Queen Anne frequencies

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troymail

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The KEY is going to be getting a solid "DAT" displayed for any given single site such as "Queen Anne's" (when there is no active talkgroup). Until you get that, nothing will matter. If the radio isn't getting solid decode of the control channel, you're not going to hear much of anything.

To reiterate -

Having your radio lock onto the control channel of UES was very easy and moving the radio around typically had no affect on keeping you from doing that.

However, on simulcast systems like FiRST, many times moving the scanner even a few inches can cause poor or no decoding of the control channel.
 

easternshore

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hope you don't mine me chiming in, im in northern qa county, I bought and set up a whistler 1095 back in November,, I have centreville msp, qa sheriff,qa fire, kent sheriff, kent fire,its been working fine so far, picking up all of it, haven't noticed and long breaks or down time with it, im using the unit as a base not mobile, could be moving around as a moble could be the difference with the new phase 2 as stated earlier in this thread..
 

maus92

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Reception on the FiRST system south of US50/301 split is going to be best on the Talbot site (actually a group of towers or "simulcast cell"), or the Matapeake site (actually an ASR, or a single tower) if the listening post is close to the bay/rivers in the area. The Queen Anne simulcast cell works better north of Queenstown and the US50/301 split. MSP Centerville traffic seems to be forced onto all three sites; at least I always seem to receive the barracks on my routine trips to Easton from Annapolis. One of the towers for the Talbot simulcast cell is located at US50 just south of MD 404, so that tower should cover the Wye area.
 
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wyesguy

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Well, the test has been done. Queen Anne, as the lone site, was dead on both radios. No DAT, no antenna bars, no transmissions, regardless of antenna choices or locations...on either radio. Matapeake, however, was steady DAT, full 5 bars, and radio traffic present on both radios, no matter where I put them or which antenna I used. I'll run this way for a couple of days and see how consistently both TGIDs are being heard.

Thanks for putting up with me dealing with my learning curve. It just seemed odd to me that I could hear Ft. McHenry and Key Bridge MdTA police (7101 and 7102) many miles away, but couldn't hear local MSP activity even when I literally watched them speak on their radios (roadside). They were on a routine call in the neighborhood (MDOP damage), and not likely on their encrypted TAC 2.

Thanks again!
 

maus92

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I hear MdTA Tunnel Command in Frederick County, so..... This is why it's fun listening to this system.
 

troymail

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Well, the test has been done. Queen Anne, as the lone site, was dead on both radios. No DAT, no antenna bars, no transmissions, regardless of antenna choices or locations...on either radio. Matapeake, however, was steady DAT, full 5 bars, and radio traffic present on both radios, no matter where I put them or which antenna I used. I'll run this way for a couple of days and see how consistently both TGIDs are being heard.

Thanks for putting up with me dealing with my learning curve. It just seemed odd to me that I could hear Ft. McHenry and Key Bridge MdTA police (7101 and 7102) many miles away, but couldn't hear local MSP activity even when I literally watched them speak on their radios (roadside). They were on a routine call in the neighborhood (MDOP damage), and not likely on their encrypted TAC 2.

Thanks again!
FWIW - the reason Matapeake comes in so well is because that tower/cell is not a simulcast "site". It and several others like Greenbury Point, Tracy's Landing, St. Michael's (future), Federalsburg, etc. are single towers.

Keep in mind that there is always the possibility that Matapeake may not be repeating all talkgroups ... if that tower is where you've been receiving Centreville all along, that would likely explain the long periods of silence.
 

dpcain

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Wyesguy, if you have absolutely no signal coming in on the QA site while in the QA site's coverage area, your radio is not monitoring the QA site's active control channel. No way around that.

Signal without correct demod/decode = LSM garble.
BUT
No signal = no carrier, aka you're out of the site's coverage area, the site's off the air, or the site's using a control channel you don't have programmed.
 

wyesguy

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Hmmmm...There must be something simple I'm missing. I only deleted or permanently avoided everything in the FIRST system, except for what is shown for Queen Anne's. I've even scrubbed the frequencies not listed on RR as red/primary or blue/alternate. So, my Sentinel showed the Queen Anne's site as 774.54375 and 774.80625, with 7328 as my only TGID. I just replaced the other 4 frequencies in case that made a difference, but QA still shows no signs of life.

Is there a preference in setting the location control by zip code, using Lat/Long, or letting the unit find its location? I don't know what else to try, except driving out to Rt 404/213 and sitting practically under the tower.
 

troymail

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FWIW - I routinely see no signs of life from the Anne Arundel system from various locations - and I'm sitting INSIDE Anne Arundel County. This does not mean I'm programmed incorrectly -- it the affects of the simulcast issues. I can move the radio a few inches or feet and go from no DAT to solid DAT.

My programming is directly from RRDB and I was hearing all of the various sites including Matapeake, Queen Anne, and Talbot (with 3 radios going) on Monday when I drove through the area. Of course, the signal comes and goes...

If you're receiving Matapeake, it is not likely to be a programming problem.

I don't recommend using any location or GPS settings at this point - it isn't necessary and that will just add another layer of things that can go wrong trying to figure out what is happening.

I would just program the site (all frequencies - not just control and alternates) and talkgroups you are trying to hear (to jsut verify it's working I'd leave all talkgroups programmed) with location control turned off. If the site you want is Queen Anne's and you aren't receiving anything, I recommend to verify it's not your programming, drive towards a tower (if possible) - MSP and QA public safety on Safety Drive at Rt 301 for example. That will help prove your programming is correct. After that, it may come down to the fact that although you want the QA site, you may just be out of luck receiving it from your home location. At that point, you can try listening to other sites but it's likely you'll not hear 100% of what you want 100% of the time. It's just the nature of the way these systems work today - coupled with how well (or not so well) scanners handle simulcast at this point.

Hmmmm...There must be something simple I'm missing. I only deleted or permanently avoided everything in the FIRST system, except for what is shown for Queen Anne's. I've even scrubbed the frequencies not listed on RR as red/primary or blue/alternate. So, my Sentinel showed the Queen Anne's site as 774.54375 and 774.80625, with 7328 as my only TGID. I just replaced the other 4 frequencies in case that made a difference, but QA still shows no signs of life.

Is there a preference in setting the location control by zip code, using Lat/Long, or letting the unit find its location? I don't know what else to try, except driving out to Rt 404/213 and sitting practically under the tower.
 

wyesguy

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Good idea. I'm going for a ride. Do you have yours set based on Zip code? I've even tried changing mine from 21658 (Qtown) to 21617 (Centreville) with no observable difference. I'll let you know how my road trip went.
 

troymail

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Good idea. I'm going for a ride. Do you have yours set based on Zip code? I've even tried changing mine from 21658 (Qtown) to 21617 (Centreville) with no observable difference. I'll let you know how my road trip went.
I rarely is ever use ZIP CODE. I do use GPS in my truck when traveling but coupled with favorites list program of what I want to hear (not Full Database). Full Database and zip code load way to much crap.

BTW - I just checked location data for various things --

the Queen Anne's site looks reasonable

Matapeake looks ok

and Maryland State Police covers the whole state so in this case, location settings shouldn't be a problem - unless you're outside these circles and your "range" is set low or to zero.

Of course, these circles indicating coverage are only estimates based on a center point and a guess of a radius....
 
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wyesguy

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Thanks!

I used zip code, since that's what first appeared when I received the 436HP. I turned off the full database option, which I think still leaves its location intact. Sometimes I'll try auto locate, as I don't have a GPS for it. It likes to link me to Tracy's Landing or Talbot a lot. I'll try the auto locate on one unit when I get to the Rt 301/213 area today.
 

troymail

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Thanks!

I used zip code, since that's what first appeared when I received the 436HP. I turned off the full database option, which I think still leaves its location intact. Sometimes I'll try auto locate, as I don't have a GPS for it. It likes to link me to Tracy's Landing or Talbot a lot. I'll try the auto locate on one unit when I get to the Rt 301/213 area today.
You can play with location and GPS but I'd hold off until you verify you can receive the QA site well (by traveling towards a tower).

You can "try" Auto Locate but that's not a good option as it is based on a scan of the environment, what signals it finds, and where the radio firmware thinks you are. I did it once from southern Cecil County when I was trying to figure out why the GPS feature wasn't working and Auto Locate said I was in New Jersey.

If anything, manually enter coordinates - for MSP Centreville it's:

39.033058, -76.020207

or

39°01'59.0"N 76°01'12.8"W
 

wyesguy

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Well, here is what happened on my trip:

1. Queen Anne's site didn't become solid until well into Centreville, about 3 miles from the barrack.

2. Sitting in the parking lot next to the barrack, it was steady. But, so was Matapeake, and so was Talbot. I tested each independently.

3. Testing Queen Anne's site alone, I was able to verify transmissions at this point, as I watched some poor guy undergo a DUI stop right in front of the barrack, as a second, and then a third trooper arrived, eventually taking him away (around 3:30, if you happened to record it).

4. I tested against the second radio, which was not locked on Queen Anne's, and interestingly, Matapeake was the site that kept showing up. AND, I could hear the conversation a fraction of a second ahead of that heard on Queen Anne's.

By that, I don't mean it started receiving first, but that the words were slightly delayed on Queen Anne's.

5. For kicks I tried to do Auto Locate. Both radios continually insisted that I was near Talbot. Tracy's Landing and Kent also came up . Not Matapeake, though. After denying those repeatedly, I locked in Queen Anne's when it finally hit.

I switched antennas from the stock to RS 800 across both radios, but saw no real differences.

Back home, the radios are locked solidly on Matapeake and Talbot; nothing on QA.

How do I tell if a site is a simulcast site or not (Queen Anne's vs. Matapeake, for example)?

Conclusions: It doesn't appear to be a programing problem, but quirky poor reception across my two radios. And, while MSP seems to go blank for hours, even on Matapeake, QA Sheriff continues to have activity on Matapeake.

Time for an adult beverage =-)
 

maus92

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Well, here is what happened on my trip:

1. Queen Anne's site didn't become solid until well into Centreville, about 3 miles from the barrack.

2. Sitting in the parking lot next to the barrack, it was steady. But, so was Matapeake, and so was Talbot. I tested each independently.

3. Testing Queen Anne's site alone, I was able to verify transmissions at this point, as I watched some poor guy undergo a DUI stop right in front of the barrack, as a second, and then a third trooper arrived, eventually taking him away (around 3:30, if you happened to record it).

4. I tested against the second radio, which was not locked on Queen Anne's, and interestingly, Matapeake was the site that kept showing up. AND, I could hear the conversation a fraction of a second ahead of that heard on Queen Anne's.

By that, I don't mean it started receiving first, but that the words were slightly delayed on Queen Anne's.

5. For kicks I tried to do Auto Locate. Both radios continually insisted that I was near Talbot. Tracy's Landing and Kent also came up . Not Matapeake, though. After denying those repeatedly, I locked in Queen Anne's when it finally hit.

I switched antennas from the stock to RS 800 across both radios, but saw no real differences.

Back home, the radios are locked solidly on Matapeake and Talbot; nothing on QA.

How do I tell if a site is a simulcast site or not (Queen Anne's vs. Matapeake, for example)?

Conclusions: It doesn't appear to be a programing problem, but quirky poor reception across my two radios. And, while MSP seems to go blank for hours, even on Matapeake, QA Sheriff continues to have activity on Matapeake.

Time for an adult beverage =-)
It's not a programming issue on your end. It is a system design "issue" in that 3 separate "sites" cover Queen Anne County: Matapeake ASR is strong from about Sandy Point east to about Hess Road; Talbot simulcast cell covers southern QA County (as well as Talbot and parts of Caroline); and the Queen Anne simulcast cell covers the northern parts of Queen Anne County, (as well as parts of Kent and Caroline.)

The reason why you may not always be receiving all MSP Centerville traffic *could* be that there are no Centerville barracks units in the areas covered by Matapeake or Talbot sites at the time you are listening. If their radios have not affiliated with either of those two sites, you won't hear them at your home location (assuming that you only can receive Matapeake and Talbot sites.) So when listening from home, only enable those two sites - there is not technical reason to have any other site enabled based on what you have said.

The RRDB does not indicate whether a site is a simulcast cell or a standalone ASR. It *could* if contributors described it that way in their submission, and the editors allow it. Personally, I think they should. Otherwise, you have to deduce the site type by looking at FCC and CAPRAD data, and FiRST program documents.
 
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maus92

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FWIW - the reason Matapeake comes in so well is because that tower/cell is not a simulcast "site". It and several others like Greenbury Point, Tracy's Landing, St. Michael's (future), Federalsburg, etc. are single towers.

Keep in mind that there is always the possibility that Matapeake may not be repeating all talkgroups ... if that tower is where you've been receiving Centreville all along, that would likely explain the long periods of silence.
Matapeake also may work better for him because of a minimum of attenuating structures and vegetation/trees between the tower and his location - there is some significant water in the signal path.
 
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troymail

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The reason why you may not always be receiving all MSP Centerville traffic *could* be that there are no Centerville barracks units in the areas covered by Matapeake or Talbot sites at the time you are listening. If their radios have not affiliated with either of those two sites, you won't hear them at your home location (assuming that you only can receive Matapeake and Talbot sites.) So when listening from home, only enable those two sites - there is not technical reason to have any other site enabled based on what you have said.
Concur. This goes back to the original question about "sporadic" reception of MSP Centreville. It's likely that he was hearing what little Centreville he was hearing on either Matapeake and/or Talbot during those times when a Centreville unit was affiliated with one of those sites/towers.

Since Centreville is responsbile for Queen Anne and Kent, I expect them to only sometimes appear on the Talbot site. However, they should be on the Queen Anne's and Kent sites almost 100% of the time. That's why he was looking so hard at the Queen Anne's site.

Keep in mind that the upper shore folks are transitioning from a system that carried both Centreville and Easton MSP on the entire 3 county system (Queen Anne, Caroline, Talbot) and could be heard (probably) well into counties adjacent to those 3. That's just not going to be the case on FiRST.

MSP Centreville on the Matapeake site is also a "maybe". MdTA and the QA Sheriff probably have pretty good coverage in that area so units from MSP Centreville are less likely to be over in that area such that they will affiliate with that site.

On occasion, I can hear MSP Easton, Centreville, Glen Burnie, Golden Ring, and "Highway" on the Anne Arundel site - but none (except Glen Burnie) full time. The same goes for MdTA Tunnel and Port - sometimes.

A few days ago, I heard MSP Glen Burnie on the Scaggsville ASR. Why? Idunno. There have been alot of things coming across the Howard sites that don't make alot of sense. My guess there is it's for demo and testing purposes and eventually, once the system is stable and more widely used, alot of this "extended" coverage will go away (someday).


The RRDB does not indicate whether a site is a simulcast cell or a standalone ASR. It *could* if contributors described it that way in their submission, and the editors allow it. Personally, I think they should. Otherwise, you have to deduce the site type by looking at FCC and CAPRAD data, and FiRST program documents.
Most of the information regarding simulcast and ASR sites comes from this document:

https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/attachments/attachmentViewRD.jsp?applType=search&fileKey=1401151466&attachmentKey=19367652&attachmentInd=applAttach

Keep in mind that some frequencies have been changed since this report was issued. Also note that for the most part, the ASR sites have their own licenses while typical simulcast site frequencies are covered by the state license - which are also sometimes augmented by local (county) jurisdiction licenses (some state, some county).

For the most part, the ASRs are appearing along bodies of water and near the edges of the state (I believe to control the signal bleed into adjacent states, etc.). There are a few ASRs that don't seem to fit this concept so there may be other reasons.

Matapeake also may work better for him because of a minimum of attenuating structures and vegetation/trees between the tower and his location - there is some significant water in the signal path.
Possibly. It's probably just his location (think he mentioned he is near Wye Island which puts him in tne middle between Matapeake ASR and the Rt50/404 tower of the Talbot simulcast). That puts him closer to the Talbot tower at Rt 50 and 404. It also puts him closer to the Matapeake site. I can pick up Matapeake a good long way on the drive along Rt 50 into Talbot County partly because of location and partly because it is an ASR (no simulcast issues to deal with).

FWIW - I can pick up the Greenbury Point ASR from just south of BWI airport better than I can pick up the Anne Arundel simulcast site. This is likely because it's an ASR and not a simulcast site. The Howard and Baltimore sites tend to come in better here also - mostly because I'm out of the simulcast coverage area and likely picking up one tower on those sites much better than others thus reducing the affects of the simulcast problem.

Given his location, he should also be in a good position to hear the St. Michael's/Bozman site when it comes up in a few weeks....
 
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maus92

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The reason why you may not always be receiving all MSP Centerville traffic *could* be that there are no Centerville barracks units in the areas covered by Matapeake or Talbot sites at the time you are listening. If their radios have not affiliated with either of those two sites, you won't hear them at your home location (assuming that you only can receive Matapeake and Talbot sites.) So when listening from home, only enable those two sites - there is not technical reason to have any other site enabled based on what you have said.
I need to change the wording slightly:

"...you won't hear them at your home location.."

"them" needs to be clarified. "Them" means any Centerville barracks traffic. So the new paragraph should read:

"The reason why you may not always be receiving all MSP Centerville traffic *could* be that there are no Centerville barracks units in the areas covered by Matapeake or Talbot sites at the time you are listening. If their radios have not affiliated with either of those two sites, you won't hear any Centerville barracks traffic at your home location (assuming that you only can receive Matapeake and Talbot sites.) So when listening from home, only enable those two sites - there is not technical reason to have any other site enabled based on what you have said."
 

wyesguy

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I think I kinda get it, at least from the standpoint of hearing a trooper in his car (local to me). But if dispatch transmits first, why wouldn't I hear that? For ex., they broadcast a Silver Alert. Until some trooper nearer the sites I pick up affiliates with those sites, I won't hear anything? The periods of silence were just so long that it seemed unreasonable to not hear the barrack at all, or at least only the barrack's side of the transmissions.

Sorry, you can tell I'm not as technically up to speed as I should be. My experience with repeaters (on Motorola radios) was just that; they repeated. It sometimes lead to cut off transmissions once a mike was keyed, if speaking began to quickly. That may explain why the MSP's conversation from Queen Anne's site (an ASR if I have it right) yesterday on one radio seemed a fraction of a second behind the same conversation received from Matapeake (a simulcast site) on another radio.

Bit, I refer to this earlier comment: "partly because it is an ASR (no simulcast issues to deal with)." I'm trying to decipher that. I think of "simulcast" much like watching the Super Bowl on NBC, but also being able to tune in to ESPN, because it is being simulcast there. I get that I have the control over which channel I want to use on TV, but might not have that control while fully scanning. So, my assumption over which would be better must be backward. Intuitively to me, simulcast would seem to be more immediate; repeaters have a bit of lag. But, perhaps the issues are tied to affiliation.

The reason it's confusing to me is that the hours of silence aren't merely broken by more "local" units transmitting near me. When activity begins again, it's more like business as usual, hearing stuff going on in Millington, on the opposite end of my county.

Thank you all for trying to help me understand this. If this topic has become too labored, I get it. We can drop it. Someday I hope to catch on....just as newer systems are being adopted. =-)
 

troymail

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Think of it this way -- picture a hotel in a summer resort with 100 rooms. Think of each room like a "site" of a radio system.

Now - in the winter time, does it make sense to heat or A/C all 100 rooms in the hotel is it's only 25% occupied?

Same concept - there is no need to transmit/repeat the signal on a site if no one (as in real system users) is there to listen.

In a hotel you're wasting electricity, etc.

In some ways, on the radio system you're also wasting resources that aren't being used. Not just power but also bandwidth.
 
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