Seeking Programming Layout Suggestions for TRX-1 and TRX-2

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W2GLD

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I have recently purchased both the Whistler TRX-1 and TRX-2 scanners and I am seeking some programming layout suggestions for a statewide trunked radio system, more specifically the Michigan MPSCS system.

As many might know, there are numerous sites throughout the system, many sharing the same control channels over and over again. I am curious how others are programming this system to insure smooth and fast scanning of multiple sites, especially if mobile throughout the state. Importing data (which I never like to do) always adds everything to a single system, I was thinking it might be better to break it down a bit more, depending on the area of the state I'm in. What is everyone else doing with these large scale systems like Michigan and Ohio have?

My thoughts were to program a trunked system for each area of the state and only include the sites within that area and perhaps anything that might be directly adjacent to that area as well. It'll still be allot of sites, but it seems the Whistler scanners handle that just fine; unlike my experiences with Uniden; thoughts comments, etc?
 

gbouwkamp

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For traveling, I program by county. Include only sites in or bordering that county. Activate that county and the one you are headed into, deactivate the one you are leaving. You would have some duplication of MSP or other statewide groups. That way you have the minimum number of scanlists active at one time and only hearing what you need.

You would't want to do that for the whole state, just counties on the routes you commonly travel.
 

wa8pyr

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I have recently purchased both the Whistler TRX-1 and TRX-2 scanners and I am seeking some programming layout suggestions for a statewide trunked radio system, more specifically the Michigan MPSCS system.
<snip>
Gerry,

First thing I learned (the hard way) is that for whatever reason, these things don't like manually entered systems. When I entered local Ohio MARCS-IP sites manually and put in the talkgroups, I heard very little. However, when I used the Library Import feature ("Preferred" rather than zip code or location based), selected the specific sites/talkgroups and downloaded it, it worked like a champ. Never have figured out why this is the case; control channels, talkgroups and settings were all identical each time, but it just did not like manually entered systems.

The biggest problem with the newer GRE/Whistler scanners when all the sites are entered as a single multi-site system, the radio finds a control channel it likes at the moment and stays with it, even though the scanner can hear multiple sites and the one it's on may not normally be the best (or doesn't usually hear the talkgroups you want). This is essentially the same behavior you get with the PSR500 set to "roam" in the system settings.

I've developed a process that works pretty well based around scanning by county and entering each county (or simulcast site) as a separate "system."

The first thing I do is start with a blank Virtual Scanner, define the coverage area I want for it, and name it as such. Then, download all the sites and talkgroups for the system in that coverage area, get all the scan lists and miscellaneous settings (backlight, LED, decode levels, etc) set up the way I want, and name it for the overall system (in this case, MPSCS). Do a "save to archive" so you have a clean backup.

Then, copy that system and name the new one Wayne County (using Detroit as an example), and lock out all except the Wayne County simulcast. You can leave the scan lists alone or delete all but the ones for desired agencies in Wayne County. I usually leave scan lists alone so I have a better chance of catching talkgroups which may have roamed away from their usual site.

Next, copy the "base" MPSCS system again, name the new one Eastern Wayne, and lock out all except the Eastern Wayne simulcast. You can leave the scan lists alone or delete all but the ones for Eastern Wayne agencies.

Repeat this process for each site (or group of sites) you want to treat as separate systems, locking out all but the desired sites for that "system."

Finally, lock out the base MPSCS system, unless you want to use it as a catch-all. In Ohio, I generally leave the "MARCS-IP" entry unlocked, but lock out all the scan lists in it except one which has the talkgroup Wild Card, so I can search separately from the designated scan lists.

This way you've minimized the amount of stuff you have to type in and the radio will scan each site separately, giving you a much better chance of hearing what you want to hear; when traveling, you can enable and disable scan lists as needed to scan what's around you.

You'll probably also need to fiddle around with the decode settings on the Advanced tab; after I tweaked the DSP Level Adapt setting to 100 (after much experimentation), P25 simulcast decode is almost flawless.

I think you'll find yourself hearing more stuff, more reliably. Works great on a TRX-1.

Edit: Forgot to mention that you can copy/paste talkgroups and it will work fine. It seems to be just the system-level stuff like sites it's sensitive to where doing Library Import works and manual entry does not. You can just import sites and a talkgroup wild card and get by just fine.
 
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W2GLD

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Tom, thanks for the feedback and that's interesting that you've had issues with manually creating systems/sites, I've done a few and have no issues so far; I assume you made sure they were set for Project25 when creating them? Also, I make sure the trunking tables are set to Auto Fill so it grabs the right information from the control channel.

As for your suggestions of separate sites in counties and such, that's pretty much how I've been working it. Coming from the Uniden line, which has proven to suck beyond belief with the issues surrounding the BCD436HP and their DMR crap. But I do have a question, and perhaps you may or may not know the answer or someone else can chime in. You made a comment that once it grabs a site it holds on to that control channel. I've not found this to be true with the Whistler, at least with my current programming. There is a setting for "Multi-Site" that has high/low threshold values. I've kept the defaults so far "Low = 75" and "High = 95" and I have 7 sites programmed, which all have varying levels of signal and it seems to switch between all the sites just fine; so long as they meet the threshold parameters, Have you not found this to be the case? As I said, I am new to the Whistler scanners, basically I got fed up with Uniden and am trying something new. So far, I'm pretty impressed with the receiver performance. The BCD436HP is essentially useless on VHF/UHF, even purchased and since returned a brand new unit with all the latest modifications and ran it side-by-side the TRX-1; the TRX-1 wins hands down on what it can hear and decode. Anyway, curious on your experiences with the Multi-Site settings. My thoughts were to program basically 9 systems for Michigan as follows:

  • MPSCS - Southeast
  • MPSCS - Southwest
  • MPSCS - East Central
  • MPSCS - West Central
  • MPSCS - Northeast
  • MPSCS - Northwest
  • MPSCS - Eastern UP
  • MPSCS - Central UP
  • MPSCS - Western UP

Each of these systems would contain whatever sites are covered in those counties, I've basically drawn some lines on the map for general travel areas; then each system would contain all possible talkgroups for that area, plus the statewide stuff and then I'd have a scan list for each county plus scan lists for each MSP District, this way I could turn on the individual county and then add the state police if I chose to. Not sure if this makes since in the Whistler programming world or if this will slow things down too much. I'm open for suggestions, comments, etc. I want to be able to listen as I drive around, including other states so I'm trying to see what makes since before I delve into the extensive programming of everything from Michigan to New Jersey and Michigan to Florida and Michigan to Chicago area.

I appreciate everyones commentary here, thank you all for the help.

Jerry, W2GLD


Gerry,

First thing I learned (the hard way) is that for whatever reason, these things don't like manually entered systems. When I entered local Ohio MARCS-IP sites manually and put in the talkgroups, I heard very little. However, when I used the Library Import feature ("Preferred" rather than zip code or location based), selected the specific sites/talkgroups and downloaded it, it worked like a champ. Never have figured out why this is the case; control channels, talkgroups and settings were all identical each time, but it just did not like manually entered systems.

The biggest problem with the newer GRE/Whistler scanners when all the sites are entered as a single multi-site system, the radio finds a control channel it likes at the moment and stays with it, even though the scanner can hear multiple sites and the one it's on may not normally be the best (or doesn't usually hear the talkgroups you want). This is essentially the same behavior you get with the PSR500 set to "roam" in the system settings.

I've developed a process that works pretty well based around scanning by county and entering each county (or simulcast site) as a separate "system."

The first thing I do is start with a blank Virtual Scanner, define the coverage area I want for it, and name it as such. Then, download all the sites and talkgroups for the system in that coverage area, get all the scan lists and miscellaneous settings (backlight, LED, decode levels, etc) set up the way I want, and name it for the overall system (in this case, MPSCS). Do a "save to archive" so you have a clean backup.

Then, copy that system and name the new one Wayne County (using Detroit as an example), and lock out all except the Wayne County simulcast. You can leave the scan lists alone or delete all but the ones for desired agencies in Wayne County. I usually leave scan lists alone so I have a better chance of catching talkgroups which may have roamed away from their usual site.

Next, copy the "base" MPSCS system again, name the new one Eastern Wayne, and lock out all except the Eastern Wayne simulcast. You can leave the scan lists alone or delete all but the ones for Eastern Wayne agencies.

Repeat this process for each site (or group of sites) you want to treat as separate systems, locking out all but the desired sites for that "system."

Finally, lock out the base MPSCS system, unless you want to use it as a catch-all. In Ohio, I generally leave the "MARCS-IP" entry unlocked, but lock out all the scan lists in it except one which has the talkgroup Wild Card, so I can search separately from the designated scan lists.

This way you've minimized the amount of stuff you have to type in and the radio will scan each site separately, giving you a much better chance of hearing what you want to hear; when traveling, you can enable and disable scan lists as needed to scan what's around you.

You'll probably also need to fiddle around with the decode settings on the Advanced tab; after I tweaked the DSP Level Adapt setting to 100 (after much experimentation), P25 simulcast decode is almost flawless.

I think you'll find yourself hearing more stuff, more reliably. Works great on a TRX-1.

Edit: Forgot to mention that you can copy/paste talkgroups and it will work fine. It seems to be just the system-level stuff like sites it's sensitive to where doing Library Import works and manual entry does not. You can just import sites and a talkgroup wild card and get by just fine.
 

wa8pyr

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Tom, thanks for the feedback and that's interesting that you've had issues with manually creating systems/sites, I've done a few and have no issues so far; I assume you made sure they were set for Project25 when creating them? Also, I make sure the trunking tables are set to Auto Fill so it grabs the right information from the control channel.
Yep, had them set as P25. Settings were identical between manual entered and library imported systems, but for whatever reason the manually entered system just wouldn't work well.

As for your suggestions of separate sites in counties and such, that's pretty much how I've been working it. Coming from the Uniden line, which has proven to suck beyond belief with the issues surrounding the BCD436HP and their DMR crap. But I do have a question, and perhaps you may or may not know the answer or someone else can chime in. You made a comment that once it grabs a site it holds on to that control channel. I've not found this to be true with the Whistler, at least with my current programming. There is a setting for "Multi-Site" that has high/low threshold values. I've kept the defaults so far "Low = 75" and "High = 95" and I have 7 sites programmed, which all have varying levels of signal and it seems to switch between all the sites just fine; so long as they meet the threshold parameters, Have you not found this to be the case?
Correct, no matter how I fiddled the Low/High Multi-Site settings, the radio always grabbed the site it heard best in a multi-site system and stayed with it until the High or Low thresholds were exceeded, after which it would look for a new site.

As I said, I am new to the Whistler scanners, basically I got fed up with Uniden and am trying something new. So far, I'm pretty impressed with the receiver performance. The BCD436HP is essentially useless on VHF/UHF, even purchased and since returned a brand new unit with all the latest modifications and ran it side-by-side the TRX-1; the TRX-1 wins hands down on what it can hear and decode.
I agree, it works much better than the 436. I've found the 436 to work very nicely, but I'm not wild about the digital audio quality (sounds too muffled), and while the Favorite List / Quick Key scheme works OK, it definitely does not make me a happy camper. I prefer the Virtual Scanner and Scan Lists method of a Whistler/GRE. I especially like the ability to have different virtual scanners which can be loaded when I'm traveling.

My thoughts were to program basically 9 systems for Michigan as follows:

  • MPSCS - Southeast
  • MPSCS - Southwest
  • MPSCS - East Central
  • MPSCS - West Central
  • MPSCS - Northeast
  • MPSCS - Northwest
  • MPSCS - Eastern UP
  • MPSCS - Central UP
  • MPSCS - Western UP

Each of these systems would contain whatever sites are covered in those counties, I've basically drawn some lines on the map for general travel areas; then each system would contain all possible talkgroups for that area, plus the statewide stuff and then I'd have a scan list for each county plus scan lists for each MSP District, this way I could turn on the individual county and then add the state police if I chose to. Not sure if this makes since in the Whistler programming world or if this will slow things down too much. I'm open for suggestions, comments, etc. I want to be able to listen as I drive around, including other states so I'm trying to see what makes since before I delve into the extensive programming of everything from Michigan to New Jersey and Michigan to Florida and Michigan to Chicago area.
That should work fine, at least out in the rural areas where you're probably only going to hear one site at a time (especially in the UP). However, I'd enter the "metro areas" (Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, etc) and especially simulcast sites as separate systems, since you could be trying to listen to DFD and the radio decides to latch onto the Eastern Wayne site and stay there. Keeping the simulcast sites as separate systems would ensure that you're scanning that site.

Have fun!
 

W2GLD

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Excellent, thanks for the feedback, I'll have to do some playing around with it. I found the roam issue you indicated last night as well during the multiple fatal accidents here in Livingston County, Michigan; couldn't hear the EMER channels because I was locked on another site that wasn't carrying the traffic; so separate systems are seemingly a must. Thanks...
 

wa8pyr

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Excellent, thanks for the feedback, I'll have to do some playing around with it. I found the roam issue you indicated last night as well during the multiple fatal accidents here in Livingston County, Michigan; couldn't hear the EMER channels because I was locked on another site that wasn't carrying the traffic; so separate systems are seemingly a must. Thanks...
Having to break it out as separate systems is definitely a PITA and a waste of memory space given all the other capabilities of this radio; what really puzzles me is why GRE did away with the "Multi-Site," "Roam" and "Stationary" settings they had on the earlier radios like the PSR500. Putting those in the TRX-1/2 would make it a device second to none, especially since you have the ability to set decode thresholds on a site-by-site basis.

Good luck!
 

Davey1

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Bowling Green, Ohio
I'm really glad that I found this thread because in the first week that I've had my TRX-1 I've wondered why I couldn't USE more than one site when I listened to the Ohio MARCS-IP system. But if the multi-site, roam and stationary options have been eliminated that would explain it all. I, too, am locking onto one tower site with no option to scan through all of them.

I have the TRX-1 setting next to my WS1040 and I hear so much more on the 1040 because I'm able to scan through all nearby sites when only one MARCS system is created in the radio. It's a shame that option is no longer available.
 

lou9155

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good luck with your units.. i sent my trx2 back the actual interface and hassle to do simple tasks made listening so unenjoyable
 
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