Benefits of a Weather Station / How to Build Tips

Benefits of a Weather Station

May 13, 2024 Written by Drew Harris, Agriculture Extension Agent

Variability of weather conditions, including rainfall and temperature, can have an impact on crops within localized areas. Even within various regions, slight differences in atmospheric conditions can change the outlook for pest pressure and yield potential. Weather stations are an excellent tool that captures these variances as well as collects valuable data that producers can utilize in close proximity to their operations. Components of weather stations can vary between the budget for the equipment or differences in the manufacturer. Most standard setups have a rain gauge, anemometer, solar radiation sensor, thermometer, relative humidity sensor, leaf wetness sensor, solar panel and a data logger. The components have an abundance of uses and help to calculate key agronomic factors such as growing degree days and evapotranspiration. The results of this information allow growers and agronomists to predict when certain pests could become active or when pesticide applications may be necessary. Also included with the components are a tripod to place the components on, wire cables to support the top of the weather station, and rods to insert into the ground for more support. Each of these pieces is essential to having an accurate and long-lasting weather station.

A closer view of the top portion of a weather station

 

Start building your weather station

 

Assembling the tripod

 

Weather stations are easy and fast to construct. With a few additional pointers, the process can be even more efficient. When opening the shipment box of the station, there will be a couple of metal poles and a tripod. Link the two metal poles together and open the tripod to insert the connected poles. This will allow the tripod to hold the metal pole, which should be elevated a few inches off the ground, making the top of the weather station 6 feet tall. Once the tripod is linked together, the components can be assembled. Instructions for the components will be included with the shipment, and with just a few nuts and bolts, the small links to put them together will be complete. The box will also come with 6 small metal rods with plastic-coated wire and 1 large copper-coated ground rod with copper wire and a clamp. These parts of the device will be essential for the final parts of the installation, so make sure while building the weather station that these other pieces are set aside but not used or damaged.

A close up of the bottom portion of a weather station

Placing the components on the tripod

 

Once the components have been built to their own specifications, the time-consuming step is bolting them to the weather station. Included in most weather station assembly kits are several U bolts that are the main attachment to the weather station. Placing the components in the right location and in the correct order will save plenty of time and energy. It is best to start with the items that are to be attached at the center or just above the tripod stand and work towards the top with each piece. The leaf wetness sensor and the solar panel/data logger placed at this center location allow for easy connections to other components and are still able to record the information accurately. After the wetness sensor and data logger are attached to the center rod of the weather station, the solar radiation sensor is next. Keep in mind while attaching the sensor that it is best to offset them so that there are no pieces overlapping one another. Following the solar radiation sensor is the thermometer. Install this, leaving enough room for the next component, which is the bracket, as well as the rain gauge and anemometer. 

The bracket is very important and will be used later for the wiring assembly and to properly keep the weather station stable. To maintain structural integrity, it should be about 18 inches from the top and wound tightly to the station. The bracket will be held together with 3 eye bolts, and this is also where the wire cables will attach for the ground assembly. Make sure to provide enough room for the metal bracket while not taking up too much space from the final component. The anemometer and rain gauge merge to make up the last component at the top of the weather station. This can be the most difficult item to link to the weather station because both the anemometer and rain gauge bridge together. What also makes this step challenging is that it is the tallest point of the weather station, making a ladder and another set of hands necessary. Having the rain gauge and anemometer properly secured completes the component initialization and now brings focus to the stability of the weather station.

 

A close up of the anemometer and rain gauge with text stating that they are both on the top of the weather station

Ground assembly

 

Following the completion of the component linkage to the weather station, the subsequent task involves placing it in its designated area. Make sure that you find a stable and flat place to install the weather station and where the ground rods are able to be driven deep enough into the soil. Wet and unstable areas are not recommended because extreme weather, such as strong winds, can easily rip them out of the ground and cause the device to fall over. After you have located the ideal spot, take the long copper-coated ground rod and hammer it into the soil until only a few inches are left above the surface. 

In order to fasten the ground rod to the weather station, take the copper wire and clamp then position them onto the ground rod. Once they are secured to the ground rod, take the copper wire and thread it through the bottom U bolt on the tripod. Make sure that both the ground clamp and U bolt are tight so that the copper wire stays in place with the rod and weather station. Once the ground rod is installed, place 3 small metal rods into the feet of the tripod. Hammer these rods deep enough so that the top of the rod is touching the base of the tripod. The other 3 rods that come with the weather station are used for the wiring assembly to the top bracket that was put on with the other components. From each of the 3 legs on the tripod, hammer each rod into the ground, leaving a couple of inches for the wire attachment. 

Typically, 3 to 4 feet from the end of each leg is sufficient and will secure the device. After the rods are in place, cut the plastic-coated wire to the needed lengths that join the rods and eye bolts on the weather station. Use clamps and turnbuckles to tighten the wire enough so that there is little to no movement. Do not increase tension too greatly on the wire, but the weather stations are top-heavy, so make sure that the wire is secure.



Remote assembly 

 

Completing the assembly and installation of a weather station means that only a few more steps are needed for it to record or transmit information. Each of the components has a wire that must be connected to the solar panel/data logger, which allows the device to remotely transfer the various weather conditions present. Make sure to seal the hatch where the wires enter the data logger so that water does not enter the device and damage it. After linking all of the components to the main system of the weather station, check the connection of the solar panel and data logger. Even though they are one component, wires must be joined for the energy transfer to occur. Turning on the data logger and signing into the remote account provided by the manufacturer is the final step. On the remote site, the weather data will be recorded and graphed. Utilizing the information provided by the weather station and ensuring that it continues to function properly are the final tasks of having a long-lasting weather station. The information gathered over the years can be an excellent resource for agronomic decision-making and potentially be a resource for other local producers.

 


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