ESP8266 Weather, Beta Up and Running – Step 2.1

Hi all, and welcome back for another installment of the Avatar ESP8266 weather station project. Well after all the board design, sub module interface design and assembling the boards its time to take it for a test drive. I've been busy lately and the beta test started on Memorial Day weekend but I'm just catching up with articles now, not to mention if you were staring at that pool everyday would you be coding and blogging or jumping in. Anyway, as mentioned previously I was going to follow Nate Seidle's lead over at SparkFun and use a solar radiation shield to package up the electronics. Well, in short thanks Nate, because step 1 was to hook to the instruments to the bare board with it just sitting on my outdoor grill's counter top. The board fired right up and I started getting data updates, but right away the temperature soared to 114 degrees, no I don't live in Arizona, and while warm that day, it was only in the upper 80's. Next I stuffed everything including the power supply into the radiation shield and attached it to my makeshift post. I fired it up again and within 10 minutes the temperature was reporting 87 degrees in the bright full sun, which was spot on. Here are some pictures I took:

Avatar Weather Sensor Beta Test

Avatar Weather Sensor Beta Test

The next photo is of the inside of the radiation shield. There isn't a whole lot of room inside the shield, but most small boards should fit inside. The SparkFun weather shield tutorial did not show how the electronics were mounted inside, so I wasn't sure how I would do it, but in the end it fits so snug and just sits at the bottom of the hollow slats as the last two are solid and do not have a hole in them. Here is a shot of the inside of the solar radiation shield in case you were wondering what it looks like with a board inside.

Internal View of Avatar Radiation Sheild

Internal View of Avatar Radiation Sheild

It's a little tough to see, but I have a black extension cord that connects to the power supply that is underneath the circuit boards. The extension cord and the two gray wind and rain wires come out of the opening between slats.

So that is a wrap on the hardware side of things. However, for this beta test I needed to do a fair amount of updates to the Avatar messages to be able to handle non Analog, Digital state or Frequency based signals. Also, I haven't written a Weather Application yet, so I just quickly hacked a version of the generic Avatar data plotter to show all the new data on the same graph. Here is a screen shot of the hacked data plotter.

Quick Weather Data Plot

Quick Weather Data Plot

The plot covers 36 hours of time. The plot has everything jammed into it, Temperature, Humidity, Light, Wind, Avg Wind, Rain. I decided for the short term I would just show the rain times 100 so that .5 inches of rain would show as 50 so I could see it easier. I am also seeing the phantom rain signals that many people have reported when using this model of rain gauge. I still need to try my experiment of adding a physical pull up resistor instead of the built in micro controller one. I'll update you on whether that works or not when I get around to trying it. Other than that everything seems pretty accurate, I have the test rig pretty close to the house so I think that is affecting the wind speed. I feel the wind speed seems to be on the low side, I'll see once I move it to its final spot.

In the next article I'll start talking about the updates to the Avatar Framework that I made to support handling more types of input like I2C data registers plus the embedded information for conveying the module type. Until next time Happy Making!