Pro 164 trunking head scratcher

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cdlaubinger

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I have been using my pro 164 for conventional scans of CAL FIRE this summer. Now that the season is done I was thinking about trying out Sac City and County. I'ver entered in 868.53750a 868.73750a 868.93750c 868.96250c for the county and 868.63750c 868.66250a 868.82500c 868.90000a for the city channels 000- 007. In the groups i've entered radireferences info for both county then city in bank 0-0. I hit scan, and I'm hearing sac city and county sheriff as well as fire. To get to my question, I'm wondering how do I get it to only scan Fire?
Thanks much,
corey
 

gmclam

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The PRO-164 is identical to the PSR-300, both great scanners. I use WIN97 to program them (I have PRO-97s as well), as it takes a lot of key strokes to program alpha tags (the best part of these scanners).

1. I strongly suggest picking one bank for Sacramento City TRS and another bank for Sacramento County TRS. The scanner does not handle two trunked systems in the same bank very elegantly. It wants to lock on to the first control channel it finds active, and that is not often the strongest one. I know you'll only program 4 frequencies in each bank and waste 96, but so what.

2. In order to control what you hear, you need to set each bank to CLOSED. But that means you must program in the TGs for what you DO want to hear. I program the same exact TGs into both banks, but have them organized so that I can turn off Sacramento City PD when things are really crazy.

FWIW, I have my scanners organized as follows:
Bank 0 - conventional fire
Bank 1 - Cal Fire
Bank 2 - USFS & Parks
Bank 3 - CHP
Bank 4 - Sac City TRS
Bank 5 - Sac County TRS
Bank 6 - conventional LE
Bank 7 - conventional LE
Bank 8 - Amateur & Marine
Bank 9 - Aviation
 

cdlaubinger

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Okay so I was able to get the bank closed and it only scans Fire now. Although as I went on through the day I wasn't able to pick up any dispatches for either city or county. The traffic I could pick up was fire units to/from dispatch and car to car traffic between units. Any ideas on what may be causing this?
 

gmclam

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Metro Fire dispatches on A1, Sacramento City Fire dispatches on B1 - do you have those TGs programmed?

Are you picking up signals from both sites? Some traffic will come from one site and some traffic will come from the other site. I typically see dispatch traffic come from both sites, but fireground traffic varies depending on the location of the incident.
 

cdlaubinger

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I have both talkgroups programmed into the scanner in bank 0-0. As far as the sites of traffic and where it comes from I can't really tell(not sure of locations), but I have heard traffic from units by the Sac International Airport as well as units in Elk Grove (my location being in Rocklin).
 

gmclam

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I have both talkgroups programmed into the scanner in bank 0-0. As far as the sites of traffic and where it comes from I can't really tell(not sure of locations), but I have heard traffic from units by the Sac International Airport as well as units in Elk Grove (my location being in Rocklin).
Here's the deal, the Sacramento system is really TWO systems; one for the city and one for the county. They have now selected TGs that don't interfere.

In order to get two trunked systems to work in a GRE made scanner, there are several tricks you must do. I am not even sure if the PRO-164 will trunk two sites in the same bank, the last time I tried it was on a PRO-97. It sounds like you have programmed a total of FOUR frequencies in to bank 0, and that has never worked on CC only scanners.

What these scanners do is they look for a (control channel) signal on the first frequency in the bank. Once they do that, they do not even check any other frequencies in the bank set to MOT. This means it could find a signal on the WEAKEST of the two active control channels. Again, it looks for the FIRST, not the best.

The ONLY way to be sure you are receiving from BOTH sites (other than using two separate scanners) is to put them in to separate banks. In addition to now making them function, you now know which system you are receiving from and can toggle either system on/off easily with bank selection.

I know it is a "pain" to put 4 frequencies in to one bank, and 4 in another and then replicate all the TGs in both banks. But that's why most of us use software for programming.

Once you know which site you are receiving traffic from, you'll be able to determine which site or sites work best for you. Otherwise expect to miss traffic.
 

DonS

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Here's the deal, the Sacramento system is really TWO systems; one for the city and one for the county. They have now selected TGs that don't interfere.

In order to get two trunked systems to work in a GRE made scanner, there are several tricks you must do. I am not even sure if the PRO-164 will trunk two sites in the same bank, the last time I tried it was on a PRO-97. It sounds like you have programmed a total of FOUR frequencies in to bank 0, and that has never worked on CC only scanners.

What these scanners do is they look for a (control channel) signal on the first frequency in the bank. Once they do that, they do not even check any other frequencies in the bank set to MOT. This means it could find a signal on the WEAKEST of the two active control channels. Again, it looks for the FIRST, not the best.

The ONLY way to be sure you are receiving from BOTH sites (other than using two separate scanners) is to put them in to separate banks.
I do know that at least one GRE scanner (PRO-96) would handle multiple sites in a system (or even two systems, with the normal TG-overlap caveats) in a single bank - if you separated the sites' CC frequencies with "empty" or "other" (non-MOT) channels. I'm not sure if the PRO-164 will do this, though - I don't have any handy multi-site MOT systems, or even two receivable-with-duck MOT systems, nearby.
In addition to now making them function, you now know which system you are receiving from and can toggle either system on/off easily with bank selection.
If the PRO-96-like method works, you could toggle either system on/off (though not quite as easily) by locking out the appropriate CCs or by putting the two systems' talkgroups into different "ID sub-banks" within the bank. You'd still be able to recognize which system you're hearing, since the PRO-164 shows the alpha tag of the current CC when it's receiving a voice call on a trunked system.

... time passes ...

OK, I've verified that the above does seem to work on the PSR-300 family (the PRO-164 is a RadioShack-badged PSR-300). I put my PSR-300 on the discone, with this in bank 0:
* 800MHz MOT CC for local system in channel 000, labeled "CC1"
* "Dummy" freq in channel 001 (25.000MHz, CTCSS=131.8)
* 400MHz MOT CC for a distant system in channel 002, labeled "CC2"
* Two sets of base/offset/step settings for the 400MHz system
* TGs for the local system programmed
* Bank in "Open mode"
I get my normal "local traffic" on the 800MHz system, showing me correct talkgroup IDs / tags as well as the "CC1" tag. I also get a bunch of noise from the 400MHz system - brief pulses of audio, showing "CC2" tag and the correct voice frequencies... but it's a digital voice system (San Mateo County, CA), so the voice behavior is quite erratic.

Bottom line: If you have two Motorola systems, or two sites on the same Motorola system, you should be able to program them into the same bank on a PRO-164, just like we've done for years on the PRO-96. There are caveats:
* the same set of programmed TGIDs are used for both, so it's best if they don't overlap
* you cannot mix two VHF/UHF systems, unless they use the same set(s) of base/offset/step
 

gmclam

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I hadn't tried it Don, so it is good to know it still works with the '164/PSR-300. I mentioned in my earlier post that there are specific tricks needed to make this work. It sounded to me like the OP only programmed in 8 frequencies - 4 control channels from site 1 and 4 control channel frequencies from site 2. We know that won't work. And he is wondering why he is missing stuff.
 

DonS

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It sounded to me like the OP only programmed in 8 frequencies - 4 control channels from site 1 and 4 control channel frequencies from site 2. We know that won't work. And he is wondering why he is missing stuff.
Why wouldn't that work? As long as he separated the two sites' frequencies with a non-MOT frequency, like this:

000 Site1_CC1
001 Site1_CC2
002 Site1_CC3
003 Site1_CC4
004 <some non-MOT freq>
005 Site2_CC1
006 Site2_CC2
007 Site2_CC3
008 Site2_CC4

it should work fine.

EDIT: In one version of my test above, I had only 3 channels programmed: the current CC frequencies for the two systems (one freq per system), separated by an FM (CTCSS) channel. The voice frequencies are not needed, of course.
 
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cdlaubinger

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gmclam-
I've entered in 868.53750a 868.73750a 868.93750c 868.96250c for the county and 868.63750c 868.66250a 868.82500c 868.90000a for the city channels 000- 007 in bank 0. Although I am getting traffic on multiple other frequecies in the systems from both city and couny that I haven't programmed into the scanner.

I'm going to try both of the ideas thrown on the table and see what happends.
thanks again for the help
 

rmiller818

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gmclam-
I've entered in 868.53750a 868.73750a 868.93750c 868.96250c for the county and 868.63750c 868.66250a 868.82500c 868.90000a for the city channels 000- 007 in bank 0. Although I am getting traffic on multiple other frequecies in the systems from both city and couny that I haven't programmed into the scanner.

I'm going to try both of the ideas thrown on the table and see what happends.
thanks again for the help
It should do that, one of the channels you listed above for each system is the control channel, the scanner listens to that and when there is a transmission the scanner switches to the frequency that the voice traffic is on (any of the ones listed in the database, they do not have to be programmed in your scanner) you will notice "VC" next to the frequency when the scanner is receiving traffic, that indicates that is the voice channel.

Now, if you meant that you are receiving talkgroups that you did not program then the bank is in "open" mode, you need to change it to "closed" so that the scanner only scans the talkgroups you have programmed. Func 5 should do it if I remember correctly.
 

DonS

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868.53750a 868.73750a 868.93750c 868.96250c for the county and 868.63750c 868.66250a 868.82500c 868.90000a for the city channels 000- 007 in bank 0.
I would suggest that you insert a "blank" channel between the county and city frequencies, similar to my list in post #12 above. It may not be necessary, but back in the PRO-96 days when this "feature" was heavily discussed, there was some debate about it. It certainly can't hurt - other than using up one of the other 92 channels in the bank.
Although I am getting traffic on multiple other frequecies in the systems from both city and couny that I haven't programmed into the scanner.
As rmiller818 mentioned above, that's normal for a trunked system. Those "other frequencies" are the voice frequencies used by each transmission. The 8 frequencies you've entered are the "control channels" (including alternates, and only one of which will be the active CC at any given time in a single site/system).

Now, if you meant that you are receiving talkgroups that you did not program then the bank is in "open" mode, you need to change it to "closed" so that the scanner only scans the talkgroups you have programmed. Func 5 should do it if I remember correctly.
On the PSR-300 / PRO-164, FUNC . (decimal key) toggles between OPEN and CLOSED modes.
 

gmclam

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Why wouldn't that work? As long as he separated the two sites' frequencies with a non-MOT frequency, like this:

000 Site1_CC1
001 Site1_CC2
002 Site1_CC3
003 Site1_CC4
004 <some non-MOT freq>
005 Site2_CC1
006 Site2_CC2
007 Site2_CC3
008 Site2_CC4
The above scenario "works" fine and I ran my scanners that way for a long time. I did find that not just any frequency in position 004 above would work. for example, it can not be locked out and it should be set to FM (non trunking of any mode).

Earlier in 2009 I separated the City and County TRSs into separate banks and I feel I miss a lot less. Remember I am running multiple scanners so I know when one scanner misses something. I also run UniTrunker from time to time and that also shows me what I should be hearing.

As far as knowing which TRS you are receiving from; the alpha tags are the first way to know. The second is the control channel frequency channel position. For me City usually comes in on channel 423 (bank 4) and county on 523.

For the CITY, here are the four frequencies you need:
SACRAMENTO u 868.637500 MOT
SACRAMENTO v 868.662500 MOT
SACRAMENTO w 868.825000 MOT
SACRAMENTO x 868.900000 MOT

For the COUNTY, here are the four frequencies you need:
SACRAMENTO V 868.537500 MOT
SACRAMENTO W 868.737500 MOT
SACRAMENTO X 868.937500 MOT
SACRAMENTO Y 868.962500 MOT

One last note; I always program in ALL frequencies for a TRS. I lock out the frequencies not ear-marked as control channel frequencies to make scanning faster, but have them in there to browse or in case they should use one as a cc.

There are 24 frequencies used for the city TRS and 25 for the county TRS. Because I have scanners with only 12 characters to display the channel name, I adopted using a single letter to designate the channel, lower case for city and UPPER case for county.
 
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