An improved automated meter reading (AMR) device includes only a single electrical connection rather than multiple electrical connections, thereby reducing potential paths of exposure to natural elements. The AMR device monitors the single electrical connection to detect when a programming device is connected to the AMR device. When such a programming device is connected, the AMR device operates in a slave mode that enables the AMR device to be configured for interacting with a particular type of meter. The slave mode may also enable testing of various features of the AMR device such as, for example, its data transmitting capabilities. When the AMR device is not connected to a programming device, the AMR device operates in a master mode that enables the AMR device to interact with a connected meter in accordance with the AMR device's configuration.