Redfield Weather Code now on GitHub

My code for Redfield Weather is now available on GitHub
https://github.com/erenken/redfieldweather

I had to move my secure connection strings out of the web.config and app.config files before I could post this online.  I decided to try Azure Key Vault as I am already hosting my site on Azure.  I have to say this was really easy to use and worked perfectly.  Azure doesn’t appear to have a UI for it yet in the portal, but the PowerShell commands were easy enough.  Using the Application Settings for the website in the Azure portal is a nice secure way for me to store my client ID, secret, and URI.

I am going to try to bring Key Vault to some work projects.

My project is also using some PHP code that I got from www.bordersweather.co.uk.  This is for a new lightening detection project I am a part of.  It use Time of Arrival (TOA) to calculate a lightening strike.  It is pretty cool stuff.  You can learn more about it at microsferics.com.  This code is not included in my project because I don’t own it.  I am trying to see if the developer is willing to post his code on GitHub and then I can link to it.  I have also added a Azure WebJob to my project so it will create the time-lapse GIF used by the PHP code.  You can see the time-lapse lightening map at http://www.redfieldweather.com/#/Maps and go down to the Lightning Timelapse microDLN section.

One of my goals is to replace the PHP code with a pure AngularJS and WebAPI site and do as much of it as I can in the AngularJS.  I am waiting for ASP.NET Core to be released before I start this project.  I will do it as a another re-write of the site.  I will also look at AngularJS 2.0 and Material design at the time.

Redfield Weather Updated

I have been working really hard on my updated weather website for the last month.  It is totally new from the ground up.  I will be adding more features so please check it out.

You can view the site at www.redfieldweather.com

I have replaced the old Weather Flash ASP page that took data from Virtual Weather Station and replaced it with an API.NET WebAPI backend.  Instead of writing to a file it is now storing the data in Azure Table Storage.  This will allow me to plot and show history from my own data.  I won’t need to count on Weather Underground for that anymore.

The site is built on top of AngularJS 1.5 using a component model.  It is also using Bootstrap to give it a responsive layout and I think it looks pretty good on a phone.

I am now working on a way to display the historical data that I have collected since I have moved to this new model.  I am first working on some graphs using the D3JS framework.  I will also be bringing back the weather maps and lightning maps that my weather station creates.

If you have any feedback or suggestions, please let me know in the comments section.  This is a web technologies testbed project for me using my hobby of weather as the subject.  I do plan on open sourcing the code for this project at a later date.

Lots Happening

I just wanted to write an update on some of the projects I have listed on my site. 

  • Redfield Weather
    • I am in the process of re-writing the site.  I am going to try an AngularJS application for this.  The site is currently down because my web provider has been so unreliable lately.  I am moving it to Azure.  I have already transisioned this site to Azure and everything looks good so far.  Since I am using my own domains Azure will cost me more than my old provider but at least it will be reliable.  I will post updates on the development of the site as I have them.  I hope to have something at least up by the end of this weekend.
  • HAM Application
    • I was initialiiy working on this application as a Windows Phone 7 application.  Well it has been very slow going.  I am now working on making this a Universal Windows Playform (UWP) application.  That way it will run on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile.
  • Permits365
    • This is an application I am slowly working on to help document and track permits for people like electirical, building and plumbing inspectors.  I haven’t given up on it yet.  Just haven’t had time to work on it.

There is alot of comments about not having time.  That is something I hope to fix this year.  I have so much I want to do and so much I want to still learn.  I need to find time, but when I do find time I sort of feel bad for not working on projects for work.  I do need to keep the lights and the internet on.  Well here is hoping for a good year of geting stuff done.

Redfield Weather Code Now on Codeplex

I have published the code for my weather website on Codeplex.  This is my first project on Codeplex.  I hope to get a lot of great feedback and maybe even some people will want to use the code for the base for their own weather website.  The code includes all the ASPX and the supporting DLLs that I have also previously made available for download from my site.

The code should work with any zip code for forecasts and any personal weather stations that are sending data to Weather Underground.  It defaults to my zip code 49120 and personal weather station ID KMINILES3.  The constructors for the objects should take a zip code or station ID.  I don’t have any documentation on using the code, but now that all the code is available I hope developers will find most of it self documenting.  I try to be really good about using descriptive class and variable names.

Well if you are interested in the downloading the code you can get it from here http://redfieldweather.codeplex.com

Weather Spotter

SkywarnLogoTxtOutln2I took a basic weather spotter class in Edwardsburg, MI on March 31st.  I want to take the advanced training next year.

If you are interested in spotter training you should contact your local Warning Coordination Meteorologist.  For my area you can get more information about Skywarn at the Northern Indiana NWS Skywarn Information website.

You might be thinking why should I do this? We have modern equipment and RADAR. Why do they still need weather spotters? Well after going to this class you will know why. Radar really has a lot of limitations. It takes about 5 minutes to get an image and at about 50 miles out from the radar it can’t see anything under 3500 feet. Think about that for a few minutes. If you have low level rotation in the storm it is possible that the radar can’t see it and a lot can happen in 5 minutes. Early warning is what saves lives and as a spotter you could help. It only takes about 3 hours out of your life.

I have also updated my weather site Redfield Weather with a bunch of interesting links I got at the spotter training class.  You can get to those links here, http://www.redfieldweather.com/NOAA/Default.aspx.  I also made several other updates.  I have updated the regional radar map to a larger animated image and I also added an animated lightning strike map that is populated from my lightning detector.

Microsoft Transparency

So I tweeted this late last night (3/2/2011)
image

I have gotten many response asking me WTF I am talking about.  There was no way I could respond in 140 characters so I thought I would create a blog post.  Partly because it was time to post something else to my blog and also because I truly believe Microsoft has been doing a good job lately at being transparent and I wanted to state my case.

Let me start out by saying I am a Microsoft fan boy.  I have been for many many years.

Has Microsoft ever disappointed me? Yes.

I have been disappointed with how long it is taking to get the first update for Windows Phone.  I really was hoping Microsoft would be doing updates very quickly to show they are really going to kick ass.  I think the Windows Phone 7 OS is the best OS out there.  iOS is showing its age and Android just reminds me of Windows Mobile 6.5 with a pretty shell on top of it.  Android seems to have the upgrade and fragmentation issues that Windows Mobile had in the 6.5 and earlier days.  With Windows Phone Microsoft has finally said wait a minute enough is enough.  This is what you have to support for hardware and we are going to make sure no matter who makes the device that we have a consistent API and hardware.  This is great for software developers as you don’t have to worry what Bluetooth stack is installed on the device like you would have had to with Windows Mobile.

I don’t know of many other companies that have podcasts run by their employees that talk about their major hardware and software platforms. You may think podcast by Microsoft employees are going to be a hour 30 minute or longer commercial on why their products are the best. That isn’t how there podcasts go. They tell you what is going on the good and the bad.

The first podcast I want to talk about is Windows Phone Radio which is hosted by Brian Seitz (@brianseitz) and Matt Akers (@skipdeez) .  In this podcast they try to be very transparent and talk about issues customers have found.  This is very relevant to current events and issues Microsoft is having trying to release their first update for Windows Phone.  They have hit some snags with some Samsung devices. Having a Samsung device this is annoying because they stopped the update for Samsung devices and I want the update.  I know all this because I have read about it on Windows Phone Blog, they have many questions and answers about this issue in this blog post.

Matt Akers has another podcast he does with Jessica Zahn (@jetherealz) for Zune called the Zune Insider. Here they also do a very good job of being up front with Zune customers. If there were problems with the service even if it was something you might not have noticed they talk about it. They even ask for user feedback and input. They want to know what we like or don’t like about the products.  If you have questions about Zune you should make sure to send an email to askzune@microsoft.com.

The last podcast I want to talk about is Major Nelson Radio which is for their Xbox platform.  This podcast you have four great hosts Larry Hyrb (@majornelson), e (@thevowel), Stephen Toulouse (@stepto), and Laura Massey (@lauralollipop).  They discuss everything gaming and not just for the Xbox platform.  Don’t get them started on Civ V.

Microsoft also has Twitter accounts for support and if you have any questions you about Xbox, Zune, or Windows Phone I would recommend sending a tweet to @XboxSupport, @ZuneSupport or @WinPhoneSupport for the product you need help with.  This is out there for everyone to see.  With all this on Twitter you can see any problems other customers have contacted them about and see what if any resolution was found.  I have used both @XboxSupport and @WinPhoneSupport and have always had great service.

With all these lines of communication directly to customers from employees not PR, but real honest employees like project mangers and in some cases developers/testers.  With all this I am not sure why people don’t think Microsoft is trying to be transparent or communicate.  Yes, there are still some things they aren’t transparent about, but I really think they are trying harder than any other company.  Do you think Apple would release details about iOS 5 or show iPhone 5 9 months before it is released?

Now a few things I think Microsoft could do better with the Windows Phone 7 developer program.  I would love early developer access to OS updates like Apple does with iOS after have announced the new features of the OS.  I would also like to see multiple developer login under 1 master developer account.  Apple does this with their developer account and makes it easy for distributed developers to get work done.  This would be great for the company I work for.  I don’t want to have to give someone in our other office my Live ID and password just so they can developer unlock a Windows Phone to test the software.  I remember hearing about being able to do beta releases of your Windows Phone software you were going to be able to post it to the marketplace as like a hidden beta.  Where me as the developer would need the beta users Live ID and then I could send them a deep link into the marketplace and then they could install the software.  I don’t know this was ever implemented but I am really hoping it does as this would be a much better solution than what you have to do on an iPhone to run pre-release software.

Microsoft has recently announced just some very cool stuff coming this year for Windows Phone 7, and they also have announced a Kinect PC SDK,. I am very exited to see what else will be coming from Microsoft this year and what will Windows 8 bring. Can’t wait for that beta.

I know most people still won’t agree with me, but you can’t please everyone.  Just ask Microsoft.

Windows Phone 7 HAM Application

So I really want to do a Windows Phone 7 HAM application and I am looking for comments on what people would like in that application.  Give me some suggestions.  I am working on a small Morse Code training application currently, but I am thinking something more. 

Do you want?

  • A mobile log that will send data back to home and sync with your log at home? 
  • A repeater lookup so using your GPS location it will tell you what repeaters are in your area? 

So please speak up and comment away.  Let me know what you would like in an application. 

Updated Weather Site

So I finally got around to updating my weather site, www.redfieldweather.com.  It has been something I have been wanting to do for a while.  I couldn’t update it for the longest time because my hosting provider didn’t want to install ASP.NET 4.0 until they made sure it was stable.  They just got my site switched over to ASP.NET 4.0 this month.

My new site has a what I think is a cool Silverlight control that shows the current weather conditions.  It is updated every 5 seconds so it should only be a few seconds behind what my weather station is showing at home.  Now my next big challenge is to rebuild my weather computer.  I get random crashes in the Virtual Weather Station software I use and that computer has been running pretty much non stop since I installed my weather station back in 2005.

I have completely changed the layout of the site as well so any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Current Weather Conditions Page

Shows the current weather conditions using the new Silverlight control and if there are any current weather alerts they will be right under the current conditions.  Today’s current forecast is displayed right under that and then some basic almanac data is displayed.

Forecast

Shows the 6 day weather forecast

Weather Maps

Displays weather maps of the area and region including lightning strike data

I am sharing the objects I have created with anyone who wants to use them.  You can download them from here:  RedfieldWeather.zip  These objects use the API-XML Feeds from Weather Underground.  These objects are not yet complete.  As I add more functionality and complete missing functionality I will update the file and my blog.  By downloading and using these objects you agree to not hold Demiurge Software LLC liable.  You use these objects freely and may redistribute them freely.  I may also include the source code in later versions.

I currently don’t have any sample code on how to use them, but I will be working on that for a future post.  Right now I just wanted to get the word out that the site has finally been updated.

UPDATED (3/14/2011):  I have fixed the link to the RedfieldWeather.zip file.

Updating Redfield Weather

Well it has been a long time since I have posted anything to my blog.  Things have been very busy, and I am very excited about the updates to www.redfieldweather.com that are coming.  One of the big things I am waiting for is my hosting provider to start support ASP.NET 4.0.  I am using the new framework in my site and I am adding Silverlight (www.silverlight.net).  I am very excited about what I am doing with Silverlight.  I am working on some cool user controls.  I do plan on making the Silverlight controls I have created freely available.

Here is an example of what my current conditions screen is going to look like

.newweather

My plan is to integrate weather alerts/warning for the area as well as forecasts.  I am also thinking about using Bing maps (maps.bing.com) and displaying the lighting data.  I would love to find a good source to weather radar images I could overlay on Bing maps, but I don’t know of one.

I am also planning on releasing a Windows Phone 7 (www.windowsphone7.com) application near or at release.  It just depends on how mature the SDK for it is before release and how much time I have.  With these Silverlight controls I have created for my website it should be really easy for me to get a Windows Phone 7 application out as they can share a lot of the same code.

Well that is it for know, but I hope to be posting more as this project moves on.  I am very excited about Silverlight and Windows Phone 7.

Packet Radio

Yes I know with the Internet speeds you can get hooking your computer up to your cell phone why would you want to do 1200 bps or 9600 bps over radio?  Well I tell you why, because it just sounds cool and is something I haven’t done before.  This could also come in very handy in an emergency situation where all the cell towers could be down.  I can always rely on my HAM radio equipment.

I am using, "The Ultimate Linking Interface" to connect my computer to my radio.  The ULI, is a nice little device with all the inputs and outputs you could want.  I also just purchased a FT-7800R so I could dedicate a radio to this effort.  Like all my other equipment I purchased this from www.hamcity.com

.packetradio

After a little trial and error I was able to get it up and running using the RJ-45 connector on the ULI and the 6 PIN DIN on the FT-7800R.  Here is the wiring layout that I used to connect the ULI to the FT-7800R.

Wiring Layout
FT-7800R to ULI
FT-7800R   ULI
PIN Description   PIN Description
1 PKD (Data in)   6 MIC Input
2 GND   5 MIC GND
3 PTT   4 PTT
4 RX9600   3 AF Output
5 RX1200   3 AF Output
6 PKS (SQL)   8 SQL Switch

Depending on the speed of the packets you want to send you would connect PIN 4 or 5 from the FT-7800R to PIN 3 on the ULI.  The ULI uses a standard RJ-45 connection and the PIN layout starts from the left.

I am running this on the same computer as my WiRES-II system.  I installed a second sound card, and to not cause any conflicts I am running VMWare Workstation 6 and Windows XP Pro inside the VM.  VMWare allows me to chose which sound card the Virtual Machine will use and this doesn’t cause any MIC or Speaker conflicts on the sound cards and each can be configured independently.

packetradio2

I am currently using AGWPE as my packet engine and I am using WinPak as the packet radio program.  It rides on top of AGWPE.  I haven’t done much with this yet, but I am hoping to get more involved with some people here locally that are doing this type of stuff.

Last weekend I also finally mounted my antenna a Diamond CR8900A 29/50/144/440 antenna on the roof this weekend.  It has been sitting just outside my basement door.  I know this probably isn’t the best base antenna, but for now it is working.  I don’t know much about antennas so any suggestions would be great.

packetradio3

My antenna is up on the same tripod as my Davis Vantage Pro2 system.  It is the tallest point I have right now.