Emergency Radio - What to buy

TedTheLed

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...I got a NOAA Midland Public Alert SAME digital all hazards radio but it's useless because it doesn't pick up the alert signal (it gives the warning it didn't receive the test signal every wednesday) though it does pick up the weather report channels themselves..

Sooo --- I have both Sirius and XM satellite radios and they work perfectly; is there (shouldn't there be) some sort of alert channel from space?
 
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chmsam

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XM has (had?) channel 247 (24/7, get it?) with weather and hazard info for major cities.

As for the Midland SAME radio, most of those have an external antenna hook up that makes a huge difference. Remember that being inside can make a difference, especially in a metal framed building. A lot of new construction uses more metal than older buildings. Too much metal turns the building into a Farrady Cage -- no reception unless the antenna is outside the building. Also, many electrical devices can cause interference, like CFL's, dimmer switches, electrical motors, etc. Keep antennas away from wiring and these devices and you might have better luck. Best results can usually be had with an antenna that is outside of the house.

For a few of my weather radios I've used amplified antennas made for small LCD TV sets. I wouldn't recommend them for scanners, though since amplifiing the signal also means boosting the background noise.
 

TedTheLed

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chmsam,

thanks very much for the suggestions. I just hadn't thought of an external antenna..the unit's antenna does lean against a window, but going outdoors with some wire will probably give just the boost it needs for the emergency signal, I hope, if not I'll try the amplifier..
..meanwhile the sirius needs to be outside and pointed North-E , while the XM antenna works ok inside near the window pointed SE..

thanks again for the xm emergency alert channel tip, I just tried it, but realized the Bob Dylan Premiere xm radio show just started! (7 AM here) -- so I'll try the alert channel in an hour :) he's so archaic..
 

chmsam

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Satellite radios should have the antennas pointed South (well, XM anyway -- don't know for sure about Sirius). Geosynchronous orbits for the satellites sending the signal should probably be around the equator, so in North America you'd point the antenna South. XM radios ought to still have a feature in the menu for telling you the signal strength -- it's in the manual that comes with the radio or else you can check on one of the XM interest web sites for a how to. BTW, the XM boombox works on batteries so that would make it a choice for some but not all emergencies,

Just a thought, but it's maybe a good idea to borrow an amplified antenna if you can before buying one. A lot of radios get overpowered by receiving too much noise along with the boosted signal (and that's why a signal-to-noise ratio is very important). Most antenna boosters or amplifiers boost as much or more noise than the signal you want. Try before you buy is a good idea in this case.
 

TedTheLed

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you'd think they would all be geosychronous, yet the Sirius must point Northerly, they must have a satellite in non-geo sych. orbit..?
 

Sub_Umbra

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you'd think they would all be geosychronous, yet the Sirius must point Northerly, they must have a satellite in non-geo sych. orbit..?
You are correct, sir. According to Wikipedia Sirius satellites are currently all in highly elliptical orbits which make reception difficult in some parts of the States. "...Sirius intends to launch a geostationary satellite to improve service..." at some point in the future.
 

Burgess

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to Flying Turtle --


Thank you for the link !

:thumbsup:



Lots of useful information here.

CPF comes through once again !


:cool:

-
 

tarponbill

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If you are talking real emergency, and not just power out, then you need AM with range. The GE Super radio is the best and cheapest, about $60. For AM range you need a big ferrite antenna, that means the radio is big in physical size.

I have the Radio Shack emergency radio, SW2, and it is OK, but short range only. The crank feature is tiring, the tuning is coarse, the light is dim and better done with a good flashlight. I put in a good set of Eneloops recently to mitigate the cranking.

Sony makes a few smaller AM/FM radios, I have the ICF-36, less than $30 from Target. It's fine, decent sound and tuning, has a built in ferrite AM antenna. Does weather reception OK. AA batteries so rechargeables are great for it as well.

If you need weather alert, something like a dedicated weather alert S.A.M.E. receiver, say a Midland WR-300 would be what you need. Downside is the AM side is poor.

When it really goes bad and all the local stations are out or on low power only, IMHO, my big old GE Super radio is the one. Cheap and does the job on D cells. You really want good AM reception, good intelligible sound reproduction, and long lasting battery use. FM range is limited even in a non-emergency.

Like with everything these days, YMMV
 

fieldops

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When it really goes bad and all the local stations are out or on low power only, IMHO, my big old GE Super radio is the one. Cheap and does the job on D cells. You really want good AM reception, good intelligible sound reproduction, and long lasting battery use. FM range is limited even in a non-emergency. Like with everything these days, YMMV


This is quite true. If you have a port for an external antenna for AM, it can be of value providing you have space for it. Remember that the ferrite antenna is actually trying to replace one that should be over 750' long. Obviously, this is impractical, so the self contained units are used. It's amazing that it works as well as it does. Also use the ground terminal if your radio has one. A good earth ground greatly assists communications under 1 mhz. Also watch out for man made noise. Generators and other motors are serious noise producers. Even a good old TRF can be swamped by a high noise floor that occurs in the passband.
 

chmsam

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Be cautious with earth grounds and external antennas. I hadn't mentioned grounds before because a decent earth ground is a 6' to 8' copper rod driven into moist soil. Most people won't bother. By using an earth ground and especially an outdoor antenna you bring the danger of lightning into the equation. ALWAYS disconnect an external antenna from the radio, and preferably ground the antenna to earth before lightning gets close. How close? If you can hear even the faintest rumble of thunder, lightning is close and dangerous.

A few years ago there was an article in a communications magazine about a radio enthusiast who said he should have known better than to leave the extrenal (outdoor) antenna attached to the radio any other time than when he was actually listening but he paid the price of a destroyed radio and a damaged electrical system. He was not seriously injured. His lapse in judgement was partly due to the fact that it was in January, not a real popular month for lightning in northern climates. Yep, lightning can strike at any time so leave the antenna disconnected and grounded to earth unless you are actually using the radio. He also mentioned that an antenna switch set to "ground" was not enough. Disconnect and ground.
 

fieldops

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Lightning is always a danger in these situations. You are absolutely right to recommend having external ports disconnected when not in use. Lightning generated noise in the passband will prevent any real AM listening anyway during those times of thunderstorm activity. People used to disconnect their computers during storms and forget the modem line, which is perfect path for low DC. Then the computer/peripherals went bye bye. During experiments in the 80s, we played with Bentonite and other materials to help with soil in poor conductivity zones such as here on Cape Cod. It actually worked well and we did not need to go deep as it is intended to be an RF ground as compared to an electrical DC ground. Good thread here!


Be cautious with earth grounds and external antennas. I hadn't mentioned grounds before because a decent earth ground is a 6' to 8' copper rod driven into moist soil. Most people won't bother. By using an earth ground and especially an outdoor antenna you bring the danger of lightning into the equation. ALWAYS disconnect an external antenna from the radio, and preferably ground the antenna to earth before lightning gets close. How close? If you can hear even the faintest rumble of thunder, lightning is close and dangerous.

A few years ago there was an article in a communications magazine about a radio enthusiast who said he should have known better than to leave the extrenal (outdoor) antenna attached to the radio any other time than when he was actually listening but he paid the price of a destroyed radio and a damaged electrical system. He was not seriously injured. His lapse in judgement was partly due to the fact that it was in January, not a real popular month for lightning in northern climates. Yep, lightning can strike at any time so leave the antenna disconnected and grounded to earth unless you are actually using the radio. He also mentioned that an antenna switch set to "ground" was not enough. Disconnect and ground.
 

tarponbill

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AM even with a good readio can be hard to receive clearly. My emergency antenna is a Terk, it tunes easily and hooks up to any radio with an AM ant terminal. It's only downside is it's big. Well worth the money if you really need to hear long distance(over 50 miles) AM. It's also good at filtering out noise, which when the power is out can come from distant places.

As a plus, the Terk will significantly improve your home theater AM sound, if it matters.
 

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