Weather Wednesday – PROGRAMMING YOUR WEATHER RADIO PART 3 OF 3 

Hi all. It is not only a new year but it is also Weather Wednesday.
In the last two posts we discussed the differences between the basic tone alert radios and the new SAME radios. We even took a look at two models that have been on the market for years in North America and gave you a brief outline of their features and highlights.
In this post, we will talk about SAME radios that are not true SAME radios to most listeners, as well as talking about the latest handheld models out there. We will even touch on scanners, which have SAME WEATHER ALERT as part of their features.
There are those who say that a SAME radio must not only give you the option of localizing the alerts the radio receives to your local area, but it must also allow you to select the weather or non-weather events you want to trigger your unit. However, there are models of SAME WX radio that don’t allow you to block unwanted alerts and this causes those people either to: leave them on the shelf and refuse to buy them, or leave them turned off at night or permanently.
The Midland WR-100B desktop model falls into this category. It doesn’t allow for event blocking and it doesn’t sound the test alerts or the Administrative message. It doesn’t allow you to change the volume of the siren when it goes off during an alert message.
On the other hand, Midland has done some people a favor by eliminating the audible test so it wouldn’t give the impression of an actual alert. The WR-120 is similar in physical size as the WR-100B, but there are some differences in the menus and the layout.
It gives you the option of toggling on or off the weekly test and it allows you to silence the key beeps. Most importantly, it allows you to read the text in either: English, French, or Spanish. Both radios have an alarm clock and they both allow you to program up to (25) county codes with the single, multiple, or any/all counties, with the optional alert types of: display, tone, or voice. These radios cell for around $50.00.
There are several battery-operated portable SAME radios on the market. If a portable SAME WX radio appeals to you, do some research and look for reviews – and see if you can download the manual. The Midland HH54VP Handheld SAME WX Radio is the newest portable SAME WX radio out there. The radio picks up the (7) NOAA WX channels, either with Home/Travel mode to get the strongest one, or Manual Tune. It allows for up to (25) county codes to be entered.
It has Display, Tone or Voice alert. The HH54VP has a clock and it has a Travel/Home mode. In Home mode, the radio uses all the default settings you have made. In Travel mode, the radio searches for the strongest station and it disables the single code and multi-code programming; so the radio will alert you to all counties around your locality. Your defaults will be saved for when you return to Home mode. The radio has a stubby antenna, so one would expect the receiving range not to be as great as WX radios with an extended whip antenna.
The HH54VP2 is exactly the same as the HH54VP and the WR-100B, but it includes a rechargeable battery pack and a charging cradle, and they both can fit (3) AA batteries. Also, the WR-100B doesn’t include the Home or Travel modes but the rest of its programming and the menu layout is identical to the HH54VP model.
Another popular radio is the Oregon Scientific WR-602. It is almost the same as the Midland HH54VP model with the Home/Travel mode. However it also has an Auto tuning setting, which is the same thing as the Home/Travel functions in a way. It also has SAME programming, and alarm clock with a calendar. It also allows you to read the text in English, French, or Spanish. It comes with a rechargeable battery pack and a charging cradle and it allows for optional use of (3) AA batteries. This radio will alert you for every SAME event code and it allows you to program up to (9) county codes into the radio.
This radio is also known as the WR-108 and it was recalled in the US in the summer of 2007 because some radios didn’t report all WX alerts. It was replaced by the WR-602, which is identical in physical size programming and menu layout.
There are a number of handheld, base and mobile scanners with a SAME WEATHER ALERT option that have been around for a few years. Some examples are: BC246T, BC346XT, BC15X, BCD996XT, and many others. You can use them as a SAME radio or as a basic tone alert unit that will only go off with short fuse warnings, the monthly test, and when Weatheradio Canada goes into Watchdog mode. Check your scanners weather alert options on how to set it up for your own preference. On an observational note, in Canada when a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued and your Bearcat scanner is set to the SAME WEATHER ALERT option, it will probably respond to the 1050 Hz tone then it responds to the SAME alarm. I have noticed this with both the BC246 and the BC346XT scanner, while listening to it during a recent summer weather event. However, this only happens when a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued first before anything else for a local area. If a watch is issued first then the scanner behaves like a regular public alert Weather Radio with SAME.”
NOAA Weather radio and Weatheradio Canada broadcast a weekly TEST. In the States, during that test, if your speaker is on, you will hear the names of the counties that are covered by the particular transmitter you are tuned to. This is all the counties that station is capable of transmitting to. You, of course, may have selected to hear alerts from only one or a few of the available counties during your setup routine.
There are coverage maps for NOAA transmitters at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/usframes.html
These maps can help you determine if your WX radio has a good (sensitive) receiver, or if it is sub-standard. Remember that most of the top-dollar receivers have a jack for an external (possibly mounted antenna. You can buy one from a manufacturer or you could build your own.!
In Canada the test is not only sent out to Weatheradio transmitters every week but for years they have also sent out the monthly test with the 1050 Hz tone. With the addition of Specific Area Message Encoding, Weatheradio Canada has decided to send out the “RWT” (required Weekly Test) and “RMT” (Required Monthly Test).
During the weekly test a voice message says: “you are listening to Weatheradio Canada’s weekly test of your alert equipped Weather Radio, broadcast every Wednesday near noon.” The message is repeated in French after it is heard in English for both the weekly and monthly tests.
During the monthly test the voice message says: “you are listening to Weatheradio Canada’s monthly test of your alert equipped Weather Radio, broadcast every Wednesday near noon. The first Wednesday of each month.” the monthly test still continues with the 1050 Hz. tone and the same message in English and French.
This three part post should help you to decide how you want to program your new radio. As far as I am concerned, “I have my SAME WX radios set to the “ANY” or “ALL COUNTY” setting because when I am at home or mobile, I like to know if my local area or surrounding areas are being affected by severe weather.

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