Help with P25 in Fredericksburg area

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spotsyrick

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I recently purchased a Pro 197 and I downloaded Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, STARS ,and Stafford frequency using this website and importing them directly by a cable. I live in Spotsylvania and I receive all the EDACS channels and the conventional but I haven't gotten any hits on any P25 channels. I did install the new 2.1 software for the Pro 197. I'm not sure about the reband, I don't know if I need to download anything or if the frequencies are already changed on the radioreference database. Does anybody in the Spotsylvania area pick up STARS, and Stafford frequencies with their scanner and regular antenna that came with it? Please let me know what I need to do to receive the P25 systems. If I need to reband then please send me a link for that because Radio Shack doesn't support the 197 anymore, thanks.
 

fredva

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You should not have to worry about rebanding on your PRO-197. Whether you can receive STARS with the stock antenna may depend on your proximity to Thornburg and position of the scanner in your house. Spotsylvania is a big area and there would be some dead spots.

When I was using a PRO-197, I could receive STARS. I can also receive STARS on my PRO-18, but it depends a lot on where I have it in the house. I live just outside Fredericksburg, so the Thornburg STARS tower is roughly 10 miles from me.

Stafford would be the same deal - depends on proximity to Stafford and position inside your house. However, I will warn you that even if you are close to Stafford, don't get your hopes up about receiving clear transmissions from Stafford. Stafford has a simulcast P-25 system that can be difficult for scanners to decode. If you happen to be in the right spot, you can hear Stafford clearly.
 

spotsyrick

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Thanks

Thanks Mike,
I live off of the Thornburg exit about 10 miles from there. I did purchase the 800MHz antenna from Radio Shack but that hasn't helped either. I should be able to pick up STARS but I haven't received any transmissions yet. Did you just program the Thornburg site and then all the talkgroups or how did you do it? Thanks for the help.
 

fredva

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If you are at Thornburg, you should definitely be able to pick up STARS. I would have my doubts about being in range for Stafford though, with just an indoor antenna.

I've experimented with different ways of programming STARS over the years. I don't remember for sure how I did it when I had my PRO-197 here (it's at my parents' house in another state now), but I believe I went to the RadioReference database, selected the Thornburg and Edgehill (King George) sites, selected the VSP Culpeper and Richmond dispatch talkgroups, and downloaded them.

On my PRO-18, I have STARS programmed about 5 different ways in different play lists, to give me options depending on where I'm at and what I want to listen to. Ranging from the Thornburg tower alone with a wildcard on STARS to all the sites and VSP dispatch talkgroups in the state for traveling.

I would suggest trying the STARS download from the RR database again. I would recommend keeping it as simple as possible: download only the Thornburg site, and if possible, choose only a wildcard instead of specific talkgroups. The wildcard would let you hear any radio traffic coming across the Thornburg tower; there would be no filtering by talkgroups.

If that fails, you could try manual programming, which I don't think is terribly difficult when you are only dealing with one tower.
 

spotsyrick

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Thanks Mike I will try just the Thornburg with the wildcard. I will let you know how that works.
 

spotsyrick

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STARS

I tried the one Thornburg site but got no transmissions. I tried downloading and entering manual but no luck. Here is how I entered it manually please let me know if it's wrong. I programmed it in as a conventional system and entered 152.09750 as the control channel for Thornburg, for the Tag I named it STARS, for the squelch mode I selected P25 and the NAC I selected search. Is this correct or am I doing something wrong?
 

fredva

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That wasn't exactly the method I had in mind but we may be able to use what you entered to get some information. Try changing the mode of that frequency from P25 to FM or NFM and set the squelch to search. Also add 159.39750 and program it the same way. That's the alternate control channel. Then scan, and see if you pick up digital noise on either of those frequencies. The noise will sound like a motor running.

If you pick up noise, that's good. That means you can receive the control channels.

Do you have the manual? If you receive the digital noise, try following the instructions for programming a Trunked System beginning on Page 31. For the system type, you need to pick "P25 Auto". Enter both the primary and alternate control frequencies for Thornburg. I would recommend choosing a wildcard for the Talkgroup ID for now.
 

W4UVV

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STARS is on VHF not UHF

Thanks Mike,
I live off of the Thornburg exit about 10 miles from there. I did purchase the 800MHz antenna from Radio Shack but that hasn't helped either. I should be able to pick up STARS but I haven't received any transmissions yet. Did you just program the Thornburg site and then all the talkgroups or how did you do it? Thanks for the help.
With a few exceptions STARS site frequencies are on the vhf high band not UHF. The scanner's stock antenna being broadbanded would be a better much for STARS reception than your 800 mhz. antenna. Set the TSYS for the Thornburg site to "P25 AUTO". I recommend leaving all other settings unselected except "AGC". You MUST have a good site control channel signal reception as GRE scanners use selected CC data to build a trunking table to correctly process STARS site comms. A trunking table also can be created manually. Bottom line...no valid trunking table no STARS site reception.

Attached are the frequencies and trunking table entries for the STARS Thornburg site.

John
W4UVV
 
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spotsyrick

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Thanks Mike and John
I appreciate all the help. It is now working. It's amazing how moving from one room to another can make a big difference in reception. I picked up STARS but haven't gotten any Stafford feeds yet, probably would need an outside antenna for that. Thanks again for all the help!!
 
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