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Lost Sensor Contact!!

Discussion specific to Fine Offset and similar rebadged weather stations
bruce45
Posts: 363
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:36 pm
Weather Station: wh1081
Operating System: windows 10
Location: Oban Scotland

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby bruce45 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:25 pm

ok i might be the odd one out. i have been running the same maplins unit for 2 years without any problems. about 18 months with steves brill software.

could it be the build is not the same on the older ones?

we get very strange weather in oban as in one end of town is raining the other end is in sunshine.

the rest of the area as from daj's post about 25" of snow which my kids would have loved (ok so would i) but back to the issue mine is 40 mts away from the house and never had any lost contact problems. since using cumulus i have not rest the data with fine offset in fact i removed it as i could not see the point to it.

could it not be others in your area are using things on the same frequency which is causing the problem?

geoffw
Posts: 423
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 3:12 pm
Weather Station: Oregon WMR200
Operating System: Windows 10
Location: Pembrokeshire West Wales UK
Contact:

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby geoffw » Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:47 am

bruce45 wrote:ok i might be the odd one out. i have been running the same maplins unit for 2 years without any problems. about 18 months with steves brill software. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,could it not be others in your area are using things on the same frequency which is causing the problem?

Glad you are having no problems. but before agreeing to replace mine Maplins claim they did test it, so their decision implies a REAL problem.

I hope I have no problems with the replacement, when it comes, and if I do I will certainly have another look at local interference, though we are very rural here so it would almost certaiinly have to come from my own electrical equipment. What to suspect and and how to go about this I don;t know.
Geoff
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Gina
Posts: 1885
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:41 pm
Weather Station: Nothing working ATM - making one
Operating System: OS X, Linux Mint, Win7 & XP
Location: Devon UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby Gina » Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:31 am

Did you notice if your old unit was 433 or 868 MHz, Geoff? Mine is 433 but it would seem that more recent ones are 868MHz. If the new one is a different frequency and you were getting interference, the change may cure it. OTOH, as you say, Maplins acknowledged that there was a fault.

Hope you get your replacement soon. And that it works well!
Gina

Sorry, no banner - weather station out of action. Hoping to be up and running with a new home-made one soon.

Charlie
Posts: 363
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:22 pm
Weather Station: 1wire-Cumulus & Fine Offset
Operating System: Windows 7
Location: Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby Charlie » Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:46 am

Another observation on lost contacts:
The first month I had my unit, I had no lost contacts. Then I had occasional issues for a couple months, and now I have not had a lost contact in 2 weeks. With 20-20 hindsight, these dates line up roughly with the installation (start of issues) and removal (end of issues) of a cordless telephone in the same room as the receiver. The phone is an older 900 MHz unit, and my station is a North American 915 MHz unit.
Having said that, I also noticed the time signal icon sometimes missing when I was getting lost contact and previously blamed the loss on the unit hunting for the weak time signal.
So... I'll watch more closely and bring the phone back in a week or so to see if the issues reappear. Can anyone else identify possible interference sources for the lost contact issues?

geoffw
Posts: 423
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 3:12 pm
Weather Station: Oregon WMR200
Operating System: Windows 10
Location: Pembrokeshire West Wales UK
Contact:

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby geoffw » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:47 pm

Gina wrote:Did you notice if your old unit was 433 or 868 MHz, Geoff? Mine is 433 but it would seem that more recent ones are 868MHz. If the new one is a different frequency and you were getting interference, the change may cure it. OTOH, as you say, Maplins acknowledged that there was a fault.

I didn't notice the frequency Gina, but as I got it around about the time you got yours I asume they would be the same. Where do you look for the information?

Geoff
Geoff
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Gina
Posts: 1885
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:41 pm
Weather Station: Nothing working ATM - making one
Operating System: OS X, Linux Mint, Win7 & XP
Location: Devon UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby Gina » Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:07 pm

geoffw wrote:I didn't notice the frequency Gina, but as I got it around about the time you got yours I asume they would be the same. Where do you look for the information?
On the battery cover on the console.
Gina

Sorry, no banner - weather station out of action. Hoping to be up and running with a new home-made one soon.

geoffw
Posts: 423
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 3:12 pm
Weather Station: Oregon WMR200
Operating System: Windows 10
Location: Pembrokeshire West Wales UK
Contact:

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby geoffw » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:46 pm

I’ve just had an email from Maplin’s Customer Support. They expect to have a new consignment of Weather Stations Kits on Thursday. My replacement will then be post to me.

Their CS seems pretty good IMO. I'm really glad that I did not succumb to the temptations of buying of Ebay.
!
Geoff
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Gina
Posts: 1885
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:41 pm
Weather Station: Nothing working ATM - making one
Operating System: OS X, Linux Mint, Win7 & XP
Location: Devon UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby Gina » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:30 pm

I've bought a fair number of items from Maplins in the past and found their service excellent :) In fact I've been a customer since they had just the one shop in Southend-on-Sea!
Gina

Sorry, no banner - weather station out of action. Hoping to be up and running with a new home-made one soon.

Gina
Posts: 1885
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:41 pm
Weather Station: Nothing working ATM - making one
Operating System: OS X, Linux Mint, Win7 & XP
Location: Devon UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby Gina » Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:26 pm

Looks like I need to change my batteries again! I'm getting glitches which I found before to indicate signal loss and low battery voltage. That lot didn't last long! :( I'll be changing to wired power when I have time and the weather allows.
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Gina

Sorry, no banner - weather station out of action. Hoping to be up and running with a new home-made one soon.

User avatar
nking
Posts: 804
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:03 pm
Weather Station: WH1081
Operating System: Windows 10
Location: Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, UK
Contact:

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby nking » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:02 pm

Gina wrote:Looks like I need to change my batteries again! I'm getting glitches which I found before to indicate signal loss and low battery voltage. That lot didn't last long! :( I'll be changing to wired power when I have time and the weather allows.


You have those expensive supadupa ones, how long have you had them? Perhaps it's spring in the air :shock:

Gina
Posts: 1885
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:41 pm
Weather Station: Nothing working ATM - making one
Operating System: OS X, Linux Mint, Win7 & XP
Location: Devon UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby Gina » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:55 pm

nking wrote:You have those expensive supadupa ones, how long have you had them? Perhaps it's spring in the air :shock:

I got the Energizer Lithium ones after I changed the batteries last time - for Duracell Alkaline. So I've yet to try Lithium ones - that's what I shall be putting in tomorrow (if it's not raining).
Gina

Sorry, no banner - weather station out of action. Hoping to be up and running with a new home-made one soon.

Gina
Posts: 1885
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:41 pm
Weather Station: Nothing working ATM - making one
Operating System: OS X, Linux Mint, Win7 & XP
Location: Devon UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby Gina » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:43 pm

Hmm... Changed the batteries in the transmitter unit for Lithium ones but I'm still getting glitches :( Furthermore, I tested the alkaline batteries I'd taken out and found 1.48 volts in both of them, which should be fine. Previously, when I changed the batteries, when the signal failed totally, they showed 1.2v. Seems I need to investigate further. I don't know of any sources of interference that could be the cause.

The attached plot shows a glitch at 14:40 where I changed the batteries but the two following were with new Lithium batteries!
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Gina

Sorry, no banner - weather station out of action. Hoping to be up and running with a new home-made one soon.

EvilV
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:28 am
Weather Station: Watson W-8261
Operating System: XP
Location: NE7 7QE Newcastle upon Tyne UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby EvilV » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:39 am

How far away from the house is the transmitter unit Gina, and what kind of building structure does the signal have to penetrate? Obviously not all houses are the same in terms of wall thickness and radio impermiability. I think you said your unit was at about the 433MHZ mark. That frequency was I think changed because of interference from other sources used in the UK. Also, it's just possible that you have only marginal contact even with good batteries because of the placement of the two units. You might experiment with this by temporarily trying out the monitor nearer to the transmitter, perhaps in a porch or something so that the wireless contact is easier.

Also, radio amateurs are licensed to allow them to transmit up to 400 watts of RF between 430 and 440 mhz. You could have some occasional interference from one of them, even if it is some guy transmitting in his car as he goes past your house. Once upon a time, I could set off burglar alarms all over my street when I depressed my morse key on a mere hundred watts on some frequency bands.

Just a few thoughts.

Gina
Posts: 1885
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:41 pm
Weather Station: Nothing working ATM - making one
Operating System: OS X, Linux Mint, Win7 & XP
Location: Devon UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby Gina » Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:08 pm

Thanks for your reply :)

Distance from tx to house is about 13 metres and then about 4 m to the console. The house outside wall construction is not amenable to the transmission of radio signals. The walls are reinforced concrete sections and as such contain reinforcing steel rods which partially shield radio waves. However, I have positioned the console so that it gets line-of-sight view of the tx unit through a window (mounted on an internal wall).

I have been thinking of an alternative place for the console. I don't want it obscuring the view through any of the windows (an ideal place for the radio signal). However, your post in the other thread about having it in a greenhouse, gives me another idea. As I said in the other thread, we have a lean-to greenhouse as an extension room, in clear view of the outdoor sensors and about 15m away. I could either extend the USB cable or use a separate computer, probably the former, particularly while I'm still developing the software.

Another thought was to see if I could change the station to use a wired connection rather than wireless but that is a major project which I haven't got time for at present.
Gina

Sorry, no banner - weather station out of action. Hoping to be up and running with a new home-made one soon.

EvilV
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:28 am
Weather Station: Watson W-8261
Operating System: XP
Location: NE7 7QE Newcastle upon Tyne UK

Re: Lost Sensor Contact!!

Postby EvilV » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:21 pm

Putting the console unit in the lean too would really test whether there was an issue with faulty hardware, as opposed to a low received signal level. From your description, it can't really be about distance, but maybe the reinforcing rods in the wall could be the problem. However, the key factor there would be the transmission frequency and the metal rod or mesh spacing. Mesh that is a quarter wave or less at the transmission frequency would have a major effect. At 433 mhz the waveleing this about 70 cms and a quarter of that is 17.5 cms. The mesh might very well be smaller than that which would make penetration pretty hard, except through windows and doors. You might have a virtual Faraday cage except for door and window openings.

My guess is that when you try putting the unit in the conservatory, the problem will disappear. We always need to remember that these things are operating on microwatt power levels. Your mobile phone can put out about two watts on the 900MHZ GSM band and about one watt on the 1800 GSM and 1900 3G bands. The mobile phone base station transmitters operate at the level of kilowatts of power.


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