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Newbie desperately seeking help

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#1
Hey guys, as the thread title states, I'm dumbfounded when it comes to radio waves, frequencies and the like (helpful reading appreciated). I have a BCD536HP that needs an outdoor antenna. I listen to Police and EMS in Rhea County, Tn on the Tennessee Advanced Communication Network if that helps.

I'm looking for recommendations on a good antenna. I don't have much money to spend so I know that will hamper my choices greatly but any recommendation is welcome.

P.S. if anyone can fill me in on grounding the whole outfit, that would be very much appreciated also.

-Cody
 

Motoman55

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#2
Well here is the problem with your request.

If you buy a better antenna and put it on the roof you run into the issue of Digital Multi Site Distortion. In simpler terms the scanner is to stupid to know what tower to pick up on the P25 Simulcast System that you are listening too. You only want to put in the tower closest to where you live. Take all the others out.

If you are wanting to hear more on Low Band/VHF/UHF then yes a good antenna will help you but if you are only listening to the Tennessee Advanced Comms Network you really don't need anything better unless you can't pick up the closest tower.
 
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#3
So, in other words, the back of the set antenna is as good as it's going to get? My problem is that I live on the north end of the county and it seems like I can't pick up transmissions on the south end of the county. Is that actually happening or is it just my imagination?

I appreciate your quick reply.
 

Motoman55

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#4
Are you picking up the north ends towers ok? Verify the tower you are picking up is in your county and not another county. If it is in your county you should be picking up the south end of your county with no problem.
 

Motoman55

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#6
In theory that's a great antenna but for scanning P25 Trunked Systems that antenna could dramatically decrease his reception due to multi site distortion.
 
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#7
Ok guys, thank you for taking the time to reply to me. I was under the impression that I could just run some cable to a better antenna and it would pick up better. I've never heard of a multi site distortion of course but it does make sense. As far as I know, my county only has 1 tower at central dispatch and I do pick it up good.
 
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#8
Ok guys, thank you for taking the time to reply to me. I was under the impression that I could just run some cable to a better antenna and it would pick up better. I've never heard of a multi site distortion of course but it does make sense. As far as I know, my county only has 1 tower at central dispatch and I do pick it up good.
Simulcast distortion is what they are referring to.
Simulcast is where some systems transmit the same traffic from multiple locations on the same frequency.
Due to different times of arrival, the simple receivers in a consumer scanner can have issues with trying to pick which one to listen to.

-Without knowing your exact location, it would be impossible to know if you would suffer from this issue.-

Yes, there are times when "too much" signal can cause issues, but there are ways around that. Specifically with the digital simulcast systems.
However there are many more times where a better antenna system will greatly improve performance.
Since most of the bands that are used for public safety communications operate mainly by "line of sight", having your antenna up higher and in the clear can allow it to "see" more. That means you might be able to pick up agencies farther away that you could not before. It might mean that agencies you listen too now that come in weak will come in clear. It might mean that under certain atmospheric conditions, you'll get to hear some really interesting stuff from much farther way.

Mounting the antenna that allend linked to would be a good choice. You'll need to get that mounted outside your home, in the clear and up as high as you can safely get it. Connect it down to your radio with appropriately sized coaxial cable for the length of the cable run.

Grounding is important, but we can talk about that later.

If simulcast distortion becomes an issue, there are ways to tackle that. Switching back to the rear mounted antenna might be a workable solution. Finding different locations to mount the antenna might be a different approach.

Either way, don't give up. Adding a properly installed and connected external antenna to your radio will make a big difference.
 
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#9
However there are many more times where a better antenna system will greatly improve performance.
Since most of the bands that are used for public safety communications operate mainly by "line of sight", having your antenna up higher and in the clear can allow it to "see" more. That means you might be able to pick up agencies farther away that you could not before. It might mean that agencies you listen too now that come in weak will come in clear. It might mean that under certain atmospheric conditions, you'll get to hear some really interesting stuff from much farther way.
Ok, that's kind of what I was thinking. I'm getting a weak signal from time to time so I was in the mindset of, get an antenna outside and higher up, away from obstructions and my scanner would pick up better.

Is there a way of figuring out if I'll have the Simulcast Distortion problem? I looked up my county in the database here on the website and it says there are 5 frequencies on the Evensville Mountain tower from 769-772 MHz. Is there an antenna that I could get specifically for those frequencies or would a wideband discone antenna, like the one mentioned above, work just fine?

I'm not entirely sure if that's even a factor in my situation it just seemed logical to look at it. I'm totally confused. I thought it would be as simple as buying an outdoor antenna, mount it high and that would solve my problem.

I'm sorry for all of the questions and I honestly appreciate all of the help and replies you all are giving me. Any little bit helps. I'll eventually get some knowledge of the situation and get everything set up (with you guys' help of course).

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

N5TWB

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#10
After looking at the TACN page and considering the topography of TN in general (i.e. hilly), I'd judge the risk of simulcast distortion to be very low in Rhea County. The tower doesn't even note that it is a simulcast area the way others specifically do. A quick scan of the control frequencies shows some re-use in the system as would be expected but none in adjacent counties to Rhea. I think the upgrade to a well-sited outdoor antenna with a proper grounding system would likely improve listening pleasure.

Good luck with your hobby and the upgrade - lots of learning in your future!
 

iMONITOR

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#11
So, in other words, the back of the set antenna is as good as it's going to get? My problem is that I live on the north end of the county and it seems like I can't pick up transmissions on the south end of the county.
A discone antenna might not be the best choice for the frequencies you're monitor. It also has zero gain.

Something like this aimed at the South end of the county might do the job nicely.

Wilson Yagi Antenna for 700/800/900 MHz Band - 301111
https://www.wilsonamplifiers.com/wilson-yagi-antenna-for-700-800-900-mhz-band-301111/


 
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