Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Seventeen years later, my weather station is retired

The decommissioned weather station, with cloudy solar panel, spiderwebbed shield, and mossy anemometer.

It’s rare that a piece of technology lasts so long and serves you so well that it’s a big occasion when you finally decommission it. But that’s what happened earlier this month when, in a quiet ceremony, my weather station was retired.

Your correspondent installing the Vantage Pro in August 2004.

It certainly had earned its retirement. I installed it and several other weather stations in August of 2004 for a story in Macworld. I liked the Davis Vantage Pro so much that I sent Davis a check and kept it running.

Seventeen years is a long time when it comes to computer-related technology. When I first hooked up the weather station, it communicated wirelessly to a receiver that could be attached to a Mac via a serial cable and a USB-to-serial converter box. A Java app on the Mac logged the data and generated a web page.

As you might expect, things evolved over time. Davis’s Java app was awful and ultimately deprecated, but I replaced it with WeatherCat from Trixology, which I still use today. Davis eventually created an add-on product for the Vantage console that let me drop the USB connection and replace it with an Ethernet-connected logger that uploaded data to both WeatherCat and Davis’s own cloud-based logging service.

Even a device designed to live outside can take some body blows over 17 years. I had to replace the rain gauge a few years ago and disassemble the entire thing several times to clean out detritus and spider webs. At several points I thought it was on its last legs, and finally this winter, some of its sensors just started going dead for long stretches of time.

Your correspondent, with much lighter hair and a new weather station.

I decided it was time. And so the weather station, adorned with some moss that had grown on it over the years, came off the pole mounted on the back of my house.

Though I considered buying a Netatmo station, which seems to be the best “starter” home weather station on the market, I decided that I had to reward Davis for the fact that it made a weather station that was installed when my son was a newborn and removed as he was about to enter his final semester in high school. I bought a Davis Vantage Vue, mounted it on the very same pole the old station had been on, connected it to WeatherCat, and the data just kept on rolling in.

(I bought the Vantage Vue, which is several hundred dollars cheaper than the direct successor to my old weather station, mostly because of the price. It’s a simpler design, and while it lacks a few of the sensors of the Vantage Pro, it’s a much better value. My old weather station arrived a few years before the Vantage Vue was introduced. If you’re considering a Vantage Vue, I’d recommend the WeatherLink Live Bundle, which includes the weather station as well as a receiver that directly connects to the Internet.)

No, having a weather station isn’t for everyone, but I love it. The current temperature appears on a Lametric Time in my living room, in my Mac menu bar, in a shortcut on my Apple Watch, in a widget on my iOS devices, and complete historical data and charts—recently augmented by a bunch of python scripts I wrote to parse WeatherCat’s data file directly—live on my home web server. I love it.

So thank you for your service, old moss-encrusted, spiderwebbed Vantage Pro. And welcome to the new Vantage Vue. Long may you measure.


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