Monday, May 13, 2013

What weather station?

A few days ago my Fox Delta WX1 Micro Weather Station stopped working. As it turned out, I just had to switch off the power and switch it on and it started working again . But while I was waiting for the rain to stop so I could go out and look at the device I began thinking about getting a better weather station - one that measures wind speed and direction and rainfall as well as temperature, humidity and pressure.

When you start to look at weather stations the choice is overwhelming. My first priority was that it should work with APRSISCE and generate the file wxnow.txt that it uses to update weather objects. That requirement led to the stipulation that it should be compatible with the free weather software Cumulus, which creates the required file. There is a list of weather stations that work with this software, which narrowed the choice down a little. After reading many reviews the best choice seemed to be the Davis Vantage Vue. Unfortunately this cost about four times more than I was willing to pay, so it was back to the drawing board.

The weather stations made by the Chinese firm Fine Offset and sold under the Watson brand name seemed to meet my criteria at a more reasonable price. However, browsing through the reviews on and elsewhere there were quite a high proportion of dissatisfied users. Complaints about anemometers that stopped rotating, poor wireless reception and so on. With weather stations as with everything else, it seems, you get what you pay for.

Despite the reviews I am tempted to get one of the Watson W6861 solar weather stations. But before I did I thought I would take the opportunity to ask my readers for their experiences. Many of you must have home weather stations. So which ones are good, which are bad and which should be avoided at all costs? I await your comments with interest.


MM1PTT said...

Hi Julian,
I have been using a Fine Offset weather station from Maplin with Cumulus and APRSIS32 since last September. You can see telemetry here:
Two weeks ago I returned the weather station and got a replacement under warranty because the wind speed sensor had seized. I'm waiting for a break in the weather to put the new one back up.
I find that the receiver loses contact with the sensors once every 48 hours which isn't a problem because it automatically reconnects, no user intervention is required.
But once a month the software is unable to connect to the receiver and requires the batteries and USB cable to removed for the receiver to reboot. This wouldn't be a problem for normal home use but my APRS station is run unattended with all the equipment in a cupboard in my parents house.
The problem is well documented on the Cumulus forum but there is no solution given. It seems to effect some users more than others. I will need to wait and see if my replacement is any better. Chris MM1PTT

MM1PTT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allan Duncan said...

I erected a Maplin (Fine Offset) WX Station last October here in an exposed location in NE Scotland. So far, no RF drop-outs or any sensor problems. I am very pleased. W&S might be a better source for the Fine Offset devices as they offer a spares service for the Watson branded units.

Tim said...

I've got a W8681 and it works well. I've the solar power version and I had a bit of fun getting all the sensors working at the same time, but all ok now.


Unknown said...

Hi Julian
I live near RAF Brize Norton, which has a met office station. I purchased the solar powered W8681 from W&S. I have had no trouble at all. Excellent machine (for my purposes) and the readings it gives are normally within +/- 1% of Brize figures.
Good luck