Furture of scanning?

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keithmj

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I was wondering what others think the future of scanning is or will be? For Pinellas County, Florida I would say that it is just about dead. More and more agencies are going digital, which wasn't a problem since there are digital scanners but now just about all are going encrypted and you can't get anything anymore. It is a sad day in America when you can't even listen to a public bus company on the scanners any more because they don't want "Anyone to listen" to them. They say that it is for safety reason but it is more like they don't want anyone outside of the agency knowing what they are doing, so much for transparency in our government.
I was planning on buying me a BCD396T but there isn't any point anymore to spend the money for new scanners or better antennas or no reason to have a scanner in the vehicle. I would say save your money and take a trip somewhere.
Some people at work were saying that they were going to get a scanner. I told them not to waste your money. And the scanner companies are going to lose a lot of business I would say. Maybe I am wrong to think this way but I don't think so. So before you spend 500 to 800 on a scanner you better do your homework or you would of just bought a paper weight. I know several people have posted here about what scanners to buy and they live in the Pinellas County area, good luck..Cheers.
 

CrabbyMilton

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We all love to hear law enforcement and fire/ems on our scanner. But let's not forget that there are countless things to hear on your scanner besides that in the event your area has gone digital. Put it in search and see what comes up.
 

Arizona_Scanner

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Places that encrypt everything are also places I suspect who also have other policies I wouldn't want to live with. If there were enough such things personally, I would move, though I know that is easier said than done for most people in most cases. I do feel for you and agree that non-sensitive comms should be in the clear. I am very lucky that regular traffic around here is all in the clear, thanks to our news outlets INSISTING on it when the transition to P25 occurred. The agencies eventually realized that they can use encryption as it should be used, for sensitive matters where you don't want bad guys to be able to hear you, and I believe that this is where most of the public stands.

If I were stuck in your shoes, I would probably probably get into milair monitoring (I already do that here since I live near Luke AFB). You live close to an Air Force base also. You could do marine monitoring, and local hams are fun to listen to if you want a good chuckle now and then. All of your fire & EMT comms are encrypted? Probably not if you check enough.

If all local law enforcement comms were encrypted here tomorrow, I would be more than entertained by being able to monitor the Luke AFB TRS, and the milair comms which I use a simple / cheap dipole to bring in from many many miles away when they are bombing their test range and practicing air to air combat.

Good luck.
 

N8IAA

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Keith, I understand how you feel. My county went silent in Oct, 2007 on PD, SO and city PD's. I still listen to neighboring counties that haven't gone encrypted. Thank goodness my county's FD saw the light (and the fact they couldn't interop with three other counties) and went in the clear. The digital that bothers me the most, however, are those counties that were bamboozled into thinking going narrow banded, meant digital. Phase II P-25, Mototrbo and Nexedge is the next level of digital that scanner manufacturers need to address. Even now, I've cut back on what scanners used in the shack. I used to run 4, or 5 at a time. Now two maybe three if there is something happening in my immediate area.
Larry
 

N8IAA

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Keith, I just checked the database, and Pinellas county's P-25 system has only one encrypted TG, SWAT. The rest is in the clear. 396T is already old as far as what it can hear. The 396XT and the PSR-800 are lightyears ahead on decoding digital signals. You may want to check out the FL state forum and see what others have to say about what you think is the demise of scanning:)
HTH,
Larry
 

keithmj

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I'll check those scanners out..I had about 15 people listening to PSTA who worked there so they could keep up to date as to what is happening at the company. As of Saturday I only had one person listening and he said he only had two hits all day. PSTA is suppose to be all changed over in the next couple of months. They are one reason why I got into scanning in 2001 so I could hear what was going on. I can see why swat would go encrypted but not the park service and the bus company. And even with swat all the bad guy needs to do is like they have done here before, shoot an officer and take his radio.

Larry, how do you like your 396XT ? The Pro-96 that I have does digital and the demise of scanning is all over, not just in my area..Thanks..Keith
 

N9NRA

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I for one don`t think scanning is dead yet :). Around here in WI we still have most of the traffic in the clear, which is good, as to the `396T, which right now i own, yes, it`s kinda old, and yes, i`d love to get my paws on a `396XT someday, but i can wait, and i personally think the `396T is still a good scanner, `specially for the beginning listener, as it`s relatively easy to set up and use. So at least IMO, scanning is alive and well. And as far as i`m concerned, it will always be :D. N9NRA
 

Tryton

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Hi Keith, I also Live in Pinellas County, N8IAA is correct! PSTA Are now on the new P25 system, their not encrypted at all. More and more agency's will also be moving over as well. Most will be in the clear, they will prob encrypt some other channels that are not (Like some med channels). You will need a Digital Scanner.. Enjoy the hobby!!!!
 

keithmj

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Going through the Database when downloading talkgroups and frequencies for PSTA I downloaded from the P25 system and put them in a PRO-96 which does digital but never heard anything. I even set it up using the extended frequencies that Ron Starr provided in the program. I can't pick up anything from PSTA. I talked to a few other people and I was told that they are using digital but it is encrypted and that is why I can't get anything. I was trying to figure out why a bus company would use encrypted frequencies when no one else is. Could it be just the PRO-96 that is the problem or maybe I just have it setup wrong? I do know that not all the radios are digital yet and somehow they are patched together.
What would be a good digital radio that doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get besides the BCD996X that might work? I didn't want to get another digital scanner if the PRO-96 will work but needs some tweeking to it..Thanks for the info. I'll let a few people know that there might be some hope yet..Keith
 

tampabaynews

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For Pinellas, get a digital scanner and you're good. Just a couple sensitive public safety channels are encrypted... FAR from dead and better than most areas.

And PSTA is going through lots of changes as far as radios, so wait a bit because things are not set in stone.
 
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Tryton

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Unfortunately, There really is no Cheap Digital.. Ebay, Craigs List etc is your friend here :)
 

keithmj

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For Pinellas, get a digital scanner and you're good. Just a couple sensitive public safety channels are encrypted... FAR from dead and better than most areas.

And PSTA is going through lots of changes as far as radios, so wait a bit because things are not set in stone.
I was figuring that is probably one of the reasons why I'm not picking anything up on the radio, since PSTA is changing its radio system. I'll shop around for a good digital scanner later and try it out. Thanks
 

tampabaynews

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You should be able to find some cheap 396T's around on eBay, the classifieds here on RR, or elsewhere. I've scored some great deals on 396T's because people are upgrading.
 
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Pinellas PSTA buses are indeed encrypted now. I was quite surprised as they have been in the clear for many months. Like keithmj, I fear that it’s a sign of what’s to come as other agencies migrate to the new P25 system.
 

ab3a

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A local county just went to IDEN. My scanner can't decode that. In fairness, this county does give some feeds to the public on the Internet --but they're delayed by 10 minutes. They're really upset about RR scanner features that enable any crook with a phone to know when the cops are on the way. Frankly, I think this issue is way overblown, but congress critters and the FCC didn't pay much attention to anything I have written to them since the idiotic ECPA of 1996, so I don't expect much.

As far as the future of scanning, I'm hoping that eventually the Software Defined Radio people will get smart about this stuff and start writing software to disassemble and decode this stuff. The main reason things like IDEN remain difficult to decode is because they won't publish the protocols. It was recently discovered that P25 encryption is easily cracked. I can hardly wait to see how long it takes for somebody to write code around that crack.

But hey, that's OK, people can figure this stuff out on their own with a decent SDR. If they were to post this stuff overseas, why there isn't much the US government can do about it. These laws and regulations such as the ECPA (I wrote strong objections to my congress critters and the FCC) are a classic example of technical illiteracy that seems endemic among the many lawyers who infest congress these days.

I think it is reasonable for a person to be able to monitor their public service officials in real time. I understand the occasional need for privacy when conducting internal investigations or when busting a crime ring. Nevertheless, day to day calls through 911 and the dispatches that result should remain accessible to the public via a scanner.

I think SDR is the wave of the future. When police agencies realize that they are living behind a code, not a cipher, perhaps they'll return to a more common sense approach.

We allow our police because they serve our society, not the other way around. I don't want to give them a single tool to make the latter happen.
 

keithmj

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I bought me a PRO-197 Digital for 300.00 on sale and PSTA is still changing their radio system and it might not be done until February of 2012 so I'll have to wait and see what happens.

The thing that ticks me off is that this is a bus company and I can see their need for security as they don't want their buses blown up but the public is paying to run this company and there is no need for encrypted channels, besides if the "BAD GUYS" want to know what is going on they'll do like the did when the guy shoot those cops awhile back in Saint Petersburg, he shot the officer and took his radio into the attic with him. And people were insinuating that he was listening to my scanners on line.

With the threat from islam and the fear people have from the terrorists I think that the future of scanning will never be the same as it was, in the future you won't be able to listen to Police or Fire like you can now. And I think the scanner companies are going to side with the government and we'll never have a scanner that will listen to anything they don't want us to. This is just part of the government taking away our rights. We will have no way of knowing what is going on.

Some people will say that I don't know what I am talking about and that is still their right for now but if you look at what is going on and you look ahead in the future, I'd say that I am right on and hit the nail on the head. Just because a person doesn't know how to make a scanner or write a program to run a scanner doesn't mean they can't see what is going on. Besides, money talks and the people with the money does the talking..Happy Scanning.
 
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In regards to criminals yes I have heard this as well, but due to the time it takes to decrypt a signal, the number of different encrypted channels, and the frequency at which they regularly change, the cost alone would be pro active. Bearing to the idea of installing a secondary post encrypted transmission built into the hardware of another radio run 24/7 ie dispatch/control etc, would be a cheaper and more efficient alternative. Although in any seriousness tscm level scanners are routinely checked for this, but for any high level industry the point at which there is not already internal discrepancy points to the fact some will just turn a blind eye. In regards to the future of scanning, it is not what it likely to come, but what hasnt come already that has been done before.
 
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