Programing and setup question

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jason_58201

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Hey everyone, I have been a scanner enthusiast for 15 years starting out with a pro-93 and upgrading to a pro-96 and for the last few years been using a bcd-396xt. So I am not exactly new to this, to trunking, or even to ARMER. I haven't really mastered the 396 yet. It's more of a time management issue than anything.but I know how to program it and use freescan to program it and monitor and log it.

My question is this: What are some of the ways you program ARMER in your bearcat? How do you configure it? How many sites do you program and how do you use it in relation to the QK's? I am curious to know how other bearcat users have their scanners setup for ARMER.

Thanks
 

ofd8001

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Don't know how much help this will be for you, but attached is a FreeScan file that I used to program my 396XT. It includes my home area and some places I travel to, which includes East Grand Forks.

When scanning the ARMER system, I think I may have used ID Search and definitely a GPS device.

Unfortunately it is old - before Polk migrated to ARMER.

A couple of years ago I picked up a 536 and 436 and have my most updated programming on them. The other zip file (F80 MN East Grand Forks) is my most recent programming for your area. You can download the x36 Sentinel, then import the HPE file to have a look.
 
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jason_58201

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Thanks I'll look it over. it's not the talkgroups that I have issue with, the database has that covered as does logging and listening. My biggest thing is how to effectively program it the best way to monitor the most without having to reprogram it. There are more sites in MN than quick keys so programing each site to a qk is out of the question. I kinda was leaning along the lines of just programing each county into a separate qk and then state tg's into various other qk's. Or doing it by HP district. I started seeing though when you do that you start running out of space with the 500tgid issue for some of the more populated areas. And is it a good use of the scanner's resources to be programing the control channels 99 times as well? seems rather redundant if I do that just to get each county in the state and state agencies into a seperate qk. That's why i am looking for some expert advice and seeing how others do. I appreciate your response.
 

ofd8001

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While the scanner is scanning the system, press the Function button then the number of the Group Quick Key.

Unfortunately the 396XT is not very friendly when it comes to programming large statewide trunking systems. Such systems have too many talkgroups and exceed the absolute memory limits of the scanner. So to get around that, you have to create several different systems. There are a lot of ways to do that, but the most common seems to be setting them up by zones or regions.

Doing it by highway patrol district is certainly a good idea. You could use the HP district as the System Quick Key, such as "32" for your area, "29" for Detroit Lakes, "25" for West Metro etc.

Some of those different systems should have common talkgroups, for example the statewide interoperability (L-TACS) as a lot of good stuff can be heard on them.

It's definitely going to be a project for you, but this is the time of year to do it. Way too cold up there to do much outside stuff.
 

jason_58201

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By the way, the MN districts are as fragmented as the android os is for phones and tablets. MNDot has their own districts, State Patrol their own, and Armer has it's own districts as well. each one approximately and similar but always a country or two here and there that has to mess it up. I think they need to redistrict everything the same. That seems to make more sense.
 

blue5011

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I use BCD996XT's. I have my county talkgroups on QK#4, normally set to "ID SCAN". When I travel I set the scanner to "ID SEARCH". "If push comes to shove", I can always go engage "Close Call" which will pickup anything in range.

Other QK's are setup by "user groups", as in: ham #1/ MNDoT #2/ State Patrol #5/ aviation #6/ EMS #9.

I live in a rural area so I don't often get the "overload" of huge radio traffic, except when the snow flies and the MNDoT snowplows are out. Then it is as if one was listening to a CB radio...
 

stmills

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I am using a 396, I spend most of my scanning time monitoring unit in Hennepin County, Mine is set up with the following:
1: EMS- each agency is on its own quick key
2: Interop talk groups
3: Hennepin dispatch - quick keys cover 1 for each law main and the associated city car to car, fire main and tacs, fire truck to truck
4: Hennepin independent city's- each PSAP is a different quick key
5: City of Minneapolis,
6: State Patrol
7: Hennepin County Courts and Building Security
8: Investigations and Tactical
9: open
0: city DPWS
10-19 adjacent Counties
20-29 businesses channels
61-69 - roaming groups
61 - EMS agencies
62- inter op
63 Law mains
64 - MN State Patrol
65 - MN DNR
66- MN DOT
67- Fire mains
69- MN DOC
 

jason_58201

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Thank you for your replies. stmills, the way you have your scanner programmed, am I correct in assuming that you must enter your sites for each quick key you have listed that are on ARMER?
 

stmills

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I have area specific controls for 1-19, 61-69 I have a much larger list of control channels- I add control channels if I am going to an area that is not already in my radio.
 

wogggieee

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Hugo , MN
I have my scanners pretty limited to whats programmed into them. I've if i put too much in that I miss a lot and really dont have an idea whats going on. So I still with the stuff I'm most interested in. I have ramsey county stuff in one scanner and Washington County in another and then a third for interop stuff.
 

ofd8001

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I believe the key to best efficiency is to avoid scanning the same site in two different systems.

For example if you have System A monitoring the Crookston site for just state patrol talkgroups and a second system (System B) monitoring the Crookston site for just Polk County Law Enforcement talkgroups, that's inefficient.

In such cases, it's best to use groups - System A has Group 1 State Patrol and Group 2 Polk Law Enforcement.

I guess the main question is are you setting your scanner up for just your local area, or do you plan on travelling to places like the Twin Cities?
 

jason_58201

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Ideally I'd like to set it up so that I could have qk's 1-9 for local stuff. 11-19 For NoDak, 29 for All 2900 sites and State Patrol and as many county's I can fit into that. 32 for All 3200 sites, state patrol and counties in 3200. (just easier to have a catch all when your out driving around than trying to figure out what county is in what qk.) Probably do that for the entire state as well eventually. One thing that irritates me is that there is no way to easily update your scanner when the database updates. You have to either add the manual changes or redo your entire system that change is in.
 

ofd8001

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Fortunately the ARMER system is pretty well established and major changes are unlikely. They appear to have talkgroups reserved for those agencies that haven't migrated to ARMER (such as EGF fire). When we were up that way last summer, EGF Police was either on ARMER or their "old" system was patched over to ARMER as I heard them on the TG assigned to them.

Thus any changes you may need to make will take minimal effort.

I don't think programming all sites for a give patrol district will be a major problem. If you are too far away from a site, the scanner doesn't spend too much time trying to listen. It more or less acts like tyring to listen to an inactive conventional frequency.

The scan speed is about 100 frequencies per second, so if you try to listen to 50 "too far away" sites and each site is programmed with 2 control channels, you probably lose only 1 second of scan time. Just be sure you set the site Hold Time to 0.

Lastly, if was me, I'd probably set up a "Home" System which has just those sites I know I can receive at home with the corresponding talkgroups, etc. and probably give it System Quick Key 0.

I'd be happy to look over any programming file you come up with.
 

jason_58201

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Thanks, I am finding the reserved tg's isn't always the case as there are a few new ones popping up locally that aren't on the reserved list. I submitted one of them to the database but havnen't seen it added yet and there are at least two more that i am pretty sure are crox fire but they aren't on the reserved list yet either. Both Polk Co and the city of Crox still have some vhf analog channels they use yet. As far as EGF PD goes. I am sure their heads are spinning over there because 15 years ago they were on vhf and Grand Forks switched to 800 analog trunked system they leased from Stones. EGF started migrating to the 800 so they could talk to GF. Then GF went back to vhf and P25 while EGF was left on both vhf and 800, Polk Co. on VHF and GF on VHF P25 with ARMER coming online. Now they are on ARMER and I don't know if they are patched to GF or if they have VHF mobiles in their squad and their dispatch. EGF operates separately from Polk Co dispatch and uses the same 10 codes as ND rather than the MSP 10 codes as Polk Co uses. There was talk of merging both EGF dispatch with Crox PD dispatch and Polk Co and put them all together but EGF didn't want that because their dispatcher also acts as a jailer as they have their own holding cells there until they can be transported to Tri-County the next day. Crox PD operates their own dispatch during daytime hours but all 911 calls go through Polk Co and are dispatched through Polk co. In case anyone was wondering...
 

ofd8001

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Interesting background info for my next trip there.

Every now and then I'll look at the EGF city council minutes and I remember seeing some documents about them purchasing radios for the ARMER system. They should still be on line. I don't recall whether they got dual-band APX radios so they could talk with GF, or perhaps they have the ability to do a console patch.

Having said that I remember when we were there in 2015, there was some kind of SWAT deal at the GF Walmart which involved EGFPD and Polk County SO. Sounded like there was seemless communications, however.
 

blue5011

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Probably do that for the entire state as well eventually.
Why would anyone add the entire state data?

If I travel to the Twin Cities, I just hit "Close Call" button and will hear any transmission w/ in range. And since I am driving I won't be looking at the display anyway.

Or I would just leave the scanner on my #4 QK which normally is on "ID SEARCH", and anything transmitted w/ in range will show up.

Yes, I may miss some VHF stuff, but most everything law enforcement, fire, and EMS happens on ARMER now.

Just trying to keep things simple...
 

ofd8001

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The downside of using Close Call to monitor a trunked system, such as ARMER, is that you will not always follow a conversation. If the frequency is released before the called party answers, it could be re-used by a completely different talkgroup.
 
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