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e-Briefing | GADGETS & GIZMOS

Tracking the Weather in Your Own Backyard

January 10, 2002|P.J. Huffstutter

Who says the weather never changes in Los Angeles? With the Davis Vantage Pro Weather Station, you can track even the most minute climate shifts.

Understand, of course, that this is not a toy. It is an expensive tool--the cheap ones cost $500 (www.davisnet.com). The station is for folks who think home barometers and weather vanes are for kids.

It comes in two parts. First, there's the monitor that you can keep indoors. Icons show the forecast at a glance--sunny, partly sunny, cloudy, rain or snow--while a moving ticker-tape display gives more details.

But there's more. You can create weather graphs (to chart those good days!), maintain rain logs (to remember the rare atmospheric bummers in California), set a weather alarm (to let you know that, yes, the weather is nice outside and you should stop working) and track sunrises and sunsets.

For improved accuracy, the temperature and humidity sensors are housed inside a radiation shield. The company says the shield protects against solar radiation and other sources of reflected heat.

There's even a choice of shields--a "standard" radiation shield, or the more expensive fan-cooled model that the Hayward, Calif.-based company swears is more efficient.

Then there's the outdoor sensor suite, which includes an anemometer, temperature and humidity sensors and a rain collector.

You can opt for the wired weather system, which connects the two devices through a standard cable, or the wireless unit, which runs on solar power.

The wireless model can function with as little as one hour of sunlight a day. It also allows a broader range of add-ons, including wireless sensors that track soil moisture, ground temperature and even leaf wetness.

The wireless unit with the standard shield runs about $600; with the advanced shield, it costs about $800. The cabled device with the standard shield retails for $500; with the fan-cooled shield, it's $650.

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P.J. Huffstutter

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