The following is a list of the equipment used to power CarterLake.org
The very popular live video on the site is provided using a Logitech Quickcam for Notebooks Pro. This tiny little camera provides brilliant, clear images. It's images (still and live) are controlled by Webcam32 software. Still images are updated every 2 minutes. The camera is inside at ground level, facing north north west toward a ball diamond at Carter Lake Elementary School.
I purchased the camera refurbed from Surpluscomputers.com. They sometimes have fantastic deals on computer hardware, but be aware of their "all sales are final - no refunds" sales terms.
The station is a Davis Wireless Vantage Pro2 with Fan-Aspirated Radiation Shield (Model 6153).
The Vantage Pro2 includes console/receiver, integrated sensor suite (ISS), and mounting hardware. The ISS includes rain collector, temperature and humidity sensors, and solar panel. The anemometer is wired to the ISS but mounted above it on a pole. Temperature and humidity sensors are enclosed in a solar-powered, 24-hour fan-aspirated radiation shield. Shield combines active and passive aspiration to minimize the effects of radiation.
Temperature and rainfall are updated every 10 to 12 seconds; wind speed and direction are updated every 2.5 to 3 seconds; humidity and barometric pressure are updated every minute. The website updates every 5 minutes (except our home page, most of which update every 5 seconds using AJAX).
Along with our VP2 6153, we have a Davis WeatherLink data logger. This not only stores our data, it also allows us to interface with our server. We have the serial version of WeatherLink based on advice that some owners have problems with the USB version.
We found the best price from Provantage.
Our original weather server was an old spare computer that we had available. When it died in August of 2007, we had been having problems with it for some time.
Our new weather server was purchased and built from the ground up with reliability and expense in mind.
We found the best price from Directron.The weather server is an AMD Sempron 3200+ with 1 gigabyte of main memory. The server is powered by a clean install of Windows XP Pro. In order to avoid conflicts, it is running the absolute minimum software, services and devices.
We stream NOAA weather radio KIH61 in the Omaha valley using a Midland WR-300 All Hazards Weather Alert Radio. It interfaces with our server with a 3.5mm male to male mini stereo cord. The streaming end of things is handled by Weather Underground. They are currently working on building a group of streaming NOAA weather radios. For those interested in the project, getting a radio with a digital tuner will greatly increase clarity of signal.
StormTracker works by detecting the radio signals produced by lightning. These are the same signals you can hear on an AM radio during a thunderstorm. StormTracker's direction-finding antenna provides directional information while storm distance is calculated from received signal strength. Special processing in software reduces the effects of strike-to-strike energy variations providing more accurate distance information.
Our StormTracker is mounted indoors, approximately 13 feet off the ground. It is located in the northwest corner of the house to minimize interference with electronics. In this location, it can sense storms up to 350 miles away.
We found the best price from Provantage.
The following is a list of software used to power CarterLake.org
Our weather station interfaces with our computer through software written by Brian Hamilton of New Zealand. Weather Display is a powerful tool for beginner to advanced weather enthusiasts. I highly recommend this software for weather enthusiasts wanting to start their own website.
Our webcam's images - still and live - are controlled by Webcam32 software. It produces a thumbnail and still image every two minutes on the website and powers the streaming video.
Those interested in such software (no longer available) might also consider ConquerCam. It offers much the same features for less than WebCam32.
NexStorm combines display, analysis, networking and interprocess communication functionality in a way that makes this software package the most versatile lightning display and analysis application available on the market. It's companion product - StormVue - allows for near real-time display of lightning information using a Java applet.
We found the best price from Meteorologica.
Almost all the dynamic content on the site is created using PHP. When you see our radar page, advisories, air quality and pollen, etc. These are all pages put together with PHP. PHP also allows us to very quickly and easily make major changes to the site.
Our website is hosted very inexpensively on E-rice.net. For less than $1 per month, you can have all the advantages of web hosts costing far more. We are using Standard Plan 3.
Ajax is a Web development technique for creating interactive web applications. The intent is to make web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire Web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user makes a change. We're using Ajax on our main page to update virtually all the weather elements (even radar and webcam images!), many in near real-time.
GRLevel3 is the software which allows us to publish our own radar images using live NEXRAD Level III data from NOAA. The software also allows us to view storm data down to street level just like local television stations. It detects the possiblity of hail and tornadic activity. Very cool!