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Tones over ProVoice

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kyparamedic

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My county is supposedly upgrading to digital which I assume will be ProVoice. Currently, my agency uses a warble tone to alert us and police use a solid tone. The fire dept. went back to VHF so they use the Quikcall II tones which are broadcast over 800 when it's a multi-agency dispatch. My understanding is that tones cannot be played over a digital system due to the IMBE vocoder. Is this the case? Are there any tones such a solid tone that can be reproduced? What are systems doing for alerting that have gone to digital? The director of my agency is completely ignorant of radio systems and the extent of his knowledge is that you press the button and talk.

Thanks.
 

JungleJim

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You are correct, tones do not work on digital systems. The systems I have worked on use analog channels for the fire dispatch toneouts and or patched to VHF also for pagers.

On a digital system you would have to use the systems signalling features to alert the radio such as agency, fleet or individual call.
 

ElroyJetson

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Fire departments use pagers. Pagers for fire departments are VHF. It's simple, it works,
and it's entrenched. This is the way practically EVERY system works. Regardless of the
band and type of the main public safety system, all fire paging is VHF, linked into the main
system for convenience.


I don't personally know of an exception to that rule.


Elroy
 

1268

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Not sure what your saying Elroy , but just check out York county PA to see how you handle a P-25 change over. There switching to alpha paging , which has been done elsewhere with success, you can get group calls and individual station calls etc.
 

kyparamedic

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ElroyJetson said:
Fire departments use pagers. Pagers for fire departments are VHF. It's simple, it works,
and it's entrenched. This is the way practically EVERY system works. Regardless of the
band and type of the main public safety system, all fire paging is VHF, linked into the main
system for convenience.


I don't personally know of an exception to that rule.


Elroy
We have both a full-time paid county and city fire dept. with a small volunteer dept. as well, although their area is also covered by the county dept. They don't currently use pagers but for whatever reasons use the QCII tones. When they were on the EDACS system, they just had a solid tone over their talkgroup. Now that they're back on VHF, they went to the QCII tones again which are broadcast over both VHF and EDACS when it's a multi-agency dispatch. They will probably come back to the EDACS system once we go digital and add another tower. It's all part of a grant.

So I don't know what we're going to do for alerting once we go digital. We do have Zetron station alerting that is somehow hooked into the radio system but they aren't in use. Plus, that won't be very beneficial when we're out of the station. My director doesn't seem to understand this whole digital thing and says they'll have to find a way to tone us over the radio.
 

kyparamedic

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JungleJim said:
You are correct, tones do not work on digital systems. The systems I have worked on use analog channels for the fire dispatch toneouts and or patched to VHF also for pagers.

On a digital system you would have to use the systems signalling features to alert the radio such as agency, fleet or individual call.
Can you have both analog and digital talkgroups on the same system?
Will a solid tone at a certain frequency also not work?
Do all of the M/A-COM radios have signaling features? My agency primarily uses LPE-200's with a few P5100's and P7100's. How loud is it? I guess at night they could use the Zetron station alerts to wake us up and it wouldn't matter if the built-in radio alert wasn't that attention getting, enough to wake us up.

What is the advantage to ProVoice over analog? Can you have more simultaneous communications going on with the same number of frequencies?

Thanks and sorry for so many questions. I'm still learning about all this stuff.
 

EDACSTECH

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kyparamedic said:
My county is supposedly upgrading to digital which I assume will be ProVoice. Currently, my agency uses a warble tone to alert us and police use a solid tone. The fire dept. went back to VHF so they use the Quikcall II tones which are broadcast over 800 when it's a multi-agency dispatch. My understanding is that tones cannot be played over a digital system due to the IMBE vocoder. Is this the case? Are there any tones such a solid tone that can be reproduced? What are systems doing for alerting that have gone to digital? The director of my agency is completely ignorant of radio systems and the extent of his knowledge is that you press the button and talk.

Thanks.
If you plan to use an EDACS "Provoice" system with MAESTRO dispatch consoles, you can dispatch the tone and call in analog mode by unselecting the "PVT" button/icon from the group module before you send out the call. The radios will receive the analog call and tone(s) while in the Provoice mode. The dispatcher can then reselect the "PVT" button/icon to send all future calls in Provoice. You could also have the call go out on an analog group and then have all other responding units on a different Provoice group. I manage an EDACS system and have no plans to ever operate fire calls in Provoice mode. We use Provoice for some police operations with most everything else in analog. I would find other users that use Provoice for Fire/EMS calls and find what works well and not so well before you make plans to operate Provoice. While it adds security to the call, it comes at a cost of quality and added operational problems that EDACS analog doesn't have. Good Luck!
 

kyparamedic

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Thanks for the info. I had read in some other threads that you can operate both in ProVoice and analog mode on the same system, which I didn't realize. If that's the case then there's probably no reason for anyone besides PD to use it. So that would make this whole tones thing a moot point. Unfortunately, the PD has pretty much taken over the system and is customizing it around their needs, so I can potentially see them saying it would just be easier to put everyone on ProVoice. Who knows.

BTW, our dispatch center uses Zetron consoles. I don't know which model, just that it's a touch-screen interface and they also have the traditional-type radio console with mic at each position. Maybe as backup?
 

EDACSTECH

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kyparamedic said:
Thanks for the info. I had read in some other threads that you can operate both in ProVoice and analog mode on the same system, which I didn't realize. If that's the case then there's probably no reason for anyone besides PD to use it. So that would make this whole tones thing a moot point. Unfortunately, the PD has pretty much taken over the system and is customizing it around their needs, so I can potentially see them saying it would just be easier to put everyone on ProVoice. Who knows.

BTW, our dispatch center uses Zetron consoles. I don't know which model, just that it's a touch-screen interface and they also have the traditional-type radio console with mic at each position. Maybe as backup?
Sorry that you have Zetron consoles. Their products are fine but the Zetron console doesn't have the options that the Maestro console has. Adding the Provoice feature to radios that don't need Provoice is a waste of money, about $1500.00 each. This could have been used to purchase a better console design. Your Fire responders will like analog EDACS much better than Provoice because many radios on a fire scene with the digital delay normally results in confusion and problems. You can purchase any current model EDACS mobile or portable radio and have Provoice activated at a later time, if needed, by upgrading the feature code. Get the same radio now for less $$$ and add the feature later if and when required.
 

kyparamedic

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When I started there they had just gone to 800. I bet they just kept the Zetron consoles they already had than pay to upgrade. My director said our radios wouldn't need to be upgraded but I don't think he knows what he's talking about. Maybe only the police will go PV. They use MRK radios though. Are these upgradeable to PV? The fire dept.'s are using VHF right now and are going to wait and see what happens before deciding if they'll go back to 800.
 

Jay911

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ElroyJetson said:
Fire departments use pagers. Pagers for fire departments are VHF. It's simple, it works,
and it's entrenched. (...) all fire paging is VHF. (...) I don't personally know of an exception to that rule.
Wow. I guess that means my Minitor II on 413.8375/412.7375, my neighboring departments' MinII and MinIV's on 413.3125, etc., are letting you learn something new.

Just as many fire department voice pagers are on UHF as VHF. Perhaps in your area, VHF is used exclusively, but that's far from the case "everywhere".
 

EDACSTECH

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kyparamedic said:
When I started there they had just gone to 800. I bet they just kept the Zetron consoles they already had than pay to upgrade. My director said our radios wouldn't need to be upgraded but I don't think he knows what he's talking about. Maybe only the police will go PV. They use MRK radios though. Are these upgradeable to PV? The fire dept.'s are using VHF right now and are going to wait and see what happens before deciding if they'll go back to 800.
MRK radios were not offered as Provoice. They did sell an AEGIS model that used a different hardware configuration than the analog MRK radio. MRK is a great radio, we use several hundred of them with little problems.
 

Jay911

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Speaking to the original point of the thread.. I doubt that any tone paging would work on any digital system - be it ProVoice, Motorola ASTRO, or any other digital format. The whole concept of tone paging requires that the audio tones stay at the same pitch every time in order to trigger the receiving radios (or pagers/alert monitors). I'm no audio technician, but I am fairly confident that the act of converting the audio from analog to digital and then back distorts the pitch beyond what the receiver's tolerance (which is usually +/- a few hz, IIRC).

The easiest way to maintain paging when migrating to a digital system (trunk or otherwise) from an existing conventional analog system is to retain the existing analog conventional paging for that specific use only, as mentioned before. The downside is that you now have two distinct systems to maintain and upkeep, and the users have to hold onto two separate pieces of equipment in order to be alerted and be able to communicate.

My province is imminently moving to a P25 700MHz system and I'd like to see them go a different way. I personally think the volunteers would be able to be "paged" using a type of selective calling function that is already existent in most trunking/digital systems. Similar to I-Calls, it is possible to do a "Call Alert" (that's Motorola's term for it and I'm familiar with Mother M; M/A-COM may call it something else for EDACS systems). Just a little bit of product enhancement (which I'm sure a vendor would be willing to undertake, given a migration project of sufficient magnitude) would allow not only volunteers but all users of the system to be able to be alerted either as a group or individually using said selcall technology.

Kyparamedic: If you're simply looking for some kind of noisemaker to alert you that there's a call, i.e. a loud tone to come across the airwaves, I do believe that THAT kind of thing is still available. I'm not sure of EDACS systems in particular, because as I mentioned above, my main experience is in Motorola. But on our hybrid analog/digital trunk system, we can send the three typical Motorola noisemakers - solid tone, high-low alternating tone, and a third which I don't recall right now but might be a stuttered warbling tone - over any audio resource (channel/talkgroup), be it analog, digital, conventional, or trunked. If you're looking for something to selectively notify a specific crew of a need for their response, you need to look at selcall alerting.
 
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1268

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Great comments, I would like to make another point. To use the above mentioned alerting , no matter if it's Ma/Com or Moto each Vol FF will have to have a portable radio. There is no voice pager capable of this thus the move to Alpha paging by many Fire depts in this predicament. To do what some of you are saying would take $$$$. Again great discussion by all.
 

Jay911

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1268 said:
Great comments, I would like to make another point. To use the above mentioned alerting , no matter if it's Ma/Com or Moto each Vol FF will have to have a portable radio. There is no voice pager capable of this thus the move to Alpha paging by many Fire depts in this predicament. To do what some of you are saying would take $$$$. Again great discussion by all.
Oh, definitely.. but, depending on the VFD (for example, or vol EMS, or other service), it may be quite cost-effective. I would suggest that the cost of equipping the entire department with portable radios would be offset by the elimination of the tower/transmitter/etc, frequency licensing, and actual pager hardware required to accomplish the paging. Actual benefits, of course, may vary, depending on membership, and if the tower is needed for something else, etc. And some departments already have issued radios to most of their membership. :)
 

kyparamedic

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Jay911 said:
Kyparamedic: If you're simply looking for some kind of noisemaker to alert you that there's a call, i.e. a loud tone to come across the airwaves, I do believe that THAT kind of thing is still available. I'm not sure of EDACS systems in particular, because as I mentioned above, my main experience is in Motorola. But on our hybrid analog/digital trunk system, we can send the three typical Motorola noisemakers - solid tone, high-low alternating tone, and a third which I don't recall right now but might be a stuttered warbling tone - over any audio resource (channel/talkgroup), be it analog, digital, conventional, or trunked. If you're looking for something to selectively notify a specific crew of a need for their response, you need to look at selcall alerting.
Yes, that is all it would be. No pagers or anything are activated, it's just to get people's attention.
 

MFRD8539

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Somebody mentioned in a thread the problems associated with digital TG's on a fireground. We had all TG's programmed ProVoice EXCEPT for the TAC channels. That alleviated a lot of problems with digital voice especially ambient noise.

Also, the issue with transmitting alert tones over ProVoice TG's is seamless to the dispatcher. When the button is pressed to xmit the tone, the C3 console automatically sends all radios on the TG into analog mode only as long as the tone is being transmitted then it reverts back to digital. Selecting PVT mode is not required with the new software.
 

jim202

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There have been a number of comments passed back and forth here about the different bands for pagers.
There have been pagers used on just about all the frequencies except for 800. Correct me if I am wrong,
but I don't know of any 800 MHz pages being built currently. The use on the low band channels (30 to
50 MHz) has been a long time pager band.

The use of pagers on a trunking system becomes more of a problem due to the fact that you would
actually have to build a complete trunking system receiver to make the pager even start to function.
it would have to be able to monitor the control channel and then have enough smarts to then switch
to the assigned voice channel. After is then moves to the voice channel, it could then listen for any
paging tones that would be sent. The timing delays between the original key up, move from the
control channel to the voice channel and then decode the tones would cause the pager to be fairly
large to hold all the needed electronics. Plus you would have to have a fairly long delay on the
encode end before you even try to send any tones.

Bottom line is that just building a receiver to function on a trunking system is no easy feat. Then
you still have all the vocoder issues to contend with. You also need to make sure that any paging
tone used is not being compressed and distorted. Then there is the issue of the low and high
tone frequency roll off on the trunking system. I think it could be done, but at what price and
size would the pager end up?

Maybe some time in the future pagers will come to be a reality on an 800 MHz trunking system.
I just don't think it will happen any time soon with the technology available today.

Jim
 
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