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Old 02-19-2003, 04:29 PM   #1
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Weather Radios

I'm looking at replacing my Oregon Scientific WR-102 portable weather radio. It uses the S.A.M.E. technology that allows you to enter in a location code that will only make the radio activate if a warning is issued for that location. Unfortunately my LCD screen is fading and Oregon doesn't provide repair facilities. I'm considering buying a different unit since I have twice had the back case latching mechinism break, forcing me to use a rubber band to keep the battery cover intact.

Two criteria must be met for my replacement. First it has to be operable on batteries if electric isn't preset, secondly it needs to have the capacity to enter in multiple S.A.M.E. codes. I normally preload in the codes for all of the campgrounds we will stay in, prior to departing.

I noticed a Midland unit which is in a weatherproof case (similar to my WR-102) that looks interesting. Most of the desktop type units only seem to have battery backup, not battery operation. This is critical in case we get into a situation where power has failed.

My biggest problem with my current unit, other than the screen and battery cover, is the difficulity in getting a good signal inside the Safari. I usually end up walking around trying several locations to find a suitable site. Possibly the Midland is better here?

For those of you not familiar with the logistics of these radios, the Trailer Life campground directory always lists the state county names of all listed campground sites. You can then find the county in the NOAA web site which will give you the proper code to enter into the radio. Personally I consider this radio an esscential piece of travel equipment.

Jack
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Old 02-19-2003, 05:58 PM   #2
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Battery back-up?

Jack,

When you say "battery back-up", do you mean that it only prevents losing the codes that you have entered?

So it wouldn't come on and alert you on battery back-up? That sounds odd.

John

p.s. I'm not familiar with these units, that's why I'm asking.
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Old 02-19-2003, 11:29 PM   #3
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RF doesn't penetrate aluminum cans. That is why you have a reception problem inside your A/S.

It's possible that one unit may have a better reciever circuit but all Radios and Recievers have to be licensed with the FCC. The FCC has basic peramiters that all manufactures must confrom too to get their license for the product. In an Ideal world that would make all products equal (we all know that doesn't happen in real life.).

The best way to overcome your reception issue inside your A/S would be to also add to your list of desired features an external antenna jack. Then install the appropriate antenna to the exterior of your A/S. That will elliminate the problems with reception inside as well as a decent external antenna will out perform the built in antenna on the unit any day of the week.

Antenna's are a whole science in themselves. Because of the construction of the A/S it works as a perfect ground plane and increases the efficency of any antenna mounted to the center of the roof. This is true of any radio receiver/transmitter that you could ever desire to use. Most are available as a Mag mount and while a mag mount would not stick to the A/S you could, in a pinch, tape it there and get as good of results, in reguards to reception, as a perment mount antenna. Depending on how your A/S is configured you might be able to use a Mag mount on the chassie of a roof A/C unit and be able to route the cable inside at that point as well.

I would look for a good 2 way shop or a Ham radio shop and talk to the people there. They can probably help with mounting ideas as well as help you with antenna selection and possibly even custom tune an antenna to the correct frequency range for you. Weather bands are pretty low on the frequency band and the lower the frequency the longer the antenna whip. CB's ideal antenna lenght on a 1/4 wave antenna is 102 inches if I recall correctly. I'm pretty sure weather is broadcast even lower and quite possibly require and antenna in excess of 200 inches (not very practical). So you would proably be most interested in a "loaded" antenna. This antenna design allows you to make the working lenght of a shorter antenna act as tho it has close to the same lenght as a 1/4 wave. So you could get an antenna that's about 36 inches tal function close to as good as a 200 inch antenna.

You might play around with you TV antenna if you have one mounted on your A/S. While it would be tuned for the frequency that the TV operates on you might get saticfactory result simply because your using an antenna out side the vehicle. Most small two way portable radios and recievers use a BNE style antenna connector. Your local radio shack could propbly fix you up with a lenght of coax and put the BNE on one end and the coax TV end on the other an make the connection. It might work surprisingly well even though the antenna wouldn't be ideal for the application.

Just hook the unit up and stay away from it as much as possible if you have thunderstoms in your area. Antennas make good lightning rods as well.
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Old 02-20-2003, 07:38 AM   #4
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weather radios

Jack,
I have a pair of Motorola Talkabout 2-way radios(model T6400).
They do not have a S.A.M.E. feature, but I just completed a trip from Memphis to Key West and back and I was able to receive NOAA broadcasts everywhere including the inside of my Safari. They do have an alert feature. Additionally, having my wife give me backup directions with the 2-way feature while parking has eliminated sharp discussions between us during the parking process. I found mine at Costco for around $100.
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Old 02-20-2003, 08:09 AM   #5
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Re: Battery back-up?

Quote:
Originally posted by John
Jack,

When you say "battery back-up", do you mean that it only prevents losing the codes that you have entered?

John,

Many have battery backup to hold the settings. I want one that will totally operate with or without 110 volt power. I've been to too many places that have lost power during stormy weather.

Jack
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Old 02-20-2003, 08:13 AM   #6
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Re: weather radios

Quote:
Originally posted by fdx753
Jack,
I have a pair of Motorola Talkabout 2-way radios(model T6400).
They do not have a S.A.M.E. feature,
I have a couple of similar units although not with the weather feature. I really like the S.A.M.E. technology since it eliminates a lot of the unecessary warnings that may not be applicable to the location you are at.

Jack
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Old 02-20-2003, 08:25 AM   #7
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Jack,

It would seem that the manufacture's would take into account that if a bad storm is coming, losing your 110V is highly likely !!!

I agree that being able to input your area is a major benefit because if it does sounds an alert in the middle of the night, you know that it's your area that's under the alert.

If you find a "true" battery backup S.A.M.E. that meets your needs, could you please post it for us?

John
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Old 02-20-2003, 09:29 AM   #8
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John,

There are two radios that I am familiar with that I know for sure have this feature. I'm looking at this point for others.

The first is the Oregon Scientific WR-102. The other is the Midland 74-250. Both are hand held units, yellow in color. Both can accept AC power if you purchase the proper AC transformer brick.

I have the WR-102 which at this point has a dying LCD screen. The radio performs fairly well although I do have to move it around in the Safari to find a good location for reception. It's weak point is the back battery cover latch which I have broken on two different WR-102 units. Battery life in the standby mode (which will activate when an alert is issued) is 30 days on 3 AA batteries.

The Midland unit looks fairly much the same as the Oregon. One interesting difference though is the operation of the S.A.M.E. feature.

In the Oregon unit you load up to six codes. If you are tuned to the proper NOAA channel, and an alert takes place, the Oregon unit checks all of the codes that you entered to attempt a match. The Midland unit only monitors one code at a time. This is a disadvantage if you are in a location that boarders multiple counties. In most cases they each have their own codes. While many weather issues affect adjoining counties some do not. Personally this is a big disadvantage to this unit. I live about a mile from a county line, some the the locations I travel to like Branson Mo., and Lake of the Ozarks boarder on multiple county lines. In these situations I normally load in the codes of the adjoining counties.

Apparently S.A.M.E technology provides specific codes for event warnings or watches. The Oregon unit provides a warning and watch indicator. The Midland actually displays a word indicating the issue that the warning or watch is about. For example TORNADO could appear on the Midland unit. The Oregon will show the indicator that a warning or watch is in effect but you will have to listen to find out what the event is.

Here are some links to sites that display each unit.

http://www.scientificsales.com/conradi.htm

http://www.weatherradiostore.com/product.asp?itmky=842

Regards,

Jack
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Old 02-20-2003, 10:12 AM   #9
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NOAA

Jack,

Thanks for the links. This is something that I've wanted to get for many yrs(even prior to living in my A/S), but it never got high on my list !!

Are hard copies of the NOAA county codes available? The internet won't be easily accessable while traveling.

John
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Old 02-20-2003, 10:35 AM   #10
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I don't know about hard copies but you can always print them from the NOAA web site. I usually print out the states that I will be traveling through and stick them in my Trailer Life directory which I carry with me. That way I can always do an update to the radio if we end up staying at a place I didn't plan for. Also keep in mind that both radios have settings that will ignore the S.A.M.E codes and broacast any alert which comes over the radio.

Here is the link to the web page. The file is in adobe format and which should allow you to print selected pages.

http://205.156.54.206/nwr/nwrsame.htm

Regards,

Jack
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Old 03-01-2003, 08:15 AM   #11
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Two for the price of one

Jack,
I just came across this abt a handheld CB radio by Cobra, which has the wx channels. Might not be exactlly the same but..
http://www.durhamradio.com/cobra-hh38st.htm

ciao
I've just edited my note here regarding the second unit.
Reason:
I called to place an order this and, was told that it was no longer available. BUT, we could buy a more expensive unit..lol
bait and switch???
I just wanted to pass that on.
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Old 03-01-2003, 09:31 AM   #12
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I checked them out and they do look nice. Unfortunately they don't have the S.A.M.E. technology which is a requirement for me.

Thanks for the links!

Jack
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Old 03-01-2003, 10:10 AM   #13
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Thumbs up Like you, a friend of mine

Jack
At work brought his unit in and, was showing it off.
He has similar problems with his as well. Additionally, the select sw on his is sticking. I don't recall just what it did but, it's the sw on the bottom right hand side. Has to use a pen sometimes to get it to pop back out. At this point, he mention looking at a newer unit that, he had heard of being offered for sale at Radio Shack. I only mention this because it could be a lead for you. I asked him if it was a Midland?? but, he wasn't sure of the make or model.
ciao
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Old 03-01-2003, 01:30 PM   #14
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Thanks I will check it out.

Jack
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