Weather Station Changes

My current weather station server has been experiencing reliability problems for the past 6 months. I've actually been using 2 separate programs for collecting data from my Davis Vantage Vue weather station. The first is the Weatherlink software that came from Davis when I bought the weather station. I don't like the the charts and reports this program generates, but it has proven to be a very reliable means of collecting and storing data. The second program is called Virtual Weather Station. It has a great deal of flexibility in designing charts and reports, but this program has been failing to collect data consistently.

I think part of the problem is caused by the fact that everything runs on Windows XP. When I first setup my weather station, I started with a clean install of Windows. However, I think after a while, with all the regular updates, the reliability has suffered. So, I went looking for software that runs on Linux. I found a system called wview. I tested it on a virtual box, and it seems very stable - normal for Linux I guess. After a bit of searching, I discovered that wview will also run on my Raspberry Pi

Last night I spent the evening setting up wview on a fresh installation of Raspbian Wheezy (a version of Debian Linux built for the Raspberry Pi). This looks like it will probably work just fine. It's fairly easy to setup if one follows the advice of a couple experts on the internet - in particular one Pedro Diaz. One nice feature is that it will convert and use all the data collected by the Weatherlink software on Windows, so I get to keep nearly 3 years of data.

As the days go by I will start to implement the charts and graphs from wview on this website. Check back often to see how things progress.


Solar Events a Bust

The solar events that many of us waited for this spring have come and gone. Unfortunately for me, one turned out to be a non-event and the other less than memorable.

As winter turned to spring this year, I was excited by the prospect of 2 significant solar events: a Partial Solar Eclipse and a Transit of Venus. For once I didn't procrastinate, and I placed an order well in advance for several pair of solar viewing glasses along with an afocal camera adapter.  After a couple anxious weeks with the astronomy dealer apparently loosing/forgetting my order, I finally received the items about 5 days in advance of the first event. That's the last time I deal with them.

Since I already have a solar filter for one of my refractor telescopes, my plan was to aim my video camera through the eyepiece of the telescope to record as much or all of both events. Unfortunately after several hours of trying, I gave up on the idea. Still cameras seem to work well afocally, but I just couldn't get the right combination of positioning and focus to get the video camera to accomplish what I needed.

The partial solar eclipse of May 20, 2012 went past totally unnoticed. Thick cloud cover blanketed the entire region, so I didn't even bother to pull out any equipment.

On June 5, 2012 the cloud cover for the Transit of Venus was nearly as bad. With the forecast for clouds and rain, I initially didn't bother setting up any equipment. However, at the last minute I looked out and noticed considerable clearing around the sun. I quickly grabbed a tripod and setup my video camera in the back yard. I managed to record some of the early stages of the transit in amongst the clouds that seemed intent on passing directly between me and my target.

In the end my off and on recording session lasted just over an hour. I compiled several of these clips into a 4 minute video of Venus as it passed between Earth and the Sun.

Check out my video under the Media Menu here on or just follow this link.

Family Tree Updates

Earlier this summer a new version of the software (TNG) that we use for the  Family Tree section of our website was released. I noticed a number of new and interesting features, so I quickly installed the update. Unfortunately, by being a little over zealous, I discovered after the fact the new genealogy software is not fully compatible with the base system the website uses i.e. Joomla 1.5. The existing link between the two is no longer working. A new version of this link is in the works, but since most of the Joomla system is based upon Open Source and free software, it would be unfair to pressure the people who develop this wonderful system for a quick update.

What does this mean to those who browse these pages? Well, only those with login access to the Family Tree pages are affected. Rather than logging in on the Home page, you will have to login in the new "Our Genealogy Page". Also, you will notice the Family Tree link (in the Main Menu) launches a whole new web browser, rather than being integrated into the main site. Once a new TNG to Joomla link is released, I will re-integrate the genealogy pages back into the main site.

With the new update I have added some new things on "Our Genealogy Page".  There is a new menu layout, with links opening to my side of the family and also to Brenda's. There is also a Features section where we post a list of Most Wanted information, and a direct link to the What's New list.

As always, your comments or suggestions are always welcome!