Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weather station

After I removed my Ascot weather station due to the interference it caused on the 70cm band, I didn't have a clock in the shack. I searched for a long time to find a radio controlled digital clock with a nice 24 hour LED display capable of showing UTC but couldn't find anything suitable. Whilst browsing I found something interesting. It was a Meteotronic WM5100 weather station made by La Crosse, reduced from £49.99 to £17.49. As I still liked the idea of having a weather display in the shack, I decided to get one.

The Meteotronic is interesting as it is not, in itself, a weather station. It is a radio, tuned to receive transmissions from the German time and frequency standard station DCF77 on 77.5kHz. Besides an accurate time signal, DCF77 transmits weather forecast data for 90 different regions of Europe for up to 4 days ahead. This information is received by the device and displayed on its LCD, as you can see in the picture.

Some of the weather regions are quite large. I am in the region "northern England" which covers the whole area north of Birmingham to the Scottish border. But the forecasts are probably still better than predictions based simply on atmospheric pressure trends, like most home weather stations.

I'm coming to realize that this is a pretty poor location for reception of radio signals of any type. The unit had difficulty receiving the DCF77 transmission, although I am well within the maximum distance at which reception is possible. You need to experiment with different locations to get the best reception.

Although the unit doesn't have a UTC time option, you can set a time zone offset, so I can set this to -1 during the summer to compensate for the effect of daylight savings time.
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