Plugged In: Backyard Forecasting
Somebody famous (and take your pick whether it was Charles Dudley Warner or Mark Twain) once said something akin to, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."

In the realm of predicting local atmospheric behaviors, itís never been easier to play your own weather-person. Even if you donít know an anemometer from a hygrometer, youíll quickly learn the components of a storm with one of these handy units.

DAVIS VANTAGE PRO
The Vantage Pro was used by the Finnish cross-country team during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City to fine-tune their wax selections for the varying weather conditions. They won a gold medal.

The brains of the outfit is the Vantage Pro wireless multi-function console, with LCD screen. It provides onscreen forecasting, extensive graphing abilities and a ticker-tape display for forecasts. The unit measures barometric pressure, temperature (outside and inside), humidity, rainfall (daily and year-to-date), wind direction and wind speed, and a host of other functions.

The data is gathered with outdoor sensors packaged in Davisí integrated wireless sensor suite, which includes a solar panel to power the unit. An optional heavy-duty tripod (which we highly recommend) provides a place to affix the apparati, or you can mount it on the roof, the side of the barn, wherever.

It takes a few minutes to program in important data, like your longitude and latitude, and youíll need a fairly accurate handle on which way north is, but we were up and running in less than an hour.

Optional units for the suite allow you to measure solar and UV radiation. You can also opt for the pocket-sized Weather Echo, a small display unit that can run in conjunction with the Vantage, for portability or use in another room.

Weíve stopped paying attention to the local TV weather altogether.

www.davisnet.com; $595; Weather Echo, $135; mounting tripod, $50

Oregon Scientific WMR-968
Oregon Scientificís wireless weather station displays and records more than 20 separate weather conditions, selected by a touch-sensitive LCD screen. It also includes a rain gauge, thermo-hygrometer sensor, anemometer and baro-hygro-meter sensor.

The backlit display of the control unit also features a digital clock with alarm and calendar. Weather conditions are graphically displayed, including a compass rose for wind direction, and feature icons indicate the selected monitoring mode.

We found the installation of the various sensors to be more detailed than the Davis unit, especially without the tripod.

An optional PC Link software/cable package enables monitoring and graphing all weather conditions on your PC. All solar cells, batteries and an AC adapter are included.

www.oregonscientific.com; $499.95


Technophile Don Campbell lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest.
Photo by Renata Kosina