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BCD436HP: Programming favorites list for a newb

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#1
I'm sure some of yáll are tired of newbs asking this question but I've hit a brick wall. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to program in a favorites list through sentinel and get it to work. I've watched a few videos on youtube and dug through the forums but I can't seem to find an answer to my problem.I'm new to the digital scanners so any technical jargon will most likely go over my head. Feel free to put things into lamens if you can.

I'm trying to create a favorites list for MS of a several counties in the delta area (Bolivar, Coahoma, Sunflower, etc). It would appear I can get conventional frequencies to work but I want to get MDOT, MDWFP, MHP and some others that are on trunked systems. I've appended to my favorites list like some of the videos showed but when I go to scan I get Nothing to Scan. I've checked the service types and enabled just about everything there is just in case. I set some quick keys but to be honest I don't know that I set them right and the hierarchy structure is still a little confusing. I know there is something to do with sites and location settings but I've been failing the last week trying to figure it out.

Of course it works when I set a location with the full database enabled. I'll take any help I can get. I'm much more of a visual learner so pictures and what not are the best. Thanks in advance. And great work on the entire site. It's got a mountain of information that is and will be useful to me once I get better at this scanner.
 

ofd8001

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#2
A couple of things come to mind:

In Sentinel, click Edit on the top row, then Edit Profile. Confirm that both Monitor and Download are On. (Highlight the Favorites List and click On for Monitor and On for Download). Then do a "Write to Scanner".

(This tells Sentinel to download the FL to the scanner and once the FL is in the scanner, to Monitor it).

Also if you have assigned a Favorites List Quick Key to the FL, confirm that the FLQK is on.
 
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cleveland, MS
#3
I did check monitor and download. I can see my FL in the scanner but it doesn't monitor everything. The trunked systems appear to be what's not being monitored.

Here's my process and let me know if I'm missing something:
- Create a FL
- Go through the database and Append what I want to that, be it county wide, city, statewide. I'm not setting quick keys to anything or anything with location control.
- I check my profile and make sure download and monitor are on. I set my service types there too, usually everything on.
- Write to scanner and delete FL so it's not duplicating.
- Turn on the scanner and it will have what appears to me to be only conventional frequencies.

I apologize in advance if I'm not using acronyms or some nomenclature right. I was in the Army and quiet frankly got tired of acronyms but I'll get back on it soon.
 

ofd8001

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#4
If you could export your Favorites List to an HPE file and attach it to a post, I'll be happy to look it over. (You'll have to zip it because Radio Reference doesn't allow HPE file types).

There are so many little things to check, its a lot easier to look a FL over rather than get long winded.

Yeah as a former soldier I can commiserate about all the acronyms :p I use abbreviations because I'm too lazy to type everything.
 

ofd8001

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#6
It came through fine. I'll study it a little later this evening. A very brief glance shows nothing obvious. There are some things I'll suggest to make it a lot more efficient and could resolve your situation.
 

ofd8001

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#8
Now that I've had a little more time (gotta get golf opportunities when you can this time of year).

I’ve done some tinkering with your files. Basically I took the MS statewide system from the MS Favorites List and consolidated it into the MS Interoperability FL. (Both renamed "xxx 2")

As you have it, you are scanning the same system twice (the MSWIN system). It was going through 150 sites and checking for control channel activity. Averaging 5 frequencies per site, that’s about the same as scanning 1,500 conventional frequencies. So while the scanner was going through all that, it probably was missing some things.

So I suspect that the inefficiency may contribute to the lack of trunked system reception.

I did turn Location Control On for the MS Interoperability 2 FL. That’s so the scanner would :”turn off” all those sites too far away for you to receive (such as Jackson). That makes it a lot more efficient. Statewide systems are best handled with Location Control. That way, your scanner isn’t wasting time trying to get 140 (or more) sites you cannot possibly receive. I did increase the range for those counties that appear to be of interest to you (Bolivar to Washington) up to 50 miles.

Both of these revised FLs have “2” in their names, so you can program them to your scanner and not overwrite what you have. Just import the two HPE files using Sentinel (after unzipping and remembering where your computer saved them) and write to your scanner, being sure Download and Monitor are both set to On in the applicable profile. (During testing of these revised FLs you can set the originals to Monitor Off to see how the revisions work).

Hope this helps!
 
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#9
Thanks for the help! What you've said does make some sense to me. What I gather from your reply is that anything that's a statewide system should be put into it's own FL, or own system (still working on the terminology). The sites are what's getting me because I don't know if I need all of them or just the ones that are close or how to manage only scanning the ones in range, depending on where I am in the state. The location control makes sense but I just didn't understand it's use.

When I downloaded the file and brought it in it didn't have the names you gave it nor some of the settings you mentioned. But, I went through and set what you had done, to the best of my ability, and just renamed it.

I've got them loaded up and will see how they do over the next day or so. I think some of my worry is that I'm not seeing it come across the scanner display, like MHP or MDWFP. I've seen it come across when I set it up straight out of the box and enter a zip code and pretty much do nothing else. Would help to see if I have it setup right by assigning DQK and switching then off and on to see what works?

This is definitely a case where the device is smarter than the user.
 

ofd8001

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#10
Whether you have a statewide system in it's own Favorites List or is included in another Favorites List with other systems is up to you. The critical thing is to not have a statewide system duplicated in multiple FLs.

Only those sites that are close to you need to be monitored.

When you enter your zipcode, the scanner looks at an internal data table. It retrieves the latitude and longitude for the center point of that zip code and says "OK, here is where I am".

When you use the full database, the scanner works its magic by comparing your location to the location of System Sites and Departments and their corresponding ranges. If those System Sites and Departments are within range of your scanner, then they are "activated". Everything else is turned off.

When you use a Favorites List with Location Control On, the scanner behaves similarly - "activating" those programmed System Sites and Departments that are within range of your scanner.

If you travel elsewhere, merely re-enter the zip code for the new area. The scanner will then obtain the lat/long for your new location and then "activate" the System Sites and Departments applicable to that area.

So if you travel around your state, you should load the whole system - all sites and departments (you only had 8 counties). For example if you travel to Jackson and enter Jackson's zip code, the scanner will receive the sites for that area. However because you don't have the Hinds County Department programmed in the scanner, it won't receive Hinds County traffic.

When you use a Favorites List with Location Control Off, you are essentially telling the scanner you want to scan the things in that Favorites List regardless of where you are. So, for example, if you travel to Jackson MS, the scanner will continue to scan the Bolivar County frequencies.

Not seeing MHP or MDWFP on the display is normal if the channel is inactive (no transmissions). Scanning trunked systems is very different from scanning conventional systems. With conventional, you can see the different departments as they are being scanned. (On older scanners you could see the channel names as they were scanned).

On a trunked system, the scanner is monitoring control channel activity on sites. (You can see which site is being monitored on the display). While the scanner is monitoring the control channel, it notes whether any channel grants are active (which means an on-going radio transmission). One of the things being observed in the control channel data stream is the TalkGroup ID (TGID) for the active transmission. The scanner compares those active TGIDs to the list of TGIDs you have programmed in your scanner. If there is a match, then the scanner does its thing: you see the name of the active talkgroup and hear what is being said.

So that's a long-winded explanation of why you don't see inactive talkgroup names during the scan process. They only show up when a transmission occurs.

These new model scanners are a really great invention with lots of capabilities and will give you wonderful listening pleasure. But there is an awful lot of stuff to learn - how a radio system is designed and works as well as how to program the scanner to leverage all of its capabilities. The word "pleasure" is not applicable during this learning process, however. But most all of us started out knowing nothing and have worked through it, making many mistakes along the way and have gotten some good learning from those mistakes.
 
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#11
Wow I can't really thank you enough. I'm usually good at trial and error but this new way of scanning is over my head. I'll still have to do some playing around but it seems that everything is working just fine now.

I'm still wondering how the sites and what setting the location and range for each does but I think I'll try to cross that bridge at a later date. Thanks again.
 
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#13
That does help. Thanks. I guess lastly, you changed the range for some departments on mine. Is that something I can do with other departments as well as change the lat and lon? I'm assuming no because I tried it on one department by changing the lat and lon closer to me but left the range the same, uploaded it and it didn't show up when I pressed hold and scrolled through my departments. It jut simply wasn't in the list.

I may be incorrectly assuming that I can determine where that department is instead of going with the RR database. My goal was to see if I could listen to other channels, and mainly tinkering.
 

ofd8001

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#14
You can change the Range for Departments and Sites by using Sentinel to edit the Favorites List(s), going to the Location tab (site or department) and changing the Range value.

Yes you can change the lat/long for Sites and Departments. I would not.

The lat/long for the site is the site's actual location, so nothing is to be gained by changing that.

On Departments, the RR database rules are such that the range value is set to coincide with the agency's geographic area. For example, they'll mark the center of town as the lat/long. If the town is 10 miles wide, they'll give a range of 5 miles (half that width).

They way to "fool" things or "beat the system", thus experimenting with just how much you can hear is with Range settings.

Refering back to that GPS function post and its picture: Increasing the Range of a Site or Department essentially enlarges the red circles shown on the picture. I almost always do this for my "important" systems. That's because I'm often outside the service area per the database, but can hear them well because their transmitters have enough "horsepower" to reach me.

For example, I live in Louisville KY which is 40 miles from Elizabethtown KY. The RR database range for that county is 20 miles. So ordinarily that system would be locked out on my scanner because I'm 20 miles past the "red circle" for this county. I know that I can receive this system, so I've changed the Range for it to 50.0 miles and hear them fine. That causes the "red circle" to overlap me.

Another way of extending your scanner's reach and "pulling in" more things is to increase the scanner's Range value. Doing so enlarges the blue circle on that picture.

Site/Department Ranges and Scanner Ranges work together to set what is turned on for potential listening.

I'm sure there may be some who would suggest just increasing the scanner Range value and leaving site/department values alone. A lot of this is like baking a cake - some folks will do it one way and others differently. As long as it tastes good to you, who cares how much baking powder you use?
 
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#16
I'll have to say the help from ofd above really helped me. I've been editing favorites lists, assigning quick keys and managing locations from sentinel. You really do have to do some playing. The scanner can do way more than I can manage right now but hopefully I'll get it and so will you. I've only had mine for a few weeks now and I love it.
 
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