Fine Offset WH1090
The unit is made by Fine Offset Electronics and is an updated version of the WH1080 sold under a variety of names such as W8681, Elecsa AstroTouch 6975, Zephyr PWS-1000TD from the USA on eBay and PCE-FWS 20 as well as the Maplin Wireless USB Weather Forecaster. The W8681 is one of the most common entry level weather stations in the UK. Perhaps this crown will pass on to the WH1090 if Fine Offset discontinue its predecessor.
The W1090 sensors
These are pretty much identical to those supplied with the W8681/WH1080 as described in my W8681 review although there may have been some detail changes.
Note that I have not used the suggested mounting. The wind speed and direction gauges are mounted high on top of an alternative pole (OK OK a broom handle). The rain gauge is mounted at the bottom where it will not vibrate in the wind and give false readings and the temperature/pressure/transmitter unit is kept in the shade. At least that was the intent but it does catch the early morning sun leading to inaccurate readings. I will either move it or shade it when I get the time.
The W-8681 display unit
The WH1090 console is physically smaller than the earlier WH1080 although the actual display area is almost as big. There are slots for wall mounting using screws which are annoyingly not identical spacing to the WH1080 but sufficiently close for a bodger such as myself to reuse with a little gentle persuasion to the screw heads. Alternately there are some short legs for use on a desk although these are very short and barely lift the display above the horizontal. If I were going to use it on a desk I think I’d extend those legs considerably to bring the unit nearer to the vertical.
Apart from the obvious size and move from landscape to portrait presentation differences the WH1090 display has orange/red backlighting rather than green. The contrast is adjustable however I found that setting this to maximum (lcd8) produced the best result. The increased contrast is obvious in the picture which was taken soon after inserting the batteries so the time hasn’t synced, the temperature and humidity haven’t stabilised since moving the unit, and the relative pressure hasn’t been set.
Although the display still looks more Amstrad than Apple I think it is a visual improvement on the W8681 and all the basic settings can be done onscreen rather than having to load the still supplied and still abysmal EasyWeather.
The EasyWeather software
The CD supplied carries a WH1090 User Guide and the EasyWeather software. This is supposedly version 6.1 but the executable installed is dated 31/12/2008 which is only 3 months later than the EasyWeather 4 dated 23/09/2008 which I downloaded from the Fine Offset website around that time. According to a recent correspondent the bug leading to huge false rainfall figures was present in his v6.1. A second correspondent asked for help resetting some bogus historical records dating back to 2007. Suspecting that EasyWeather rather than the hardware was to blame I installed EasyWeather 6.1 and lo and behold I too had historical records dating back to 2007 along with some dated 2024 and 2025 which it proved impossible to clear. The EasyWeather software really is a disgrace.
Version 6.2 is available for download from the Fine Offset website. This produces an executable dated 28/06/2010 but suspiciously is identical in size (1,265,664 bytes) to version 6.1. As “About” simply displays the version from the ini file it is always impossible to known exactly what the true software level may be. Changing a text line in an ini is a lot easier and cheaper than actually making any code changes.
Fortunately I found that the excellent Cumulus software works as well with the WH1090 as it did with the W-8681. I simply shut Cumulus down, swapped consoles, and restarted it and everything carried on as if nothing had changed apart from a small step change in inside temperature and pressure due to slight differences in the calibrations of the units.
The 868MHz link and protocol are unchanged from the W-8681 and initially I am running the WH1090 console on the old transmitter and will probably continue to do so keeping the new unit as a spare in case of a failure.
So how does the WH1090 compare with the W-8681? Well I paid £84 delivered for the WH1090 (through my TopCashBack account earning me £1.14 back eventually) and the cheapest I saw a WH1080 variant offered for was £69.99 so there is ~ £14 premium. The sensors are the same. The console is in my eyes a visual improvement and the additional adjustments possible are an advantage. The question in my own mind though is whether these changes are also present in the newer generation of WH1080 stations. Certainly the contrast adjustment is. This makes it very questionable if the newer unit is worth the extra money. The problem though is in establishing exactly whether a potential WH1080 purchase has the newer options. If so it is simply down to individual choice whether the appearance difference is worth £14. On balance I think probably not but at least buying the new unit as opposed to just replacing the old has let me produce a new page for DigitalHam which I hope will be useful for others.