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Extending radio range

For discussion of DIY weather equipment - sensors, accessories, improvements to existing kit etc
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Norris
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Weather Station: watson w8681
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Extending radio range

Post by Norris » Sun 30 May 2010 8:52 pm

Hi everyone, I have a Watson W-8681, about 8ft above the roof of a two storey building and I live in the downstairs flat. I would like to site the display unit in the front bedroom, which is as far from the transmitter as I can get without going nextdoor, but the display will only read intermittantly, and having it in the front room is a pain. Is there any way that I can improve the range, by either altering the transmitter aerial, altering the receive aerial in the display unit, or increasing the voltage to the transmitter? I am intending to connect two wires to the transmitter battery terminals and fit a battery box at the foot of the mast to make changing the batteries easier, I wonder if it would help to increase the voltage slightly? The two Hyundai batteries that came with it still read 1.6 volts each, even though I have had to change them, so I thought about going up to maybe 4 volts. Any advice would be welcome!!

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steve
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by steve » Sun 30 May 2010 9:05 pm

If the transmitter and receiver are separated vertically rather than horizontally, if I understand you correctly, then I suspect that changing the alignment of the aerials on both might help. The aerials on my Davis station are adjustable between vertical and horizontal for this very purpose.
Steve

Gina
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Gina » Sun 30 May 2010 9:25 pm

You would need to put the transmitter unit on it's side rather than upright. Same with the console, but you could extend the console aerial wire along the top of the unit or bring the aerial wire outside. As I mentioned in another thread, changing the aerial on the transmitter would void the type approval for the transmitter unit and is technically illegal, as would increasing the voltage to get more power. The latter is also risking shortening it's life.

To change the transmitter orientation, you would need to make your own screen, unless the unit is already in the shade and sheltered from the weather. Some might suggest bringing a short wire out from the transmitter internal aerial, horizontally. The transmitter and receiver aerial want to point in the same direction.
Gina

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

Charlie
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Charlie » Mon 31 May 2010 11:59 am

Unless you are depending on reflections, or located exactly below the pole, a horizontal or vertical orientation should not make any difference. If you make one horizontal and the other vertical you could lose 1/2 the signal strength. I say this from first principles - but the process is complex with virtually every situation being just a little bit different.
Something a bit easier to try perhaps would be re-orienting the transmitter by rotating it's position on the pole, as well as re-orienting the receiver by trying it on different walls in the room or setting it on a desk. (still vertical, but different sides / edges toward the transmitter)
Even if you get it working reliably, as the batteries drop off it will begin to lose contact. You will need to replace batteries more often than is typical, I would think. There are reports of higher voltage working for awhile, but without design details it is certainly not recommended. I would not try more than a 10% overvoltage for extended periods (say 3.3V) and even this will justifiably void your warranty.

geoffw
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by geoffw » Sun 06 Jun 2010 6:40 am

If what you say is true - about aligning the two units to maximise signal strength, what is the best way of positioning the receiver/console to get the best result if the transmitter is in a standard vertical and at a height of three metres and the receiver is by my computer at an approximate height of 0ne metre? How do you orientate the console to give maximum gin?

Do you stand up the console, lay it flat, have the short edge or th long edge facing the transmitter?
Geoff
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Norris
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Norris » Sun 06 Jun 2010 6:47 pm

Gina wrote: Some might suggest bringing a short wire out from the transmitter internal aerial, horizontally. The transmitter and receiver aerial want to point in the same direction.
Surely extending the aerial will alter the resonant frequency and actually cut down the transmit power, as well as possibly damaging the transmitter by causing a high VSWR?

Gina
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Gina » Sun 06 Jun 2010 9:12 pm

Norris wrote:
Gina wrote: Some might suggest bringing a short wire out from the transmitter internal aerial, horizontally. The transmitter and receiver aerial want to point in the same direction.
Surely extending the aerial will alter the resonant frequency and actually cut down the transmit power, as well as possibly damaging the transmitter by causing a high VSWR?
I agree - quite possible. I personally don't advocate making any changes to the transmitter/aerial.
Gina

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

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Paul C
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Paul C » Sat 10 Jul 2010 12:35 pm

I have always been on the limit of the range of my wireless VP2 and from time to time it goes out of range for a few hours then pops back on again.

Today is one of my off days, its dull overcast and wet and I think the weather has something to do with it ?

Anyway I moved the console upstairs and straightway I was back working again on about 34%, back lounge 22%. Trouble is both locations are well away from my PC, wondered what the cheapest way would be of extending the USB to VP2 console cable ?

It appears to be a 28AWG wire, has anyone got any longer lenghts or any ideas. I am looking at a 20foot extension at least and dont want to pay the £200 plus for an extra wireless signal booster

tks

Charlie
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Charlie » Sun 11 Jul 2010 11:16 am

It's not clear if the weatherstation uses USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 . Usb 1.1 has a limit of 3 meters, while USB 2.0 is limited to 5 meters. You can daisy chain up to 5 hubs, so you could go 3 M, hub, 3M, to span the distance you need. Or add another hub, then another 3 M if you need a bit more.

DrMD
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by DrMD » Mon 12 Jul 2010 1:30 am

My unit which is about 2 years old uses the Holtek 82M99 chip for USB and that chip is USB 1.1.
20 ft would be taken it to its limits. If you go that route use a good quality cable.

Gina
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Gina » Mon 12 Jul 2010 6:52 am

When I was trying a long cable for one of my webcams, I found the power was the most significant. Not knowing how much current the station takes I can't say how a big a problem this might be.
Gina

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philcdav
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by philcdav » Tue 07 Sep 2010 2:51 pm

Hi Norris.

there are a few of things that you could try.

Increase the reception by modifying the receiver aerial. Higher, more gain.

Fit a coaxial cable extension between the transmitter or receiver and current aerial.

Fit a small RF amplifier to the receiver aerial. Will add noise !

The most elegant solution is probably to mount the units above each other but this may not be 'kosher' and attract unwanted attention
Phil - G0DOR

Norris
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Weather Station: watson w8681
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Norris » Tue 07 Sep 2010 7:18 pm

Thanks to everyone who gave me advice, the situation is now as follows. The weather station I had was not working properly, it eventually stopped working completely, and the eBay seller that I bought it from, Bizitshop UK would not do anything about it, wouldn't even answer my emails. I complained to eBay and he did then reply, and claimed to have replied to all my emails. He even sent me what he claimed was a copy of an email he had sent offering to replace the unit and to which I had not replied. Unfortunately it was dated the day BEFORE my original complaint. Eventually I returned the unit and was promptly ignored again for ten days. I eventually contacted Trading Standards who sent me a copy of a formal letter to send to the seller and in due course I did receive a refund. I replaced the unit with another Watson unit which works perfectly but in the meantime a fault has developed with the web site I had set up and the chap who set the web site up has lost interest in it so I now no longer have a website for my station. It is a shame as a lot of paraglider and hang glider pilots had started to use it and found it very useful, but I know nothing about websites so it will stay offline. Many thanks to all who gave advice, best regards, Norris.

Gina
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Re: Extending radio range

Post by Gina » Tue 07 Sep 2010 8:47 pm

Cumulus has a basic set of web pages you can use. Many people content themselves with that. One of the benefits of Cumulus is the ease of getting going with a standard web site. Once you have a basic site running you may feel you'd like to tweak it a bit. Check out the Wiki - lots of useful info there. Good luck :)
Gina

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

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