2019 April 10       Electronics      Radio

Introduction


The local forecast on NOAA weather radio can be more convenient-- and sometimes more informative-- than internet weather data.

And besides, what if the power is out in your area?  A weather radio is one of those things that's just good to have around.

So let's take a look at the Midland WR-120EZ.


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In This Article



AC Power Supply

Antenna

Batteries

Before You Buy This Radio

Control Set & Menu

Headphone Jack?

How To Connect An External Antenna

Reception

S.A.M.E. Weather Alerts


Conclusion



AC Power Supply


MIDLAND-WXAC104, model no. D9300CEC.  Input: 120V AC 60 Hz 9 watts.

Output 9V DC at 300 mA to radio.

The barrel connector is center-positive, as you might expect.


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Antenna


Telescoping whip. 

There's also an RCA jack for an external antenna.  This is better than just attaching a wire to a whip antenna.  The RCA jack has an external shroud.  That means you can run a coax cable to it from your external antenna, and you'll have somewhere to connect the shielding conductor.

See "How to Connect an External Antenna", below.


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Batteries


Three AA batteries.

Yes, this radio absolutely will run on just the batteries.  I tried it.  In fact, I listened to it for about 30 minutes without even taking the AC power adapter out of the box.

The batteries last for only 5 hours with the radio on, or 75 hours on standby.  So, unless you need to take the radio portable, you may want to use the AC adapter.

In battery mode or AC power, you can just press the "WEATHER / SNOOZE" button once to turn on the weather broadcast.  Another way is to fiddle with the SELECT button.  I think it's two presses or something. 


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Before You Buy This Radio


Realize that it doesn't have AM or FM. 

If you want a Midland radio with those features (and a similar design), here is the radio to get instead.  That one has AM, FM, and weather bands;  it also has a larger LCD screen.

They do have another model above that, which has four presets so you can store your favorite stations.  If that's a feature you need, here's that radio.


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Control Set & Menu


Menu and Select buttons, four directional menu-navigation buttons, and two Volume adjust buttons.

It's not that complicated, but you'll probably want to read the instructions just to be sure.  (Before using the radio, put in some AA batteries and make sure to set the date, time, and region.)


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Headphone Jack?


There is none.  Maybe they decided you wouldn't need headphones for a WX-only radio, but it would be nice to have. 

This one, which is the next model up from the same company, does have a headphone jack, along with the AM and FM bands (which the WR-120EZ doesn't have).  There's also this one, which has those features plus four presets to store your favorite stations.

Another alternative, though it lacks weather alert standby mode, would be this C.Crane radio.  (Has weather bands, plus AM, FM, shortwave, and air bands.)


Get Your Weather Radio Here

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How To Connect an External Antenna


First, realize that a good external antenna and feedline will cost more than this $30 radio.  But if you want good reception, the antenna and feedline are actually more important than the radio. 

You could do well with one of these antennas, made in USA.  (In the comment box at checkout, ask him to tune it for NOAA weather bands.)  Also get yourself 50 feet of this cable (with PL259 connectors).  You'll also need an SO-239 to RCA adapter to connect the feedline cable to the back of the Midland radio.

To mount the antenna, build yourself a holder or mast with hose clamps and some PVC pipe, two-by-fours, a wooden fence post, etc.  You can use a metal post, but these antennas are supposed to work best with a non-conductive mast pole.

Build a portable stand for the antenna, and you'll have a mobile antenna.  There are a lot of places where a regular whip antenna can't quite pull in the WX bands, so an external antenna should help a lot with that.

By the way, you can use that J-pole antenna with other radios and frequencies.  As a receiving antenna, it should pick up anything in the nearby VHF bands:  marine, railroad, 2-meter ham, and aviation to name a few.


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Reception


When setting up the radio, you'll get the opportunity to select one of the seven different WX frequencies.  Cycle through them until you hear the clearest broadcast, then select that one.

The tuner seems as good or better than other low-cost weather radios I've tried.  So as long as you're in a good reception area, or you have an external antenna hooked up, this radio should work great for you.


Get Your Weather Radio Here

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S.A.M.E. Weather Alerts


Even when you're not listening to the weather station, you can leave the radio on to wait for S.A.M.E. alerts.  This is supposed to alert you in advance of severe weather for your local area.  (You have to choose the correct weather district when setting the radio up.) 

Make sure you have the radio in an area of good reception, otherwise it will not receive the alerts.  This is all the more important if you live somewhere that gets severe thunderstorms, hail, or tornadoes.  That's why a good external antenna and feedline are important.  If a severe weather event rolls in, you'll want a radio that's not deaf to the weather alert.

Once, after I rebuilt a vintage radio, I was sitting there showing guests how awesome this radio was.  What you do know, as soon as I tuned it to a station, the radio made that unnerving sound of the emergency broadcast system.  There was a tornado spotted in the area.  I can see why it might be good to have a weather radio with alerts.


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Conclusion


The WR-120EZ does what it should, as long as you've set it up correctly.  This radio doesn't have a ton of features, so it's easy to learn.  It seems to have a decent tuner, but again realize it's only for the weather bands. 

The external antenna jack is a key feature, since WX band reception is weak in some areas.

I like this radio a lot.  With that said, the deluxe model would be a better all-around choice because of the AM/FM capability and the earphone jack.  (If you want the ability to store station presets too, consider the even more deluxe model.)

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