Weather Station Migration: Mac to Raspberry Pi
I have been running a Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station in my backyard for just under four years now. The area I live in has so many microclimates that if you don’t like the weather you can drive 5 minutes and be in completely different weather.
As long as I have been running the station, I’ve used a Mac Mini running WeatherCat software to collect the data from the sensors and publish it to my own weather site Wunderground, PWSWeather and other weather related sites on the inter-webs. Unfortunately, the Mac Mini has been on life support for a while and I had to pull the plug (pun intended). I really didn’t feel like dropping the money on a new mini, so I went and minified the mini. I bought a Raspberry PI 3B, power supply, case and SD Card for about $50USD to replace the mini.
As far as software goes, I went with weeWX, an open source weather station application that supports my Vantage Pro station (and just about every other one out there), the Meteotemplate software I use on my website, as well as feeds to the weather sites I currently feed my data to.
weeWX did take a bit of mucking around with and I learned a few things about the Raspberry PI along the way … the most important being that it does not have an onboard Real Time Clock (RTC) and I had to purchase one separately to keep its time synched up during a reboot, or power outage… Although I have a plan to fix any power issues down the road.
Details … gory details …
… well not really gory at all! I unboxed my shiny new Pi and grabbed the microSD card from the kit. I had already downloaded the Raspbian lite image, who really needs a desktop environment on a server. Using my MacBook Pro I burned the image onto the SD Card using
sudo dd bs=1m if=<path-to-rasbian-image-file> of=/dev/<disk#> for your card reader> conv=sync
At this point I was prompted for my password and went to make some more coffee … and to find that little RTC Module I needed to plug into the GPIO pins on the Pi. After much coffee, a bit of choice words, and scrambling around my home office, I found the RTC and installed it onto the GPIO pins as per the module’s instructions.
Once the SD card finished its setup, I plugged it into my Pi that now was wearing a beautiful little RTC module, and booted up. Once logged into the Pi I needed to do some basic setup (raspi-config for WiFi setup, language configurations, etc), run a bunch of updates (sudo apt-get update;sudo apt-get upgrade) and of equal importance – set up the RTC drivers/code – SunFounder actually has good documentation for this process on their website. (I chose the AutoMagical-Configuration Option … why not!)
Now I’ve got a pretty Pi red LED all lit up like its on Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree, but not really doing much of anything. It is time to install weeWX and get base functionality going. I followed the instructions for debian based systems, which are simply
wget -qO - http://weewx.com/keys.html | sudo apt-key add - wget -qO - http://weewx.com/apt/weewx.list | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/weewx.list sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install weewx
That got the bits all laid down on the system. The weeWX User’s Guide got me up and running, along with some configurations I needed to tweak … more in another post …
If you are curious, take a look at my weather site – https://nepaweather.com/ which is fed directly by weeWX.