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Newbie with a Pro-164 - Need help w Motorola Type II Smartnet Programming

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michaelmaxim

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I am a newb with scanners and am radio. I just bought a Radio Shack Pro-164 based on a recommendation from someone at the local fire dept. I live in Prince William County in Virginia and would like to set my new scanner up to scan frequencies from this page Prince William County Trunking System, Prince William, Virginia - Scanner Frequencies on this site. I have to say that the unit is a bit overwhelming at first due to my lack of understanding of the terminology.

I am really unsure where to start with programming this device and would like to get some online help getting this scanner setup to scan our local fire/police bands. Any pointers or help for this would be great. I just checked out this page Pro-164 - The RadioReference Wiki but I still don't see much that helps me understand my unit anymore than I already do.

I've read the owners manual but I guess I'm just lost in the sauce with all of the verbage and clear lack of knowledge of how these systems work in conjunction with scanners, etc.
 

whiskeytango

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At the top of Prince William frequency page, there are the 15 freqs listed. The red and blues are the control channels. They transmit info that sounds like a fax machine but tells the radio/scanner who is talking and on what freq they are on. The five digit numbers on the left of the tables, for example, 32016, is the talk group ID number for your fire dispatch. All dispatch calls will come through on this talk group. So, with this info you must first program in all 15 freqs, each freq has to be set to MO mode and the entire bank has to be set to trunk mode MOT because they use a Motorola system. Then program in TGID's (talk group IDs) that you want to listen to. In my area, a dispatch for fire response will come through and they will be assigned a tac channel to communicate with other units that are dispatched to the same call. This should get you started. Keep reading your manual and things will start to make sense.

***edit*** Just saw that your police and fire have gone digital and the scanner you have cant decode the transmissions. http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?ctid=2893 this is a listing of the non trunked radio freqs in your area. Your scanner can pick these up, and can also receive NON digital trunked systems.
 
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michaelmaxim

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Thanks for the info whiskeytango. That helps me understand what's going on with the basics of this unit. I'm Googling everything I can on how to program this unit and found a site called Marksscanners.com that has some good info. Now I just have to figure out how to get into program mode and get these freq entered and then saved into the unit.
 

michaelmaxim

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I thought since this unit could pickup Motorola Type II Smartnet that I was able to listen to everything. Opps. I am very new to this so please excuse my ignorance... is there another brand or type of scanner that can pickup these digital transmissions and are these signals in my area (if you know) often encrypted or not?
 

qlajlu

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I thought since this unit could pickup Motorola Type II Smartnet that I was able to listen to everything. Opps. I am very new to this so please excuse my ignorance... is there another brand or type of scanner that can pickup these digital transmissions and are these signals in my area (if you know) often encrypted or not?
There are quite a few that will decode digital. There are GREs, those with the Radio Shack brand on them that are made by GRE, and there are Unidens. Go to the RR Wiki Radio Models and click on each brand name. You will find all of the scanners lined up very nice and neat with a description on the right side. What you are looking for are those that have "P25" in that description. That is the protocol for digital and we simply call it "P25 compliant."

Hope this helps.

EDIT TO ADD: Here are direct links to the brand name line-ups:

Radio Shack
GRE
Uniden

You also want one that has a "Yes" in the Reband column.
 
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whiskeytango

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basically you have to spend near 450 bucks to decode digi, aka trunk tracker IV for example. if you go to the first link you posted Prince William County, Virginia (VA) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference look at the table, at the top it says mode above like the 3rd column, put your mouse cursor over that and it will show you what the modes are...d is digital, the $450 scanners can read your moto system, some of the talk groups are "e" in the mode column...encrypted, those arent legally scanable
 

whiskeytango

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exactly...• Upgraded TrunkTracking and improved P25 digital decoding....see at the top of that last link i posted under the general info for the radio system and under system voice...it says-Analog and APCO-25 Common Air Interface...apco 25 is digital aka p25
 

qlajlu

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Do you think that the Uniden Bearcat BCD396XT Scanner is a better solution? A bit more expensive obviously though.
Yes. That would do it. If you are looking for a Handheld, you should also check out the GRE PSR-500 and the Radio Shack Pro-106. They all do the job well.
 

michaelmaxim

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Awesome. You guys have been a huge help and this only my first day on the forum. Thanks so much! I'll be returning my Pro-164 tomorrow and looking for something that's P25 compliant.
 

michaelmaxim

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haha. No worries, whiskeytango... I'll get a live stream setup once I have it programmed and then you can listen to mine online via my website.

There's this place right down the street.. that I just found out. I should have went here before the Shack.

HRO Ham Radio Outlet Worldwide Supplier of Amateur Radio Electronics Equipment

I think I will have them program PW County for me tomorrow (or atleast show me the basics) when I go to pick up the new scanner. I'll post back with some results after I get it squared away tomorrow.
 

michaelmaxim

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Well I just returned my Pro-164 and now I have a GRE PRS-500 with digital scanning. This should do the trick. I'm going to download Win500 now and give it a shot. I just signed up a premium member on the forum too... so hopefully this combination will yield better results.
 

qlajlu

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Well I just returned my Pro-164 and now I have a GRE PRS-500 with digital scanning. This should do the trick. I'm going to download Win500 now and give it a shot. I just signed up a premium member on the forum too... so hopefully this combination will yield better results.
Good choice in my not so humble opinion. You will find an illustrated "tutorial" for programming your WIN-500 at WIN500 - UtahRadio.org. With your Premium Membership, you should be up and running within a short time.

Just remember, as you load the drivers for the USB cable, DO NOT have the cable attached to the computer until AFTER the drivers are loaded. This step has caused a lot of heartache for some folks.
 

michaelmaxim

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Yep that was one of my deciding factors was the screen shot and "dummy proof" guide on how to program it using WIN500... Since I'm an IT guy by default... screen shots and detailed instructions is exactly what I was looking for. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm installing the .NET 1.1 framework now on my test machine to get this unit connected.
 

gmclam

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Psr-500

I think you'll find the PSR-500 to be a great scanner. While it can be programmed by hand, the only sane way to go is with WIN500. Another good choice.

Dont expect to learn all this stuff overnight .. or even in two weeks. I have been in scanners well over 40 years and learned each new thing as it came out. It is far easier to graduate from crystals to programmable to trunking to digital, etc than to just jump in to the latest most complex technology.

The older (trunk tracking) scanners were organized by "banks", which worked in their day just fine. But these new systems we are trying to monitor require a lot more sophistication. The whole "object oriented" approach to programming is overwhelming at first, but makes most efficient use of memory and how the scanner works.

I'd suggest reading the Wiki section here about Trunking, then the specific type of trunked system(s) you will be monitoring; there are three major types: Motorola, LTR & EDACS. Once you know what a control channel frequency is, what a talkgroup is and how the scanner uses them; it will make getting the data into WIN500 most successfully the first time.

You might consider programming a couple of "conventional" channels, loading them in to the scanner, and listening, while you work on the next stage. If you have an analog trunked system to monitor, get that in there. Then go full on for the digital. Each step I think helps an overall understanding.

Good luck
 
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