Top positive review
WS2080 is cheap but works well
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 10, 2012
when we purchased the ws2080 it was going for around $160 on amazon (oct2011). as of jan2012 it is available at $120; as of nov2013 it is going for $110 or so.
this is a great station if you are just getting into weather monitoring. a davis might last longer, but then again you could just buy another WS2080 in two years and still be out less money than you would have paid for a davis.
these mid-range weather stations are manufactured by FineOffset then resold by ambient weather and others. the 2080 has a fairly comprehensive feature set. the 1080 has larger console, touchscreen, and requires more batteries. the 3080 has uv/sunlight sensors. there is a solar-powered option for the sensors. the 2090 has an integrated anemometer/windspeed.
below are the PROs, CONs, and a few NOTEs about the WS2080 based on use on an island in mid-coast maine.
- inexpensive. you can get 3 of these (or 2 stations with 2 extra consoles) for the price of a single davis.
- reasonably accurate, except for wind gusts.
- trivial to set up.
- wireless range is decent, but not great.
- batteries (use lithium!) last a long time even in cold weather. requires 2 AA for the sensor and 2 AA for the console.
- multiple consoles can be used with a single instrument station. the console is WS-2080-C and can be ordered directly from ambient weather for about $40.
- console can be powered via the USB port.
- the console update interval is every 48 seconds (davis is every 2 seconds). as a result you'll miss a lot of wind gusts. not a big deal for the other data.
- there is no option to add uv/sunlight sensor. the 3080 units seem to be hard to find in the US.
- instruments are made of rather brittle, cheap plastic. they work, and they last at least a year or two, but they are cheap.
- no heater in the rain collector, nor is there an option to purchase one. easy enough to build your own, but beware that without it your rain collection data will be off when it snows.
- contrast in the display console is not great. for example, the wind direction indicator is difficult to read. the view angle for all readouts is rather limited.
- the backlight is splotchy - the diffuser is horrible.
- the instrument battery level is not reported to the console (nor is it accessible programmatically, for that matter).
- no access to the wireless protocols this device uses, so there is (not yet?) any way to use zigbee or other wireless device to collect data - must plug in to the console usb port, and that makes for a less aesthetically pleasing configuration.
- no external antenna port on the sensors for adding larger antenna or booster. no external antenna port on console either. if you want a bigger antenna you will have to modify the case.
- the console buttons are not very well-designed. they work well enough for configuring the console the first time, but they are not very convenient for getting to the weather history data or for quickly changing the display (e.g. from F to C and back).
- we have two consoles communicating to a sensor cluster 200 ft away, with wood and brick walls between. in this configuration communication is lost about 30% of the time, but re-establishes itself. with direct line-of-site and 200 ft the connection is never lost.
- be sure to keep the temperature/humidity sensor out of direct sunlight. if you must place it in direct sunlight, then build a shield (plywood or styrene will work) or purchase the $40 shield from ambient.
- you do not have to mount all of the sensors on the mast. there are 3 parts: temperature/humidity, rain gauge, and wind speed/direction. these are connected by 2- and 4-conductor phone wire with RJ11 connectors, so you can extend the distance between sensors with some standard phone wire and connectors.
- the rain collector has no guard around its collection surface. if the collector is in a windy location, the readings will be low as most of the water will blow out of the collection dish. you might want to build a vertical wall around the collector to block the wind.
- the rain collector does not have enough surface area to read low rainfall amounts very well. build a funnel-like bowl around the collector to improve low-rainfall readings, but if you do this you will have to recalibrate the sensor.
- the console is not great for browsing historical data or even quickly changing between F and C. it is much better to hook up a data logger then display the data on a tablet or phone or computer for detailed analysis and manipulation.
- highly recommend using weewx, pywws, or wview to collect and display data
purchase a plug computer (ionics or dreamplug work very well), connect to the WS2080 using usb, run weewx on the plug, and you've got a robust system that records years of weather data and is accessible via web browser, mobile phone, or whatever you like. and it can upload your data to the weather underground if you're into that.
if the radio-controlled clock (RCC) does not lock on, call ambient weather and get the sensor package replaced before the warranty runs out. if the RCC is working you will see WWVB at the top of the console display, and the console clock will set itself automatically.
there is now a module for the WS2080 so it will work with weewx. weewx is similar to wview, but much easier to work with and customize. the module supports the WS2080 and all of the other FineOffset variants.
the WS2080 console occasionally loses contact with any computer attached via USB. the console still displays data from the sensors, but the computer cannot get the data from the console. the only solution is to power cycle the console. we have seen this happen every month or two with one console, but never with the other console. it makes the WS2080 inappropriate for use in remote/unattended locations.
the anemometer starts to stick after about 2 years of continuous use in a salt air environment. a few drops of light oil in the bearing will free it up.
sometime in mid-2013 the 2080A console started shipping. this adds calibration constants for temperature and humidity, but otherwise behaves just like the 2080.
recent updates to pywws and weewx seem to reduce the frequency of the USB lockups. in some cases, specifically with the 2080A console, weewx manages to recover from them automatically.
no one knows yet what causes the lockups. older stations (pre-2011) seem to have no lockups. not all newer stations suffer from the lockups.