Why a weather station? Yes I know I could simply look outside but that wouldn’t tell me the actual temperature, how windy it really is, how much its rained or what the pressure is.
Whats in the box?
A rebranded Ambient WS-1050 weather station, which is handy to know as their instruction manual is much better! The kit comprises of
- Indoor Base unit.
- External temperature sensor, pressure gauge & battery box.
- External rain gauge.
- External Wind speed sensor.
- Mounting poles, arms, brackets, screws, nuts, bolts and cable ties.
- Instruction manual. ws1050
Plastic, lots and lots of plastic and 2 very thin metal poles. The parts feel like they want to break and need gentle handling, but they are meant for outdoor use so should be designed for all types of weather.
The base unit, also plastic but it looks well laid out with a main display screen and only 5 buttons. (Reset is on the back). I would never have paid the full price of £59.99 for this but £24.99 was OK.
Install & Use.
As I said, it feels cheap so I was expecting the worst when installing – shockingly it bolted together easily and was setup in around 20 minutes – the only thing I didn’t like was the lack of proper cable management and the excess of cable if you install how they recommend. Cable ties are your friends!
The base unit is pretty easy to setup and pair (took a few seconds to pair to the external sensor) but the included manual isn’t overly helpful on the finer settings, yes it tells you how to set them but doesn’t explain what they do or what they mean (example is absolute pressure vs relative pressure and its locality offset). The Ambient manual is much better for this.
Oddly the base unit has a back light, I say oddly because its only on when you press a button and then only briefly – to be honest its a bit pointless because if you can’t see the screen you won’t see what button you are pressing! It would however be a nice feature if the base station could be mains powered.
So now I can see both internal and external temp, internal and external humidity, date/time, current weather and predicted weather (based on pressure changes and temp changes), pressure, pressure history, rain history (last X hours) and either average wind speed or max gust speed. There is also a history option to show minimum/maximum recorded values and, alarm storm warning and a normal alarm.
After lots of rain, frost, wind and sometimes some sun this unit is still going strong, the plastic is still plastic but hasn’t broken or fallen apart – lets see if we have another 8 months of life!
As above yes, this is my 3rd unit – the other 2 (and this one) suffer from the same major fault, the unit spec shows it will handle external temps of -40C to +65C and that the outdoor sensor has a battery life of upto 24 months. Once the external temp drops below 2C the battery life drops, so much so that a fresh set of batteries will last less than 2 weeks in the external sensor if you have a few cold nights (when I say cold I’m talking around -4C as the lowest temp). Maplin recommend alkaline batteries for use in the sensor, Ambient recommend lithium batteries when in cold climates, guess which ones work best!
For someone like me who is more curious about the weather than just looking outside but doesn’t want to spend a fortune then this unit when on offer does the job that I need, yes it would be nice for a little more info (such as wind direction and better prediction/longer range) but then you are talking quite a jump in cost.
Just remember, lithium batteries will work in the winter better than alkaline but there is a cost difference when buying them, or buy alakaline but be prepared to change them often if its cold.
Interestingly, Ambient discontinued this unit because of a few issues but Maplin still sell it as the current unit. The current Ambient version is WS-1075 which looks almost identical except the base unit is a different colour and they condensed the external sensors into a smaller footprint.
Update – 01/11/2015
The outside sensor needed new batteries so I followed the instructions and replaced said batteries……..and it went all wrong! The actual replacement was easy, but it lost connection with the base unit and the only way to resolve this was a full reset of the base unit.
Update – 15/02/2016
Well it had to happen, we have a dead sensor – apparently it’s not rained for the last 2 weeks, this is Wales, this is a lie! It looks fine and the principal of the operation is fine but its dead. Oh well!
Update – 03/08/2016
2 months ago I decided to see why the sensor wasn’t working – it appears that rain water had caused a build up of sludge which covered both the switch and the collection well hole, cleaned both of these and poured about 2 litres of water through it and its working like a treat. On the other side, I have had to change the batteries in the base unit and the sensor again 😦
Update – May 2017
Well the cheap plastic has come to the end of its life span, the weather guage has crumbled into many parts, the rain gauge is held on by luck and cable ties and the main housing is falling apart – so its just less than 3 years old and its at the end of its life, now considering the claimed battery life is meant to be 2 years, the 3 year life span is poor. On the positive side it was only £25 so thats about £8 per year plus a few sets of batteries.