Wireless Sensors / CWS655A
This product is no longer available.
CWS655A 922 MHz Wireless Soil-Water Probe for Australia
Services Available
Repair Yes
Calibration Yes
Free Support Yes


The CWS655A is a wireless version of our CS655 soil water reflectometer. It has 12 cm rods and monitors soil volumetric water content, bulk electrical conductivity, and temperature. This reflectometer has an internal 922 MHz radio that transmits data to a CWB100A Wireless Base Station or to another wireless sensor. The 922 MHz frequency is used in Australia, Israel, and other countries worldwide.

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Benefits and Features

  • Versatile sensor—measures dielectric permittivity, bulk electrical conductivity (EC), and soil temperature
  • Measurement corrected for effects of soil texture and electrical conductivity
  • Internal frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum radio provides longer range and less interference
  • Battery powered
  • A reliable, low-maintenance, low-power method for making measurements in applications where cabled sensors are impractical or otherwise undesirable
  • Transmissions can be routed through up to three other wireless sensors
  • Compatible with CR800, CR850, CR1000, and CR3000 dataloggers

This product will be discontinued as of 10 April 2017. Please review the CWS-Series and CWB-Series Discontinuation Notice for further details. 


Detailed Description

The CWS655A has 12-cm rods that insert into the soil. It measures propagation time, signal attenuation, and temperature. Dielectric permittivity, volumetric water content, and bulk electrical conductivity are then derived from these raw values.

Measured signal attenuation is used to correct for the loss effect on reflection detection and thus propagation time measurement. This allows accurate water content measurements in soils with bulk ≤3.7 dS m-1 without performing a soil-specific calibration.

Soil bulk electrical conductivity is also derived from the attenuation measurement. A thermistor in thermal contact with a probe rod near the epoxy surface measures temperature. Horizontal installation of the sensor provides accurate soil temperature measurement at the same depth as the water content measurement. For other orientations, the temperature measurement will be that of the region near the rod entrance into the epoxy body.

Why Wireless?

There are situations when it is desirable to make measurements in locations where the use of cabled sensors is problematic. Protecting cables by running them through conduit or burying them in trenches is time consuming, labor intensive, and sometimes not possible. Local fire codes may preclude the use of certain types of sensor cabling inside of buildings. In some applications measurements need to be made at distances where long cables decrease the quality of the measurement or are too expensive. There are also times when it is important to increase the number of measurements being made but the data logger does not have enough available channels left for attaching additional sensor cables.


Weather Resistance IP67 rating for sensor and battery pack (Battery pack must be properly installed. Each sensor is leak tested.)
Operating Temperature Range -25° to +50°C
Operating Relative Humidity 0 to 100%
Power Source 2 AA batteries with a battery life of 1 year assuming sensor samples taken every 10 minutes (Optional solar charging available.)
Average Current Drain 300 μA (with 15-minute polling)
Rod Length 12 cm (4.7 in.)
Dimensions 14.5 x 6 x 4.5 cm (5.7 x 2.4 x 1.77 in.)
Weight 216 g (7.6 oz)

Measurement Accuracies

Volumetric Water Content ±3% VWC typical in mineral soils that have solution electrical conductivity ≤ 10 dS/m. Uses Topps Equation (m3/m3).
Relative Dielectric Permittivity
  • ±(3% of reading + 0.8) for solution EC ≤ 8 dS/m (1 to 40 dielectric permittivity range)
  • ±2 for solution EC ≤ 2.8 dS/m (40 to 81 dielectric permittivity range)
Bulk Electrical Conductivity ±(5% of reading + 0.05 dS/m)
Soil Temperature ±0.5°C

Internal 25 mW FHSS Radio

Frequency 920 to 928 MHz
Where Used Australia and New Zealand
FHSS Channel 50
Transmitter Power Output 25 mW (+14 dBm)
Receiver Sensitivity -110 dBm (0.1% frame error rate)
Standby Typical Current Drain 3 μA
Receive Typical Current Drain 18 mA (full run)
Transmit Typical Current Drain 45 mA
Average Operating Current 15 μA (with 1-second access time)
Quality of Service Management RSSI
Additional Features GFSK modulation, data interleaving, forward error correction, data scrambling, RSSI reporting


Note: The following shows notable compatibility information. It is not a comprehensive list of all compatible or incompatible products.

Data Loggers

Product Compatible Note
CR200X (retired)
CR206X (retired)
CR211X (retired)
CR216X (retired)
CR295X (retired)
CR5000 (retired)
CR6 The CR6 datalogger must have data logger OS version 4.0 or higher.


CWS655 Firmware v.5 (433 KB) 03-30-2016

Latest firmware for the CWS655.  

View Update History

Wireless Sensor Planner v.1.7 (30.5 MB) 08-08-2013

The Wireless Sensor Planner is a tool for use with Campbell Scientific wireless sensors.  It assists in designing and configuring wireless sensor networks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Number of FAQs related to CWS655A: 34

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  1. The bulk electrical conductivity (EC) measurement is made along the sensor rods, and it is an average reading of EC over the top 12 cm of soil.

  2. The equation used to determine volumetric water content in the firmware for the CWS655 is the Topp et al. (1980) equation, which works for a wide range of mineral soils but not necessarily for artificial soils that typically have high organic matter content and high clay content. In this type of soil, the standard equations in the firmware will overestimate water content. 

    When using a CWS655 in artificial soil, it is best to perform a soil-specific calibration. For details on performing a soil-specific calibration, refer to “The Water Content Reflectometer Method for Measuring Volumetric Water Content” section in the CS650/CS655 manual. A linear or quadratic equation that relates period average to volumetric water content will work well.

  3. Damage to the CWS655 electronics or rods cannot be repaired because these components are potted in epoxy. A faulty or damaged sensor needs to be replaced. For more information, refer to the Repair and Calibration page.

  4. No. The temperature sensor is located inside the sensor’s epoxy head next to one of the sensor rods. The stainless-steel rods are not thermally conductive, so the reported soil temperature reading is actually the temperature of the sensor head near the soil surface.

    Because the sensor is installed vertically with the sensor head above ground, the soil temperature reading is not representative of the temperature over the length of the 12 cm rods, but the reading is closer to the temperature of the soil surface. Because the temperature reading is not representative of the entire thickness of soil measured for water content, no attempt was made to correct the water content readings for temperature changes.

  5. Period average and electrical conductivity readings were taken with several CWS655 probes in solutions of varying permittivity and varying electrical conductivity at constant temperature. Coefficients were determined for a best fit of the data.  The equation is of the form

    Ka(σ,τ) = C032 + C122 + C2*σ*τ2 + C32 + C43*τ + C52*τ + C6*σ*τ + C7*τ + C83 + C92 + C10*σ + C11

    where Ka is apparent dielectric permittivity, σ is bulk electrical conductivity (dS/m), τ is period average (μS), and C1 to C11 are constants.

  6. The volumetric water content reading is the average water content over the length of the sensor’s rods.

  7. The maximum recommended number in a Campbell Scientific wireless sensor network is 50. 

  8. The CWS655 can detect water as far away as 10 cm in saturated sand. As the soil dries down, that distance decreases to approximately 4 cm in dry sand. 

  9. No. The abrupt permittivity change at the interface of air and saturated soil causes a different period average response than would occur with the more gradual permittivity change found when the sensor rods are completely inserted in the soil. 

    For example, if a CWS655 was inserted halfway into a saturated soil with a volumetric water content of 0.4, the probe would provide a different period average and permittivity reading than if the probe was fully inserted into the same soil when it had a volumetric water content of 0.2.

  10. To get accurate water content readings, a soil-specific calibration is probably required if any of the following are true:

    • The soil has more than 5% organic matter content.
    • The soil has more than 20% clay content.
    • The soil is derived from volcanic parent material.
    • The soil has porosity greater than 0.5.

    For details on performing a soil-specific calibration, refer to “The Water Content Reflectometer Method for Measuring Volumetric Water Content” section in the CS650/CS655 manual.

    Some users have obtained good results by applying a linear correction to the square root of reported permittivity before applying the Topp et al. (1980) equation. The linear correction is obtained by taking readings in saturated and dry soil and using volumetric water content measurements obtained from oven-dried soil samples to estimate actual permittivity. 

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