Davis 6520 Weatherlink for Mac

Using Apple Macs with the Davis Weatherlink loggers

6520_packThere is a version of the Weatherlink data logger and software pack specifically designed for connection to Macs – this is the 6520 Weatherlink for Mac pack, which supports only Intel Macs running OSX v10.1 or later. (There used to be an earlier version of the 6520 Mac logger with a serial interface that was compatible with older Mac versions but that has long since been discontinued.)

The data logger included in this pack is exactly the same USB logger as supplied with the 6510USB Weatherlink version for Windows and with the same USB cable, but, although it bears the same name, the Weatherlink for Mac software is a significantly different version of the Weatherlink software.

In general terms, the Mac Weatherlink program offers broadly similar features to the Windows version, but the Mac version does have significant differences and limitations compared to the Windows version. In the descriptions below we’re focusing on these differences in the Mac version from the Windows version – for a more general introduction to Weatherlink features in general, please see the main Weatherlink page.

Although this 6520 Mac Weatherlink version is readily available, we would actually recommend that, even if you routinely use a Mac rather than Windows, it is well worth considering using an older 32-bit Windows PC as a dedicated weather PC rather than the Mac Weatherlink version. This is not in the slightest a ‘theological’ view on Windows vs Mac as user environments, but reflects some important  practical and feature-related limitations associated with the Mac version, which include:

  • There are relatively few Mac Weatherlink versions sold. We estimate from our own sales in the UK that the Mac versions represents just 2-3% of total Weatherlink sales – in other words a genuinely tiny proportion of total Weatherlink sales. (The proportion may be a little higher in other territories but we doubt that it exceeds 5% anywhere.) This has two practical consequences:
    • The Windows version inevitably gets the lion’s share of development resources because of its much greater market appeal. As a result, the Windows version has more features, is more up-to-date and is typically more thoroughly tested and bug-fixed;
    • Very few dealers will run Mac Weatherlink systems themselves and are therefore just not a position to offer any practical support whatsoever for the Mac version from first-hand experience;
  • Limitations of the Mac Weatherlink version, of which we’ll mention a few below. In general, Weatherlink for Mac is a perfectly serviceable program which is run successfully by a substantial number of users around the world and offers broadly similar features to the Windows version. But if you’re concerned about the details of any feature mentioned below or indeed availability of any other specific feature not explicitly listed below we suggest that you make further enquiries before purchasing the Mac version.
  • Most generic Weatherlink features are supported but detailed features that Weatherlink for Mac does not support include:
    • Logging of data from:
      • UV sensor;
      • Leaf Wetness Sensor;
      • Soil Moisture Sensor
    • Use with the 6555 WeatherlinkIP logger; (NB Previous versions of the Weatherlink for Mac software did not support the subscription-based uploads to the Davis weatherlink.com website. But with the release of the v6.0.2 WLfMac software in July 2015 this limitation is removed. v6.0.2 is available as an update to existing installations as a download from the Davis support website);
    • Use with the various other Advanced Weatherlink Loggers – only the standard USB logger is fully supported;
    • CWOP or GLOBE program upload capabilities;
    • Expansion modules, eg Email/Phone Alert or Agricultural/Turf Management modules;
    • Uploads to the popular Weather Underground (WUnderground) website appear still not to be supported. (This is not a Davis issue because WU make available their own expansion modules to manage WU uploads. WU simply do not seem as yet to have released a suitable Mac-compatible module.)
  • There is a thriving marketplace in add-on software for the Vantage Pro stations and loggers, bringing extra features and some very visually-attractive data presentations, especially for web pages and real-time data. Inevitably, these add-on programs are primarily targeted at Windows users simply because of the far greater popularity of the Windows version. As a result, Mac users are deprived of the opportunity to use some of these attractive alternative programs. However, Mac user s have not been completely forgotten and there are a slowly growing number of third-party programs specifically intended for use with the Mac, which would be well worth evaluation for any prospective Mac users of the Weatherlink logger. These alternative programs include:

Further notes on Mac Weatherlink

Weatherlink for Mac is compatible with all recent Mac OS versions, including Snow Leopard. But it is important to use the appropriate Weatherlink program version. For example, Weatherlink for Mac v5.1.0  is required for use with Snow Leopard.

Please remember that data delivery from the Mac’s USB port to the Weatherlink program is still usually mediated by means of a third-party USB driver written by the maker of the USB chip used in the logger (which is Silicon Labs in fact and not Davis). With a new Mac operating system version it will often be this USB driver that needs updating via a download from the Silicon Labs website, while the Weatherlink program itself remains fully compatible between OS versions.

Additional WL License Packs

6510X Weatherlink for Windows = £33.60

6520X Weatherlink for Mac = £33.60

Prices include VAT but exclude P&P

It is possible to move back and forth between Windows and Mac versions by purchasing the appropriate software. To be clear, the logger hardware is identical between Windows and Mac – it is simply the appropriate Weatherlink software (and any associated USB drivers) that needs to be purchased and installed. (Ownership of the Windows version does not automatically confer a licence to use the Mac version and vice versa. Downloads of program updates from the Davis website will only install and function correctly if a full program copy of the appropriate OS version has previously been successfully installed and run.)

The most cost-effective way of buying the alternative software version is as the Additional License Packs, which simply consist of a CD containing a full copy of the relevant software plus an installation booklet – see sidebar for prices.  Note however that there appears to be no established way of migrating existing Weatherlink data files from one OS version to the other.

Summary

To reiterate our advice above: In general, Weatherlink for Mac is a perfectly serviceable program which is run successfully by a substantial number of users around the world and offers broadly similar features to the Windows version. But the Mac version does have some significant limitations – if these are relevant to your expected use of the software then you might wish to consider running a Windows PC instead in order to gain access to the full set of features and support that the Windows Weatherlink version offers.