On February 20, 2000, a Sunday, after Brian and I got home from a trip to the Sticks, as I like to refer to the location of our future home, there was a message in my webcam guestbook. And the visitor left a link to his site. Well, the email address was for a local university, so I checked out the website. On the website (B and H Ranch), there was a weather page. I loved it. I wanted one. I wanted one, badly.
So, I start checking out the links. I went over to Ambient SoftWare, which I found on the webring on the B and H weather page. I checked out what was needed for an online weather station. I checked out the websites of the places where you could buy the equipment. After looking at the prices, I ended up on EBay, an internet auction site. I saw the Oregon Scientific Weather Station (model WM-918) listed. I figured, what the heck, and registered and lost my EBay virginity.
It was scary, believe me. But I got my weather station, for $189.90. Well below list price. One thing, though. If you do go the EBay route to get one of these, if there is optional software available, don't waste your money. For $22.00, I got a serial cable and a floppy disk. The floppy disk had a little weather information to upload to your computer. To get a more detailed version, it would have cost more money. I didn't use the software, but I am using the cable. I'm sure I could have gotten the cable for less than $22.00. I went back to the Ambient SoftWare website and downloaded their software. And it's great. For $39.00, you will get a lifetime of upgrades and Ed is extremely helpful if you have any problems. (Since I originally got my Ambient Software, the price has risen and the licensing has changed; lucky for me I got in when I did.) He also has many links to other sites where you can find forums to help you work your weather station. That's how I found out that our model has a problem with the thermometer.
Brian hooked the equipment up the week after we got it and for some reason, the temperature and humidity flatlined during the first week. Minus three on a March Sunday morning in San Diego County? I think not. Thinking it was something we had done wrong, I checked out some of the forums. Much to my surprise and luckily, I found out there's a problem with the equipment. I called Oregon Scientific the following Monday and they are sending a replacement part at no charge to us, as soon as they get more in stock.
The first weather camera was a Creative Video Blaster WebCam 3. Brian made a box for it and it's hooked up outside of the house. The software I use to run the camera is Webcam32, the same software I use for the other cameras, available for download at http://www.surveyorcorp.com/webcam32/. It's reliable and the cost is reasonable and you can run multiple cameras from it, as long as they all use different drivers. Last year, I was able to purchase a remote control mechanism, also available at Surveyor Corp for the outside camera, which allows me to change the view of the camera without leaving the comfort of my desk. A little after installing the remote arm, we set up the camera on the roof for a much wider view of the yard and area. We purchased the globe at a local lighting store. Because of the size, it was special order. Now that I the got the java applet to work correctly, the viewer (that's you) can also change the position of the camera. Pretty cool, huh? I was having problems with the VB Webcam and did some research and came up with the 3Com HomeConnect camera. We changed out the VBW (which became the patiocam) for the 3Com. It's a much nicer camera for what I was using it for. Unfortunately, 3Com is getting out of the video camera business.
On March 31, 2000, I downloaded the latest version of Webcam32. With the updated software, I was able to set two different profiles, the catcam and the weathercam. Now, both cameras also have live video, which I really like. It took a little doing, because I'm clueless about some of the settings and by trial and error, I was able to muddle through it and get the video working for both cameras. It's really neat.
The last week of May, the beginning of June, 2004, I moved lisaviolet.com to a new webhost. This host has some applications that were unavailable at my previous host. With these new applications, I have more flexibility in the programs I can run. And a new program (for me) is Hamweather. With this, I can grab information from the National Weather Service. Since there's an airport within three miles of our house, I get their information. To see this in action, click on the "extended weather" button below. You can also find other weather by using the little form at the top of the page. It's pretty cool. Check it out.
So, that's it. That's all about my weather station. I'm having great fun with it.