Arduino Weathercloud Weather Station

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About: I am eight grade student and I just love making cool (sometimes maybe even useful) devices.

I made a weather station connected to internet. It measures temperature, humidity, pressure, rainfall, UV index and it calculates few more important meteorological values. It then sends this data to weathercloud.net, which has nice graphics and UX. It also has a weather webcamera. It cost me around 120€. I made this station as my school project. The station is mounted at my school in Bratislava, Slovakia. Here is the current data.

Photo credit: Mimo magazín. Used with permission.

Note: I've been working on this project for over two years now. This instructable is bassicaly just a reupload of an instructable that I published one year earlier, but there have been so many changes that I decided to make a new instructable. Also, no one ever looks at one-year-old instructables.

Step 1: Weathercloud

First of all, what is Weatherclud? Weathercloud is a large network of weather stations reporting data in real time from all over the world. It's free and there are more than 10 000 weather stations connected to it. Firstly, I had my own HTML website where all the data were sent but making your own website and graphics is hard and it's much easier to just send all the data to a big cloud platform which has nice graphics and stable servers. I searched how to send data to weathercloud and I found that you can accomplish that easily by a simple GET call. The only problem with Weathercloud is that with a free account it lets you send data only every ten minutes but that shouldn't be a problem for most uses. You'll need to make an Weathercloud account in order to make it work. Then you'll need to create a station profile on their website. When you create your weather station profile on Weathercloud, you are given the a Weathercloud ID and a Weathercloud KEY. Keep these because the Arduino will need them to know where to send data.

Step 2: Parts List

Google sheets BOM

ESTIMATED PRICE: 120€/130$

Step 3: Tools

These tools could come in handy:

wire stripper

battery drill

soldering iron

pliers

screwdrivers

glue gun

multimeter

saw

tree drill bit

file

Step 4: DS18B20 Solar Radiation Shield

A solar radiation shield is a very common thing used in meteorologic stations to block direct solar radiation and therefore reduce errors in the measured temperature. It also acts as a holder for the temperature sensor. Radiation shields are very useful but are usually made from steel and they are expensive so I decided to build a shield of my own. I made an instructable that shows how to make a radiation shield like this. Here is the instructable.

I also found a video thats shows the exact same procces so you can use that:

Step 5: Terminal Box

The terminal box is the center of the station. The main 14-core cable connects it to the server box. The cable from DS18B20 goes into it. The cable from the UV box goes into it. It also hosts the humidity and pressure sensor. When you're selecting a terminal box, you can use any IP65 plastic junction box that has over 10x5x5cm (4"x2"x2").

Step 6: UV Sensor Box

The UV sensor box hosts the UVM-30A UV sensor and it's also a middle point between the main terminal box and the rain gauge. The UV sensor box can be any plastic IP65 box with a fully transparent cover.

Step 7: Weathercam

Weather webcams (or weathercams as I like to call them) are used to record or stream image of the actual weather conditions. From the image you can determine the light intensity and cloudiness. I went for cheapest wifi camera available but you can use any wifi camera of your choice. This cheap camera works just fine but there is one problem with it. You need to have a computer running a streaming software constantly. That wasn't a problem for me because there already is a server running website in the network so it can take care of the streaming as well. But if you don't have a computer like this in your home network, then I recommend buying a Raspberry pi and a Raspberry pi camera. It's more expensive (25$ vs 70$) but you don't really have another option if you want a webcam. In both cases you need to put the camera in a weatherproof box. You can use the same box as for the UV sensor. I made my own box from a regular plastic box and plexiglass but that's unnecessary. The battery for the camera will need constant recharging. You can do that by striping down a USB cable and connecting the + and - wires to the 5V power output for the sensors. When you have your camera weatherproofed you can just mount it anywhere where is good wiew with zipties.

Now let's take a look at the software. This part requires some advanced coding skills. You have to have a 24/7 running computer (can be a Raspberry pi) in your home network in order to do all this. So the first thing you need to do is to connect your IP camera to your home Wi-Fi network Then you need change the username and password in script according to your username and password on the camera interface. You also need to change the camera IP adress in the script. Then you need need to setup a task scheduler to run the included script every 5 minutes or so on your server/computer. The script should now take a screenshot of the camera's image every 5 minutes and save it to the preset folder. The folder has to be public so you can look it up on a search engine like this: example.com/username/webcam.jpg. Weathercloud can then take this image from the public folder and put it on it's webpage. You can see the "live" (updates every 5 minutes) feed here.

Step 8: Top Sensors Holder

The Top sensors holder is a steel componet that holds the top sensors (UV, rainfall) on the roof. The part that you see on these pictures fits only our building. You can mount these sensors any way you want. This is just an example. We already had a steel pipe mounted on the roof, so it's been easy to mount the holder.

Step 9: Shield Compatibility Problem

There is a simple compatibility problem between the ethernet shield and the protoshield. You can't put protoshield on top of the ethernet shield because the ethernet connector just won't let you. And you can't put the ethernet shield on the top of the protoshield because the ethernet shield needs to have a direct connection to the arduino through the ICSP connector but the protoshield doesn't have one. Well, a simple problem, a simple solution. I just cut a rectangular hole in the protoshield so that the ethernet connector can fit in.

Step 10: Rainfall Measurement Board

The rain gauge that I ordered works just fine, but there is one big problem with it. It doesn't have any communication interface like I2C or serial. There is just a simple switch that switches ON for 60 microseconds every time it rains more than 0.28 mm/m2. The arduino can easily catch that when it's not doing anything else but measuring rainfall. But when it has other tasks to do (like measuring temperature and sending it to cloud) there is a high probability that the arduino's processor will be busy at the time of the switching on of the rain gauge. This will cause an inaccurate rainfall reading. That's why I added a second arduino - an arduino nano. The nano's only task is to measure rainfall and send it to the master arduino through I2C. That way the rainfall readings will be allways accurate. I made a PCB which holds both the arduino nano and the RTC module but you can solder it to the protoshield too.

Step 11: Server Box

It's always a good idea to hide all the electronics in a small, organised box. And that's exactly what I did with the server box. The server box hosts the Arduino UNO, the ethernet shield, the protoshield, the 5V regulator, the main data cable terminal and the rainfall measurment board.

Step 12: Connections

Just connect everything according to the included schematics.

Step 13: CODE

This is the final part, the part we've all been waiting for - testing, if it works. You need to change the IP adress, the Weathercloud ID and the Weathercloud KEY according to your home network and your Weathercloud account. You're then ready to upload it to your arduino. You also need to upload the I2C rain sender code onto the arduino nano.There is also the index.php script, more info about that is in step 7.

Step 14: Instalation

Making your weather station work in your workshop is one thing, but making it work in the real-world harsh conditions is another. The installation procedure depends very much on the building you're mounting your station on. But if you have the solar radiation shield and the top sensors holder it shouldn't be so difficult. The temperature and humidity sensor can be placed really anywhere on the building, but the UV sensor and the rain gauge have to be on the top of the building. The UV sensor can't be in shadow and the rain gauge can't be near a wall otherwise when there's strong wind the raindrops won't fall into the gauge and the readings are going to be inaccurate. Here is a picture showing how you can mount the station on a typical house. You should be very careful when mounting a station on the roof and you should have a powerful drill that can drill trough concrete.

Step 15: Done

Congratulations. If you did all steps correctly, you have a fully operational cloud weather station. You can see the data from my station here. If you have some questions or suggestions, I would be happy to hear them in the comment section below.

I am planning to build a similar station using ESP32 Wi-Fi board and some additional sensors (wind speed/direction, solar radiation, soil humidity) but more about that later. Enjoy!

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    51 Discussions

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    DavidH901

    Tip 14 days ago

    Hey Jakub, great job on this project. I am a professional weather network technician, so I've seen some funny things out there in weather land. I like your various solutions to collect all of the weather variables you are after.

    I saw somewhere in the comments that a reader was concerned about your temperature sensor placement. I am also concerned about that. To make your temperature/relative humidity sensors work better and give you more accurate measurements, you should move the primary shielded sensor to the North side of the building. It matters less where on the building you put it (height wise), except out of the sun. So the North side is the best. Put it where the moss and algae grow on the wall. There is no sun there. Since this is a naturally aspirated shield, you should extend the mount so it is about ten (10) inches or more away from the wall. That will give you better air flow. Or install a small fan to pull air through the shield past the sensor. You will get better temperature readings, but if the fan fails, you will get very high, inaccurate readings. We don't use power aspirators currently.

    I noticed that you don't have wind sensors. There are some good, cheap three-cup anemometers out there and simple wind direction vanes that will connect directly to your Arduino. The one I am thinking of is sold by Adafruit.com. If you put them in, you should put them as high up as possible on the top mast with nothing but a lightening rod above. Oh, and you really should put in a lightening rod! Make sure the entire mast is grounded to the earth with a healthy (read thick) wire. It will keep you from having a mass of melted sensors and will also give you steadier readings.

    Your UV sensor should stay at the top of the mast, but move it to the the South side of the platform so it does not get shaded.

    If you are ever thinking of changing the wire for your connections, Campbell Scientific sells a really good wire that is insulated with Santoprene which is UV stable/resistant. I use it on all of my stations and I don't have to replace it often, maybe after about 10 years. It comes in all kinds of configurations (1 TP no GND, 2TP w/drain, etc).

    I've attached a photo of one of our research-grade weather stations. I manage and maintain about 60 of these. The station in the photo has RH/T, Wind Speed & Direction, Solar Insolation, Volumetric Water Content, Soil Temp, Precipitation in 0.01" increments, Snow Depth in Winter, Barometric Pressure, and it communicates via cellular modem. It is powered by a 20W solar panel and a 26AH battery. We take a sample every 3 seconds and report back to our servers every 5 minutes in "real time". Our website is www.deos.udel.edu

    Again, great project and fantastic work!

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    Jakub_NagyDavidH901

    Reply 14 days ago

    That's a really long comment. Thanks for all of the tips. I'll try to use them while building my second station. I'll try to reposition the temperature sensor. I have a wind speed sensor already (it's the one from Adafruit), I'm working on it. It should be added to this page in about a week. There should be some lightning rods on the roof, I'll check it. The UV sensor is already south. I know nothing about how UV rays affect cable insulation. Could you explain? I'm using a shielded data cable with PVC insulation. WOW, that's a really nice station. The page looks nice too. Again, thanks for your time and all the tips.

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    DavidH901Jakub_Nagy

    Reply 14 days ago

    Glad to read that you are going to install some wind sensors. That will will make a fairly complete station.

    Answering your question about UV degradation would certainly take up too much space here, but Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of photo oxidation (the technical term for UV damage), here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photo-oxidation_of_...

    Generally, any polymer that is left out in the sun will photo degrade. It will become cracked and brittle, some even fade to white. This becomes a problem if the cable moves around or is attached to a vibrating or moving part. The insulation cracks, and water gets in and corrodes the wire or shorts the wires. Sometimes a bit of moisture gets into the cracks, you can't see it, then winter comes and when the water freezes, the cable insulation splits and the next rain/snow event causes a short and loss of data. If it happens to a power cable, you can cook the sensor or even the computer/datalogger.

    The PVC insulation is not UV protected usually. Even the "outdoor" cat5e cable is recommended to be buried in conduit. Besides, cat5e cable is about 32awg which is too small for most power applications. The smallest wire I use is 24awg. And if you look closely at my station photo, I still put some of my cable in CPVC conduit to protect it, more from weed trimmers and critters than from the sun. I put the cable on the West or North side of the center post to keep it out of the strongest UV rays.

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    SpyrosF1

    14 days ago on Introduction

    Very nice project. Would be absolutely perfect if you could implement a remote display, in order someone could read the current weather data.

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    Jakub_NagySpyrosF1

    Reply 14 days ago

    Thanks. I like it more when I look at the data from my computer or phone but sure, it's doable

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    AlexanderP124

    14 days ago

    Thank you for the detailed project description!
    It's the first time I heard about WeatherCloud and upon checking it I wonder where did you find the information about its API? Surprisingly they either don't provide any documentation or it's too well hidden. They only offer a list of "compatible" devices, which is clearly not a DIY spirit :) I have my own outside thermometer, which I've built myself.

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    Jakub_NagyAlexanderP124

    Reply 14 days ago

    Well, I have this station up and running for more than 4 months. Previously I used a simple HTML webpage but that wasn't realy appealing or practical. You could only see the actual data and you didn't have any charts. Then I found weathecloud. It was nice, but I didn't realy know how to use it. Then I found that there is a station running on Raspberry pi near me. So I contacted the owner and asked him the same thing. He said that it's too well hidden but he found it. So I did everything according to his instructions and it worked. Without him I doubt that I would've been able to make it work. You can check out his station here: https://app.weathercloud.net/d4308353004#profile
    Cool, an IoT thermometer?

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    AlexanderP124Jakub_Nagy

    Reply 14 days ago

    Ah, cool, so, basically you've done the same as I did - used someone else's knowledge :). Fortunately WeatherCloud API is very simple.

    My device is similar to yours - built on ESP8266 and DS18B20, but it's just a thermometer and no other sensors. I've also made it autonomous, powered by a small solar panel and a lithium battery. This was a (very successful) experiment of using deep sleep mode and low powered device. The data is published to ThingSpeak - https://thingspeak.com/channels/217081 (and now to WeatherCloud too - https://app.weathercloud.net/d3142454842#evolution)

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    rnshagam

    Tip 15 days ago

    Have you considered configuring your station to communicate with weather underground? (wunderground.com) Also free, and data can be posted in near-real time.

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    Jakub_Nagyrnshagam

    Reply 14 days ago

    I had, but just from the quick comparison I liked the weathercloud more. Mainly because there are no ads on weathercloud. I also had the communication protocol instructions for weathercloud and I couldn't find that for wunderground. But you can tell me some features (why do you think it's better) if you like.

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    rnshagamJakub_Nagy

    Reply 14 days ago

    Weather Underground is (or was) free/no ads--at least it is for me--if you post data from a weather station. I'm sure the protocol is available somewhere on the internet. And there is an older Instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-Uno-Wirel... that has software from which you could probably decipher the protocol.

    Nice project--keep up the good work!!!

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    Jakub_Nagyrnshagam

    Reply 14 days ago

    OK. I guess that I could make it work with Weather Underground. It would be an additional coding task for me and I need to see some advantages of it to even consider it. Thanks.

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    schofiel

    14 days ago on Step 15

    Superb! Very enjoyable project. Good ideas: simple, practical implementation, a good working result.

    May I suggest:
    - your outdoor wiring may not be robust enough, so lots of cable ties and make sure the plastic insulation is UV resistant
    - my rainfall sensor is the same as yours: I found that when it was mounted on a pole, the pole wobbled in the wind and made the see-saw in sensor rock and give false rainfall counts. If you mount it lower down the pole it might make it less sensitive to false readings.
    - I understand why you cut your shield to give clearance on the USB connector, but it might have been a slightly better (and also more costly) solution to use stand-off headers to increase the spacing between the boards. Sometimes, no matter how well you clean a circuit board after cutting, dust or copper shards can still be present which could cause shorts or corrosion at a later stage.
    - I have also water-proofed all my circuit boards with a waterproof silicone spray, which is cheap and easy to order online. Only spray when you are confident you have pretty much finished a unit, as cleaning afterwards will be more difficult. However, the increase in reliability in damp atmospheres is worth it!

    Really well done, something to be proud of. May I use some of your ideas? :D

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    Jakub_Nagyschofiel

    Reply 14 days ago

    Thanks for all the tips.

    - The station was mounted more than a year ago (October 2017) but I couldn't get it working for a long time. That means that the wiring (and everything else) lasted the whole year. Yes, the cable between the middle and the top section is very loose. The only thing that I noticed is that the contacts of the UV sensors were corroded after the year
    - I didn't know that. I'll try to look into it.
    - Well, I don't think that I can help it now but thanks for the tip.
    - This station is very experimental I'm adding/removing/replacing sensors so I'm not confident that I have a finished unit. Also, the circuit board is inside in a server rack so I don't think that I have to wory about weather.

    Thanks. Sure, you may.

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    maheshshaji

    15 days ago

    Wonderful project brother.
    Wish to concat you to discuss some more detail about this project.

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    vendors

    15 days ago

    A great project, excellent work. Thanks for sharing.

    Výborne, Jakub ! Pekný projekt, ďakujem.

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    Jakub_Nagyvendors

    Reply 14 days ago

    Thanks. Are you from Slovakia?

    Ďakujem.