The Davis Instruments Weather Box Fills My Need for Data

While I wouldn’t call myself a “weather geek” per se, meteorology and weather have interested me since at least high school. I love looking at weather maps, learning about low and high pressures, knowing what the marks on wind direction maps mean, and parsing the extensive data tables that come out of weather records.

Seeing how weather changes over a year for a particular spot really helps me get a feel of a place. Is it a wet winter or a rainy summer? Does it get above freezing during the winter? Is there a monsoon season? How likely are there to be mosquitoes (see: rainfall, among other things)? I’ve especially enjoyed how much more accurate weather forecasting has gotten over my (42 year) lifetime.

Before I got to try out the Davis Instruments Weather Box recently, the closest I ever got to a weather station was an outdoor temperature probe that was connected to an indoor wall clock. I loved weather data but had never had my own data to play with. So when the Weather Box arrived in the mail, I was excited to set it up. My 14-year-old daughter, equally excited, made me wait until she was available before getting started. She’s the type of weather geek who keeps a cloud journal.

All the parts. Photo: Jenny Bristol
All the parts. Photo: Jenny Bristol

The weather station is packed extremely well. There was no chance any part of it would have gotten damaged in shipping. Assembling the device is very straight forward and only required a few tools.Mounting it can be a little trickier, but it depends on where you want to put it. It’s best to put it out in the open, but still close to your house (and router). A backyard fence would be ideal. I didn’t have a backyard fence, so ours is attached to our balcony railing (and a bit of foam and zip ties ended up complementing our mounting pole). We kind of live on the side of a big hill/small mountain, though, so I then did my best to aim the solar panel toward the part of the sky that would get the most sun.

And then we named the weather station Zephyr. Because why not.

Getting it to talk to the router did take a little finagling, and navigating through the options (that included modems of such a speed from the mid 1980s, though it does need at least Windows XP) did make me a bit lost. But with some experimentation and some minor help from the Davis folks, I was online. Readings started coming in immediately, and I was soon able to find our station on the weather app. Other than connecting the receiver to our router, the whole thing is wireless, so there are no wires or cables to connect the station to the network. Huzzah!

The app on my iPhone. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
The app on my iPhone. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol

Once it’s up and running, you can interact with your weather station in a number of ways. The WeatherLink app on your phone gives current conditions, along with summary data from that day, that month, and that year. You can also check information for other weather stations in the system that you follow.

The WeatherLink website also shows detailed data from your station, including current conditions and a summary of conditions, but you can also see all the weather stations on a map along with current temperature via a colorful legend. Using that, it’s easy to see just how different the temperatures are around my state of Arizona. The Phoenix area is quite a bit warmer than northern Arizona where I live, as the image shows (those were the temperatures just before noon, local time – the whole state has been experiencing cooler than normal temps).

It's much warmer down in Phoenix than it is up here. Phew. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
It’s much warmer down in Phoenix than it is up here. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
The website shows current weather conditions. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
The website shows current weather conditions. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
The website also shows temperatures around the world and how many stations there are in each area. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
The website also shows temperatures around the world and how many stations there are in each area. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol

The WeatherLink program, that you install on your computer, is where you’ll be able to work with the most data. While the graphics on the included program remind me of the original Microsoft Flight Simulator graphics, in this case no-frills isn’t a problem. You’re just looking for data and graphs, and the program does a great job with that, color coding your chosen options. It includes data and graphs for temperature, humidity, barometer, wind speed, wind direction, rain fall, wind chill, heat index, dew point, and more. The program has many options for looking at your data. Here are some more recent screenshots from my station’s data.

You can see how at the end of this time period our weather took a turn for the worse. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
You can see how at the end of this time period our weather took a turn for the worse. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
Data, data, and more data. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
Data, data, and more data. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
Our weather eventually improved. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
Our weather eventually improved. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
Moar data. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol
Moar data. Screenshot: Jenny Bristol

There are also some pretty fun and useful ways to make the most of having your own weather station:

  • You can check the weather while still in bed. Not just weather for your zip code, but the actual weather at your house.
  • You can check the weather at home while you’re away. See what you’re coming home to, and whether you have to drag your coat or umbrella out of your luggage first.
  • Compare your home’s weather to the weather nearby. If you live anywhere like I do, there are many hills, valleys, shady areas, and sunny plains. Think: microclimates.
  • Track your home’s weather over time and compare to the weather report for your area. Is your neighborhood generally warmer or cooler, wetter or drier?

The Davis Instruments Weather Box retails for $595. It’s a quality piece of instrumentation that will serve you for a long time in the future. If you want to be sure it will handle the type of weather information you need, check out their specifications ahead of time.

GeekDad Ken also tried out the Davis Instruments Weather Box. Read his post on GeekDad to see what he thought. (Spoiler: He loved it, too.)

Note: A weather station was provided for review purposes.

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Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.