Friday, November 9, 2012

An Affordable Gadget for all Weathergeeks

A pro weather station has always been a "Gee, I wish I could afford one of those..." gadgets that any Ham with a eye on the sky would love to fit out in their shack, but just can't swallow the hundreds of dollar price tag most of the complete "bells & whistles" models carry. (At least that has been the case for me, who always wanted one but could never justify the expense.)
Now, while the adage "You get what you pay for", may apply here, there are Weather Stations that offer wireless connectivity, full features, AND Internet connectivity & streaming on a beer-bottle price ...the line of weather stations badged by Ambient, Weatherwise, & others made by Chinese Manufacturer, Fine Offset Ltd. They've been around for about 3 years, and have recently come down from the $150-$200 range, to crack the sub-$100 sales offerings...down into the budget-minded WX Geek price range. (and just in time for the Holidays too!)

For only $99 & shipping, a Weatherwise WS-2080 arrived on my doorstep. The components: Wind Gauge, Wind Direction Vane, Barometer (indoor & outdoor), Temperature Gauge (indoor & outdoor), Rain Gauge, Data Transmitter & Atomic Clock RX, mount poles & hardware, and the Indoor receiver & display with PC Software arrived nested in "egg crate" packaging with assembly & operation instructions. Assembly took less than an hour, and the applications that enable live data streaming on the Internet to FTP, website or webpage presentation was intuitive & painless.

TS-2080 wirelessly monitors with Atomic Clock Precision
As for the quality of the weather stations materials, the tabletop or wall mount data receiver does have the fit & finish of a typical Hong Kong electronic gadget, but it does deliver it's job with little muss & fuss. Besides, the real use will be importing the sensor data into your PC, which the station does painlessly with the supplied USB cable and supplied software & drivers. The outside weather sensors are plastic too, however, all are made from studier, UV resistant ABS plastic, which from reports, can handle a few years of weather extremes.  The bottom line: this weather station, while billed as a "Professional Weather Station" is in reality, more of a entry level device, that can & does get the job done professionally too.

The big relief is the ease in importing the data into your computer and onto whatever Internet application suits your needs. Set up is minimal, and while you may appear to be a real Melvin in your ability to get your weather station streaming live on the Internet, it's all easy-peasy, fill this out, & click here. I registered my weather station with weatherunderground's PWS service in 5 minutes & was sending weather data to the website within 10.The included Easyweather software is a bare bones app that will get your station displaying data on your desktop, but you will need a freeware program called Cumulus to export your data to the web. After you fill out the settings for the software to know what it is sending and to where, it does all the magic.

If you've been holding off outfitting the shack with it's own weather monitoring capability, now might be the time to pull the trigger on one of these low-cost units.

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