Electronics Repair (sci.electronics.repair) Discussion of repairing electronic equipment. Topics include requests for assistance, where to obtain servicing information and parts, techniques for diagnosis and repair, and annecdotes about success, failures and problems.

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Old January 25th 20, 12:40 AM posted to sci.electronics.repair
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Default Ambient 7 Day Forecaster

One of these:
https://www.cnet.com/reviews/ambient...er-forecaster-
review/
No longer produced but I'd like to get/keep mine running.

Back story. The broadcast updates seemed to get fewer and longer between
updates. So I unplugged it and packed it away. The story that Ambient and
many resellers had is that they are no longer supported. Fast forward to a
few months ago. I was visiting some freinds a few miles away and they have
an identical unit. Theirs works just fine and recieves updates. So I dragged
mine out and plugged it in. Reception at various locations in my house is
pretty bad. But it does update, just too slow to be useful.

The review web site says this uses a "proprietary long-range terrestrial
wireless network". Probably a pager transmitter or FM subcarrier. If I knew
the frequency, I could go hunting for local interference. Anyone have any
ideas?

--
Paul Hovnanian
------------------------------------------------------------------
Ban the bomb. Save the world for conventional warfare.


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Old January 25th 20, 06:40 AM posted to sci.electronics.repair
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Default Ambient 7 Day Forecaster

On Fri, 24 Jan 2020 15:40:47 -0800, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."
wrote:


https://www.cnet.com/reviews/ambient...caster-review/


The review web site says this uses a "proprietary long-range terrestrial
wireless network". Probably a pager transmitter or FM subcarrier. If I knew
the frequency, I could go hunting for local interference. Anyone have any
ideas?


Please post the FCC ID number from the serial number sticker and I'll
see what I can find out about the receiver section. I couldn't find
anything on the device due to the lack of a model number and FCC-ID
number:
https://fccid.io

If it updates slowly, my guess(tm) is that your unit is experiencing a
high data error rate. There's probably an ECC (error correcting code)
involved somewhere, that takes a few duplicate transmissions to decode
and correct the data.

Hmmm... http://map.myambient.com is suppose to produce a coverage
map for the weather service. Instead, it produces a text page
suggesting you call Ambient Support.

For troubleshooting, see:
http://myambient.com/productDetail/XDayForecasterSupportPage/serialPrefix/140/
Check the signal strength indicator in the upper right corner of the
screen. Zero or 1 bar isn't good enough.



--
Jeff Liebermann
150 Felker St #D
http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
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Old January 26th 20, 02:43 AM posted to sci.electronics.repair
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Default Ambient 7 Day Forecaster

Jeff Liebermann wrote:

On Fri, 24 Jan 2020 15:40:47 -0800, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."
wrote:


https://www.cnet.com/reviews/ambient...er-forecaster-

review/

The review web site says this uses a "proprietary long-range terrestrial
wireless network". Probably a pager transmitter or FM subcarrier. If I
knew the frequency, I could go hunting for local interference. Anyone have
any ideas?


Please post the FCC ID number from the serial number sticker and I'll
see what I can find out about the receiver section.


No model or FCC ID number anywhere on this thing (it's Chinese). Either on
the outside, it the battery compartment or internally. What appears to be
the receiver section has a sticker on it that reads '929.6125'. Taking a
wild gues that this is MHz, that puts it in a pager band.

I couldn't find
anything on the device due to the lack of a model number and FCC-ID
number:
https://fccid.io

If it updates slowly, my guess(tm) is that your unit is experiencing a
high data error rate. There's probably an ECC (error correcting code)
involved somewhere, that takes a few duplicate transmissions to decode
and correct the data.

Hmmm... http://map.myambient.com is suppose to produce a coverage
map for the weather service. Instead, it produces a text page
suggesting you call Ambient Support.


Ambient support is pretty much defunct. Although they do seem to be
broadcasting updates.

For troubleshooting, see:

http://myambient.com/productDetail/XDayForecasterSupportPage/serialPrefix/140/
Check the signal strength indicator in the upper right corner of the
screen. Zero or 1 bar isn't good enough.


Yeah. One bar most of the time. Although I did try an interesting
experiment. I took the thing with me in my car and drove to the neighborhood
grocery store. One bar pretty much everywhere except for one location about
a block from my house. The signal strength meter pegs in front of one house.

I'm toying with the idea of putting together a spectrum analyzer app for my
SDR dongle and sniffing around for spurious sources around that frequency.

--
Paul Hovnanian
------------------------------------------------------------------
The large print giveth and the small print taketh away.
-- Tom Waits

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Old January 26th 20, 06:50 AM posted to sci.electronics.repair
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Default Ambient 7 Day Forecaster

On Sat, 25 Jan 2020 17:43:42 -0800, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."
wrote:

No model or FCC ID number anywhere on this thing (it's Chinese).


Lovely. So much for FCC type certification. Probably arrived in the
US by the back door.

Either on
the outside, it the battery compartment or internally.


The label is suppose to be plainly visible on the outside of the unit.

What appears to be
the receiver section has a sticker on it that reads '929.6125'. Taking a
wild gues that this is MHz, that puts it in a pager band.


Yep, that's a pager frequency. Probably USA Mobility running Flex,
not POCSAG:
https://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/Paging
Are you near one of these cities? If so, I might be able to find the
location of the local paging transmiters using 929.6125 Mhz.

Ambient support is pretty much defunct. Although they do seem to be
broadcasting updates.


Yep. Over the years, I've bought quite a bit of weather station
related stuff from them.

The weather updates are not coming from Ambient. They're coming from
some service that uses the paging frequencies for distribution. Pager
users are usually (not always) expected to pay for such added
services. My guess(tm) is that data originates from the NOAA "Weather
Wire" or EMWIN satellite feed:
https://www.weather.gov/nwws/
https://www.weather.gov/emwin/
Probably not EMWIN as it was suppose to roll over and die on December
2, 2019.

Yeah. One bar most of the time. Although I did try an interesting
experiment. I took the thing with me in my car and drove to the neighborhood
grocery store. One bar pretty much everywhere except for one location about
a block from my house. The signal strength meter pegs in front of one house.


I suspect the reason it pegs is the house has a 900 MHz wireless
headset or telephone in use. The receiver in your 7 day forecaster
box is probably fairly crude and might have a rather wide band front
end. If you have anything handy that will belch 900 MHz, see if it
registers on the bar graph.

I'm toying with the idea of putting together a spectrum analyzer app for my
SDR dongle and sniffing around for spurious sources around that frequency.


That should work. You can also decode the FLEX 3200(?) data:
https://www.rtl-sdr.com/tag/flex/
I use my modified Radio Shock scanner and Linux laptop running
Mulimon-NG:
https://www.rtl-sdr.com/tag/multimon-ng/
https://github.com/EliasOenal/multimon-ng
I have a pile of RTL-SDR dongles that I use mostly for monitoring
aircraft ADS-B transmissions:
https://flightaware.com/adsb/stats/user/JeffLiebermann

I'm wondering about the difference in performance between your friends
unit and yours. My guess(tm) is that there's something wrong with
your receiver section. Open it up and look for a disconnected antenna
connection. If you have a service monitor, try tuning the receiver
for best performance. Maybe replace the antenna with a length of coax
and RF connector so that you can attach an external antenna.


--
Jeff Liebermann
150 Felker St #D
http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
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Old January 27th 20, 05:12 AM posted to sci.electronics.repair
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Default Ambient 7 Day Forecaster

Jeff Liebermann wrote:

On Sat, 25 Jan 2020 17:43:42 -0800, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."
wrote:

No model or FCC ID number anywhere on this thing (it's Chinese).


Lovely. So much for FCC type certification. Probably arrived in the
US by the back door.

Either on
the outside, it the battery compartment or internally.


The label is suppose to be plainly visible on the outside of the unit.

What appears to be
the receiver section has a sticker on it that reads '929.6125'. Taking a
wild gues that this is MHz, that puts it in a pager band.


Yep, that's a pager frequency. Probably USA Mobility running Flex,
not POCSAG:
https://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/Paging
Are you near one of these cities? If so, I might be able to find the
location of the local paging transmiters using 929.6125 Mhz.


I ran an FCC database search on the 929.0 to 930.0 MHz pager band, centered
on Seattle (close enough to my location to cover reasonable transmitter
sites). No sites are licensed for exactly 929.6125 MHz. But with a wide
bandwidth front end, close enough might work.


I'm wondering about the difference in performance between your friends
unit and yours. My guess(tm) is that there's something wrong with
your receiver section. Open it up and look for a disconnected antenna
connection. If you have a service monitor, try tuning the receiver
for best performance. Maybe replace the antenna with a length of coax
and RF connector so that you can attach an external antenna.


There is no actual wire antenna on/in this thing. Basically just a little
brass bar soldered to the reciever board (a one turn loop). Next time I go
over to visit, I'll bring my unit and see if it loads as fast as theirs.

It is interesting that, when I do get updates, it does a pretty good job,
loading a 7 day forcast for 150 cities in the USA. But then it goes brain
dead and the forcast data ages out. So it does work in fits and starts
(without me having to smack it). When I power it down, the on-screen clock
re-acquires the current time within half an hour. The pager company probably
broadcasts a time signal for all its customers in a somewhat more reliable
manner than the weather data.

On a hopeful note: If the pager company is still maintaining their stuff, I
live about a mile from a major hospital and medical complex. Doctors being a
major customer for paging services, I seriously doubt that a viable paging
company would let their service go to s**t in this area.


I wish I had 900 MHz RF gear to do some testing. Most of my work is down
around 60 Hz.

Thanks for the RTL-SDR and Radio Reference links. I'll do some playing with
those when I get a chance.

--
Paul Hovnanian
------------------------------------------------------------------
Do not interfere in the affairs of dragons,
For you are crunchy and tasty with barbecue sauce.



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Old January 27th 20, 07:46 AM posted to sci.electronics.repair
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Default Ambient 7 Day Forecaster

On Sun, 26 Jan 2020 20:12:27 -0800, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."
wrote:

Jeff Liebermann wrote:


Are you near one of these cities? If so, I might be able to find the
location of the local paging transmiters using 929.6125 Mhz.


Oops. I forgot to include the URL:
http://old.ambientdevices.com/cat/150cities.html
Looks like Seattle is (or was) listed as having coverage.

I ran an FCC database search on the 929.0 to 930.0 MHz pager band, centered
on Seattle (close enough to my location to cover reasonable transmitter
sites). No sites are licensed for exactly 929.6125 MHz. But with a wide
bandwidth front end, close enough might work.


The FCC database is rather difficult to use. I don't want to ruin my
evening by trying to find something in there.

This might be of interest. See Pages 7 and 21
https://labs.ece.uw.edu/funlab/funlab_CRdata/Seattle%20TVWS/radardata_v2.ppt
Looks like the Univ Washington Medical Center uses 929.6125. I doubt
that UWMC is sending weather info on their paging system. It's
probably coming from some other provider on the same frequency. Or,
the previous provider of weather data sold the frequency to UWMC some
time in the past. If I could find the license, I could lookup the
history.

Mo
http://cloud.spok.com/coverage/LocalOne-way/SEA.pdf

There is no actual wire antenna on/in this thing. Basically just a little
brass bar soldered to the reciever board (a one turn loop). Next time I go
over to visit, I'll bring my unit and see if it loads as fast as theirs.


Is there a ceramic trimmer capacitor near the brass bar? Something
that small for 900 MHz is going to have a rather high Q and require
tuning to get it on frequency. I think you'll find the tuning
adjustment to be rather critical.

It is interesting that, when I do get updates, it does a pretty good job,
loading a 7 day forcast for 150 cities in the USA. But then it goes brain
dead and the forcast data ages out. So it does work in fits and starts
(without me having to smack it). When I power it down, the on-screen clock
re-acquires the current time within half an hour. The pager company probably
broadcasts a time signal for all its customers in a somewhat more reliable
manner than the weather data.


Flex Time is usually sent once per minute and is typically off by as
much as 30 seconds. I presume it varies with type of pager and
transmitter maintenance. How your weather station handles time
signals is unknown.

On a hopeful note: If the pager company is still maintaining their stuff, I
live about a mile from a major hospital and medical complex. Doctors being a
major customer for paging services, I seriously doubt that a viable paging
company would let their service go to s**t in this area.


The hospital might be handling their own paging. See previous mention
of UWMC.

I wish I had 900 MHz RF gear to do some testing. Most of my work is down
around 60 Hz.

Thanks for the RTL-SDR and Radio Reference links. I'll do some playing with
those when I get a chance.

--
Jeff Liebermann
150 Felker St #D
http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558


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