emergency/police scanners

Discussion in 'Communications' started by amnesia, Jan 2, 2020.

  1. amnesia

    amnesia Habitual Trader Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I remember growing up with one of these in the house and for some reason the older I get the more I'd like to have this playing in the background in the workshop.

    I believe you can listen but you can transmit which is obvious. I tried one of the phone scanner apps would would like to have a nonexpensive handheld or stationary unit.

    Any recommendations?
     
  2. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    I’ve been out of the scanning game for a while—like 20 years out! That was back before digital and/or trucked lines. Now it’s hard to listen because you might only catch one side of the transmission (either the caller or the receiver) due to the digital comms. I’m by no means a modern radio expert, but the cops I talk to make it sound like rocket surgery for their radios to work. I was just talking about the good ol days of scanning with a cop friend the other day and he said it was darn near impossible these days to have a good listen because of all the frequency bouncing.
     
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  3. Plott Hound

    Plott Hound Active Member

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    Many agencies are going fully encrypted so the days of being able to listen with a scanner are numbered. Buncombe Co. Sheriff has been encrypted for a year or so, Asheville PD is still not encrypted, but it is planned. Asheville Fire, and all county fire are still in the clear, but also there is talk about encryption. It's expensive, so smaller counties or agencies probably will be in the clear for a while.

    Even today you need a trunking scanner digital to hear the traffic. Programming isn't merely entering frequencies, but there are good options to subscribe to something like radioreference.com, which allows you to download frequencies for your state/county/city and with an optional cable upload them directly into the scanner.

    I understand the need to encrypt radio traffic for some traffic, but it also smacks of wanting to hide what especially law enforcement agencies are doing for other traffic. I disagree with it in the same vane I disagree with the fact that it is almost impossible to ever get body cam footage released to the media or public. I also have a grandson that is a full time firefighter with one department and a part time FF at two others, I want to hear these departments dispatched on calls. Grandson got his NC FFII and EMT certification before he graduated high school.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
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  4. hp468

    hp468 Member Supporting Member

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    I have both a Uniden BCT996xt and a Uniden Homepatrol 2 I like them both.

    The home patrol is extremely user friendly, touch screen and pretty much dummy proof, also has a GPS antenna that can be added to scan local areas in the stored database when traveling, It works well.

    The BCT996 is a bit more time consuming to learn as it is more menu driven, database has to be manually uploaded, etc.

    Make sure you get a scanner capable of listening to what you want, my bct996 will only decode P25 phase I, the HP 2 will decode both P25 phase 1&2.

    Unfortunately P25 scanners and inexpensive don't go hand in hand. You can figure spending $400+ on a new one, maybe a couple hundred on a used model. Some have successfully monitored VIPER and other p25 trunked systems with a couple RTL-SDR dongles but I have no experience with that.

    Harnett/Cumberland and others surrounding haven't gone encrypted (not sure about Wake). Neither have most Federal agency's in the area (aside from the 3 letter guys).

    Don't limit yourself to public service though, theres LOTS of things to monitor. I would highly recommend picking up a RTL-SDR dongle for your PC, they are cheap and can do ALOT.
     
  5. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    Give the website RadioReference.com a try.

    As far as encrypting their traffic, it’s just another step towards having secret police.
     
  6. wsfiredude

    wsfiredude Can't starve us out; Can't make us run Charter Member Supporting Member

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    I used to have a Uniden BCD396T...it was a good scanner, but got rid of it.

    On my days off, I don't want to hear/listen to any of that sh*t.
     
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  7. Car0linab0y

    Car0linab0y Active Member

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    Our county is still unencrypted analog, so I can listen on a (gasp!) Baofeng uv5r. I have one set to scan the fire and sherriff's dispatch.
     
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  8. fishgutzy

    fishgutzy Senior Member

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    Scanners for encrypted digital addres available to news agencies by law.
    Not sure about the public.
    Part of the reason for digital is interoperability.
    Some may recall that on 9/11 NYPD and FDNY used top two different incompatible radio systems due to department politics.
    All communication between them had to be relayed back at central coms.
    This caused a delay in getting word to vacate the second tower immediately because the one had come down.



    Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
     
  9. NCMedic

    NCMedic Memento Mori Charter Member Life Member

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    @amnesia What areas are you wanting to listen to? That's going to dictate what you will need to hear what you want to hear.

    A lot of places are on the state VIPER network and you'll need a scanner that is capable of monitoring digital networks and P25 systems.

    I use the Scanner Radio Pro app and can listen far beyond what a scanner could pick up.

    Radioreference, Broadcastify, and Openmhz.com are all pretty good places to listen online.

    Alot of places that use 800mhz radios often simulcast their dispatch on VHF to activate their alert tones, if you just want to listen to those, you can accomplish that via a VHF scanner or even a Baofong radio, but you won't hear any of the traffic on the 800mhz radios.

    It's come along way from buying the Radio Shack frequency book and a handful of crystals.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
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  10. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    Ahhh the good ol' days!
     
  11. amnesia

    amnesia Habitual Trader Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Rutherford county sheriff mostly.
     
  12. wmg819

    wmg819 Member Supporting Member

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    Here is a link to the online scanner feed via Broadcastify https://www.broadcastify.com/listen/ctid/1967 it shows feeds for the current analog system and the NC Viper system which has a few talk-groups assigned to Rutherford. For about $40 and some readily available software you can use 2 USB RTL- SDR sticks and use your computer or laptop as a scanner as shown in the screenshot.
    upload_2020-1-14_14-29-29.png upload_2020-1-14_14-29-29.png
     
  13. motoman247

    motoman247 God, Guns, Jeep

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    you got a good write up or video on how to set something like this up?
     
  14. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    Hey @JohnFreeman this sounds like it might be up your alley. You’ve been playing with those RTL SDR dongles. Any advice?
     
  15. Cowboy

    Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    Also with encryption they have started using their lap tops to transmit information about calls and be dispatched.
     
  16. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    This last weekend, I was at a three day training class for auxcomm, which is essentially ham radio operators functioning as backup to public safety systems. One of the topics discussed was that there are certain things, e.g. locations of resource stockpiles, addresses of shelters that might get activated, and information regarding certain types of events (e.g. nuclear, biological, chemical) that you don't want to broadcast on open airwaves because you can incite a panic or worse, and the media loves to follow police scanners. That being said, the vast majority of the public traffic should not be hidden and there are long standing, valid reasons, why information and records should be available for public scrutiny. Granted 99.99% of the public isn't going to care or pay attention.

    The subject of encrypted radio came up at one of our county auxcomm meetings and the county person also raised a point about encrypting radios, even in those instances where it makes sense or could be considered required, that it also raises issues of culpability and compromise if something goes wrong, as in who is responsible or did someone leak information.
     
  17. Cowboy

    Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    Wish I knew more about all of that stuff. but I have never even used a super secret decoder ring let a lone a walkie talkie.
     
  18. noway2

    noway2 Senior Member Charter Life Member

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    Well then we will just have to send you a jar of Ovaltine. Can you even still get it?
     
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  19. Flashpoint

    Flashpoint Member Charter Member Supporting Member

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    Same here. I've got EMS, Fire & Sheriff for Chatham & Alamance Co, and Pittsboro & Siler City PDs in my 5r and when I listen in the car I do hear traffic on all occasionally, but only occasionally. My guess is they may be only using analog to supplement some other comms system.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
  20. wmg819

    wmg819 Member Supporting Member

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    This page https://www.rtl-sdr.com/rtl-sdr-radio-scanner-tutorial-decoding-digital-voice-p25-with-dsd/ has good information on how yo get started with RTLs and using sSDR Sharp or DSD+ to decode the signals. UniTrunker is another good program to use for decoding as well. Another source of good information is the Radio Reference website. They have forums on the various software and if you run into a problem you can usually find an answer there. None of this will break encryption but there are still a good amount of agencies transmitting in the clear on the Viper system and others.
     
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  21. RedneckFur

    RedneckFur Smith & Wesson is a religion of peace. Supporting Member

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    Its all but impossible to hear all of the traffic these days. Most counties I've worked in still send out their initial pages over 800mhz, but responder communication takes place on viper or a similar system. Viper offers some good advantages, but its digital and encrypted, making it difficult for outsiders to listen in on.

    I think its a good move for some agencies. You don't need curious rubberneckers going out of their way for the chance to see someone sick, injured, or dead. And in the case of DOA calls, it allows the next of kin to be contacted properly without telling the world who's died.

    Some of the departments I work with have gone beyond just viper, and also use mobile apps for dispatch. Its useful for getting information, but it has cut radio traffic for some departments to a minimum.
     
  22. Ikarus1

    Ikarus1 Avtomat Krishna-kov

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    nope they'll just see it when it goes viral off of cellcam video. Encrypting this stuff is exactly like NC passing laws saying bodycam footage can't be seen without a warrant. Transparency is a joke and contributes to what you're seeing with public distrust of LEOs.

    My opinion is: if it's funded by taxpayers it should be able to be audited publicly by taxpayers. But I know that opinion is frowned upon by larger municipal gov't these days. I seriously doubt there was too much 'rubberneckin' going on by someone with a scanner.
     
  23. wmg819

    wmg819 Member Supporting Member

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    Id have to disagree with the statement that its all but impossible to hear traffic and that VIPER is digital and enrypted. Here is a link to the counties and agencies that are using VIPER https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=7118 and only a few show DE or E in the mode which is encrypted, D in the mode is in the clear. Plus you can still obtain the radio id and talkgroup ids of encrypted systems. While you may note be able to hear encrypted traffic the ids popping up let you know the agencies are active in your area. Either way there is still a lot to be heard out there on both VIPER and P25 networks.
     
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