Attention GRE & Uniden:

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Arizona_Scanner

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Just on the off chance that anybody from these companies ever reads this....

Like many others I will now bow out of the public safety scanning hobby, as I suspect many others are doing or will be doing soon.

As large metro areas like the Phoenix metro area move to simulcast systems that encompass most to all departments, people like myself who once enjoyed scanning are giving up the hobby since your equipment doesn't work properly on these systems. What was once an exciting hobby, is now unintelligible garbled muck. The basic problem is what could be loosely called "digital simulcast multipath", and it makes all transmissions sound like garbage unless you are REALLY close to one particular site, or can isolate out others sites (as I could do with a yagi at my old location, but not at my new location). I can listen at work (don't usually have time) where I sit RIGHT below a tower, but in most places including home and on the go, it's AWFUL.

I know you are aware of the problem, and obviously have made a business calculation that AT THIS POINT it is not worth your efforts to develop a scanner capable of simulcast reception. At this point, there obviously is not a sufficient need to spend the R&D funds on such a project. I get that, and I sold my scanners and bow out of the hobby for the time being since all that was once exciting to listen to can no longer be received well enough to listen to, despite being in the middle of a large metro area.

So I close with a request. Please consider developing a scanner that can be used on simulcast systems. Public safety radios work, so we know it is possible. I suspect it is simply a matter of money. If that is the case, then I hope you will consider offering a scanner that works on these systems, even if it means the unit is $1200-$1500. I would pay for such a device, and I suspect a growing number of other (former) scanner enthusiasts would as well.

If this is largely a matter of tuning a unit to a PARTICULAR system, not just a matter of developing one unit that works everywhere (a matter of money), then I guess public safety monitoring in large metro areas is on the way out, and that's that. Thanks for the years of enjoyment that you provided. Loved the products of both companies.

Cheers
 

haleve

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I Second That Motion

I'm done with scanning also, rebanding, narrowbanding, encryption, Nextel, even amatuer radio has P-25, I just found out that the FCC is accepting applications for the new 8.33 khz aviation standard which was long hoped never to hit our shores, I am now fully into cb which will always stand the test of time & AM/FM Dx'ng, that's not going anywhere either in spite of internet radio.
 

AZScanner

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Hi Rob,

I feel this guy's pain. I live in the same metro area and it's hell out here. We have not one but TWO digital simulcast systems and so far trying to monitor any of them is an exercise in futility unless you can use a Yagi or live under one of the towers. It's very frustrating to spend $500+ on a scanner, buy this antenna or that one, download this firmware, try this tower site, then they change something and what used to work doesn't anymore and it's back to square one.

He's right. The Police radios work just fine out here and sound incredible. I've heard 'em. They also cost $5000 each. If I had the 5 grand to spend, I'd be tempted. I really would. That's how bad it is. I used to love scanning. I used to own 11 scanners that were on nearly 24-7. I now own 4, 2 of which I still use. I rarely listen anymore. It's just too irritating. I listen mainly to DPS during my commute. Everything else I need to know, I get from the app I have down in my signature. There's no point in trying to listen in. I get more info from ActiveEMS (which reads the Phoenix Fire Department's website) than I do from my $500 Uniden Boat Anchor.

Scanning in this area used to be great. A large, open valley with booming VHF and UHF that you could pick up with any cheapo scanner and listen to just about any agency in town. Today? Not so much. A couple of agencies are left monitorable, the rest are on these digital simulcast turkeys that no scanner can seem to fully conquer. It's insane.

Certainly the wizards at Uniden or GRE can come up with a solution? Or how about AOR? There's a name that could make a BIG comeback in the industry with a top notch professional P25 receiver. I've got the perfect location to test it, too - right here in PHOENIX. I will gladly beta such a unit, even if I had to give it back when finished. We need to get this problem solved or the hobby is a goner.

-AZ
 

MTS2000des

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It isn't rocket science to build a receiver capable of properly demodulating CQPSK, but as was pointed out, the design of most scanners precludes it.
Or phase II, or NXDN, or TRBO...a true SDR scanner is what is needed, but the cost to bring one to market is huge, and how many will be sold? Supporting them is also another huge expense.

Let's face it, it comes down to cost. The scanners we buy are built cheaply, in sweat shop factories and manufacturers don't sell nearly enough to justify building a higher quality, in both terms of product performance and construction- to eat into the manufacturers' profit. Developing the software and DSP code is great, the brains to write this don't work for $7 an hour like those who assemble and package the finish product do.

Fortunately I have a system radio through my employer, so I can enjoy the limited use of it, (though it doesn't have nearly all the talkgroups I want to monitor) as long as I work there.

Scanners are niche market. Uniden is trying to put them in more hands with the Home Patrol. But if they don't resolve the horrid performance on ever growing simulcast digital, they'll see high return rates from consumers who give up and just go back to using their free Android/Iphone app and freeload off someone else's scanner stream.

In the end, with the ever growing encryption kick, and upcoming secure networks based on LTE, we may all find ourselves listening to silence.

I'm hoping the new GRE radio coming out will address the simulcast problem. If anyone has a steak it's GRE, their bread and butter are nothing but scanner and receiving equipment. They don't build cordless phones, radar detectors, MP3 players or other consumer electronics, so they can dedicate all their engineering and support to addressing problems.
 

MTS2000des

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Hi Rob,


He's right. The Police radios work just fine out here and sound incredible. I've heard 'em. They also cost $5000 each. If I had the 5 grand to spend, I'd be tempted. I really would. That's how bad it is. I used to love scanning. I used to own 11 scanners that were on nearly 24-7. I now own 4, 2 of which I still use. I rarely listen anymore. It's just too irritating. I listen mainly to DPS during my commute. Everything else I need to know, I get from the app I have down in my signature. There's no point in trying to listen in. I get more info from ActiveEMS (which reads the Phoenix Fire Department's website) than I do from my $500 Uniden Boat Anchor.


-AZ

You'd be surprised, good quality digital radios don't have to cost 5 grand each.

DMR from Motorola and Hytera portables cost not to much more than a Home Patrol. Granted we are talking single band radios, but the Hytera PD782G for instance, sounds AWESOME on DMR and analog.

It's no wonder DMR/TRBO and NXDN are attracting public safety customers in droves. They sound great and give excellent performance in most cases.

Scanners could be built to decode them and sound just as good, but the manufacturers aren't going to invest the R&D to do it, what they sell is clearly thrown together in 3-6 months and mass produced s cheaply as your dime store MP3 player or boombox. Build quality is roughly the same. Cheap consumer crap.
 

zerg901

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How hard would it be to develop a "build it at home" scanner?

How hard would it be to develop an attachment for a laptop that could adequately decode digital simulcast systems?
 

rdale

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Hi Rob,

I feel this guy's pain.
I hear you - I was just asking how that worked. I've heard plenty of success stories in previously useless systems.


You'd be surprised, good quality digital radios don't have to cost 5 grand each.
I've not seen a P25 portable for less than $2K - which of course is far outside any scanner market.
 

MTS2000des

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I hear you - I was just asking how that worked. I've heard plenty of success stories in previously useless systems.




I've not seen a P25 portable for less than $2K - which of course is far outside any scanner market.
than you aren't shopping around.
the MT1500 and XTS1500 can be had for less than 2K, flashed for P25 conventional. New pricing. Used they are under $400.
Used XTS5000 and XTS2500's are selling for $450-750, depending on software options and accessories.
Used XTS3000 and Astro Sabers are under $300, I've seen a lot of them on other forums sell for $250 in nice shape, with fairly current HOST/DSP flashed for P25 conventional.
 

rdale

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I think you're in e wrong thread... Unless I misunderstood the OP? I don't think he is monitoring conventional?
 

Arboc378

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I understand the OPs problem. I haven't used my scanners for a while (life got in the way) and I just pulled them out and found all the police departments in my area have changed systems and now all I can listen to is air traffic control and weather band on them. I'm not happy about this and I don't have money for a new scanner that covers what I need. Hopefully the scanner companies come up with an inexpensive solution or the whole hobby could fade away.
 

lep

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I don't know where the information came from the "GRE only builds scaners"...this is wrong. GRE makes a great number of consumer products including LCD displays and pagers. Just see their web site for actual info about the product line. Their radios, like Uniden's don't transmit anything back to the trunking site of course. Most "Professional Radios" handshake the trunking controller and the digital protocol provides for some degree of error correction, that's what makes the raido "sound better", that can never be built into a radio that is only a passive receiver.
 

rdale

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I understand the OPs problem. I haven't used my scanners for a while (life got in the way) and I just pulled them out and found all the police departments in my area have changed systems
You might need to check that info - Chicago is still on a conventional channel that all scanners can get.
 

rdale

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Most "Professional Radios" handshake the trunking controller and the digital protocol provides for some degree of error correction, that's what makes the raido "sound better", that can never be built into a radio that is only a passive receiver.
Are you sure about that? You're talking about a P25 digital system, like the OP is asking about? I've never heard that before.
 

rdale

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Scanners have error correcting too - so I guess my question is how does the radio receive the control channel at the same time it receives a voice channel and does error correction based on that? I never see my portable transmitting when it is listening to a conversation.
 

slicerwizard

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Their radios, like Uniden's don't transmit anything back to the trunking site of course. Most "Professional Radios" handshake the trunking controller and the digital protocol provides for some degree of error correction, that's what makes the raido "sound better", that can never be built into a radio that is only a passive receiver.
Sorry, but that is utter nonsense. Scanners can employ the same forward error correction as subscriber radios.

Where do people come up with this stuff? Do they think radios send messages back to the controller saying "Oh crap, I missed packet number 36 of that voice transmission - can you resend it please? Oh hell, now I'm missing more packets while I talk to you! Can you resend those packets as well? And can you transport me (and the missing packets) back in time so my user doesn't hear any gaps in the audio? Thanks, you're a peach!"
 

ST-Bob

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FEC or Forward Error Correction is a mathematically derived number which comes to the radio BEFORE the following audio bits to let the radio know how to replace any missing bits in the frame of data. It's much lower amount of FEC than on, say, digital TV or satellite TV but it's still adequate to recreate most errors and missing bits in a frame of audio stream data so the user doesn't even know there was a reception problem.

It's when the errors overload the abilities of the error correction code that you have problems. This is where the so-called cliff effect comes from. The data readability may slowly drop off from 100% to 80% to 60% as you move about the reception area and everything sounds fine until all of a sudden the FEC can no longer correct the missing data and you get garbled or missing audio.

The ECC code is likely the same between expensive commercial radios and our scanners. The difference is the circuitry built into the more expensive stuff to help clear up the digital modulation compared to the simpler circuits in a scanner.
 

Arboc378

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You might need to check that info - Chicago is still on a conventional channel that all scanners can get.
Chicago yes, the suburbs where I live no. I can't listen to the police in my town (Elk Grove Village) or any of the surrounding towns with the scanners I have. I can't afford to get new digital scanners right now.
 
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