|Firstly for those who don’t know what a barograph does or looks like here’s a brief description:
A barograph records a graph of pressure over a period of time. It is made up of an aneroid barometer which uses a pen for a measuring needle and records the pressure on a scale which is wrapped around a cylinder that is rotated by clockwork.The Meteor 2000 is an advanced electronic version of the traditional barograph packaged in a neat black box that doesn’t look out of place next to an existing weather station. I’ve been using this model alongside my Oregon WMR928 and it’s a fantastic addition giving excellent measurement precision along with an accurate graphical and statistical output on the printer.
I was astounded at the size of the box delivered by the courier. It was fantastically well packaged with masses of polystyrene packing to be found and the barograph itself was nestled in another box inside it. All the components were individually bubble-wrapped too.
Once opened, you will find that it’s a surprisingly compact instrument. In the box you’ll find the barograph, a mains adapter, which guessing by its weight must account for ½ of the total package weight and accompanying them was a roll of paper and a single sheet of folded A4 manual. The manual doesn’t sound much but the Meteor 2000 is so easy to use a large manual just isn’t needed.
The Meteor 2000 was staggeringly simple to set up. The fiddly part was feeding the paper into the printer. That took me a good few minutes and I’d used up around 40cm of the roll after numerous attempts! Take a tip from me, do as the instruction book says; cut a diagonal from the free end of the roll. Just make sure it’s a very long pointy one! It’ll feed through much easier. Once fed into the printer the paper roll sits on a metal mounting bar which attaches to the barograph adjacent to the printer.
There are no computer connections to be found on this instrument. Some people might be put off by the fact that the Meteor 2000 outputs all its data onto a roll of paper. Don’t be. It’s easy to read and is to the point. The roll width is 57mm and the barograph won’t accept any other widths but there is plenty of room on the stand to accommodate longer rolls than the one supplied. It doesn’t specify how long the supplied roll is but at the rate it’s being used I think it should last quite a while. I’ve measured a few days output and it seems to use around 13cm a day. The replacement rolls I found with very little searching on the web were £14 for a box of 20. These were 26 metres long and ought to last around 200 days each! The Meteor 2000 uses a thermal printer so there is no ink to buy, ever. It quite simply ‘burns’ the text and graph onto the paper. Don’t panic, it generates miniscule amounts of heat so is unlikely to set your house on fire! Do take note that it won’t take a standard paper till roll. Thermal paper rolls are specially coated.
When you’ve fed the paper in and the stand is seated you get to turn on the power. The supplied mains adapter is rated at 13.5v and 700mA output. The manual states that the instrument should not be powered with anything other than this adapter or a 12v supply free from surges. If you have the need, you can run it off a car/boat battery. You will have to find your own power connector for that option though as there isn’t one supplied.
Once the power is on the LCD display comes to life. It’s a simple dot matrix black text on a green background display but there is no backlight so you won’t be able to see it in the dark. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the date and time were already set when I plugged it in. There is a watch type battery inside the barograph which provides a backup to remember the settings in the event of a power failure; you can just about see it through the hole where the printer is.
The first display the LCD presented me with was the set-up menu. This simply consists of three options, one for setting the time and date, one for adjusting the pressure and a final one to set the instrument running. This is achieved by way of following the on-screen prompts and pressing the four small buttons situated below the LCD. These buttons have no function once the setting up is complete. If you need to adjust any settings once you’ve selected the ‘Start’ option you’ll need to momentarily disconnect the power.
The Meteor 2000 can be adjusted to read the correct barometric pressure at any altitude up to 1200 metres above sea level. I had to adjust the setting by 7mb to suit my location. You should obtain the correct pressure setting for your location from a reliable source if you are to get the best results from the barograph. Once you’ve set the correct reading for your location you should leave it running for around 10 to 15 minutes before you select the ‘End’ option in the menu. This gives you chance to alter the settings again as the machine settles down. I had to adjust it by another couple of millibars after 10 minutes of waiting.
That’s all there was to it. I spent little more than 20 minutes setting it up including waiting the above 10 minutes; five others were taken up by my vain attempts to feed the paper in! The barograph does have a feature called Meteormetrics SmartComp which ensures that the atmospheric pressure measurements are compensated against variations in temperature but you should still situate the instrument away from direct heat.
All I had to do then was wait for my first print, so I waited and waited, then waited a bit more…. After 6 hours of motor movements I still couldn’t see anything on the paper. “Oh no, it doesn’t work!” I thought. I picked up the barograph and tore off the paper and pulled it through the printer to see what I’d got….Nothing. Blank. Not a dot. After a moment or two of head scratching it hit me like a bag of spanners. I’d put the roll in back to front! Thermal paper is only coated on one side! So I made another very pointy diagonal cut and went about feeding the roll back into the printer. This time it took me no more than 30 seconds. I guess practise really does make perfect. Then I went back to waiting again.
Once it’s running the Meteor 2000 displays the date and time on the top line of the LCD along with the current pressure in Millibars on the bottom line. There is no option to change the barograph to display in Inches of Mercury.
Right on cue at 11pm during my second attempt the motor flinched once more as it rolled the paper through the printer. This time round it began to give me a barographic trace. Yippee! The Meteor 2000 prints only one line each hour and I had to wait a few hours before I saw anything worth looking at emerge from the printer. It also makes very little sound. Only a brief split second of barely noticeable noise was generated by the motor as it fed the paper through. As the hours went by I began to see my first graph emerging. As it is generated the graph displays four thin hatched lines that represent 975mb, 1000mb, 1025mb and 1050mb. The actual pressure reading is printed as a heavier dot within these lines. You also get the hourly pressure reading printed numerically to the left of the graph. The printer also lays down a solid line across the graph at Midnight, 4am, 8am, Noon, 4pm and 8pm.
At midnight on the second day it printed an analysis of the past 24 hours. It does this each day producing a breakdown of the pressure variations over the previous 24 hours showing the maximum and minimum pressure readings for the day along with an average pressure reading. Below these are two more readings showing the variance in pressure throughout the day and finally the end slope, which is showing the best straight line drawn through the last four pressure readings. It will give you an idea of what rate the pressure is rising or falling.
That’s how I found the Meteor 2000 operates and my description of what it produces data wise.
This is how the manufacturer describes their product on the front of the manual.
“Everything you need for accurate, continuous monitoring and analysis of the atmospheric pressure!”
“The Meteor2000 Advanced Electronic Barograph is a sophisticated recorder of atmospheric pressure. It combines the precision of computing electronics with the power of inbuilt daily statistical analysis for serious forecasting. The Meteor 2000 is a true scientific instrument with the style to make it an attractive accessory to your desk or a great addition to your boat”.
The main features of the barograph are:
Integrated clock with date and automatic leap year adjustment.
Continuous display of atmospheric pressure fully compensated with Meteormetrics Ltd SmartComp against variations in temperature.
A precision and accuracy of +/- 1 millibar.
Operating temperature ranging from 0 to 30 Celsius.
Adjustable to compensate for altitude up to 1200 metres above sea level.
Hourly printout of barographic chart with pressure recorded digitally and graphically.
Uses standard thermal paper rolls.
Daily statistical analysis of pressure over the last 24 hours for meteorological observation and forecasting.
Runs on 12v DC mains adapter supplied or from a car or boat.
So how does it measure up?
After running the barograph for a week now I have to say that wholly I agree on all points with only a slight wavering about its attractiveness. I suppose it’s down to what you perceive as attractive and you might call me picky but it doesn’t have the same visual appeal of the traditional wooden frame barograph. It is very simple looking but it does do its job and it does it very well. It’s more versatile than a traditional barograph and it doesn’t take up anywhere near as much space. I reckon it produces better data too. It measures a mere 17 by 9 cm and stands just 3 cm high. It is basic to look at but is well made from slightly textured black ABS plastic and is quite solid. It looks great sitting next to my Oregon WMR928. It’s very light and portable and as previously mentioned, on top of running from the mains adaptor it can be powered by a 12v car or boat battery if you have the need. I can certainly see its uses for the marine community too. Keeping an accurate track of changing pressure patterns out at sea could be a life saver for some and if that’s what you need to do then this is a product you should consider. It’s a top piece of precision electronic kit if you’re into forecasting at both basic and advanced levels. The data provided by the printouts can be used as a good base along with other data for forming your own forecasts. If you’re simply a weather buff and a gadget fanatic it’s certainly something worthy of adding to your weather equipment if you’ve got a few quid to spare and don’t know what to spend it on!