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Reviews Categories | Weather Stations | Watson W-8681 Wireless Weather Station Help

Reviews Summary for Watson W-8681 Wireless Weather Station
Watson W-8681 Wireless Weather Station Reviews: 13 Average rating: 2.5/5 MSRP: $89.95 (GBP)
Description: Wireless weather station with touchscreen control. Includes PC (Windows) software for long term data collection. Produces spreadsheets and charts.
Product is in production.
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2M0XDS Rating: 4/5 Jun 22, 2008 08:39 Send this review to a friend
Not So bad after all  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Ok I thought some of the reviews were a little harsh on this weather station, so I thought I would type up a short review.

After a recent price drop from W&S the Watson Weather Station W-8681, now retails at 69, which was a tempting price for me.
Before purchase, I checked the contents of the box, and was initially impressed by what was inside.
This was my second weather satation, and my last effort was wired, and only had tempature, wind direction, and wind speed.

After an easy installiation,which required a assembled weather station, a 90 degree clamp and a new TV `U` pole ,all this mounted on my existing 2m vertical setup, which is an aluminium scaffold pole, with no problems at all.

I was originally sceptical about the range over which the unit would work, but checked this first, before a final tighten was made, and range far than meets my expectations.

The base unit I find due to the membrane for the touch screen, not the easiest thing to read, and the `touch` can be fiddly at times.

With the unit in place and a couple of rough weather nights under its belt, I am pleased to say, I have no real issues with the unit for the money.

The supplied software, also has no real issues for myself Easy weather v2 (running XP Home, with Service pack 3)

I did check the reading taken so far with the local Met office, readings, and there is about a 3-5% error with the unit (which I can live with), and I doubt they will be using an all singing all dancing unit at 69 to get their readings.

As this unit is quite new to myself only time will tell if this will be a good long term investment, but in the mean time, if you are looking for a cheap, easy to set up unit, which (for me) is giving good performance, and readings, this is the one for you.

Donald Suttie
2E1BZU Rating: 0/5 Dec 28, 2007 11:09 Send this review to a friend
Not worth the bother  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought this for 89.99. And you know what they say, you get what you pay for. For some reason the usual alarm bells did not go off, maybe it was because of the respectable name, Watson. One can only assume it's simply re badged and if thats so it's a mighty shame that they would put there name to this awful rubbish.
To start with the transmitter has 2 main glaring faults. The first being as was previously mentioned in the other review by G6KIZ, the plugs used to connect the sensors to each other and finally back to the transmitter are just normal RJ11 Phone jacks and sockets, no weather protection (albeit the transmitter has the fluted shield but that wont be any good to protect it during a howling gale). The second issue again is the battery cover on the transmitter. It's laughable, how this ever got past the design stage and into production is a mystery. It never fitted properly and falls off, and has no weather proof seal around it. It should have had brass thumb screws to secure it, and if this is why it was so cheap and was used to cut costs it was totally pointless as it is in my opinion a waist of time releasing it into the market as the amount that will be sent back due to water damage will simply put people off buying similar products by Watson again, which is a great shame.
The second problem: It was working OK, for approx' 1 week, when for some reason it started saying the dew point was -175, I reset the receiver, but still the same. I put up with it for a day or 2 but during the night the receiver stopped receiving anything, it just had dashes instead of the out side information. I reset both the transmitter and base, still no luck, installed new batteries into transmitter, still nothing. So I left it, then a while later I looked at the receiver and it had picked up the transmitter, but would intermittently drop the wind direction data, show constantly 99% humidity outside and would not display any wind speed data at all . Then after a while longer it stopped recieving data totally (again)
The software as stated by G6KIZ, does indeed crash (probably out of shame) when left on.
Look, dont even think about buying this, it's just false ecconomy. The build quality is awfull, and one good hard winter would certinally see the end of the transmitter.I Should also say that when I took the sensors down to try resetting it all, it had been slightly frosty night and the wind direction sensor had frozen up. Rather defeats the point of having a weather station I think.
Anyway, mine is going back for a refund and will spend the money on some seaweed (and a beer).
G6KIZ Rating: 1/5 Dec 10, 2007 01:57 Send this review to a friend
Mixed bag  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have rated this unit as poor based on the unit I received. Conversely my son M0XDK only had a flickering LED in the display. Both units do show that there are quality control issues.

I am just doing a cut'n'paste from the review I've put on my own website - I think will get a bigger audience and fellow hams deserve to know what to expect from probably the most well known UK ham dealer.

G6KIZ Weather station
I'd been considering adding weather data to the G6KIZ Igate for some time but really couldn't justify the cost. Then M0XDK drew my attention to the Watson weather station which W&S had announced in their newsletter and were selling on eBay at 95.95 delivered. The features on offer would normally cost at least 3 times more. Obviously there would be some corner cutting but I decided to get one anyway - an interesting gadget regardless of whether or not the data could be pushed into UIVIEW. It arrived by courier next day which was excellent.

The W-8681 sensors.
The sensors have to be assembled on the short two section stub mast that is included. This is very easy. Unfortunately two of the leads are much longer than necessary (which probably explains the "There is a generous amount of cable to interconnect the sensors to each other" in the advert. I used zip ties to make as tidy a job of the wiring as possible.

I have some concerns on just how weatherproof the push in modular connectors and battery bay will be. The specs say waterproof to IPX3 which may or may not prove to be good enough.

Two AA batteries need to be fitted and these should last at least two years according to the specs.

Once the sensors were assembled on the stub mast I just zip tied the mast to an 8 foot length of rough cut timber and screwed it to a fence post. The mounting position is a bit of a compromise as it is probably a bit too close to a large conifer for wind direction measurements to be spot on but I doubt that the unit would ever be especially accurate anyway as the vane is very lightweight and completely undamped so the slightest gust sets it swinging.

The W-8681 display unit.
Attention now shifted to the quite large display. It transpired that what I thought was a loose protective covering was in fact a faulty membrane that covers the screen to provide the touch screen facility. The unit was returned to W&S for replacement which took over a week to arrive which was far from good and rather took the gloss off the original fast delivery.

It requires three AA batteries which are supposed to last a year. I found that the contrast and backlighting (green LEDs) were both rather poor. M0XDK's had a flickering led - caused by poor quality soldering and OK now he has fixed it. This unit is probably where the inevitable cost cutting is most immediately obvious.

Radio Link.
This operates at 868MHz and I was originally concerned that this may be a problem as DigitalHam Towers is an old stone building with walls over two feet thick. It seems so far that I need not have worried as with the new display it has maintained sync.

The unit also has a radio controlled clock. This took an age to sync and when it did showed an hour fast despite the time zone being set correctly. I can only assume that this is a bug and it has added an hour DST despite it being December. I adjusted this manually.

The supplied software automatically adds to an ever growing file with each record being a comma seperated list of values. To get this data into a format acceptable to UIVIEW requires some detective work on what is what and scripting to reformat it. As it happens I have a text editor which can run REXX which I've used for this purpose. Unfortunately I doubt that this is mainstream enough to be of any use to other hams so I will investigate producing something more useful later.

The software itself has some problems with long term running. I have seen it hang once with an out of resources error. It regularly loses parts of the window furniture and wind direction display. Simply closing it and restarting clears these problems up but it does take a little while to get started again - this delay will probably increase as the internal data buffer fills because the documentation mentions that reading this data from the unit can take a couple of minutes. Changes to the various settings only seem to affect the display and the output data is fixed units - something to be aware of when converting for use in UIVIEW.

So is it worth the money? I'd give that a reserved yes. That may turn to a definite yes providing water ingress or other weather damage doesn't put paid to the sensors. If I hadn't been able to use the data for UIVIEW and was judging the unit just on the display and software I would find it hard to recommend. If your main aim is use as an online weather station and you cannot do the necessary coding you would be advised to avoid this unit until someone has done the work and posted it on the web. I am rather surprised that Waters and Stanton have not produced software for this purpose as it would surely make the unit much more attractive to radio amateurs.

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 trouble with his at all. It seems that quality control is not high on Watson's (aka Waters and Stanton) list of priorities.
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