HP2 in a News Helicopter

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markmart57

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I have a Homepatrol2 installed in a news helicopter covering the Nashville, TN area. Reception is almost nonexistent above 100'. There is an external antenna connected on the aircraft and I have tried the included rubber-duckie antenna. Any thoughts?
 

nbdyspclk

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Power amp,check your range settings,signal is plane of earth,you need supplemental power to grab a signal,or piggyback off uplink

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UPMan

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Also, any strong transmitters in the helicopter could desense (or even damage) the HP-1 if the antennas are too close to each other.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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I have a Homepatrol2 installed in a news helicopter covering the Nashville, TN area. Reception is almost nonexistent above 100'. There is an external antenna connected on the aircraft and I have tried the included rubber-duckie antenna. Any thoughts?
"power amps" (Pre amps?) are not going to help you. You have plenty of signal. Trust me more in the air than on ground.

UP Man might have a point about desense. The transponder, TCAS, beacons etc. might be blasting the front end, in which case some filtering might be in order. You would have to switch off those systems to test.

Are you trying to receive a simulcast system? Above 100 feet you will receive all of the towers, and the simulcast phase is going to be hard to track, especially with a consumer grade scanner. And you have the rotors introducing added modulation of the signal through multi-path. I am not surprised. You might check with the pilots for the police agencies in the area, likely they are using talkgroups that are from a single non simulcast tower and dedicated for HELO work. That might not get you the dispatch calls you desire, but you will know when they are airborne.
 

jonwienke

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Having your antenna mounted to an aircraft in flight is a best-case scenario for reception. Getting airborne ensures a line-of-sight path from the transmitter to your antenna, and the strongest possible signal. If reception gets worse with a stronger signal, then you've got signal overload problems. You'd probably be better off with the BCD436HP than the HomePatrol, as its receiver is more resistant to overload.

Putting a filter on the scanner antenna feedline to block the band(s) not used by the system you're trying to monitor may help. It depends on what freqs being used by the system(s) you're monitoring vs. freqs used by the aircraft. Knowing all of the frequencies involved is necessary to know what if any filter will help.
 

radiochuck

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I did traffic watch in LA in a fixed wing. Conventional reception on vhf and lower uhf was great. Trunked 800 MHz systems did not work at all. This was with the rubber duck inside the plane.


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jonwienke

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Rubber duck inside the fuselage is going to be problematic because the fuselage will block the signal.

The OP has an antenna mounted to the exterior of the aircraft.
 

radiochuck

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Rubber duck inside the fuselage is going to be problematic because the fuselage will block the signal.

The OP has an antenna mounted to the exterior of the aircraft.


Ya. I read that. Just giving my two cents.

I flew every day for years and rarely had a need to monitor trunked systems, so it wasn't a huge deal. That would be different today.


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paulmohr

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I can't help you with the technical aspects of it. Like if it will work, why it might or might not work or how to make it work. All that is simply over my head. What I can tell you is from what I can tell the majority of news copters do not use scanners in the air.

I am obsessed with police chases, I have probably watched 200-300 videos of various police chases from helicopters on the internet. Normally they do not have a scanner in the aircraft. The norm seems to be that they have someone on the ground monitoring the scanners and feeding them information via radio. Or they are in direct contact with someone at the police department. Also the pilot of the news copter will be in contact with the Police helicopter to make sure they are not in the way, or to assist in the search if need be. Police helicopters can fly faster and lower, have lights and some have infra red. What they don't have is a camera that can zoom in from over a mile away.

I know for a fact that the copter crew from LA's channel 5 uses scanners in their office. I have seen a picture of them with the female reporter sitting at them monitoring them. They have whole bank of them just like some of you guys do. When they catch something interesting they can be in the air pretty darn quick. I don't think they have one in the aircraft though. I have never heard them refer to using one. I would actually say try to contact the traffic copter people for KTLA. Mark Kono and Eliana Moreno. Mark is the pilot and reporter and Elianna is the photo journalist. They are based out of Whiteman airport. Both should be fairly east to find contact info on being they are journalists. Contact them and see if they will tell you what they use and how. The worst they can do is tell you no, but if you don't work for a competing market I wouldn't see why they would have a problem answering your question. Maybe tell them you are into scanners and car chases, not a reporter lol.
 

radiochuck

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They have at least one in the aircraft in Sky 5, maybe more than one.


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milcom_chaser

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How is the radio being powered in the Copter?
Are you powering it off the DC Buss via an adapter, or running strictly battery power?

If you open the squelch on the HP, is there more than just white noise present?

Try programming a few frequencies in different parts of the spectrum, and open the squelch.
 

paulmohr

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I know I read an article from Roadkill where they went up with them for the morning. They said he controls six different radios, plus flies and does commentary. They did not say what the radios were though. They do have six scanners in their office though. Shoot them an Email, maybe they can shed some light on it for you. All I know is the majority of the time when the helicopter reporters are talking about scanner traffic it is from someone at the news desk feeding them information.
 

radiomankc

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Everyone has had very good points here.... but keep in mind, just like the cellular network, antennas are positioned to cover below the tower. Higher-frequency public safety systems follow the same strategy. They are not Omni directional. Unfortunately, a pre-amp won’t help much. A good antenna on the bottom of the helicopter fusalage with a ground plane will help. But the simple fact that the terestrial base station antennas are pointed downwards causes this issue.
 

radiochuck

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How do they design for police aircraft then? Some are even fixed wing at higher altitudes. Just throwing that out there.


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ryan433pk

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The LA comparison doesn't make much sense because it's not a simulcast system. You might be receiving so much signal in the air that the scanner is overloaded by multiple transmitters.
 

radiochuck

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I wasn't making a comparison, per se. There are police aircraft here right now using those systems. I don't know if they're doing so through a conventional patch, or how that is best accomplished, but it's being done. As for my own personal experience in news aircraft, I never monitored multi site systems. That does seem very tricky. I know work on the ground, where I am slightly safer. [emoji6]


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RFI-EMI-GUY

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A helicopter flying at or above 100 feet AGL is going to be above the local clutter and will receive a stronger signal from the system, not a weaker signal. Despite comments to the contrary. Your radio is getting interfered with. If this were simulcast system, it would be expected to receive multiple sites with intersymbol distortion, a problem for commercial radios and especially with the HP2 given the Uniden discriminator demodulator. If it is not simulcast system, then I would suspect interference from comm systems aboard. Most likely the transponders. If this is a P25 system you are monitoring, I would be concerned with doppler from the rotor blades.

Another problem might be adjacent channel systems that become an interferer above 100 feet AGL. The frequency coordinator study probably assumed local clutter will reduce costs channel interference.

I can assure you it isn't a lack of signal.

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ryan433pk

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If this were simulcast system, it would be expected to receive multiple sites with intersymbol distortion, a problem for commercial radios and especially with the HP2 given the Uniden discriminator demodulator.
It should be the Nashville P25 Simulcast system. Maybe OP should look into a used XTS5000, program that baby correctly and you'll be rollin. (or should I say flyin)
 

kayn1n32008

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Police helicopters can fly faster and lower, have lights and some have infra red. What they don't have is a camera that can zoom in from over a mile away.

I would say any modern police helicopter has both normal light and FLIR cameras. Gyro stabilized. Yes they do have a camera that can zoom in from over a mile away.

I have listened to law enforcement helicopters that have been forced to break off due to low fuel and still quarterbacked the pursuit from miles out while flying in the opposite direction.

Search YouTube for YRP helicopter laser strike(York Regional Police, Ontario, Canada) for an example of late model FLIR Camera in use.

Edit: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=s-_uAC2dawI




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RFI-EMI-GUY

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It should be the Nashville P25 Simulcast system. Maybe OP should look into a used XTS5000, program that baby correctly and you'll be rollin. (or should I say flyin)
Yeah, the Radio Reference data base does not reflect simulcast but implies a new P25 system . I would assume it is simulcast as most are.

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