After a very wet weekend it is now obvious that the rain guage isn’t working. My unit has been an absolute nightmare. Meanwhile M0XDK hasn’t had any more trouble with his at all. It seems that quality control is not high on Watson’s (aka Waters and Stanton) list of priorities.
I noticed that my station was showing a pretty consistent 10hPa down on other local stations visible on UIView. That may indicate an inaccuracy or just that I hadn’t set an absolute/relative value for pressure in the setup. Whatever the reason setting a 10hPa difference instead of leaving both the same and selecting the higher one from the csv file now puts my station broadly in line with others around me.
Checking the rain gauge before returning it I found that the small magnet which pushes into the see-saw bucket was a tad too close to the reed switch housing and had obviously been catching. After pushing this in a little the gauge is now at least registering some rain so I contacted W&S again through eBay messaging to say I wouldn’t be returning that and enquired about my refund for the postal cost of returning the faulty display which I received a few days later.
Still on the rain gauge – I’m not convinced that it is recording all rain. I have a couple of ideas on that and will maybe be making a couple of mods…
1) For reasons beyond me the reed switch is mounted on the far side of the circuit board from the magnet on the see-saw. Moving it looks easy.
2) I’m not convinced that all the water dripping through from the catchment tray above actually goes into the “correct” side of the see-saw. A short and narrow piece of plastic glued vertically up from the peak in the see-saw should ensure that none goes to the “wrong” side where it would drain away without being recorded.
Moved the reed switch to the other side of the board and took the opportunity to shorten the cable to a more reasonable length. I didn’t modify the see-saw as some experimentation convinced me that this is unnecessary. I’m pretty much satisfied that the rain gauge is now working as well as it can.
I moved the unit to the front of the property to see if the wind speeds reported would become closer to what I think should be getting reported. They haven’t so I guess the next project will be looking inside the wind gauge to see how that works and if anything obvious is wrong with it.
To tidy up the appearance the wind sensors are now mounted on a pole rather than the rough sawn 2×1 I had zip tied the supplied mast to. I found that the mast fitted nicely inside a standard metal broom handle so they now sit proudly atop a grey broom handle fixed to a fence post hidden by the front hedge. Getting away with that one with the XYL is quite an achievement.
2E0XDC kindly pointed me to Fine Offset Electronics who appear to be the manufacturers. There is a link to their software on the product page. I am currently running this alternative software. It doesn’t crash so often as the original provided by W&S but it has had one rather strange glitch whereby it was reporting huge rainfall when in fact there was none. M0XDK has also had this bug. Update 4.5 is that the rainfall bug has happened again and currently rainfall is excluded from my reports in case the emergency services send round a rescue helicopter or folks start building arks.
A year on and contrary to my expectations the weather station is still working. As mentioned elsewhere I have stopped using the Fine Offset software and moved on to the excellent Cumulus and for the money paid now reckon this unit to offer fair value.
Derek M0XDC contacted me to say that he has found that the commercial Weather Display software supports the unit directly as the WH-1081 and produces files which can be used by UIView so this is also a possibility albeit one which will cost you a similar price to the weather station itself after the 30 day free trial.
March 2010 – well over 2 years on
Just before I took down the station prior to a house move I had noticed that the wind direction indicator had stopped working but had no time to investigate. When I came to put it up I had the direction indicator to bits – W8681 wind direction indicator disassembly
The anemometer or wind speed indicator has seized. Here is the story of its disassembly and repair – W8681 wind speed indicator repair
End of the line
The above repair was not entirely successful and my W8681 sensors will be going into retirement. I ordered a WH1090 weather station. The new unit, which boasts a contrast adjustable display, uses the same sensor stack so both consoles can be operated at the same time although I have now swapped to the WH1090 console and retired the W8681 completely. Adrian State contacted me to say that his W8681 can also have the contrast adjusted in the same way as the WH1090. If you have a W8681 it is maybe worth checking – if you touch the time display at bottom left the text “lcd5” appears and the + and – icons allow you to adjust contrast from lcd1 through to lcd8.
Right now I am still running the old sensors and will continue to use the old transmitter and just replace the other gauges. Obviously I have produced a WH1090 review which may well prove even more popular than its predecessors the WH1080 and WH1081 otherwise known as the Watson W8681.