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Activity Beeps generation

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N9JIG

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#1
For decades police and fire agencies in the LA area have used activity beeps on the base frequency when mobiles are talking on the mobile frequency in order to let users know the channel is busy. The repeaters usually do not repeat the mobile traffic unless it is enabled by the console operator.

The question has arisen as to how and by what are the tones generated. Are they generated by the repeater itself when activity from the voter is detected or does it come from the console?

I seem to recall seeing this option in the Quantar RSS before I retired, while our agency didn't use it I have listened to LAFD, LACSO and CHP for years especially when Low Band was hopping.
 
Joined
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#2
Well, I had typed a whole response to this, but apparently forgot to hit ENTER. It's hell trying to do this at 1:00 AM.

Would you be talking about 'channel markers'?

I can say as much as this: On an Orbacom TDM150 console system, they're generated by the individual console position. I was at a fairly new TDM150 installation & a dispatcher turned on the channel marker by accident, but didn't remember what she'd done. Took a couple minutes to find it & turn it off.

Can't say I remember anything in Quantar RSS for it; but I don't know everything (in spite of what I used to tell my 2 kids when they were little).

There are a couple of discussions of channel markers here on RR.
 

N9JIG

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#3
No, the channel marker is a different animal altogether, intended for use when the channel is reserved for an incident and activated by the console operator manually. We too had that issue, someone activated it and didn't know it and couldn't figure out where it came from. The channel marker is typically a longer beep but spaced out further while the activity marker is shorter beeps closer together.

What they have in California is automatic, a low level beep from the repeater that, while similar to the channel marker, is active whenever the mobile channel is busy. The repeater is not active unless specifically enabled by the console operator so the beep reminds mobile units that the channel is busy. I *think* that it is activated by the voter being active but was wondering if the tone itself is generated by the console or repeater. Could it be generated by the voter?
 

greenthumb

Colorado DB Administrator
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#4
Do you have an audio example of this? I have ideas, and they are related to voting, but I'd like to hear what you're talking about before making a comment.
 

riccom

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#8
Ok the lasd is a voter system, the tones are generated by the system as the user talks and informs other users that the channel is in use, and can be flipped on by the dispatcher to allow the mobile units to be repeated over the channel,

Sent from my 5049Z using Tapatalk
 
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#10
There are special controllers within the system that handle this. These same controllers also handle the automatic station identification (CW ID).

The voted audio output is routed into this controller, and from there, to the dispatch console and to the transmitter. The audio routed to the dispatcher is normal voted audio, the audio routed to the transmitter is the "busy tone". When the controller detects a console transmission ("console priority"), that audio is routed directly out over the air.

When the unit calls for "the patch", the dispatcher can then press a key on the keyboard to enable this operation which sends a signal to the controller to route the voted audio out over the air instead of the busy tone.

In the event of a loss of connection to the dispatch equipment, the system operates in a fall-back mode, often referred to as "self dispatch". In this mode, the busy tone is disabled, voted audio is routed directly to the transmitter (simulcast controller, actually), and the "repeat" function essentially is the result. The individual sheriffs stations will then dispatch calls over the air using control stations talking into the repeaters just like a mobile or portable.

It's not perfect. There are occasionally little glitches where "the patch" will be up, but you'll still hear a blip of busy tone just before the unit audio is heard. It is a TRULY one of a kind, custom-designed system.

I'm sure someone closer to the system can be more specific, but this *IS* how it works.

Oh, and a few little-known facts: The audio deviation is actually lower than they are authorized for because SUPPOSEDLY back then, GE couldn't get it to work properly without the deviation level being around 3.something kilohertz. Same deal with the transmit PL tone - LASD mobiles and portables are SUPPOSEDLY carrier squelch receive, and no PL is transmitted because GE never figured out how to get it to work.

The RF hardware is GE MASTR II vintage, with GE MASTR II transmitters and receivers, MASTR II auxiliary receivers, MASTR series voting comparators, and all kinds of custom equipment such as simulcast controllers, audio controllers, GE STAR and MDC 1200 decoders, etc.

Talk about a mess. The guys maintaining it must make a fortune as there likely isn't anyone else who knows enough about it to keep it working.
 
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