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A few more BCD996xt learning-curve questions

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W2IRT

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Mar 24, 2003
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204
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West Caldwell, NJ
Hi all,
Still having some proverbial teething pains with my new 996xt and not sure how best to proceed:

SCAN DELAYS:
996XT seems to linger on trunked systems for a long time. I have one QuickKey set up with two conventional systems containing several groups (total of about 30 frequencies to scan) and three trunked systems but with only, maybe 20-30 talkgroups between all of them. In any given period of time the conventional group is scanned very infrequently and will miss all sorts of stuff. On one trunked system I'm only monitoring one single talkgroup, yet it displays that system for about 2-3 seconds. Any way to speed things up?

FAST ACCESS?
From the above scenario, I have groups of talkgroups in each TRS, and groups of conventional frequencies stored in two conventional systems under that one SQK. When I'm scanning, how can I bring up one GQK inside one system (any one, any time, not a specific one)? For example, in the LOCAL conventional system, select Group QK 3 and de-select Group QKs 1, 2 and 4, then ONLY scan that one LOCAL conventional system? -- again, this is a general situation, not saying I want to do that one task all the time.

I'm comparing this to my BC780 where it's extremely easy to get to a frequency or TG quickly and likewise it's pretty simple to activate or deactivate a bank of talkgroups. In my current scenario, with only one scanner in the vehicle, I need to be able to get to anything quickly. If there's a pursuit or shooting, I want to quickly eliminate everything non-police. If there's a major incident in my town, I want to quickly disable all the surrounding towns (and enable only PD/FD/EMS for the affected towns and relevant state police talkgroups).

IMPORTING FROM THE RR DATABASE TO AN EXISTING SYSTEM?
Using the RadioReference import function, can I import a change into an existing system? Let's say I have a hundred customized TG names, sites, etc. One TG gets added and one changes description (Dispatch to Tactical). I don't want to import this from RR as a new system. I just want to import the changes, or maybe add a group to an existing system (Adding a different site or fleet to an existing TRS, for example).

FIRE TONE OUT
I'm really confused by this feature. I would like to search for the tone-out tones for my local FDs but I can't make heads or tails out of the various "help" files. After I do eventually find these, what is the procedure to actually *use* these in monitoring? Do I just go into manual mode on the FD frequency and somehow invoke tone-out mode, which will only unsquelch for dispatch? This is clear as mud to me, I'm afraid.

Thanks in advance.
 

UPMan

Uniden Representative
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13,287
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Arlington, TX
SCAN DELAYS:
Scanning a trunked system is not like scanning conventional frequencies. "Scanning" consists of monitoring a single frequency (the control channel) for the amount of time it takes to complete 1 full data cycle (a bit less than 2 seconds). It then compares all of the channel grants and channel updates to see if any of the channels are ones you've programmed. The total time it takes to "scan" a single site on a trunked system is totally unaffected by how many channels you have programmed. Whether 1 or 100, it is going to take about 2 seconds.
 

W2IRT

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West Caldwell, NJ
I figured that was the case based on my experience with the old 780, but I wasn't completely sure if that had been circumvented in the newer scanners by having the control channels monitored "in the background," sort of like SDR technology.

Any thoughts on the other issues I'm experiencing? The really confusing one for me is how to quickly access groups-within-systems, when multiple systems are being scanned on a single System QuickKey. I'm treating Group Quick Keys like talkgroup banks on the 780; logical groupings of talkgroups for a geographical region or service type. I may want a general overview of activity running all the time but once something interesting happens, I really want to rapidly narrow the scope of what I'm listening to. Memorizing more than 10 SQKs and (eventually, once I figure out how to use them), a handful of number tags is a daunting task. Bear in mind, this radio will be used mobile so reading a booklet of shortcuts probably isn't a wise idea whilst driving <g>.
 

JoeyC

Senior Member
Joined
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Messages
3,393
Location
San Diego, CA
My comment has to do with your FAST ACCESS section.

Since you said you have 1 SQK setup to hold 2 conventional and 3 trunked systems can I assume that you have the other 99 SQKs assigned to other systems? After reading your inquiry I am wondering why you would cram all that information into the same quickkey. If you want the flexibility to turn stuff on and off quickly then you need to utilize the quick keys as they are the quickest on/off switches in the scanner, IMO.
 

W2IRT

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Location
West Caldwell, NJ
I have very few QKs assigned, but it's a question of memory. My own wetware, I mean, not the scanner's. I've been using my old 780 and 785 for so long, I just know instinctively which "bank" keys are for which geographic regions, and I'm trying to emulate this as much as I can. I know 1 is Essex, 2 is Morris, 3 is Passaic, 4 is the state pleece, 5 is a mix of all local towns (3 counties are within a 5 minute drive, and a crapload of individual little towns and villages, each with their own departments), and so on. I can do this on the fly without even thinking about it.

If you can suggest a better way, please...I'm definitely interested! Being able to lock into an interesting incident quickly is very high on my priority list (and not missing calls due to too much being scanned).
 

firerick100

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wolcott ct
W2IRT- I also have a 785D and I have a 396xt and 996xt. I understand what you mean about the way you have the 785 programmed,the way I have my xts programmed is this way I live in new haven county in Connecticut and I have the ct state police as system quick key 1 and groups for each troop area and then my local are under system quick key 2 and under that I have each area assigned a group quick key which you have turn on and off by hitting function and the group number which works for me,in your case if I understand it correctly you can put Essex under system group key 1 and under that you can assign the various pd ems and FDs in groups keys and then Morris you can do the same with 2 and so on and then all you have to do is hit the number on the keypad to what county or arsa you want to listen to
 

W2IRT

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West Caldwell, NJ
Yes, that's the idea in general, but the problem-child is the QuickKey I've assigned to "Local". Unlike most civilized parts of the country, NJ has a zillion little fiefdoms plus county-wide on top of that. Within a 10 minute drive from my house There are the following towns: West Caldwell, Caldwell, North Caldwell (where Tony Soprano was from <grin>), Verona, Cedar Grove, Little Falls, Fairfield, Totawa, Wayne, Roseland, Pine Brook and Montville. Another 5 minutes there's West Orange, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Livingston, East Hanover, Hanover and Parsippany-Troy Hills. And I'm sure I'm leaving at least 2 or 3 out! Each has its own Police department, fire department and EMS dispatch (a few are combined in the Caldwell/W.C./Roseland area).

Most are conventional, but Verona is EDACS trunked, West Orange is Motorola Trunked, Montclair is a different Motorola trunked system, Fairfield PD and EMS are on a 700 MHz system, Morris County has a new P25 public safety system and the state troopers are on yet another 800 MHz Motorola SmartZone system. Again, this is just within 15 minutes at city-driving speeds; all receivable full-quieting with a wet noodle for an antenna (except Montclair. They suck).

I'm still trying to decide how to logically group all of these under the DMA scheme, to be honest. What I'd really like to do is sit down with someone who's familiar with how to do this properly and get a concrete plan in place, which I cam implement accordingly.
 

WA0CBW

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Shawnee Kansas (Kansas City)
Here is how I do it. Assign a quick to each town. There are 100 quick keys so use one for each one you want to turn on/off. I also add the quick key number to the alpha tag for the name like "23 Roseland." And instead of turning them on/off when you hear something you want to monitor select "hold" to hold on that system/group.
BB
 

W2IRT

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That's quite ingenious! I may have to rethink the whole layout in this case. Still not too happy about trying to remember 100 keys where I needed 7 or 8 before, but if it helps in the long run I suppose it's better than nothing.
 

ka3jjz

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If you are using FreeScan, if memory serves, there is a function to print out a list of your QK assignments. Mike
 
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Location
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I have a bcd396xt handheld that I use mobile and a bcd996xt that is a base. I got both about a year ago when my county switched to a digital trunked radio system. I use freescan to program my scanners. I use the copy and paste method from RR database. I have been working on the way that I have my scanner programmed constantly. I have tried things then made changes to make it easier. I finally have it almost complete. But I think I will always be changing how data is in my scanner.

The SQK and the GQK got me confused at first. to turn on and off GQK's you have to hit the function key first. You can have 99 SQK's and each of those 99 systems can have 10 GQK's This is how I explain quick keys and lock outs to people. My example is the electrical system in your house.

Your circuit breaker box = The scanner
Each breaker = Radio systems / sites (SQK)
Switched outlet = Groups (GQK)
Lamp = Radio channel, frequency or talk group.
Turning lamp on or off on the lamp = locking out a Radio channel, frequency or talk group

Lets take the living room circuit for example. You can quickly turn off all lamps in your living room by turning on or off at the breaker. The SQK (system quick key) is like the circuit breaker. Then in your living room you have a switch that controls an outlet. This is like a Group (GQK). Then the lamp you plug into the outlet is the Radio channel, frequency or talk group. The switch can turn any number of lamps on or off at one time. Then you can also turn the lamp off or on using the lamps own switch. This is like using the lock out feature. The problem with lock outs is it is not easy to unlock them. I usually leave most frequencies unlocked and then temporarily lock them out when they get annoying. Then if you power off the scanner those temporary locked out will be unlocked

You also have other outlets that are not switched. This would be like having a group in a system with out a GQK assigned to it. You can plug a lamp into this outlet but the only way to turn it on or off is using the switch on the lamp. Not as easy using a wall switch. This is hard to do in the scanner without a quick key.


The way I have my system set up are the 0-9 SQK’s are for local systems where I live and travel most often. 11-99 are for other areas that i don't travel as often. I only give one SQK to one system. I might assign a GQK to more then one group, but this is rare. You could also duplicate systems and have different GQK’s turn different things on and off. I also do this. Here in Wisconsin in my area most of the counties have a county dispatch center. So everything is done by county for me. I do have some exceptions. I do set a few systems that I call “Travel”. These systems are conventional frequencies so this makes life easier. I just make groups in this “Travel” system that follow the highways that I travel. I can turn GQK’s on and off as I travel.

My county has a new digital TRS system. Most public safety is on the new TRS. SQK 1 is for the TRS. SQK 2 is my county for the conventional stuff. Each system can have 20 groups, but only 10 GQK’s per system. So I never use more than 10 groups per system. The other thing that helps is to put the SQK’s and GQK numbers in the system or group test ID’s. Example: System display = (My County System 1) and Group displays would be (1 County Sheriff), (2 Police Department), (3 County Fire Departments), (4 City Fire Departments). It helps you remember by seeing them. I put system numbers at the end and group numbers at the beginning. I try to keep a pattern for every system and county. GQK is always County Sheriff.
Here is an example of how my scanner is set up. I have a list made in Microsoft Word that lists the systems and groups and their corresponding quick keys. I also try to use the same pattern for every system or county that I set up. That way I always know that the Sheriff is in Group 1.

County A TRS 1 (SQK1)
1 Sheriff (GQK 1)
2 County Rural Fire (GQK 2)
3 City A Police (GQK 3)
4 City A Fire / EMS (GQK 4)
5 City B Police (GQK 5)
6 City B Fire / EMS (GQK 6)
7 University Police
8 Jail
9 Hwy Depts, City Dpw’s (GQK 9) (Stuff I usually never listen too)
0 Mutual Aid, Special Events, Etc. (GQK 0)

County A Conventional (SQK2)
1 Law (GQK 1)
2 Fire (GQK 2)
3 State Police (GQK 3)
4 Mutual Aid, Interoperability (GQK 4)
5 Local Business (GQK 5)
6
7
8
9 Hwy Depts, City Dpw’s (GQK 9) (Stuff I usually never listen too)
0 Mutual Aid, Special Events, Etc. (GQK 0)

and so on.....
 

W8RMH

Feed Provider Since 2012
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7,867
Location
Grove City, Ohio (A Bearcat not a Buckeye)
FAST ACCESS?

I use some 80+ system/site quick keys. I include the QK number in the Alpha Tag for each system/site, and program the scanner in QK order (with FreeScan).

With a press of "Menu", "Program System", I get a list of all the quick keys and their assignments as well as all the systems/sites and their QKs.

It also displays the QKs while scanning which makes QK enable/disable easier.


IMPORTING FROM THE RR DATABASE TO AN EXISTING SYSTEM?

I just manually make the changes in FreeScan then overwrite the system in the scanner.


SCAN DELAYS:

I have found setting Delays to "2" and Holds to "0" works best for me.
 
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W2IRT

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
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Messages
204
Location
West Caldwell, NJ
FAST ACCESS?

I use some 80+ system/site quick keys. I include the QK number in the Alpha Tag for each system/site, and program the scanner in QK order (with FreeScan).

With a press of "Menu", "Program System", I get a list of all the quick keys and their assignments as well as all the systems/sites and their QKs.

It also displays the QKs while scanning which makes QK enable/disable easier.
I can see that I'm going to have to thoroughly re-think the whole process. I had wanted to only use a maximum of 10 system Quick-Keys since that's far easier to remember on the fly. Group QKs look even more difficult to work with when multiple systems are assigned to one SQK. I'm really seeing this as being problematic given the nature and number of separate agencies in my area.

IMPORTING FROM THE RR DATABASE TO AN EXISTING SYSTEM?

I just manually make the changes in FreeScan then overwrite the system in the scanner.
Not sure I follow here. If I have a large system programmed and I want to add 2 or 3 TGs or frequencies as the case may be, I am not seeing how to do this unless I import these to a new system and move or copy/paste them to the old, existing system.

SCAN DELAYS:
I have found setting Delays to "2" and Holds to "0" works best for me.
I was referring to the length of time the scanner stays on the control channels in a trunked system--typically about 2 to 3 seconds per system. This can introduce major delays in getting back to conventional channels once it's scanning the myriad of trunked systems.
 
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