Baltimore County P25 Fresh Start

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bwhite

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I've spent a good while plowing through the 500+ posts related to the P25 changes for Balto County in effort to determine the appropriate scanner settings. Even using the search tools it is getting a bit overwhelming on a thread this lengthy. I noticed that there are screen pastes for several pieces of software and requests for pastes for FreeScan.
Using the attached FreeScan settings, I can hear both north and south, however, the voices come through robotically, that is to say, often hard to interpret, a bit watery.
I'm hoping that someone can point out any changes that I can make to improve this on my 396T. There was a mention to make a different selection for Site, that yielded no reception. Yes, I know the 396T is not the end-all radio for this so please no lectures about that.FreeScan Balt Co-South.jpgFreeScan Balt Co-North.jpg
 

ka3jjz

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I hate to say this, given all the work you did, but those screen shots are completely unreadable. A verbal description of what you did to get this to work is likely to be clearer. I know I would be interested in this, as I have never been able to monitor the new system with my 396, and I work in the Woodlawn area...Mike
 

bwhite

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Is there a better way to attach images? There is plenty of detail in the originals. My intention isn't to make them readable here but to attach the file for any readers to open in PhotoViewer or Paint, etc. Thanx
 

XMFire

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Balto Co P25 BCD396T

bwhite, I'm not exactly sure what your asking ref the programing of your 396T for Baltimore County's P25 System? The screen shots you provided aren't large enough to view, however, as a user of FreeScan I'm familiar with its setting options. Before we venture into settings in FreeScan, Do you have the latest firmware version, (3.02.02), from Uniden uploaded to your scanner? Assuming you do, have you adjusted the P25 Adjust Mode & P25 Adjust Level in the "Settings" of your BCD396T? Assuming you have, are you programing FreeScan by hand, or are you Importing Baltimore County (Project 25) from the RR Database into FreeScan? If Importing from RR to FreeScan, then the Trunked System Setup, (Mot Type II / P25), and the Site Setup settings, (North & South), (Mot P25/P25 Standard), will be automatically set properly via the Import. If you are programing FreeScan by hand, select the above mentioned settings in FreeScan in the drop down menu for "Type", (in Trunk System Setup), and "Site Type", (in Site Setup). The majority of the transmissions will occur from the towers utilizing "South". However, if there is a site trunking problem, the County has the ability to shut down "South" and operate "North". There are specific North only talkgroups, as well as, South only talkgroups, and many are system wide talkgroups that work on both. I have several configurations of this system programed into my scanner and most of the activity occurs via "South". If you are using the stock antenna, replace it with one that is more specific to 800mhz. Even if you have done all of the above, the audio quality still can be marginal especially if you are trying to monitor the County's system from outside of Baltimore County. Reasons for poor audio quality for the Baltimore County (Project 25) system has been documented very well in the Wiki for this site. Updating the Firmware and making the adjustments to the P25 Mode & Level, and replacing the stock antenna has improved the audio quality of the Baltimore County (Project 25) system for me using the BCD396T. I hope it works for you. XMFire
 

bwhite

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I found the method by which I can upload as attachments, looks like I have to break the jpg into multiple panels. I'll have to do that this evening when I'm not at work. Thanx XMFire, when I'm home with the radio I'll compare what you've said with what I have. I'm sure there are a few tweaks that I haven't yet made. I recently acquired this radio, I'll have to check the firmware version. Does the latest update significantly improve digital performance/audio? Thanx.
 

ka3jjz

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If you'd zip up those pix I can get them uploaded to the wiki, where we already have a pretty extensive article on programming. As these are now, I doubt you could use Paint or other image software without distortion - I suspect there's just too many pix for the forum software to handle

My email is ka3jjz1 (at) verizon (dot) net

Mike
 

XMFire

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I'm not sure if the firmware update significantly improves digital performance/audio or not? What seemed to do it for my 396T was adjusting the P25 Mode and Level settings, but that was done right after I updated, so I never listen to the scanner with just the update to see if there was a difference. The other thing I'm not certain of is if the P25 Mode and Level settings were a Menu option in Settings prior to the update? If you scroll through the Settings, you won't see P25 Adjust Mode & P25 Adjust Level. These are hidden. To view, Press the Hold button while pressing the Power On button. Then menu to Settings and scroll up or down until you see them. This is a Global function and this adjustment isn't just for the Baltimore County (Project 25) System, so by altering these levels, it MIGHT cause a problem with another P25 System programmed into your scanner. I have just about every P25 System in, around, and near Baltimore County, programmed into my 396T and I haven't notice any adverse effects except for the fact that without changing the default levels, I wasn't able to listen to Balto Co's P25 system. Here is the link the Uniden site with the BCD396T Firmware Revision Notes 3.02.02:
BCD396TFirmwareUpdate < UnidenMan4 < TWiki
You mentioned that you just recently acquired the 396T, so when your checking the Firmware Version, also take not if there is an ESN and Check Sum number. If not, you will have to register the scanner at: myUniden - Customer Product Registration and Support Area to get these figures and also a Site Key Prior to Updating the Firmware. XMFire
 

bwhite

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Quite a time consuming adventure getting the little thing to the current firmware. I still hear robots in it, snicker. XMfire,You made mention of adjusting the P25 Mode and Level settings several times. Looks like the latest update tries to set them, p25 Adjust Mode=3 / P25 Adjust Level=50 (I believe that is a 0). Are there settings here that worked better for you? Thanx
 

XMFire

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Read Post #505 page 26 in the New Baltimore County P-25 System Thread reference the P25 Adjust Mode & P25 Adjust Level settings. The post refers to the XT scanners, but when adjusted on the BCD396T & BCD996T, I've experienced "improved" audio on the Baltimore County (Project 25) System. There is still a lot of inconsistent Digital Garble heard, however, prior to making any P25 adjustments, it was much worse. XMFire
 

bwhite

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Thanx XMF, I already have 50, their default, I'll pump up the 3 to 8 to 11.
You inadvertently exemplified why I wanted to break to a new thread, when you have 500+ posts, even
using search tools for the thread you can't find certain things. I knew I had read certain things among
those many pages, when I did a Search Thread they wouldn't come up. Also, because of the ways
people can customize their view, in my case, most recent posts first, this was page 2 for me. Because
you gave the post number, no problem though. I'm gonna try and break down my screen prints to
the sizes that RR forums will accept. sigh and thanx
 

bwhite

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Attached to this mssg should be 5 of the 6 FreeScan files for Balto Co North as I have them. I don't regard them as 100% because I still hear the voices as if they are robots, Tweaks are welcome. I have similar for South, the only thing that differs are the frequencies showing.
 

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ka3jjz

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The Band Plan form isn't used for anything AFAIK. It's just there for future use. However your site setup and trunk frequencies forms would be interesting to see.
It's a very good start, but so far doesn't differ greatly from what I have. Still, when I get home, I'll load this up and see what happens.

Good job...Mike
 

bwhite

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KA, Feel free to try what I have. Don't regard any of it as "correct". I am still struggling for the magic bullet that makes the audio sound human. I may be in search of something that does not exist though, even our county issued York radios (base station included) sound watery. Strange, we've all been conditioned to think that digital equates to great clarity and fidelity in music, etc; not so with digital trunking....so far.
 

ka3jjz

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Good Luck with that, for sure - anyway I may be wrong about not needing the band plan - from the Easier to Read guide...

==================================
For P25 Systems there are two types of P25 systems: Explicit mode and Implicit mode channel assignment. Explicit mode systems include all information needed to determine voice frequencies on the control channel. For Explicit mode systems, leave all entries blank. The system will automatically detect the band plan and fill in the entries. You must supply the system's band plan for Implicit systems for the scanner to correctly determine voice frequencies. (emphasis mine)
===============================

I'm wondering if at least some of the issues here are being caused by assuming (as most systems around here are) that this system is explicit - it may well not be.

It's worth trying, just to see if you can get it to work with or without it - I certainly will.

A tip of the hat to BWhite if this is the case...Mike
 

bwhite

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The Band Plan form isn't used for anything AFAIK. It's just there for future use. However your site setup and trunk frequencies forms would be interesting to see.
It's a very good start, but so far doesn't differ greatly from what I have. Still, when I get home, I'll load this up and see what happens.

Good job...Mike
Hey, if what you are currently using sounds less robotic and watery please advise on what you have different. I must be missing the point of moving to digital, every jurisdiction I've heard went to worse audio quality. As I used to tell my users (I'm in Information Systems), "newer does NOT always equate to better".
 

bwhite

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I think I've incorporated all of the current suggestions from XMFire and KA3JJZ, including pumping the P25 level up. I think the pump up yielded an ever so slight increase in clarity. I'm kinda surprised that this isn't something I can get to via FreeScan.
I can't help but think there might be some subtle changes in perhaps the APCO Band Spacing values, the Audio Type in the Group/Trunk options, Threshold, etc. (don't get the false idea I know what any of these do, smile).
For anyone wondering, yes, you can hear the comm's and "get by", I'm spoiled, I want to be able to hear the comm's with at least the clarity offered by the previous analog trunked system for Balto Co. I'm probably chasing a rainbow.
Keep those tweaks coming.
 

ka3jjz

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I wouldn't hold my breath. For me, at least, hearing anything out of this system would be an improvement, but I've got at least 2 towers within a stone's throw from my work location (Woodlawn), so I'm going to have issues with multipath no matter what.

Right now I hear nothing at all - but I suspect that is partially due to having the wrong site type. I have fixed that, as well as putting in the APCO table like you had it, assuming for a moment that we are indeed working with an implicit P25 system - I would encourage other 396T users that can't hear the system to try this as well (if it doesn't work, you've lost nothing anyway). If we can get a few more folks to try this, and if it works, we can document the solution in the wiki

By the way, our wiki has a pretty good description of how those thresholds and levels work...

P25 audio decode level adjustment - The RadioReference Wiki

It should be stressed that the threshold levels will vary from user to user depending on their own receiving environment. Reading the article will tell you why.

HTH...Mike
 
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dpcain

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By the way, bwhite, I would caution that reception is only poor for those of us who don't have CQPSK equipment, aka all of us with scanners that haven't figured out the proprietary tech involved and don't spend the money necessary to fund such stuff. As a BCo system user, I can say that in every location I've used an XTS portable including the bowels of some pretty large buildings, I have had nearly crystal clear audio. So, from the user perspective there is at least no shortcoming compared to the analog system. Now, when you think about possible future upgrades to Phase II P25, then you see the real big-picture benefits, because only a digital system can effectively work TDMA allocation like that- a difference that ends up saving a lot of frequency use and therefore transmitter power etc.
 
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