Raspberry Pi Weather Station for Schools – Part 2

When I stated, in mid-September, that I would promptly return with an update on how our school was progressing with the Raspberry Pi Weather Station I certainly did not expect it would take this long for the follow-up post! Often, the thief of time is procrastination. However, in this case our Pi team had been working diligently each week but was unfortunately stalled by the software set-up process.

When I left you last the hardware was mounted on a board and the impressive variety of sensors was ready to be tested before final installation onto the school building:

Sensor Name Purpose
Rain gauge Measures the volume of rain falling in millimetres
Anemometer Measures the wind speed in kilometres per hour
Weathervane Measures the wind direction in degrees
Soil temperature probe Measures the soil temperature in degrees Celsius
Temperature sensor Measures the air temperature in degrees Celsius
Humidity sensor Measures the relative humidity of the air as a percentage
Pressure sensor Measures the atmospheric pressure in Pascals
Air quality sensor Measures the air quality as a relative percentage

We just needed to set up the software. According to the foundation, “the easiest way to get your Raspberry Pi Oracle weather station up and running is to use the pre-built disk image,” so naturally we went for this option. This progressed well until we ran into authorisation issues that prevented us from accessing the database.  After contacting the programmes coordinator who eventually rectified the permissions issue we were able to access the database, only to discover that the sensors were not being picked up and there were no measurements. So our database had no data!

We decided that the best way forward would be to go back and set up the weather station software manually.  There were several steps in this process, but the benefit of setting up manually is that you can learn about the workings of the sensors and the station as you do it. We were introduced to the command line interface, the text editor nano and the MySQL database. For me, it was also a great introduction to Linux. To be honest, this didn’t go too smoothly either and at one stage one of our parents, who has a background in computer science and works with Linux servers, procured the station at home for two weeks to do some troubleshooting but we still got no further.

It was only when our ICT coordinator discovered an outline of a more recent software installation procedure, went back to the drawing board again and meticulously followed the steps and prompts that we finally had our eureka moment. Our station was successfully logging data locally!

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We were then able to upload the data to the Oracle Apex database to share it with others. Oracle has set up this central database to allow all schools in the Weather Station project to upload their data. It is safe there and you can download it in various formats, share it, and even create graphs and reports.

win_20161201_13_47_15_proThe next step was to fix the weather station to the school building in the optimum position. Last Thursday afternoon was spent blissfully making this happen. The station is up (on the roof of the extension) and running (weather station is reading its sensors and storing the data at regular intervals). win_20161201_14_04_36_proWe still have some minor issues to tease out – the soil temperature and air quality measurements have not been reading since we mounted the board on the wall and there has been no rain in nearly a week to test the rain gauge!

All that is left to do now is decide on the scheme of work that the children will follow to maximise the potential of this fantastic school resource.

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