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July 16, 2005

Davis Vantage Pro2/WeatherBug Backyard personal weather station review

There is no lack of local weather data in my part of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, Metroplex. I’m located about 5 miles due north of NOAA’S National Weather Service, which serves the North Texas area. I’m about 5 miles due south of Alliance Airport, and only 15 miles from the official reporting station for Dallas/Fort Worth at DFW International Airport. That’s nice, but much different weather can be happening just 5 miles away, and yesterday is a perfect example. My house didn’t get a drop of rain yesterday, while DFW Airport got almost a quarter of an inch, and Alliance Airport, just 5 miles away, got almost an inch of rain! Having a personal weather station now lets me know what really happened at my house, which is good for practical reasons such as knowing whether to shut the sprinklers off for a couple of days. [Note: Images link to large versions in new windows]

David Vantage Pro2 materials. Links to large version in new window Why Davis Vantage Pro2?

I purchased a wireless Davis Vantage Pro2 from the WeatherBug Backyard program, which lets users upload their weather station’s data to WeatherBug, allowing all with Version 6 or higher to view their weather conditions. I did some research and found that reviews were positive for the model I purchased. There are more expensive models out there, including a higher-end Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus that measures solar/UV radiation, but the model I have does everything I want and does it for a total cost of $500. Best value, that’s what many wrote about Davis Vantage Pro2 as I was researching.

Installation

Not too difficult. It took me about two hours to piece the rain bucket and anemometer (wind gauge) together to the point that it was ready to be mounted to, in my case, a steel pole. The instruction manual was easy to understand and had plenty of illustrations to help me along.

David Vantage Pro2. Links to large version in new windowI could have mounted the station to my fence, but opted for a pole installation since it would make the station more level, and since the solar panel should be facing south and the anemometer north, and my neighbor behind me might have had something to say about this white panel hanging over their side of the fence.

I had a pole with an outside diameter of 1-1/4 cut to 8 feet at Home Depot and bought some Qwik-Crete. With a post-hole digger, the whole process took a couple of hours, mostly because I chose to do this in the middle of a 100-degree day and I was taking frequent water breaks. Basically, I received the weather station in the mail Tuesday and had the thing mounted and sending data to my computer, Web site and WeatherBug by the next night.

David Vantage Pro2. Links to large version in new windowConsole

I love the console. Among other measurements, it displays every 2 seconds the temperature inside and out, heat index/wind chill, wind speed/direction, lunar cycle, barometric pressure, humidity in and out. rain rate/day, 24-hour forecast, and it has a neat little graph that plots, by hour, any of the mentioned features over the past day. The console also has many options for different units of measurement and a nice backlight that will stay on permanently if you tell it to. Three C batteries are placed in the back for a backup power supply, and a port in the back feeds data to your computer via a serial port or USB. The data can be updated to WeatherBug or your own web page every minute.

David Vantage Pro2. Links to large version in new windowSoftware

WeatherBug Publisher installs quickly and, once installed, it runs quietly in the background, uploading data every minute or so depending on the connection setting you choose. The actual WeatherBug application does not need to be open, even in the tray, for the data to be sent to WeatherBug. You can also install and run the WeatherLink software Davis provides, which allows all of the data (or whatever you choose) from the station to be uploaded to a web page. You can use one of their templates to create a page, or create your own, which is what I did here. It doesn’t take long at all. There are simple HTML tags for each measurement, and the page you create on your C drive can be easily uploaded to a web server with some simple FTP settings in the WeatherLink settings. I have mine set up to upload once every 5 minutes, though I am doing it as two different publishes to make sure that WeatherLink and WeatherBug are not fighting for my computer’s COM port. It seems to work best that way, and both servers are getting new data at least twice every 5 minutes.

David Vantage Pro2. Links to large version in new windowAccuracy

I was afraid that the station might be a little off. It’s sitting just above the fence line (and, as a result, my wind speed data may be a little on the low end — I may later mount the anemometer on the roof). Also, it is 6 feet above ground when it is recommended that the station sit 5 feet up. I am very impressed with the results I have seen, however. I have had it running and archiving data now for almost a month, and on some of those days, I’ve compared my data with the data from other nearby stations on the WeatherBug network. I have found that my weather data is accurate. High temperatures tend to run a couple of degrees warmer than those recorded at DFW Airport on many days, but this part of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex tends to get slightly warmer, and the other stations in this area confirm that this is the case. If something tends to be off a fair amount, you can easily adjust settings to offset the high or low readings.

Conclusion

I am impressed with the Davis Vantage Pro2, and think it is worth the money spent to have current weather data viewable by visitors to my site, as well as to the millions of WeatherBug users, and the data is updated every couple of minutes. It is also nice to have an archive of weather data, which is set up like the National Weather Service summaries. I would recommend this system to anyone who loves following the weather and wants to know what is happening in their back yard. It also helps to mount the station as far away as possible from buildings, trees and heat sources, so having some type of a yard is a must. If you’ve got that, you’re all set! More information about the system I purchased is available here.

Where to find my station’s data:

Share

15 responses to “Davis Vantage Pro2/WeatherBug Backyard personal weather station review”

  1. Martin says:

    How can I get just WeatherBug Publisher software as I have a Davis station?

  2. Martin, you can contact WeatherBug Backyard and ask if the WeatherBug Backyard Publisher is available for you at [email protected] and/or 877-22-GOBUG

  3. ed lones says:

    I know you love the Vantage Pro, as do I, but I cannot get my PWS to read in Wbug. I have contacted both Wbug and Davis. I am awaiting a second reply from Wbug. (the first one instructed me to do things; not a one of which I had’nt already tried.

    I know you’re not the Tech department, but have you heard of anyone having this much trouble?

    Thanks, Ed

  4. Ed, I have not heard of anyone having trouble getting a PWS to read in WXbug.

    Mine is in the city of Keller’s ZIP code, but I technically live in Fort Worth’s city limits. When I put into the Publisher’s “Registration” address field Fort Worth, TX 76248, it did not publish to WXbug. It only works when I have Keller, TX, 76248 in the address field, so if your city may have various spellings or overlapping ZIPs, you could try re-entering different locations there.

    Also, I am only able to see my station’s data in the backyard network section. I wish it were with the “main stations”… Hope this helps!

  5. David Suter says:

    I was surfing your sight in search for answers about weatherbug publisher. I noticed one of your post from ed lones stated the exact same problems that I am having including lack of support form weatherbug. In your reply you mentioned only showing in the backyard network, I don’t even know how to get to it. Can you help me?

  6. Hi David,

    Thanks for visiting! As long as the WeatherBug publisher software is loaded and the console is hooked up to a USB port, the program should automatically start when the computer is turned on.

    Upon opening the WeatherBug Publisher (it should display as a B&W PWS icon in the taskbar when running), if you see this, you’re sending the data to WXBug’s network:

    Weather data is: ON

    My Personal Station data display in WeatherBug is: ON

    (If your personal weather station data is not being displayed in WeatherBug, check your station connection by choosing the “Connection” item within the “Options” pull-down menu and click on the “Test Station Connection” button.)

    To see if it’s working, you’ll go into WeatherBug (6.0 or higher) and select “U.S. Weather” among the tabs, and then “Backyard Network” You should be able to find it by searching your city or Zip Code.

    Hope this helps! Bill

  7. ed lones says:

    I still have not been able to get my data published. I read on other forums around the net that Weatherbug and Davis is not a good idea…. too late now, after spending hundreds of dollars and hours of my time trying to make this thing work!

    The console works find and the data is accurate, so something must be keeping the data from being published to Wbug. What gives?

    Frustrated, Ed

  8. Ed says:

    Good news! One can publish the data to Wunderground, which is far more comprehensive and entry into the Weather Exchange network.

    Here are the details:

    http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/index.asp

    Best,

    Ed

  9. Chris Best says:

    I too have had nothing but headaches with WeatherBug’s support. I purchased my station last August got it up and running in no time. I am able to see my PWS locally, but my PWS can’t be found in the Backyard sites. I worked with Weatherbug support for two weeks and they finally decided I needed to talk to Davis. Upon contacting Davis they had me run a number of test and reconfirmed that my software was configured correctly and decided it was a problem with the WeatherBug database. Davis was very helpful but said there equipment was working correctly so I have each saying it’s the others problem. At least with Davis I can talk to a live person where WeatherBug only sends me emails asking me to try different things that have been suggested numerous times. It appears they don’t have a clue, or they found a sucker. I’m at a loss and very frustrated with their lack of support. They are typical of the worst nighmares you hear about all the time. What upsets me with both Davis and WeatherBug, is they are both partners profiting from this problem. If I were Davis I’d either cut ties with WeatherBug or help them find the solution cause right now I won’t recommend anyone purchase this system if they want to be able to access their PWS from other locations.

    Frustrated and might just move to the WUnderground

  10. Mike says:

    I know this is old but I just wanted to ask anyway.
    I just got the WB4000 witch is a WeatherBug weather station. Actually it is a Davis weather station vantagepro2 with weather link and a code for weather bug software. I downloaded their (wb) software and ran through the set up. Everthing seemed fine except I could not access my station from the net. However I could on the local machine(Big Deal :o( ) Anyway here is what happens to me. After the weather bug software runs a while then the Weather data is: ON changes to Weather data is: OFF. When that happens I can no longer access my weather station even from the local weatherbug software. If I reboot it works a little while again but then stops. I tried shutting everthing else down but the problem persists. So no I set up to transfer my data to NOAA and that has been running fine with no problems, I am going to try and get set up for wunderground and weather for you. If I cannot get weather bug to stay running I will count it as a loss and move on by removing weatherbug. I expect I will not have these problems with the other sites.

    Any one else see this kind of problem with Weatherbug?

    –Mike

  11. Max says:

    Good day all, I have just finished reading all the posts & would like eveyone to know that I too am having the same problem as Mike & Chris. Just finished setting up my Vantage Pro 2 & instaling both the Weatherlink 5.7 software & the WeatherBug Publisher. From what I can determine, these 2 pieces of software do not like playing together. When I restart my computer WB Publisher runs & the weather data is: ON. As soon as I start weatherlink 5.7 my WBP weather data turns to OFF. If I shutdown weatherlink then my WBP weather data will flip back ON. It appears that both pieces of software are trying to access the port that connects the console to the computer, yet only 1 can access it at any given time & weatherlink 5.7 usually wins.

    I am considering sending an email to both Weatherbug & davis at the same time to watch them point the finger at each other. I would appreciate a solution if someone knows of one.

  12. Max says:

    Here are the responses I received from Weatherbug & Davis support:

    There is nothing you can do. They will not work together at the same time.

    Tom Raymond
    Davis Instruments

    Thank you for writing in! WeatherBug Publisher and WeatherLink cannot be run at the same time as they compete for use of the USB port. At this time there are no plans to upgrade the software so they can run together.

    Sincerely,

    WeatherBug Customer Support

    Guess I have to come up with my own solution.

  13. Sorry about the long silence. I decided to stop using WeatherBug’s software a while ago and am only sending data to my own page and Wunderground, which I have found to be much more comprehensive, as Ed mentioned above. I did experience WXBug and WeatherLink fighting for the uploads, and was able to make it work most of the time by setting two uploads in WeatherLink one minute apart every five minutes (12:00, 12:01, 12:05, 12:06, etc.) and setting the WXBug software to the dialup option for uploading. I’d say both worked about 80 to 90 percent of the time when doing this…

  14. Shelley Olds says:

    Hi – found this software that allows multiple weather software programs to run simultaneously; its called Virtual VP:
    http://www.softwx.com/weather/virtualvp.html

    I haven’t used it although a number of folks from different weather forums mention using and liking it. And thank you Bill for putting together this review/article – its good to see some pictures on the set up; hoping my unit comes next week!
    -Shelley

  15. Shelley, thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. Thanks for the kind words, too! I hope you are happy with your new station.

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