BCD996P2: 996P2 Digital reception issues

duanewolter

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Hello all. My workplace tasked me with setting up our 996P2 scanner, which I had never done before. I watched some "How to" videos regarding programming analog and digital frequencies. I've got all of them programmed in, and we have an antenna up probably 70-90 feet on a tower outside our building. While the analog signals are coming in fine, some of our digital ones are coming in garbled, almost sounding like a bad drive thru speaker at a fast food place. Even when tones are going off on them, it doesn't even sound like tones. It sounds scratchy and doesn't seem like it should sound that bad. I updated all the firmware to the most up to date version, and I'm still having this issue. Again, I'm new with all of this, so if anyone has any suggestions on what could be going on, I'd appreciate some assistance. Was also set up with FreeScan.
 

ka3jjz

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You haven't given us several important pieces of information - what system you are trying to hear? Another one - did you use software, and if so, which one? And another - what antenna (name, kind of antenna, brand), and fed with what coax? Where is this antenna (on a tower, where?)

At first glance I'd say you're trying to receive a simulcast system, which (depending on your area) is very difficult for these scanners to manage. In fact, in this case, you might have done too good a job. You may well be pulling in more signal than the scanner can handle when dealing with the digital system - whatever that is.

Start by answering these questions - go to the RadioReference tag in the blue toolbar, click on it, select Database from the pulldown. Give us the URL of the system you are trying to hear, answer the other questions, and we can get started.

Mike
 

duanewolter

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Thanks for the reply! The antenna, I'll have to reach out to some people to see the exact brand name of the antenna. The cable is a BNC cable. The antenna is on a tower outside our building, probably 70-90 feet up. I used FreeScan to enter in all of the frequencies, and most of the issues I'm dealing with are coming from the WISCOM frequencies. Wisconsin Interoperable System for Communications (WISCOM) Trunking System, Statewide, Wisconsin - Scanner Frequencies. Talk groups are State Patrol: Northwest Region Talkgroups, Eau Claire County Talkgroups , Dunn County Talkgroups , and Chippewa County Talkgroups.
 

iMONITOR

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The antenna is a CMA-DS-150S Base Discone Antenna from DX Engineering.
Comet DS-150S Discone Base Antennas DS-150S

"delivered with 65 feet of RG-58 A/U coax, they even include PL-259 (UHF male) termination" :((n)

A discone is a zero gain antenna and it's not ideal for 700-800MHz. The supplied coax and connector add a lot of loss at those frequencies.
 

duanewolter

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Thanks everyone for the replies. Again, I'm very new with this so I don't always understand a lot of the lingo involved with it. I work in a newsroom, so we are trying to bring in as many frequencies within our coverage area as we can. It may also just be trying to mess with some of the other settings to try to fine tune some things, but unfortunately some of the channels don't have a lot of radio traffic where I can adjust it as they are talking.
 

hiegtx

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Thanks everyone for the replies. Again, I'm very new with this so I don't always understand a lot of the lingo involved with it. I work in a newsroom, so we are trying to bring in as many frequencies within our coverage area as we can. It may also just be trying to mess with some of the other settings to try to fine tune some things, but unfortunately some of the channels don't have a lot of radio traffic where I can adjust it as they are talking.
Duane,
It would help if you attach your programming file to a post, so that someone can look and see if something needs to be added or changed.

Attaching a FreeSCAN file to a post:

FreeSCAN uses file extension *.996, which cannot be directly attached to a post. What you’ll need to do is this:

You'll get a pop-up menu. One of the options is "Send To"

Select that, which will open another, shorter, menu.

89474

Select the option for "Compressed (zipped) folder.

That will create a file with the *.zip extension, which can be attached to a post.
 

Ronaldski

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What would clear up reception is to replace that rg58(Cable tv) with RG6 quad shield, too much signal loss especially at higher frequencies.
70-90 feet up thats a long cable run and big time loss of signal! Theres more expensive, less signal loss ones out there, I.e. harder to work with LMR400

Be sure to also apply the latest firmware 108.01 it will usually ship with version 1.07 at best.
 
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Ubbe

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The discone seems to be a bit of a low performer, only 6 legs as compared to diamonds D130 8 legs that will be a better compromise from a solid cone. The RG 58 coax are pretty much useless at 800Mhz if it is more than 30ft in lenght.

/Ubbe
 

duanewolter

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Duane,
It would help if you attach your programming file to a post, so that someone can look and see if something needs to be added or changed.

Attaching a FreeSCAN file to a post:

FreeSCAN uses file extension *.996, which cannot be directly attached to a post. What you’ll need to do is this:

You'll get a pop-up menu. One of the options is "Send To"

Select that, which will open another, shorter, menu.

View attachment 89474

Select the option for "Compressed (zipped) folder.

That will create a file with the *.zip extension, which can be attached to a post.
 

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duanewolter

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The discone seems to be a bit of a low performer, only 6 legs as compared to diamonds D130 8 legs that will be a better compromise from a solid cone. The RG 58 coax are pretty much useless at 800Mhz if it is more than 30ft in lenght.

/Ubbe
Thanks for the info! I'm not sure any of the frequencies we receive are at the 800Mhz range, but I could be wrong. I don't see them changing out the antenna, especially considering a tower climber was needed for the install.
 

duanewolter

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What would clear up reception is to replace that rg58(Cable tv) with RG6 quad shield, too much signal loss especially at higher frequencies.
70-90 feet up thats a long cable run and big time loss of signal! Theres more expensive, less signal loss ones out there, I.e. harder to work with LMR400

Be sure to also apply the latest firmware 108.01 it will usually ship with version 1.07 at best.
Thanks! I did update the firmware a couple days ago, so that is all set. I'm not sure I can convince the bosses to have a climber go back up and change out a bunch of stuff, but it's noted if the issue becomes more frustrating.
 

duanewolter

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I attached this in a response above, but I'll attach here too. I'm sure there was a much more organized way to do this, but I did what I could with it. Here's the FreeSCAN settings I have programmed. I have made little tweaks on the scanner itself, but this is the general idea of what I've got.
 

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Ronaldski

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Thanks! I did update the firmware a couple days ago, so that is all set. I'm not sure I can convince the bosses to have a climber go back up and change out a bunch of stuff, but it's noted if the issue becomes more frustrating.
Well... if the radio doesnt work... whats the point of saving money and not working? While the climber is there, could evaluate the condition of the antenna while up there. Other issue possibly, the cable might have had water get inside and corroded the cable.

Cost of RG6 shouldn't be an issue, its relativity cheap. The 150's MHz that you apparently are looking to get, using the link I gave above you would cut in 1/2 the signal loss with the cable change.

For a test remove the antenna cable and put on the rod antenna thats included, you should be able to get your county easily.
Then show the brass that!
With the rod antenna, surrounding counties maybe or not depends on your location relation to where their towers are.
 

duanewolter

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Well... if the radio doesnt work... whats the point of saving money and not working? While the climber is there, could evaluate the condition of the antenna while up there. Other issue possibly, the cable might have had water get inside and corroded the cable.

Cost of RG6 shouldn't be an issue, its relativity cheap. The 150's MHz that you apparently are looking to get, using the link I gave above you would cut in 1/2 the signal loss with the cable change.

For a test remove the antenna cable and put on the rod antenna thats included, you should be able to get your county easily.
Then show the brass that!
With the rod antenna, surrounding counties maybe or not depends on your location relation to where their towers are.
Certainly it's a valid argument. The antenna is brand new (as of about 6 months ago). We are picking up signals from a good distance away, some further than I was expecting to receive them from. The analog signals come in quite well. It's mostly the P25 digital signals that, while they do come in, I feel like they could come in even more clear than they are. We don't have a climber on staff, so it's a hired out process. When they installed the new antenna, I'm not sure if they changed out the cable along with it, or used one we had up there before. I'd have to speak with our engineering crew about that. I would certainly hope they would use something that's high quality enough for such a long run from the antenna to the scanner.
 

hiegtx

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Certainly it's a valid argument. The antenna is brand new (as of about 6 months ago). We are picking up signals from a good distance away, some further than I was expecting to receive them from. The analog signals come in quite well. It's mostly the P25 digital signals that, while they do come in, I feel like they could come in even more clear than they are. We don't have a climber on staff, so it's a hired out process. When they installed the new antenna, I'm not sure if they changed out the cable along with it, or used one we had up there before. I'd have to speak with our engineering crew about that. I would certainly hope they would use something that's high quality enough for such a long run from the antenna to the scanner.
Looking at your file, I noticed that on the Rock Falls site in Dunn county, you had two of the three site frequencies locked out in one system, and in another copy of the same site, you only had the one frequency, 155.460, entered. That's an alternate control channel for that site. The Primary Control is 159.8975, which was not in one site, and locked in the other. I have all three freuencies entered for that site in both systems (Dunn & WSP).

You've duplicated the sites by creating two separate "systems" using the same site, one for the county talkgroups, the other for the WSP (state police). You would see more efficient, and faster, scanning if you did not separate everything like that. Just have one WISCOM system, then with the county talkgroups & WSP TGIDs in separate groups. Splitting the conventional frequencies for each county into separate systems does not really impact scanning speed enough to be noticeable.

Also, for the 996P2, instead of using the Mot Type II/P25 system type, use the P25 Standard (Digital XT) type instead. I also renamed the sites to match what the database calls them instead of 'Dunn 1, Dunn 2' etc. The modified file is attached. I did not combine the trunked systems into one large one, With as little as you are dealing with, while it does more time to scam than if they were combined, you might not notice much difference. You would be better off replacing the RG58 coax with something better. Quad shielded RG-6 would be a god compromise choice. Since just about all of your frequencies, for the counties as well as the WISCOM sites are Vhf-high, you don't have the much higher signal loss for your run length that are much higher for 700/800MHz frequencies & sites.
 

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