How to Make Discovery Mode Awesome!

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Gilligan

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How To Make Discovery Mode Much Better

Having recently purchased the new BCD436HP and finally having an automated Discovery Mode to use when going frequency hunting, I was initially a bit disappointed by the limitations of the feature. I was really hoping for some kind of Search Discovery, which may still be implemented by Uniden in the future, but in the meantime, I needed to find a workaround for some of the limitations in the current firmware.

Specifically, Discovery Mode solves the problem of recording new frequencies and easily playing them back in a sorted summary mode. However, what Discovery Mode does not allow you to do is search multiple ranges of channels in one sweep. Which means that if you have a limited time and are hunting for radio sources that could be anyone in a large range of frequencies, you would typically be out of luck as it would require multiple, separate sweeps with Discovery Mode. Supposing you wanted to search for business channels between 450 and 470 but wanted to skip over the government ranges of 453-454 and 460-461, and EMS of 462.950-463.175. Since Broadcast Screen apparently isn't utilized in Discovery Mode (is this a bug?), it would be a pain to eliminate those ranges. Instead, you would just have a really long list of hits that would include what you don't want. While some may say it's not a big deal to skip over them in Discovery Review Mode, keep in mind that you are effectively losing Discovery time while it's recording those frequencies as well.

Then we have another flaw with Discovery Mode in that it doesn't have an option for Tone/NAC required, so you get a lot of meaningless hits where the scanner didn't quite catch the tone or NAC and you get what appears to be a CSQ hit. If you could eliminate those as well, it would save you a lot of hassles when reviewing your hits.

So how can you avoid (almost) all the problems and actually make Discovery Mode awesome? It will take a bit of work on your part but the key is utilizing the Compare to Database and Record New Only options for the Discovery session, along with making one or more custom conventional systems that contain all of the frequencies that you want to skip over.

Here's how you would set it up for 450-470 MHz, for example. Supposing you like to search this entire range, or smaller portions of this range, with Discovery Mode, create a system that has every single frequency that might be hit upon. So it will have 450.0000, 450.0125, 450.0250, etc... all the way to 470.0000. Every frequency should have no tone attached to it.

Now go and create another system, perhaps for the city you do most of your scanning in, and add all of the known (confirmed) frequencies with tones to this system. So all of your business, public safety, etc that have PL/DPL tones should be added. Also any P25 voice channels for trunked systems within range of your location should be added with the associated NAC that would be seen on that frequency. Any frequencies that might be heard from the location you are scanning in should be added with the associated tone attached.

You could also arrange a number of systems like this with smaller ranges, like 450 MHz, 451 MHz, 452 MHz, etc. The key is to keep them inactive until you need to use Discovery Mode for that particular range. If you are going to run Discovery Mode over those ranges, make the system(s) that include those ranges active in the scanner (even though you aren't going to "scan" them). You could call each system something like "Discovery 450", etc.

This way, Discovery Mode will actively skip over pretty much every known frequency and not bother to record it. Also, it won't tie up the active Discovery time. Plus you won't have any hits where there isn't a tone or NAC recorded.

Another feature that could be implemented with this would be a Service Search Discovery whereby you would program systems with all of the known channels for railroads, ham radio repeaters, federal government, etc. And it records everything and sorts it out for you. The exception is that you won't get any CSQ hits if the users are not running a tone. Another idea is to set up a system that includes the whole range of frequencies used by the very common Motorola XTN UHF handhelds that so many businesses use. Then the system would include all the frequencies in between potential channels and would thereby only yield results on the 56 or so potential channels that have a tone active. This would be great for leaving the radio run in a shopping center for a few hours, or anywhere else they may be used.

One consideration in all of the complexity involved is to use system startup keys to enable the "Discovery systems" for particular bands. Startup key #1 may be all the discovery systems for 151 MHz, while Startup key # 2 may be 451-455 MHz and startup key # 3 may be 461-465 MHz. This would make it much quicker to enable or disable all of the necessary systems for this method to work.

My goal in all this is to make the scanner be able to quickly access the Discovery Mode for particular locations and then yield only the results I want over a variety of ranges. I want to be able to leave the scanner run in the parking lot while I'm in the mall and when I come back out, actually have a list of new recordings instead of a bunch of dead hits and already-known stores. Kind of a discovery deployment so to speak. Yes it will take a while to set up, but once it's done, it would be so useful.
 
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Gilligan

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I am attaching a zip file containing three favorites lists that may be of use to anyone using this method for filtering Discovery Mode. The first contains all frequencies between 450-470 MHz in 12.5 KHz steps, and the other two contain the same data divided into 450-460 and 460-470 ranges. I have found that as long as the favorites list is active, the channels can be locked out with no difference in the effect it has on filtering Discovery Mode, so all of the channels in the lists I've uploaded are avoided by default. I may upload some more in the future.
 

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henrygb

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How to use this files? can't open with sentinel, can't import to sentinel. I would try this kind "Discovery Mode", because this feature in my BCD536HP, go to quick search mode itself.
 

phask

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I am attaching a zip file containing three favorites lists that may be of use to anyone using this method for filtering Discovery Mode. The first contains all frequencies between 450-470 MHz in 12.5 KHz steps, and the other two contain the same data divided into 450-460 and 460-470 ranges. I have found that as long as the favorites list is active, the channels can be locked out with no difference in the effect it has on filtering Discovery Mode, so all of the channels in the lists I've uploaded are avoided by default. I may upload some more in the future.
Make them as HPE - not HPD so one can import them.

I think these are already in Arc , and might be on that shared favorite list

Sentinel .hpe Files Library - The RadioReference Wiki

Check there before re-inventing the wheel.
 

Gilligan

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I'll check into that, but they are just simple favorites lists. You can drop them right into your favorites directory and make a quick modification to the two config files to add them into your existing setup.
 

phask

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I'll check into that, but they are just simple favorites lists. You can drop them right into your favorites directory and make a quick modification to the two config files to add them into your existing setup.
Correct - but there are some users on here that can't even zip and unzip a file, or even find the directory where the HP's store files. Why force them to do something outside the software?

That way also allows importing into HP1's as well as the newer ones.

While you are at it - post them to the WIKI - if they are different.
 
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