The ongoing saga of my weather station

In January, I bought and installed a weather station and you can read my blog entry about that here.  I said in that post that I knew these stations tended to last about a year but I wasn’t quite prepared for how much trouble I was going to experience.

Firstly the solar sensor had a mind of its own.  Sometimes I’d get solar data, other times I wouldn’t.  There seemed to be no reason for it that I could find and after doing some research about that particular model, it’s a common problem.  I tried different batteries which worked for a while but then it stopped again.  It wasn’t related to the level of sunshine because it worked throughout the dark months, stopped for a while and then worked again when there was bright sunshine.

This wasn’t the end of the world though, I don’t need solar data.  If I want to know whether it’s sunny or not, I can look out of the window!  My main reason for wanting the solar sensor was because it included the ability to charge the batteries and that appealed to me.

Sometime in the summer, the anemometer seized.  It was still reporting wind direction as the weather vane was still turning but without an anemometer, it’s useless.  I contacted my supplier, explained the situation and they promised to send me a replacement anemometer (or as they insist on calling it ‘the cups’), solar sensor and transmitter.

Those parts took nearly two months to arrive.  I received the solar sensor but not the anemometer and there seemed little point in fitting the sensor without the anemometer so I waited until I had everything.  Once I’d received the parts I took down the pole and spent about two hours trying different combinations of solar sensor and transmitter trying to get a reliable signal of everything back to the console.  Finally I got everything working and put the station back in the air.

Life was good.

For about three hours.

The solar readings vanished from the console.  Once again, I took the ‘oh well, I can look out of the window’ attitude and carried on as normal.  Wind speed is the thing I’m most interested in and that was working.

For about two weeks.

I lost contact with all the sensors outside.  Nothing worked, multiple resets didn’t bring it all back in and I was slowly getting more frustrated with it so I took the whole lot down, threw it in the boot of my car and took it back to the supplier.

I had to chuckle to myself when the first thing that was said to me was “Oh, these are normally very reliable units, we don’t get much trouble with them”.  That was either a blatant lie or pure ignorance as the Fine Offset weather stations really are cheap tat, clearly built to a low price.  But I digress.   All the details of the problems were taken from me in great detail and then I was asked “Are you OK to leave it here?” indicating that it was going to be repaired.  I was quite incredulous about this and replied “No, I’m expecting you to replace it”.

I took away a model which the internet suggests is slightly more reliable, the Watson W-8681 Mk II (rebadged Fine Offset WH1010) which doesn’t have the solar sensor or the rechargeable batteries.  This has now been put up and is working.  You can see my weather station online here.

On a side note, after I put the replacement station back up, the hard drive on the computer I was using failed.  I managed to get it replaced the same day but that involved a 150 mile round trip, spending an hour and a half in a shop and then being up until nearly 02:00 rebuilding everything.

What I would really like is a good quality external wind speed/direction indicator that I can mount on the top of a pole and have a large display in the shack showing those figures.  That’s really all I care about.  Constant refresh, cabled rather than wireless and powered from the shack would be bonuses.  Does anyone know of such a product?

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  1. Keith

    I had similar problems with a weather station from W and S: Cunningly, it lasted a few weeks beyond its guarantee period. Clearly it was not robust enough to be used outdoors !

    Since December 2011 I have had a Davis Vantage Vue, which continues to work nicely. It’s only shortcoming is an occasional “senior moment” when I run 2m EME. It sulks for a few hours by sending no readings at all, presumably overcome by RF, and then recovers without any action on my part.

    Because it’s been up less than a year I think it’s too early to comment long term reliability.

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