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San Francisco Bay Area Discussion - Local area specific discussion for the San Francisco Bay area including the North, East and South Bays.

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 11-28-2016, 11:29 PM
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Default Help programming San Mateo Co Trunked System - Pro651

Hey Guys,

I used RR to program my pro-651 and only get snippet of conversations (SMCO SO etc).. I usually only hear local units and one sided convos,, (dispatch or a local sheriff patrol unit)..

Has anyone figured out what is going on? How can I get my radio to RX properly?.. Anyone out there I can meet up with to get my radio programmed with SMCO systems?

Thanks,

Steve
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Old 11-29-2016, 3:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by versusg View Post
Hey Guys,

I used RR to program my pro-651 and only get snippet of conversations (SMCO SO etc).. I usually only hear local units and one sided convos,, (dispatch or a local sheriff patrol unit)..

Has anyone figured out what is going on? How can I get my radio to RX properly?.. Anyone out there I can meet up with to get my radio programmed with SMCO systems?

Thanks,

Steve
I know the Pro-651 does not receive Phase II systems. It's possible they may have converted their system to P25 Phase II as I haven't monitored their system in quite some time. Does anyone else have any input as it the current config of their system?
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Old 11-29-2016, 12:04 PM
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Doesn't appear the licenses have been modified in years (if you trust what you find on fcc.gov/uls). The license still says Phase 1.

If anything, not knowing anything else about the system, I'd suspect digital simulcast issues.

Easiest way to figure that out - take your radio and go close to a transmitter site/tower. If things sound alot better, then digital simulcast would be the problem.
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Old 11-29-2016, 4:14 PM
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Thanks Troymail. Yeah.. I'm up in the hills off of Highway 280 and Highway 92.. Seems like it should be fine. I'm just really trying to find someone local that has it working and that I can get a program file. It just shouldn't be this difficult. argh..
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Old 01-02-2017, 3:19 PM
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I am in Burlingame (indoors) and have never been able to receive any SMCO Digital traffic. Same thing for BART which is one city away. Both of which I programmed from RR. I am using a 996P2 and the recently released Whistler TRX-2 (which was programmed by ScannerMaster, but I assume they use the same RR Data base.
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Old 01-02-2017, 4:17 PM
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Originally Posted by PCTEK View Post
I am in Burlingame (indoors) and have never been able to receive any SMCO Digital traffic. Same thing for BART which is one city away. Both of which I programmed from RR. I am using a 996P2 and the recently released Whistler TRX-2 (which was programmed by ScannerMaster, but I assume they use the same RR Data base.
Then you might want to try an external antenna if you haven't already.
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Old 01-02-2017, 4:59 PM
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odd thing is the P25 hand held's have no trouble receiving inside my home.
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Old 10-17-2017, 1:00 PM
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Default San Mateo Co trunked system

Hi,

Just checking back in to see if anyone has any updates on the correct programing of the pro-651 for SMCO trunked system.. It just doesn't seem RR has it right.. I live in the belmont hills overlooking the juvenile court/jail and cannot receive much of any SMCO sheriff's office radio traffic. Its very spotty...

When they had a conventional system, I could hear all the deputies throughout the county on the countywide simulcast system.. Now.. I barely hear any traffic and it all seems to be parts of a dispatch call and some officers but part of the conversation. THIS JUST COULDN'T BE CORRECT???

I know I'm not alone on this.. Can someone please help me..

Thank you,

Steve
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Old 10-17-2017, 1:22 PM
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You're not alone. I live in Burlingame and have a Uniden 996P2 and I can't hear a thing on the SMCO P25 system. When they were analog, I heard them loud and clear. I agree, I think the RR data base just picked up what was filed with the FCC, but a different configuration was actually implemented. Along with SMCO, I can't hear BART and I live 1 city south of the Millbrea station. Again, I think RR has the EDACS info wrong for them.
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Old 10-17-2017, 2:05 PM
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Assuming this is the system we're talking about:

https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=6919

based on the FCC license data (which may or may not be 100% accurate as always), it appears the county is served primarily by a very large single simulcast cell. Based in the license data, this simulcast cell consists of as many as 20 separate transmitters/towers under 4 licenses (see map below).

WQMG397 4 sites - Foster City, Redwood City, San Mateo City, San Carlos
WQMG398 6 sites - Woodside, Rural San Mateo(2), San Gregorio, La Honda(2)
WQMG400 4 sites - Brisbane(2), San Bruno, Woodside
WQMH682 6 sites - Half Moon Bay, Montara, Pacifica, Pescadero(2), Rural San Mateo

Each of these transmitters uses the same 10 frequencies (the RRDB information matches the license information for the simulcast site). If that is the case, this fact alone is going to make it extremely difficult to receive the system with most scanners.

Digital simulcast systems are much harder to receive in most cases than older analog systems (simulcast or not).

On a recent trip to look closely at the York County PA 700 Mhz system, my GRE PSR500 (PRO651 equivalent) - which I use 99% of the time to drive Pro96Com to view the system operation - was pretty much useless. Eventually, I swapped out the PSR500 for a WS108x and things were much better - at least for seeing the system on Pro96Com. It still is unclear to me exactly what the difference was causing these issues on the PSR500.

As far as the data on the RRDB being just copies of information from the FCC license -- that doesn't seem to be the case. The FCC license doesn't provide any information about which system/site frequencies are control channels or site/neighbor data.

However, there are some oddities I see with the site frequency data that is posted on RR. Primarily that there are 3 sites (probably isolated/standalone) that are showing using the same (or nearly the same) frequencies (Brisbane, Towne Ridge, Pointe Montera) as well as 2 other sites (Pigeon Point, La Honda) also sharing the same (but different from the above) frequencies. This could be just fine if those sites are so remote and isolated that there is no chance they can conflict with one another - it's just not something I've used to seeing.

These 5-6 (probably) stand-alone sites are sites you will probably want to stay away from if that are correct and really as "remote" as they seem. Chances are they will be fairly easy to receive but carry very little traffic (but I am seriously speculating since I'm on the other side of the country).

In terms of troubleshooting - just to see if the system can be received at all, I'd focus on the countywide simulcast site - determine which frequency is the active control channel, and only program that frequency into your configuration.

Next, I'd try getting as close to one (and only one) or the transmitter active sites (note: just because the license says they have 20 towers/transmitters in the simulcast cell/site doesn't mean all of the towers are live).

Depending upon the results, there are other things to consider and try.... but you'll want to limit those things as much as possible while trying to figure things out.
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Last edited by troymail; 10-17-2017 at 2:35 PM.. Reason: add simulcast tower map per FCC license data
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Old 10-17-2017, 4:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PCTEK View Post
You're not alone. I live in Burlingame and have a Uniden 996P2 and I can't hear a thing on the SMCO P25 system. When they were analog, I heard them loud and clear. I agree, I think the RR data base just picked up what was filed with the FCC, but a different configuration was actually implemented. Along with SMCO, I can't hear BART and I live 1 city south of the Millbrea station. Again, I think RR has the EDACS info wrong for them.
All of the information in the database is correct, I can receive both systems fine. What exactly do you think is wrong?
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Old 10-17-2017, 5:34 PM
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Default SMCO

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Originally Posted by kma371 View Post
All of the information in the database is correct, I can receive both systems fine. What exactly do you think is wrong?
If I knew what's wrong.. I wouldn't me reaching out in the forum.. I (WE) just don't think the RRDB is correct maybe frequencies are correct but how it configures the radio talkgroups, etc.. in the radio is incorrect? I don't know..

I'm located in Belmont in the two story home with second story balcony facing West..on top of the hills overlooking the College of San Mateo and SMCO Juvenile Hall for reference and don't hear
much of any of the SMCo trunked agencies.. (Humane Society, Sheriff's, EMS). I occasionally hear
traffic but it's not a full conversation and when it comes to the Sheriff's office I might only be hearing patrol units that are within range of me (close proximity) versus the simulcast that I'm used to. Or maybe that's not what I should be hearing?

Just for some background on me..

I'm a ham; I was the Director of Animal Control for San Mateo Co. and an Animal Control Officer 17 years. I was on the committee that designed the Peninsula Humane Society and SMCo's radio migration from low-band 45.400mhz to T-band trucking in the early 2000's. I utilized the HT radio's everyday, which at the time included access to SMCo Sheriff's primary trunked system. The system has since changed. I'm currently with Sunnyvale Public Safety who's on a P25 phase 2 system. With that being said and my experience with SMCo. I just think RRDB is incorrect or there is something I'm missing.

Perhaps you can share the program file with us (PCTEK)?

PCTEK.. maybe we can brainstorm this together.. Feel free to shoot me an email and I'll share my contact information.. Let's talk! versusg@sbcglobal.net

Thanks,

Steve
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Old 10-17-2017, 5:58 PM
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As I said, the DB has the correct information as I listen all the time.

There are three possible explanations

#1, scanner programming issue, as in the programming you input into the scanner is not configured correctly (probably biggest culprit)

#2, signal/coverage issue

#3, today's scanners don't handle simulcasting well at all. Especially the unidens.

None of these are something RR can fix.

These systems are meant to be monitored with commercial radios that are MUCH higher quality and receiving capabilities than scanners. Much tighter front ends as well. The Unication radios handle P25 trunked systems quite well. You could look at buying one of them, but they are expensive, probably the reason they are such higher quality.

Last edited by kma371; 10-17-2017 at 6:04 PM..
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Old 10-17-2017, 7:17 PM
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Thank you.. I'll look into the Unication radios.
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Old 10-18-2017, 12:25 AM
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And just another note, I'm in Cupertino right now, no signal from San Mateo on my 436, but full scale on my Unication G5 for site 13. Working like a champ.

They are just better quality radios and handle simulcasting much better.
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Old 10-18-2017, 12:31 AM
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Default Unication G4/5

Yeah... Since I got home from work.. I've been doing some research on the radio and watched some youtube vids.. I'll def have to explore that option more...

I started to watch some programming webinars.. Is the unication radio easy program?

Thx
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Old 10-18-2017, 12:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by versusg View Post
Yeah... Since I got home from work.. I've been doing some research on the radio and watched some youtube vids.. I'll def have to explore that option more...

I started to watch some programming webinars.. Is the unication radio easy program?

Thx
There's a learning curve for sure. Took me a good couple weeks to get it all figured out. I just cleaned everything and started over now that I have a good idea how it works and programmed to my liking. Worse case scenario I can send you a file.

I'm actually able to hear all of the East Bay Regional sites from here as well so receive is outstanding. No talk group hold is probably my biggest complaint. Other than that, great radio.
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Old 10-18-2017, 8:14 AM
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kma now seems to have confirmed that it is digital simulcast that is causing your grief.

I also highly recommend a Unication pager if you're having simulcast reception issues.

However - make sure you research things first and understand the (severe - when compared to a scanner) limitations. The Gx devices are not scanners - they are pagers with a completely different audience (although they provide some limited scanning capability).

Don't get me wrong - I think the Unications are great for overcoming digital simulcast issues (which I''ve suspected for a long time is what you're suffering from and which seems to now be confirmed) and I highly recommend them but for that reason only -- lots of us have acquired Unications for that reason. What I mean is, you have to understand those limitations and that we're not the primary intended market/customers so have little influence on getting changes made to make them other than what they were intended for.
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