Until 2003, obtaining internet data for use in WXSIM was a bit of a task in itself, requiring the user to visit a few different sites and usually do some copying and pasting to construct a file for WXSIM to ingest. With bookmarking and practice, this process could be trimmed down to 2 or 3 minutes, but even this might discourage frequent use of the program for many people.
Another frequent request from users was the ability to import data directly from home weather stations. This would be a nice, time-saving feature as well, especially since some of the optional 'Refinements' in WXSIM refer to precipitation and temperature records over preceding periods as long as 30 days.
Regarding the internet data, I was unable to incorporate such a feature into the main program, as Visual Basic 2.0 (WXSIM has since been ported into Visual Basic 6.0) didn't facilitate automated internet access. I finally invested in a new development platform (Visual Basic .Net) which opened up this possibility.
The result is WXSIMATE, a separate - but companion - program to WXSIM, capable of retrieving both internet data and data from many home weather stations - via Davis WeatherLink (TM) 5.2 and later for Vantage Pro stations, and via Brian Hamilton's Weather Display, Ambient's Virtual Weather Station, Sandaysoft's Cumulus program for many brands of weather station (See Brian's Weather Display web page to learn more about that program).
With just a click of a button, WXSIMATE will go and get most of the types of internet data WXSIM can use (the only exceptions being READY model meteograms and MAPS/RUC-2 soundings, as their websites do not allow automated access) and combine them into a single, trimmed-down file containing only the data that's relevant to your site. Depending on what data types are requested, and the type of connection (dial-up versus something faster), download times can range from a few seconds to a few minutes, but with no user intervention - so you can go and get a snack!
A great feature, is the ability to automatically download 180-240 hours worth of GFS data, essentially replacing READY data for most users (the exception being if you need READY as a backup or want models other than GFS). This data (out to 180 hours) is provided free of charge by Chris McMahon, who culls it from large GRIB files, which he is downloading anyway for use with his MesoMap Live program. More recently, a friend (Sam Bohler) and I developed an alternative (*almost* a "mirror site, but a little different) version of this, but interpolated slightly differently and going out to 240 hours.
Similarly, if you have a Davis home weather station, such as Vantage Pro (TM), and are using their WeatherLink software - or have Weather Display or Virtual Weather Station and a station it supports - a mere button-click lets WXSIMATE search through the stored data files for the last 30 days to retrieve and compile a variety of past and present data types for quick import, if desired, into WXSIM Version 9.0 and later. It's also a handy way to summarize recent data from your home weather station, providing some information not directly displayed by the weather station program itself.
For users with solar radiation sensors, WXSIMATE uses a sophisticated algorithm to estimate current and recent cloud coverage and opacity (for daylight hours only, of course). Also, WXSIMATE records detailed data about the past 20 hours or so and writes this to a file which WXSIM can use to tailor the calibration run. In many cases this should slightly improve WXSIM's forecasts, as it helps the model initialize more accurately.
Note: It appears necessary at present to briefly close and then re-open the Weatherlink software for WXSIMATE to read the data, but this takes only two clicks and a few seconds. Using Weather Display or Virtual Weather Station, it is not necessary to close the program.
WXSIMATE was formerly considered non-essential, and is actually a separate program, so it was sold separately. It has, however, become integral, and almost essential to most users' operation of the system. For this reason, it is now sold as part of the WXSIM complete package. However, there are still some WXSIM users who have not yet registered WXSIMATE. For this reason, I am still offering WXSIMATE codes separately for $49.
WXSIMATE has system requirements beyond those of WXSIM itself. It will not run in Windows 95 and earlier, and may not work under Windows 2000 Professional, though it has run successfully under Windows 98. It has not been tested in Windows ME. I've gotten very good reports from the few people who have purchased it so far running under Windows XP, though one beta tester has had an error (access denied to the cty.fdt file) using a Dutch version of XP on a partitioned hard drive. It also requires the presence of Microsoft's Net Framework, Version 1.1 (or later), which is available from Windows Update (you may already have it if you regularly use Windows Update). As Net Framework download is rather large (about 23 MB), I am not currently distributing it, but you can get it from this link.
The latest version of WXSIMATE is 6.2. To try out WXSIMATE, download its setup program now or see the Downloads section of this page. After running this setup program to install the program, be sure to read readmewm.txt. The help file wxsmhelp.txt can be viewed either directly or from within the program.
If you're using it for Atlanta or just want to use the home weather station part, there's no charge. If you are a registered WXSIM user and want to enable it for internet use with your site, contact me to arrange registration and get your activation code. At this point, though, almost every WXSIM user already has WXSIMATE, because it's been a standard part of the package for over a decade!