Hi all. It’s not only Christmas Day, but it is also Weather Wednesday. In the last Weather Wednesday post, we talked about basic tone alert radios, compared to the newer SAME radios. We also discussed the difference between a weather watch and weather warning. In this post, we will talk about programming your SAME radio, focusing on 2 popular desktop models.
If you are looking for a new SAME radio there are many that now incorporate the SAME technology, that is, will program only for the counties you want and for the type of alerts you want. Some of the names are: Midland, Oregon Scientific, First Alert, Reecom, Sangean, and several others. The Midland WR-300, and the Reecom R-1630 both have all the SAME features most people prefer. Plus, they have external antenna jacks and a jack for a flashing strobe light or bed shaker, to get your attention if the siren is turned off – or you are hard of hearing.
Setting up a SAME Radio requires three main things you have to consider. Where the WX station in the 162 MHz range is (channels 1-7) from which your radio will consistently receive a strong signal? From which counties covered by that strong station do you want to monitor alerts? Which alerts do you want to block?
If you live in Barrie Ontario, there are two Weatheradio Canada stations that you can receive reasonably good signals from there. They are within the cities of Collingwood, and Orillia. They are on two different frequencies but they are broadcasting the same WX information as repeater stations to each other. The Collingwood station (XMJ316) is at 162.475 MHz and the Orillia station (VBV562) is at 162.400 MHZ. The Buffalo (KEB98) and Little Valley (WWG32) stations are also identical to each other.
The WR-300 and the R-1630 WX Radios require you to manually select the WX channel and the county-specific FIPS or CLC codes. Then, go to the NOAA or Weatheradio Canada Webpage and look up all the information about which stations cover which counties and a list of the FIPS or CLC codes, the six-letter county-specific codes – for your area.
For the two radios you are given a choice of ALL, SINGLE, or MULTIPLE. ALL is the default when you manually select your channel. This provides all alerts within about a 50-mile or 60 kilometre radius. This is NOT normally what most people want. For example, if you have manually selected the Weatheradio station in Toronto, Ontario XMJ225), and you leave the radio set to ALL (counties), you get alerts from 11 counties, one of them just North of the Greater Toronto Area in Orangeville, and the city of Hamilton to the west.
They both also have a single mode, to receive alerts from only one county. If you set the single county as your home county, you miss all the alerts from adjoining counties where your upcoming weather is no doubt developing.
Finally, there is a selection for MULTIPLE. Here you can enter only those counties that you think might affect you. In the case of people who live in the region of Niagara in Ontario, you could program the radio for either: “St. Catharines, Grimsby (northern Niagara Region)”, “Niagara Falls, Welland (Southern Niagara Region)”, or the entire region in the Single county setting, just in case a storm rolls in from Western New York.
It is best to go to the NOAA or Weatheradio Canada Web pages and make sure that the counties from which you want to hear alerts are broadcast from the transmitter you select. The NOAA lists show you the frequency in MHz, the location of the transmitter, and its call sign and power output. You can read all of the counties for which alerts are broadcast by the station you chose. In Canada you will get the stations city and county coverage but if you want the call sign you can go to
If you want to block unwanted alerts on the Reecom R-1630 or the Midland WR-300, you go into the blocking menu and scroll down to an alert and click a button to block it and move on to the next one.
Disabling the unwanted alerts is simple, and there are choices of alerts using a siren, voice announcements, or just LEDs on the panel. Four AA batteries will keep the WX radio going for a while during a power outage. There is also an AM/FM radio built in, as well as a clock with an alarm feature in the WR-300. The R-1630 from Reecom doesn’t have the AM/FM radio but the R-1650 also from Reecom does. Both the W-R300 and R-1630 have the alarm clock feature. The Reecom unit has 2 alarms; whereas the Midland WR-300 has one alarm.
On the R1630 and the Midland WR-300, if you have blocked an audible alert, that alert will still show up as an LED alert and the type of alert scrolls across the screen in large letters. Red is a Warning, Orange is a Watch, and Yellow is an Advisory. So, if you see the LED is Orange, you can walk over to see what kind of Watch is being broadcast – or punch a button and listen to the alert message. Both menus are understandable. The Midland W-r300 is easier to navigate through the menus and menu names and functions are easier to understand.
If you find the alert tones on the Midland WR-300 and the Reecom R-1630 too loud, look in the manual and it clearly tells how to set the volume level of the Alerts and Voice messages to Hi or Low for both radios. The W-r300 has just a high and low volume level for the alarm, where as the R-1630 has 16 levels of alarm volume. This is one more feature to look for in the radio you eventually buy.
In the next post, we will talk about SAME WX Radios that do not allow the blocking of alerts, and we will discuss some of the latest portable WX SAME Radios out there.