Weather Station (Davis Vantage Vue) at my Cabin: Toy or Tool?

I’m running a Davis 6250 Vantage Vue weather station at my vacation home. This is a self-contained weather station with automated internet reporting capability. I bought mine as a turn-key package that is either an expensive toy or useful tool. Maybe it is both. They are pricey to buy but have virtually no running cost if you already have an internet connection.

The Basic Davis 6250 Vantage Vue Weather Station

Vantage Vue Davis Weather Station

Outside Unit for the Weather Station at my camp is powered off a small in-built Solar Panel

The basic setup at my camp has two components: The Vantage Vue unit outside and a base station (console) inside the cabin. They communicate via an in-built wireless link. You need both bought separately or as a package. The outside station generally runs on solar power from built in panels. In October the station would run out of stored solar power at about 2 am and then quit until 9 am, later on the most dreary days. There is a $2 lithium battery for backup that was fading after two seasons. It was easy to replace.  The inside unit runs on household current with internal C-batteries as backup. You need to have an internet connection for the remote access options, and for that you generally need 120V mains power at your vacation home. My system runs quietly and unattended, but winter and summer storms  regularly shut the NYSEG power down, for up to 12 hours. I have the DSL modem-router on a timer so once a week it turns off for a minute and restarts. That saves me a winter trip if the modem hangs for whatever reason. A couple of times, before adding the timer, I was waiting for a storm to knock out power, shut the PC and modem down and then facilitate a reboot.

Davis weather station base unit

Davis Base Unit inside my vacation home has a Wireless link to the outside Weather station and an Ethernet connection to the Web so I can access the data at home.

I’m generally looking at temperature but the outside unit  at the camp is measuring rainfall, humidity wind-speed and direction. The inside unit is measuring temperature and humidity. That inside data turned out to be surprisingly useful in understanding how the inside of my cabin responds to conditions outside, I have a page about this and remote monitoring. I find I also use the inside data in the shoulder seasons and in hottest parts of summer to know what to expect if I visit the cabin. It also helps me figure when to winterize the water system.

My weather station can’t measure snowfall so doesn’t give an accurate assessment of total precipitation across the year. My camp plot is mainly woodland and the cabin is to one side of the outside package. I did not have a really large clear area for the weather station, so the wind usually registers a South  ‘cos it is being funneled in from the open lake side.

WeatherLinkIP: Exporting Vantage Vue Station Data to the Web

You need one of the data logger units (IP or USB) if you want to export and archive data, rather than just check the base unit screen for recent conditions. Clearly checking the base station screen doesn’t work for me since I am generally at home 100 miles from the weather station.

Any exported data will include that from the inside and outside sensors of the Station. My unit has an Ethernet interface, purchased as WeatherLinkIP. It seems like the basic weather station design is pretty old and the external outputs are an afterthought bolted on. The settings and manual for WeatherLinkIP talk about baud rates which is archaic, though the actual data-stream is going to be tiny compared to video. Oddly the data kept coming when I partly fried one DSL router/modem, even though I lost internet camera feeds.

With WeatherLinkIP you should be getting the WeatherLink software to work with the online data and a data-logger that has an Ethernet interface. There is another option that outputs the data to a PC via a USB interface (WeatherLinkUSB). There was a recent WeatherLink software release so check with Davis that yours is the most recent (they gave me a free update) if you invest in this system.

WeatherLink Public Web Page

WeatherLink Public Internet Weather Station Page

With this model I am using my DSL router/modem to push data out to the Davis weatherlink.com web utility where it is archived, in addition to the current data being displayed. You don’t need a PC in this loop. It was only after a couple of years that I decided that I wanted to look at long-term multi-season data – turns out the info is in a database file stored online. Their PC based program (part of the purchased internet package) can import and interpret it. Obviously you need to have the Ethernet handshake running for the data to accumulate.

 

Accessing Davis Weather Station Data on the Internet

Weather Underground web page

Weather Underground Personal Internet Weather station page for my Davis Vantage Vue Weather Station

I have a free individualized page on the Davis WeatherLink website that presents current day data for inside and out at my cabin. That is publicly accessible. There are also links for my archived data, that is in the password protected section of the site.

I  have a page on Weather Underground (right – I’m sure it is a play on the 60s radicals) that takes in my outside data, stores it and presents it as an internet weather station. My data on Weather Underground is hopping over from the Davis WeatherLink.com site but other weather station packages may be uploading directly from PCs and Macs. The Weather Underground personal pages linked to specific weather stations also have the option to continuously upload IP camera images, they are pumped out by my cameras using FTP. Not that hard to set up except my LakeCam seems cranky. I thought it was the handshake but the DrivewayCam works consistently. I try to have one camera uploading for the first 30 minutes of an hour, then the second uploads for 30 to 60. I disable the feeds when I am visiting the camp. I talk about specific camera systems on this page and more generally here.

There are weather station options beyond those from Davis but I think its important to choose a monitoring package that provides some way to archive the device data. Some are now offering Android and iPhone Apps for access, but I can access my data and camp area forecasts using the Weather Underground App.

Station as a Community Resource not just a Personal Toy

Screenshot Weather Underground Android App

Screenshot of The Weather Underground Android App. The first screen is current data for my station, other screens have the local forecast

Mine is the only online weather station within 20 miles of my vacation home on the Weather Underground. I saw, after I set my page up on Weather Underground, there was a reporting station at the local school 5 miles away, but it was gone after a season. You might want to check Weather Underground for your area before buying a system.

I have the feeling that Weather Underground predicts the upcoming day’s temps better than AccuWeather for my camp’s area. I suspect that is because Weather Underground uses the local data from all the little weather stations to generate a more granular, fine scale output. AccuWeather is probably only using data from bigger stations.

I see that in January 2017 my Weather Underground page was accessed over 500 times, today we have a snow storm building and there were 30 hits. I’ve never been sure about what fraction of views in winter months are by year round residents, what fraction are by seasonal residents thinking about driving up for a winter weekend and what fraction are by seasonal residents at home checking in, with a touch of schadenfreude, to see how bad it is for the year round residents.

 

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