This is where you can find information on the equipment and software that supports this website.
Our weather station hardware is a combination of a Davis Vantage Pro2 (6152), Wireless Weather Envoy, and integrated sensor suite (ISS). The ISS communicates back to both the Vantage Pro2 and Envoy wireless via a frequency hopping spread spectrum radio to transmit and receive data.
The Davis Vantage Pro2 console in mounted on the wall inside the house and provides a view into the current and daily weather conditions outside without getting online. The console runs entirely on batteries, allowing for more flexibility in where it was mounted in the house. Batteries have lasted about 8 months before flashing "low battery" warnings.
The Wireless Weather Envoy is used to download information from the sensors into our Weather Server. The Envoy was chosen because our weather server is located in a different part of the house, from where the console was installed. To keep the console in the home's living space, the Envoy was added to the solution. Installed in the Envoy is the Davis Datalogger (Windows, Serial port version). The datalogger provides serial communications between the weather server and the Envoy. Software on the weather server downloads data from the Envoy, and stores it in a database.
The ISS includes rain collector, temperature and humidity sensors, and solar panel. The anemometer is wired to the ISS but mounted above it on a pole. Temperature and humidity sensors are enclosed in a solar-powered, 24-hour fan-aspirated radiation shield. Shield combines active and passive aspiration to minimize the effects of radiation.
For more information about Davis and their products, go to their website here.
In 2010 Castle Rock Weather was migrated from physical machines to virtualized servers.
Our virtual servers are hosted using VMware ESXi 5.x on a Dell PowerEdge T710 physical server. Castle Rock Weather is a three tier application, consisting of a MySQL database server, Windows XP application server, and Apache web server. Our infrastructure provides us with a flexible, scalable, and highly available application platform.
Our weather server is a dedicated application server.
It is the responsibility of the server to collects weather data through the datalogger installed in the Wireless Weather Envoy. Through a number of software packages the server is able to collect the data, store in a central database, and process this data into usage information for the website. The server then periodically uploads this information to CWOP, WeatherUnderground, our web servers.
Our site runs on an Apache web server, running in a virtualized Ubuntu linux server. The website is written entirely in PHP, and includes many fantastic scripts written in PHP. Many of these scripts process external weather images, information, and alerts from the National Weather Service. This makes Castlerockweather.org truly a central location for all weather related Conditions, Forecasts, Information, and Warnings/Alerts. Please view our "Special Thanks" section of About US
Our battery backup unit, is an APC SmartUPS 2200 that we got off Craig's List. It runs on a dedicated 20amp circuit providing battery backup and line conditioning. The APC 2200 provides power to our Weather Server, Envoy Console, Webcam, Cable Modem, Router, and Switch. In the unlikely event of a power loss, we can continue to provide weather data for a few hours. This should cover short power "blips."
Our camera is a Panasonic BB-HCM531A network camera. Our camera is mounted 10' off the ground on the south side of our home. The camera has an unobstructed view of the southern sky. We chose this camera to take advantage of network operation and "power over ethernet" (PoE). This solution had distinct advantage of not requiring an electrical outlet near the camera location. It also does not require an USB connection to a pc. These two advantages drew us to this model of camera.
We upload our pictures to our website using a PHP script written by Mike Challis. This script can be downloaded here. Mike's script runs on our web server, and is executed (every minute) using WGET.exe from our weather server. The script uploads a new image, overlays text, and saves the resultant image on our website. Every hour the script even creates a new thumbnail image. This is a great script, please support Mike's hard work.
We upload a webcam image directly to www.wunderground.com. We use the built in FTP timed trigger of the camera to send our image to them every minute. Weather Underground takes our images and creates a daily timelaps video. The setup was a bit tricky. If you have a BB-HCM531A you can read my step-by-step.
VirtualVP provides virtualized access to our Davis Envoy simultaneously for up to 8 different weather applications. VirtualVP mirrors the Davis data logger's memory. The software also caches this memory on disk, so when VirtualVP is restarted it does not have to re-transfer the data logger's memory. VirtualVP monitors and logs communication on all active comm ports. Without this software we would be limited to a single weather application communicating with the data logger at a time.
Ambient Weather's Virtual Weather Station Internet Edition (VWS) is the heart of CastleRockWeather.org. VWS continually downloads weather data from VirtualVP, on virtual COM6 port. VWS stores this information in small working and archive databases. The software then processes the raw data into usable graphs, images, data csv files, and reports. The usable data, once transferred to our external web server, is presented to our visitors throughout the website.
Virtual Weather Station is the most widely used software package for connecting your personal computer to your weather station and the Internet, allowing you to display, plot and store data for comprehensive monitoring and analysis. Runs on all Windows 32-bit operating systems, including 95/98/NT/2000/2003/ME/XP. Virtual Weather Station brings your PC to life with a rich array of dynamic and colorful gauges, dials, graphs and charts. The desktop can be completely customized - allowing you to arrange all of the virtual instruments based on your own personal preferences or application. You have literally 1000 ways to display your data. More info...
We are using VPLive to monitor data received from the Davis Envoy. VPLive is a free product from Softwx, that provides clear views into your Davis data logger. Paired with VirtualVP, provides nearly instant reporting of the data coming from the data logger.
To monitor application startup and make sure dependencies are up and running we use StartWatch, by Softwx. This product prevents our weather applications from starting until VirtualVP is connected to the Davis. This prevents possible COM errors in the weather application in the event they start before VirtualVP has finished loading and connecting to the console.