Vantage Connect 2G/3G Data-link

Connect is now in stock and available for immediate shipping.

Connect250wThe Vantage Connect unit is a relatively new addition to the Davis Vantage family. Connect allows automatic uploads of weather data from remote field sites to the Davis website at weatherlink.com using a data link via the standard 2G/3G mobile/cellular phone network. Your live weather data may be viewed on PC or smartphone via a webpage or a fully detailed log downloaded to a Windows PC.

Connect itself is the white shelter fronted by a solar panel & midway up the pole in the image (right).

A sample webpage image of current weather conditions is shown below (at reduced size) – click the image to see live data. You would be able to see data exactly like this from your own field site (live and updated every 5-60 minutes, depending on data plan chosen) with your own Connect installation. Check out the Summary page too, using the link at the top right of the live page. Additionally, you can download a data log at regular intervals to maintain a fully detailed database of all your own weather readings.

weatherlink.comExtra features such as alarm emails (which can be transmitted as smartphone text messages via a suitable account) and automatic uploads to online weather networks such as Weather Underground are also available.

Key facts: With Connect, it’s now possible at relatively low cost for real-time weather data to be measured at any remote site (with no facilities required other than mobile phone reception) and then viewed via the central Davis website on PC or smartphone from any location worldwide and with readings updated every 5 to 60 minutes. A full database of all readings from the site can also be maintained via Internet download to any Windows PC.

The components of a Connect installation

The schematic below illustrates the flexibility of a generalised Connect installation. The Connect unit can receive data from the full range of standard VP2 wireless transmitters, such as a regular ISS main sensor unit (even a Vue ISS), a supplementary temp/hum transmitter and a multi-sensor soil/leaf wetness station. So, to reiterate, Connect is an add-on unit for separately-specified Davis Vantage sensor transmitters; the standard Vantage sensor units generate the weather readings as usual, while Connect provides the remote data-link capability.

connect_schem600In the simplest configuration (i.e. receiving data from a standard Vue or VP2 ISS), a Connect unit will therefore report readings for:

  • wind speed and direction;
  • air temperature and humidity;
  • pressure;
  • and rainfall;

Readings for any further weather parameters (solar or UV intensity, soil temperature and moisture etc) will depend on which of the optional VP2 supplementary transmitters may also specified for the system.

So, in a basic configuration, Connect will be receiving data from a single Vue/VP2 transmitter (typically an ISS, but in principle even a single 6372 temperature transmitter will work). But further sensors and transmitters can be added as required, provided the same rules as for a standard VP2 station for mixing transmitter types are followed (e.g. only one ISS main sensor unit allowed per Connect unit).

Connect uploads the data automatically at regular intervals to the central server at weatherlink.com, from where the data may be downloaded to a local PC or viewed as a webpage in any standard browser or on most smartphones.

Connect in more detail

The Vantage Connect unit is therefore an extension to the main Davis Vantage family of Vantage Pro 2 and Vue weather stations and works with existing Vantage sensor transmitters, but replaces the console, logger and data link parts of a conventional Davis system.

The Connect unit thus combines four components of a remote weather VP2 monitoring system into a single assembly:

  • Console/receiver, replacing the standard VP2 or Vue consoles or Envoy unit;
  • Data logger;
  • Cellular modem;
  • Self-contained, solar-powered power supply (with rechargeable battery for overnight and low-light operation);

So, for a complete remote weather monitoring system, all that’s needed – in addition to the Connect unit itself – is a standard VP2 wireless sensor assembly (ISS) such as the 6322OV or 6327OV Plus ISS units (or even a basic 6357 Vue ISS unit), together with any extra wireless sensors that the application may call for. The Connect unit removes the need for any type of conventional VP2 console or weatherproof shelter to be present and is fully compatible with all Vantage family wireless transmitters and repeaters.

connect_comp400The pictures left show a Connect unit in its normal functional state – closed and sealed to the elements; and also (below) open for checks/maintenance.

Dimensions of the Connect unit are approx 35 x 25 x 11cm (14 x 10 x 4″) and attaches to a pole via U-bolts top and bottom. The unit can also be mounted to any flat surface, but pole-mounting will often be preferred because it will usually achieve greater height and hence better mobile reception. The field image at the top of this page shows relative size and typical configuration more clearly. The unit has a significant weight (4kg) due to the lead-acid battery onboard).

Connect is powered by a 5W solar panel charging the 6v/12Ah battery via a high-efficiency MPPT regulator. Early experience suggests that this power supply provides more than adequate power reserves to carry the unit through the dull UK winter months, although in more demanding locations such as Northern Scotland it may be desirable to avoid the 5-minute data plan (which consumes most power) or also to specify, for example, the  6616 Supplementary Solar Panel.

To summarise the data handling in a little more detail: The data logger built into the Vantage Connect receives and stores all the data that a standard VP2 logger can log . The Connect then uploads the stored data automatically at regular intervals of 5, 15 or 60 minutes to a secure page on the weatherlink.com website, where all the features of a standard WeatherlinkIP account will be available (see our main WeatherlinkIP page for further details), including the option to download a comprehensive data record to your own PC for detailed analysis, archiving and reporting. (NB Please note that uploads can only be made to the weatherlink.com server – the uploads cannot be redirected to any other server.)

The Vantage Connect also allows alarm conditions to be programmed. If a particular combination of weather conditions occurs, an alarm signal will be sent immediately to the weatherlink.com server from where the user can be alerted by email or, at modest extra cost, SMS text (by setting up a link to a suitable email-to-SMS gateway service). Other features of a weatherlink.com account such as automatic uploads to online networks such as Weather Underground are also available.

Configuration of the Connect unit (eg transmitter channel settings, alarm settings, display units, calibration parameters etc) can all be set remotely via the web interface pages of the Connect account at weatherlink.com. All Connect configuration functions are therefore managed remotely.

Connect mobile data plans

Connect prices will have two parts: an initial price to cover the hardware cost and an ongoing  annual plan charge for use of the mobile phone data network.

Hardware prices are already set and shown on our price-list. There will be three different plan charges equivalent to £9, £14 and £18 monthly (+VAT and charged annually) respectively depending on whether the 60, 15 or 5 minute update interval is chosen – frequent updates consume more bandwidth and so cost more.

Connect versions

As of late 2016 the standard 6620 Connect will be progressively phased out and replaced with a new 6622 Connect variant fitted with a modem that can use either 2G or 3G networks depending on available signals in the locality.

There is also information that the 6622 modem uses less power than the modem in the standard 6620 Connect unit. The 6622 units will therefore be expected to have a greater power reserve during short, overcast winter days and hence may be more suitable for use with the 5-minute data plan in UK conditions.

We recommend specifying 6622 in preference to 6620 for all new installations.

Connect pricing

List price for the 6620 wireless Connect itself unit is £780+VAT – please see our price-lists for exact current pricing, which may include some discounts. We expect the 6622 Connect units to cost £50-60 more. To this will need to be added the Vantage sensor assembly of your choice (again prices are shown on our price-lists) and the annual cellular data plan – see pricing box right. We may often have full-inclusive bundle pricing available for certain standard configurations, which will include the first year’s data plan.

Cabled Connect and Connect Retrofit

All of the description above is primarily about the wireless version of Connect. There is also a cabled Connect version (6620C or 6622C) available to order. The only sensor assembly suitable for attaching to this cabled version is the cabled VP2 ISS (6322C) or the equivalent Plus ISS (6327C). There is only a small cost saving by opting for the cabled version and please remember that no additional sensors can be attached to a cabled Connect other than the primary ISS.

NB Davis have decided not to proceed to worldwide launch of the 6626 Connect Retrofit unit that was previously announced – presumably on the basis that it offers little advantage over the full Connect product.

Choosing Sensors for a Connect installation

The topic of choosing sensors for Connect and allowed combinations of sensor transmitters is discussed on a separate page.

6620 Connect Unit – Beta Test Report

Prodata Weather Systems has been collaborating with Davis (as the only UK dealer to do so) during 2013 to perform some final beta testing of the Connect product under UK conditions. This has given us detailed insight and experience with Connect and allows us to recommend and advise on this highly cost-effective product with unrivalled expertise. A short report on this testing can be found on our main Weatherlab page.