December 2021 Issue  
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 Publisher:  Information Station Specialists
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"Warn me faster!"
Richard Carlisle
Richard Carlisle

Below, Richard Carlisle, inventor of the  "Tornado Alert" device, discusses the public's need for a simple, affordable storm detector and how the idea originated.
tornadoAlert in Action 
TornadoAlert Severe Storm Detector Activating during December 2021 Tornado Outbreak in Missouri
Photo by Doug Raines
The Source:
How and when did the idea for the Tornado Alert device come about?
Richard Carlisle:
In 1969, Popular Mechanics published an article on the Weller Method of detecting tornadoes with a regular black-and-white TV. It captured my interest.

Bill Taylor of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] developed and tested an alternate method of detecting electromagnetic signals from tornadoes and the Georgia Tech Research Institute evaluated Taylor's design on a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) contract.
Severe Storm Detector 
The TornadoAlert Severe Storm Detector is an inexpensive but not-so-simple device that has the potential to directly deliver storm warnings even without power, cell / internet service or NOAA service. Learn more about this device on the Tornado Alert / Severe Storm Detector webpage.
Living in Birmingham, Alabama, tornadoes were annual life-and-death events. Working at the Rust Research Center  ̶  the computer center at UAB (University of Alabama Birmingham)  ̶  shortly after the tornado super outbreak of 1974 provided an opportunity to work with Bob Ferry, chief meteorologist in charge of the Birmingham Weather Field Office of the NWS (National Weather Service). The TV was short-ranged and didn't discriminate non-severe from severe weather. Taylor's design wasn't feasible as a home product. This interview is continued here.
“Thank you for the exciting stories featured in your newsletter. I see a growing role for Information Radio Stations on the AM dial brought about in part by the closure of [broadcast] stations and the opening of frequency slots. In St Louis, for example, four stations have gone dark. Construction permits for the frequencies were open for bidding in FCC auction 109 at $50,000 each; but no one placed bids. Two of the frequencies are of particular importance – 1430 kHz (50 KW day) and 1190 kHz (10 KW day, 260w night). Those channels are blank now and perhaps open for Information Stations.”
Carl Blare - Saint Louis, MO  
New AM Radio Antenna  Athena 1 Launch 
HPR.0990 Antenna     Athena 1 Launch from Kodiak Island, AK 
High Performance Antenna Launches
New Era in Information Radio Broadcasting
KODIAK ISLAND, AK:  The Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska will be keeping visitors safe and informed during launch activities through the use of a RadioSAFE information radio service provided for the facility by Information Station Specialists. Based around the HPR.0990 high efficiency antenna system, the RadioSAFE system is capable of more range than conventional systems of its class, allowing the Spaceport to push the signal across their expansive launch pad area and beyond. A special waiver of signal intensity is required from the FCC for the increased coverage.
It's not rocket science: HPR.0990 Antenna incorporates tried-and-true AM design improvements to boost output efficiency:  increased length, diameter, coil capacity; the addition of a capacitive top hat. Above, the technician utilizes a winch to raise the antenna on a portable rig for testing.
The high efficiency antenna is becoming commonplace due to the need for enhanced signal range on projects and because the FCC routinely grants permanent waivers to permit its use with 10 watts. Depending on the location and frequency, a coverage enhancement of 2 to 4 times is possible. The antenna can also handle hundreds of watts of power, which makes it a prime candidate as an auxilliary antenna for commercial broadcasters, as well as for special higher-power operations in the Travelers Information Service. Example: Hudson County, NJ Department of Emergency Management is currently operating with a waiver that permits temporary operations at 100 watts. This summer, Waldo County, ME performed signal tests on a temporary basis at 200 watts. The HPR.0990 antenna can be retrofitted to certain existing Information Radio Stations which desire greater range. The same is true for the high efficiency AN2X antenna, as well, which is more appropriate for roof installations. Licensees with permanent waivers for enhanced Information Radio signal
  • Auburn, WA
  • Aurora, IL
  • Ohio DOT (Geneva, OH)
  • Foresthill, CA
  • Longmont, CO
  • Lago Vista, TX
  • Mentor, OH
  • Portola Valley, CA
Twenty-three additional locations are pending or proposed as of December 1, 2021.
coverage include . . .

Alexa logo  "This is Alexa:  What's your emergency?"
The question the 911 operator once asked is now what the public is asking automated voice assistants: “What is the current information on emergencies in my area?” Since its debut as an information access tool in 2020, an increasing number of safety agencies are tasking Amazon’s Alexa to provide citizens another way to be in touch when the situation warrants.

Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky, was first in; and now four additional communities – Cupertino and Fairfield in California; Beech Mountain, North Carolina, and Wharton, New Jersey - have joined in. Emergency managers in the five communities are providing the service so citizens in homes – as well as those in equipped vehicles – can access the local emergency advisory broadcast content being disseminated via radio and web stream.

The technology provides a solution for segments of the local population that want to access safety information inside their homes or at locations outside the reach of their community’s information radio signal.

And because an increasing number of vehicles now have the “Alexa Auto” icon on their dashboards, the effect is to increase the information delivery area to one limited only by the size of the local wireless footprint. In an emergency, residents who have evacuated can be apprised when to return to their neighborhoods; affected relatives who live outside the community can find out what is happening. Ford, GM, BMW and Toyota have announced dashboard integration on certain new models. An after-market version “Echo Auto” is available for older cars.

Amazon’s Adrienne Walker states that the hands-free technology is perfectly suited to a vehicle environment.

Learn more about leveraging the internet to reach your audience.
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PO Box 51, Zeeland, Michigan, USA, 49464-0051, Phone 616.772.2300, Fax 616.772.2966, Email

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Information Radio Stations is a generic term synonymous with Travelers Information Stations (TIS), Highway Advisory Radio Stations (HAR) / Highway Information Systems & Low Power Radio Stations (LPR). Operation of the stations is governed by FCC Part 90.242 Rules. A FCC license is required. Information Radio Stations may be fixed or portable. Subcomponents may include transmitter, antenna and ground system, digital voice player, wattmeter, cabinet with conventional or Corbin locks, lightning arrestors for RF, power and telephone lines, coaxial cable. Most stations employ black maximized antennas to discourage ice accumulation and security measures to prevent unauthorized program access. Options include synchronization, battery backup, solar power, remote programming by local, network or telco, multi-station audio distribution via RF or LAN / WAN or wireless network.