Since 1975 i’ve had a weather station in some shape or form (more or less). I started out with a home made screen consisting of a thermometer and a baked bean tin, opened out and painted white to form a screen, nailed to a fencepost in the garden. I became totally obsessed with that, recording 4 times a day. This was a manual thing in those days, so I had to go out in all weathers to keep it up. However it came with me through some monumental and historic weather, namely the hot summers of 1975 and 1976, the freezing cold winters of 1978-79 and 1981-82, before I moved house.
I didn’t manage to get another one together until I was married, in a different part of town (Ferryhill). This was a little digital unit with a separate rain gauge. It lasted a couple of years, but the only really notable weather it captured was the snow of February 1991.
By 1997 I’d gathered together enough cash to buy a Davis Weather Station. This was very expensive for me, but it attached to my computer and I could read the weather without going outside. It was all cabled together though and looked a bit unsightly. I ran this until about 2011, culminating in the phenomenal December of 2010. Then it died.
After moving to our Durham house, we had a garden back (although it was a total tip until last year). Making the garden good again, I began to appreciate it’s microclimate and wanted to get a station going again. These days, wireless kit has become commonplace and now interfaces easily with smart phones and tablets. One of the most difficult things about the Davis was getting it to run on a Mac. I needed the new station to run with Apple’s hardware, so I ended up picking Netatmo, a French Company.
The Netatmo station comes very well packaged, direct from France. Unpacking it reveals two sleek aluminium tubes – the larger one being the base station sensor that sits indoors, and a second smaller tube that’s designed to sit outside. Documentation is minimal, but points you to downloading an app to your phone to facilitate the installation. The first thing to do is get the base station talking to your wifi. The base station is mains powered and once that is plugged in the app leads you through the configuration of adding the second sensor. Pretty easy stuff.
Next thing is siting the two items. I chose to sit the base station in the corner of the living room, behind the TV. The base station monitors indoor temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient noise and carbon dioxide.
Next, the outside sensor. This measures outside temperature and humidity. It also allows Dew Point to be derived. The small external sensor runs from two AA batteries which need to be installed when pairing with the base station. It comes with a mounting strap with velcro attachment, designed to secure it around a drainpipe or post. It also comes with a slot at the back of the aluminium casing by which you can attach it to a wall with a screw. This was my chosen route and I put it on the north facing wall of my shed (the only place in the garden not to receive direct sunlight. I had read online that the sensor needed sheltering from direct rain, as it would mean the humidity readings would stay high until the sensor dried out. For that reason I installed a little pelmet above it, made from PVC tongue and groove cladding, to protect it from the rain.
I also purchased the Netatmo rain gauge, but unfortunately forget to get a mounting bracket (sold separately) so I couldn’t set this up straight away. The rain gauge is very sleek and has a broad, transparent plastic funnel top and a black cylinder below housing the tipping bucket rain detector. Each tip is calibrated at 0.1mm of rain, so it’s quite high resolution. There’s a screw hole in the base for attachment to the bracket, which I secured to a fence post with three screws. It’s important that the top of the gauge is perfectly level to make sure the ‘tip’ works properly, so I set it up with a spirit level to make sure.
As can be seen, the data on the station can be shown via a Widget (actually from a 3rd party Netatmo site) and Netatmo also operate their own Network where other station owner’s data can be seen on a map. This is useful for local comparisons and it’s easy to see when a station is incorrectly sited. The third party sites can also enable much more extensive analysis than the Netatmo one and it’s possible to set up a weather station page to display current readings
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