Review: La Crosse Technology Wireless Weather Station c84612 – Updated

This is a review of the La Crosse Technology Model c84612 weather station.

Manufacturer: La Crosse Technology
Model: c84612
Web: http://www.lacrossetechnology.com/c84612
Place of Purchase: Costco
Cost: $84.99
Technical Support: (608) 785-7920
Originally published: Dec 26, 2013 @ 16:14
Updated: 04JAN14 @ 11:00a
Updated: 25JAN14

I’ve wanted a weather station for years and so when I came across this deal at Costco, it was too good to pass up.

Included in the kit are the base station and three sensors: wind, temp and rain.  All three talk to the base station using a wireless connection.

Setup

Setup was dead simple, just follow the instructions.  I had all three sensors sync’ed up within minutes.  The only issue with the configuration was getting the gateway to work.  This took some work, and ultimately the gateway had to be set up with a static IP instead of using DHCP (which is the default).  The tool for performing that is located here (the page is here).

Once that was working, it was time to deploy the sensors.  The temp/humidity and wind sensors were set outside, the rain sensor was not (since it’s the middle of winter, there’s not too much rain).  For now, the wind sensor was mounted to a piece of 3/4″ EMT with some strap clamps holding it to a trellis.

WeatherStation_9 WeatherStation_1 WeatherStation_6
It’s working great, and so far is very accurate… the only issue is that with the La Crosse Alerts there is no way to get the data out other that an CSV export.  I was hoping that there would be a way to export data, or have an embeddable page that I could put on my own domain.  For now at least, there is no way to do that.

LaCrosseAlerts
We’ll see how this holds up to the elements, but for now this is definitely worth the money.  UPDATED, see below.

UPDATE 04JAN14:  With all the snow we’ve been receiving lately, the Achilles heel of the wind sensor was discovered.  With a couple inches of snow on the solar panel, the sensor stopped transmitting data in less than a day.  Once it was cleared off (using a shop floor broom), then it worked intermittently for a while until the next day when it was sunny out.  A couple take-aways:  First, mount the wind sensor in a way that it can be reached easily.  Second, keep the panel cleared off!  Not only does the solar panel charge the batteries in the wind sensor, but that is how the base station knows if it is sunny or cloudy.  With the wind monitoring offline, wind chill could not be calculated.

The refresh rate on the sensors is quite slow.  This is a problem with the wind sensor if objective is to measure wind gusts, this device cannot do it.  An average is show, and it appears the refresh interval is 30 seconds.  The temp sensor is spot-on accurate.

The lack of access to real time data is going to be a deal breaker, at first I thought that would be OK, but I would rather use the Weather Underground instead of La Crosse Alerts.  The fact that only a month’s worth of data is available is another negative.  Plus it appears that there is a yearly fee to keep La Crosse Alerts active (it’s really not too clear how it works, since I don’t have the manual).  A year is included with the device.

I also have some concerns wiwth the gateway device and what data is being sent back to the mothership.  There’s just no way of knowing.  A paranoid person would worry that any device sitting on their network forwarding data to a website might very well be reason for concern.

Is this still worth the $80?  Yes, as a stand alone device, it’s pretty good.  Again, the longevity of the sensors will be a determining factor.  Ultimately, a Davis system is in my future.

UPDATE 25JAN14:  The sensors stopped communicating with the base last Friday (the 17th).  Followed the instructions for resetting the base and sensors.  Somewhat of a pain as I had to bring them in the house as it was way too cold to be performing these tasks outside.  Solar panel was covered on the wind sensor, the batteries removed from the temp sensor and base station.. reset to factory on base station… wait 15 minutes, nothing.  Did it all again and still no communication.  Sent an email on Sunday to support at La Crosse Technology, they claim it’s faster than calling.  Did not hear back from them by Thursday, so I called in the morning and had to leave a voice mail.  Around 2:00p, called support again and finally got through to phone support.  They agreed that there was a problem, and that I should send it in for repair.  Shipping to paid for by me.

The good news is that I purchased it at Costco, so I could return it no questions asked.  If the reviews were not so bad for this thing, I might have had the thing serviced, but there are a lot of people out there that have had issues with the communication, it’s just not worth the aggravation.  Another case of “you get what you pay for”.

 

 

 

 

14 comments for “Review: La Crosse Technology Wireless Weather Station c84612 – Updated

  1. December 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Looks nice. To bad about the way it puts its data out. That kind of stinks.

    • Dave
      December 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      Agreed.. no idea why they don’t. the gateway tool is forwardinng data to their server, it could just as easily forward anywhere else.

  2. skydvrz
    April 10, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I have developed a Windows app that simulates the Lacrosse server and parses the data packets sent by the C86412’s gateway module. My app can store the sensor readings in a MySQL database and also post the readings to Weather Underground in real-time. I am working on an embedded MySQL version that does not require the use of a full-blown database. You can store all of your readings for years if you like. In a future release, I will try to support Cumulus.

    I also wrote a companion desktop app that displays sensor graphs, TCP/IP debug information and current readings.

    See the SkySpy thread:

    http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=14299.0

    for details. This is free software and the parser/server source is available in the downloads.

    • Dave
      April 11, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks for the post and information! I accidentally deleted your user account, please recreate so I can assign this comment back to you.

      -Dave

  3. skydvrz
    April 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I’m baaaak!

    🙂

    • Dave
      April 13, 2014 at 6:21 am

      Welcome back!

  4. skydvrz
    April 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    So did you send the whole works back to Costco or did you get it working again?

    Mine has been reliable – except for the rain gauge. It was still transmitting, but the reed switch was not closing when the magnet passed by it while dumping a load of rainwater.

    This is not a good thing in a place where annual rainfall is measured in yards, not inches 🙂

    I tried bending the circuit board closer to the magnet – no help. Then I tried prying the reed switch closer to the magnet – crunch! A quick order to Digikey for some replacement switches and some soldering… Now it has stopped transmitting. $@&*(! I will take it back to the workbench and see if I knocked something loose –

    Yes, I do have a grounded, professional-quality Weller soldering station with a very small tip for SMC work.

    I have been too busy writing software recently to fiddle with the hardware.

    I see that there are replacement RG units on Amazon, but they aren’t cheap compared to the 80 bucks I paid for the entire station.

    • Dave
      April 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      I returned the whole thing. La Crosse offered to replace under warranty, but then the next failure would probably occur outside of the 90 day return window at Costco. There are just so many negative reviews that I didn’t have any confidence this would last. I’m just going to wait and get a Davis.

      That’s pretty ambition repair work, hope it all works out for you.

  5. skydvrz
    April 13, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    You might want to read up on Davis. I’ve heard that (on at least some units) they have a proprietary interface that may take some of the fun out of hacking the hardware/software.

    When my La Crosse gives up the ghost, I’ll probably switch to Davis too.

    >That’s pretty ambition repair work, hope it all works out for you.

    Me too. Fixing it would be way cheaper than a $46 RG replacement.

    I was an electronics tech for 20 years before I switched to computer science. As a tech I did both digital and RF from DC to Daylight, mostly in R&D labs. I know which end of a soldering iron to grab 😉

  6. Dave
    April 15, 2014 at 7:44 am

    I too was a ET years ago before my current IT work… and based on some of my other blog entries (power amp) you can see that my skills are very rusty.

  7. September 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways,
    just wanted to say fantastic blog!

    my web page … real pinterest followers

    • Dave
      September 4, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      I can’t explain what happened there, but thanks for posting the kind words. You are only the second person to post a cooment here!

Comments please!