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Sacramento Valley Area Discussion Local area specific discussion for Sacramento County and its outlying areas such as San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties.

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Old 01-27-2014, 4:15 PM
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Default New user seeking local help

Hello all,

First let me say, I'm looking forward to learning as much as possible from this site, it currently all appears to be written in mandarin to me, but I'm hoping to change that. I debated whether or not to post in the new user sub-forum... obviously I'm a greenhorn here, but I also read the stickies which seem to suggest that when seeking location specific help or info, better luck may be had in the area specific discussion sub-forums. So, my apologies if this is somewhat misplaced, however I am seeking location specific help... Flame suit is on.


My questions pertain to Sacramento county. I purchased a Radio Shack Pro-97 scanner radio and 800MHz antenna upgrade many years ago ('05-ish?) from their Fair Oaks location, with the intent of learning all about it. Turns out they had (at the time) a resident radio guru working there who had already programmed all the local channels into it. So although I didn't get to learn anything, it was neat to have it all set up to listen in on the local activity. Used it for a few years and ended up moving to the Bay Area for a spell and got super busy with work and didn't have time to figure out reprogramming. Well, now I'm back in the Sac area (Rancho Cordova to be exact) and I'm finding that my scanner doesn't pick up nearly what it used to. Some online reading suggests that the Pro-97 may not be suitable for the "new" trunking system? I would at the very least imagine that updated programming may be in order, however is my Pro-97 now a paperweight? I tried calling the Radio Shack where I purchased it years ago, only to be told that they don't offer any programming services anymore, and they don't even sell scanners anymore? The other fun part of the equation is that since moving twice I have no idea where my accessory cables are, or if I even still have them at all...

I found the user manual online, but cant imagine manually programming hundreds of channels into this thing. But I also tried fine tuning into some of the listed frequencies for area agencies and had no luck. So maybe I really do need an upgrade? I ordered a cheapo Baofeng radio to play with since I've heard they're a great value for a beginner, but I am aware that I shouldn't be doing any transmitting until properly licensed.

Anyway, the point of my long winded word castle, is there any Sac area locals that can help me program my Pro-97? Perhaps in exchange for some beers or a little cash? Is it even worth it? I very much appreciate any help, input or advice, and look forward to taking advantage of the resources available on this website and forum. Thanks!

Jeff
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:09 AM
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While waiting for the mods to approve my post, (I wish some of the other forums I'm a member of had such anti-spam protocol for new users) I did read more on the subject, including the sticky on this sub-forum, which I somehow missed before posting. So it turns out I need a P25 capable digital trunking scanner to be FULLY up to date. I did manage to find a little bit of activity while manually tuning into SRRCS frequencies, but the sound quality was terrible. I also just found the RR Wiki Rebanding page which specifically notes the PRO-97, however the support page is a dead link.

I'm sure I can figure this out eventually, however it's getting late. I'm sure all you experienced radio guys are getting a chuckle out of me talking to myself about scanner 101. I'll report back to myself later.
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Old 01-28-2014, 10:01 AM
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Hi Jeff,

Welcome to the forum!

I used to have a PRO-97, and I think (99.9% certain) I still have the programming cable lying around somewhere. I'd be happy to help you check or update your programming. What you have discovered on your own is correct...the '97 is no longer fully functional on the local trunked systems. I used mine to monitor Roseville and Sac County. After rebanding, I was still able to hear MOST traffic, especially on the Roseville system because they didn't have as many frequencies, and therefore did less frequency-hopping. But it got very worn out and the speaker started to go, so I pretty much stopped using it. There is still a lot of non-trunked traffic to listen to, especially in the surrounding areas of Placer, El Dorado, Yolo, etc.

I live in the tri-cities area of south Placer, so if you would like, I'd be happy to meet with you and offer assistance and/or advise. PM me for more specific information if you would like to get together.

Regards,

David
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duster View Post
Hi Jeff,

Welcome to the forum!

I used to have a PRO-97, and I think (99.9% certain) I still have the programming cable lying around somewhere. I'd be happy to help you check or update your programming. What you have discovered on your own is correct...the '97 is no longer fully functional on the local trunked systems. I used mine to monitor Roseville and Sac County. After rebanding, I was still able to hear MOST traffic, especially on the Roseville system because they didn't have as many frequencies, and therefore did less frequency-hopping. But it got very worn out and the speaker started to go, so I pretty much stopped using it. There is still a lot of non-trunked traffic to listen to, especially in the surrounding areas of Placer, El Dorado, Yolo, etc.

I live in the tri-cities area of south Placer, so if you would like, I'd be happy to meet with you and offer assistance and/or advise. PM me for more specific information if you would like to get together.

Regards,

David
Great to hear that my PRO-97 isn't completely worthless! I will definitely take you up on your offer for help. It seems that my account doesn't yet have clearance to send PMs... perhaps I can in a few days? Or is it based on post count? My posts still have to be "approved" by mods and take 3-4 hours to actually show up on the forum.

I absolutely appreciate the offer for help David! Once my account gives me permission to PM we can work out details, thanks again!
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:39 PM
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Smile Hello Neighbor

Welcome to RadioReference.com!

To program a PRO-97 you need the cable and software. There are several versions of cables that will work fine for that scanner, RS 20-047 being the original USB version, but the list price is ~$35. I think you can find one used for less. I use WIN97 starrsoft.com which I believe is another $30.

When Sacramento rebanded a few years ago, that made the PRO-97 unable to properly scan the systems. However if you want to hear fire dispatch, CHP, surrounding counties, or things like aviation; it will work just fine.

The Radio Shack model that replaced the PRO-97 is the PRO-164. GRE who made these scanners also sold the PRO-164 under their brand as a PSR-300. If you could get one of those for cheap, great; but that will only solve your listening in the short term. I might mention though that the same programming cable and software works with all these models.

GRE went out of business a couple of years ago, one reason these models of scanners have dried up in the stores. Whistler has obtained GRE's IP and will be selling their own version of the same scanners soon.

But there's a bigger issue lurking out there. Sacramento is migrating to a P25 system. Once everyone is switched over you'll need a P25 capable scanner. Exact dates as to when this will happen vary. It is a huge system with a lot of radios to program and deploy.

The equivalent scanners for P25 are PRO-106 and PSR-500. All of the models I have stated are hand-helds (since the PRO-97 is hand-held), but there are base models too. If you go with a P25 scanner, you'll likely be able to use the same programming cable, but you will need different programming software. Once you're up and listening, expect it to total ~$500.
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Last edited by gmclam; 01-28-2014 at 12:41 PM..
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Old 01-28-2014, 2:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmclam View Post
Welcome to RadioReference.com!

To program a PRO-97 you need the cable and software. There are several versions of cables that will work fine for that scanner, RS 20-047 being the original USB version, but the list price is ~$35. I think you can find one used for less. I use WIN97 starrsoft.com which I believe is another $30.

When Sacramento rebanded a few years ago, that made the PRO-97 unable to properly scan the systems. However if you want to hear fire dispatch, CHP, surrounding counties, or things like aviation; it will work just fine.

The Radio Shack model that replaced the PRO-97 is the PRO-164. GRE who made these scanners also sold the PRO-164 under their brand as a PSR-300. If you could get one of those for cheap, great; but that will only solve your listening in the short term. I might mention though that the same programming cable and software works with all these models.

GRE went out of business a couple of years ago, one reason these models of scanners have dried up in the stores. Whistler has obtained GRE's IP and will be selling their own version of the same scanners soon.

But there's a bigger issue lurking out there. Sacramento is migrating to a P25 system. Once everyone is switched over you'll need a P25 capable scanner. Exact dates as to when this will happen vary. It is a huge system with a lot of radios to program and deploy.

The equivalent scanners for P25 are PRO-106 and PSR-500. All of the models I have stated are hand-helds (since the PRO-97 is hand-held), but there are base models too. If you go with a P25 scanner, you'll likely be able to use the same programming cable, but you will need different programming software. Once you're up and listening, expect it to total ~$500.
Wow, thanks for all that info. I definitely want to take advantage of David's offer to help me "tune up" my 97, and I'm interested to see how much of a difference it makes. Currently it seems like the only thing I can pick up consistently is air traffic control from Mather AFB near me. It's not very interesting to listen to. I'd love to be able to pick up CHP and local fire with it.

I'm definitely going to start looking into the P25 stuff, but I also want to get a more firm grasp on all the basics, which is why I ordered the little Baofeng UV-5R, to start from scratch, once I get all the basics covered I'll start looking at more fancy equipment, probably after I'm licensed. I'm not the kind of guy that likes to spend lots of money on equipment or gear though. I'm all about bang for the buck! I want to get the most out of what I've got and really have justifiable reasons for spending money on the newer stuff. Sure I could go out and buy it right now, but I already feel like I'm in over my head, need to learn to swim in these waves!
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Old 01-28-2014, 6:20 PM
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Smile Non-trunked stuff in Sacramento county

You should have no problems picking up the two VHF fire dispatch channels, one for the county (Sac Metro) and one for the city. They can get real busy at times w/o monitoring anything else. You should be able to manually program these two channels in by hand w/o much effort. Don't worry about the text tags (labeling the channels) until you're comfortable in doing so. Once the scanner has the frequencies, and they are not locked out, you should hear more interesting calls.
SAC METRO 154.190
SAC CITY 153.890

One law enforcement agency that is still/also available on UHF is Galt PD. Recently I've been amazed at how much radio traffic there is for that small town, but I understand they have a gang problem
GALT PD 1 460.150
GALT PD 2 453.800

CHP is a lot trickier. They are on VHF low band and you need a fairly large antenna to have great reception. Traffic for the RC area is on the BLACK channel. Because they are on VHF low, I strongly suggest also programming the "CT" value.
44.660 MHz CT 167.9

Ironically that will give you a lot of radio traffic, but not necessarily what is happening right around you.
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Old 02-01-2014, 9:41 PM
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Sac PD will be conducting radio fail tests the next couple of weeks in preparation for the regional radio system upgrade scheduled for late March. No other details given. The time for a new digital scanner may come soon.
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