WX radio repeater on solar power

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I live in the countryside and I'd like to receive fire alerts from NOAA weather radio. I bought a Midland WR400 radio and installed one of these against my chimney:


and connected them with 75ohm coaxial cable and adapters but I don't receive any WX or FM at all. I'm in a canyon and went up to the top of the ridge with the radio and WX comes in perfectly there which is about 1200 feet from my house as the crow flies. 20 feet back down the road and it's gone again so I think my house at the bottom of the canyon has no hope of receiving the signal directly.

The only thing I can think of is a solar powered repeater on top of the ridge. What do you think?
 

mmckenna

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The only thing I can think of is a solar powered repeater on top of the ridge. What do you think?
You cannot run a repeater on the NOAA frequencies. You won't be able to get a license to do that.

If you can mount the radio on top of the hill with solar/battery power and take the audio out, you could relay it down to your home via twisted pair wire, or by converting the audio to IP and sending it back down to your home via a wireless network link.
 

ko6jw_2

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Ubiquity makes microwave link devices (some not requiring a license) that could be used to relay a signal 1200 feet easily. It would be quite a project depending on you level of expertise. Additional hardware would be needed for an analog to digital conversion and vice versa on the receive end. Not simple or cheap, but it definitely could be done.

Could also consider HF Wefax.
 

prcguy

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I have not specifically checked the rules for MURS, but I believe if you get a MURS legal radio you can broadcast just about any audio content through it. It would be easy to have a cheap WX receiver feeding into a MURS hand held on low power running off a battery charged by solar. Its something you could research and if legal its technically very easy.

There are also license free services at 900MHz where you could relay a WX channel using a cheap radio.
 

mmckenna

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§95.2757 MURS duration of transmissions.
MURS stations may not be operated in the continuous carrier transmit mode.

900MHz would be a better option. Or just get a cheap Part 15 FM broadcast transmitter.
 

mmckenna

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Part 15 FM broadcast transmitter. With a good directional antenna, it would probably reach your house:

12/5 volts DC. Not sure about the ERP limits under Part 15, though.

Beware, there are a lot of non-certified FM broadcast transmitters on Amazon that would not meet the FCC requirements.
 

vagrant

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Hmm...I'm not trying to be a spoiler here, but my WX radio sounds an alert each week when they do the test on Wednesday here. My WX radio plays the alert tone for about 20 minutes until it resets on its own or I intervene. Additionally, not once do I hear the actual message unless I intervene and hit the weather button to monitor the message (audio). I use some old Radio Shack WX alert radio so others may operate differently, or they may not and you may never hear the actual message to discern if it is a test or legitimate emergency. Based on your post, it appears you are not able to test that functionality at your home. Also, how would you reset it, or do you just wait the 20 minutes each week? If you turn the volume down on the RX radio in the house during the 20 minute alert will you remember to turn it back up?

I would test the WX radio by just connecting a directional antenna with some gain to the radio and hold it in my hand while up on the roof. I would listen to the signal (squelch open) when aimed at the WX transmitter site and then test it by turning it 45 or 90 degrees and listen until turned a full 360. You may hear the WX signal better (if at all) when it bounces off a canyon wall face versus directly toward the WX transmitter site. Yes, RF works like that.

And finally, if not more importantly...I currently have the Creek Fire here in Fresno County California nearby. Guess how many alerts I heard from NOAA on my WX radio. Guess how many I heard when it went from 20k, to 50k, to 100k and up to 200k acres? You...actually nobody would like to hear the answer. There have been progressive mandatory evacuations over the last 10 days, but not a peep. Flash flood warnings, no problem. Fires...yeah, it is ridiculous. Are the lack of warnings criminal? I don't know.
 
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mmckenna

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Still, the previous concerns should be considered before rigging up a solar box on a hill and buying more gear.
Yeah, I agree. A good directional antenna, maybe one on each end would probably help the range.

But I like your idea of trying a VHF Yagi on the roof of the home first to see if that would work.
 

KE0VUL

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I live in one of the in-between zones for noaa nwr coverage as well. Get lots of fade and have to check in the summer constantly or move outside to hear alerts.

Could relay in the amateur bands with a license as long as your station IDs; it's allowed under 97.113(c)
"No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station, except propagation and weather forecast information intended for use by the general public and originated from United States Government stations,..."

Some repeaters may already carry a weather alerting feature on the controller.

Found that monitoring ARMER in Minnesota is more useful for weather reports though with fire and officers reporting conditions and the signal is as persistent as cell service. Usually dispatch notifies officers and pages are sent out warning of pending storms. Although spotting yourself is just as important with severe storms, sometimes weather develops too fast for doppler, public safety, or other spotters to report.
 
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I think the most important question is are fire alerts broadcast on WX? I understand that they may not always be broadcast but are they ever?

I see now that I can not rebroadcast on a WX frequency but does anyone know of a weather radio (or any device) that will alarm based on an alert on another frequency? The Midland WR400 will silently monitor the WX band for any alerts and then trigger an alarm if an alert is found. Will any device silently monitor non-WX frequencies for alerts and trigger an alarm if one is found? If so then it should work to rebroadcast on a different frequency. It sounds like MURS, 900MHz, and Part 15 FM are all options.

Easiest of all would be to somehow pick up the signal directly but the signal comes from the other side of a very steep hill which rises maybe 500 feet above my house with about 1200 feet laterally between my house and the ridgetop. From the top the signal completely disappears with the WR400's built-in antenna after moving just 20 feet back down the road so I don't see how it's possible. Is a VHF Yagi really worth a try at the house? Is it worth trying a better radio?
 
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I asked Midland whether the WR400 will detect alerts on FM frequencies and I got:

"Unfortunately, no. Weather radios only decode alerts on the NOAA frequencies."

Any ideas?
 

krokus

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You could use a radio to feed the audio signal to a computer, which has decoding software for EAS signaling. The computer could then sound an alert, via that program.
 
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I can't get the local fire frequencies for the same reason I can't get the WX frequencies. Can't monitor them 24 hours a day like a (silent) weather radio can either.
 
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