Monitoring USAF freqs...

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Hello everybody! I'm a newbie here, just joined up a few hours ago...this is actually exciting for me. I had an old direct entry programmable scanner that was probably made around the time I was born, and I finally bit the bullet and bought a Uniden Bearcat BCD396T. Anyway, enough rambling and onto my question:

I live in Lompoc, California (in Santa Barbara County), and I am interested in monitoring Vandenberg AFB frequencies...well, launch countdowns, really. I was able to pick up the countdown net freq. on my old scanner up until about 6-8 months ago, but then it just sort of fell off the face of the Earth. I e-mailed scannermaster.com and they told me that Vandenberg was on a APCO-25 system and that I needed a digital scanner. After researching, I decided on the Bearcat 396.

Listening to Sheriff, fire, PD, EMT (the basic stuff) is a cakewalk, but I've been trying to get Vandenberg for the past 2 days now, and no luck. I found the page w/ Vandenberg frequencies here on the site, and I fgured out how to set it up to scan an APCO-25 system, and occasionally I'll get a (very broken) hit (mostly the base fire dept. I'm pretty sure). Basically I was just wondering if I'm doing something wrong, or if anybody has any pointers on where I should start.

Thanks

James
 

iMONITOR

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How far are you from the base? What band are they on? Are you using the stock antenna?
 

iMONITOR

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Wow! Thanks for the quick reply!



I'm less than a 5 minute drive outside of the main gate




386.0375 MHz is what I've been scanning. Like I said, I'm new at digital trunking systems, so I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for or not.




Yes, I sure am.

Is that the tower (control channel) frequency, or a voice channel?
 

nexus

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that sounds like one of the new federal government 380mhz apco25 trunking control channels.

He should program that in as P25 and set it to SEARCH instead of SCAN, so any active talkgroups that come up will be heard and displayed.
 
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that sounds like one of the new federal government 380mhz apco25 trunking control channels.

He should program that in as P25 and set it to SEARCH instead of SCAN, so any active talkgroups that come up will be heard and displayed.
I have it set to search. When I go to the screen to program it in as a P25 (at least I think I'm doing this right) it gives me the option of Auto, Manual, Default. I have it set on Auto.
 

nexus

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I have it set to search. When I go to the screen to program it in as a P25 (at least I think I'm doing this right) it gives me the option of Auto, Manual, Default. I have it set on Auto.

Step 1: Program System
Step 2: New System
Step 3: Select MOT for Motorola
Step 4: Select P25 then confirm Yes
Step 5: Select Set Frequencies
Step 6: New Frequency
Step 7: 386.0375 press yes button
Step 8: press menu button once to back out (button on side of radio)
Step 9: Select Edit Sys Option
Step 10: Select Scan/Search
Step 11: Select ID Search

Then just press MENU to back all the way out and you should be scanning that trunked system. It should already be setup in ID SEARCH

On your display it should say "System XX M" (xx being the number it assigned like System 10 or System 13)

And then ID SEARCH will be scrolling across, and below it should be the frequency 386.0375 with some signal strenght meter showing the signal. If you press HOLD it should show the freqency and SID: XXXX-XXXX for example: SID:2A01h-0002
if you don't see that, then you don't have the CONTROL CHANNEL frequency programmed in. If 386.0375 is a control channel, and you're in range you should see a signal on the meter at all times, another thing is when you are in ID SEARCH mode, if you don't see 386.0375 on the display at the same time, it means its not a control channel and you won't hear anything.
 
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So once I have this programmed, I should be able to hear every group on that frequency? From what I understand, countdown net is among the groups on there, but when I scroll through the Group ID's, I don't see them listed.
 

nexus

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So once I have this programmed, I should be able to hear every group on that frequency? From what I understand, countdown net is among the groups on there, but when I scroll through the Group ID's, I don't see them listed.
Correct, as long as you're in ID SEARCH mode and it has a signal on that freq any talkgroup that becomes active will be displayed on your radio and you'll hear the traffic.

Once you store a talkgroup id in your scanner, then you can change from ID SEARCH to ID SCAN and it'll only monitor what you have stored and ignore everything else.

It may just be that no one has identified "COUNT DOWN" yet.. Just leave it in search for a while and keep monitoring, looking for ID's that have not been posted on the database yet. You might end up being the one to discover it, and then you should add it to the database once you've determined it is what you think it is.
 

nexus

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Ok I went and looked it up for the first time now... According to this:
http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=3593

Vandenberg has 4 different sites so thats three different control channels. Go look at that link, the frequencies that are RED are control channels, they are the only ones you need to program in your scanner, you can ignore all the others. Vandenberg has these:

385.21250
385.06250
386.03750
386.05000
 

northzone

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When I was going to Cal Poly, I use to listen to the VAFB countdowns on the local ham repeaters. Made it easy, didn't need to trunk or even be in range of the base.
 
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When I was going to Cal Poly, I use to listen to the VAFB countdowns on the local ham repeaters. Made it easy, didn't need to trunk or even be in range of the base.
Really, really stupid question here...but how do I access the HAM repeaters with my scanner? Like I said, I'm new at this...lol.

Minuteman launch on 13 Aug., so I'll get to test this thing out. WOO-HOO!
 
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For the past week I've been working on this and I've got hits on 23 different groups and identified only 6 of them (using this site). I did manage to ID the countdown group (45016), so I was pretty happy about that. I don't know whether it's encryption or my antenna just sucks, but I'm still getting very broken transmissions.

EDIT: I switched the modulation over from "Auto" to "FM" and now I'm picking up everything 95% crystal clear :)
 
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LEH

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Hello Friends:
What scanners are you dudes using...?:)
Rafael,

I believe he said he was using a Uniden 396. The PSR 500 (GRE) will also scan that system (along with the 996 or 600 [Uniden's and GRE's mobile versus handhelds]).


TomcatFanatic123,

That is a good catch. Though the 396 hasn't been out all that long, MILAIR used to reach to the 399 MHz AM and it could be that the design of the 396 is old enough it still has the 380 MHz range marked for AM rather than FM in the AUTO mode. Looking at the manual (p 10 of the version I could find quickly on the drive) says that up to 399 is AM.
 

reconrider8

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will a bct-15 do that? i had it setup onetime with my old antenna but i never heard anything like the id search and it show that stuff but then again i never really played around with to much trunked stuff
 

LEH

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will a bct-15 do that? i had it setup onetime with my old antenna but i never heard anything like the id search and it show that stuff but then again i never really played around with to much trunked stuff
Well the 15 might be able to trunk track the system, but it will not be able to provide any audio. All these new 380 MHz systems are P25 (read digital) and the 15 is not.
 

ka3jjz

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Yes, the BCT15 covers Milair, no problem. The only thing it will not do is trunk the 380 mhz P25 systems that are showing up in that band, as the 15 doesn't do digital, but otherwise it should work just fine.

73 Mike
 
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