Mobile Scanner Setup

BroadOne

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Wanted to make a general post of my scanner setup so far, as well as a few things I've found and some questions since I've started scanning (questions at the bottom). Most of it is just how I have it set up, why it's that way, and see if there's anything I can learn or do differently if there's feedback.

Hardware/Software: Larsen NMO150/450/758 trunk-mounted antenna. RG85U to the passenger side, which plugs into an SDS-100. The SDS-100 goes to a Panasonic CF-19 Laptop which runs ProScan software and logs channels/tone outs/etc and is how I mainly keep track of information and record things, I'm aware of a few other methods I looked into, but I personally prefer this way of logging the data. I use Sentinel Software as well of course for the main programming/setup of changing attributes of the frequencies/database imports, display UI, however, I prefer ProScan for editing my favorites list, visual, audio tones, details, etc.

Audio: The SDS is also connected to a side-mounted Bearcat BC23A amplified external speaker. The reason I chose this speaker was because I heard pretty decent things about it via this forum as well as I found a few posts regarding the automatic off function, and the dB gain on the speaker. I looked into it and wondered if someone could do both modifications together. Found a company called NightFire Electronics, LLC, Ocala, FL, which agreed to apply both modifications to the radio as I don't have any experience soldering and there's not a single company in my town that wanted to take on a "modification" project even though it was extremely simple, guessing it's because of liability. Anyways huge thanks to them, that speaker is now running in my car with the modifications applied from said posts, so if anyone ever wondered if you could do both, it works. The audio of the speaker can be heard over general vehicle noise, including phone calls, music through car speakers, etc. It is very, very loud. The speaker itself is at full volume so I can control it from the SDS-100 knob, and often times, it's so loud that I usually keep it at 10 or so, (SDS goes to 15). Very happy with it.

Area: As for what I'm actually scanning, I've done research into what's around me in conjunction with a radius finder, (Okaloosa, Florida) which I made an overlay for on a map of my general area to better see what is realistically in my range (circle of 50 miles). More realistically of course, 20-30 miles on average, 50 being the max. Then just looked across RR and the main database to see what was within said area.
Radius.PNG
So using that, I have 3 systems that I scan, about 90 freqs total. I have a 5s hold and 0ms digital waiting time for each system, with further 5s holds on all channels. The reason for that is I was told that high delays and low wait would make sure that I wouldn't miss transmissions and things wouldn't get clipped at the start. I perceived it to be a "sweet spot" sorta. And 5s channel holds because I've noticed that's typically how long it takes for replies during "situations". Usually if no one responds to the last message after that, no one responds at all until the next "situation". Open to feedback of course.

Not gonna list all of them cause it's like over 90 frequencies and various departments, (unless people want me to in which case I'll DM), but some of the sources for how I've gone about compiling my frequencies for the Okaloosa county area are as follows:

UI:
1684041245294.png
The 2 black boxes are graph displays for RSSI and light up in green, but I've been told that it's better to focus on noise anyways. Still not quite sure as to what a "normal" noise level is for most radios. REC indicators pop up on the red line and CTSS is displayed in the top right when applicable. Lower Batt/Noise are colored in white, it just doesn't show here. Reasons for the display are 1. I find it visually pleasing especially because most of my time scanning (mobile setup), is spent at night, either parked or driving, also I have ADHD and the way I set it up helps me focus better on important things when I am looking. And 2, I've arranged it based on things I personally want to see, such as the TGID/Freq/Vol/SQL/CTSS/RSSI/Noise, etc.

Filters: One thing which was pretty big for me was changing the filter settings I had For the SDS I had the global auto filter on "Normal", and I saw a recommendation on a post saying to change them and see what works, (there are so many RR posts about the SDS filters alone), and "Wide Normal" worked better than "Normal". But, this might sound weird, turning Global filters to "Off" gave me the most noticeable improvement in reception and quality of the signal. Signals weren't getting clipped or dropped as much after I changed the filter settings. I've been playing with them still and watching the noise level/RSSI to try and see what is/isn't working. But changing them 100% had a noticeable effect. "Off" is my current go-to setting. With Wide-Normal being 2nd best. I think my next plan is to leave them globally off, and go through frequencies to apply filters individually and monitor the results.

My primary focus after getting it all set up and channels sorted, has been trying to better understand the areas said signals are coming from, learning where the repeaters are located, as well as monitoring noise/RSSI levels, just generally watching the signal strength.

The only questions I can think of are,

1. Besides antenna placement, and coax, do people ever use signal amplifiers? I think I read somewhere that they don't really work too efficiently with the SDS series. I feel like they would just increase the noise along with the signal in some cases?

2. After scanning for a bit so I can take a look at what I have around me and say "Ok this is what I'll be scanning". I can safely say that out of the 100 or so frequencies I scan, the public safety sections operate at, (lowest - highest), 453 - 468 | Air Traffic at 121 - 390. | HAM operations at 144 - 444). So safe to say, if I understand correctly, that most of what I'm scanning is known as the 2m and 70cm bands, which, if I understand correctly, is also known as strictly VHF/UHF. So basically, the red area is what I'm primarily scanning?
Freq.png

And for reference, the signals I get, I can hear what's being said, and it doesn't seem like the noise is unusual for it being a radio and all. Across all channels, the RSSI is pretty much a fluctuation between -90 and -120 at worst. A lot of the -120 hits are from faraway repeaters or Air Traffic. Anything -60 to -90 is typically local dispatch, like I-can-drive-to-their-front-door-in-1-minute distance. Or Ham repeaters. The only thing is that sometimes, the transmissions are cut a bit regardless of the RSSI. I'm not sure how else to explain it.

So normal transmission, low noise, good signal/quality:
Noremal.png
The transmissions in question sometimes come across like this:
Broken up.png
That's probably putting it generously, it's way more broken up usually.

So all that to say, 3. currently I have a Triple Band Mobile Antenna, the Larsen of course. And I was told that since the NMO mount is already applied, the actual antennas (compatible ones) could be switched in and out. So I'm wondering, if I were to focus instead on a dual band, high gain, perhaps lengthier, etc. Would this make a noticeable impact on consistency/quality of the signals of which I'm currently scanning? I'm wondering how big a difference height actually makes just between different antenna. But then I guess you have to play compromise with length versus looking incredibly impractical. Or maybe performance/looks.

I should add, since I changed the filter settings, consistency and clarity immediately noticeably increased, less breaks in transmissions. Over the course of another week or so, I'll probably have a better idea of my consistent noise levels in reference to RSSI as well as effects of everything including those 2 factors from the new filter settings, and I still need to learn about a few settings that I know are useful and I should probably be using like Discovery/Analyze but don't fully understand yet.

Overall, extremely happy with the setup and I'm having a ton of fun. Everyone has pretty much answered any questions I had previously and anything else I was able to find here across the forums especially where the SDS itself was concerned. But I'd still like to ask the question about different antennas. Mainly as well just a general inquiry on lowering noise level and improving consistency/reception. Just like, what can I further do to make it the best it could be in my specific use case, money and time not being a factor/issue.
 
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trentbob

W3BUX- Bucks County, PA
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Wanted to make a general post of my scanner setup so far, as well as a few things I've found and some questions since I've started scanning (questions at the bottom). Most of it is just how I have it set up, why it's that way, and see if there's anything I...
Well so many things to address here, not sure of how much of the help I can be with a lot of your setup but I will say this, I am a very true believer and always have been of the KISS principal, that was a term often used in the military, if you're not familiar just look it up LOL. That principle certainly is not being applied here hahaha.

You happen to have a perfect antenna for your application, as we talked about in the thread where you made the decision to get the Larson tri-band. So I'd stick with what you have.

I think you meant RG58 coax and as I said even though it's lossy a short run like you have is fine.

A couple of things that don't make sense to me but I will say we had a saying in The Newsroom. The more you listen to, the less you hear, you don't want to miss a bank robbery down the street because you're listening to a car stop in the next County, you should limit what you listen to very few things, the essentials, you can always expand your focus of your coverage with quick keys if something goes down or there's a major event.

Nothing should be clipped, you shouldn't be missing anything, if the radio is programmed properly and you're getting clipped transmissions or missing them all together something's wrong. I'm going to try to make this brief but you say you adjusted Global filter to wide normal and then found that no filter at all worked best. Global filter should only be used to sample a filter on a specific system or a specific conventional frequency using real-time reception results. Global filters affect every object on the radio and what works great for one system or frequency may ruin the reception on another object as you have set the same filter for every object on the radio. The filter settings are different for every object. Global filters is just a quick way to ascertain the best filter for one particular object and then you return it to normal or default as every object doesn't have to have a filter set on it, it already does.. normal.

Filters are applied directly to the sites of a system and you will see that as an option to apply a filter to the sites of a system in filter settings of a site and now you will have that particular filter or no filter at all on just that one system, not globally to every object on the radio.

Same with conventional frequencies, after finding the most optimal filter using Global filters and real-time results of reception indicators and then returning Global filters to normal you go into department options of a particular group of conventional objects and apply the filter there so it only affects that group of conventional objects not globally to every object on the radio. Avoid Auto filters as they sample every filter and slow scanning down. You can also put the filter indicator on your display so you will be able to see all the different filters you've applied on systems and conventional objects. One doesn't fit all, each is going to have their own choice even if it's just normal filter which is default on global filters. Filters are for troubleshooting, every system and object doesn't have to have any other filter than the default normal filter which is applied globally unless you go in and manually change it.

Now here's something else that I don't understand that you're doing and I can't possibly see how your radio is working well at all but did you say that you put a system hold time of 5 Seconds on your systems, I'm not talking about holding on a talk group I'm talking about system hold time in system options, I may have misunderstood but I think you said you put a 5-second hold on every talk group also, they're not frequencies they're talk groups in the system. Have you also put a 5-second hold on conventional frequencies? I didn't get any of that and as far as digital waiting time just go with the default that came with the radio, I definitely wouldn't change that. There are situations you can change that but.. I'm not real clear on what you did there but if you're sitting on every talk group or conventional item for 5 seconds and a system is holding for 5 seconds before moving on I just don't see how that could work.

As I say when setting up your favorites list.. perhaps one for each County with a quick key and only listening to one at a time, the county that you're in and maybe a favorites list for for state agencies, maybe one for infrequently used conventional items.

On the county favorites list you should really only have a handful of talk groups for each County. Whatever is local to where you are, police dispatch, fire dispatch, car to car, fire Ops.

State Police should just be the local troop cars in your area. Same goes for the sites you are using, only local.

I throw my100 the cup holder attaching my Larson tri-band and off I go listening to just the most pertinent stuff for the area I'm driving in.

Besides Public Service stuff I live by the water so I do have the Coast Guard frequencies that I monitor and we have three news choppers that each have their own news desk and I listen to them in addition to the choppers on air-to-air aviation frequencies. Of course I always listen to guard. This time of year now I'm also listening to the New Jersey state police Marine dispatch that covers my area.
 

BroadOne

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Joined
Apr 19, 2023
Messages
38
I run 4 handhelds in my car using a stridsberg 4 channel
1. SDS100
2. 436HP
3. 326P2
4. TRX-1
That sounds awesome, I haven't looked into multiple scanner setups yet so I don't know much of the technical aspects but it basically takes 1 signal and distributes it right? Is there signal loss that goes along with doing that? Also what antenna do you have?
 

BroadOne

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Messages
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@trentbob I looked it up.. I'm bad with KISS lol. Thanks though, very helpful for me to understand the filters more, I'm definitely going to see what works for sites to the systems as you mentioned. As for the "system holds" I was talking about. I'm not sure how to explain it in a technically correct way. So basically, 3 systems, with a bunch of departments, and the departments have bunch of frequencies. The scanner holds on a system for like 5s and I can see it switching between all the departments. Then if it detects traffic, it brings up that channel of course, and there is a 5 second delay from a last transmission. It stays on the channel for 5s after someone keys their mic and finishes a transmission. Also for all the channels, I don't have it just randomly cycling through all 90 probably should've mentioned. I use the hold functions to just scan 1 system at a time. Like the Emergency System is 40 channels or so. I have departments like City 1, City 2, County EMS, and County Sheriff. And I'll let it cycle between those. Meanwhile I will not be scanning the other 2 systems. And when I pick up something interesting like a car chase on the Sherrif net, I'll hold on that department and have it cycle the frequencies, not listening to any other departments anymore during that time. Maybe that sounds more correct? .-. And for antenna, even without buying anything I've been trying to learn more about what any of the specs even mean. Like it's so weird seeing some of the same stuff for different antenna and yet they're all different lengths and prices, etc. I've been wanting to understand more about the "why" to them. But for the scanner, it would probably help for me to provide a proper video/audio sample, or consistent noise/RSSI level but I definitely want to experiment with the filters before I do anything else that could change anything. My plan is to trial and error with the filters and see what works best for each object individually. And while I'm doing that, I plan on monitoring and making proper documentation of the RSSI and Noise levels. Along with a small audio sample of what I get on my end.
 
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buddrousa

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My stridsberg has no loss it is powered with a amp. Several people here have made do it yourself setups I did for awhile but swapped to a stridsberg and have never looked back as my setup works better than my homemade setup.
 

mmckenna

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And for antenna, even without buying anything I've been trying to learn more about what any of the specs even mean. Like it's so weird seeing some of the same stuff for different antenna and yet they're all different lengths and prices, etc.

Antenna performance is controlled by physics. The people who make antennas know this.

The people who make antennas for hobbyists also know that there's a lot of options out there, and to get their product to look better than everyone else's, they need to make it stand out.
Since they cannot change the science behind how antennas work, they will sometimes switch to outright lies, twisting the truth, or make it so confusing that no one can make sense of it.

There's also a ton of legit science behind how they work, and it goes beyond the simple 'gain' numbers. You'd need to look at radiation patterns as well.

The Larsen you have is a pretty good all around antenna. Larsen is also a big company that markets mainly to public safety/commercial radio users. They don't play the games with marketing hype (lies) like some other hobby oriented brands do. You can generally trust their specs.

When comparing antennas, one of the biggest issues I've seen is the amount of advice you'll get from others. I know, we all provide advice. The issue is when someone tells you how wonderful their specific chosen antenna is and how much better it is than all the others. Rarely do you see them provide any proof or measurable comparison to other antennas. Often you will find that it is the only antenna they've ever had and they are convinced it is the "best" because it's the one they have.

Choosing antennas is a complex thing, and there's a lot to it. You can spend a lot of money on scanner antennas fairly easily. What it really comes down to is what works for you in your specific/exact application. Comparing apples to oranges isn't going to work out, especially when some companies will try to convince you that their lemon antenna is actually an orange.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

As for running an antenna preamplifier in your car, I'd approach that with a lot of caution. Unless set up right, the amplifier will amplify everything, even things you don't want. My concern would be:
-RF interference created by your vehicle (they all do it)
-RF interference created by other vehicles around you (they all do it, too)
-Strong nearby signals. Parking too close to a cellular site, broadcast station, LED sign, etc
-Something simple like a cheap USB charger in your car or a nearby car can wipe things out.

Adding amplifiers can sometimes require adding additional external filters to keep strong out of band signals from screwing things up. That can get expensive and it may still not fix the issue. It might be something you can try, but it will be a gamble. All part of the hobby.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Public safety radio systems are usually designed for a specific level of hand held or mobile radio coverage within their area of operation. There's no value in trying to cover areas outside of it. It gets costly.

Public safety radio systems are also not designed for the convenience of scanner listeners, so once you get outside their jurisdiction, all bets are off.

The frequencies involved are generally line of sight, so once you get over the horizon from the transmitter site, no amount of antenna or amplifier will make it work. To get more range, you would need to increase the height of your antenna. That's not really an option in a mobile application.
However, it does sound like your setup is working well.

The periodic dropouts of the signal can be caused by a number of things. I don't think its 'picket fencing', as that would happen when you are moving, and it is usually pretty fast.
Sounds more like a setting in the scanner. Since I don't own one of those, I'm not sure what settings would be causing it. It sort of sounds like the priority scan function that is on most higher end LMR radios. It would be a very precisely timed "lookback" at another channel, not random timing.

Also, don't rule out possible noise sources inside the vehicle. The Toughbook should be pretty safe as those are used a lot in mobile applications. I'd look closely at any add on electrical devices, especially USB chargers. Try unplugging things one at a time and see if it goes away.
 

BroadOne

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Messages
38
Antenna performance is controlled by physics. The people who make antennas know this.

The people who make antennas for hobbyists also know that there's a lot of options out there, and to get their product to look better than everyone else's, they need to make it stand out.
Since they cannot change the science behind how antennas work, they will sometimes switch to outright lies, twisting the truth, or make it so confusing that no one can make sense of it.

There's also a ton of legit science behind how they work, and it goes beyond the simple 'gain' numbers. You'd need to look at radiation patterns as well.

The Larsen you have is a pretty good all around antenna. Larsen is also a big company that markets mainly to public safety/commercial radio users. They don't play the games with marketing hype (lies) like some other hobby oriented brands do. You can generally trust their specs.

When comparing antennas, one of the biggest issues I've seen is the amount of advice you'll get from others. I know, we all provide advice. The issue is when someone tells you how wonderful their specific chosen antenna is and how much better it is than all the others. Rarely do you see them provide any proof or measurable comparison to other antennas. Often you will find that it is the only antenna they've ever had and they are convinced it is the "best" because it's the one they have.

Choosing antennas is a complex thing, and there's a lot to it. You can spend a lot of money on scanner antennas fairly easily. What it really comes down to is what works for you in your specific/exact application. Comparing apples to oranges isn't going to work out, especially when some companies will try to convince you that their lemon antenna is actually an orange.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

As for running an antenna preamplifier in your car, I'd approach that with a lot of caution. Unless set up right, the amplifier will amplify everything, even things you don't want. My concern would be:
-RF interference created by your vehicle (they all do it)
-RF interference created by other vehicles around you (they all do it, too)
-Strong nearby signals. Parking too close to a cellular site, broadcast station, LED sign, etc
-Something simple like a cheap USB charger in your car or a nearby car can wipe things out.

Adding amplifiers can sometimes require adding additional external filters to keep strong out of band signals from screwing things up. That can get expensive and it may still not fix the issue. It might be something you can try, but it will be a gamble. All part of the hobby.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Public safety radio systems are usually designed for a specific level of hand held or mobile radio coverage within their area of operation. There's no value in trying to cover areas outside of it. It gets costly.

Public safety radio systems are also not designed for the convenience of scanner listeners, so once you get outside their jurisdiction, all bets are off.

The frequencies involved are generally line of sight, so once you get over the horizon from the transmitter site, no amount of antenna or amplifier will make it work. To get more range, you would need to increase the height of your antenna. That's not really an option in a mobile application.
However, it does sound like your setup is working well.

The periodic dropouts of the signal can be caused by a number of things. I don't think its 'picket fencing', as that would happen when you are moving, and it is usually pretty fast.
Sounds more like a setting in the scanner. Since I don't own one of those, I'm not sure what settings would be causing it. It sort of sounds like the priority scan function that is on most higher end LMR radios. It would be a very precisely timed "lookback" at another channel, not random timing.

Also, don't rule out possible noise sources inside the vehicle. The Toughbook should be pretty safe as those are used a lot in mobile applications. I'd look closely at any add on electrical devices, especially USB chargers. Try unplugging things one at a time and see if it goes away.
Got it, I appreciate it, I'll definitely try focusing on any extra devices/USBs I have. I plan to work with the filters as well and I'll probably update this with a sound sample once I have proper consistency and if it keeps happening. But overall it has been working well.
 

trentbob

W3BUX- Bucks County, PA
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Messages
5,922
@BroadOne, very sage advice from @mmckenna as always. In the thread where you made your decision to drill a hole and you picked the antenna you have, we spoke of this. He picked another antenna for his fleet because he liked the seal on the mount but he approved of your choice of antenna and has used it. It's a professional antenna. You don't need any preamp.

He's correct about so many brands out there whether they be cheap Chinese crap on Amazon or professional high grade antennas that transmit as well as receive, some costing half the price of others as we saw in our comparisons, yet still all professional antennas. It's true that a professional antenna maker is going to back up their claims and have an obligation to deliver because of their status of being professional.

Remember I brought out that you're only listening, you're not transmitting. You have much more latitude of coverage as you are listening only. When transmitting you pretty much have to be right on as far as frequency coverage of an antenna.

When it comes to your antenna you don't need any other for your application, listening only, using the sds100, you're covered and you did.. wait for it.. drill the darn hole😆😆😆.

Don't overthink this.😉, you have a nice setup, you've done a lot of work on. Work with what you have now, let's get your programming right so yeah you get the optimal performance, the ingredients for that are all in place already.
 

BroadOne

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Joined
Apr 19, 2023
Messages
38
@BroadOne, very sage advice from @mmckenna as always. In the thread where you made your decision to drill a hole and you picked the antenna you have, we spoke of this. He picked another antenna for his fleet because he liked the seal on the mount but he approved of your choice of antenna and has used it. It's a professional antenna. You don't need any preamp.

He's correct about so many brands out there whether they be cheap Chinese crap on Amazon or professional high grade antennas that transmit as well as receive, some costing half the price of others as we saw in our comparisons, yet still all professional antennas. It's true that a professional antenna maker is going to back up their claims and have an obligation to deliver because of their status of being professional.

Remember I brought out that you're only listening, you're not transmitting. You have much more latitude of coverage as you are listening only. When transmitting you pretty much have to be right on as far as frequency coverage of an antenna.

When it comes to your antenna you don't need any other for your application, listening only, using the sds100, you're covered and you did.. wait for it.. drill the darn hole😆😆😆.

Don't overthink this.😉, you have a nice setup, you've done a lot of work on. Work with what you have now, let's get your programming right so yeah you get the optimal performance, the ingredients for that are all in place already.
I really appreciate it, and I'll be spending the next few days monitoring channels and testing the filters individually. Once I think it's consistent, I'll note the noise/RSSI and include an audio sample here or a few with my findings.
 

mmckenna

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This was a very informative and concise question. Props to the OP. I wish more questions were formatted like this.(y)

What? As opposed to the posts where someone says "My radio doesn't work, what's wrong with it?" and expects a full diagnosis without knowing what system they are trying to listen to, what kind of radio, and wether or not the user understands anything about radios?
Not that it ever happens on this site….
 

BroadOne

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Joined
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Messages
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This was a very informative and concise question. Props to the OP. I wish more questions were formatted like this.(y)
I get you're being sarcastic lol but the goal of the post is not to ask 1 question. 2/3rd of the post is just the setup I used for context with 3 actual questions at the bottom. (Which is stated in the post itself at the top) which means there's nothing stopping anyone from ignoring the setup and scrolling to the questions which are clearly labeled 1-3 in bold.

For me it's more important that people understand what I know, in conjunction with the questions, because if people assume I know things I don't, it'll ironically lead to asking more questions than answers.

Or when Trent explained that he was confused about the way I said something, I realized I needed to explain how I was actually using the setup using the correct terminology and I had to look it up. So stuff like this helps me learn how to ask more concise questions in the future. Past never touching a radio until like 2w ago, and my ADHD, I'd say this is probably the mild version compared to what the post could've been lol. But when making the posts for questions, Id rather have too much/more info than needed than not enough. In this case the people that wanted to sort through it and attempt to answer, did. And those that didn't, didn't. All of the questions I was looking to have answered got answered, I don't think it's a world ending problem lol.
 
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trentbob

W3BUX- Bucks County, PA
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5,922
I get you're being sarcastic lol but the goal of the post is not to ask 1 question. 2/3rd of the post is just the setup I used for context with 3 actual questions at the bottom. (Which is stated in the post itself at the top) which means there's nothing stopping anyone from ignoring the setup and scrolling to the questions which are clearly labeled 1-3 in bold.

For me it's more important that people understand what I know, in conjunction with the questions, because if people assume I know things I don't, it'll ironically lead to asking more questions than answers.

Or when Trent explained that he was confused about the way I said something, I realized I needed to explain how I was actually using the setup using the correct terminology and I had to look it up. So stuff like this helps me learn how to ask more concise questions in the future. Past never touching a radio until like 2w ago, and my ADHD, I'd say this is probably the mild version compared to what the post could've been lol. But when making the posts for questions, Id rather have too much/more info than needed than not enough. In this case the people that wanted to sort through it and attempt to answer, did. And those that didn't, didn't. All of the questions I was looking to have answered got answered, I don't think it's a world ending problem lol.
Actually I think post #14 was genuine and not meant to be sarcastic.. Bob😉.
 

BroadOne

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Actually I think post #14 was genuine and not meant to be sarcastic.. Bob😉.
Ah, maybe I've been online too long lol. I've been told multiple times by multiple people that it's too much information in my posts and obnoxious. Perks of the Reddit Radio Experience lmao. Didn't come off that way which if so, I'm embarrassed and my apologies to tunnel ♡ Also side note, I have proper readouts from the Noise/RSSI levels, just working on formatting then into a proper post.
 
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