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William Waters III - N7IPY

Remote Talking Weather Station

This project grew out of a need to know what the wind conditions were at a remote RC Flying site.

A number of years ago when I was enjoying the hobby of RC Airplane construction and flying, I came upon an idea of developing an inexpensive weather reporting device that would report the wind and temperature conditions over the telephone.  This all came about after I made one of many trips out to the club flying site only to find that the winds were too strong or blowing across the runway making it impossible to fly that day.  I got tired of loading the planes and flight gear into my truck only to end up driving home never taking them out

 

My first idea was to use a modem connection but that would require the users to have a computer and modem.  This idea came about over 10 years ago so not many modelers had computers and of course there was no such thing as the internet as we know it today.  So after deciding that the modem connection was not going to work, I came on the idea of using a voice interface.  The first design used 28 ICs including the microcontroller, RAM and EPROM, A/D converter, voice playback IC, and lots of glue logic all on a hand wired board.  To the best of my knowledge, it is still running back in Livermore, reporting the wind conditions at the ‘Livermore Flying Electrons’ flying site.

 

At one point on time I thought about marketing the device, so I shrunk the design down to 5 ICs added a solar charge system, low current switching power supply, and a custom 2 layer PCB.  As life is, I ran out of time, energy, or interest in the project so I never brought it to market.  I added a 2x20 character LCD to the design so the weather station could be used locally with out the need of calling it.  Additionally, I added a FCC type approved telephone interface making it leagle to attach it to the public phone lines.

 

The anemometer and wind direction vane used in the final design is different in the way that it signals the wind conditions back to the electronics.  The anemometer is made by Peet Bros., and it is a real work of engineering.  It only has 4 wires, connected to 2 reed switches.  The wind direction is represented by an out of phase switch closure in relationship to the switch closures of the wind speed sensor.  The most difficult part of this project was developing the firmware to calculate wind direction and wind speed from these 2 switches using 8-bit assembly.  In this design I used an I2C interface to communicate to the temperature probe, removing the A/D converter and its support circuits, I also had to develope a library of functions to support the I2C interface as it is not directly supported in the microcontroller.

 

To program the voice playback IC, I developed a microcontroller circuit that could program the individual words used to make up the messages, edit the recorded words, and then duplicate the voice message from a master to a copy IC.  Once the programmer was working, I recorded my wife’s voice into the system, right now it is calm and 90 degrees in my back yard.

Prototype Test Platform
IMGP0185.JPG
This is the final test platform that was used to test the solar charging system.  The blank PCBs used in the final design are shown above.
Charge Controller Close Up
ChargeController.JPG
This is the solar chagre controller with low voltage disconnect used with the talking Weather station. 
Finished Unit with Wind Sensor
Windvoice-II.JPG
This is a picture of a finished prototype that does not have the optional LCD display.  This was designed to be located inside a structure out of the elements and to run off of a 12volt wall transformer.
Voice Chip Programmer
AUT_0054.JPG
I built the programmer into an enclosure I had in the parts box, and it was a tight fit.  The keypad is used to select function and words to program or listen to.  The IC in the ZIF socket is a voice playback IC ready to be programmed from the master that is in the enclosure.

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(C) 2007 - 2017  William Waters   Last Updated July, 2017