Am or FM radio stations for weather?

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deeman
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Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by deeman » Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:20 pm

Sorry if this was answered already, I did several searches.

I am going to IR later this week and the weather seems rainy with storms possible. To get weather reports, would an am/fm radio catch any stations to get updates? If not, I can look into buying a weather radio.

Thanks!

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Tom
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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by Tom » Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:38 pm

I can't help to think you'd be listening to a lot of polka before you hear a quick update on weather that would really only be local to that station... and the weather on the Isle can be much different. A weather radio really would be the way to go, if it's a concern... And then a good antenna is everything. There is a lot of iron and copper in those rocks.
Based on your posted itinerary, it doesn't look like you'll be up on substantial ridges... So I might just review the forecast posted at the ranger station when you arrive (Protip: Take a digital picture and you'll have a reference for later) and just go with the flow. If it rains, be prepared to wear rain gear. If it starts to thunder, stay smart.


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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by johnhens » Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:43 pm

I bring a small AM FM when backpacking. You can usally get a Thunder Bay station and NPR either out of the Keewenaw or sometimes Grand Portage. Have gotten Marquette stations at night on the East end of IR. Once I got a Candian public radio station that relayed messages for the bush, kind of fun to listen to at night.


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deeman
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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by deeman » Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:44 pm

Thanks Tom, you're awesome!!

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hooky
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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by hooky » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:37 pm

If my grand dad was alive, he'd tell you that what you need is a good weather rope. You tie the weather rope to a tree branch before you crawl into your bag at night and then check it first thing in the morning. If the rope is wet, it's raining. If the rope is hot, it's sunny. If it's cool, it's cloudy. If the rope is white, it's snowing. If the rope is stiff, it's cold. If it's moving, it's windy. If the rope is gone, seek shelter.


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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by ISOWilds » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:32 am

On my first trip to Isle Royale September 2015 I brought an Oregon Scientific WR601N Portable Weather Radio. I got zero reception at the 3 Mile and Daisey Farm campsites. Normally you can hear weather reports constantly but on the island I didn't hear a squeek. Personally I wouldn't bring a radio save the weight for something more useful. Check the weather before you arrive or check out the visitor center they post it daily.

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jrwiesz
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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by jrwiesz » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:26 am

ISOWilds wrote:On my first trip to Isle Royale September 2015 I brought... Portable Weather Radio. I got zero reception at the 3 Mile and Daisey Farm campsites. Normally you can hear weather reports constantly but on the island I didn't hear a squeek...
If one takes the trail between Three Mile and Mt Franklin, just out of Three Mi camp, scramble up to the top of the ridge, and facing south, I was able to get phone service.

One would think, "where you try", may have consequences on ones results. YMMV. :?:
"And standing on the the crest of the Greenstone Ridge, I suddenly had this desire to retreat north to where I just come, to stay in the backcountry, to spend another day in a place where the only deadline I had was to pitch the tent before dark."
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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by Midwest Ed » Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:28 am

All radio reception depends upon 2 factors, the signal strength from the transmitter and the quality of the receiver. The most important receiver quality aspect is the signal sensitivity. There are other receiver qualities like filtering, noise rejection, etc. but nothing makes up for a lack of sensitivity. Sensitivity is controlled by the design of the electronics of the radio and the manufacturer's selection of antenna. Unfortunately, sensitivity ratings are rarely published, especially for the less expensive units. Since weather radio is in the VHF band at 162+ MHz, signal strength is controlled by the power output of the transmitter, the distance from the transmitter and things blocking the signal (reception is thus called "line of sight"). The curvature of the earth will also block the signal so the height of both the transmitter and receiver are very important.

I gathered up some links to post here and I noticed that the NOAA weather transmitter in Copper Harbor is listed as out of service. This appears to be temporary and I couldn't find when it started or expected duration. There are 3 other transmitters, Houghton, MI area, Grand Marais, MN and Thunder Bay, CA.

Here are links to them.
Houghton Map
Copper Harbor Map
Grand Marais Map
Thunder Bay info - No Map

I think these maps are probably quite conservative. Copper Harbor actually indicates no coverage.
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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by deeman » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:04 am

For what it's worth I took a tiny mp3 player that had an FM receiver. I was able to get 3 FM stations very clearly. I think they were all out of Thunder Bay. I was able to get a weather report from one station but they were very infrequent. I think I was in Daisy Farm when I tired.


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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by Stephen » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:13 pm

Re weather radio: I took a Standard Horizon HX300 marine radio which has weather radio capabilities. I replaced the OEM antenna with a 16 inch very flexible antenna that you can tie into a knot if you wanted. I went across the island this year and had weather radio reception at each place I stayed. I never turned it on until I reached each days destination, so it was not really used on the high points of the island. Daisy Farm was the poorest but did get the report. Todd Harbor and McCargoe were Canadian stations. I felt with this radio I could get the weather and have emergency communications with a boat (probably wishful thinking) if needed. Sangean DT400 is one AM/FM/weather radio that I have seen discussed on some backpacking forums, the headphones though is the antenna. I probably will stick with this system. The HX300 is submersible and floats. The battery never lost one bar for the 8 days I was there. The weight was minimal at 8.4 ounces. The Sangean weighs 3.6 ounces which is more than half as much.

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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by conmcb25 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 2:15 pm

Where did you find the 16" antenna?


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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by Midwest Ed » Sun Sep 25, 2016 12:51 am

conmcb25 wrote:Where did you find the 16" antenna?
Holding the stock radio so the antenna is vertical is the best orientation as VHF-FM signals are vertically polarized. Replacing the "rubber duck" antenna with a high gain, directional antenna is going to be bulky and relatively heavy (at least in backpacker terms). Replacing the typically short stock antenna with one that is a more correct length will make a large improvement in a handheld radio for both reception (and also transmission for marine transceivers). One goal is to make the antenna as close as possible to a 1/4 of the wavelength of the signal. For both weather radio and marine radio the ideal length is 18 to 19 inches (156 to 162 MHz). Sixteen inch antennas are far more popular or common as this is the 1/4 length for the 2 meter (144 MHz) Ham radio band so a 16 inch antenna can be a good compromise. Certainly 16 inches is better than the 6 to 8 inch stock antenna. Check your radio’s connector. Some are SMA (mutli-turn screw-on) and others are BNC (half-turn twist-on).

A second possible improvement that is still compatible with weight sensitive options is to make a second part of the antenna that nothing more than a piece of wire the same length as the new longer whip antenna but connected to the electrical ground of the radio. You then let this wire hang downward towards the ground. This converts the 1/4 wavelength antenna into a 1/2 wavelength Dipole antenna. These are sometimes marketed as tiger tails or rat tails but they are fairly easy to make.

Another option is to make a what is called a Fullwave, long wire antenna. In this case the “long” wire only needs to be about 6 feet long. The wire should be straight and vertical and needs to be electrically connected to the antenna connector.

Also, If you’re transmitting then there is also a concern regarding matching the impedance of the new antenna to the transmitter. A poor match and the range is reduced and you might overheat or damage the transmitter.

I haven’t actually bought and used one so I hate to make a recommendation.
Here’s one that is actually 18 inches:
Go to Amazon and search for “handheld ham radio antenna” to see a wide assortment.
Or look at this one:
This one has promise, as it rolls up and probably has higher gain than the whip 1/4 wave antennas

I know there are some Ham radio operators here, so maybe one of them can make some direct recommendations.
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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by johnhens » Sun Sep 25, 2016 9:35 am

Wow, great info Midwest Ed!!! Thanks!!


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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by Midwest Ed » Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:24 pm

I started searching Youtube for portable directional antennas. There are actually some pretty cool designs employing stuff like fishing rods or arrow shafts. Here is a pretty neat one, A little flimsy but light weight. For a kayaker, something like that would not be unreasonable if they were wanting to maximize their odds of being able to talk to someone. Optimizing it for Channel 16 or the Weather bands would make it slightly smaller.

I should have mentioned above that the approximate 16 inch length is actually shorter than a true 1/4 wavelength for the 2 meter ham radio antenna. I'm not sure why they picked 15-3/4 to 16 inches other than it's shorter than the actual 20 to 21 inches. Most have internal coils of wire used compensate and control the impedance to keep it close to 50 ohms.

The (close enough) formula for wave length is: Wave Length (meters) = 300 / Frequency (MHz)
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Re: Am or FM radio stations for weather?

Post by Stephen » Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:29 pm

conmcb25 wrote:Where did you find the 16" antenna?
I bought it from a Ham radio store that use to operate out of Milwaukee and has since gone out of business. They were a big supplier of radio equipment. I used it for my radio scanner and other handheld vhf radios. It is a sma connector and weighs 1 ounce. Like I said it is so flexible and thin that I can take the tip of it and bring it around and tie a lop into it. It folds up very nicely into my pack around my radio. The brand is not listed on it. When I was at Daisy Farm I do recall that I had to turn the squelch off to hear the weather report. This was a nice feature to have so that I can tune in more than one station if multiple stations were within listening range. Of course this allowed all the white noise, but it also allowed me to listen to other stations that couldn't break the squelch.

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