Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How to listen to the NWS from a Marginal Area

I set up an HF antenna at a scout camp recently, and had one of the camp staff ask me how to improve his NWS system. I didn't have the answers then, but with a bit of work, I was able to come up with the answers (Internet research helps a ton!) I'm going to assume with this that you have the proper cable, and radio, but just can't make it work, and need a bit of help to make it work properly, because that was how their station was set up. All in all, this exercise helped to sell me on the benefits of Yagi antennas, and learn a thing or two about mounting to a roof.

First of all, these instructions assume that you are fairly close to an area where you can receive the radio signal, but not quite there. They also assume that you can spend a bit of money to make it work. This is geared specifically for NWS, but a similar system could apply to trying to pick up a TV or radio station from home, just with a bit of tweaking.

1. You should get a Yagi (Directional) antenna. I would highly recommend the one at the following link from Arrow Antennas. I've had 2 of their antennas, and they are great, and a good price. The one you want is the 162-4S model, with a cost of $65. This antenna will essentially provide a 10 times increased reception, which should allow you to hear it, even at such a distance. If it doesn't work, you can return it for a full refund within 90 days.
2. You will need to mount the antenna on the roof. I can't help a lot with that, but a pole should suffice, it'll be similar to a TV antenna.
3. The antenna should be mounted vertically (The spokes should be up and down).
4. Point the antenna in the direction of the nearest weather station. You can see a map at . Keep moving it until you get an optimal signal, then lock it in place.
5. You will likely want to have a lightning protection system as well. I won't provide a recommendation, but take a look around.

If you have any questions, let me know. I'll do what I can to help!

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