Mill Bay worker 1

Mill Bay BC Canada

Latitude: 48° 38' 21" N
Longitude: 123° 32' 2555" W
Elevation: 35m

Mill Bay worker 2

About the Mill Bay, British Columbia
Weather Station Project


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Mill Bay, BC Vantage Pro Console I became interested in weather and weather monitoring while working as a research associate in the physical sciences at the University of Alberta in the late 1970's and early 1980's (more about me here). Since leaving the university in 1986 I have played with a wide range of inexpensive weather instruments, but I have always been disappointed in their lack of capabilities and poor accuracy. In December 2003 I finally bit the bullet and purchased a Davis Wireless Vantage Pro weather station as a Christmas present to myself.

The Davis Wireless Vantage Pro Weather station appears to be a well manufactured, capable, and very accurate piece of instrumentation (specs).

Mill Bay, BC Vantage Pro sensor array The Weather Station is located here in the Cowichan Valley approximately 40 km north of Victoria British Columbia, approximately 1 km from Mill Bay BC, 7 km from Arbutus Ridge BC, 18 km from Shawnigan Lake BC, and 15 km from Cobble Hill BC, 16 km from Valleyview Centre and 30 km south of Duncan BC. The station is mounted in a small clearing with an east facing slope. The console is located approximately 30 feet from the ISS.

I am most interested in the agronomic effects of weather on vegetation, so I installed the weather station's ISS on a 9' x 4" x 4" post sunk into the ground so that the anemometer height is 6 feet above the ground surface.

I have been very happy with the station itself but I had to manually record the daily information and then type it into my computer for plotting and analysis. After doing this daily for nearly 3 months I broke down and purchased the Davis WeatherLink serial interface option near the end of March 2004. The idea being that I would then be able to automatically collect, analyze and publish the weather data onto the internet using my in-house web/home automation server - a Macintosh G3/300 MiniTower.

I was extremely disappointed with the Davis WeatherLink software for OS X, and in particular the lack of options for the Internet delivery of the data so, about two weeks later, I started programming my own software. I began by writing a Macintosh serial driver to communicate with the weather station. My software initially created a very simple web page that only provided current conditions for temperature, humidity, pressure, wind and rainfall.

Over the subsequent 3 weeks the software has evolved into the present system providing current and detailed weather reports, forecasts, java and XML banners, and the little XML weather "stamp" file that can be inserted into any remote web page. Mill Bay weather is checked, and the weather files are updated, every 5 minutes 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

If you would like to include my FREE "weather stamp" on your web page just contact me and I will provide you with all the details on what is required.

My code is platform independent, requires the addition of only one line of code to your web page, and has very little overhead when your pages are loading.

In mid-August, 2004 I added a web cam to the Mill Bay, BC Weather Station Project. Besides resolving hardware issues, I wrote routines to capture and archive the cam images that are taken every 5 mintes, and to generate a time-lapse movie of all of the individual frames for the previous day. Details on the Mill Bay BC Weather Cam hardware, software, and programming can be found here on their own web page. The current cam image (with links to earlier images, and to the time-lapse movies for the previous seven days) are located here.

In early September, 2004 I added real-time charting for some of the main weather variables from the weather station (temperature, wind, rain, relative humidity and barometric pressure). Instead of writing my own plotting program I corresponded with Robert Ladle and then began using his great free-ware charting application PawsPlot. I wrote routines to read the weather data and to create and update the plot files needed by PawsPlot to generate real-time charts. Weather data is updated every 5 minutes (each time the Vantage Pro weather station is read) and from this data the current charts for Mill Bay BC are updated every 15 minutes.

To supplement the real-time plotting of each day's data, I wrote routines to archive, search and retrieve historical charts. Today's charts, and options for finding and displaying historical charts of Mill Bay's weather can be viewed here on the Mill Bay BC Weather Station Charts page.

As this software evolves further, and depending on my free time, my plan is to add the following capabilities:

  • A database component to store all of the collected data at 5 minute intervals. Currently data is simply appended to a text file which I can then open with database (such as Filemaker Pro or MySQL), plotting or statistical programs,

  • Real-time "strip charts" for displaying individual and grouped data on my web pages,

  • A number of additional weather indices such as growing degree days , calculated (Q0) solar energy, potential evapotranspiration (Penman and several others),
  • Support for wireless remote soil moisture and soil temperature stations (once I purchase them).
Feedback, comments and suggestions are welcome. Contact Black Pearl Computing Ltd

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©2004 Black Pearl Computing Ltd.     Questions? Contact Black Pearl Computing Ltd
Created: 4/26/2004 Last updated: 05/20/2006 by Colin Woytowich