Building system for Army friend

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Sojourn

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Hey, everyone, newish ham here, and this is a double of a post in the AOR section, but it's not strictly AOR so I want to get everyone's thoughts. I'm trying help a friend who's currently serving in Afghanistan. I've got an AOR 8200 mk III B, and I'm going to send it over to him along with some other equipment I plan on acquiring, the overall idea being to build a small radio search system he can carry in his humvee. I'm still unsure of what other components I need to build the system for him, though, and I'd love some recommendations or directin

He'd like to be able to identify and track certain frequencies being used around him while he's traveling in his humvee, though he doesn't necessarily know exactly what those frequencies are (though they're generally in 100mHz, I understand). Once he identifies them, he'd like to be able to monitor the identified frequencies actively, without losing the ability to identify new frequencies if they begin being used. He'd also like the ability to record any transmissions he does manage to acquire. It would also be good if he could sync this system up with a computer.

Starting with that mkIII, I have discussed with another (much more experienced) ham about frequency sniffers. I understand that Optoelectronics makes a few, and that they can link up with the AOR and drop any acquired frequencies into the AOR to track as a channel. Anyone know much about this, or anything equivalent? Also, is a sniffer even worthwhile to use out there? He'd be tracking lower-power radios over at least some distance, so I don't know if he'd even pick anything up. But, on the other hand there's little vegetation and I suspect the overall noise floor is pretty low in the 100mHz region where I understand their radios are generally operating. So a sniffer might be able to suss things out, I don't know

Then there's the matter of recording. AOR doesn't seem to have many good built in options for storage, so he'll need a digital voice recorder. Any suggestions of something that can handle the desert and a humvee, and with decent battery life?

Antenna considerations for the device(s)?

Also, his laptop does not have a DB-9 port, while the proprietary port on the AOR is serial. Can I just get a USB-to-serial converter and get by with that?

I firmly welcome any assistance whatsoever, whether answers to this question or things I might not have thought about. I'd also love more info or recommendations on using this AOR for this purpose. It's a complex device, so I'd like to give him a "cheat sheet" of sorts so that he doesn't have to spend too much time on the learning curve on this device before he can deploy it.

Thanks in advance. This could be a good help to my friend, not to mention a potential help to his safety, and I'm trying to move as quickly on this as I can.
 

prcguy

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Here is a great voice operated recorder program (free!) that can go in a laptop:
http://xoomer.alice.it/aporcino/VoxRecorder/index.htm
This program will time and date stamp each start up of the recorder to correlate with a frequency logging program.
There are lots of programs for various scanners that will control the scanner, log new freqs and so on but I am not a user of any so I can't recommend a specific one.
Need more specific frequency info for antenna recommendations.
prcguy

GET a scanner with signal stalker??.. I have no idea lOL
 

slicerwizard

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I don't know why you guys think counters or close call / signal stalker systems are going to do anything with weak signals. Besides, they don't tune down to 100 millihertz...
 

WP4MZR

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Tell your friend to erase the idea off his head, unless he wants to hear a "what the F*** is all this crap doing in here" and proceed with and bad counseling statement at the least.

Instead, tell your friend to talk to the chain of command about it(this could also be a waste sometimes). They have this signal and intel units out there, thats their job. I'm 99% sure that they have the necessary equipment to do exactly that and more.

He could set it up in his own "personal space" and monitor the "around 100MHz" frequencies during his "down time" and inform the command of anything that might find, but putting it in any vehicle is a no-no.
 

iMONITOR

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I was thinking the same thing. Not to mention the risk of all this gear falling into the wrong hands.
 

n1das

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100mhz megahertz or millihertz
I don't know why you guys think counters or close call / signal stalker systems are going to do anything with weak signals. Besides, they don't tune down to 100 millihertz...
I'm not aware of any scanners on the market covering the 100mHz (0.1Hz) range either.

100 mHz = 100 milliHertz = 0.1 Hz
100 MHz = 100 MegaHertz = 100 million Hz = 100,000,000 Hz

Also the H in Hz is always capitalized.
 
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JnglMassiv

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100 mHz = 100 milliHertz = 0.1 Hz
100 MHz = 100 MegaHertz = 100 million Hz = 100,000,000 Hz

Also the H in Hz is always capitalized.
I confess to enjoying punching holes in the nits that nitpickers present.
With that out of the way, 100 megahertz (no caps) is proper usage. 'Hertz' should not be capitalized if it is preceded by a prefix such as mega or milli. Similarly, if fully written out (that is, not abbreviated), that prefix is not capitalized. The usual exceptions apply.

Proper: 100 megahertz; 100 MHz; 100 million Hertz.
Incorrect: 100 Megahertz; 100 MegaHertz; 100 mhz; 100 Mhz.


Re: Sojourn
Your guy's safety is riding on this system?

I think most people who have some experience will agree that the SignalStalker/CloseCall/etc is awfully disappointing for sniffing out most signals. You have to be _right_ next to the transmitter for typical portables/mobiles. Like within sight for mobiles, and basically within shouting distance for walkie-talkies.

Also keep in mind that most consumer products (in this case, scanners & laptop) will get completely ruined by dust in a vehicle in Afghanistan.
 

Sojourn

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Thanks everyone.

I'll get this out of the way. Somewhere this got hyperbolized. Safety not riding on it solely, no, but in a semi-guerrilla environment, the small quantity of additional risk management afforded by the system could be useful. As far as the command structure and rules go, well, let's just say he knows the score, knows the radio people in the area, and knows what kind of resources are and aren't available to him, and the reality may not quite live up to what a theoretical ideal of access might be to someone outside. But back to the point.

Love to hear more about sensitivity of sniffers/nearfield/stalkers/whatevers. Take the Optoelectronics Scout, for example. Sensitive at 15dB above the noise floor, which seems pretty worthless, but then again, the noise floor is going to be much lower out there. So, in that context, what are we dealing with?

I got lost somewhere in the debate over tuning steps and sniffers. What was the point being made there?

As for recorders, laptops aren't going to go on the humvee. The sand isn't the major concern. Nothing with anything other than solid-state memory could survive a trip in one of those vehicles, bouncing around. Not while the device was on, anyway. The ICOM's one possibility, but otherwise, anyone know any external digital voice recorder that might suffice?

Am I missing something? The GRE PSR-500's a trunk tracker.
 
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mancow

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The 500 and even the simpler non digital (non P25) PRO-97 from RadioShack feature a rapid signal sweep function. It basically kicks in a bit of attenuation to keep the noise and spurious stuff out then it tunes in large 1 Mhz steps until it senses it's approaching an occupied frequency. The radio slows down and tunes in finer steps until it locks on. The 500 will display the CTCSS or DCS tone if used and will even decode P-25 digital audio if that is being used.

The Uniden's close call is similar in end user operation but the GRE/ RadioShack models will capture signals that are quite a bit lower in power than the Unidens.
 

JulietAlphaKilo

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Tell your friend to erase the idea off his head, unless he wants to hear a "what the F*** is all this crap doing in here" and proceed with and bad counseling statement at the least.

Instead, tell your friend to talk to the chain of command about it(this could also be a waste sometimes). They have this signal and intel units out there, thats their job. I'm 99% sure that they have the necessary equipment to do exactly that and more.

He could set it up in his own "personal space" and monitor the "around 100MHz" frequencies during his "down time" and inform the command of anything that might find, but putting it in any vehicle is a no-no.

Regular Infantry might take issue with initiative and creative solutions, but SpecialOps most certainly does not. One Unit in particular, which I am deeply familiar with, began everything from the ground up, with nothing but their own procured equipment, and procedures (They were the VERY FIRST of their kind, and only now have they become a full fledged Individual Command). As for those I know serving in OIF, and OEF, as far as it being a "No-no" to add any Non-Standard Issue gear to a vehicle (Humvee, MRAP, etc.), why don't you tell that to them about when they were hammering and welding their own retrofitted armor to their PCs? ANY solutions, and I mean ANY, which help Service Personnel better accomplish their missions, and keep them safe, is completely worthwhile, whether it is by the bureaucratic book or not.
 
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