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General Scanning Discussion For general questions not specific to a model of scanner or general discussion of use of a scanner. Location specific posts should be directed to the regional forums listed below.

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Old 04-17-2012, 1:42 PM
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Default Scanners becoming Polaroid cameras?

Just to be sure I'm understanding this... From the research I've been doing I'm learning that Motorola has roped the state of SC and many if not all other states into paying to build a radio network (here its called "Pal800") for all "public service radios" (police, fire, EMS, most everything). The state then pays Motorola monthly fee's for each radio that uses this digital, encrypted network. As well as paying Motorola around $4,700 per handheld, and much more for each mobile unit.

As soon as the state fully implements "Pal800", commercial scanners as I understand them (anything from Uniden, GRE, ICOM for example) will receive very little of interest because the encryption. They say EVERY radio that will function with this encryption is "fingerprinted", and tracked by the state, fed, and Motorola. So P25 digital compatible really means nothing if your trying to listen in.

Now, I see all kinds of deadlines for this to be implemented have come and gone. But the current one is this December for SC.

The description of the new digital network explains use of encryption is up to the discrimination of each user. BUT, every new government radio is required to be compatible. And all the would be users participating on local government sites and forums say they would always use it for various reasons. And why not?

All this means to me that even the shiny new PSR-800 will be little more than a very expensive weather radio in January, 2013 if they follow through... Right?
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Old 04-17-2012, 1:45 PM
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I don't know what the Pal 800 is....but the trend is that anything that is going to be built in the future will have encryption capabilities.
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Old 04-17-2012, 2:26 PM
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We just moved to this area a few years ago from out of state and rented a place in what was a "nice looking" neighborhood until we had a chance to get more familiar with the region. In a few weeks it became apparent one of the neighbors was dealing drugs out of his house! On top this, I noticed every time a cop car would cruise through the area (anywhere even in site!) he and all his friends quickly disappeared just before the cop car came through... Finally one day we came near enough to exchange words, after a bit of "nice weather today huh?", I asked the guy how the heck they knew before the car was even visible that a cop was coming through the neighborhood??? Did they use a scanner or something? He laughed and said. "Suppose there was somebody around dispatch who sent out a text to certain people when there was any kind of call involving their area..."

Thank God we don't live there anymore!!! Encrypted radio's... Freak'n JOKE to those guys.
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Old 04-17-2012, 2:57 PM
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Question: what do trunking, digital trunking and cad all have in common?

Answer: with each of these technologies the same question was asked.

Also where are all these cash strapped munies coming up with replacement systems for the already working systems in place?

By the time it is implemented in mass there will probably be encryption capable scanners
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Old 04-17-2012, 3:09 PM
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Not all areas are going to go digital or at least a digital system that a scanner cannot receive. Even if your public safety departments move to a system that you can no longer hear, there are countless things to hear on a scanner besides public safety. No it may not be as exciting but it's better than nothing.
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Old 04-17-2012, 3:40 PM
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Well... I'm not US Citizen but I engaged in some scanning activity in US. I've got a feeling that the scanning community relied on some kind freedom of information rights (well, yes, I am aware of the Freedom of Information Act but I had trouble wording the idea). Even some police officials say that it is the general public interest to have access to police transmissions. Shouldn't those issues be raised on some kind of higher level?

I think that the issue that will finally serve as a nail in the coffin to the scanning community is the accessibility of the Internet feeds. And as much as I love them it makes it too easy. When only few enthusiasts had scanners and programing one was a task requiring some knowledge there were no problems. Maybe incidental at most. In the area I lived for a while it was even better because the system was a digital one (not encrypted). So if somebody wanted to scan it he needed ~$400 scanner. Weekend criminal won't get one of these. And even back in the times really sensitive stuff was scrambled so there was no issue.

The encryption will indeed stop the too accessible scanner apps but it will eventually kill our hobby.

And... the real big time bad guys will get around that anyway. They'll steal radios, bribe somebody, whatever...

Sad too see that coming now.
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Old 04-17-2012, 4:44 PM
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Quote:
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And even back in the times really sensitive stuff was scrambled so there was no issue.
Do you refer to back in the times during the 1990s when UOP used Transcrypt 460s on their high-band frequencies?
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Old 04-17-2012, 4:47 PM
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Do you refer to back in the times during the 1990s when UOP used Transcrypt 460s on their high-band frequencies?
I personally don't know what you're talking about
The point is that agencies that required top notch security like Secret Service and FBI had scramblers and nobody really was upset about it because this info was too sensitive.
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Old 04-17-2012, 6:40 PM
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While it is true that ultimately it will indeed all go "digital", encrypting such networks (especially when it comes to multi-agency co-operation) is fraught with technical problems. In theory no prob's, in practice not easy to implement: "clocking" encryption/decryption through multiple hardware sets that are needed to implement such networks becomes more and more complicated the larger the networks become. On top of this are the "human" issues and "politics" of who decides who should be included/not included on any particular encrypted link, and when & under what set of circumstances are different branches/departments included or excluded.

Easier & cheaper to manage and maintain P25 networks with encryption off, and GSM with A5/XX turned off - and GSM networks are often run with A5/XX turned off (folk just don't realize it and networks, for obvious reasons, don't advertise it).

There is another perspective to all this: no sooner is an encryption system rolled out on a network and there'll be a group of hackers up to the challenge of tearing it apart e.g. early implementations of GSMs A5 encryption are now all redundant and can be decrypted on the fly using little more than well setup/well spec'd PC's running either software or hardware type attacks. The most recent implementation of A5 is "hackable" by pro's in the know, and there is gear out there to do it albeit the cost is a complete rip-off, but it's only a matter of time before the knowledge filters down to consumers and consumer hardware/software capability catches up and becomes cheap enough.

There will always be a place for so-called scanners/receivers their format & config will change over time in terms of hardware & software, but the capability for folk to scan and receive comms will always exist. Nearly 100% of what I listen to nowadays is with old analogue receivers designed and constructed in the 1980s and 1990s including encrypted digital listening: I just process it through a Pentek PCIe FPGA card in a PC running a middle of the road Intel Core2 or Core5 processor with homebrewed patches written up using C++ and/or Wireshark and/or Python.
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Old 04-18-2012, 6:26 AM
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I ran across a several government sites the say going digital, and using P25 is a Federal mandate dreamed up by "Homeland Security".

Less factual, but still... The general consensus seems to be the politicians and "Homeland Security" people behind it are well paid by Motorola to see this through. Kinda like "ObamaCare". Our politicians should all wear corporate patches on their suits like in NASCAR. That way we know ahead of time.

It would also free them up to do plugs anytime their interviewed. "I'd just like to say things like. "WOW! Lucky thing we had "Depends" brand undergarments here with us today! We'd never have passed that bill without them behind us!"
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Old 04-19-2012, 4:47 AM
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Well said BigCheese

The "problem" is, is that the rf spectrum is (like cars on the road) i.e. just going to get more and more crowded as time goes by. The way round that (amongst other things that can be done) is to digitise as much as possible: reduced bandwidth occupation and the chance to introduce a whole bunch of modulation types well suited to digital encoding
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:17 AM
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"I ran across a several government sites the say going digital, and using P25 is a Federal mandate dreamed up by "Homeland Security"."

Close but no cigar. I don't remember the exact year but it was the FCC that mandated encryption for all transmissions of a sensitive nature. Trouble is that some consider ALL to be sensitive and full time encrypt everything. Flipping back a few pages the first I noticed back in the '70s before the mandate was the FBI licensed by NITA (federal and military don't come under FCC jurisdiction) using DES3 on their old VHF channels. BTW, Digital Encryption System level 3 was developed by the CIA and today is in common use mostly on the internet, when you enter a secure site you're using it automatically at the server level. Here's a paranoiac twist, when first released to the public in the US export was illegal. When "they" finally realized it's nearly bulletproof it was released to the world.

All this came to be LONG before Homeland Security was a gleam in White eyes.

Last edited by kb2vxa; 06-16-2012 at 5:39 PM..
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