BCT15X: Simple Explanation

Finn42

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About to make the plunge into scanning...very much an amateur! I am looking for something to start, narrowing it down to something like the BCT15X. Sounds like a solid scanner for conventional, trunking, talk groups ...but reviews are its hard to program. I am not a neophyte with technology, but certainly am for all things scanner. Suggestions?
 
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Finn42

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Just getting started in the scanning world, will dip my toes in analog first. Can someone explain simply the relationship between Systems, Sites and Groups? I tend to think hierarchically, maybe I need to think differently. I'm trying to think how I should organize my first scanner.
 

ecps92

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A lot of good info is avail at

a System is the owner (SysID) or Parent
Site or Zone is an individual Site or Cluster of Sites - Children
Talkgroups are the path thru which a user would select what channel to talk to someone else on. Who you allow your children to talk to

Sys 0d14 = Commonwealth of Mass
Site 05 or Zone 5 is the Metro Boston A/H cluster of towers
Talk-Group 33168 is the path to which users of A-PTL-1 (alpha tag) talk which our users have confirmed
to be the northern section of the MSP A-Troop

The above Talkgroup and Zone are currently Analog, but same same principles apply to a P25 Trunk as well

Just getting started in the scanning world, will dip my toes in analog first. Can someone explain simply the relationship between Systems, Sites and Groups? I tend to think hierarchically, maybe I need to think differently. I'm trying to think how I should organize my first scanner.
 
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gary123

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Welcome to scanning 101 :).

systems are the city or state your in
sites are the area of the city/state to be monitored
Talk groups are the specific people to listen to.

This is a huge question. There is no simple 3 sentence answer. You are going to have to do some research. Look up trunking and trunking systems on google and here on RR.

There are a lot of real good posts on all this in both the Wiki and many many threads. looking up your local system in the data base will also give a good idea of the structure. read them and then ask specific questions to clarify your understanding. Also do your research on the hardware almost certainly you will need a digital scanner that supports P25 and P25 Phase 2.
 

bob550

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Systems, sites, and talkgroups are most associated with APCO-25 digital radio systems. In terms of an organizational chart, the System is superior to the sites which are superior to the talkgroups. One System can be composed of several sites, and a single site can have many talkgroups. In our own county's case, Albany/Schenectady Counties is the system which is composed of 4 sites. Each site will have various Public Safety agencies with multiple talkgroups that have exclusive use of that site. In any case, I'd highly recommend the use of programming software for whatever scanner you choose. In that way, you can experiment with different programming scenarios by creating and saving multiple programming files.
 

ecps92

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Don't get blind-sided by the APCO-25 aka P25 talk
Systems, Sites/Zones and Talkgroups also apply to many common Analog trunking systems as well.


Systems, sites, and talkgroups are most associated with APCO-25 digital radio systems. In terms of an organizational chart, the System is superior to the sites which are superior to the talkgroups. One System can be composed of several sites, and a single site can have many talkgroups. In our own county's case, Albany/Schenectady Counties is the system which is composed of 4 sites. Each site will have various Public Safety agencies with multiple talkgroups that have exclusive use of that site. In any case, I'd highly recommend the use of programming software for whatever scanner you choose. In that way, you can experiment with different programming scenarios by creating and saving multiple programming files.
 

donc13

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Let me try to make it a tiny bit clearer... Maybe.

A system is the owner of a site.
A site is literally where the transmitter/receiver tower for a system is located
A talk group only applies to trunked systems. It's the equivalent of a channel on an analog site.

Prior to trunked radio, say your county (could be a city or state also) law enforcement would have a countywide radio for use (system). At some point in or near your county, would be a transmitter /receiver tower (site). Say the county sheriff's office had need for 5 channels (north patrol, south patrol, east patrol, west patrol and detectives) each channel is a separate frequency so 5 frequencies for sheriff's use. Say there was a small city police force also in the county and they need 3 channels. So now that site needs 8 separate frequencies. Add more agencies like fire and you could end up needing 20 or more frequencies.

With the advent of trunking radio systems, frequencies are shared via talk groups rather than separate frequencies. Say in my above example the sheriff would be talk group 100 and each patrol area would be it's own talk group 101,102,103 and so forth. The small city would be group 200 and it's 3 prior channels would be groups 201,202 and 203.

Each individual radio has the equivalent of the old channel knob that simply switches talk group. When you key the mike, the trunk radio control system (on the control channel) reads your talk group, looks for an unused frequency and grants your radio to that frequency and also signals all other radios set to your talk group to listen to that frequency. That whole process only takes a second or so. And because you are sharing frequencies between all the groups, each individual frequency will be used more often, so maybe now that county only needs 8 frequencies rather than 20 or more frequencies.

So in a nutshell, that's it.

Hope that help a little.
 

Finn42

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Don't get blind-sided by the APCO-25 aka P25 talk
Systems, Sites/Zones and Talkgroups also apply to many common Analog trunking systems as well.
Thanks, Don - my focus is more on the analog side as a new member of the community. I am sucking up a lot of information from a firehouse, so these foundational points are helpful in providing some context. I am starting with analog before I take the plunge into digital - area I am in is not there yet. So, looking to learn the basics.

Most of my context setting is around how do I organize the various frequencies so I can just monitor a few at a time, kinda pre arranged - say local town, then a different day separately a few towns, then State police, for example.

Certainly, a lot to learn. Every bit helps.
 

MStep

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Just getting started in the scanning world, will dip my toes in analog first. Can someone explain simply the relationship between Systems, Sites and Groups? I tend to think hierarchically, maybe I need to think differently. I'm trying to think how I should organize my first scanner.
The world of scanning has changed considerably over the past decade. It's difficult to avoid involvement with "digital" in many locations. If you want to make the absolute minimal investment and are happy with analog only to start, you can try the Baofeng UV-5R. Important Note: Although the coverage indicated by Amazon is amateur bands only, (144-148 and 420-450 MHz), every Baofeng UV-5R that I've received has extended receive coverage up to 170 and 500 MHz. Your mileage may vary, But for less that 25 bucks (at this time), it's very adequate.

As many have mentioned, once you start talking about "organizing" your scanner, and stuff like systems, sites and groups, you may find yourself heading away from the analog world. You might also want to check into the MA state forum here on RR for more precise information about your location. Best of luck in your endeavors.
 
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donc13

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Thanks, Don - my focus is more on the analog side as a new member of the community. I am sucking up a lot of information from a firehouse, so these foundational points are helpful in providing some context. I am starting with analog before I take the plunge into digital - area I am in is not there yet. So, looking to learn the basics.

Most of my context setting is around how do I organize the various frequencies so I can just monitor a few at a time, kinda pre arranged - say local town, then a different day separately a few towns, then State police, for example.

Certainly, a lot to learn. Every bit helps.
Read up on creating Favorite Lists and Quick Keys.

Don
 

iMONITOR

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Just getting started in the scanning world, will dip my toes in analog first. Can someone explain simply the relationship between Systems, Sites and Groups? I tend to think hierarchically, maybe I need to think differently. I'm trying to think how I should organize my first scanner.
P25 Digital Trunking 101 with Dale Osborne | February 2022

Lots of other helpful videos here:
 

bearcatrp

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Tell us what analog scanner you will be starting out with. If it’s a straight older scanner, no trunking, then it’s a matter of grouping into banks of the scanner of what you want to scan. If it’s a trunking scanner, gets a little more difficult. Depends on what baby steps you want to start with. It’s smart to start with analog only. Easy and less expensive. Besides what scanner you will be using, your location and what you want to scan will help us help you get started.
 

hiegtx

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Just getting started in the scanning world, will dip my toes in analog first. Can someone explain simply the relationship between Systems, Sites and Groups? I tend to think hierarchically, maybe I need to think differently. I'm trying to think how I should organize my first scanner.
Just for clarity, in your initial post, you inquired about systems, sites, and groups.

The previous answers have dealt with these, but the answers are referring to "talkgroups", not "groups".

If group, not "talkgroup", is what you are asking, then the answer is different from the posts above.

The definitions for 'systems' and 'sites' are provided above. For the specific term "group", as opposed to "talkgroup", the description is different. In the Uniden DMA scanners (as opposed to the newer database scanners such as the x36HP & SDS series), a 'group' is a collection of talkgroups (in a trunked system), or conventional channel frequencies. Generally, these are set up with related uses. For example, for a larger city, your groups might be set up with Law Enforcement talkgroups (or conventional frequencies if not on a trunked system), with another group for Fire, and others for, say, public works. For smaller cities, all of their related TGIDs (talkgroups) or conventional channels may be shown together in the same group. In some cases, on trunked systems, all of the cities in a given county may be lumped together in a single group entry. Basically, a group is simply used to gather related items for programming a given location.

What the DMA scanners call a "Group" is called a Department in the database scanners such as the x36HP & SDS series scanners, along with the HP-1 & HP-2.
 

Finn42

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Tell us what analog scanner you will be starting out with. If it’s a straight older scanner, no trunking, then it’s a matter of grouping into banks of the scanner of what you want to scan. If it’s a trunking scanner, gets a little more difficult. Depends on what baby steps you want to start with. It’s smart to start with analog only. Easy and less expensive. Besides what scanner you will be using, your location and what you want to scan will help us help you get started.
Will be starting with BCT15x. Cape Cod, Ma. Will use free scan to program. Will be some conventional, some trunking.
Things to scan - Local PD, FD, Municipalities, State Police as primary. Airport, USCG if I can, as some has gone to P25.

My question on organizing goes to how I can easily switch between a few different scans. For example, may want to just do one local town to monitor. Another day, maybe several towns proximate to mine, then another day, everything. I am reading up on quick keys and favorites. My goal is just to be able to go between these categories easily.

As you can tell for sure, I am just starting out and will not jump to the big leagues any time soon. At some point the area will go P25 and I will need to jump up to a digital scanner, but for now, its all about learning...and baby steps!
 

bearcatrp

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I have the BCT15X for analog air/military scanning. Good scanner. Still learning it but I use the search function more than anything at this point. You can scan by service search or do custom searches. Also, am using proscan which helps allot for programming. You will need a pc and the cable to connect. Search the forums and you will find the post about the correct cable to order. Got mine from amazon. If you go with that, let us know when you get it and we can help you get set up.

This is the cable you will need.
 

ecps92

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USCG is entirely P25 on their VHF/UHF LMR Nets, that said
you will hear them working with vessels in distress and maritime notices on the VHF Marine channels which are still Analog
Will be starting with BCT15x. Cape Cod, Ma. Will use free scan to program. Will be some conventional, some trunking.
Things to scan - Local PD, FD, Municipalities, State Police as primary. Airport, USCG if I can, as some has gone to P25.

My question on organizing goes to how I can easily switch between a few different scans. For example, may want to just do one local town to monitor. Another day, maybe several towns proximate to mine, then another day, everything. I am reading up on quick keys and favorites. My goal is just to be able to go between these categories easily.

As you can tell for sure, I am just starting out and will not jump to the big leagues any time soon. At some point the area will go P25 and I will need to jump up to a digital scanner, but for now, its all about learning...and baby steps!
 

Finn42

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I bit the bullet and went with a used BCT15X, will program with FreeScan....baby steps. Now, working on my organizational structure for the unit, leveraging Systems, Groups, Quick Keys (Systems and Group). Trying to keep it logical. The structure seems to address my desire to move through a few different options One town, then expand to adjacent towns, then full county. Conventional Systems for Police, Fire, Analog Trunking. I must say, the information out there on this forum and the local Scan NE has been very helpful, much good guidance from all of you.

For reference, here is how I think I will organize the scanner. Comes next week!
 

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Finn42

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Latest update - I did use Freescan to program the BCT15X. Very Easy, straightforward. A few things I learned as I went through the first few days of use.

Out of the Box - need to get the USB adapter. Picked up one for $20 at Best Buy.

Organization. I did find it helpful organizing my thoughts, preliminary structure before I began using the BCT15X. Logical groups, organizations. Importantly, quick groups I find to be a key feature to manage use - system QKs and Group QKs. Hence the suggestion to spend time on organizational thoughts first.

Trunked Groups. Originally, I had set up the scanner to have two different systems, one fire, one PD, for my local county. Underneath these systems, I had towns assigned to specific groups, each group named, each talk group named to town. Logical, but caused an issue. Since both Systems used the same Site, I would get Fire TGs showing up in the PD system during a scan, but just TGID, not name. Vice Versa too.
To correct and get the names to show up, I put both Fire and PD in the same system, logically separating the various towns into different groups. Now, I can turn on and turn off PD or FD, individually or in total (via multiple group QKs).

System quick keys - set up for all systems. Also, for the one Trunked Site. Set up that as a quick key. So, at top level, have quick keys for several conventional systems and one for trunked. Turn them on and off as needed. Easy to do with BCT15X, though feel you have to have a quick trigger finger to select system and underlying group to turn off.

Uploading and Unable to Scan - Two issues I had to deal with. After uploading, I got the "unable to scan" message. Two things I had to t do. First, I had to change the default state to my current state. Also, after fixing that, I still got the error. It seems if I turn off the unit, turn it back on after uploading....everything worked fine.

Very pleased. Easier than I thought it would be. Certainly, a good start - have maybe 150 frequencies in for now.
 
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