NOAA Weather Radio
Back to: Main Page
Before you can start streaming NOAA Weather Radio to Weather Underground, you will need to have the actual radio to receive your local broadcast.
How-To Create a NWS Live Audio Stream
The basic outline of how the NWS radio stream is as follows:
- NOAA Public Broadcast
- All Hazards Radio Receiver
- Personal Computer with Broadband Connection
- Convert to MP3 Using Oddcast
- Upload to Weather Underground Servers
- Publish for Weather Underground Visitors to Hear
About The NWS Radio Streaming Project
What we are attempted to do with the weather radios is to build up a network of individuals that are uploading their local NWS radio broadcasts up to Weather Underground via their computer using a broadband connection.
In order to broadcast your radio to WU, you will need a weather radio that has an audio output that can be interfaced to your computer's audio card line input. You then install a free software application that is used to stream this audio to the WU servers. This audio stream will be uploaded 24x7.
We will need to create a group of volunteers that will upload their local NWS broadcasts to WU. We hope to have many users participate in the program. Initially the uploads will only appear on a main audio stream listing. You can see the current list of audio streams by clicking here:
To listen to one of the audio streams, just click the 'Click to listen' links on that page.
First you need a weather radio that has an audio output. Not all weather radios have this capability. It should have a jack perhaps for headphones or an external speaker. Do not confuse it with the ability to activate external devices such as an external siren. We will try to put together of compatible weather radios that will work. If you happen to have a scanner, I do believe that some of them can be configured to receive the NWS.
Some of our users have noted that a digital radio will provide far better sound than an analog weather radio.
Here is a small list of radios that are advertised to support an external audio jack:
- Midland WR300
- Reecom R1630
- Reecom R1650
- First Alert WX-17
- Uniden BC350C This is the radio we use in the office
When purchasing a weather radio, make sure that you have decent reception. If you are buying the unit from a retailer like Radio Shack, have the sales person demonstrate the radio for you while you are standing there at the store. You will find that some radios have much better signal reception than others. This is especially true if you are using the original telescoping antenna that is mounted to the unit.
My experience has been that if you are more than 10-20 miles from a NWS transmitter, you may have difficulty pulling in a quality signal. You might want to consider buying a radio that has an external antenna jack. This will allow you to add a larger indoor telescoping antenna as well as the capability to add a roof top antenna if needed. Radio Shack sells an inexpensive roof top antenna designed for scanners and weather radios for around $20. If you do decide to purchase the external antenna, make sure you have all of the needed connectors to interface your radio to the antenna. Cable conversion connectors may be needed depending on your setup.
The Audio Cable:
You will need to obtain audio a cable that will connect your weather radio to your computer. This cable usually has two male plugs 1/8" audio connectors and should be long enough to place your radio far enough from the computer to reduce any interference the computer may generate.
If your weather radio or scanner has a "Ext. Speaker" output, you will want to use a dubbing cable to convert the output to voltages suitable for your computer's Line-in. You may make one easily following these instructions.
The Computer Input:
On the computer side the audio cable should be connected to the "Line-In" jack available on most computers. This connector is typically a stereo input and is used to interface devices like CD players to your computer. You will probably need to purchase a mono to stereo adapter to interface your radio to the computer. If you are not sure whether the Line-In is stereo or mono, check your sound card's user manual or the computer manufacturer's website to determine whether the input is mono or stereo.
TAD or AUX Inputs:
You may also have an input available called the TAD (Telephone Answering Device) or AUX. These may or may not be exclusive (using one as input disables the other). These inputs are typically mono versus stereo type connections. Some audio cards have the TAD or AUX inputs available as an input source but the jack is not found on the back of the audio card (or computer). In this case, you might need to hunt down your audio card user manual on the net. Usually the manuals will show the TAD or AUX input on the sound card itself but the wires are not sent to an external jack on the computer or audio card.
If this is the case you may need to create a jack on the back of your computer by using a blanking plate and an unused slot. To mount the jack you need would drill a hole in the blanking plate, then mount the jack in to the blanking plate. Make sure you double check the clearances as there is usually not a lot of room for error. Look at the destination slot as well to make sure that there will not be other mechanical limitations to mounting the jack to the blanking plate.
You will also need to buy an appropriate connector for your audio card. These are typically 3 pin audio jack connectors designed to interface with other computer cards like modems and CD ROMS. These jacks are available at most computer stores (especially from small shops that build custom computers). CompUSA is also a good source for computer parts.
Once you have the audio jack, you just need to solder the connector to the audio jack on the blanking plate. Double check that you are routing the correct pins to the jack (usually one of the lines is ground, the other is the signal, see audio card manual).
Although it may be possible to interface your radio to your microphone input, this is not recommended. The computer's microphone input uses an amplification circuit to receive signals from the microphone. When attempting to interface your radio to the computer's microphone input, you may hear distortion or hums if the signal is mismatched. You may also experience "cross-talk" on the sound card where you will hear the radio even if the Microphone source is muted. One of the three conductors used in the microphone audio cable is used to supply a voltage from the computer to the microphone so that the microphone can amplify the signal level. This being the case, the microphone input should be avoided.
The Line-in and other recording inputs typically found on most sound cards do not use an amplification circuit. To best match the audio signal output by your radio, use one of these other input sources and only use the microphone input as a last resort.
If you have no other choice but to use the microphone input, consider making a dubbing cable to match the line levels. Follow these instructions.
Once you have the radio interfaced to the computer:
You can test your setup by turning on your weather radio and playing the audio through your computer speakers. If you do not hear the audio, double click the speaker icon at the lower right of your screen (Windows). Make sure that the Line-In audio source is not muted and that the volume control is not at the minimum setting. If the Line-In is not shown in the list of volume controls, on the Play Controls screen, pull down the "Options" menu at the top left. Select "Properties". In the displayed list, make sure there is a check box in all of the possible audio sources (you may need to scroll the list to see all sources). Hit Ok. You should now see your Line-In source if it was not listed before.
You may also want to fine tune the output level of the radio with the recording level on the sound card (more on that later). For now, if your radio has a volume control, turn the volume to about 24 to 50% of the maximum volume. If the volume is set too high, you will hear distortion even if the volume control on the computer is set to a lower level. Adjusting the levels is a matter of trial and error. If you need help matching the radio output to the computer's input, let us know (post message in yahoo group).
When streaming, you can mute the output of the radio to the speakers:
Note that when uploading you can choose whether or not to listen to the broadcast as it is streaming. To upload the stream but turn off the audio on the computer speakers, simply mute the Line-In audio source. To mute the Line-In source, double click the speaker at the lower right of the Windows desktop (down by the clock). When the "Play Control" is displayed, simply click the mute check box under the Line-In volume control.
You should periodically listen to the broadcast by un-muting the Line-In to ensure that the radio is continuing to output audio and that your audio quality has not changed due to a bad antenna, audio cable, or other some other problem. You should also monitor the radio for NWS transmitter failures as you may need to tune to different transmitters on occasion.
Once you have the radio properly interfaced to the computer, you are ready for the next step, setting up the audio streaming software.
Keep in mind we are attempting to produce the highest quality streams possible. Audio quality will be especially important during the program's infancy.
If your streams is producing a lot of noise, hum, or if it is over-amplified, more than likely users will not want to hear the stream and will close it immediately (even if the NWS is trying to deliver important alert information). Poor quality streams will reduce our listening audience so let's try to do our best to clean the audio streams as clear as possible.
Once you are streaming, please compare your audio quality to other streams to make sure you do not have a problem. You will be able to listen to your own stream via the web browser while you are uploading to the audio server.
Please contact us if you are having a problem with your audio quality so that we can help you correct the problem as soon as possible.
Weather Underground Handle Requirement
Before you can begin uploading your audio stream, you must have created a Weather Underground account *and* have a Handle. Note that if you are uploading weather data to Weather Underground from your personal weather station, the Handle is not your Station ID. You must create a Handle to upload your audio stream.
The Handle, or Username, you choose will identify you to other members of the website. It is used when you upload photos, blog, and send messages. Please choose a name you like, as it is not easily changed.
To create a Weather Underground account, sign-up here:
Once you have created an account and are logged in to the Weather Underground, click the 'My Photos' link at the left side of the screen. You should see your handle listed where MyHandle is your Weather Underground Handle (MYHandles's WunderPhotos).
Instructions for Downloading Edcast
The link below will take you to a download site for a program called Edcast. This is the program that will convert your radio's audio to a format that can be transmitted through the internet.
Click on "Standalone" near the top of the screen to the right of "Download Current Version." Once you have downloaded the executable, hit the "Open" button to execute the installation software.
When presented with the "Terms and Conditions" screen click on the "I Agree" button to proceed. The following window will then open:
Put a check mark beside LAME encoder dll and then click on next. The following window will appear.
I suggest that you accept the default destination folder and click Install. The following window will appear.
Please disregard these instructions above, we will deal with this a bit later. Just click "YES" and the following window will open.
If it doesn't come up in your web browser:
Click: LAME Libraries
Click on Save and save it to a location where you will be able to find it. Close all windows and an Edcast Icon should be on your desktop. We are not ready to open it just yet. First you need to go to the folder that you saved the file lamedll_MOD3.98.2.zip file. Right click on that file and choose "extract all." When the Extraction Wizard Opens click on "next". You will then choose where you want the contents to go or just use the default location, then click "next." The Extraction Complete Window will open as seen below. Make sure that the green check is next to "Show extracted files" and click click on "finish."
Right click on lame_enc.dll and select "Copy." Explore to C:\Program Files\edcast.
When the window opens put your cursor inside the window and right click. Select "Paste"; and the lame_enc.dll file should now reside in this folder.
Close all windows and open Edcast by clicking on the desktop icon.
Configuring and Starting Edcast
When you open Edcast this is the screen that you would see.
In the Live Recording area of the screen, select your Audio card from the pull-down list. To the right of the audio card, select "Line In." Adjust the volume control to about 25% of the range.
The next step is to create a new audio stream. This will define your identity, where to send your audio stream, and the quality of the audio stream.
To create a new audio stream, click the "Add Encoder" button. There will be a brief description in the list box below the words "Encoder Setting."
Right click the new encoder entry in the list box and select "Configure" from the pop-up menu.
You will then be presented with the configuration screen:
Enter the following data in the white boxes as shown:
- Bitrate: 16 - Note that in order to change the Bitrate field, the check box "Use biterate", to the right of this field, must be checked. A value of 16 will produce acceptable quality with minimal bandwidth useage.
- Samplerate: 22050
- Channels: 2
- Encoder: Type: From drop down box select MP3 Lame
- Server Type: From drop down box select Icecast2
- Server IP: Type audiostream.wunderground.com
- Server Port: 8000
- Encoder Password: Your Weather Underground password
- Mountpoint: Type /"your WU photo page ID"/"your town".mp3
- To see if you have a WU photo id, go [here]. If you see a message asking you to sign up, please do.
- Reconnect Seconds: 10
Now click on the YP Settings tab. This screen will appear:
Make the following entries in this screen:
- Public Server: Check
- Stream Description: "Your Town, State" Weather Radio
- Stream Description: NOAA Weather Radio
- Stream URL: http://www.wunderground.com/
- Stream Genere: Weather
Leave the rest blank.
When this is done you should click OK and it will bring you back to the first screen.
Right click the newly created audio stream (encoder) in the list box and select "Connect" from the pop-up menu.
You should see the entry change similar to what is seen in the screen shot above.
Put your cursor in the black box (Peak Meter) and right click. The green lines should be moving and may show some yellow and red colors.
Use the slider control below the Peak Meter to adjust your recording levels so that the bars only occasionally are near the far right extreme.
If the Peak Meter is pegged to the right even though you have adjusted the microphone control to a lower level, you may need to turn down the volume on the radio to increase the range of adjustment available using the recording level slider control. This is especially true if you have resorted to using the microphone input to interface to your radio (not recommended).
If your Edcast window looks like the above screen shot you are probably broadcasting your NWS radio station live for all to hear.
CONGRATULATIONS, please post to the group so we can all listen to your NWS radio LIVE!
My Station IS Active, But Says "No"
First make sure that your station's Title and Description match the Title and Description you are sending. You can view that information on your station signup/edit page: http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/signup.html
Secondly, make sure that you're using your Photo Handle to log in to the streaming server and NOT your weather station ID.
If your Title and Description fields match your source fields and you are still not active, or are not appearing on the Radio Directory, and you've read through the steps in this wiki, please contact [support].
LINUX Instructions for Running N.O.A.A. Weather Radio Broadcasts Using ICES2 in OGG Format
Note: Mandrake Linux 2006 use used, so your milage may vary. However, the general config file should remain much the same.
First you will need to see if your system has ICES installed, this can be done using the 'whereis' command, as shown below:
[root@bradford ~]# whereis ices ices: /usr/bin/ices /etc/ices.xml
or you can also use the 'find' command as shown here: find / -iname ices
if it is not installed on your system, neither command will locate it, if this is the case you can download it here: http://www.icecast.org/ices.php To set it up just follow the directions, as the setup is outside the scope of this general help file.
- Note* there are other packages you can use to acheive this as well, but for now I am uses ICES, in the future, I may create help files for the others if you do not like the ICES package.
Next you will need to locate the ICES config file, mine is named: /etc/ices.xml
An exmaple ices.xml file looks like this:
<?xml version="1.0"?> <ices> <background>0</background> <logpath>/var/log</logpath> <logfile>ices.log</logfile> <loglevel>4</loglevel> <consolelog>0</consolelog> <pidfile>/tmp/ices.pid</pidfile> <protocol>xaudiocast</protocol> <stream> <metadata> <name>*** TESTING *** Colver, PA (State College, PA) Weather *** TESTING ***</name> <genre>Weather</genre> <description>Linux Test Stream - NOAA Weather Radio out of State College, Pa</description> <url>http://www.wunderground.com</url> </metadata> <input> <module>oss</module> <param name="rate">44100</param> <param name="channels">2</param> <param name="device">/dev/dsp</param> <param name="metadata">0</param> <param name="metadatafilename">live</param> </input> <instance> <hostname> 188.8.131.52</hostname> <port>8000</port> <password>linux1</password> <reconnectdelay>1</reconnectdelay> <reconnectattempts>25</reconnectattempts> <mount>/dickiebradford/linux- test-stream.ogg</mount> <yp>0</yp> <encode> <quality>0</quality> <samplerate>44100</samplerate> <channels>2</channels> </encode> <downmix>1</downmix> <resample> <in-rate>44100</in-rate> <out-rate>22050</out-rate> </resample> </instance> </stream> </ices>