SDS-200...a little underwhelmed

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IQ_imbalance

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Finally picked up a SDS-200, and I have to say I’m a little disappointed at the moment. I was hoping to see some huge improvement over the RPi/sdr/op-25 setup I’ve been using for P25 but with the exact same antennas and coax it’s not doing as good a job on the frederick county systems. It’s picking up the state system just fine, so I’ll play around with it some more (and make sure attenuation isn’t on!).....
 

ScubaJungle

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I dont have an SDS, I have a BCD436, but I also felt that way when I first got it - not anymore though. I had only used SDR set ups before that - Unitrunker (EDACS&PV), SDRTrunk (for phaseII), and DSDPlus FL(DMR,NXDN,etc), and I was definitely underwhelmed as I had this idea that the Uniden would be so much better than the SDR. In terms of convenience, yes, but head to head with an SDR and a weak signal, I think the SDR will often come on top with decoding. Its the features and convenience that really make the dedicated units worth it, IMO. As I learned to use these features and got used to the menu and everything, it became obvious that it is different, but very much worthwhile in its own way. Plus, the SDS series has a bunch more features than the BCD, so I think youre perspective will change as you get "to know" the SDS.
I definitely know how you feel coming from SDRs to actual scanners though - but that feeling wore off for me real quick.
 

IQ_imbalance

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Yeah it may take some tweaking and easing along the learning curve. It’s just frustrating that it picks up some transmissions just fine and struggles w/ others (at the same signal level)
 

iMONITOR

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Yeah it may take some tweaking and easing along the learning curve. It’s just frustrating that it picks up some transmissions just fine and struggles w/ others (at the same signal level)
Look under Settings then Auto Filters, try a few. Start with Wide Invert and see if that helps. The SDS200 is like a woman, you have to try what's in it's head and it ain't easy but once you understand her... :love:
 

maus92

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Yeah it may take some tweaking and easing along the learning curve. It’s just frustrating that it picks up some transmissions just fine and struggles w/ others (at the same signal level)
Mine works really well wherever I go in the state, including Frederick County, useing a 3dB low profile antenna. Can you give us an idea of the antenna system you are using, and an intersection near where you live? I'd like to plot it out to see if I can figure out why you are having an issue. You may also need to experiment with different filter settings. I've never had to do it with any of the 30+ simulcast systems I've monitored, but it can be highly dependent on location. I'll also say that I don't notice much of a difference between the SDS200 and OP25 when monitoring the state's system from my office, but the SDS is a lot easier to manage.
 

AdamHLG

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During the April phase of the lock down, I purchased the SDS-200 to complement my Unication G5. I sent it back 1 week later. I wrote a post about my experience over on the Uniden forum. Returning the SDS-200 :-(
 

IQ_imbalance

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This might be a silly question....but are the frequencies listed for each site just the expected control frequencies (or are they also the voice frequenicies)? For my OP25 setup, I just used the control frequency of the site closest to me (854.9875 MHz). I'm wondering if perhaps the issue i'm having is that for whatever reason the SDS200 is trying to lock on a less than favorable control frequency. If that's the case I could just edit out all the others....
Seeing how i've got Sentinel up and running now i might as well give that a try :)
 

AdamHLG

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This might be a silly question....but are the frequencies listed for each site just the expected control frequencies (or are they also the voice frequenicies)? For my OP25 setup, I just used the control frequency of the site closest to me (854.9875 MHz). I'm wondering if perhaps the issue i'm having is that for whatever reason the SDS200 is trying to lock on a less than favorable control frequency. If that's the case I could just edit out all the others....
Seeing how i've got Sentinel up and running now i might as well give that a try :)
When I was playing with it before the return, I only used the red control channels during programming for the specific P25 site I wanted to monitor.
 

maus92

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This might be a silly question....but are the frequencies listed for each site just the expected control frequencies (or are they also the voice frequenicies)? For my OP25 setup, I just used the control frequency of the site closest to me (854.9875 MHz). I'm wondering if perhaps the issue i'm having is that for whatever reason the SDS200 is trying to lock on a less than favorable control frequency. If that's the case I could just edit out all the others....
Seeing how i've got Sentinel up and running now i might as well give that a try :)
Frederick County has a two site system, one simulcast and one multicast site. Since this is a Motorola system, you only need to program the primary and alternate control channels for each site. If the scanner is stationary, you probably only need to program the 800 simulcast site unless you live within a few miles of Brunswick. Only one cch is active per site, and the primary chh *rarely* rolls to an alternate, unlike a Harris system.

Did you not use Sentinel to program the radio initially? That might be part of the problem....
 

boatbod

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Just curious, but what is it that you expected the SDS200 to do better than op25? For sure initial op25 configuration can be a PITA, but in terms of performance, op25 turns out audio almost indistinguishable from a subscriber radio. For about a $75 investment (rpi4 + rtl dongle) you have a very capable receiver that saves you $500+ compared to purchasing an SDS100/SDS200 or Unication G4/G5.
 

IQ_imbalance

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Sigh...it's just not locking on to the voice signal. granted my signal isn't great (typically in the -100 to -90db range), but that was enough for a RTL-SDR stick to work with. I ran the analyze function and i'm seeing low (but present) signal, high quality, and activity that comes and goes. Trying another filter setting....
 

maus92

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When I was playing with it before the return, I only used the red control channels during programming for the specific P25 site I wanted to monitor.
Not recommended however. Both primary and alternate cch should be programmed. It won't make any difference in scanning, as only one will be actively carrying trunking data.
 

IQ_imbalance

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Just curious, but what is it that you expected the SDS200 to do better than op25? For sure initial op25 configuration can be a PITA, but in terms of performance, op25 turns out audio almost indistinguishable from a subscriber radio. For about a $75 investment (rpi4 + rtl dongle) you have a very capable receiver that saves you $500+ compared to purchasing an SDS100/SDS200 or Unication G4/G5.
I wasn't able to get op25 to do more than a single site, and i was hoping to have a plug and play radio for mobile use.

Did you not use Sentinel to program the radio initially? That might be part of the problem....
I was running it out of the box w/ the default db (with the services i wasn't interested in turned off...)
 

maus92

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Just curious, but what is it that you expected the SDS200 to do better than op25? For sure initial op25 configuration can be a PITA, but in terms of performance, op25 turns out audio almost indistinguishable from a subscriber radio. For about a $75 investment (rpi4 + rtl dongle) you have a very capable receiver that saves you $500+ compared to purchasing an SDS100/SDS200 or Unication G4/G5.
Yea, op25 works great, but it's not portable, and not as easy to manage with multiple systems as an SDS - plus it doesn't do SmartZone which makes it less useful for me. For ease of use on multiple systems 1. SDS, 2. Unication, 3. OP25 or DSD.
 

maus92

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Sigh...it's just not locking on to the voice signal. granted my signal isn't great (typically in the -100 to -90db range), but that was enough for a RTL-SDR stick to work with. I ran the analyze function and i'm seeing low (but present) signal, high quality, and activity that comes and goes. Trying another filter setting....
I'm still curious where you are listening from - if an SDR is able to receive and decode voice, then the SDS should as well as it also is an SDR based radio. You *might* have a defective radio. Or it *might* be a programming issue.
 

IQ_imbalance

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I'm pretty close to New Market.
Note that the SDS200 does catch traffic every now and then. I wish i had two yagis so i could run both radios simultaneously but i don't...best i could do is run the SDR on the yagi and take the SDS200 out in the yard w/ its whip.
 

maus92

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I'm pretty close to New Market.
Note that the SDS200 does catch traffic every now and then. I wish i had two yagis so i could run both radios simultaneously but i don't...best i could do is run the SDR on the yagi and take the SDS200 out in the yard w/ its whip.
That's weird because there is a simulcast site in New Market, @the I-70 interchange. No need for a yagi.
 
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AdamHLG

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Not recommended however. Both primary and alternate cch should be programmed. It won't make any difference in scanning, as only one will be actively carrying trunking data.
Actually I misspoke. I did use the red and blue alternates. What I meant was I did not use the remaining non-control channel freqs.
 

boatbod

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Yea, op25 works great, but it's not portable, and not as easy to manage with multiple systems as an SDS - plus it doesn't do SmartZone which makes it less useful for me. For ease of use on multiple systems 1. SDS, 2. Unication, 3. OP25 or DSD.
Yeah it's not so portable and the configuration tools are lacking.
Smartzone support? Actually yes, it can! It's still alpha level code that hasn't been generally announced, but we have it running at a busy site in Montgomery County MD.
 
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