Frustrated Newbie BCD436HP

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tpf0802

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I've been trying for 2 weeks to get something on the new scanner, my Iphone 5.0 police scanner App gets more action than my scanner. I tried the zipcode location, the favorites with Sentinel, bought a 800Mhz antenna, no great increase in activity. My questions
What is the best software?
Any other advice or help would greatly be appreciated.
Thanks
Tom
 

rkm1215

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You will get varied opinions as to best software. I am slightly biased from having used it before, but I prefer Butel's ARC536 (free trial available) for managing favorite lists and use Sentinel to update Master DB (on scanner) and to update firmware. Make sure on the scanner that you turn on Service Types. By default some are disabled. The other thing to remember is by default trunked systems from Sentinel have ID search off so will only scan talkgroups that are stored in the DB. I turn ID search on for my systems, but you have to do it for each trunked system. One more thing with trunked systems. If there is a system in the DB with no talkgroups it is automatically avoided per se by the scanner.
 

tpf0802

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Advice Taken

Thanks for the advice, all of it makes sense, especially the talk groups, I will try the Butel software also. Thanks again for the help!
 

jeremyzone

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Hi tpf,

A couple questions:
1. Have you used the Sentinel software to update your master database? (You can make sure you have a recent update by navigating to "Manage Full Database">"Information" on your scanner)
2. Which system are you trying to monitor? Is it this one? https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=6906 (guessing based on your location). In other words, which online scanner feed are you comparing with?
3. Which antenna did you get?
4. As rkm suggested above, make sure you have the relevant services turned on by hitting Function -> Services and selecting "On". Quite a common problem! If you're unsure, just turn them all "on".
5. Are you hearing absolutely nothing on the system(s) you are interested in, or is it just lower traffic than you were thinking?

Honestly, I wouldn't go chasing different software programs until you have been able to troubleshoot through other potential issues first :)
 

ofd8001

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What is your Range setting? If it is a lower number, try increasing it (max is 50.0).

Think of ranges as casting a fishing net. The smaller the net (range), the fewer number of fish you are likely to snare. If you have a value of 0 -10, your net is small.
 

tpf0802

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Great Advise!

Hi tpf,

A couple questions:
1. Have you used the Sentinel software to update your master database? (You can make sure you have a recent update by navigating to "Manage Full Database">"Information" on your scanner)
2. Which system are you trying to monitor? Is it this one? https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=6906 (guessing based on your location). In other words, which online scanner feed are you comparing with?
3. Which antenna did you get?
4. As rkm suggested above, make sure you have the relevant services turned on by hitting Function -> Services and selecting "On". Quite a common problem! If you're unsure, just turn them all "on".
5. Are you hearing absolutely nothing on the system(s) you are interested in, or is it just lower traffic than you were thinking?

Honestly, I wouldn't go chasing different software programs until you have been able to troubleshoot through other potential issues first :)
WOW, thanks for the great advise. That is a lot of info, I especially like the software advise. I have tried Sentinel, I believe I updated the MDB and Firmware several times, but don't know if it d/loaded, the firmware was the current version.
Monitor? System? I am so new all I know is whatever the scanner is trying to monitor! I printed out the radio ref. link, thanks, do I have to manually load the frequencies listed, or can I d/load them? Based location 21236, tried also to generate a Favorites file and d/load to the scanner, I d/loaded it, but still didn't have much success. RKM1215, gave me some info that I will combine with your info, I did not know that Sentinel, 'Trunked systems Sentinel by default have ID search off, only scans talk groups that are in the DB, and no talk groups will automatically be avoided.." I'll have to figure that out too.
The majority of the time I am just watching the scanner scan through the frequencies, and occasionally will pick up a minute worth of MDTA Police, nothing near my location, or local police. I have a RS800Mhz antenna, and my range is 20 mi. no air static at all, I tried turning the squelch down to 0 and up to 7. No change.
 

ofd8001

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Next question is are you scanning only Favorites List(s) or are you also using the full database. At least in the beginning, using the full database is good as it should "bring in" every possibility, assuming all Service Types are enabled. There is a lot things that need to be set in Favorites Lists, which can be challenging to a newer person.

You can tell if you are scanning a P25 system by looking at the display. You'll see either LNK/P25 when P25 is received. P25 when there is voice and LNK when there is unmodulated carrier.

Also there is a different sound to P25 systems. There isn't the "hiss" in the background and they sound a little deeper.
 

tpf0802

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I wasn't sure about the favorites list just yet, so I loaded my zip and used the full DB, I have seen P25 and LNK on my scanner screen, and I will get some really clear frequencies, but mostly hiss and garble. Now that have a good Baltimore city trunked frequencies list from RadioRef. And I know it's Project 25, and I see the blue/red freq. should I try to program them in or search on sentinel for the same freq. and generate a favorites list with those Freq?
Thanks for all your help and time
 

ofd8001

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Now that have a good Baltimore city trunked frequencies list from RadioRef. And I know it's Project 25, and I see the blue/red freq. should I try to program them in or search on sentinel for the same freq. and generate a favorites list with those Freq?
If you are scanning the full database you should receive Baltimore. I might try changing the zipcode from Nottingham's to the one used in downtown Baltimore and see what happens, just for the heck of it.

It is better to build a Favorites List by importing from the database (very top of Sentinel's left pane) all the "stuff" you need. Less chance of missing something that way.

Those blue/red frequencies are more geared toward "non-HP" scanners, where users typically program only control channels. HP scanners will download all frequencies associated with a trunked system - both voice and control channels. The scanner will "figure out" which is the control channel and use it accordingly.
 

baptistjcat

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The problem that I have when listing to the p25 digital system for my area is that I live in a null. And my scanner has a hard time with which tower to receive a signal from. The result will be a garbled transmission. I would have to move around my house to find that sweet spot. I now use a directional anteena so I can get a signal from only one tower at a time. When scanning I still have to make adjustments with my anteena. Sometimes I have to move it an inch to a foot but when I catch a signal the reception is loud and clear.
So perhaps this is the problem that you are having. I suggest moving around ,sometimes a lot sometimes a little. Do some experimenting .
 

ofd8001

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The problem that I have when listing to the p25 digital system for my area is that I live in a null. And my scanner has a hard time with which tower to receive a signal from. The result will be a garbled transmission. I would have to move around my house to find that sweet spot. I now use a directional anteena so I can get a signal from only one tower at a time. When scanning I still have to make adjustments with my anteena. Sometimes I have to move it an inch to a foot but when I catch a signal the reception is loud and clear.
So perhaps this is the problem that you are having. I suggest moving around ,sometimes a lot sometimes a little. Do some experimenting .
If you are scanning the full database, that's about all you can do. If you create a Favorites List for this system, you can get into some settings that may improve this. Site Attenuator, P25 Threshold Mode and P25 Threshold Level.

My local system is a P25 simulcast system and there are three towers overlapping my home. I did get a lot of garble with the default settings, but after making adjustments to the settings mentioned above, a lot of the garble cleared up.
 

tpf0802

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More Great Advice

Ok, sounds like a plan with all this help, I'll try this approach tonight, thanks to all for the help, let u guys know how it goes.
 

tpf0802

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The top left panel of the Sentinel program, all I see is the green shield, or the menu bar...is there a secret or easter egg built into Sentinel? haha
 

tpf0802

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Ok, I think I have it somewhat. Made my favorites list, downloaded to scanner, set attenuator, set the ID, left delay at 0. I started scanning, I heard nothing, the scanner screen was rolling with my favorite frequencies, all I saw was "ID Searching" nothing else. What did I miss..do I have to assign an ID key or something? Thanks for your time.
 

jeremyzone

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Ok, I think I have it somewhat. Made my favorites list, downloaded to scanner, set attenuator, set the ID, left delay at 0. I started scanning, I heard nothing, the scanner screen was rolling with my favorite frequencies, all I saw was "ID Searching" nothing else. What did I miss..do I have to assign an ID key or something? Thanks for your time.
I would go into your settings and turn your attenuator setting to "Off". Usually you would turn it on if you were dealing with simulcast issues or whatever.

Which system is this you are trying to scan? Is it the "Baltimore City" one? If yes, then do you see the icon "DAT" on the bottom of your screen when it says "ID Search"?
 

tpf0802

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Yes, DAT is displayed..I loaded Baltimore City into the favorites, saw it being searched, Baltimore County Police was coming in clear. Do I have to assign a key or any identifier to anything?
 

jeremyzone

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Yes, DAT is displayed..I loaded Baltimore City into the favorites, saw it being searched, Baltimore County Police was coming in clear. Do I have to assign a key or any identifier to anything?
Good, if you see "DAT" on the bottom when you are scanning a P25 system, it means that your scanner has found the control channel and is listening to it for activity.

It sounds like you are still having problems though from your previous post? So if you can hear Baltimore Police, what is it that you are wanting to hear that you are not hearing? I was under the impression that your scanner was silent!
 
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