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 Eham.net 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.

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “What weather station?”

  • Bob - W2TAC:

    I’ve had a Davis Pro2 weather station for several years. The sensor station is powered by solar cells an transmits A LONG distance. In my case, 100 yards with no problem. I really like the fact that I can check my weather from any computer connected to the Internet — including my iPhone. So I have an iPad in my shack and can glance at real-time weather for QSO wx reports. I also like the fact that my local TV station now has the temperature feed for my QTH (Grafton, NY on the Rensselaer Plateau) hard-wired into their weather maps. NOAA uses the feed too.

    This is what my online weather reports look like: http://www.weatherlink.com/user/taconiclake/index.php?view=main&headers=1



  • Bob - W2TAC:

    I should have added…. with the Davis Pro2, all you need is a connection to an Internet router (in my case, DSL) and the weather feed go to the Davis server in California for Internet broadcast. You don’t need to dedicate a computer to getting it out on the Web.
    Bob – W2TAC

  • Mike KG9DW:

    I’ve also got the Davis Pro2, and I’ve had it since 2005. Bob is right, you can send data direct to the internet, but you have to add a $300 device to do that. I have it connected to my shack computer that also serves as my logging, radio control, JT9/PSK workstation.

    Altogether, you are going to spend some big bucks on a Davis system. I have had two problems:

    1. A capacitor in the sensor data pack failed, leaked everywhere. I replaced it and fixed up the traces on the circuit board. There is also a place on the board to add a second capacitor, which helps on the cloudy days and overnights to keep from running the little battery down.

    2. The rain sensor is currently broke. The reed switch needs to be replaced.

    The sensor failure happened after 8 years in service. The cap failure was after 5 years. For consumer electronics that are out in the weather (105F to -15F), it has done a great job.


  • Bob - W2TAC:

    Good point Mike. It’s been a while…. I forgot about the WeatherLinkPI software package at $300. Bob – W2TAC

  • Dave KD2BMU:

    How about you try this station http://www.ambientweather.com/amws2080.html?
    Price tag is easier to swallow and is compatible with the Cumulus software you mentioned. A friend of mine uses this station and I plan on getting it for my upgrade.

  • Julian, G4ILO:

    Thanks for the recommendation Dave. I didn’t know that model was compatible with Cumulus so it’s one to add to the list.

  • Rob W8MRL:

    The reviews for the Ambient station, posted at Amazon.com, may help you decide whether its right for you. For me, it helped me decide not to buy one.

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