Configuring a Weather Monitoring System

By on August 16, 2010

Fondriest Environmental offers complete weather monitoring systems with carefully selected equipment that meets only the most stringent performance and quality standards. Multi-parameter sensors, such as the highly popular all-in one Vaisala WXT520, provide an unparalleled combination of value and performance. Add that to the versatility of a NexSens data logging solution with plug-and-play ease, and the result is a powerful, reliable, yet user-friendly solution that can be up and running quickly. These stations have a solid core system that is still customizable enough to meet a wide range of needs. Each station consists of a WXT520 sensor to measure the most essential weather parameters; a pre-configured NexSens iSIC Data Logger with user-defined telemetry solution; iChart software to receive, display, and export data; one of three platform choices; and a solar or AC charger.

The VAISALA WXT520 & other sensor options

Vaisala WXT520 Multi-Parameter Weather SensorFondriest weather stations can assess more than a dozen different  parameters. Six of those are measurable by one compact instrument with no moving parts. The Vaisala WXT520 measures wind speed and direction, liquid precipitation, barometric pressure, temperature, and relative humidity.

The wind speed and direction measurement is based on the Vaisala WINDCAP sensor, which uses ultrasonic waves to calculate accurate readings from any horizontal wind direction without blind angles and corrupted readings. A single module housed inside the sensor reads barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity using capacitive measurement for each parameter. The precipitation measurement in the WXT520 is unique, as it records accumulated rainfall, rain intensity, and duration — all in real time. The WXT520 is water resistant and classified as IP66. The wind and rain sensors can optionally be equipped with a heating element to prevent snow and ice buildup in severe conditions. A bird deterrent kit is also available.

In addition to recording the typical weather parameters, NexSens data logging systems can accommodate several options for measuring solar radiation, soil, hydrology, and water quality. This can expand a typical meteorological station to agricultural and hydromet applications.

Data Logging and Telemetry

NexSens iSIC Data LoggerAt the heart of every remote meteorological station is a NexSens iSIC (Intelligent Sensor Interface & Control) Data Logger.

These data loggers can connect to virtually any sensor via analog and digital interfaces. Specifically designed for remote environmental data logging applications, the iSIC offers superior data acquisition performance in extreme conditions. It delivers unmatched sensor interface and data collection with options for landline phone, cellular, radio, Ethernet, WiFi, and satellite telemetry. An iSIC simultaneously supports (8) analog inputs and (4) digital inputs for multi-sensor data logging capability. All electronics are housed in a rugged, NEMA 4X enclosure constructed of heavy-duty fiberglass. The built-in 8.5 amp-hour sealed lead acid battery provides 12-volt power to the system, and the battery can continuously charge using AC or solar power. Polymer-coated circuit boards, sealed connectors, corrosion-resistant stainless steel hardware, and built-in lightning protection ensure reliable performance in even the harshest conditions. All sensor cables run through Sealcon gland fittings to ensure protection from the elements.

With solar and AC charging options, NexSens data loggers are ideal for both portable and permanent applications. For systems near an electric outlet, the best way to charge is by simply plugging it in with an AC charger kit. Alternatively, a 20-watt solar panel kit can provide sufficient charging for most remote applications.

System Platform Choices

With fixed, portable, and even floating platform options, it is possible to collect weather data from almost anywhere. Each system ships preconfigured and ready for plug-and-play deployment

Weather stations are most commonly installed for long-term or permanent applications, making the fixed platform ideal. The system is mounted to an aluminum pole mast that easily threads into a pre-installed 2” NPT pipe using the included female coupling. No additional mounting is required. Fixed stations can be installed in a wide variety of locations, including bridges, building roofs, towers, and open fields. Ideally, there should be at least 150 meters of open area in all directions from the station regardless of where it is set up.

Some applications are better suited for a moveable platform. For this reason, Fondriest offers portable platforms. These systems include a tripod to hold the Vaisala WXT520 weather sensor as well as an iSIC Data Logger. The data logger’s internal battery can power the system for weeks before requiring recharging or replacement, allowing extended, unattended monitoring on a lightweight stand. The portable platform is useful in situations when the location will change periodically or for shorter projects

For monitoring at sea, a complete weather station can be mounted onto a buoy. The buoy platform makes measurements in small reservoirs, lakes, rivers, streams, and protected coastal waters possible. The NexSens MB-300 and MB-500 buoy platforms support the Vaisala WXT520 sensor, submersible data logger, and three 5-watt solar power kits to provide continuous power. This platform option can be paired with a wireless telemetry option, such as radio or cellular, to enable real-time telemetry with the station from the shore.

Managing Weather Data

On the receiving end of iSIC data logger transmissions is NexSens’ iChart data collection and processing software. It simplifies and automates many of the tasks associated with acquiring, processing, analyzing, and publishing environmental data. iChart is a complete, ready-to-use environmental data toolkit. It is designed with an open architecture and offers a straightforward interface. The software makes it easy for anyone to configure and customize data collection projects, so you don’t have to be a programmer or information technologist to achieve professional results

iChart software can export data directly into WQData, a secure web datacenter providing an online interface for viewing environmental data. It offers 24/7 instant access to project data using any web browser. Project datacenter sites can be password-protected or publicly accessible. Using WQData, visitors can view dynamic project area maps overlaid with weather data, recent and historical data, time series graphs, statistical summaries, and project-specific information.

Rental Equipment and On-Site Services

While it often makes sense to purchase systems outright, there are many short-term dredging projects that make it cost-prohibitive. Fondriest offers real-time meteorology stations with weekly and monthly rental rates to meet project requirements.
To ensure customers can begin using their system as quickly and efficiently as possible, application engineers are available for training and technical support, both by phone and in person. Our company offers both extensive field experience and a wide array of deployment hardware to facilitate seamless implementation of the project.

For additional information about weather monitoring solutions, call a Fondriest Environmental product specialist at 888.426.2151 or email

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