Best scanner/software combination to record and monitor P25 and analog.

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wp3539

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I am looking for a good scanner and software combination to be able to record analog and P25 audio on my computer. My county emergency system uses 800 MHz analog trunking, VHF analog system with a single repeater tower and a new P25 system with multiple towers.

Right now my setup is an ICOM IC-F121 connected to my computer's sound card and I use Scanner Recorder Pro in VOX mode to record radio traffic. With this setup I can only monitor the fire simulcast on VHF which means I only hear dispatch toning the fire departments but I don't hear them go en-route or give a scene size up as they are on the P25 system. Scanner Recorder Pro records everything into a single file along with a log file so I manually have to separate out every agency and time stamp.

I'm looking for a scanner that will allow me to listen to P25 streams. I'm also looking for a software solution that would preferably record the radio traffic into separate files based on frequency and time stamp each transmission.

It seems like there are 3 portable units and their mobile counterparts that would do the P25 decoding:
-BCD396T/BCD996T
-PSR-500/PSR-600
-Pro-96/Pro-2096

I'm looking for a software solution that would allow me to record the audio streams with radio IDs, frequency/talkgroup and timestamps, preferably into separate files based on talkgroup/frequency.

What is my best bet in terms of scanner/software combination?

I'm leaning towards the PSR-500 but I don't know if there is software out there with such capability.
 

jpryor

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I use a Uniden BCD996T with ID Tracker II software (http://bellsouthpwp.net/k/d/kd5eis/IDTracker/IDTracker.htm). The software will log within separate files and provides playback functionality and time stamp information. This is the best solution I've found for unattended logging and recording. I've used this software for many years, and with a BC780 and BC796 previously as well. It has always continued to meet my needs. You can use this ID Tracker software with the BCD396T as well.

For use with the GRE PSR-500 (and 600) scanners, Starrsoft's Win500 software (http://www.starrsoft.com/software/win500/default.asp) can also provide monitor/control and an audio recording feature. I have Win500, but I have not used it for the audio recording capabilities.

The Radio Shack Pro-96/2096 models are not computer controllable (just computer programmable). So something like scanner recorder would be the only solution with these models, and you would not be able to have logs separated by agency.

When it comes to Radio IDs, the PSR-500/600 are the only radios that will display that information natively (with the latest firmware). I'm not sure if the activity logging / audio recording functions of Win500 would capture the Radio IDs as well. DonS may be able to answer.
 

DonS

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For the PSR-500/600, Win500 will record an individual file for each transmission. The filenames contain time, object type, alpha tags, frequency (for conventional channels), and radio IDs and trunked system alpha tag (for talkgroups).

For example, here are a few sample filenames from my "2008-08-25" logging/recording directory:
1. 081752 CONV 1001 SCSO-Westside 155.700000.wav : a transmission on the CONVentional channel named "SCSO-Westside", 155.700 MHz, starting at 08:17:52. The "ObjectID" (storage location in the scanner) is 1001.
2. 081719 TGRP 0111 [Santa Clara City] Fire Dispatch RadioID_ 1604.wav : a transmission on the "Santa Clara City" trunked system on the "Fire Dispatch" talkgroup at 08:17:19. The radio ID was 1604.
3. 081733 TGRP 0111 [Santa Clara City] Fire Dispatch Fire Console 2 .wav : similar to #2, but in this case, I have a "Private TGRP" object (i.e. for "I-Calls") programmed for the radio ID, and its alpha tag is "Fire Console 2".
4. 081801 TGRP 0111 [Santa Clara City] Fire Dispatch .wav : similar to #2, but in this case, the scanner didn't decode a radio ID (because it trunked to the VC based on an "update" message on the CC, instead of the initial "grant" message).

The log file in the same directory has entries like:
Code:
08:17:20, 0111, TGRP  , Fire Dispatch   ,      272, TSYS=0100, Santa Clara City, AN,  868.625000 RadioID:    1604
08:17:35, 0111, TGRP  , Fire Dispatch   ,      272, TSYS=0100, Santa Clara City, AN,  866.837500 Fire Console 2  
08:17:40, 0111, TGRP  , Fire Dispatch   ,      272, TSYS=0100, Santa Clara City, AN,  866.837500
08:17:50, 0111, TGRP  , Fire Dispatch   ,      272, TSYS=0100, Santa Clara City, AN,  868.887500 Fire Console 2  
08:17:52, 1001, CONV  , SCSO-Westside   ,  155.700000,   P25, 173
08:18:03, 0111, TGRP  , Fire Dispatch   ,      272, TSYS=0100, Santa Clara City, AN,  868.887500
 

wp3539

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DonS,

Thanks for the quick response. It raises couple more questions:

1) Is there a way to set up a file name template instead of the standard one you have used? I'd like to put the channel/ talk group first so I could easily order the files by that first and then by time.

2) What happens to the files if you're priority scanning and a second transmission on a priority channel interrupts the current one? Will it generate new file with the new channel/talkgroup accordingy.

3) Does the software automatically move the files into the corresponding date directory or is that a manual process?

4) Do you plan on making a playback feature of some sort built into the software?

I'm almost 100% sure I'm going to get the PSR-500 and hope that software support will catch up to provide features that are currently only available for the BCD396T.
 

ProScan

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I'm the developer of ProScan. I have a BCD996T online monitoring an 800 MHz analog trunking (Motorola Type II), if you want to see the ProScan recorder in action. Not currently monitoring a P25 system but you'll get the ideal how the recorder works.

Download ProScan - I Suggest the full version 1.7 Build 6 (30 day demo fully functional).
Install ProScan.
Click the "Remote Scanner Over IP" tab.
Select proscan.dyndns.org from the list of servers online.
At this point the client should be connected to the server.

Click the "Audio Recorder Tab" and turn on the recorder.
In the Options menu, there are several recording options such as "Organize Recordings In Subfolders" and File Format.
 

DonS

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1) Is there a way to set up a file name template instead of the standard one you have used? I'd like to put the channel/ talk group first so I could easily order the files by that first and then by time.
Not at present. However, if you're comfortable with the command line, you can easily move things around based on channel/talkgroup, since the first part of the filename consists of fixed-length fields.

2) What happens to the files if you're priority scanning and a second transmission on a priority channel interrupts the current one? Will it generate new file with the new channel/talkgroup accordingy.
Yes.

3) Does the software automatically move the files into the corresponding date directory or is that a manual process?
It's an option in Win500's "Monitor/Control" tab. If you check a box labeled "Make daily subdirectories", then each day's log file and audio files are in a directory named YYYY-MM-DD. If that box is unchecked, each audio file's name has a YYYYMMDD prefix.

4) Do you plan on making a playback feature of some sort built into the software?
No. The audio files are just "WAV" files that can be played back in any media player. The existing players do a much better job of it than I could in Win500.

To address your "security" question in your PM to me... I don't typically leave the "secret" port open on my firewall. If I want to monitor remotely, I'll log in via VPN, open the port for my current (remote) IP address, and close it up when I'm done.
 
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