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It has not been working for years.
The hardware was made by Aardware Design – of Walton on Thames at the time, it appears.
- knowledge of the sensors
- circuit diagrams
- operating instructions
- a list of command/instructions
- a description of the output data structure
- compatible PC software
It seems well designed and made, with a MCU board inside the pole that supports sensors up the pole for wind speed wind direction and rain quantity.
An issue of RM User in 1990 (here on the Centre for Computing History website) might be describing the same weather station (page 29) – called a Weather Reporter. The school one also has an optically-sensed tipping bucket rain gauge.
The article by Keith Whiddon includes:
This consists of a metal tube containing a custom-built circuit board controlled by an 8035 microcontroller. A full-size anemometer is mounted on the top, along with a wind vane, temperature sensor, infra-red light sensor and rainfall collector (with mechanical tipping bucket read by an optical sensor). It therefore measures wind speed (including gusts), wind direction, temperature (including max and min values), hours of sunshine, hours of daylight and rainfall.
The school’s in-pole board is in good condition and produced RS-232 bytes when initially probed last week – apparently until an accident with a scope probe….
On that board is a battery-backed ram + real-time clock – whose moulded-in battery is flat. That said, the Web reveals plenty of ways to remedy this as the same chip was used in some Sun Workstations.
This memory originally stored several days of readings so that the station did not need to be manged 24/7.
As far as I can see through web searches including the one above (farming-related sites also mention it), this board alone was sufficient to communicate with the serial port of a PC – up to ~15m away if the RS-232 spec is to be believed.
However, in this school installation it did not communicate directly with a PC, but with a mystery box of electronics at the bottom of the support pole – that has fared less well over the years in the face of weather and debris. From this box goes a wire down to the room below – with a DB9 connector on the end suggesting RS-232 serial again.
How good the sensors are is currently anyone’s guess at the moment – their output pins seem inert or produce static voltages.
Is it possible they need prompting by RS-232? – the in-pole board has more drivers than needed simply to communicate downstream to the host computer.
If the sensors cannot be revived, the whole thing is probably a lost cause. So it would be nice to have a way to determine this immediately if possible.
If the sensors can be revived and made to work with the in-pole board again, then a Raspberry Pi or Arduino might be persuaded to run the weather station from the room below via RS-232 interface – a nice project for students, which would be made easier if they knew how many stop bits and such-like are needed, and what the board command set is.
Or, if the sensors are OK, another possibility is to install a Raspberry Pi or Arduino up the pole to run them directly. In which case it would be helpful to know how to talk to them.
Can anyone help?
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