Is this normal for scanners these days??

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cpro48609

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Hello all,
I used scanners approx 20 years ago when things were much simpler lol. I wanted to get into it again so I picked up a Whistler TRX-1. I programmed it correctly (even had Whistler support on the phone to verify) and this thing just doesn't pick up much compared to the local Broadcastify feed. It picks up a conversation out of every 15 or so, so i't's missing quite a bit.

The area i'm in is Saginaw County Michigan which uses Michigan's Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) / Project 25 Phase I.

I did update to the latest firmware, latest CPU update etc. I also drove around a bit to make sure it wasn't my house being in a bad location. I have reserved at a few different police dept's in the past and even when I took a radio home from a neighboring county I could still pick up most traffic, so I figured scanners would work most anywhere that a portable HT would work.

Does this sound like a bad scanner by chance or more or less normal behavior?

Also, would the BCD436HP work better for this system? If so, I can return this and grab that one as this is only a day old.

Any thought appreciated!
Thanks,
 

cpro48609

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Michigan's Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS)

It appears this system includes simulcast sites which may be a large part of the problem as hobbyist scanners do not receive simulcast sites very well.

More on this is available at the following link Simulcast.

Your best bet may be to try some strong non-simulcast towers in your area and see if that helps.

Shawn
Thanks for the info. A lot of this new tech is a little hard to grasp at first glance. The broadcastify feed seems to do fairly well with this area, not sure which scanner they use though. I figured since the TRX-1 is new it would be at least as the feed though.
 

jonwienke

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While not perfect, the BCD436HP handles simulcast better than most scanners.
 

teufler

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Simulcast is the problem of receiving multiple towers at once and the towers are just alittle out of sync. Try to isolate just one tower, sometimes not even having an antenna one, if thats not good enough, a small one, or sometimes a beam, Amazon sells 800 mhz beam for around $15.00. The beam would help isolate just one tower. These tricks will work assuming you have only a trunking system you are monitoring. Some on RR have reported making an antenna, putting in a tin can, which helps isolate. You can of course, buy a more expensive scanner. The 436, the TRX-1 I have heard helps.
 

cpro48609

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Simulcast is the problem of receiving multiple towers at once and the towers are just alittle out of sync. Try to isolate just one tower, sometimes not even having an antenna one, if thats not good enough, a small one, or sometimes a beam, Amazon sells 800 mhz beam for around $15.00. The beam would help isolate just one tower. These tricks will work assuming you have only a trunking system you are monitoring. Some on RR have reported making an antenna, putting in a tin can, which helps isolate. You can of course, buy a more expensive scanner. The 436, the TRX-1 I have heard helps.
Thanks for the info. I am using the TRX-1 which I thought would work well. I'm torn between 3 things now. Returning / replacing to TRX-1 to see if I just got a faulty one, getting a 436 instead to try, or resort to broadcastsify lol.

If anyone ever publishes multiple feeds on the web that are separated out: PD, Admin, FD, EMS etc....
and creates a 'front end' or app that would let the user toggle on or off similar to an actual scanner then I'd pay a monthly fee for that lol.
 

bharvey2

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Simulcast just might be your problem as has been suggested above. As counterintuitive as this may sound, a smaller antenna may actually help, as would a directional antenna pointed at just one site. This will allow only one and the strongest signal to be received.

Another problem (and this was mine with a PRO668) was that I had far too many frequencies in my scan list at any one time. The scanner spent too much time scanning down the list of frequencies (I probably had more that a hundred) that it never seemed to land on an active channel. I narrowed my lists so that just one or two systems would be monitored at a time and "Viola!" I was hearing active channels.
 

jonwienke

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This is one argument for logging traffic occasionally, with something like ProScan's hit counter. If you log your traffic for a week, and a frequency has zero traffic, you can probably stop scanning it in most cases.

Note that this doesn't apply to talkgroups in a trunked system. The same site frequencies are scanned regardless of how many talkgroups are defined for the system.
 

troymail

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While not perfect, the BCD436HP handles simulcast better than most scanners.
As per Uniden (Pual Opitz) - even with the 436 or 536, YMMV ("your milage may vary").

The simulcast issues in my area many times result in not hearing anything at all regardless of what radio or antenna I use.

Sometimes, it's very clear depending upon where the radio is sitting.

And then, on my 536, which is never moved, the simulcast issues cause everything to be garbled - it's good one day and crap the next.
 

cpro48609

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I wonder what scanner the guy uses who uploads the feed to Broadcastify? If my TRX worked near as good as that i'd be happy. Somehow he is able to get pretty good results even with simulcast.
 

cpro48609

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Forgot to ask, i'm sure this forum knows. Since Motorola units work great on their own system, is it possible to just purchase a Motorola unit off something like eBay? I see several used handhelds that are less expensive than the TRX was. Is it illegal to own a transceiver if you only use it for listening? I always wondered this.

If the above is not possible is there a scanning receiver out there that is more dedicated to the P25 simulcast system than a general scanner?

Thanks again!
 

jonwienke

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The problem is that not all Motorola radios can receive a P25 system without affiliating with the system, which requires a system key, which grants transmit ability. Also, the programming software is complex and expensive.

Unication makes a P25 pager that is reputed to handle simulcast properly, but it is more expensive than the 536 and can only monitor one system. There is a forum here dedicated to them.
 

bharvey2

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I wonder what scanner the guy uses who uploads the feed to Broadcastify? If my TRX worked near as good as that i'd be happy. Somehow he is able to get pretty good results even with simulcast.
With simulcast systems, a lot of variables come in to play. Aside from my PRO668, I also have and SDR dongle setup running 24/7. With a omni antenna, I get quite a bit of garbled audio. When I switched to a high gain yagi, audio improved substantially. Decoding seems pretty close to 100 percent. If I were to go mobile with my PRO668, audio can be almost perfect in one location and annoying choppy in another.

Drill down in to the details of the site locations (on this website) of the system you're monitoring. See if you can focus in on the closest site using directional antennas or maybe even shielding and see if that improves your reception.
 

sparklehorse

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As has been mentioned, having more than one or two sites programmed for your system could be causing you problems. It looks like you would only need the 17 frequencies for the Saginaw County Simulcast site. Try locking out all other sites but that one, and make sure you have all the relevant talkgroups of interest for your area entered into a scan list or lists, and that you are scanning all your lists. Or else use a wildcard talkgroup so you hear all traffic being carried on that site. If that's all groovy, but your reception remains poor, then the advice about trying different antennas is good advice. Try it even with no antenna, or with just a paper clip. Try using the Attenuator setting, sometimes that's all it takes. It's true the TRX can have problems with Simulcast, but P25 reception can often be improved significantly by employing the right combination of settings and antenna adjustments. These things can take time to work out even if you're an old hand at this, so have patience and keep trying.

.
 
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bailly2

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best thing for sites that use LSM simulcasting like the Michigan Public Safety Communications System. is stick the antenna through the hole in the side of an empty paint can near the bottom
 

mikewazowski

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The problem is that not all Motorola radios can receive a P25 system without affiliating with the system, which requires a system key, which grants transmit ability.

A system key has nothing to do with granting transmit capability.

best thing for sites that use LSM simulcasting like the Michigan Public Safety Communications System

Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong but I believe most, if not all of Michigan's system isn't simulcast.
 
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