Fort Worth Activity

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kdogg

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Apr 15, 2010
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Fort Worth, TX
I'm about to buy my first scanner, most likely either the BCD396XT or PSR-500.
Before I do though, I want to find out if there will be much to hear in my area, other than just police.
I live in West Ft.Worth over by Loop 820W and I-30 a few miles west of Ridgmar Mall.
I'm wondering if I'd be able to hear Dallas County activity from my area and would I need a pole mounted antenna to get that if using one of the above mentioned scanners?
Also, what about the Naval Base on 820 by Quebec/Lake Worth area. Would I hear ATC talking to those planes or is that all encrypted?
I looked at the lists of available channels on RR, but I don't know if I'm close enough to hear all of it.
I know there is a lot I need to research and I am the type of person who will do that, but at this point I just want to find out from someone who lives around here if they think I'll be happy with the amount of activity in this west area of FtWorth? Then if the answer is Yes, I'll make my purchase and start doing serious reading.

Thanks!
 

hiegtx

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May 8, 2004
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8,191
Location
Dallas, TX
I'm about to buy my first scanner, most likely either the BCD396XT or PSR-500.
Before I do though, I want to find out if there will be much to hear in my area, other than just police.
I live in West Ft.Worth over by Loop 820W and I-30 a few miles west of Ridgmar Mall.
I'm wondering if I'd be able to hear Dallas County activity from my area and would I need a pole mounted antenna to get that if using one of the above mentioned scanners?
Also, what about the Naval Base on 820 by Quebec/Lake Worth area. Would I hear ATC talking to those planes or is that all encrypted?
I looked at the lists of available channels on RR, but I don't know if I'm close enough to hear all of it.
I know there is a lot I need to research and I am the type of person who will do that, but at this point I just want to find out from someone who lives around here if they think I'll be happy with the amount of activity in this west area of FtWorth? Then if the answer is Yes, I'll make my purchase and start doing serious reading.

Thanks!
Welcome to the Texas forum, kdogg.

I own both of the scanners you indicated. Either the Uniden BCD396XT, or the GRE manufactured PSR500, will receive everything you've indicated an interest in. Note that the Pro-106, sold by Radio Shack, is the same scanner. electronically & operationally, but with a different front panel layout. Any comments about programming, features, etc, on the 500, would also apply to the 106, with the exception of firmware updates.

As far as police/fire/EMS radio traffic goes, all of Fort Worth's traffic, and a number of the other cities, are in this trunked system:
Fort Worth / Tarrant County Public Safety Trunking System, Fort Worth, Texas - Scanner Frequencies
You would easily be able to hear that system. Program the talkgroups that interest you, and leave out the ones that do not. That advice wold also apply to the other trunked radio systems in the area.

From your location, I suspect you'd also be able to hear the Northeast Tarrant County system (Bedford, Euless, Grapevine, among others):
Northeast Tarrant County Trunking System, Bedford, Texas - Scanner Frequencies

Arlington:
Arlington Trunking System, Arlington, Texas - Scanner Frequencies

Denton County:
Denton County Trunking System, Denton County, Texas - Scanner Frequencies

Parker County's P25 system:
Parker County (Project 25) Trunking System, Parker County, Texas - Scanner Frequencies

Some of the Tarrant County cities are not on a trunked system (such as Hurst & Benbrook), and there are a number of small fire departments, many volunteer manned. See the Tarrant County page:
Tarrant County, Texas (TX) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

For Dallas County, Dallas (city) is on Uhf, and has a fairly strong signal. Driving in from the west, I usually start picking them up somewhere between Weatherford & the Tarrant County line, using a gain antenna on the handhelds in my truck. If you used a rooftop antenna, you'd be able to hear Dallas Fire Rescue & Dallas PD, possibly some of the other systems. However, from the west side of Fort Worth, I would not count on too many of the trunked systems out of Dallas County. Using a good antenna, with good coax, maybe (a big maybe), Irving and or Grand Prairie. Anything past that would be a bonus. You would, however, also be able to hear some of the surrounding counties (Hood, Johnson, Wise, probably Ellis), as well as Texas DPS.

As for the Fort Worth NAS JRB:
Fort Worth NAS JRB Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

The ATC traffic is not going to be encrypted. I'm nowhere near the base. However, remember that, in general, you need to be very close to the tower/transmit location to hear the ground side of the transmissions for any ATC traffic. The antennas are usually mounted fairly low, and oriented to direct the signal upwards, towards the aircraft. So, if you are more than a few miles away, or there are hills/obstructions (buildings) in between, you might not hear the ground part of the conversation. However, the aorcraft side, especially, if the aircraft is at altitude, can often be heard for many miles, even over 100, for a plane at cruising altitude.

You'll have plenty to listen to, from where you are. You'll just need to work out what/how you want to program either scanner (which systems/agencies, etc).

Remember that many of the comments you read about which is "better", Uniden or GRE, is really more of which that person likes better. Either the BCD396XT, or the PSR500 (or the R/S version, the Pro-106), will do the job nicely. I, personally, prefer the 396, because of it's smaller size. I also like the display better than the 500- more detail can be displayed. However, the 500 is more sensitive, and does scan a bit faster, especially through the trunked systems. I could live with either one or the other, though if I had to choose only one, I'd pick the 396XT. Note that while the PSR500 is more sensitive, it can be "too sensitive". If you're near a forest of cell towers, like I am at home, an external or gain antenna can overload the scanner, causing it to desense, and you'll hear less, unless you use the attenuator.

The PSR500 is available from ScannerMaster @ $448.00.

For the BCD396XT, the cost is $495.00. (Also quoting ScannerMaster. Both scanners are available from a variety of other dealers.)

The PSR500 comes with a USB pc cable and an ac adapter.
The BCD396XT comes with a serial pc cable, ac adapter, & rechargeable batteries. (If your pc does not have a serial port, either get one of the low-cost usb-serial adapters, such as this, or order the USB-1 cable).

Note: The Pro-106 is currently $399.99 at Radio Shack, but the Shack charges extra for the ac adapter and pc cable that are included with the PSR500. That more than evens up the price differential.

There are a number of software programs available for both scanners, See the pages for each scanner in the Wiki for links. For the 396XT, I use FreeScan, which is free. For my PSR500, I have Win500 & PSREdit500.

If you have not already, you might want to check out &/or join the DFWScan Yahoo group, for more DFW area information.
 

hiegtx

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Dallas, TX
You should have no problem hearing the Naval Air Station. In addition to what hiegtx posted the NAS also has a trunked system Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base that has a lot of activity and I haven't heard any encryption on it.
You're right, Tom, I forgot to point that one out. I'm way outta range of it, except when I head west (be out there this weekend).
 

Alliance01TX

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May 11, 2007
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301
Location
DFW Texas
FTW Scanning

Welcome KDogg

My base is up in far North East Tarrant County and as the prior post notes, we have a lot of both Conventional and Trunked Systems in the "North Texas" area. I can pick up most of the Dallas Police UHF even with a hand-held unit most times, so if you have a good mast and dipole antenna you will have great times exploring the North Texas freq's....

Also, as you are 'out-west' you will likely get several counties in the west area as well....I would also mention to ensure the scanner you get has APCO-25 and Mil-Air capabilities, which I think the scanners you mention do have, but should confirm. The "Highway Patrol" (DPS) has moved to APCO-25 in several regions, so thats a need if you travel too.

As you go more westerly, you can pick up more Mil Air (Tankers, Gunnery Ranges / Dyess AFB) as well, if that is of any interest. Also a ton of Civilian Air (DFW, etc..) and Rail Road traffic too from most points in Tarrant County...and do not forget the Skywarn (Ham Radio) freq of 146.940 MHz to listen in during Severe Weather too....

Enjoy !

Thx

Bill
 

letarotor

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Dec 19, 2002
Messages
930
Location
Arlington, TX
Location, Location, Location!!!

Don't forget about White Settlement and their new 800MHz P25 digital trunked system. That and Parker County will be your two most vivid examples of pure P25 systems on the west side. The JRB is using a mixed analog and digital 400MHz trunked system. Security Police is on analog talkgroups and most all base ops are on digital talkgroups.

There are four significant ridges between Dallas and Fort Worth (south of the Trinity River) which could limit your Dallas area reception depending on your exact location; first being the one around Channel 5 transmitter on Cooks Lane, the next is just west of 820 before you get to Cooks Lane; the next is just before Fielder around Interlocken; the next is around Highway 161/NW 19th Street in Grand Prairie. I'm in northeast Arlington north of I-30 and my reception of the JRB and most of the small municipalities west of Fort Worth is non-existent. My reception to the east is usually pretty good. This area is definately not flat, and your reception definately depends of your location.

And BTW; welcome to the forum. I have a PRO-96, BCD996T, BCD396T and the PSR-500. Won't advise you which to buy, but to suffice it to say, I would love to aquire the new BCD396XT because I have to admit I like my 396T more than I do my PSR-500. Which ever you buy, if you need help getting up and running don't hesitate to ask. Both the beasties are a wee bit tricky to master!
 
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kdogg

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Joined
Apr 15, 2010
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Location
Fort Worth, TX
Sounds Great!

Seems like I should have plenty to listen to. I'll be making my decision on the scanner soon, likely the BCD396XT. Once I get up and running I'll post some of my local findings and maybe by then I'll have some more specific programming or antenna questions. Thanks again everyone!
 
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