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Old 06-06-2014, 11:54 AM
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Default BCD*96XT Tone out search then hold?

Hi all,
I have a 996XT in my truck and I'm about to purchase a 396XT for my house, so I'm guessing these can be handled similarly.

I live in a town that uses 2-tone paging to tone out the local FD and EMS. I do not know the tones, but I'm led to believe these radios can search for and identify unknown tones. I've read through the "easier to read" manual and it's anything but in that regard.

So how can I put the radio into a mode that will sit on the FD dispatch frequency, decode the two-tone paging tones and store that info for my later review. I think they use 3 different codes (not sure exactly what for yet), so obviously I'd like to get all three. Then, once identified and confirmed, be able set the radio to standby and only unsquelch when a page is received. Optionally, have it scan the four local conventional FD dispatch frequencies but only break squelch when one of them tones out.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W2IRT View Post
I live in a town that uses 2-tone paging to tone out the local FD and EMS. I do not know the tones, but I'm led to believe these radios can search for and identify unknown tones. I've read through the "easier to read" manual and it's anything but in that regard.
I think Easier to Read Tone Outs is pretty clear on how to do this. Basically, you can enter up to 10 frequencies (they can be the same if you have more than one agency tone on any frequency) . Each one can be set to hold on it, and display the tones found with each dispatch. Just be sure both A and B are set to 0Hz, which should be the default. for the search mode. You can only do this one at a time for each frequency. So enter the frequencies, and then sit on each channel in the Tone-Out Search Mode. It helps a lot if you have software logging to record that tones, as they come and go quickly.

You may have to pay close attention to the voice after each, as they may be toning out Fire Co's for which you are not interested. If that is the case, make a file of the agencies, and the tone-outs that go with them. Also be aware that they may vary slightly from the actual, and from time to time due to the accuracy of the frequency counter. I often take the average of 5 or more of each of the A and B tones, which should all be close enough

Once you have the tones of interest for each frequency, you enter them using the "Setting up Tone-Out" Then you can then follow the instructions for Using Tone-Out Standby. Be aware that you can not scan any system while in the Tone-out Standby mode, so it is an expensive pager
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Old 06-06-2014, 2:11 PM
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I doubt I'll use it in the mobile radio but at home, I'm really only interested in FD toneouts. When I'm working from my desk, keep the handheld set up in standby and when my town tones out then it opens. I would have preferred to have had the capability of doing this for multiple towns, but so it goes, I guess. Each town has audible sirens, several of which sound about the same, so I'd rather only know when Caldwell or West Caldwell tones out.
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Old 06-06-2014, 4:10 PM
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I would have preferred to have had the capability of doing this for multiple towns
You can have 10 different tone-outs combinations, so certainly more than 1 town if all you want is main FD tones.
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Old 06-06-2014, 4:19 PM
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So you're saying then that it's possible for me to scan four separate RF frequencies (two on VHF HI, one on UHF and one on UHF-T), and lock onto which ever ones sends the desired tones?
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Last edited by W2IRT; 06-06-2014 at 4:24 PM..
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Old 06-06-2014, 7:12 PM
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So you're saying then that it's possible for me to scan four separate RF frequencies (two on VHF HI, one on UHF and one on UHF-T), and lock onto which ever ones sends the desired tones?
Yes, as far as I know.as long as they use simple 2-tone.
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Old 06-06-2014, 8:44 PM
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Not different frequencies. It only looks for tone outs, up to 10, for a frequency.

All tone-outs (channels) that have the same frequency (and modulation and attenuation) as the one you select will also (and only) be monitored so you can monitor up to 10 tone-out channels for one frequency.
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Old 06-22-2014, 5:11 PM
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OK, after 4 days I'm still not getting the hang of this and would really like a step-by-step in your own words. I can't make heads or tails of what the manual is trying to describe. A big part of the problem is "frequency" is used in many different descriptions when better terminology could be used.

For my question, consider "Frequency" to mean the actual RF frequency on VHF HI that the local FD uses to send pages to FD and EMS companies. 158.940/141.3 in this case.

An alert to a fire company or EMS company consists of Tone-A and Tone-B (in Hz). There are a few different combinations of alert tones. Caldwell FD, West Caldwell FD, West Essex First Air Squad and probably a few others yet to be determined.

As the time of day approaches when the departments do their nightly pager tests what must I do to put the radio (the 396xt portable) into the mode that will search for individual tones? I am assuming (perhaps incorrectly?) that the first step is to put the scanner into HOLD mode on the RF frequency+PL on which the paging tones will be transmitted (only seems logical, yes?). Then what?

Once I'm set up in tone search mode will the squelch break for me to hear the audio being sent or will I have to be listening on a second receiver to hear who's being called?

Let's say I pick up 5 sets of tones over the course of a day, and I subsequently identify each one after listening. Is it possible to program a channel exclusively for the combination of RF frequency+PL *PLUS* toneout tones for a particular service? So for the sake of discussion, 158.94/141.8/500+900Hz for W.C. F.D., 158.94/141.3/100+600 for EMS, and so on?

If that's not the way it works, then what's the most I can expect the tone functions to accomplish, given that I don't just want it to become an expensive pager for only one service.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-22-2014, 5:35 PM
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These two videos will help you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaIANBHOIi0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95sT8O4PNmA

Once you know the tones, you can set to decode up to 10 sets of tone out tones as long as they are all on the same RF frequency such as 158.94.

They PL tone is not used for tone outs.
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Old 06-22-2014, 5:59 PM
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OK, I think I may be a little further ahead but still missing something: You only have 10 potential tone combinations for the entire radio? Also, let's say I set up on 158.94 to decode Tone-Out 1. The dispatcher does a nightly test and sends out 3 groups of tones (two different FDs and one EMS crew). Will the scanner only decode the first one and hang until I do something? Still very unclear to me.
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Old 06-22-2014, 10:14 PM
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When in Fire Tone Out, the scanner is silently listening to the radio channel (in your case, 158.94). If the scanner detects any of the tone groups you have programmed, the scanner unmutes (opens up the audio) for the period of time you have established by the Set Delay Time (0, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 seconds or infinite).

Thus, for example, you set the delay time for 30 seconds. When the scanner receives a programmed tone group, the audio circuit is opened up for 30 seconds and you will hear everything transmitted on 158.94 for that 30 seconds, then the audio circuit "re-mutes" itself.

A Delay Time of 30 seconds is probably a good initial setting. Each tone group is about 5 seconds long, so if you have 3 groups, that will leave you 15 seconds for the voice part of the dispatch.

There are a couple of other optional things you can set in Fire Tone Out. They are an Alert Tone (a sound made by the scanner when the correct tone group is detected) and an Alert Light (changing the color of the screen display). If you choose not to set these, the scanner will still "do its thing". You can also assign an Alpha Tag to each of the tone groups.

Setting up Fire Tone Out can be a little challenging. Not so much for the difficulty in doing so if you have the right numbers (Transmit frequency and tone group frequencies). Rather, unless your department is "busy" (numerous calls for service each day), the opportunities to confirm the correct entries are infrequent (such as one daily tone test).

The Fire Tone Out feature of the 396XT is quite effective. Back in my active fire service days, I used my 396XT as a supplemental fire pager at night, just to be sure I didn't miss a dispatch.
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Old 06-22-2014, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ofd8001 View Post
When in Fire Tone Out, the scanner is silently listening to the radio channel (in your case, 158.94). If the scanner detects any of the tone groups you have programmed, the scanner unmutes (opens up the audio) for the period of time you have established by the Set Delay Time (0, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 seconds or infinite).

Thus, for example, you set the delay time for 30 seconds. When the scanner receives a programmed tone group, the audio circuit is opened up for 30 seconds and you will hear everything transmitted on 158.94 for that 30 seconds, then the audio circuit "re-mutes" itself.

...Each tone group is about 5 seconds long, so if you have 3 groups, that will leave you 15 seconds for the voice part of the dispatch.
Usually it's one or at most two groups sent, but occasionally three. So let's say I've identified five groups of tones that get transmitted on that one call channel and put them in the FTO section of the scanner. Will the radio unmute for any one of those five agencies if the receiver is sitting on 158.94? Or will it only unmute for the first agency toned? Or only for whatever's in the channel number it's monitoring?

In my case, West Caldwell, Caldwell and Roseland FD all tone out on 158.94. I want West Caldwell, the town I live in, to be the default, but I wouldn't mind catching Caldwell as well. The other stuff is of less interest to me. When I sit on 158.94 will it be able to open up on more than one valid tone set?
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Old 06-22-2014, 11:12 PM
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Yes.

My 396XT was set up for several different tone groups. Our fire department is one of 17 departments in our county all being dispatched by the same dispatch center on the same paging frequency. My fire department had a tone group for each of the three stations for fire calls, then a tone group for each of the three stations for medical calls. There was also a chief officer tone group for my fire department. We also had a county-wide all call tone group (one tone that opens up every fire pager in the county, very useful for severe weather alerts).

So if we had a structure fire, there would be four tone groups (station 1, station 2, station 3 and the chief officers). The scanner would "open up" (unmute) on the first tone group and I'd hear the last three sets of tones, then the voice announcement saying what was one fire and where it was. Very similar to what my actual fire pager did.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:47 AM
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But in that scenario, let's say you lived halfway between Stations 1 & 2, but didn't care about station 3 because it wasn't anywhere near you. If you were on that frequency and 2 toned out but 1 didn't (or 1 toned out but 2 didn't), would you get both as alerts? And obviously in this scenario, if Station 3 toned out first the receiver wouldn't unmute--unless the tone sequence was 3 then (2 or 1). Do I have the right of it?

In other words, on any RF Frequency there can be an unlimited number of tone groups sent by the dispatcher. The 396xlt is capable of receiving up to 10 of them. Once the various sets of tones have been identified, it will unmute if any tone group that the user identified (and programmed the radio for) is sent, for a period of time set by the user. It will not unmute for anything else.

So in your example, I have station 1 and station 2 programmed, but station 3 is not. A structure fire is toned out to all three, and station 3 is the first-due. The receiver will stay muted after the station 3 two-tone group is transmitted, but once the station 2 two-tone-group goes out it will unmute, and I would then hear the station 1 two-tone-group come out of the speaker, followed by the dispatcher's voice. Do I have it right?
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Old 06-23-2014, 1:41 PM
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Quote:
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So in your example, I have station 1 and station 2 programmed, but station 3 is not. A structure fire is toned out to all three, and station 3 is the first-due. The receiver will stay muted after the station 3 two-tone group is transmitted, but once the station 2 two-tone-group goes out it will unmute, and I would then hear the station 1 two-tone-group come out of the speaker, followed by the dispatcher's voice. Do I have it right?
Yes to the above.

If the scanner "hears" any of the up to ten tone groups programmed, the scanner unmutes. So it unmutes on the first programmed tone group. If it hears more than one of the programmed tone groups, it's academic as the scanner has already unmuted itself.

On the other hand, if the scanner hears a tone group, but that tone group isn't in the list, then the scanner stays muted.

The only thing I'm not sure of is the delay. I don't know if the delay time starts when the first programmed tone group is received, or after the last programmed tone group is received or after the carrier drops.

As you correctly noted, a dispatch center can "push out" a large number of tone groups. In my area there are some 80 tone groups in current use (nightly tone test takes a little while). Then they have a long range plan of possibly adding twice that number when the time/necessity comes.
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Old 06-23-2014, 5:40 PM
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OK, I got all that. But now it comes to the actual search for tones.

This evening at 6:15 I got tones for the first service (well, partials, before the display zeroed out). I hurriedly wrote down what I had and a few seconds later the tones went back to 0 and 0. About 30 seconds later a second tone set was transmitted and I got that written down, pressed E/yes twice to lock it in, but then it wanted me to start entering details. I couldn't get out of that save routine in time to note the third set of tones, which was actually the ones I really wanted.

Is there any way to just temporarily store every tone pair on a frequency that's transmitted?

Finally, when they tone out the FDs there are two different tone groups sent. Maybe one for the on-duty officer and one for the crew? THese are sent in succession. How can I ascertain both groups in search mode, if they're sent within 5 seconds of each other?
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Old 06-23-2014, 9:38 PM
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Unfortunately I don't have much experience with the tone searching aspect of fire tone-out. I was blessed to be on good terms with the radio shop and was provided with a list of tones used in our county.

There is a similar discussion going on in another forum:
Tone-Out Search

When you do a tone search the results probably won't be exactly the standardized tones. From Upman's post, you might refer to the link below:
http://www.midians.com/pdf/tone-signaling-charts.pdf

The odds favor the chart "Motorola Quick Call 2 One Plus One" being the applicable one for fire paging. Look under the Freq Hz columns to find the tones that most closely match what you wrote down from your search.

The Quick Call 2 tone format is the most recent "stuff" in fire paging. However, if your dispatch center's tone generators have some age on them, they could be using the Motorola Quick Call 1 format. Those tones are in the FREQ column.

(Here locally we were using the Quick Call 1 format up until 2009 when we did a big overhaul on our fire paging system, migrating to the Quick Call 2 format).

The link below is where you can download the BCD396XT Complete Reference document from Uniden. There is quite a bit of information in it about Fire Tone-out, along with lots of other stuff.

http://info.uniden.com/twiki/pub/Uni..._Reference.pdf

On the other set of questions - why two different tone groups go out - it's hard to speculate. Each fire department will have their own "twists and turns" on how they do paging. You may want to go by the local fire station and talk with the folks. Tell them you are interested in scanning and would like to know more about their dispatch process.

It's possible that they may even have the tone frequencies (if you talk to the right person) and can provide them to you. However there may also be a reluctance to provide this to you. A while back we had an issue with a person who had a portable radio that was capable of transmitting tones on our dispatch frequency. A great amount of mischief was made by this person maliciously activating fire pagers. Fortunately he was tracked down and got a judicial process experience.
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