A Proposed Supplemental Weather Alert System for Trailer Parks

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio Systems' started by KE5FNB, Jan 14, 2020.

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  1. KE5FNB

    KE5FNB Ham Member QRZ Page


    Above is a link to this article as it appears on my blog.

    I wrote this article in May of 2017, but no one has taken me up on designing such a system. The idea had been in my mind since Christmas Day 2012, when I was 25 going on 26. I had spent most of that day in a trailer park visiting now ex in laws. There were several tornadoes for my area that day.

    Without further ado, here is my article:

    I think there needs to be a system that provides supplemental weather broadcasts and emergency alerts to trailer and RV parks.

    Standard weather radios do NOT perform well in trailers, recreational vehicles and campers.

    This idea has been on my mind for almost five years now.

    I previously posted briefly about this to Facebook on Christmas Day 2012, when my area had seen several tornadoes.

    It is now late May of 2017, and I’m just getting around to writing a full article on the subject, which will discuss the regulations and technical details of implementing such a system.

    Let’s face it, trailers and other mobile homes are not safe during a tornado at all. Occupants need as much advanced warning as possible to get out and get to safety. The most fail-safe system in delivering such life saving information is a stand by weather radio.

    However weather radios operating on the VHF High Band get very poor reception being inside of a trailer. VHF signals have trouble penetrating through metal buildings and a trailer is surrounded at all angles by sheet metal. This is even worse at greater distances from the transmitter station. Transmitters are usually located in larger cities and trailer parks are typically located in more rural areas.

    Now, one could purchase a standard weather radio and connect it to an outdoor aerial antenna and this would solve the problem.

    Not exactly.

    It would indeed work fine on a good weather day, but on a day with hazardous weather, high winds and lightning could destroy the antenna, completely defeating its purpose.

    However, there is a supplemental system that could, with proper funding and government approvals, be very effective in getting weather information to residents of trailer parks.

    I am proposing that every trailer park have a facility with a professional grade weather radio and adequate antenna that receives the broadcast signal. However, there would be a low power transmitter that would repeat the weather broadcast on a discrete 900 MHz ISM frequency, much like what a cordless phone or baby monitor uses. The 900 MHz signal will penetrate most buildings and could be low power so it could only cover a few blocks at the most.

    Then for every trailer that occupies the park, have a purpose built receiver tuned to that 900 MHz frequency. The trailer park could have signs which indicate the frequency to tune the receivers to. Have one of these receivers installed to every newly manufactured trailer but also sell them at mobile home and camping supply stores. There could be more than one frequency available too, in the case of multiple parks in a close proximity. These receivers should operate on both line current but also have trickle charged Lead Acid batteries for an extended power failure. The relay station could be housed in the trailer park’s sewer plant or laundromat and also have a backup power supply.

    The relay station could trigger all occupants’ receivers when a tornado watch or warning is issued and be custom designed for any other weather situation that might be a threat to the park and its occupants.

    The technology to implement this system is definitely available now, it just needs to be built. It could be easily built with a little cooperation between the public and private sectors.

    This system doesn’t have to be limited to just trailer parks, but also apartment complexes, condominiums, hospitals, schools and even gated communities.
  2. KF5FEI

    KF5FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why not a modified smoke detector with an alert receiver for your local transmitter? Every trailer should have a smoke detector.
  3. KB0MNM

    KB0MNM Ham Member QRZ Page

    This issue has been known for years. At one time, it was expected that the audio civil defense sirens would alert all homeowners about an impending disaster. Many folks presumed that if the civil defense sirens went off, there was a possibly nuclear incident. The post cold-war funding for these sirens does not always match rural areas, where trailer courts are more prevalent ( due to the cost of land ). That same S.A.M.E. ( specific-area messaging system ) feed is available in many places- including larger public-safety dispatch centers, yet they often cover larger and larger geographic areas. The customers complain about trying to sleep, yet others complain after the event that they received no warning. Your best approach to any movement in this arena of safety-politics may be with the insurance industry. If you produce a new ISM-band product, they may want to know how that may or may not be affected by the new 5G and home-automation 802.11 'type' standards. Best of luck & thanks for the thoughts.
  4. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Smart phones have weather warning/civil authority warning service. All the user has to do is Enable it.
    N8FNR and AG5DB like this.
  5. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    Midland sells an outside/external Thru-glass VHF antenna with 12ft feedline for weather radios.

    Mobile home residents who are concerned and proactive will find a way to be informed. The vast majority who are indifferent or unwilling to spend money will not do anything.

    Solutions already exist for those who care.
    N8FNR, AI3V and AK5B like this.
  6. KE5FNB

    KE5FNB Ham Member QRZ Page

    VHF High Band from a distance doesn't work inside a trailer, so back to square one. Now a 900 MHz ISM device that gets a weather radio feed from a more local source and is embedded in a smoke detector would be perfect!
  7. KE5FNB

    KE5FNB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you for your reply!

    I agree with everything you said!

    The only reason I didn't consider 5G was that I had thought of this idea in late 2012, before 5G was a thing.

    The exact 900 MHz band I was thinking of was in the 902-928 MHz range which is already used by consumer low powered devices...
  8. KE5FNB

    KE5FNB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would want something that isn't totally reliant on cell or WiFi service though, both of which can fail in a tornado...
  9. KE5FNB

    KE5FNB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Those antennas could be hit by lightning or blown away, then back to square one or even more problems...

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