Radio Scanners

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rstrong
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Radio Scanners

Unread post by rstrong » Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:14 pm

I just ordered a new Uniden BCD536HP.
Image
This one has a massive internet-updated database built in, listing who all the frequencies, trunked system talkgroups etc. are registered to. I can tell it to monitor just the local emergency services talkgroups, and I don't have to enter them all in. As it stops on a signal it'll tell me who I'm listening to (Fire Dispatch, Fire Tactical, etc.).

With the built-in WiFi connection I can control it and listen from my phone or tablet from elsewhere.

Seth Milner
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Re: Radio Scanners

Unread post by Seth Milner » Wed Dec 23, 2015 8:14 pm

rstrong wrote:I just ordered a new Uniden BCD536HP.
Image
This one has a massive internet-updated database built in, listing who all the frequencies, trunked system talkgroups etc. are registered to. I can tell it to monitor just the local emergency services talkgroups, and I don't have to enter them all in. As it stops on a signal it'll tell me who I'm listening to (Fire Dispatch, Fire Tactical, etc.).

With the built-in WiFi connection I can control it and listen from my phone or tablet from elsewhere.
Did you pay $599.95? I saw that on Amazon for $470.90. just sayin' .
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Sometime Lefty
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Re: Radio Scanners

Unread post by Sometime Lefty » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:43 pm

Do they scramble emergency responders frequencies in Canada? I believe a consumer scanner can't pick up police and fire here in my county (maybe statewide).

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Vrede too
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Re: Radio Scanners

Unread post by Vrede too » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:48 pm

I think EMS comms with my hospital are scrambled, but I don't know about EMS comms with dispatch.
So many liberals, so little time. :P

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rstrong
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Re: Radio Scanners

Unread post by rstrong » Thu Dec 24, 2015 12:50 am

Sometime Lefty wrote:Do they scramble emergency responders frequencies in Canada? I believe a consumer scanner can't pick up police and fire here in my county (maybe statewide).
Vrede too wrote:I think EMS comms with my hospital are scrambled, but I don't know about EMS comms with dispatch.
First, some definitions:

Analog Signals - Old fashioned radio that everyone could listen to with old radio scanners and multi-band radios.

Analog Trunked Radio - This system lets a lot of people or agencies share a small group of frequencies. There's a digital control channel that that assigns frequencies on the fly and keeps different "talkgroups" from hearing each other. But the voice channels are still analog and can be listened to even by older scanners. Though it might be harder to follow a conversation across different frequencies.

Scanners from the last 15 or 20 years usually have trunking features built in, letting you listen to just the talkgroups you want, and monitoring the control channel to follow the conversation from frequency to frequency. My old Bearcat 895XLT does this on Motorola trunked systems, but not some of the newer systems.

Digital - Take an existing analog trunked radio system, and encode the voice channels digitally. The APCO-25 (or Project 25, or P25) system is by far the most common.

That's *NOT* the same as encrypting the signals. It just means making them digital, like MP3 audio files or the unprotected, DRM-free version of Apples AAC files. Nevertheless, the vast number of analog scanners out there will hear only noise. This locked out scanner enthusiasts for a while, but some newer scanners (including the one I just ordered) can listen to digital signals.

Encrypted - Take those digital signals and encrypt them. Usually this is also done with the APCO-25 system. An encryption key must be entered into each radio, so its more hassle to maintain. But this effectively locks out all the scanner enthusiasts for good.

So....

The local police, fire and ambulance here went to (analog) trunked radio around 15 years ago. The police later went digital. A couple years ago the police went encrypted. If you can't hear your hospital/ambulance/fire services on your scanner, chances are they went digital but *not* encrypted. A scanner that supports APCO-25 would still be able to listen in.

RadioReference - Henderson County North Carolina
There's still a few analog, non-trunked frequencies in use by local police, fire and ambulance.

RadioReference - (North Carolina) VIPER Statewide P25 trunked system
Here you find pretty much all the police/EMS in the state. Virtually all are digital, but not encrypted. The exceptions being ATF Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives talkgroups, and a couple of the North Carolina Highway Patrol talkgroups.

The list at the top shows the frequencies used by each tower site. These may be linked together so that a radio connecting to one site can talk to a radio on another. But often an agency will use only a local site or sites.

Below are the lists of different talkgroups, grouped by agency. Note the "Mode" column: A=Analog, D=Digital, E=Encrypted.

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rstrong
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Re: Radio Scanners

Unread post by rstrong » Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:09 am

Wow. I ordered the scanner yesterday at lunch time from Calgary. On December 23rd, figuring that I *might* get it by New Years. And it's already on my desk.

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