Scanning Lowell, MA Police Issues

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MarkA2049

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Feb 10, 2013
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Tewksbury, MA
Hey everybody,

I've been scanning for about 5 years now. Within the past few years, as many of you may know, the Lowell Police Dept had moved their frequencies over to digital. I was pretty bummed out as I had an older analog scanner.

Anyways, getting to the point, that scanner died and I purchased a new one. The one I have currently is the UNIDEN BCD-536HP from Ham Radio Outlet. I have also purchased a new antenna for it. This antenna is the Larsen NMO150/450/800 on a Tram 1267R-BNC mount.

I am able to pick up surrounding areas such as Billerica and Tewksbury-- even Wilmington which is about 10 miles away when I am in a good spot (All Police, by the way). While I am in Lowell, even smack dab right in the middle, I do not get good reception from their Digital Police frequency. Sometimes I get one half of the conversation absolutely perfect, but do not even hear a slight whisper from the other part. Very minimally do I actually hear everything perfect. Most of the time it is choppy, or as I said, half sided.

Now, I previously had the UNIDEN HOMEPATROL-1 from Ham Radio Outlet, but I returned it because it did not have some features I enjoyed. While I was using that, I do believe I was able to hear Lowell almost perfect most of the time.

I am really having trouble trying to figure out my issue hear with the reception, and I have no idea what to do. Any help from you guys would be absolutely great. Thanks for taking time to read, and I look forward to your feedback.
 

gordon115

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By this time I assume you have checked for the usual reception problem causes like bad coax connectors, proper attachment of the antenna to the mount and making sure the cable isn't kinked etc.

Try activating the attenuator on the Lowell PD frequencies. Also try listening to Lowell using just the stock antenna that came with the radio, and try listening to them with no antenna.

I live on a hill near Boston where I'm line of sight to the transmitter sites for some of the Boston area P25 systems (Cambridge, Massport, MSP 700 system) and sometimes experience similar problems with both Uniden and GRC scanners. I will get a full scale signal on the signal strength indicator but will get no audio when users are talking. I believe the cause may be that the receiver is being overloaded because the signal is so strong.

For the P25 systems that are close to me I get the best reception quality by placing the radio on a window sill with no antenna on it.

P25 reception with scanners can be pretty flaky, moving the radio a couple of feet can be the difference between good reception and none at all. Professional receivers like Kenwood, Icom or Motorola do much better (for conventional P25) but are far more expensive.

As I type this I'm getting Lowell PD loud and clear at my location on my Kenwood receiver and so-so on a scanner.

Gordon
 

MarkA2049

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Feb 10, 2013
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Tewksbury, MA
Hey,

Thanks for the reply.

I should have mentioned, I have it mounted in my vehicle. Also, the cord, I believe, is okay. I also had the same problem with the stock antenna.

I will try the attenuator when I head out on on my next run. At work right now.
 

MarkA2049

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Feb 10, 2013
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Tewksbury, MA
Alrighty,

I tried turning the attenuator on, but no luck. Also I did try unhooking the antenna all together. I didn't get anything, but I did get very tiny snippets from Lowell. While the antenna is in, the signal strength is full for Lowell. Even as I drive out of Lowell, into Tewksbury, the signal strength dies down, but still does the sloppiness with the reception.
 

gordon115

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Plymouth Mass & Wells Maine
Alrighty,

I tried turning the attenuator on, but no luck. Also I did try unhooking the antenna all together. I didn't get anything, but I did get very tiny snippets from Lowell. While the antenna is in, the signal strength is full for Lowell. Even as I drive out of Lowell, into Tewksbury, the signal strength dies down, but still does the sloppiness with the reception.
Are you getting similar signal fading with other services you monitor? try Lowell fire if you don't already have them.

I'd check the coax (that is the cable I was referring to in earlier message) to make sure connectors are good (should be soldered not the crimp on type) and make sure it's not kinked or damaged. Also make sure antenna is properly assembled and connected to mount. Lowell PD has pretty strong signal that shouldn't be fading in the next town.

Gordon
 

chriscoal

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Jul 8, 2014
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Location
lowell ma
try setting scanner to p25 if you haven't done so already. sometimes you get distortion when you have scanner in search mode. I had that issue when I would listen to new Hampshire towns right on the mass border. I set it to p25 and everything cleared right up.
 

MarkA2049

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Joined
Feb 10, 2013
Messages
7
Location
Tewksbury, MA
Are you getting similar signal fading with other services you monitor? try Lowell fire if you don't already have them.

I'd check the coax (that is the cable I was referring to in earlier message) to make sure connectors are good (should be soldered not the crimp on type) and make sure it's not kinked or damaged. Also make sure antenna is properly assembled and connected to mount. Lowell PD has pretty strong signal that shouldn't be fading in the next town.

Gordon
Apologies for late reply.

The cable is scuffed a little bit around the trunk, but nothing really bad.

As for other services, Lowell Fire is a bit awkward to listen to sometimes, but most of the time it is clear. I have Tewksbury PD/Fire, Billerica PD, and Wilmington PD and I hear them all well. Aside from Wilmington getting slightly distorted due to distance.
 

MarkA2049

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Feb 10, 2013
Messages
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Location
Tewksbury, MA
try setting scanner to p25 if you haven't done so already. sometimes you get distortion when you have scanner in search mode. I had that issue when I would listen to new Hampshire towns right on the mass border. I set it to p25 and everything cleared right up.
I'm unsure as how to do this exactly.

Are you listening to the repeater output of 482.4125 not the repeater input of 485.4125 ?
I am.
 

mainetrunk

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York county Me.
$ is another term for NAC- National area code. I'd leave it on search, to verify any nac's. If theres any SKIP or static on search, put 293 into the nac section
 

garys

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$ is another term for NAC- National area code. I'd leave it on search, to verify any nac's. If theres any SKIP or static on search, put 293 into the nac section
I believe NAC stands for Network Access Code. Think of at CTCSS (PL) although it isn't. The channel being discussed is digital.
 

RKG

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Boston, MA
$ is another term for NAC- National area code. I'd leave it on search, to verify any nac's. If theres any SKIP or static on search, put 293 into the nac section
Actually, "$" is a convention used by some folks to signify that a number following is a hexadecimal number (versus a decimal number). If any of the digits of the number are A through F, then that it is a hex number is obviously implicit; if none are, then some form of denotation is appropriate. My experience is that an "h" as a suffix (e.g., 272h) is more common than a "$" prefix.

For what it is worth, 293h is equal to 649 decimal.

Per the Motorola Programming Guide, NAC is a 3-digit hexadecimal number in the range 000h through FFFh. There are 4,096 possible values.

I should add: 293h is not a "national" NAC. It is widely used simply because it is the default value that Motorola (and a couple of other manufacturers) specify in their software.

There are two other NACs with special significance, per the APCO P-25 standards:

A receiver programmed for a NAC of F7Eh will open for any P25 transmission on the frequency.

A repeater programmed for a NAC of F7Fh will open its receiver for any P25 transmission on the frequency, and it will repeat the audio data using whatever NAC was used by the input subscriber.
 
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johnwprice

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I am having trouble with my BCD436HP receiving Lowell PD on the P25 and have spoken with customer service 3 times and they still can't fix it. I am trying to get a conventional P25 and very rarely do I actually hear everything as it only comes in once in a great while. I have a 396T and can have it in the same room and sometimes next to each other and the 436 doesn't come in all the time.

I received an e-mail from Uniden stating “Sounds like a reception issue from the limited description (i.e. not enough signal or the target signal is being interfered with by some other signal). So, better location or better antenna might be the answer.
Or
I would suggest making a favorites list & if you add others to the same favorites list, make that police channel a priority.”

All the corrective items that they talk about above have been tried. It is my understandings that this problem is common with this unit as other have complained about it. I think Uniden should correct it either by a software or firmware. I spent a lot of money on this unit and I am not getting what I paid for. EITHER FIX IT OR SEND ME BACK MY MONEY THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR FAR TO LONG.
 

MarkA2049

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Feb 10, 2013
Messages
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Location
Tewksbury, MA
Exactly, John. I have tried everything.. including those replies to this thread.

The only reason I purchased this scanner was to listen to Lowell PD. I am very unsatisfied with this.
 

ecps92

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Taxachusetts
And you are where ???
Update your profile

I am having trouble with my BCD436HP receiving Lowell PD on the P25 and have spoken with customer service 3 times and they still can't fix it. I am trying to get a conventional P25 and very rarely do I actually hear everything as it only comes in once in a great while. I have a 396T and can have it in the same room and sometimes next to each other and the 436 doesn't come in all the time.

I received an e-mail from Uniden stating “Sounds like a reception issue from the limited description (i.e. not enough signal or the target signal is being interfered with by some other signal). So, better location or better antenna might be the answer.
Or
I would suggest making a favorites list & if you add others to the same favorites list, make that police channel a priority.”

All the corrective items that they talk about above have been tried. It is my understandings that this problem is common with this unit as other have complained about it. I think Uniden should correct it either by a software or firmware. I spent a lot of money on this unit and I am not getting what I paid for. EITHER FIX IT OR SEND ME BACK MY MONEY THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR FAR TO LONG.
 
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