Posts Tagged ‘projects’

WS-1080 Sensors

WS-1080 as packaged

The Ambient Weather WS-1080 weather station has been operational and gathering data for several days now. So far I’ve been very pleased with the unit.

Living several miles north of Fort Wayne, we often have slightly different temperatures and weather conditions than those reported by the television stations and weather websites like weather.com or wunderground.com.

It’s nice to monitor the live telemetry and review the 24-hour highs/lows and graphs right from my Lazyboy.

Based on my limited use thus far, I’ve already taken a preference to viewing the data on the computer rather than navigating through the receiver’s touch screen display.

The software package that came with the unit is EasyWeather 6.1. This software does a nice job for basic monitoring.

In doing my product pre-purchase research I learned about Sandaysoft’s Cumulus, which has become my primary montoring application.

Cumulus is a free (donationware) application that enables computer based telemetry monitoring of a full range of data (click on the image for a larger view of the dashboard). It also provides a nice assortment of graphs including wind speed, outside temp, inside temp, pressure, rainfall rate (in/hr), wind direction, temp min-max-avg, humidity, rain today, and daily rain totals.

Cumulus Screenshot

Cumulus also provides an option to update a website with realtime data (via FTP). It even includes a template for the site, so you can get it up quickly.

Now that I’ve got the unit up and running it’s time to get it mounted in it’s permanant location- on the old Dish Network bracket mounted on the roof.


Amazon has a newer version, the Ambient Weather WS1090 Weather Station which as an atomic clock and data logging- It’s a great unit for the price!  Check it out HERE…
Sandaysoft- Cumulus Software (good stuff!)


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End Result- Rubber Paver Floor

After a long, cold. snowy winter, the indoor-outdoor carpet on the screen porch was looking pretty bad.

We’ve discussed replacing this carpet several times throughout the last year.  From the looks of it this spring we knew we wanted to do it before summer. 

We considered ceramic and porcelain tile options but had concerns about the tiles cracking in the winter, being slippery when wet, getting scratched by the feet on the patio furniture, having to deal with the maintenance of the grout, hard on the knees, and the tiles being too cold to the touch when the weather gets cool outside.

After a thorough research period, we agreed on the Flexible Rubber Pavers, from Gen-Rubber of Galion, Ohio.

The pavers look somewhat like cast-concrete bricks but are made from 100% recycled tire rubber.  They measure 16″x16″x3/8″ and come in several colors like brown, red and grey.  We opted for the Brown Brick color.

Lacie supervising

These pavers met our criteria of low maintenance, cost-effective, easy to install (or replace), soft on the knees, very durable, and most importantly, they look good!  An extra bonus, the tiles are Made in the USA!!

I purchased a few to test.  I wanted to see if they would off-gas, get really warm in the sun, or lose their finish after being exposed to the elements.  I places four pavers in the porch to see if they ‘smelled’ (which they didn’t) then I placed them under the  hose spigots outside.  After several weeks in the elements and being walked on they still look as good as the day I placed them in service.

We purchased another eighty for the porch from Menards.  On sale, they cost $4.99 each.  It took us 74 pavers to complete the whole screen porch, with a half-dozen extras for use around the landscape or in the garage, the whole project cost less than $400 to complete (before tax).

We really like these pavers for this application.  After removing the carpet, I swept the floor and placed the pavers.  I cut the edge pavers to size (with a sharp utility knife), no special tools needed.  No glue, no levelling, no special floor prep, nothing fancy.  Place them end-to-end and trim the edge tiles to fit.  The whole project (not including pulling up the old crappy indoor-outdoor carpet) took less than two hours to complete.

I wish every project was this easy to complete!

Old crappy carpet

I have no relation to either Gen-Rubber or Menards, besides being a cash paying customer of both.

Related links

Gen-Rubber, LLC

Menards (one of my favorite stores- someday I’ll write a post about Menards and why I like them so much)

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Ambient Weather WS-1080

After years of wanting one, today I finally ordered a ‘real’ home weather station.

I’ve had some small wireless La Cross indoor/outdoor thermometers for years, but they only monitor indoor/outdoor temperature and, the most recent one, indoor humidity.  A major disadvantage of these inexpensive transmitters was the inability to get an accurate reading when the sun would shine directly on the outdoor sensors.   They are also a bit limited in their range.

The weather station I just ordered is an Ambient Weather WS-1080 Wireless Home Weather Station w/ Data Logging.

It outputs to a  touch screen panel or to a computer for display and logging of in and outdoor temperature (with highs and lows), in and outdoor humidity (with highs and lows), rainfall  (1hr, 24hr, week, month, etc), windchill, dew point, wind direction (displayed on a compass), weather forecast arrows, alarms (including storm warnings), plus more.

One of the coolest parts is the ability to log the data on a PC.  I can also publish the data to a website or upload to a number of online community weather monitoring sites, if I so choose.

This seems like a pretty complete package for my needs and budget.  I ordered the Ambient Weather WS-1080, which includes the panel and the four sensors for $99US.  I also added an SRS100LX temperature and humidity radiation shield for an extra $39US.

Optional Solar Shield

This should provide me with a good base to learn about weather logging.  I can’t wait for it to arrive.

I ordered it from Ambient Weather.

Related links:

Weather Underground

Ambient Weather

Direct link to the WS-1080

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This past week has been full of minor garden related activities and some lessons learned.

First, all of the berries have been planted  into their containers.  We currently have three different blueberry varieties, two raspberries, and one strawberry container.

Blueberries- For nearly all blueberries, it is critical to have multiple varieties for efficient pollination.  I thought I had this addressed last year when I planted my first two blueberries.  With the rabbit damage inflicted to last year’s growth, I am hopeful that I will get some flowering this year.  This will be critical for all.  If it doesn’t look good, I’ll probably add a fourth variety.

The three blueberry varieties we are growing are Blue Ray, Chippewa and Jersey (I think- I can’t find the tag). The Blue Ray and Jersey were purchased last summer as two year-old container starts.  The Chippewa was purchased this spring. 

Raspberries- Last year’s rescued start was overwintered in the kitchen window.  It looks like it made it!  This past week I transplanted it into a larger container with some good quality container mix.  With a few days outdoors it’s already added a couple of new leaves.   I don’t recall the type, but I suspect it’s Burgess’ Latham variety.  The new addition this year is the Rubus ‘Everbearing’.  This was already fully leafed out when I purchased it. 

Strawberries- The planter full of Quinalt strawberries is doing great!  The existing starter leaves are now healthy looking with strong stems.  Several of the bulbs have started sending out new leaves.  The survival rate was 8/10.

I bring all of these containers inside every night just to be safe.

Seed starter trays- update and lessons learned-  last weekend I put the tray of tomatos and peppers out to get some sun.  It was a nice sunny day, in the low 60’s F, but the wind chill must have been a bit cool for some of the tomatoes.  Within a couple of days, some of the Roma tomatoes started wilting.  I figure I shocked them by placing them outside too early.  Fortunately only one variety that had the issue.

I’ll be adding a temorary plastic greenhouse  to help transition the starts.

Old fridge germinator update-  Since the last update I’ve experienced a little milder and mushroom growth on some of the TP starters.  I’ve remedied this situation by leaving the door open a few inches, to allow some air circulation, and monitoring the moisture level (and watering accordingly).  This resolved the issues very quickly.

Compost bin- The compost bin is working, but is not rising in temperature yet.  I’ve been adding coffee grounds and veggie scraps almost daily.  I looked under it again and it has a ton of worms working away- climbing up through the large drain holes in the bottom.  I made the mistake of over-watering it one evening, resulting in a very bad odor.  To quickly remedy this I added some shredded newspaper and mixed the bin.  By morning the odor was gone.

So far, so good…   Lots to learn (and remember for next year).

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The compost bin is finally up and running!

I’ve had the addition of a compost bin on my list for some time, but I hadn’t decided where to place it and what to make it from.  I wanted to have a compost bin that was self-contained, wouldn’t dry out to quickly or stay too wet during rainy periods, easy to turn, easy to move (if so desired), relatively inconspicuous, and somewhat attractive (i.e.- not incredibly unattractive to the neighbors), and inexpensive to make. 

I considered the pre-made molded plastic bins, but couldn’t see spending the money.  I opted to use a spare Rubbermaid tote we had lying around.  To make the compost bin, I simply drilled 7/8 inch  holes in the bottom and all four sides, and filled it up.

a look inside...To get it going I added a weeks worth of veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, the remnants of my first round of spring cleanup debris, some soil from the best perennial bed we have, some old dried out potting mix (from some old containers), and a little potting mix, and watered well.

I located it in an old neglected bed that was little more than sun-baked clay with a little bit of  hardwood mulch.

After three short days, I was very happy to see that old bed coming back to life.  I moved the bin and discovered a handful of baby worms enjoying themselves in the moist, nutrient rich soil.  To give the bin a quicker start I added my little worm friends to it, with the addition of today’s coffee grounds and veggie scraps.

I have contemplated adding some worm towers to the main beds around the landscape.  After seeing the immediate success under the compost bin I think that decision just got a lot easier.

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During the last few days the weather here in NE Indiana has begun to turn more “springlike”.  Sunny days with highs in the low forties and cold frosty nights.  The buds on the trees appear to be plumping right before my eyes and the boxwoods out front are showing signs of their spring growth.

As I sit here writing at 0730, I see the spring sun rising; filling the sky with it’s wonderful warm hues and casting its ever-progressing shadows over the landscape.  I’m sure this happens every day, but I seem to be more in tune with it this morning.  I just finished the Intro To Permaculture session 7 video (that I mention in the Permaculture post), which made me more aware of the movement of energy through and around the landscape.

It is with this in mind that I will make a conscience effort to monitor the landscape for solar tracking, shadows cast, microclimates, wildlife activity, etc.  These observations will help me to better adapt my plans for the weeks and months to come.

I am also planning, today, to create a map of the landscape and the energy flows around it.

Container Garden/ Seed start update-

After listening to the Self-Sufficient Homestead podcast– Episode 19 yesterday, which included a segment on indoor grow lights, I’ve adjusted the fridge-germinator to make it more efficient.  I’ve lined the walls with heavy-duty aluminum foil, added a 19w compact florescent bulb, and lowered the light rack to within four inches of the seed starter trays.   These minor changed made an immediate impact that was noticable this morning.

The nice thing about using the fridge is the ability to adjust the shelves as the seedling grow taller.  The shorter starts can be propped up on so they can be closer to the light source, instead of having to stretch, while the taller starts can be given all the room they need.

I started another 35 tp starter pots yesterday.  These are mostly herbs, maybe a dozen varieties, and a few flowers, including some Four O’ Clocks.

I’ve read that Four o’ Clocks are a natural pesticide for handling Japanese Beetles.  Supposedly, the Japanese Beetle loves them and will be drawn to them, but they are toxic for them, resulting in their immediate death.

I would much rather let the birds enjoy the free meal, than spread the chemical pesticides all over the landscape. 

As John Wayne would say ‘We’re burning daylight…’, with that said, it’s time for another cup of coffee and off to pleasure (I mean work).

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Good use for a spare fridgeIt’s been close to a week since I planted the container garden starter pots.  So far, I’ve relied on the windowsill and clam-shell greenhouses to support germination.  As of this morning, the only things that have sprouted was one tomato, two of the herb planters, and some of the lettuce mix.

To help kick-start the seedlings, I placed the mini-greenhouses on a heating pad in front of a larger South-East windows.  Within two hours three more tomato seeds sprouted.

Happy with this success, I’ve since moved the heating pad setup into a spare (unused) refridgerator we keep in the garage.  This unused fridge will provide an environment where it will be easy to regulate and maintain temperature, light and humidity.

I used a couple of old flurescent lite fixtures to provide the light.  They aren’t grow lights, but they put out a lot of light.  These simply rest on the adjustable metal shelf.  I placed the heating pad, wrapped in a towel, on the bottom.

The digital thermometer I keep in the garage was reading 48degrees F.  I put this in the fridge and will monitor the temp throughout the day.

This setup looks like it is going to work great!

Update:20100301- The heating pad did not generate enough heat to raise the temp in the fridge.  I have since added a hanging shoplight (with a 100w light bulb) inside the fridge.  This provides more light and generates the required heat.  The temp is now nearing 60 degrees F and rising.

Since last night, a second variety of tomato has sprouted.

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