Recommendation For New Scanner in Colorado Springs/El Paso County Area

corbeck

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Jun 9, 2008
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My Grecom has seen much better days, so it's time to replace it. I'm interested in the Home Patrol 2, and would use it in a base configuration with occasional mobile use on the northern border El Paso County, . Would the Home Patrol 2 cover most of the radio formats in that area, as well as Colorado Springs in general? Are there optional features that would make the radio more useful re. formats? I'm definitely in the need of a technology upgrade, but would like to make sure the capabilities of that radio are not obsolete in my area.
Thanks very much for the help. I notice the Douglas County feeds are now scrambled/garbled on my old radio.
 

blue5011

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Nov 21, 2010
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439
Location
Faribault County, MN
I would not recommend a Home Patrol 2. Very difficult to program, even though it has "zip code" ability. The "difficulty" is primarily in the format of the way RR database is setup.

Example 1: 10-15 railroads are listed for my county, yet only two are actually operating there.

Example 2: the County Public Works operates off the same R25 system as the County Sheriff, yet is not included under the "County System" database.

I have BCD-996 scanners, very happy w/ their performance, and program them w/ Freescan software (freeware).
 

Spitfire8520

Might be completely clueless! =)
Joined
Jun 29, 2009
Messages
1,878
Location
Colorado
My Grecom has seen much better days, so it's time to replace it. I'm interested in the Home Patrol 2, and would use it in a base configuration with occasional mobile use on the northern border El Paso County, . Would the Home Patrol 2 cover most of the radio formats in that area, as well as Colorado Springs in general? Are there optional features that would make the radio more useful re. formats? I'm definitely in the need of a technology upgrade, but would like to make sure the capabilities of that radio are not obsolete in my area.
Thanks very much for the help.
Most areas around Colorado Springs will encounter the simulcast distortion issue. The system simulcasts transmissions from 6 different radio sites around the Colorado Springs area on the same frequencies and a vast majority of scanners lack the hardware needed to be able to decode these kinds of signals. The HP2 might be barely passable in a base configuration if you are willing to invest in a directional antenna, and even having a directional antenna will not guarantee that your setup will work 100% of the time. It would most likely be unusable in a mobile setting. Only the Uniden SDS100 and SDS200 are capable of decoding these signals properly. Many areas in Colorado and nationally now use these types of sites.

You can listen to the Colorado Springs Police and El Paso County Sheriff and El Paso County Fire and EMS feeds to get a sense of what having the wrong hardware usually sounds like.

I notice the Douglas County feeds are now scrambled/garbled on my old radio.
Douglas County law enforcement and many other agencies around the state have encrypted their communications. No scanner now or in the future will be able to monitor them regardless of the bells and whistles advertised. Additional agencies are trending towards encrypting their communications so there will be less to listen as time moves forward.

If you are only interested in public safety, then I would recommend listening what feed are available rather than buying a top of the line scanner that may not let you listen to what you want in a couple of years. If you are interested in non-public safety, then you may just want to repurposed what you currently have or invest in a lower end scanner/radio that supports the modes that you want. You could look also look into relatively cheap alternatives like RTL-SDR to fill any monitoring gaps you may encounter.
 

scanner_nut

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Sep 18, 2003
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A lot of good sage advice already given. A Raspberry PI 4 4GB, Software Defined Radio Dongle (came with antennas) and a Bluetooth speaker running freeware OP25 was less than $150. I listen to both public safety digital trunk systems without any of the simulcast distortion issues. I can block out all encrypted channels with a quick edit of the configuration file. The configuration is portable.

There is a dedicated SDR forum with boatbod as moderator to provide awesome support. Below are the links to what you will need.

Raspberry Pi4 - Raspberry Pi 4 Starter Kit = $99.95

NooElec NESDR Smart v4 Bundle - Amazon.com: NooElec NESDR Smart v4 Bundle - Premium RTL-SDR w/Aluminum Enclosure, 0.5PPM TCXO, SMA Input & 3 Antennas. RTL2832U & R820T2-Based Software Defined Radio.: Computers & Accessories = $37.95

Raspberry Pi and SDS200
 

eyes00only

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Jun 26, 2004
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Denver Colorado
I'll look into the forum later but I'm wondering how hard this is to learn and how good the reception inside a house would be.
 

scanner_nut

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Sep 18, 2003
Messages
67
I'll look into the forum later but I'm wondering how hard this is to learn and how good the reception inside a house would be.
I want to make a clarification to my first post - you do not need a Raspberry PI. You can use a windows computer with at least a i3 CPU running a Linux virtual emulation package to control the SDR dongle and run OP25.

Reception inside the house depends upon how well the SDR and antenna will pickup the control channel(s) from the system you want to listen to. One SDR per system - you can successfully run 2 NooElec NESDR SDR's on a 4Gb Pi4 using a good power supply. They do get warm!

If you have digital scanners that pickup DTRS, you should have no issue using the SDR. The NESDR is a rock solid design with temperature compensation built in to avoid drifting off the control channel. The OP25 github package uses a digital voice codec module that is just as good as any commercial scanner. The OP25 package comes with a web interface to fine tune the SDR to center control channel frequency, show details about the control channel site configuration, talk groups using that site.

I noticed a lot of the streaming audio sites are using this solution.

How hard is it to learn? - To quote a fellow scanner hobbyist "There is a fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness'." If you are not familiar with SDR's, intimidated by installing and running Linux, using shell command line scripts, tweaking OP25 command line options, then there will be a learning curve. The SDR, OP25 forums and wiki here are a good start.
 
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