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 Dx'ing NOAA Weather Radio!
by N4UJW

Recently while I had some "spare" time, I wondered about the DX possibilities of receiving more than my local NOAA weather radio station.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can generally be heard within 40 miles of the nearest NOAA Weather Radio station/transmitter according to NOAA information but using some very simple techniques, you may discover that you can hear NOAA weather broadcasts much further beyond their normal "range".

Many things affect the reception of the weather radio signals around 162Mhz. Large bodies of salt water may
increase the broadcast range, while forested areas, deserts, and mountains have a tendency to reduce the effective range. If you have a mountain range between you and the NOAA weather radio transmitter site, then you will get a much reduced signal strength or none at all. Interfering buildings or structures may reduce reception in large cities, while higher locations may enhance reception. If you only have an indoor antenna on your weather radio for your weather radio listening setup, this limits you even more! I have also found that the weather and time of day can play an important part in the "long range" Dx'ing of the weather stations normally out of your listening area.

I set up my Alinco DR-635T (2 meter/70cm ham radio transceiver) on all of the 7 vhf frequencies that NOAA weather broadcasts on as seen below in the chart. The radio was connected to a 2 meter/70cm roll up Slim Jim antenna (omni) outside up about 12 feet to the base of it.
Since this antenna is not tuned to the weather radio frequencies, its performance on the weather radio frequencies is somewhat limited but did work well for my purpose using it outside.

Note that all NOAA weather radio stations transmit in the FM mode so you will usually hear only the strongest station if 2 or more are transmitting on the same frequency from different coverage areas. If more than 1 station is transmitting within your range, you will usually hear a jumbled and garbled "mess"! It may be very difficult to pick out a single station from this jumble but perseverance usually pays off with practice. You may have to listen very carefully for several minutes to pick out a call sign clearly.

Most NOAA weather radio stations use 1000 watts power output. If you have a 2 meter Yagi, or if you are fortunate enough to have an outside Yagi type antenna or other similar antenna that is tuned specifically for the NOAA weather frequency range, 162.400Mhz -- 162.550Mhz, then aim it in the direction of an area you wish to "DX" using the station listings by state chart below. Listen, listen, listen.


NOAA Weather Radio Frequencies (FM)

162.400
MHz
162.425
MHz
162.450
MHz
162.475
MHz
162.500
MHz
162.525
MHz
162.550
MHz

My "DX'ing" procedure after setting up the frequencies is to listen to each of the frequencies by simply tuning in each one above with the squelch opened up for a signal and wait for the complete "automated weather broadcast" loop to finish to get the call sign of the weather station and what area it serves as an added "ID" for the station. If the signal is weak and fading in and out, you may have to listen to the broadcast 2 or more times to get the call sign ID. Refer to the 162.525Mhz section in the chart below and click on the link to hear what an ID sounds like. You may hear either a "male or female" computer generated voice.

If the weather station transmission is always very strong on your chosen frequency, then it is unlikely that you will hear others on that same frequency especially if it is the one designed for your area.

I live some distance from the Dallas/Ft.Worth area about 60 miles Southeast and due West of Tyler by about the same distance. The station listening post here is about 375 feet above sea level with mostly flat to very low rolling hills nearby. There are no tall buildings or other obstructions for miles around.

Here are my first results in DX'ing the weather stations I could hear over a period of a couple of weeks casual listening.
Most were early morning listening. (See notes section below)

Frequency Mhz

S Meter Reading

Call Sign

Notes or location

162.400

S 5

KEC56

Dallas, Tx

162.425

S1

Many stations on same frequency. One ID'ed as KHA99 clearly. >>>>>>>>

Muenster, Tx 115 miles!

162.450

S1

Many stations covering each other up. KWN34 heard clearly.

Palestine, Tx Daytime 50 miles

162.475

S7

S9

WXK36

WXK22

Tyler, Tx  Very good signal.
Sherman, Tx 92 miles during morning fog

162.500

S1

Many stations covering each other up. KWN31 ID'ed clearly. >>>>>>>>

Cumby, Tx 56 miles Daytime

162.525

Full Scale

KXI87
Click here
to hear a typical "station ID" from this weather radio station. (MP3 audio 30 seconds)

Corsicana, Tx
(My primary weather radio station for my county)

162.550

S1-S2


S1



S9

KXK30


KEC55 (ID perfectly readable)

WXK20

Bryan, Tx 113 miles! Morning

Crowley, Tx 72 miles daytime


Paris, Tx 95 miles during morning fog

 

(Distances are determined using Google Earth measurment tool)

Noaa Weather Radio Station listings by state!
 Find your nearest NOAA station in the chart below by clicking on your state!

(You will be taken to a NOAA web page so come back here)

Noaa Weather Radio Station listings by state!
 Find your nearest NOAA station here!
(Note, some counties may list more than one station.
Try all of them and pick the one that is strongest!)

Alabama Indiana Nebraska Rhode Island District of Columbia
Alaska Iowa Nevada South Carolina Guam
Arizona Kansas New Hampshire South Dakota N. Mariana Islands
Arkansas Kentucky New Jersey Tennessee Puerto Rico
California Louisiana New Mexico Texas Virgin Islands
Colorado Maine New York Utah American Samoa
Connecticut Maryland North Carolina Vermont
Delaware Massachusetts North Dakota Virginia
Florida Michigan Ohio Washington
Georgia Minnesota Oklahoma West Virginia
Hawaii Mississippi Oregon Wisconsin
Idaho Missouri Pennsylvania Wyoming MARINE 
(Also see below)**
Illinois Montana  

Some reception hints

Here is a hint or two for you for catching that far off weather radio DX...tune to one of the frequencies above that you think is dead, open your squelch, and listen, listen, listen. Try different times of day.

If you happen to live on top of a mountain, your range should increase drastically! Try early morning or late at night when mother nature seems to be at her best. At least this seems to work for me.

Use good low loss coaxial cable for the feed to your outdoor antenna. Remember you are using a VHF frequency.
You may be surprised at what pops out of the noise! A directional antenna can be used to enhance the signals in a particular direction.

I am by no means an authority on DX'ing of any kind but I had a lot of fun listening for "far off" weather radio stations with my limited setup. If you want to give it a try, just setup your radio to receive the 7 frequencies for NOAA weather stations and find out what may be out there that you can hear. Remember to try at several different times during the day. I will continue to DX the NOAA weather stations and will update this page from time to time...have fun!

More good weather radio info below!

NOAA Weather Radio State Coverage Maps Click on your state.

Google has a NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter site map! 
Very Cool..zoom in for your area! Click the Flags for station info!

**NOAA WEATHER RADIO Marine Coverage

The NOAA Weather Radio network provides near continuous coverage of the coastal U.S., Great Lakes, Hawaii, and populated Alaska coastline. Typical coverage is 25 nautical miles offshore, but may extend much further in certain areas.

U.S. Coastal and Great Lakes Forecasts by Zone (Clickable Zone Map off site)

Atlantic
Gulf of Mexico
Great Lakes
West Coast
Alaska
Pacific Islands


NOAA Weather Radios - Highly Recommended!
Great reviews on eham.net and others


 







  

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