BCD325P2: Need help with a BCD325P2

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Goldeagle222

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So first off I am new to all of this so bear with me. I have managed to get the different departments and cities around me all programed to my scanner. My only problem is the signal isn't strong enough, I can't even pick up traffic from the town that live in nor the major city next to me. The only type of message or code I am getting is when it says finding control channel. I don't know what this means or if this is my problem.

Any help is appreciated, again i'm new to all this so please go easy on me.
Thanks
 

hiegtx

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So first off I am new to all of this so bear with me. I have managed to get the different departments and cities around me all programed to my scanner. My only problem is the signal isn't strong enough, I can't even pick up traffic from the town that live in nor the major city next to me. The only type of message or code I am getting is when it says finding control channel. I don't know what this means or if this is my problem.

Any help is appreciated, again i'm new to all this so please go easy on me.
Thanks
Hi Goldeagle

Welcome to RadioReference.

The message "finding control channel" indicates that for the trunked system you are trying to scan, the scanner is not receiving the control channel in use at that time. This could be from a poor signal (which you already mentioned), or because you do not have the current control channel programmed (or it was inadvertently locked out).

In order for anyone to give you a more complete answer, please provide your location. City (or county) and state is sufficient. Also, please provide the name (or even better, the database link) for the system you are trying to monitor. The fact that you cannot hear the town you are living in could be because you have the wrong site(s) programmed, or terrain (and/or) distance from the site makes reception poor. If, for instance, you are in a low area, and the site is behind a hill or other obstruction from your location, you may not get a good enough signal.

Which antenna are you using? The stock antenna that came with the scanner, or a different one, either on the 325P2 itself or an external antenna.
 

Goldeagle222

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Hey Steve,
Thank you for your quick response! I live in North Carolina more specifically, Concord which is located in Cabarrus County. I am trying to listen to my Cities' radio traffic and all the other towns in the county as well as Charlotte located in Mecklenburg County. So if I understand this correctly this system which is named Charlotte UASI Region has the frequencies I need (and have) which are the Mecklenburg and Cabarrus simulcast. Here's the link https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=6561 I believe I am connected to all the right control channels so the connection would be the problem I think. So I just need to connect to a different repeater?

As for my antenna I am just using the stock one.

Thank you for your patience and help.
 

hiegtx

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Hey Steve,
Thank you for your quick response! I live in North Carolina more specifically, Concord which is located in Cabarrus County. I am trying to listen to my Cities' radio traffic and all the other towns in the county as well as Charlotte located in Mecklenburg County. So if I understand this correctly this system which is named Charlotte UASI Region has the frequencies I need (and have) which are the Mecklenburg and Cabarrus simulcast. Here's the link https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=6561 I believe I am connected to all the right control channels so the connection would be the problem I think. So I just need to connect to a different repeater?

As for my antenna I am just using the stock one.

Thank you for your patience and help.
If you are using only the stock antenna, your reception on 800MHz (the trunked system you linked is in that band) would be improved with a better antenna. One recommended antenna, the Radio Shack 800MHz antenna, is practically unavailable with the recent bankruptcy of Radio Shack and most, if not all, of the stores being closed out.

However, that same antenna, now made by Remtronix, is available from other sources: Amazon, ScannerMaster, and Universal Radio are among the sources. (You need the BNC version if ordering from Universal). That would give you better coverage in the bands used by the Charlotte UASI Region system. It also does well on Uhf, and fair on Vhf. I use this antenna on my 325P2, and can copy the local systems of interest (some of which are Vhf) with no problems.

How did you program your scanner? Via software? If so, which program. By hand, through the keyboard?

The site for your county, Cabarrus, follows the pattern from the rebanding done a few years ago. When you programmed the system, did you enter and use the custom tables required? If not, then your reception of that site will be sporadic. Also, the site in your county is Simulcast, which can cause problems as well. See Simulcast digital distortion - The RadioReference Wiki

First, I would make sure that the custom tables are entered for the site in your county, and are set to be used. You can see more on that here: Easier to Read BCD325P2 Digital Scanner Manual

You are mentioning poor signal strength. Are you seeing a low signal in the indicator on the display, only one or two bars, if any? Or are you thinking low signal since reception is poor (you have indications of a strong signal, i.e. multiple bars, on the display, but poor reception). If the second one is the case, that could be the simulcast distortion indicated above.
 

Goldeagle222

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Not really trying to buy a better antenna but if that's what it takes I definitely will. It was some software, of course I can't remember the name. It was done a couple months ago and I am pretty sure everything was entered correctly as far as the custom tables required, but I will try and find the name of the program. The signal bar shows the signal fluctuating quickly and then it keeps flashing the finding control channel. So if all the frequencies and control channels were entered correctly then all i would need to do it find a way to connect my scanner to a different repeater right?

Thanks
 

hiegtx

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Not really trying to buy a better antenna but if that's what it takes I definitely will. It was some software, of course I can't remember the name. It was done a couple months ago and I am pretty sure everything was entered correctly as far as the custom tables required, but I will try and find the name of the program. The signal bar shows the signal fluctuating quickly and then it keeps flashing the finding control channel. So if all the frequencies and control channels were entered correctly then all i would need to do it find a way to connect my scanner to a different repeater right?

Thanks
I suspect that you have either the wrong site programmed for your city/county, or one of the control channels is missing. If you entered only the listed control channels (in the database), then it's possible that the current one was omitted, or maybe the control channel{s) on that site have changed.

Besides verifying that the custom band plan was entered, and the site is configured to use it, I would suggest that you make sure that all of the listed frequencies for the site are entered. That would take care of making sure you have the control channel entered as long as they are not using a frequency not shown in the database. Yes, the scanner only needs the control channels, but since you are getting "finding control channel" either you have the wrong site entered, or else a control channel being used is not entered.

The three software packages that can be used to program the 325P2 are FreeSCAN, ProScan, and ARC-XT. If you can determine which one was used for programming, attach the programming file to a post. You would need to either zip the file with WinZip or another file utility in order for the attachment to upload. Or, alternatively, you can change the name before uploading. For example, let's say that FreeSCAN was the program used. FreeSCAN files have the extension *.996. If your file was named "MyFile.996", you can either rename that "MyFile.txt" or "MyFile.996.txt" in order to upload it on a post.

If you cannot determine the original software used, download FreeSCAN here & install it on your pc. Once you have it installed, connect the scanner to your pc & use FreeSCAN to 'read' the scanner. Save the resulting file & attach it to a post. That way, someone can look at it & see if anything appears wrong. Often, it's a simple omission or entry error, easy to spot & correct. FreeSCAN can program the system that os being discussed, but was not updated to use for DMR systems. ProScan and ARC-XT can be used for DMR as well as systems such as the one you are trying to fix.

If the original software was ARC-XT, go ahead & attach the file. I do not have that software installed (I use FreeSCAN & ProScan), but other members have the ARC software and one of them can look at your file.
 

Goldeagle222

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Okay so here's where the newbie part starts. How do i get the program to read the scanner? I think i've gotten it to upload if that's what your suppose to do but nothing shows up. It does give me an error code saying Caution: possible issue sending bandplan and unable to set WX. I am assuming something is supposed to show up when I upload the system to freeSCAN. Would an option be to use freeSCAN or ProSCAN or ARC-XT to just start over and make sure I have all of the right control channels and everything? Just because its been awhile since i've done it and maybe stuff has changed.
 

hiegtx

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Okay so here's where the newbie part starts. How do i get the program to read the scanner? I think i've gotten it to upload if that's what your suppose to do but nothing shows up. It does give me an error code saying Caution: possible issue sending bandplan and unable to set WX. I am assuming something is supposed to show up when I upload the system to freeSCAN. Would an option be to use freeSCAN or ProSCAN or ARC-XT to just start over and make sure I have all of the right control channels and everything? Just because its been awhile since i've done it and maybe stuff has changed.
Let me first correct one thing. In looking at your system of interest, https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=6561, I was thinking that it was a system that might require the band plan for the site in your county. That is incorrect. The system is a P25 Phase I system, so the band plan information would be provided to the scanner via the data on the control channel. It would not have to be entered separately. Sorry for the confusion on my part. So the issue you are having, poor signal and the 'finding control channel' message indicates either the wrong site programmed, or the active control channel is missing. Looking at the map of the sites for your county's simulcast site, https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?action=siteFCCMap&siteId=20659 , I doubt that you are too far away for reception. While Simulcast Distortion can be a problem, it looks like your city is close enough to one of the sites that the scanner should at least be hearing the control channel.

With the scanner turned on, plug the pc cable into the scanner and your computer. You likely will hear a slight "thump" sound as the scanner connects.

Start FreeSCAN.
Click on the "Start Virtual Control" icon. That is the one that resembles a scanner, the item farthest right, just under the 'View' drop down menu on the top of the screen.
In the Virtual Control window, select the item "Com Port Setup".
At the next screen, select "Start Auto".
FreeSCAN will then find the Com port your PC assigned to the scanner.
Once it connects, it will indicate the port being used, and show "Found BCD325P2" under status.

Now, select the Scanner drop down menu at the top of the screen.
From the menu that pulls down, select Download Programming.
That will generate another pop-up window, labeled 'Things you can do'
Click on the "Queue Systems List' button
That will read all the systems you have on the scanner, and they will show in the window.
Click on Check All
Then select Start Download

That will pull your systems from the scanner into FreeSCAN.
You can ignore the generic error messages about WX (weather) and bandplan.

Now, select the File drop-down menu, then "Save as"
Give your file a name, and save it to your computer. Be sure to note where it is being saved.

With the file saved, use Windows Explorer to go to the place it was saved.
Rename your file as was noted in my previous post, or create a zipped (compressed) copy, using a file utility such as the free 7-Zip.

You can now attach the file to a post.

The use guide for FreeSCAN is in the Wiki on RadioReference.
FreeScan User Guide - The RadioReference Wiki

You can also download ProScan here and use it for a thirty day free trial. After that, you would need to either purchase a license for the program ($50.00 lifetime, with free updates) or discontinue use.
ARC-XT can be found here as well as at ScannerMaster. It also has a 30 day demo period before you would need to purchase it.

Unless you also purchased the DMR Upgrade for your 325P2, and have one or more DMR systems programmed as well, the file download using FreeSCAN would be sufficient to attach to a post for review. If you have DMR systems, then download ProScan or ARC-XT for the trial period, and use to 'read' your scanner & create a file that can be attached.
 

Goldeagle222

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First of all Steve I would like to thank you. These are some in depth responses and I appreciate you helping me. Second, looking at that map of simulcasts, I live basically right next to one if that helps.
 

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hiegtx

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First of all Steve I would like to thank you. These are some in depth responses and I appreciate you helping me. Second, looking at that map of simulcasts, I live basically right next to one if that helps.
Looking at your file:
For your system labeled as "Concord Fire":
That system only has the site frequencies, There are no talkgroup ID groups in it. I imported the talkgroups into it and gave it a quick key.

For the item listed as "System 1", that is only a header for a system. No talkgroups or sites are in it. I deleted it.

You have the system type for your CharlotteUASIReg system as P25 Standard (Digital XT). That should be ok & work. However, I noticed that when I import the system via FreeSCAN (I'm a Premium Subscriber), it defaults the system type to Mot Type II/P25. I added a Caburrus only system, and set it that way. The "Concord Fire" system is also set that way.

Another system used in your county is the statewide Viper system. I imported the Caburrus site in that system & the listed talkgroups for the system.

These changes are in the revised file I attached. See if there is any difference.

Since you are close to one of the simulcast sites, and (if the map is correct) not that far from one in the other direction, that may be part of the issue. Try using a paper clip instead of the stock antenna, & see if that makes any difference. Occasionally, turning attenuation (ATT) helps. For a duplicate CharlotteUASIReg, I enabled attenuation on the Caburrus County site, and also changed the system type to Mot P25/P25 Standard.

See if any of this helps. Also, while I've never tried it (no need), I've seen comments from other members that were having simulcast issues, that cutting a hole in the bottom a coffee can, and poking the scanner's antenna up thru that either solved their problem, or at least helped. Heck, it may be work a try.
 
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Goldeagle222

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Thank you for the help! Concord Fire and PD is coming in clear, as a matter of fact the first call I was able to hear clearly was a box for a possible structure fire just near my place so that made me happy. So that pretty much marks Cabarrus County off the list. Charlotte on the other hand actually seems worse I hate to say it. Instead of the signal being like 2 or 3 bars and me partially being able to hear them it just stays on the whole finding control channel. If something was entered wrong on my part (like the active control channel you mentioned) I will look at it tomorrow and try changing it and i'll try the coffee can trick (because why not). But I don't know enough to mess around with the other stuff.
Thanks
 

jonwienke

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i'll try the coffee can trick (because why not).
The coffee can thing is an urban legend. All that does is blocks signal from reaching the antenna. In certain very specific circumstances, attenuating the signal can improve simulcast reception. BUT it will degrade reception for everything else you want to hear. And you can only do it on an antenna attached directly to the scanner. And it's not practical on a handheld scanner being carried around.

You can try it if you want, but prepare to be disappointed.
 

hiegtx

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Thank you for the help! Concord Fire and PD is coming in clear, as a matter of fact the first call I was able to hear clearly was a box for a possible structure fire just near my place so that made me happy. So that pretty much marks Cabarrus County off the list. Charlotte on the other hand actually seems worse I hate to say it. Instead of the signal being like 2 or 3 bars and me partially being able to hear them it just stays on the whole finding control channel. If something was entered wrong on my part (like the active control channel you mentioned) I will look at it tomorrow and try changing it and i'll try the coffee can trick (because why not). But I don't know enough to mess around with the other stuff.
Thanks
Looking at your original file, you did have all the listed channels for the Caburrus site. So, unless they've added another frequency (that is not in the database, nor attached to the license for that site), and were using it as a control channel, your frequency entries for it were correct.

For Charlotte, if it was working (better) in your original file, then maybe we should split Charlotte off and set it back to the way you had it originally. Cabarrus (Concord) is entered several different ways on the file I modified. Which one is working best?
 

Goldeagle222

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Concord/All of Cabarrus was working best and yeah Charlotte worked a little better on the original one. I still have the original so how do you just upload one system?

Sent from my VS985 4G using Tapatalk
 

hiegtx

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Concord/All of Cabarrus was working best and yeah Charlotte worked a little better on the original one. I still have the original so how do you just upload one system?

Sent from my VS985 4G using Tapatalk
See if this version is any better. I split Caburrus off into a single system. For Mecklenburg\Charlotte, I used your original version (with Caburrus removed).
 
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Goldeagle222

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So Charlotte and the rest of Mecklenburg County is back to where it was 2 to 3 bars and partial messages while still showing finding control channel. Cabarrus is perfect. I did want to say in case this helps the call sign that is closest to me is WPGT418.
 

hiegtx

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So Charlotte and the rest of Mecklenburg County is back to where it was 2 to 3 bars and partial messages while still showing finding control channel. Cabarrus is perfect. I did want to say in case this helps the call sign that is closest to me is WPGT418.
You're seeing "finding control channel" on Charlotte?
 

hiegtx

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WPGT418 is the call sign for Caburrus County. Charlotte (Mecklenburg) has two different call signs.

Which system are you seeing 'finding control channel' on? The system name will alternate with the site name when it is doing that.
 

hiegtx

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Charlotte, So on the Mecklenburg Simulcast.
OK

Try this one. Changed the sites to the same type as used on Caburrus, also imported all site frequencies (the original file was control channel frequencies only).
 
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