weather station hardware and Weatherstation Utrecht Overvecht is back up.

This system with a standard power usage of about 5W will be 'greener' than the replaced older PC. There is a free serial port for a gps, but since the gpskit gps was showing strange problems in the ntp server test I decided to take that gps back inside to have a look whether that can be used or I want to search for some other gps unit to have my own home time server. Maybe the wardriving gps unit.

Some sort of plastic container to keep all the electronics together and shielded is also a good idea.

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2014-01-06 (#) 3 years ago
Searching for the print header - COM port cable in the PC parts junk box for the new weatherstation on the alix.1c board gave 5 of them, 2 with db9 connectors and 3 with db25 connectors. I tested them all with a real telephone modem. In total 3 worked, 2 didn't but that may be because there are two different standards for it.

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2014-01-01 (#) 3 years ago
Current todo list new weatherstation installation on ritchie:
  • Set up udev rules for libusb access by non-root user so w1retap can run. Done, via a w1retap group. ✓
  • Get w1retap to run on the system. Done ✓
  • Get backups running using the amanda system. Done ✓
  • Add serial cable from alix1c COM2 header to outside. I found out that there are two types of cables for this and the "Intel" version won't work. So if the PC parts junkbox has these cables they still need to be tested. Done ✓
  • Get the conrad serial port weather station running on that port. Done ✓
That should get things moving to a level comparable to the current setup.

And the wishlist for improvements:
  • Something to put the system in so it is in a good place in the shed and somewhat shielded from temperature/humidity influences.
  • System statistics gathered. Wishlist: cpu load and states, processes, temperatures and voltages mainboard, temperature disk, entropy, ntp stats. ✓
  • Logging done in a way data will be on the home server and interruptions of the network link will be handled. I'm starting to use the term telemetry to describe this process of gathering timestamped data, preparing it for transmission over maybe flaky network links and processing it on the server. Partly done, some data is still gathered in the 'old' style.
  • A working gps receiver so it can work as a standalone time server.
  • Get the rain meter of the conrad weather station set up.
  • Get the wind speed meter (anemometer) of the conrad weather station set up.
  • Get the wind direction meter set up.
  • Upload the available weather information to the CWOP (citizen weather observatory program) using APRS-IS.

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2013-12-30 (#) 3 years ago
First attempt to reinstall the alix.1c system named ritchie as the 'shed' computer. Since I had a lousy image on a lcd monitor I chose 'flat panel' in the setup which gave me no image at all. So I had to look in the PCEngines Alix.1c manual to see which jumper resets the bios settings back to failsafe defaults.

The debian installer boots fine, detects the hardware, uses a good framebuffer driver which gives a crisp image on the lcd monitor and even finds the wireless card (atheros chipset, ath5k drivers). I decided to select 'wlan0' as network device for the rest of the install and it is working fine after typing the complete wpa2 key for our home wireless network.

The box contains a 40 Gb ex-laptop disk. Guided partitioning suggested a 500 Mb swap partition which should work fine.

At the moment there isn't a specific Geode kernel loaded, I'll see after reboot whether one is available or has to be built. If I need to built stuff I will do the compiling on a different system with more cpu.

Update: The installation did not save the wireless config so I had to set it up again. This was easy with the example in Wifi/HowToUse debian wiki. IPv6 connectivity is no problem at all so I can now log in via ssh and do the rest remote.

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2013-12-27 (#) 3 years ago
When I get around to wardriving lately I use the wigle app for android, so I decided to repurpose the wardrive box as shednet computer. This will also mean I can stop using PLC network to link the shed computer to the rest of the network, replacing it with wifi. Using PLC offends the radio amateur in me and people at the radio club now ask me whether I dumped it already. So, time for different hardware which as a plus will also use less power.

I already built in a laptop harddisk in the wardrive box and removed the compact flash holding the wardriving box image (I'll save it so I can restart using the wardriving box if needed). The alix 1c can work nicely with an IDE laptop harddisk.
2.5 inch laptop harddisk in ritchie
The laptop harddisk built into the ritchie mini-itx case

The installation will probably be done with a recent debian jessie distribution.

Plans for the new shednet computer include an ntp server, but since the current gps unit (gpskit) seems to fail after running for a few days in the test setup that may have to wait.

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2012-08-23 (#) 4 years ago
I used the wardriving box at home after I noticed I hadn't used it at all in over two months. It hung after a while, not responding to network or keypresses but still reporting on ethernet link state changes. I thought the temperature might have something to do with it since the box does get a bit warm and it was in the direct sun.

So I loaded the internal sensor driver w83627hf which is mentioned in the voyage linux getting started page and had a check:
ritchie:/sys/devices/platform/w83627hf.656# cat temp?_input
72000
56500
51000
72 ⁰C seems a bit high, but other reports of measured temperatures list the same values, like this openbsd on the alix1c for www.stare.cz dmesg shows.

Later during the day with the wardriving box out of the direct sun it keeps running fine.

With the probable hardware for the weather station computer also being an alix1.d the ideas now include measuring and graphing of all available temperatures, if only to keep an eye on possible stability issues.

Update: 47 new wi-fi networks found without moving the wardrivebox 1 centimetre...

Update 2012-08-24: I wanted to bring the wardriving box on my bike but .. the carrier on the back is slightly broken from earlier wardriving, and there is no place to stick the gps to at the moment.

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2012-05-02 (#) 4 years ago
Another improvement to the homepage: the weather projects get a bit more attention, with the latest weathermap for the Netherlands and the current weather readings in the right-hand sidebar. This costs about 0.02 second so it may need some optimization. In the optimization process I could even make the weather data publicly available in some portable format.

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