Help For a Novice

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lvmym8

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I've been monitoring scanners for many years but am not as into it or as knowledgeable as most of you. So I turned on my RS Pro-93 today for the first time in a long time, and lo and behold I can't hear any Baltimore County police or fire any longer. So I', guessing they have gone digital. Ok, fine. So I'm offering my scanner on Ebay now so I can get a digital one.

My questions:

Am I correct that I can not hear them on my PRO-93 because it is not digital?

With a new handheld digital scanner (your suggestions are welcome), will I be able to get Baltimore County and City police, or are they encrypted?

What will I NOT be able to receive with the new scanner, if anything?

Is the GRE PSR800 preprogrammed scanner a good idea for me, being as I am totally clueless about most of what you guys are saying about things like P25 and whatnot?

Thank you for your answers to come and your patience.
 

WX5JCH

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You'll need a trunk tracker at least I don't see any digital on this system... http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=189
Oh it looks like they are updating to digital:
Latest News Update Posted on 2012-02-11 19:02:39

This system has been superseded by the P25 system. This system may remain on the air for up to six months if the users on the P25 system experience problems with it.
http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=7117


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troymail

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You'll need a trunk tracker at least I don't see any digital on this system... Baltimore County Public Safety Trunking System, Baltimore, Maryland - Scanner Frequencies
But that page says:
"This system has been superseded by the P25 system. This system may remain on the air for up to six months if the users on the P25 system experience problems with it."

The new system is: Baltimore County (Project 25) Trunking System, Various, Maryland - Scanner Frequencies

You'll need a P25 capable DIGITAL trunk tracker: Category:Digital Scanners - The RadioReference Wiki

Best options right now are:
GRE PSR-800 (or PSR-500)
Uniden BC-396XT/996XT
(there are probably others)

Select carefully....

And be patient - expect problems receiving the system: http://forums.radioreference.com/ma.../219410-new-baltimore-county-p-25-system.html (read the whole thing!)
 

lvmym8

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From the OP

thank you but I dont think you have addressed my questions.
 

dpcain

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You are correct, the 93 is an analog-only scanner. To copy BCo's new system, you need a P25 capable scanner- P25 is the APCO standard number 25 compliant digital waveform.

If you have a P25 scanner, you will be able to hear all of BCoFD, and very nearly all of BCoPD with the exception of maybe 1 or 2 talkgroups that are full encrypted (I am guessing these to be CID secure talkgroups, though CID usually operates on their clear talkgroup).

With a PSR-500 or equivalent you will pick up nearly everything. The only things you will not be able to receive are any TDMA systems. Just to quick-fill you in without being useless and making you link to another page, FDMA is frequency division trunking, where one transmission will continuously use one frequency at one time, essentially meaning that while continuously transmitting, a talkgroup will have consistent ownership of one frequency. TDMA is time division trunking, where one frequency is divided into equal sized time slots, and digital packets are sent in alternation. This means that one talkgroup may be transmitting in the A slot of one frequency and an entirely different talkgroup may be transmitting in the B slot, with data packets from each alternating. This is much more technically challenging to decode, and the only scanner that can decode ANY TDMA system is the PSR 800. Currently it will only do TDMA X2, which is the prototype version, but us 800 owners are very hopeful that GRE (which has great customer services) will be able to simply do a firmware upgrade that will enable it to do full P25 Phase II. So you know, Prince George's County is the only operating P25 X2 system around. However, the new statewide FiRST system is likely going to be P25 Phase II. For clarification though, BCo and BC's systems are both Phase I FDMA.

Frankly I would suggest the PSR-800 to anyone. It's expensive, sure, but GRE has great support values, the radio is extremely versatile, the radio can be set up for an area or system on the fly, and the PC programming utility is extremely intuitive and sensible for more advanced tweaking. Oh and you can unbelievably easily download database updates. It's a win-win-win... win.

Hope that covers everything.
 

lvmym8

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Thank You!

Thank you very much! This info is extremely helpful. I went and ordered the PSR800 today, got a great deal from Scanner Master, they matched the price of $409.95 from Antenna Farm, so I saved $40 too. Do you know if I will be able to get Balto City PD as well? Also, GRE makes this pre-amp thing that goes on the radio that sells for about $50. Do you think I'll need it? I live in Pikesville fyi.
 

ka3jjz

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Not quite, I'm afraid - not by a long shot. Both the county and city systems are using a modulation scheme that the current crop of digital trunktrackers have problems with receiving well. A recent firmware release for Uniden XT scanners seems to have generally improved things, but the bottom line is that the quality of the reception seems to be directly tied to where you are and your antenna - if you're in a good spot free from receiving a signal from more than one path, it's better than if you happen to get clobbered by more than one tower at a time.

We have 2 distinct threads and wiki articles that go into some detail on this issue. Note that the title of the City thread is rather inspecific - you can't tell whether it's for the city or county (it's for the city) so if you have questions, please be sure to put them in the proper thread. As always, anything in blue is a link...

http://forums.radioreference.com/ma...m/194926-new-baltimore-system-discussion.html

Baltimore City Project 25 - the RR Wiki

http://forums.radioreference.com/ma.../219410-new-baltimore-county-p-25-system.html

Baltimore County Project 25 - the RR Wiki

I would start reading before plunking down any green...HTH...Mike
 
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800mhz

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Is it safe to buy a dig scanner now or wait? I am a volunteer in Bal Co. I was trying to fig out if it looks like it will be awhile before B Co goes Phase II TDMA. I was looking at buying the 396XT?
 

ka3jjz

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IMHO (OK maybe not so humble) it depends what you want to hear, how much effort you want to put into learning about it, and which model you want to buy. If you're new you might want to stick with the PSR-800 (particularly if you want to hear PG County) or Home Patrol. While the Uniden XT scanners work with Baltimore county system (as do the older Uniden 396/996 and the RS/GRE object oriented scanners) they are a good deal more complex to program. Some people want a simpler plug and play approach. While neither the 800 or Home Patrol are that simple, they're probably as close as you're going to get. YMMV of course...Mike
 
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