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Topic: I want to build an autonomous GPRS weather station (Read 25550 times) previous topic - next topic

aerozg

Hello,

my name is Daniel and i'm new to Arduino. I live in Zagreb, Croatia, Europe. I'm a student of aerospace engineering and for my college project i would like to build a autonomous unattended weather station which sends weather data over a

GSM network in user defined intervals (every 10min or so) and feeds it to a web page. I would also like to be able to change this interval if i need to. The station should use a solar panel for power and i would also fit it with an extra

battery for backup.

I came to this idea when i went hang gliding the other day. We spent 4 hrs to get to our flying location only to return home after spending 2 hrs waiting for the winds to calm, but no luck. I will quote a paragraph from the Arduino book

"Practical Arduino - Cool Projects for Open Source Hardware" which describes exactly what i want to do:

Quote
Private Online Weather Station
Just outside Melbourne, Australia, a group of hang glider pilots is currently investigating installing one of these systems near a favorite but remote launch location that unfortunately has no local weather service. By installing their

own weather station nearby and feeding the data to a web service such as Pachube, Watch My Thing, or even just to Twitter, they can easily access historical and real-time weather data at the

launch location before they leave home, potentially saving them a three-hour drive only to discover that conditions aren't suitable and then driving another three hours home again. Setting up the project as a cooperative venture and

splitting the cost between a number of pilots means the cost to each individual is very low. Just one wasted trip would cost more in fuel than contributing to a share in their own personal weather station.


Is there any way i could get in touch with those people? I would like to know if they had done it and how they do it?

Weather forecasts which we use here are not very reliable and the idea is to build a weather station which we could set up in a remote location and leave it unattended, with minimum maintenance, reading the data through a web page which

i would build. We would also love to build a network of these stations and feed the data from all of them to our web page. Our windsurfing and kitesurfing friends also like the idea.

Commercial products like Davis, Vaisala, Lufft, Furuno etc are awesome and perfect for the job but are way beyond our budget. I spent the past 6 days researching this idea and came up with a lot of interesting information about weather

measurement techniques and solutions and also some very cool projects, with the name Arduino coming up repeatedly, so here i am as i will probably need all the help i can get.

I guess i should start by getting the necessary parts from the SparkFun shop, here's what i have in mind:


  • Arduino Mega microcontroller board - Don't really know which one yet, Mega, Uno etc..
  • Cellular Shield with SM5100B
  • Quad-band Cellular Duck Antenna SMA -
  • Weather meters


I still have a lot of reading to do, i want to familiarise myself with the Arduino system and i'm aware that the components i picked for my project may not be the best for the job, so bear with me :) Thankfully there is a vast resource

of information here on the forums, on the internet and some interesting books on the subject are available.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking forward to spend some time here.

P.S. i have some experience with soldering and electronic circuitry but it's been a while since i done anything. The last project was the FreeTrack head motion-tracking device for use with video games. I use mine with the MS Flight Simulator X and LockOn flight sims. Great stuff.

CaptainObvious

Quote
Is there any way i could get in touch with those people? I would like to know if they had done it and how they do it?


http://practicalarduino.com
More specific..
http://practicalarduino.com/projects/weather-station-receiver

One of the writers of the book is John Oxer, one of our members here who posts fairly often, I'm sure he'll stop by here soon. :) (cheers John!)

They have the source code and schematics up to use, but they're not using a GSM module.. so you'll have to add that part yourself. (Semi-trivial if you've programmed a few times and can read:))  And also, the main purpose for the weather receiver on their website is to use a 434MHz receiver and get the binary data from a Wireless weather station transmitter, as shown on their website.

But with their hardware setup, to be honest... you could use an Atmega168. (might have to go for the 328 for the extra space)  But as far as pins go.. you'll have a few extras to play with.

But John LOVES hearing about projects that people do from his work so I'm sure he'd be glad to give you a hand. (Got to love open source!!)

Sorry if I didn't answer all your questions.. guess I just shot for  a few specifics but I'm sure other people can answer them much better than myself, so I'll wait for their help. :)

Good luck and keep us updated, sounds like a great project alot of people could learn from! :D

aerozg

Hey thanks for your post, any info i can get to point me in the right direction is invaluable for me, as i'm only starting to learn about Arduino. The Force is strong with this project as me and my friend are determined to get this done, one way or the other, so this is just the beginning.
Cheers!

aerozg

I've just got a copy of a nice book called "Making Things Talk -
Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects" for which i think will have some answers needed for my project, as to how to connect all the arduino hardware and make it "talk" to my web page via GSM/GPRS.

Jonathan Oxer

Wave to @CaptainObvious   :-)

Hi @aerogz, it's cool to hear you want to do that project. I currently have a variant of it running at my office collecting data from a La Crosse weather station, and pushing readings to a MySQL database hosted remotely on a web server and accessed via web services. The Arduino has an Ethernet shield so that it can connect to the server, but using a GSM shield should allow you to do the same thing.

Before making too many decisions about hardware, the first thing I'd consider is the physical environment you'll be installing it in. The obvious issues are:

* Power (sounds like you won't have any, hence solar)
* Physical protection from the weather (a building?)
* Security (can people just pick it up and walk away?)
* Network coverage
* What data is important to you (temp, windspeed, ...?)

If you're wanting to put this in a remote area you may end up having to stick everything in a box and bolt it to a pole. That's a risk if it's in a remote area where some inquisitive person could just rip it off and take it home.

Could you describe the location that you're planning to use?

I have a feeling that your biggest problem is going to be power. An Arduino combined with a GSM shield and a couple of other things will pull several hundred millamps at 5V, so you'll need a decent size solar array and battery and probably need to sleep parts of the hardware between updates. Nothing particularly difficult, just something to be aware of.

The group mentioned in the book haven't yet set anything up at the location they were considering, but it may still happen.
--
Jon
Freetronics: www.freetronics.com

aerozg

#5
Nov 18, 2010, 11:19 am Last Edit: Nov 18, 2010, 11:20 am by aerozg Reason: 1
Hello Jonathan,

thanks for taking the time to read and answer my post! I'm looking forward to build this interesting project and learn from it as much as i  can about embedded systems, using Arduino.

Yes, we have considered all these issues, some of the questions were raised and answered even before we decided to go through with this.

If not protected by a fence of some sort, someone might just pick it up and take it, or maybe a curious forest animal could destroy it.

There are ways to solve this, according to our country's laws, we should register this weather station as a "technical object" (that's what the lawyers told us), and the Meteorological and hydrological institute of Croatia would issue a permit that is valid for a period of 12 months and oversee the installation and maintenance for which we should write reports to them every month.

We must also provide a full technical documentation of the hardware used and what it does, the documents need to be clear and concise, and beside the technical stuff and how it works it should state where the station is to be located, how it is going to be protected form weather, lightning strike, curious people and animals, how it is going to be powered, who is going to fund it and the most important part - who is going to maintain it.

The project has gained a lot of attention at my college, they loved the idea of having a remote network of standalone weather stations and they are willing to fund it. We also had some private investors interested in the project, but we told them that we are building a prototype, because i'm not sure if the Arduino hardware is really suited for industrial strength outdoor use like some other commercial products i mentioned earlier.

Anyway, i am determined to get this done and i hope i will make it.
I would also love to share all the files and information and make it available for anyone who would like to build it.

p.s. I'm sorry for my bad english, it is not my native language, i think in croatian and try to write in english, and i know it doesn't always sound right, i hope you understand :)

Jonathan Oxer

Sounds like you're already very well progressed, and you've done some important preparation. That's great.

In terms of whether the Arduino hardware is suited to "industrial strength outdoor use", something you need to understand is that "Arduino" can be almost anything you want it to be. You can put a simple AVR MCU on a breadboard with a couple of supporting parts and the bootloader, and it's an "Arduino". Or you can build the toughest, most physically and electrically hardened device you can imagine, and it can be an "Arduino". In fact there's an active member of this forum ("Rugged Circuits") whose business is building Arduino-compatible devices that are designed to be as strong as possible. He puts extra filtering on the power supply and I/O lines, isolates things whenever possible, and makes them physically robust. The result is something that's more expensive than a typical Arduino, but has benefits that make it worth the price for certain applications.

So it comes down to using the appropriate hardware for your particular application.

That said, I don't think you'll have any particular trouble with even a standard, off-the-shelf Arduino model. Put it in a weatherproof box and it'll be just as robust as any other electronic device.
--
Jon
Arduino-compatible TwentyTen with prototyping area: www.freetronics.com/twentyten

aerozg

I think i know what you mean, the Arduino is also a philosophy and a way of thinking rather than just electronics hardware form SparkFun :)

Well, i'm planning to get the listed parts next week and then start to play with it.

Aside from the parts i mentioned in the first post, is there anything else i should get?

LinuxUser

Quote
Aside from the parts i mentioned in the first post, is there anything else i should get?


A breadboard and some jumper wires, if you don't have that already.

aerozg

I don't have anything yet, and why do i need the breadboard? I'm still in the process of learning so bear with me :)

I thought that the Mega or Uno board in conjunction with the SM5100B, the quad-mobile antenna and the weather meter sensors would be enough to build the weather station. Where did i get wrong?

Hi,
an Aduino UNO should be enough for your project. I think that an Arduino Mega is not necessary.
I have developed a "BaroTemp-Shield" containing an RTC, an air-pressure and temperature sensor and additional 128KB EEPROM for storing the measured data. All equipment uses the I2C protocol. Please visit shieldlist.org and have a look into "Schmelle2" for more information
If you are interested I can send you code for working with the sensor, the EEPROM and the RTC.

Good luck ;D

schmelle2

aerozg

#11
Nov 20, 2010, 04:04 am Last Edit: Nov 20, 2010, 04:05 am by aerozg Reason: 1
An Arduino shield list! Wow, this just keeps getting better and better! I will check that website right now and see what is on that list.
Thanks mr. Schmelle2 i will check your section of the list and yes, you can send me the code for working with your sensor please.

And how about using this:

Code: [Select]
NB2210 - NetBox Wireless Router

The NB2210 connects Ethernet enabled equipment to the internet over a mobile network (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) and makes your devices and data accessible from wherever you want.
Hardware Features

   * Quad-Band GSM, Class 12 EDGE/GPRS
   * 1 Ethernet port
   * 1 COM port
   * 2 digital outputs
   * 2 digital inputs
   * DIN rail mounting

http://www.netmodule.com/products/nb2210.aspx


Hi aerozg,
I can't say anything to this device.  :'(
What I would suggest are the things you mentioned in your first post. A cellular shield should be much cheaper than the NB2210. And I think it will do the same things.
Additional I think that an Arduino UNO will be enough. You can add a couple of weather sensors to the analog ports.
The only thing that could be a problem is the 32KB memory limit of the ATMEGA328 to get all up and running.

I'll send you the code within the next hours.

BR Peter (schmelle2)

LinuxUser

Quote
why do i need the breadboard?

You don't.
But it's nice to have when developing things.

Maybe you are the type that wants to buy everything already soldered and just plug some modules (like shields and similar) into each other? Then there's no use of a breadboard.

But then you might be the type that wants to try out building things yourself,
or you just don't find pre-built modules for your project. Then I find those breadboards really handy to try out things and variations before soldering a prototype.

In a given moment of project development some parts might be soldered, others still on a breadboard and maybe some others on modules/shields plugged into the Arduino.

But please don't get confused by all the suggestions, just start where it seems right for you and see then how it evolves.

aerozg

@schmelle2
Quote
I can't say anything to this device.  Cry
What I would suggest are the things you mentioned in your first post. A cellular shield should be much cheaper than the NB2210. And I think it will do the same things.
Additional I think that an Arduino UNO will be enough. You can add a couple of weather sensors to the analog ports.
The only thing that could be a problem is the 32KB memory limit of the ATMEGA328 to get all up and running.


Yes i also think i should stick with my initial list. The NetBox NB2210 module was mentioned in some other internet boards, it allows you to pick up for example the WiFi signal from WS2300 and send it over the GSM/GPRS network. Thats why i was interested. I don't how much it costs but i don't think it is cheap. Doesn't look cheap :) As for the UNO board, i think i will get that one, but the 32kb of memory is an issue. Maybe i can expand it by using Adafruit Industries Logger Shield with SD card?

@LinuxUser
Quote
Quote
why do i need the breadboard?

You don't.
But it's nice to have when developing things.
Maybe you are the type that wants to buy everything already soldered and just plug some modules (like shields and similar) into each other? Then there's no use of a breadboard.
But then you might be the type that wants to try out building things yourself,
or you just don't find pre-built modules for your project. Then I find those breadboards really handy to try out things and variations before soldering a prototype.


I think i will get the prototyping board. It allows you to try your ideas and play with things and develop your own modules. I find preassembled modules cool for learning how they work by simply trying to replicate one by yourself using the proto board and your own components.

I think i'm hooked :) So much to see and do. I will continue googling to see what other people have done, the shieldlist.org is a great place to start, i already found some awesome stuff i thought is not possible to build yourself.

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