BCD396XT: programming APCO 25 to bc396XT

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scarbajal

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Hi all,

I live in Austin TX and plan to apply for the 2015 police academy. Listening to a scanner would be a great help in preparing me for the academy and real situations I would face as a police officer. The system used by LE in Austin is APCO-25 (https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=2)

I bought the BCD396XT and downloaded the system frequencies via freescan. The scanner appears to be scanning through the channels but never hits on any conversations. So I cleared the system and tried programming it manually following instructions from uniden wiki (StandardP25TrunkedSystems < UnidenMan4 < TWiki) and
the easier to read manual (Easier to Read BCD396XT Digital Scanner Manual)

I've spent many many hours trying to figure what I'm doing wrong. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 

hiegtx

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Hi all,

I live in Austin TX and plan to apply for the 2015 police academy. Listening to a scanner would be a great help in preparing me for the academy and real situations I would face as a police officer. The system used by LE in Austin is APCO-25 (https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=2)

I bought the BCD396XT and downloaded the system frequencies via freescan. The scanner appears to be scanning through the channels but never hits on any conversations. So I cleared the system and tried programming it manually following instructions from uniden wiki (StandardP25TrunkedSystems < UnidenMan4 < TWiki) and
the easier to read manual (Easier to Read BCD396XT Digital Scanner Manual)

I've spent many many hours trying to figure what I'm doing wrong. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Hi scarbajal
Welcome to Radio Reference.

Without seeing how your file was set up' I'd be guessing. However, it's usually something simple that got overlooked.

Since you downloaded frequencies and programmed via FreeSCAN, I presume you still have that file on your pc. Why not attach it to a post and let someone look at it, see if anything stands out. The file extension used by FreeSCAN, *.996, is not valid for this forum, so you'd need to either rename a copy of your file in order to attach it, or zip it with a file utility such as the free file utility 7-Zip. As an example, let's say that your existing file was named "Austin", so the FreeSCAN file would be Austin.996. In order to attach it to a post and upload it, you could either change that to Austin.txt, or Austin.996.txt
Either of those would work.
Zipping the file (compressing it) would give you Austin.zip, which can also be uploaded.

That way someone else can take a look and see if there is something obvious missing. Make sure that, when you downloaded the system information, you also downloaded the sites in your area, as well as the talk groups. Also, if you have downloaded the closest sites, hold on the system, and manually scroll through the site frequencies to verify that you are receiving the control channel. That will be a rumbling sound, sometimes described as similar to an idling diesel engine, somewhat like this. If you are not hear any of the control channels, you are not receiving the system due to your location, distance from the site, squelch setting, antenna used, any number of possible factors.
 

ka3jjz

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Without seeing your file, it's difficult to diagnose what might be wrong. However a common mistake newcomers make with multi site systems is that they try to program the wrong site(s) or all the sites at once- and this results in the radio not hearing the control channel, or hearing it very poorly. If either condition exists, the scanner can't decode. Uniden firmware has a limitation - as soon as it hears something, it stops and tries to decode, regardless of whether other sites have a better signal or not.

You must first be able to choose the site or sites that are physically closest to you. Just using the supplied duckie, you're going to need to be fairly close. There are better antennas - the 800 Mhz RS duckie is one that's frequently mentioned.

However there's good news and bad news. The good news is that once you program the right sites and set up the correct TG groups, you're 2/3 of the way home

The bad news - multi site P25 systems like this one introduces a problem called simulcast distortion - and we have an article in our wiki that describes this issue (all links are blue)

Simulcast digital distortion - The RadioReference Wiki

You may want to jump down to the Texas forum for more specifics on GATTRS, but I suspect that your reception may, at least at times, be pretty spotty depending on where you are.

Mike

[edit] Heh...looks like Steve beat me to it. He's obviously faster, hi
 

scarbajal

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Thanks for the replies and advice.
I downloaded most sites and talk groups, and when I hold and manually scroll on a close site, I do hear a dieseling sound. So hopefully, the problem is with one of the settings. Attached is the zipped file "austin.zip"
I also purchased the RS 800mhz antenna this morning and there was no improvement.
 

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hiegtx

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Thanks for the replies and advice.
I downloaded most sites and talk groups, and when I hold and manually scroll on a close site, I do hear a dieseling sound. So hopefully, the problem is with one of the settings. Attached is the zipped file "austin.zip"
I also purchased the RS 800mhz antenna this morning and there was no improvement.
Hi scarbajal

I looked at your file, and think I see your problem. It does not appear that you have the correct sites downloaded.

You only downloaded two sites:
Central Austin is the 700MHz site, mostly used by the Tx DPS Capital units. See this thread. You would not normally find Austin or Travis County units on this site.

The second site you downloaded was Bastrop County. I see that you also have a Bastrop County group as well. Depending on where you are in Austin, you may, or may not, be able to hear this site from home. Regardless, though, even if you could receive it, there would not be Austin or Travis County units heard on this site.

What you need are the Simulcast sites, and possibly one of the 'Intellirepeaters', depending on your exact location. (Those sites have an IR in their name.)

See this thread to give you a better idea on the sites needed. Start at the beginning, which helps explain why you would not hear Austin on the Bastrop site. Around posts 8 & 9, there are comments on which of the two simulcasts sites carries what traffic. This may also help.

While you downloaded "Bastrop County", there is also a "Bastrop County Simulcast", which is probably a better choice.

If you look at the GATRRS page, just under the line with the bold faced System Frequencies, at the far right, you'll see a link labeled RR Locations. Click on that link to bring up a map of the site locations. Zoom in to get a better view of your specific area of Austin.

Attached is a modified version of your file, which I named Austin 2.zip. I did not change your talkgroups, other than reconfigure the group quick key assignments.

What I did do was add the Bastrop Simulcast site, Simulcast 1 & Simulcast 2 for Austin/Travis County, and I also added the BurlesonManor IR site in eastern Travis County. After loading that file, scroll through the control channel frequencies on each site to verify you are within range.

Let me know if this helps.
 
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scarbajal

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Hi Steve,

Thanks for taking the time to research and provide a very detailed explanation of the issues. The scanner is finally picking up traffic!
 

hiegtx

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Hi Steve,

Thanks for taking the time to research and provide a very detailed explanation of the issues. The scanner is finally picking up traffic!
You're welcome. It was something very simple, easy to fix.
 
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