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What is wx78633.com?

WX78633.com is a hobby project I started in 2017 that combines several of my interests; meteorology, software development, web development, electronics, integrating systems, and general tinkering in my workshop. To some degree, this project started as far back as about 2005 but was far less sophisticated at the time. My original weather station consisted of a simple anemometer and wind vane connected to some LEDs and a bicycle speedometer in my living room. My original station did not have a 'name', but it likely wouldn't have been WX78633 at the time as I was living in a different zip code.

I also became pretty interested in Raspberry Pi hobby projects using GPIO input/output to send/receive control signals from devices. The combined low cost and sufficient capabilities of the Pi made it an ideal platform for my station. I've purchased three so far. Unfortunately, my first one burned up. I'm still not sure if it was due to the high temperature I subjected it to (my garage in the hot Texas summer) or perhaps I had too much current running through my devices. To err on the side of safety my new station includes a fan to cool the Pi down if the CPU becomes too hot. I also spent some extra effort to limit current through my components (and into the PI).

(diagram displaying layout of system components)

So how did this all come together? Let's get started.

The wind vane. Not fancy, but it works. Definitely something I want to improve upon in the future.

The anemometer. I had to learn how to braze copper for this one! Overall, I'm happy with the way it turned out. The wide diameter also makes for a consistent reading.

The anemometer uses a single Hall Effect sensor and the wind vane uses four Hall Effect sensors to control the signal to the Pi. The sensors are hot-glued to the bottom of the instruments and are activated by magnets that turn with the instrument.

A new addition to my station - a temperature/humidity sensor. I'm using a DHT11 humidity and temperature sensor made by OSEPP.

Version 1 of the station. Not much to it - the Pi, a biscuit block to connect the wires running to the instruments, and a small board I built to control the current flow between the Pi and the instruments. Everything was attached to the bottom of a plastic bin with velcro and the bin was hung on the wall. You can see two holes on the top of of the bin reinforced with common washers.

The inital layout for version 2. I mounted my components to a sheet of plexiglass instead of using velcro in a bin. I've added a small fan and also two relay switches to control various external devices.

Trial run with everything wired to a breadboard.

And another view of the trial run. I realized I would need several more small PCB boards to manage electrical current and I didn't want to have to go through the trouble of laying lots of connection wires on the top of the board, so I decided to look for a PCB that I could use to mount all of my components.

This is the PCB I chose to use. Inexpensive and all of the holes and connections match the breadboard I used, so transferring my proof-of-concept to the board would be a snap.

Proof-of-concept using the breadboard. I'm using some PNP transistors to control the signal to the relays, and pull-down resistors to control the signal to the fan. I've also connected the biscuit block that handles input from the weather instruments.

Close-up view of the breadboard.

Initial state of the PCB with electronic components transferred from the breadboard to the PCB. This was the first time I really learned how to solder, so I've chosen to not show the back of the board ;)

Finally, the PCB with connected components.

Quick shot of the panel I used to connect the run from the biscuit block to the local instruments. This box is outside in the weather in close proximity to the weather vane and anemometer. I plan to clean up the wiring someday.

UPDATE! I replaced the wiring box with a simple PVC pipe mounted on the side of the tower. It's a much cleaner solution, and provides a greater degree of weather-proofing.

One last trial with the PCB and components before I place them on the final backplane.

Tracing component stands for the backplane.

The new backplane with all of the components attached.

And, finally, the complete backplane mounted in a safe cabinet with a plexiglass front cover. Makes it easy to see what's going on inside!

Full view of the cabinet, TNC, and FT-2800 Ham radio.

That's all! I hope you enjoyed the story!