Question about coverage area.

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Aug 21, 2016
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Hello, I am kinda new to this whole thing, I just bought a Uniden Bearcat BC125AT. After I bought it, I looked at the frequency I would use. Then i looked at the coverage map provided by RadioReference. I looked at the map and it showed the coverage area, that is when I noticed that I was barley out of the coverage area. I'm talking like by only 200-400 feet or less. Now, my question is would I still be able to hear this frequency even if I was out of the coverage area by just a little bit.

Bare with me, I am new at this...
 

K4EET

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Hello @fearless1111112, let me start by saying Welcome to Radio Reference! You joined back in 2016 but this seems to be your first post. Have you been lurking all that time?

Is the Uniden Bearcat BC125AT your first scanner? That is a nice scanner but it is limited in what it will receive with respect to today's technology used by many in Public Safety. Can you tell us who you want to listen to so we can tell you if that is the right scanner for the job?

Cheers! Dave
 
Joined
Aug 21, 2016
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Hello @fearless1111112, let me start by saying Welcome to Radio Reference! You joined back in 2016 but this seems to be your first post. Have you been lurking all that time?

Is the Uniden Bearcat BC125AT your first scanner? That is a nice scanner but it is limited in what it will receive with respect to today's technology used by many in Public Safety. Can you tell us who you want to listen to so we can tell you if that is the right scanner for the job?

Cheers! Dave
Hello! Yes I have lurking around off and off! debating whether to buy a scanner or not. I joined back in 2016 cause I wanted to hear a police archive on Broadcastify!

Yes this is my first scanner, I want to upgrade in the future but I figured this would be okay for right now. I listen mostly to police radio in the Des Moines metro area. But I am also interested into listening other things too in the future.
 

mmckenna

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Now, my question is would I still be able to hear this frequency even if I was out of the coverage area by just a little bit.
I'd point out that the circles drawn around the repeater sites are not really "coverage" areas. The FCC license will show that the agency can use their radios in a certain radius around their repeaters. Often it will show something like "32KM radius around center point" or something to that effect. That doesn't mean that the repeater actually covers all that. Radio system coverage is a very complex thing that is impacted by local topology, large buildings, antenna design, tower height, etc. Drawing a simple circle around the repeater is no more accurate that throwing a dart at the wall blindfolded. I run a few radio systems, and I'm in the hills/mountains, and I can tell you that the coverage areas shown on the RadioReference maps do not reflect reality in any way.

Building out a public safety radio system is a huge task. The agencies spend a lot of money on hiring experts to do this stuff. The costs can be quite high when you figure in towers, antennas, coaxial cable, repeaters, all the other hardware, etc. Agencies rarely put much effort into designing coverage much out of their area of jurisdiction. It's costly and it's not needed.

So, don't put a lot of stock in those magic circles drawn on the map. They really don't mean much of anything as they don't take into account the realities of local terrain, system design, etc. However, if you live out on the plains and it's perfectly flat between you and the tower, then chances are good that you'll be able to hear something
And unless there is someone local to that system, and you are willing to share where you live, no one can really give you reliable information about coverage.

What you can do is try the radio out and see if it works. It might, it might not. Don't expect miracles with a scanner, a stock antenna and having it sitting inside your home, especially if you are on the fringes of coverage.
If you cannot hear the system from inside your home, try taking the scanner up on your roof and see if you can hear it from up there. If you can, you'll need put an external antenna outside your home, up as high as you safely can, and fed with the highest quality coax you can afford.

Or better yet, tell us what system it is you want to listen to, and a general idea of where you live, and maybe someone can assist.
 
Joined
Aug 21, 2016
Messages
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I'd point out that the circles drawn around the repeater sites are not really "coverage" areas. The FCC license will show that the agency can use their radios in a certain radius around their repeaters. Often it will show something like "32KM radius around center point" or something to that effect. That doesn't mean that the repeater actually covers all that. Radio system coverage is a very complex thing that is impacted by local topology, large buildings, antenna design, tower height, etc. Drawing a simple circle around the repeater is no more accurate that throwing a dart at the wall blindfolded. I run a few radio systems, and I'm in the hills/mountains, and I can tell you that the coverage areas shown on the RadioReference maps do not reflect reality in any way.

Building out a public safety radio system is a huge task. The agencies spend a lot of money on hiring experts to do this stuff. The costs can be quite high when you figure in towers, antennas, coaxial cable, repeaters, all the other hardware, etc. Agencies rarely put much effort into designing coverage much out of their area of jurisdiction. It's costly and it's not needed.

So, don't put a lot of stock in those magic circles drawn on the map. They really don't mean much of anything as they don't take into account the realities of local terrain, system design, etc. However, if you live out on the plains and it's perfectly flat between you and the tower, then chances are good that you'll be able to hear something
And unless there is someone local to that system, and you are willing to share where you live, no one can really give you reliable information about coverage.

What you can do is try the radio out and see if it works. It might, it might not. Don't expect miracles with a scanner, a stock antenna and having it sitting inside your home, especially if you are on the fringes of coverage.
If you cannot hear the system from inside your home, try taking the scanner up on your roof and see if you can hear it from up there. If you can, you'll need put an external antenna outside your home, up as high as you safely can, and fed with the highest quality coax you can afford.

Or better yet, tell us what system it is you want to listen to, and a general idea of where you live, and maybe someone can assist.
Okay. Yeah I figured that those circles didn't mean too much. I live in central Iowa, so its pretty flat out here. And, I just want to listen to local police really. I was tired of them going to different channels and I couldn't listen to them! But once I figure out how to work the scanner I will probably look into listening to other things.
 

K4EET

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<snip> I listen mostly to police radio in the Des Moines metro area. But I am also interested into listening other things too in the future.
Well @fearless1111112, according to this database:


The Des Moines Police Department will be moving to the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System (ISICS) which will be a Project 25 Phase II system. That system is covered here:


As of right now, the database shows 1 talkgroup for the Des Moines Police Department:


DECHEXMode Alpha TagDescriptionTag
48915bf13TDMPD DispatchPolice DispatchLaw Dispatch

That talkgroup is "T" for TDMA or digital which your Uniden Bearcat BC125AT scanner cannot receive. You will need a scanner that can receive Project 25 Phase II trunking.

What you might want to do is to have this thread moved to the Iowa State sub-forum for further discussion with folks more closely related to your geographic area of interest. To make that request to the moderators, simply click on the "Report" tag in the lower left of a posting and make your request.

You may also want to see if you could exchange your new scanner for one that is Project 25 Phase II compatible. Finally, be aware that there is some encryption being used on the ISICS network which no scanner can decode.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Cheers! Dave
 
Joined
Aug 21, 2016
Messages
5
Well @fearless1111112, according to this database:


The Des Moines Police Department will be moving to the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System (ISICS) which will be a Project 25 Phase II system. That system is covered here:


As of right now, the database shows 1 talkgroup for the Des Moines Police Department:


DECHEXModeAlpha TagDescriptionTag
48915bf13TDMPD DispatchPolice DispatchLaw Dispatch

That talkgroup is "T" for TDMA or digital which your Uniden Bearcat BC125AT scanner cannot receive. You will need a scanner that can receive Project 25 Phase II trunking.

What you might want to do is to have this thread moved to the Iowa State sub-forum for further discussion with folks more closely related to your geographic area of interest. To make that request to the moderators, simply click on the "Report" tag in the lower left of a posting and make your request.

You may also want to see if you could exchange your new scanner for one that is Project 25 Phase II compatible. Finally, be aware that there is some encryption being used on the ISICS network which no scanner can decode.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Cheers! Dave
When will the make the official switch to Project 25 Phase II?
 

thatoneiowan

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When will the make the official switch to Project 25 Phase II?
That question is best answered by having this thread moved to the Iowa State Radio Discussion Forum by clicking on the "Report" link in the lower left and asking a moderator to move this thread. Cheers! Dave
Dave is right, this could go over to the Iowa forum, but as of last week they were testing the Des Moines Police traffic on ISICS. I imagine the switchover will be soon. However, more recently, I have not heard any traffic on the system.

 
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