Help Understanding Trunking, Fleetnet and TG Reception

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RyanAC

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Mar 28, 2013
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Laurentian Hills, ON
Hello All,

This is my first thread, though I've spent much time reading the forum and it has been very helpful. I have reread the wiki on trunking and searched the forum, but There is something I still don't understand about trunking as it applies to fleet net. I'll apologize in advance for the length of this post as I'm going to try to provide as much info on my setup as possible.

I'm running a 996XT with a WRX100 antenna. I have Ontario Provincial Government Zone 2 programmed as one system with Pembroke, Deep River and Bisset Creek towers programmed as the sites. I have one conventional system programmed for Renfrew County conventional channels. Since a recent trip to visit family, I have another separate system programmed for OPG Zone 3 with sites programmed for each tower between me and East Algoma, plus a conventional system for each region (generally as listed in the database) along the Highway 17 corridor; I left the Mattawa and North Bay sites, as well as my Nipissing District conventional system, turned on when I got home in hopes of occasionally picking up skip since I'm not too far from those towers. Both of my Motorola systems are in ID search mode.

No matter where I placed the scanner in my house, I could not get very reliable reception. It now lives, on a side table under a south-facing window, in the best spot I could find. Even there, reception for both Zone 2 and and the Renfrew conventional system were spotty (0-1 bar for the Pembroke tower at the end of its range and then only when the scanner could find the control channel, and 1-2 bars for the Deep River tower 5km away; I never could get the control channel for the Bisset Creek tower) at best. I had read in a thread that attenuating a nearby tower could help reception and so I attenuated Deep River; this helped marginally. Of course, I live in a small (5-10km) bubble where FM radio signal fades in and out on home stereos and brand new car radios at a whim and where vehicle-amped VHF radios have trouble receiving each other within LOS.

The other day I cut a section of lamp cord to about 3 feet, tied one stripped end to the curtain rod and the other to the end of the fully-extended antenna. This has worked very well: I now consistently get minimum 3 bars (usually more) on the Pembroke and Bisset Creek towers and minimum 4 on Deep River; the scanner is rarely quiet any more. Transmissions on 2OPS42, Renfrew District 1 and other TG's are evenly split between all the towers. I even get 3-4 bars consistently from the Mattawa tower and occasionally 1 bar from North Bay.

To the heart of the matter!

Now that I have a Zone 3 system with regular reception from the Mattawa tower, I receive Zone 2 TG's (particularly 2OPS42 and Renfrew District 1) as often from the Mattawa tower as I do from the Zone 2 towers. But I have not heard one transmission from 3OPS20 or any other TG's that should be within range of the Mattawa tower. Can anyone suggest a reason why this may be? I double-checked tonight that none of the groups or ID's on the Zone 3 system were locked-out.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

IdleMonitor

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I wouldn't attenuate the frequencies for the tower, keep that unattenuated, I don't think given the distance between towers that it would help other then lowering the signal of the closest tower you may think be interfering. Although that won't help you either...Read on...

I will say this, judging by from what I found on Google and ebay, The WRX 100 doesn't even look like it's a scanner antenna, but more of a vehicle antenna for your car radio system. At the very least, get yourself an actual scanner antenna designed for the frequencies you're wanting to listen to.

Once you do that, you're reception of intended listening will be that much better, or worse...read on...

For a mobile antenna you can find many different VHF/UHF one's fairly cheap on Ebay.

I use a NMO Mount dual band ham antenna for my portable in the car --- VU1545 Antenna Opek NMO Dual Band Mobile 2m/70cm, Mount not Included

For a base antenna, I use Jetstream JTD1 Workman T601 Discone Scanner Antenna w VHF Ham Radio Transmit | eBay

Both of these will definitely increase your range for the signals.

Don't forget also, for your Zone 3 system that you have frequencies programmed in for Mattawa are shared in Zone 2 (In particular Renfrew County) and therefore, due to your proximity to both Zones, it's picking up the control channels for Zone 2 (yet are programmed in your zone 3) and therefore not even getting to the Zone 3 frequencies that aren't duplicated in Zone 2.

Mattawa 141.195 is a Mt. St. Patrick (Zone 2) regular voice frequency.
Mattawa 142.380 is Pembroke (Zone 2) Main Control Channel.
Mattawa 142.710 Main Control Zone 3 is an alt. control channel plus voice frequency from Pembroke (Zone 2) so when a user on Pembroke tower is using this frequency, it will interfere or cover up completely your reception of the intended use of it being a control channel for Mattawa for which the radio programming in your scanner needs to recognize.
Mattawa 142.950 Alt. Control. Channel is Pembroke (Zone 2) regular voice channel.

142.380 and 142.710 and 142.950 are your problem frequencies that are making you miss your Zone 3 activity from Mattawa because Zone 2 usage from Pembroke is interfering with your Zone 3 programming.

If 142.710 is not being used on Pembroke tower, then you'll hear your control channel from Mattawa, but as soon as someone uses it in Zone 2 it'll cover it up from you being able to decode it from Zone 3 especially since your getting a higher signal reading from Pembroke then you are from Mattawa. 142.380 is a constant control channel being used in Pembroke it rarely changes, therefore it will cover up you being able to hear that frequency from Zone 3 even if 142.710 is open to be able to decode and given that the Pembroke tower frequencies are probably used more so then they are in Mattawa, I don't think you'd be able to listen to both systems at any given time.

North Bay (Site 4 Zone 3) will also have these problems with shared freqencies from Zone 2 as well as North Bay (Site 56 Zone 3)

North Bay (Site 4 Zone 3) 142.320 Main Control Channel is a voice frequency from Zone 2 Barrys Bay
North Bay (Site 4 Zone 3) 142.035 Alt. Control Ch. is a voice frequency from Zone 2 Barrys Bay

When they're being used in Zone 2, they'll cover up your control channel from Zone 3 and not be able to decode properly.

North Bay (Site 56 Zone 3) 142.515 is a reg. voice channel, but is a Control Channel for Barry's Bay (Zone 2)
North Bay (Site 56 Zone 3) Main Control Channel 142.650 is also Main Control Channel for Mt. St. Patrick (Zone 2), right here, you will have co-interference between both those right off the bat. as your basically in the middle of quite possibly being able to hear both control channels with no clear way of allowing the radio to grasp a good signal to decode it for your system 3 talkgroups properly.

But both antenna being used, and conflicting shared frequencies between Zone 2 and 3 proximate to your location to being able to receive them, then this could be part of both your problems with signal and what you can/cannot hear from each zone.

Are you sure you're getting Ops42 and RenDistr1 off the Mattawa (Zone3) tower? I didn't think a Zone 2 car could affiliate with a Zone 3 system (That's another discussion) unless programmed to do so.

Basically, some Zone 2 frequencies are interfering with your Zone 3 System. More so, the frequencies from Pembroke are interfering with Mattawa. For an actual radio that's programmed with Zone 2, example. Won't affiliate with Zone 3 unless instructed to do so, which I doubt they would be up your way. Therefore users can use the radios with no worries, to a scanner user, however, this is not the case.

Given the signal strength your getting from both Pembroke and Mattawa and they share frequencies and you live in the middle and are able to get both areas at an exceptionally great signal.That's your problem. I bet if you had a seperate system programmed for Pembroke your gonna get the same results as you are from the Mattawa system you have programmed for Zone 3

When visiting Southern Ontario, I had to lock out control channel frequencies from my Zone 2 system that I knew I would not need, so I could listen to Zone 1 without having conflicting frequencies that are part of both Zones If I didn't I would have Zone 1 talkgroups show up in my Zone 2 system, which weren't correct. I had to do this when visiting Oshawa area, being that it's on the border basically, from Zone 1 and Zone 2.

Your scanner is not built the same as what a profressional grade, MTO/EMS/OPP/MNR Radio is and thats why they don't get interference but you would. To them having shared frequencies given the proximity of there locations of Fleetnet towers with professional grade radios, this to them is not a concern. The way your scanner is built, is also not there concern.

I don't know how you'd program your radio to successfully get Mattawa without the interference from Pembroke. I find it odd that there's shared frequencies on both those towers comparing there tower locations to each other, but to them it doesn't matter, they're programmed for 2 different zones anyways. Now If you had frequencies on Mattawa or North Bay towers that were used say in Zone 2, but say were listed for Ottawa, but nothing closer like Pembroke, Mt. St. Patrick, Barrys Bay, Deep River, or Bisset Creek., then I'd say you wouldn't have this problem at all.

If you do end up with a Base antenna and are getting signals even better than you are now, then chances are this will be even more of a problem. Unless of course you don't wanna listen to Zone 3 at all. I think your stuck with pretty much just listening to Renfrew County and Zone 2 from your location.

I'm sure folks bordering Zone 1 and Zone 2 in S. Ontario have already visited this same issue with there respective areas.

Sorry it seemed long winded but hopefully this helps steer you in the right direction.

http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=2560 Zone 2
http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=3511 Zone 3
 
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RyanAC

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Joined
Mar 28, 2013
Messages
15
Location
Laurentian Hills, ON
Thank you for that thorough reply! It wasn't too long-winded at all: I found it very informative and helpful.

No, I don't think now that I was hearing those TG's on the Mattawa tower. The shared frequencies you mention--specifically 142.38000--were the problem. In fact, I don't think my scanner was ever really "hearing" Mattawa. I scrolled through the frequencies while held on that site (I program all the freq's in for a site even though I know the 996XT only requires the control and alt channels) and the only one that had a "control channel" sound was 142.38000. I locked out that freq and no more signal from Mattawa. Like you said, the scanner was just getting confused over what site it was listening to.

I also took your advice and turned off the attenuation on the Deep River tower, which the scanner wasn't picking up today. It isn't hurting reception of the other two Zone 2 towers currently turned on.

The WRX100 is junk. Not junk, but also not the upgrade I thought it would be. It's only a slightly thicker and longer version of the antenna that came with the scanner. If I had to do it over, I wouldn't waste the $15-30. I haven't tried it, but I suspect if I were to switch out the WRX100 for the stock antenna and attached my McGyver-ed wire extension that the reception would be the same...

...Which I might try since the WRX100 (at least the one I got) has a very annoying habit of falling over: the part of the elbow joint that comes out the back of the BNC connector spins freely. Positioned more than about 15 degrees (side-to-side) from vertical, it won't stand up on its own.

I thought I would offer that as info for anyone who is considering this antenna!

Thanks for the antenna links. I've been stuck trying to pick the best mobile for my listening preferences; the recommendation is appreciated. And, As funds are available, I plan on pulling down the old TV antenna tower, cleaning it up, painting it and replacing that antenna with a one of those. One day....

Ryan
 

EJB

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RyanAC said:
Thank you for that thorough reply! It wasn't too long-winded at all: I found it very informative and helpful.

No, I don't think now that I was hearing those TG's on the Mattawa tower. The shared frequencies you mention--specifically 142.38000--were the problem. In fact, I don't think my scanner was ever really "hearing" Mattawa. I scrolled through the frequencies while held on that site (I program all the freq's in for a site even though I know the 996XT only requires the control and alt channels) and the only one that had a "control channel" sound was 142.38000. I locked out that freq and no more signal from Mattawa. Like you said, the scanner was just getting confused over what site it was listening to.

I also took your advice and turned off the attenuation on the Deep River tower, which the scanner wasn't picking up today. It isn't hurting reception of the other two Zone 2 towers currently turned on.

The WRX100 is junk. Not junk, but also not the upgrade I thought it would be. It's only a slightly thicker and longer version of the antenna that came with the scanner. If I had to do it over, I wouldn't waste the $15-30. I haven't tried it, but I suspect if I were to switch out the WRX100 for the stock antenna and attached my McGyver-ed wire extension that the reception would be the same...

...Which I might try since the WRX100 (at least the one I got) has a very annoying habit of falling over: the part of the elbow joint that comes out the back of the BNC connector spins freely. Positioned more than about 15 degrees (side-to-side) from vertical, it won't stand up on its own.

I thought I would offer that as info for anyone who is considering this antenna!

Thanks for the antenna links. I've been stuck trying to pick the best mobile for my listening preferences; the recommendation is appreciated. And, As funds are available, I plan on pulling down the old TV antenna tower, cleaning it up, painting it and replacing that antenna with a one of those. One day....

Ryan
Honestly, I took a hanger, cut it to specs for Fleetnet and shoved it into a mount and it works better than the multi-band KSMA multi-band antenna I bought for $20.

And it's almost as good as a Larsen 1/4 wave I use as a mobile.

As Idel mentioned, a good antenna makes a world of difference. I know guys who live in the GTA that can monitor for up to 200km's cause they have good antennas high up.
 
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