Maricopa (MCSO) LCNs for White Tanks (help!)

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KB8TZX

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After searching around the site and the web for a bit I am pressed to find the answer to this; if it's covered elsewhere, pardon my error in advance and kindly redirect me.

I am using UniTrunker with a pair of SDR and DSD to monitor the Phoenix area trunked systems. I have discovered that my setup works quite well with the RWC system as it apparently follows the standard bandplan(?), whereas this is not true of the MCSO/County trunked system.

Since I am in the West valley area, I am monitoring via White Tanks (site 2) for county, and I'm getting a good data stream from the control channel. However, the receiver tuning the voice channels is trying to tune to frequencies I do not see listed for the system. However, trying to simply add these will be a jumbled mess (if I understand correctly, anyway) unless I have the LCN numbers correctly matched to the frequencies.

I apologize for the long-winded post, but I wanted give background as I do not know how many are familiar with the local trunked systems and the nuances of an SDR setup... and wanted to avoid quizzical responses.

Does anyone have, or can they transcribe, the LCN and frequency combos for the White Tanks site for MCSO?

Any assistance is appreciated!

-Dave, KB8TZX
 

MFD4305

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Hi Dave,
Happy New Year!
I'm afraid that I know nothing about either SDR or DSD, but I do know that the Maricopa County system is a Motorola system, and LCN's are not applicable to a Motorola trunking system. Also - are you aware that both systems have "White Tanks" sites, although they use different frequencies, of course: in the 866 mHz range for Maricopa County and the 772 mHz range for the RWC system.
This won't solve your problem, I know, but maybe it'll provide a start...?
 

KB8TZX

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Happy New Year, and thanks for the reply! I appreciate your response!

I realize that the LCN is supposed to be only important for EDACS (I think, from what I gathered reading) but the trunk tracking program I am using (Universal Trunker aka UniTrunker) displays it. The reason I originally asked is that, for some reason, I pulled up the county system and got a slew of frequencies that it calculated based on existing "band plan" configurations. When it would move between logical channels while trunking I was getting nothing in terms of receive audio on my voice channel tunes. Consulting the band plan (within the software) I noted that several of the frequencies it was using for the system/site did not agree with those listed here on RR, but only for some LCNs (software side).

In the end, I tuned off the system to RWC and then picked the control channel back up a short time later... only to be greeted with seemingly normal operation and frequencies that matched RR. Go figure... when all else fails, restart the software or reboot the hardware.

I know this technically belongs in a thread all its own, but I'll ask it here in the event you might know before I end up creating threads like mad... Since you brought up the "White Tanks" naming convention being used on both systems (presumably as the site is located, well...), I wonder if you might happen to know any reason why El Mirage PD is using the West Valley simulcast (G) as opposed to using the RWC White Tanks site. I am in El Mirage, and can hear the WT site with crystal clear APCO signal and great audio decode... but El Mirage is apparently *only* using the WV simulcast site, and that signal is very spotty for me. Archived RR posts elude to them using WT at one time, but I also get a sense that was for temporary coverage when they transitioned from a now-extinct "E" simulcast site. Any thoughts?
 

Phoenix805

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I know this technically belongs in a thread all its own, but I'll ask it here in the event you might know before I end up creating threads like mad... Since you brought up the "White Tanks" naming convention being used on both systems (presumably as the site is located, well...), I wonder if you might happen to know any reason why El Mirage PD is using the West Valley simulcast (G) as opposed to using the RWC White Tanks site. I am in El Mirage, and can hear the WT site with crystal clear APCO signal and great audio decode... but El Mirage is apparently *only* using the WV simulcast site, and that signal is very spotty for me. Archived RR posts elude to them using WT at one time, but I also get a sense that was for temporary coverage when they transitioned from a now-extinct "E" simulcast site. Any thoughts?
I can only speculate, maybe someone has better info and/or a better understanding of the system. From what I can tell it looks like simulcast G has 6 towers in the west valley and I assume they're all fairly low power and used primarily for units that rarely stray far from home.

White Tanks, on the other hand, uses more power and has a bigger footprint. It's used for bigger areas (like Phoenix) and most likely for units that need to travel around the valley. I suspect the RWC officials think the system is more efficient that way.

It does seem strange that you're in El Mirage and have a poor signal. Is it possible you locked in on one of the farther away sites and not a closer one? Just wondering.....
 

KB8TZX

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Thanks for the info, Phoenix805!

I am new(er) to the area within the past year and half, and am relatively unfamiliar with the systems other than through a ton of Google searches and archived posts to RR. While I am having a fair amount of success with this small setup, I should mention I am rusty on my radio theory and this is my "maiden voyage" into the monitoring of a trunked system.

I am set to the only control channel that seems to be active in the past few days off of the RR list for the "G" simulcast. With SDRSharp (the SDR software I am using) I get a very hot red spectral display off White Tanks within the expected bandwidth for both county and RWC (flanked by yellow near the edges, as expected, but the West Valley "G" sites are a little less red and with a tad more yellow. (I know that's all relative to the software, but you get the idea... standard progression of colors, "cold to hot"... the signal isn't awful bit isn't as "hot".) UniTrunker shows that the APCO25 decoding is red/yellow, where the WT show nearly stable, solid green. Oddly, it reads the control data fine and I can tell who is talking by the display of each channel's activity via the control data. It seems it is, however, just too marginal for the voice data stream to be decoded. (UT follows the "traffic light" colors.)

RR plots the center of the "G" simulcast near Peoria, and I would imagine that's not all that distant to make my reception so poor excepting perhaps the ground cover... you say there are 6 separate sites for West Valley, though? I am confused.

And, if that's the case, would I be wrong to suspect that it may not be lack of adequate signal, but perhaps some bizarre multi-path effect?
 

Phoenix805

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RR plots the center of the "G" simulcast near Peoria, and I would imagine that's not all that distant to make my reception so poor excepting perhaps the ground cover... you say there are 6 separate sites for West Valley, though? I am confused.

And, if that's the case, would I be wrong to suspect that it may not be lack of adequate signal, but perhaps some bizarre multi-path effect?
That's OK, I'm confused, and I'm happy to help confuse you! Like I've said before, I have very little working knowledge of the RWC system. I used it for a few years before retiring, but I've learned more here than what I knew actually using the system.

Most of my rants are my assumptions (I know, I shouldn't assume things). In the case of the simulcast G, RR shows this: Simulcast G: West Valley Site Details (Regional Wireless Cooperative (RWC))
The coordinates on this page are at the south side of Lake Pleasant, and depending on what you read, the RWC system has either 1 or maybe 2 transmitter/tower sites there.

This page also shows one license - WQJY471. Clicking on that link takes you to: WQJY471 (Peoria, City of.) FCC Callsign Details
which is a Peoria license and shows 6 sites. And why am I confused? Because it shows the license being held by Peoria. But if you look up WQKP324 it shows up as a Phoenix license, with 3 of the same sites, and 3 different sites!

It looks like there are 4 sites within about 6 miles of you (give or take a little, depending on your actual location). I'm leaning more and more towards the multi-path effect giving you headaches.
 

KB7MIB

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As far as I can tell, from my own monitoring:
Glendale uses Simulcast's B and G.
Peoria uses Simulcast G, as well as the White Tanks, Quintero (a sub-division west of Lake Pleasant on the north side of Carefree Highway) and Towers Mtn IR's.
El Mirage uses Simulcast G.
Surprise uses Simulcast G and the White Tanks IR.
Avondale uses Simulcast G.
Buckeye uses Simulcast J, and (I think) the White Tanks IR.
(IR stands for Intelli-Repeater.)
Unless you're significantly closer to one specific simulcast site than any others, or you're using a directional Yagi pointed at the best (not necessarily the closest) site, you're going to have multi-path issues.
Even at my location, near 91st and Peoria Aves, with a Simulcast G site less than 2 air miles from me at the main PD station, reception of Glendale, El Mirage and Avondale, pretty much sucks from my main listening location, which is in my bedroom, where my PSR-500 sits on my nightstand. It's only marginally better elsewhere in the house.
Even driving in Glendale, reception of their transmissions is still hit or miss, mostly miss. Not having a vehicle mounted antenna probably doesn't help.
I really do wish all the cities in the West Valley utilized the White Tanks IR for at least their main dispatch channels. It would make listening to them so much easier.
 

KB7MIB

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As for MCSO, did you figure that out? I don't use any of the software packages, so I'm not familiar with them. There's no LCN as previously pointed out, and being a hybrid Type IIi Motorola system (not to be confused with P25 Phase 2, which is an entirely seperate kind of system), there is no fleet map, either. See if your software has a setting for either M36 or Type II, and set it to that if it isn't.
As I understand it, the county's Motorola radio system has a 3600 baud control channel, hence M36, but uses a mix of 3600 baud and 9600 baud voice channels. MCSO's main talkgroups are all 9600 baud, while most, but not all, of the other agencies use 3600 baud voice channels. The 3600 baud voice channels can be monitored on an analog scanner. The 9600 baud voice channels can only be monitored on a digital scanner.
 

rpgaun

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Even driving in Glendale, reception of their transmissions is still hit or miss, mostly miss. Not having a vehicle mounted antenna probably doesn't help.
.
I only monitor the RWC & MCSO in my vehicle and the antenna makes a very big difference. I've been thru many different configurations of mobile antennas over the past 3 years and have settled on the Wilson Dual Band Cell Antenna #301104. I find I have a stronger signal on the control channels and very little breakup on the transmissions unlike other antennas I have tried. The antenna is on an NMO Tram trunk lip mount located on the left side (driver) of the trunk.
 

KB7MIB

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As I listen to both VHF/UHF (FD, DPS, Luke AFB, BLM, AZG&F, Tonto NF in the Spring/Summer, interops, etc) as well as 700/800 MHz trunking, I'd need a more wideband antenna. Ideally, I'd like the Austin Spectrum antenna I believe it is. It may be a little unsightly due to the various closed traps on it, but it seems to be the best all-around mobile scanner antenna for all band coverage.
Either that, or multiple band specific antennas, including a Phantom antenna or two for 700/800 MHz, like the PD use, feeding into a multicoupler, then to the scanner(s).
 

rpgaun

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True, I have a different situation. I use my BC15 for all the UHF/VHF stuff with a Tram Dual Band antenna (Tram 1181 NMO VHF / UHF 144-170 / 430-470 MHz) which leaves the BC996XLT for all the trunking and other 800/700 stuff. In addition I have the Ham radio which is dual band so for that I'm using a OPEK VU-1509 (DB-2). Lastly I have the dedicated UHF mobile for the Highway Patrol which I use a 1/4 Wave UHF NMO 450-470 MHz
 

KB8TZX

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.
El Mirage uses Simulcast G.
Surprise uses Simulcast G and the White Tanks IR.
Avondale uses Simulcast G.
Buckeye uses Simulcast J, and (I think) the White Tanks IR.
(IR stands for Intelli-Repeater.)
Unless you're significantly closer to one specific simulcast site than any others, or you're using a directional Yagi pointed at the best (not necessarily the closest) site, you're going to have multi-path issues.
I was actually going to post asking about this; thank you for the information!

I am still trying to determine where the simulcast sites are to combat this as it is so extremely problematic for my setup (RTL-SDR/UniTrunker/DSD) that it's rather disappointing. I attempted to throw together a homemade yagi (of sorts, anyway, and it's probably ineffective at best) but I am not sure where I'm even pointing it.

Anyone had success with a yagi or attenuators on Simulcast G? If so, I would love to know before I sink any time into making a make more permanent solution only to find it won't work - and considering my setup with dual receivers, I figure it will double my expense.
 

KB7MIB

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The only Simulcast G site that I know for sure is 83rd Ave and Cinnabar, at the main Peoria PD station. I don't know where any El Mirage/Surprise area sites are located.
 

Phoenix805

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I'm pretty sure G also comes off the tower at the Peoria Water Treatment Plant at 75 Ave & Greenway if you're any closer to that one. I was thinking about trying to make a homemade yagi too, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. You gave me some inspiration, now I HAVE to try making one!
 

aensr

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The only Simulcast G site that I know for sure is 83rd Ave and Cinnabar, at the main Peoria PD station. I don't know where any El Mirage/Surprise area sites are located.
There is a Simulcast G Site at the Luke AFB Water Tank
 

SCPD

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As I listen to both VHF/UHF (FD, DPS, Luke AFB, BLM, AZG&F, Tonto NF in the Spring/Summer, interops, etc) as well as 700/800 MHz trunking, I'd need a more wideband antenna. Ideally, I'd like the Austin Spectrum antenna I believe it is. It may be a little unsightly due to the various closed traps on it, but it seems to be the best all-around mobile scanner antenna for all band coverage.
Either that, or multiple band specific antennas, including a Phantom antenna or two for 700/800 MHz, like the PD use, feeding into a multicoupler, then to the scanner(s).
Larsen has a mobile scanner antenna that is around 18" high. I've tried 2-3 different scanner antennas and settled on one of these. When I worked for the U.S. Forest Service we used the Larsen "WBQ" (I think this stands for "Wide Band Quotient") VHF high band antenna as our radios had frequencies from 151 to 174 in them. When I put a scanner in my USFS truck the radio tech added a second WBQ and it worked surprisingly well on 800 MHz and marginally for VHF low. Since I retired I found that the Larsen scanner antenna works better than the WBQ, especially for 800 MHz and on VHF low (still a bit marginal there). It also performs very well on UHF. I receive several mountain tops on the AZ DPS system when driving U.S. 93 both north and south of Kingman, such as the stretch in the Wikiup area.

I use the scanner antenna when I'm in the Phoenix area when I visit family a couple of times each year and it works well for the Yuma trunked system and Maricopa County system, however I can't tell how well it works on the RWC as I spend the majority of my time in northeast Scottsdale. I can only hear Thompson Peak from there and don't have any problem with multiple site reception. Of course I don't hear much either as Thompson carries very little traffic as compared with other sites. I'm not sure how well it would work further south. I've lived in small town, rural areas for so long that I don't like driving in metro areas much.

For listening to the natural resource agencies on VHF high (where most natural resource agencies are) such as the BLM, USFS, NPS, AZ DGF and San Carlos and White Mtn. Apache reservations, the Larsen scanner antenna is very good.
 
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KB8TZX

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As for MCSO, did you figure that out?
To answer your question, which in re-reading the thread I did not, I did get the issue with receiving the White Tanks site of the MCSO system without issue. I think I may have eluded to it in a post, but I'm not sure as my thoughts are probably scattered across several threads at this point. I just needed to restart the "receiver" in UniTrunker and it eventually grabbed all the system frequencies properly and was off and tracking in no time.

Sadly, my intended purpose for my SDR dongle setup has yet to be accomplished... monitoring MCSO was only part of my experimentation with the capabilities of my new "toy"... so I will informally end this thread as the initial reason for posting has been resolved. (I'll chronicle my other issues and solicit input in a new thread as I have had some great feedback and folks following the conversation).
 
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