ARMER Questions in the East Metro

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KeithBogut

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I live south of Stillwater and use a BCD325P2. I've programmed a number of P25 systems for Washington, Ramsey, Hennepin, and Dakota counties. I've also programmed DOT, local airports, state patrol, and various cities and suburbs. I've also got a conventional system set up for Hudson WI. They all seem to work fine.

I hear calls from Hudson 90% of the time. Conversely, I hear very few police calls from Woodbury, Stillwater, or the surrounding small towns and cities. I'm wondering if I'm just missing these calls, or if it has something to do with how the counties set up their system. Washington county seems to be divided between north and south. I occasionally hear a call from Forest Lake or Woodbury (car to car), but not nearly the volume you'd expect, given their size.

Does Washington county use a common PSAP to dispatch all police in its cities (I know the Sheriff serves many small towns)? Why don't I ever hear Woodbury dispatch calls? I've checked, and all the ARMER frequencies (primary and alternate controls) listed on RR are programmed in my systems, so I'm sure I'm not missing any. I don't think distance is a problem, as I occasionally hear calls from Cottage Grove. I'm really baffled about why I never hear any activity in Woodbury. Can you help?
 

KeithBogut

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I forgot to mention, I've also programmed a conventional system using the frequencies posted on RR's Washington County page, and get no responses from Woodbury or Stillwater here either. Why do these conventional frequencies exist? Are they a holdover from pre-ARMER days?
 

ofd8001

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If you look at the Washington County page Washington County, Minnesota (MN) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference you'll note in the right column that several frequencies are "deprecated". That means while still licensed, they probably are no longer used because the entity has migrated to a new(er) system.

I wouldn't be surprised if you are experiencing simulcast distortion. All those sub-systems you mentioned are simulcast. That's where multiple sites are transmitting on the same frequencies at "just about" the same instant in time. However they might be arriving at your scanner a wee bit out of synch. Your scanner is having trouble decoding them.

Simulcast distortion can show up as either garbled audio or no audio at all.

First thing to do is confirm this is the situation. You can do this by getting your scanner about 1/4 mile from a transmitter site. If you start hearing a lot more audio or it comes in more clearly, that pretty much confirms simulcast distortion.

If that's the case, let us know and you can be walked through some steps to deal with it. Yeah, they will be tedious and there's no reason to attempt the fixes until you are sure that's the problem.
 

KeithBogut

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Thanks! How do I locate a transmitter? I thought DPS kept the locations secret for security reasons.
 

peewee007

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I'm in Somerset and the only ARMER site I can receive here is the one just outside of this town that uses 853.7375. I get the distortion as the tower is visible from where I am and can remove the antenna altogether and it still works. For Washco/Woodbury/Stillwater etc..they use talkgroups 3618(Washco North) and 3620(south)
 

wogggieee

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A couple thoughts to your issue. You may simply have too much stuff in your scanner and you're missing things in the time it takes the scan around. Washington county often has their sheriff mains tied together so you'll hear all the traffic on only one of the channels so make sure you have both north and south programmed in and not locked out. Wash Co uses unit numbers and not city names so make sure you're familiar with identifying those.
 

peewee007

Gary Hanson
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A couple thoughts to your issue. You may simply have too much stuff in your scanner and you're missing things in the time it takes the scan around. Washington county often has their sheriff mains tied together so you'll hear all the traffic on only one of the channels so make sure you have both north and south programmed in and not locked out. Wash Co uses unit numbers and not city names so make sure you're familiar with identifying those.
Yeah..I was thinkin he might have too much at a time also - I have one site(853.7375) and all talkgroups in one big group but not sorted by county..just by number..for convenience - If ya can't pick up sites, might as well lock em out
 

KeithBogut

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Peewee, I've got 853.7375 and 3618 and 3620 programmed. I still don't hear any calls from Woodbury, and very few from Stillwater.
Sogggieee, I have all my systems programmed with quick keys, which I turn off and on to narrow my scanning.
Ofd8001, I spent a couple hours at the base of the King plant smokestack and didn't hear anything different from usual.

Most of the calls seem to be from the Sheriff, but they don't clearly identify. If the county dispatches to the cities, they don't seem to identify the city (but maybe it's coded as someone suggested) i.e the dispatcher might route them to " third and tenth st", which could be anywhere.

I'm beginning to think it's not the equipment, but my understanding of how it all works.
 

johnmoe1

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Dakota County, MN
Peewee, I've got 853.7375 and 3618 and 3620 programmed. I still don't hear any calls from Woodbury, and very few from Stillwater.
Sogggieee, I have all my systems programmed with quick keys, which I turn off and on to narrow my scanning.
Ofd8001, I spent a couple hours at the base of the King plant smokestack and didn't hear anything different from usual.

Most of the calls seem to be from the Sheriff, but they don't clearly identify. If the county dispatches to the cities, they don't seem to identify the city (but maybe it's coded as someone suggested) i.e the dispatcher might route them to " third and tenth st", which could be anywhere.

I'm beginning to think it's not the equipment, but my understanding of how it all works.
Washington County (MN) Radio IDs on ARMER - The RadioReference Wiki
 

ofd8001

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My two cents for a beginner is this: Program just the site covering your county. Then set the scanner to ID Search.

With ID Search, your scanner will "hit" on every talkgroup transmitting on the site in your county. From there you can note the talkgroup ID numbers, then compare them to the database to see what you are receiving. After you get a good handle, you can re-program the scanner using those discovered talkgroup IDs that are of interest to you.

After you get past this "walking" part, you can start jogging and program the site for one adjacent county and repeat the process (assuming your scanner can "hear" that site).

Then a full out sprint - programming all adjacent counties and see what comes in.

ID Search "listens" for any talkgroup that hasn't been locked out. ID Scan "listens" only to talkgroups that are programmed.

Just to throw this in, "ID" can be used in three different contexts. One is Talkgroup ID which is a number that is associated with a common group of radio users. For example "12345" maybe Police Main Talkgroup.

"Unit ID" is a call number associated with a person using the radio. "101" may be the Washington County Sheriff.

"Radio ID" is unique number programmed into a radio, that identifies which radio is transmitting. Thus Radio ID "987654" could be a mobile radio used by Deputy Smith on days and used by Deputy Jones on nights. (Scanners, with certain settings, can display the Radio ID of a radio transmitting on the type of system you have.
 

wogggieee

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Wash co uses unit numbers, not city names. So you're not going to explicitly hear a call for a unit named woodbury. It will be 600 something.
 
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