Author Topic: Repeated signal dropouts  (Read 7828 times)

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Offline dalecoy

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #50 on: January 05, 2018, 11:54:30 AM »
Just wondering -- is there any other electronic equipment that is placed near the console?

[Probably not, but it's worth asking]

Offline openvista

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #51 on: January 05, 2018, 12:17:50 PM »
I've tried it both ways - by itself and near other electronics. Either way, you get drop outs.

I've actually tried about 6 different spots in 2 different rooms while hunting for a trouble free zone. 

The dropouts happen regardless of channel too. So if it were something in the room it would need to be broad spectrum 900mhz interference mostly during sleeping hours that only occurs when the outside temp is below 10F. Keep in mind, the reception strength is solid regardless of temperature. I've watched a drop out happen live on the console in statistical mode and saw the signal strength go from 59 (out of 60) to nothing when packets started dropping one after another. That's why initially it seemed the transmitter battery was the most likely culprit.
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Offline W3DRM

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #52 on: January 05, 2018, 12:40:44 PM »
Here are a couple questions I don't think have been asked previously in this thread:
  • You indicate you have data dropouts on your console. Does this include seeing the same data missing from your data feeds to your website?
  • I am still not convinced you aren't having some kind of interference issue. Are there any other Davis weather stations in your neighborhood or that are being received by your console? Have you checked your console, in setup mode, to ensure that you don't have any other ISS's or Anemometers transmitting on the same channels you are trying to use? To test for the presence of any other transmitters in your area you MUST turn-off all of your ISS and Anemometer transmitters. Assuming you have all of your receiving channels turned-on, to begin this test, let the console run for several minutes to see if it detects any transmitters on any channel. If any transmitters are detected, make certain that specific channel is turned-off and that you do not use that channel for either your ISS or Anemometer. If they are, pick other channels to use. Refer to your VP2 Console Manual for instructions on how to use Setup Mode.

I had an issue some years ago where a neighbor installed a VP2 about 500 feet away from me. Suddenly, I began getting intermittent data being uploaded to my website. After some sleuthing, I discovered there was another VP2 signal being received on the same channel I was using. The data failure was not consistent but rather very intermittent. Once I discovered the second VP2 data signal, I merely changed channels and the issue disappeared. To minimize any other issues, I also disabled all other channels on the console so I was only open to receiving signals from my own ISS.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2018, 12:46:30 PM by W3DRM »
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Offline openvista

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #53 on: January 05, 2018, 01:40:57 PM »
Here are a couple questions I don't think have been asked previously in this thread:
  • You indicate you have data dropouts on your console. Does this include seeing the same data missing from your data feeds to your website?
  • I am still not convinced you aren't having some kind of interference issue. Are there any other Davis weather stations in your neighborhood or that are being received by your console? Have you checked your console, in setup mode, to ensure that you don't have any other ISS's or Anemometers transmitting on the same channels you are trying to use? To test for the presence of any other transmitters in your area you MUST turn-off all of your ISS and Anemometer transmitters. Assuming you have all of your receiving channels turned-on, to begin this test, let the console run for several minutes to see if it detects any transmitters on any channel. If any transmitters are detected, make certain that specific channel is turned-off and that you do not use that channel for either your ISS or Anemometer. If they are, pick other channels to use. Refer to your VP2 Console Manual for instructions on how to use Setup Mode.

Yes, the data goes missing everywhere since the console has either no temp/humidity or wind data to transmit to my weather software (WeatherCat). The wind is particularly troublesome because as soon as it blinks it torches my 10 minute average which is what appears on the site for "wind". It reads 0 and the wind chill then equals the temperature for at least the next 5 minutes while the software computes the new average.

As for interference, I am not aware of any new stations in the area. There have always been 2 stations within about a mile or so since I've lived here. They've never presented problems. Although, just to be safe I don't use channel 1 on the ISS as it's the default and most likely used by either or both stations. While I have not tried turning both transmitters off, I have watched the console poll for all available stations and it only ever presents my station IDs. Keep in mind, I've tried 6 of the 8 channels while trying to solve this issue. So if other channels were occupied, I'd expect for them to have appeared in my console at some point while configuring the new channels.

I'll grant you that it has the appearance of an interference issue, but given what I've tried, for the issue to be interference it would have to be  broad in spectrum, confined mostly to nighttime hours and particular temperatures (even if those temperatures occur during the daytime).

My working hypothesis at the moment is the console receiver is a bit flaky due to either design error (which is perhaps why others experience this sometimes too) or by malfunction (maybe both). Regardless, given the lower power output from the batteries in cold conditions, the issue surfaces once the transmitters have drained the supercap. During the day, the transmitters have full output because the solar panels keep the supercap going. Could be wrong and will know once the new console arrives. If so, then I will turn off both transmitters and precede as you suggested.

Appreciate the reply.
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Offline SnowHiker

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #54 on: January 05, 2018, 01:51:39 PM »
Regardless, given the lower power output from the batteries in cold conditions, the issue surfaces once the transmitters have drained the supercap. During the day, the transmitters have full output because the solar panels keep the supercap going.
Are you unable to temporarily power your ISS with the power adapter to see if the problem persists?

Offline johnd

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #55 on: January 05, 2018, 02:02:24 PM »
Couple of quick comments:

It always used to be the case that the channels were not created equal and that eg high channels like 8 were at least a little more prone to drop out and then took longer to resynch when they did. I don't know whether this was fixable in firmware and if any improvement was ever made. So I'd always try using the lowest channel number that you think may be free from potential interference. MAy well not cure the problem but may ameliorate it.

Second: Don't forget that the ISS SIM board has a jack via which the board can be powered via an (up to) 5v supply. So you could envisage using an external battery box fitted with some cells of a suitable size and chemistry that can deliver eg 3.5-4.0v (or even slightly more) even in very cold conditions, but don't over-volt in more comfortable temperatures. OK still a small project to develop and build but not too tricky and might be a fall-back option.
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Offline SnowHiker

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #56 on: January 05, 2018, 02:11:36 PM »

Second: Don't forget that the ISS SIM board has a jack via which the board can be powered via an (up to) 5v supply. So you could envisage using an external battery box fitted with some cells of a suitable size and chemistry that can deliver eg 3.5-4.0v (or even slightly more) even in very cold conditions, but don't over-volt in more comfortable temperatures. OK still a small project to develop and build but not too tricky and might be a fall-back option.
My understanding was that it was designed to be powered by the typical Davis power supply that the console uses.  Is that incorrect?

Offline johnd

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #57 on: January 05, 2018, 02:17:01 PM »
My understanding was that it was designed to be powered by the typical Davis power supply that the console uses.  Is that incorrect?

No, um, did I imply something different?  :? The standard console supply is 5v and so anything up to 5v should be OK, but just thinking that an external battery pack might well use eg 3 cells and so around 4v (depending on the type/chemistry of the cells) in the cold might be what you'd expect. But given that the CR123 is a 3v battery then anything above that ought to give some extra margin.
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Offline SnowHiker

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #58 on: January 05, 2018, 02:28:01 PM »


No, um, did I imply something different?  :?
No,um, I guess not. :? Just wanted to make sure I wasn't giving bad advice.  Sounded like you were suggesting something more complicated than what someone may want to do as just a temporary test to try to verify the problem.


Offline johnd

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #59 on: January 05, 2018, 02:34:26 PM »
No,um, I guess not. :? Just wanted to make sure I wasn't giving bad advice.  Sounded like you were suggesting something more complicated than what someone may want to do as just a temporary test to try to verify the problem.

No, your advice is good. But I was just thinking that the ISS might well be way beyond a convenient distance for a cabled power supply, so the battery idea was perhaps more general-purpose. But, sure, if it's feasible then a mains supply either as a temporary test or a long-term solution sounds good. (Ah, I hadn't seen your post before posting mine, so no attempt to supersede yours  ;) )
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Offline openvista

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #60 on: January 05, 2018, 02:49:19 PM »
johnd and snowhiker, thanks for the suggestions.

Not sure that adapter is made to withstand these kinds of conditions. Is it water tight and rated for at least -15C temps?  We're in day 3 of 4 days straight of horizontal snow (30mph+ winds) and -15 to -20C weather. Anything that I put out there is going to get slammed.

We don't have anything that passes for an electronics part store in town (RIP Radio Shack). So I don't have the ability to go out and procure battery packs, other DC adapters and such. Everything I have on hand is for indoor use only.
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Offline SnowHiker

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #61 on: January 05, 2018, 03:03:16 PM »

No, your advice is good. But I was just thinking that the ISS might well be way beyond a convenient distance for a cabled power supply, so the battery idea was perhaps more general-purpose. But, sure, if it's feasible then a mains supply either as a temporary test or a long-term solution sounds good. (Ah, I hadn't seen your post before posting mine, so no attempt to supersede yours  ;) )
No problem, makes sense!  :grin:  I had also asked many posts and/or days ago if it might be convenient to run an extension cord to test for a night or so.  The lack of any response added to my paranoia that maybe my advice was off to begin with.  :-)
johnd and snowhiker, thanks for the suggestions.

Not sure that adapter is made to withstand these kinds of conditions. Is it water tight and rated for at least -15C temps?  We're in day 3 of 4 days straight of horizontal snow (30mph+ winds) and -15 to -20C weather. Anything that I put out there is going to get slammed.

We don't have anything that passes for an electronics part store in town (RIP Radio Shack). So I don't have the ability to go out and procure battery packs, other DC adapters and such. Everything I have on hand is for indoor use only.
Myself, I would risk it for a night, at least, and wrap the adapter in plastic or something and keep it off the ground.  At those temperatures the precip shouldn't melt and get things too wet.  I don't believe the power supply should be affected much by the cold, it will continue to provide more than adequate voltage.  I assume your outdoor outlets are GFI.

However, I'll add the legal type of disclaimer that I'm not responsible for damage if you follow my advice.  ;)
« Last Edit: January 05, 2018, 03:12:48 PM by SnowHiker »

Offline openvista

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #62 on: January 05, 2018, 03:38:16 PM »
Just repeating because we are several pages into this thread and some may have missed/forgotten it: I have a brand new ISS transmitter (30 days old). The likelihood that it along with my 2 yr old wind transmitter are both malfunctioning in the same fashion, under the same conditions and in the same general timeline is hard for me to accept.

I have changed xmtr batteries, frequencies (3 separate times starting with channels 1 and 2) and moved the console to several locations in search of the best reception (both xmtrs are currently averaging 45 RSSI or above). Still the dropouts persist (although admittedly less often in the ISS).

I think the best course of action is to await the arrival of the new Vue console next week. If the issue persists with a new console, then perhaps, with help, I can create some kind of MacGuyver-like device to power the anemometer transmitter (which is the most frequent offender at this point).
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Offline Old Tele man

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #63 on: January 05, 2018, 04:47:07 PM »
Couple of quick comments:

It always used to be the case that the channels were not created equal and that eg high channels like 8 were at least a little more prone to drop out and then took longer to resynch when they did. I don't know whether this was fixable in firmware and if any improvement was ever made. So I'd always try using the lowest channel number that you think may be free from potential interference. MAy well not cure the problem but may ameliorate it.

Second: Don't forget that the ISS SIM board has a jack via which the board can be powered via an (up to) 5v supply. So you could envisage using an external battery box fitted with some cells of a suitable size and chemistry that can deliver eg 3.5-4.0v (or even slightly more) even in very cold conditions, but don't over-volt in more comfortable temperatures. OK still a small project to develop and build but not too tricky and might be a fall-back option.
Excellent suggestion for applications where 110VAC FARS fan is already being used...
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Offline Mattk

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #64 on: January 05, 2018, 06:11:13 PM »
Re the voltage via the DC input jack on most Davis boards (ISS, Envoy/console, other transmitters etc) the nominal voltage is ideal in the 4-5 volt range but keep in mind the Davis solar kits runs around 6.8 volt and this causes no issues and one reason there is a 7v upper voltage clamp on the power jack. Also for this reason the input voltage is dropped by 0.7v via protection diode before the voltage regulators which makes the final lower voltage above 3 volts (3.3v for the IP logger) hence minimum voltage to keep an IP logger operational is 4+ volts 

Offline SnowHiker

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #65 on: January 05, 2018, 06:23:23 PM »
Re the voltage via the DC input jack on most Davis boards (ISS, Envoy/console, other transmitters etc) the nominal voltage is ideal in the 4-5 volt range but keep in mind the Davis solar kits runs around 6.8 volt and this causes no issues and one reason there is a 7v upper voltage clamp on the power jack. Also for this reason the input voltage is dropped by 0.7v via protection diode before the voltage regulators which makes the final lower voltage above 3 volts (3.3v for the IP logger) hence minimum voltage to keep an IP logger operational is 4+ volts
Good info, thanks.  As the upper limit was said to 5VDC was one reason I wanted to verify with John that the standard Davis supply was okay,  I was pretty sure that it had a nominal output of 5V, but often power supplies output are a few percent higher, depending on load.  So you've further set my mind at ease that Davis isn't encouraging users to blow up the ISS by giving them adapters that will fit the jack but have too high voltage.  :grin:

Offline W3DRM

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #66 on: January 06, 2018, 12:02:14 AM »
Just one more comment from me and then I'll shut-up and wait for the results with the new console.

I don't know about the Vue console and how it works but, the standard VP2 console has the ability to turn-off (disable) individual receiver channels. As I mentioned in my reply above, I only enable the channel I want to receive my ISS data from. All other channels are disabled. This does two things - 1) It prevents any interference from potential transmitters on other channels and 2) it speeds up the recovery of your ISS signal detection should the signals be lost for some reason. The console simply goes directly to only the enabled channels to look for incoming signals thus, resulting is finding the desired channel(s) more quickly. i was told that by a Davis tech many years ago when I had my problem with a close-by interfering station.

Forgot add- you certainly have the patience of Job! Many would have given-up long before this. I wish you the best of luck in resolving your issue.
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Offline openvista

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #67 on: January 06, 2018, 08:38:26 AM »
I don't know about the Vue console and how it works but, the standard VP2 console has the ability to turn-off (disable) individual receiver channels. As I mentioned in my reply above, I only enable the channel I want to receive my ISS data from. All other channels are disabled.

The last time I changed IDs on the transmitters I went thru every other ID and saw their status listed as "off". Not sure if that's what you're referring to or if there's another step beyond that. I didn't actually have to change anything.

Forgot add- you certainly have the patience of Job! Many would have given-up long before this.

Appreciate it! Many locals visit my site where they can get the WU and NWS forecasts side by side, snowfall totals, 3 different radars and a real local almanac. At no point are they treated like rats in a maze where if only they click 4 times they get all the cheese just so advertisers can sufficiently feast on them in the process. I'm so old I remember when site owners dealt in good faith with their audience!
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Offline openvista

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #68 on: January 06, 2018, 02:47:08 PM »
As promised, here are the results of my test of the CR123a batteries removed from both transmitters using the ZTS multi-battery tester (see attached image). This device has two patents related to pulse loading the battery which simulates an appropriate load. It has a 5 LED scale. Each light signifies 20% capacity.

The battery taken from the ISS came back with all 5 lights lit which means, essentially, it was full. Of course it may have been somewhere between 80% and 100%, and still lit all 5 lights. On my digital multimeter it read 3.02V. This was higher than the initial reading 20 minutes after removal (2.98V). That's probably because the internal portion of the battery was still cold at that time and subsequently warmed.

The 2nd battery which was removed from the wind transmitter came back at 80% or 4 out of 5 lights. However, it too tested at 3.02V on my multi-meter. 15 minutes after removal, though, it was at 2.92V.

Either way, I'm guessing that in extreme cold the OEM batteries have to be, essentially, full strength or there will be issues when the output drops with temperature. The SureFire replacement batteries claim to operate at lower temps (-76 vs -30). Indeed, ValentineWeather has used them in temps well below zero and had no issues.

Since installing the new batteries, I certainly have had fewer dropouts with the ISS (only one so far that lasted the better part of an hour before I caught it and put console in setup). Ironically, the wind transmitter, which had the weakest battery, has not improved. I'm seeing regular dropouts on a ~5hr interval lasting anywhere from 10 minutes (most common) to half an hour or longer. It does make sense that the anemometer battery would be drained faster because that transmitter is having to do calculations every couple seconds.

Anyway, the new Vue console should be here late next week and I will post back once it's had time to establish a track record. In the meantime, if you have anything to add to the thread that will enlighten those of us who experience signal dropouts in cold weather, please do! Thanks for reading and/or contributing!
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Offline johnd

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #69 on: January 06, 2018, 03:06:01 PM »
I suspect that it's probably possible to speculate almost ad infinitum as to possible causes in the absence of being able to get more detailed diagnostics on ISS and console circuitry, which isn't going to be possible outside of an electronics lab.

But one other possibility that occurs to me is that wireless transmitter circuitry is also, to a degree  :grin:, temperature sensitive. Maybe your particular example is on the tail of acceptable tolerances and in extreme cold something about the wireless protocol (frequency lock, channel timing, whatever) goes beyond the point at which the console can hold synch and it may take quite a while to regain synch. Just possibly another console would be better matched to the idiosyncrasies of that particualr SIM board.
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Offline openvista

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #70 on: January 06, 2018, 03:50:32 PM »
I suspect that it's probably possible to speculate almost ad infinitum as to possible causes in the absence of being able to get more detailed diagnostics on ISS and console circuitry, which isn't going to be possible outside of an electronics lab.

But one other possibility that occurs to me is that wireless transmitter circuitry is also, to a degree  :grin:, temperature sensitive. Maybe your particular example is on the tail of acceptable tolerances and in extreme cold something about the wireless protocol (frequency lock, channel timing, whatever) goes beyond the point at which the console can hold synch and it may take quite a while to regain synch. Just possibly another console would be better matched to the idiosyncrasies of that particualr SIM board.

Well, according to Davis, I am well inside the operational range of both transmitters as they are rated for -40F temperatures. If that's not true, Davis needs to change their specifications and marketing materials. The coldest I've gotten is -11F, but most of my dropouts were in the single digits (+5F). So, I don't really accept the premise that I'm an edge case.

Also we are talking about two transmitters, one of them ~1 month old, that are having the same issue. Both function perfectly well above 10F. I'm hoping the Vue has a better receiver, but that wouldn't negate the real possibility that both transmitters, with identical radio circuitry, might share the same inherent, unpublished shortcomings. If I were the only one to experience these symptoms under similar conditions, perhaps I would agree something strange is going on.
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Offline zackdog

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #71 on: January 06, 2018, 07:56:21 PM »
I had this problem about two years ago.  I sent console in to Davis and it was repaired (supposedly).  While it was in for repairs, I used a spare Vue console to collect the data.  I also like the fact that the Vue allows you to set barometer to altimeter.  So, when I got the repaired VP2 console back, I basically just use it to monitor the temperature in my Brew room.  Here is the link to the thread I started on this problem.  http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=30972.msg308465#msg308465

After reading this thread, I checked The VP2 data vs the Vue and I have had the VP2 lose connection to the ISS four times since November.  The Vue, which I use to collect my data and upload to CWOP, WU, Weathercloud, etc, has never lost connection.  The lowest I found was in the 70% range.  If the VP2 console were to die, I wouldn't replace it except I need it for the additional temperature sensor.  If this wasn't the case, I would replace with the Vue console.

I will be interested to see how your troubles get resolved.  Good luck.

Mark
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Offline Old Tele man

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #72 on: January 06, 2018, 08:46:04 PM »
I had this problem about two years ago.  I sent console in to Davis and it was repaired (supposedly).  While it was in for repairs, I used a spare Vue console to collect the data.  I also like the fact that the Vue allows you to set barometer to altimeter.  So, when I got the repaired VP2 console back, I basically just use it to monitor the temperature in my Brew room.  Here is the link to the thread I started on this problem.  http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=30972.msg308465#msg308465

After reading this thread, I checked The VP2 data vs the Vue and I have had the VP2 lose connection to the ISS four times since November.  The Vue, which I use to collect my data and upload to CWOP, WU, Weathercloud, etc, has never lost connection.  The lowest I found was in the 70% range.  If the VP2 console were to die, I wouldn't replace it except I need it for the additional temperature sensor.  If this wasn't the case, I would replace with the Vue console.

I will be interested to see how your troubles get resolved.  Good luck.

Mark
Switching from VP2 console to Vue console solved MY mysterious "dropouts" too!
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Offline openvista

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #73 on: January 07, 2018, 09:03:07 AM »
Thanks zackdog and Old Tele man for your first hand accounts.

If the Vue console eliminates my dropouts as well, that doesn't say anything good about Davis. Upon learning years ago that the wireless kit experiences signal lock problems in cold weather, Davis could have done one or more of the following:

1) recommended buyers purchase the wired version and change the official specifications and promotional text to reflect an operational range above 10F (-15C)
2) recommended buyers swap a VP2 console for a Vue console if they anticipate being in 10F or colder weather 
3) switched out the OEM Duracell with a SureFire battery (or at least recommend them during support calls)
4) fixed the console and/or transmitters so dropouts no longer occur within the original specifications

Instead, wireless users call support and are told to send in their VP2 consoles for "repair", the pretext being there MUST be something wrong with the console (couldn't be a design error). The unit Davis returns, however, is no more able to hold onto a signal in -15C or colder weather than before. I don't recall anyone ever being offered a refund.

Perhaps support, too, has been kept in the dark. Nevertheless, someone over at Davis must have put 2 and 2 together after all these years. If not, that's worse. It suggests no one at Davis is capable of or willing to recognize patterns in support calls and/or learn from their mistakes to prevent them from appearing in subsequent designs.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 09:07:28 AM by openvista »
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Offline LABob

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Re: Repeated signal dropouts
« Reply #74 on: January 07, 2018, 11:01:42 AM »
Perhaps support, too, has been kept in the dark. Nevertheless, someone over at Davis must have put 2 and 2 together after all these years. If not, that's worse. It suggests no one at Davis is capable of or willing to recognize patterns in support calls and/or learn from their mistakes to prevent them from appearing in subsequent designs.

I can't speak to whether this is true or not at Davis, but I have worked in technology companies with known hardware flaws. I can tell you that we were not allowed to disclose that we knew the hardware was flawed. We just had to tell the customers to send it in for warranty replacement/repair. The support team and hardware team repeatedly informed management that this one component was a huge source of RMAs, but management steadfastly refused to change suppliers because the other suppliers cost a little bit more. For some unknown reason the cost of repeated warranty returns and repairs, as well as damage to the brand's reputation, did not seem to factor into management's cost-benefit calculations.

 

anything