St Loius City Fire

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gregjolly

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Could someone tell me what system St Loius City fire operates on. The P25 or conventional analog? trying to help someone monitor that area. Thanks in advance.
 

kruser

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Could someone tell me what system St Loius City fire operates on. The P25 or conventional analog? trying to help someone monitor that area. Thanks in advance.
Both!

They are still on their old analog VHF system but I've been seeing several reports that there has been active testing of all units (roll calls etc.) coming up on the Cities main P25 system. Then the same roll calls will be repeated on the VHF system so I'd say they are smack dab in the middle of switching over to the P25 system.
It sounds like they have the new equipment installed and the portables assigned.
I've not watched the P25 system yet to see what talkgroups are showing up.
I may do this over the next few weeks so I can catch what I've been reading.

The reports I've read were in a Yahoo group called STLASE.
 

KeyWest35

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Could someone tell me what system St Loius City fire operates on. The P25 or conventional analog? trying to help someone monitor that area. Thanks in advance.
Rumor has it they will be switching over to the P25 system next month. They have indeed been testing their radios and checking buildings were repeaters have been installed. I also understand that their fire stations dispatch audible is not ready for digital signals so i assume they will still transmit on both analog and digital for a while. Remenber the county is still on analog and will not be on P25 for over a year and a half at earliest. I understand that county fire trucks that do mutual aide will have a digital radio in their truck to communicate with the city. Hope it works for them with all of the reception problems that digital radios can cause as it is still a computer that controls the system.
 

gregjolly

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Thanks guys. Local knowledge is so key. This will really help out a lot. I appreciate you both taking the time to post a reply. That's what makes the forums so great!
 

edelaney

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The city trucks will still have the VHF radios for mutual aid responses. Not everyone is as welthy as some of the county departments out there and can't afford a digital radio in their truck not to mention their base station. They are retraining all dispatcher on the fire side on the system and will be switching over in the near future. Which means as someone said above within a month or so.
 

902

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Hope it works for them with all of the reception problems that digital radios can cause as it is still a computer that controls the system.
I hate to throw a wrench into that, but just about every radio since about 1983, trunked or conventional, VHF or 800, and even Low Band has a computer that controls it. If it isn't crystalled or doesn't have channel elements, it's computer driven.
 

Scooter-stl

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Rumor has it they will be switching over to the P25 system next month. They have indeed been testing their radios and checking buildings were repeaters have been installed. I also understand that their fire stations dispatch audible is not ready for digital signals so i assume they will still transmit on both analog and digital for a while. Remenber the county is still on analog and will not be on P25 for over a year and a half at earliest. I understand that county fire trucks that do mutual aide will have a digital radio in their truck to communicate with the city. Hope it works for them with all of the reception problems that digital radios can cause as it is still a computer that controls the system.
I'm the guy running the St. Louis Police and Fire scanner feed and it appears the fire department feed has moved away from the conventional 154.1300 frequency. I was getting it up until the weekend, but it was very distorted, primarily because of my scanner location and RF interference. I have been hearing radio tests on the the P25 system (SL Fire 1, 10205, IIRC), but no dispatches as of yet. They must be transmitting somewhere, but I can't find it. Does's anyone know what frequency or ID they are using now?
I have several fire department IDs programmed in but none of them have gone live.
 

kruser

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I'm the guy running the St. Louis Police and Fire scanner feed and it appears the fire department feed has moved away from the conventional 154.1300 frequency. I was getting it up until the weekend, but it was very distorted, primarily because of my scanner location and RF interference. I have been hearing radio tests on the the P25 system (SL Fire 1, 10205, IIRC), but no dispatches as of yet. They must be transmitting somewhere, but I can't find it. Does's anyone know what frequency or ID they are using now?
I have several fire department IDs programmed in but none of them have gone live.
I was still hearing them fine on 154.130 and the 460.175 simulcast through last evening (Sunday) around 9 PM.
I'm off work today so I'll monitor the old vhf stuff again today as well as the old analog 800 and P25 systems. I keep expecting the old 800 analog system to go dead but there is still traffic on it although fire was never on the analog 800 system to my knowledge.
I will say I've not heard a peep yet today though.

I take that back, they just dispatched on 154.130 and it sounded normal with normal signal levels out here in Chesterfield.

edit: Perhaps the RF Interference you mention is wiping out your reception of city fire VHF. What kind of radio are you using?
You may be experiencing desense from other local high power transmitters.
I just heard them again and the signal sounds very normal here.
 
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Scooter-stl

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I was still hearing them fine on 154.130 and the 460.175 simulcast through last evening (Sunday) around 9 PM.
I'm off work today so I'll monitor the old vhf stuff again today as well as the old analog 800 and P25 systems. I keep expecting the old 800 analog system to go dead but there is still traffic on it although fire was never on the analog 800 system to my knowledge.
I will say I've not heard a peep yet today though.

I take that back, they just dispatched on 154.130 and it sounded normal with normal signal levels out here in Chesterfield.

edit: Perhaps the RF Interference you mention is wiping out your reception of city fire VHF. What kind of radio are you using?
You may be experiencing desense from other local high power transmitters.
I just heard them again and the signal sounds very normal here.
The interference I'm getting is coming from my computer desk. I've got a wireless router, AT&T dialup modem, computer, MacBook pro and charger, wireless mouse, credit card processor, printer and monitor all within a 5' of each other. I've been moving it to all sorts of different locations, but it's not helping much.
If I had another desktop computer available I'd try moving it. This setup is at my office (south St. Louis) because I can't receive signals at our house in the Wildwood/Glencoe area, but I have control over it using VPN.

For the record, I'm using a GRE PSR-500 with factory rubber duck antenna. I've been thinking about getting an external antenna so I can get away from the noise, but I keep thinking the city FD is about to move over to the P25 system, so I don't want to waste the money on it.

What Mod/Squelch mode are you using (if any) for 154.1300 or the simulcast frequency - 460.175?
 

kruser

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What Mod/Squelch mode are you using (if any) for 154.1300 or the simulcast frequency - 460.175?
I can hear them in any mode, FM or NFM. I don't think I have the PL tones set either. I know I don't on the Icom as it does not have a tone decoder.

Here is something that may be worth a try if you are fairly certain the noise is from all the equipment near the radio. Get a mobile antenna from radio shack and stick it on a file cabinet or something similar as far away as the cable will allow. I've found that a lot of the noise makers only need to be located a few feet away from the radio before their noise drops to the point the noise becomes nil. Using a mobile antenna may just be enough to help in your case. As the receiver is in south city, you should be good for signal levels for most everything.
Of course if the noise is entering the radio through the metal case, the external antenna may not help at all and only seperating the radio away from the noisy equipment will help.
Not sure if you saw the PM I'd sent you but have you tried turning the attenuator on for the city fire VHF channel only? The GRE radios can become very poor receivers at VHF when there is other high level RF around them. Sometimes all that is needed is the attenuator enabled on those frequencies only. Other times, the attenuator will not help and you must determine the offending frequency and buy a notch filter to filter out the strong signals. I must do that here for the few VHF paging signals still running otherwise I can barely hear a thing on any of my GRE made radios in the VHF band.

Your P25 audio sounds fine!

I forgot to add to keep the mobile antenna packaging in case it does not work should you try it. Radioshack will take about anything back up to 30 days I think. I'd try the attenuator before anything though.
You should be able to enable that remotely over the VPN.
 
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Scooter-stl

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Yeah, I got your PM, hope you don't mind if I reply right here...

I tried attenuating it, but it didn't help much, if at all. I've got a few older scanners here that give me similar results (Radio Shack Pro-164, Uniden analog trunking scanner and a couple of old Sport Cats). Some are better than others, but none of them sound good for the SLFD. If I walk away about 5' from my desk they work fine.

I think I'll give an external antenna a shot. I do have a few other analog channels opened up, things like Point-to-Point, mutual aid and weather spotters, so I guess it won't be completely useless when the FD goes to P25.

Thanks for your reply. :)
 

kruser

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No problems replying here. Better anyway in case it helps others.

Good luck with an external. I bet it will make a huge difference unless it just pulls in more local unwanted stuff which does happen for some.
It does sound like you just need to get your antenna away from your local devices and an external or even mobile antenna should do just that!

While a mobile antenna is expecting a groud plane under it, I've seen them make a hugh difference without. I used one for years just stuck to a 3/4 inch wide steel balcony rail. It worked fantastic but I figure it helped so much mainly because it got the antenna away from all my RF radiating junk that I own.

Post back here again after you make some changes and let us know how you made out!

I know what I meant to ask you, does your current PSR500 and its antenna pickup any of the mobile units on the VHF fire channels?
That is one thing I mess out here. I can copy the base fine but it is rare that I hear any mobiles due to my distance.
Them moving to the P25 system may be a blessing for me hearing all fire action for a change but most importantly, I hope it works out well for them and nobody gets hurt. I read about all the problems with P25 and fire fighting and how some departments have switched back to their old analog radios because of the problems. Things are getting better though with regards to some of the unique problems firefighters face when using digital radios.
My reception of the 460.175 channel is not near as good here as the VHF channel and I can't imagine how either of them would be out in Wildwood. Wildwood has a lot of low areas but it also has some nice and high elevations as well like around Hidden Valley. There is still a lot of tall ridges between much of Wildwood and the city though so that must make it tough for receiving a lot of things from the STL county and city areas.

How do you do monitoring areas west, north and south of your wildwood location? That is if you even have a radio at home! I'm always looking to improve my reception to the west and south. I do really good to the north and into Illinois up north but there is not much worth monitoring north of here. Jeffco is fun as is northern Franklin county and St. Charles city and county. I do get great reception from those directions from my area of Chesterfield.
Anything over the ridge between here and Eureka or Pacific, I can forget about most of that though. Once Jeffco changes their radio system, I suspect I'll lose what I have now. Their signal booms in up here but I think I read they are changing to a local P25 sytem and I bet it will be simulcast with the towers aiming back into their county. The 700 MHz system that is part of the STL City P25 system is like that here. I must aim a beam that direction otherwise I have no signal from it. I can hear the sheriff on their single channel P25 system just fine here on 155.490 though. All except a Icom R2500 that is. It will not decode that P25 single channel for anything but works fantastic for all the other single channel P25 channels throughout the area. I've tried everything on the 155.490 P25 signal. Amplifying, attenuating, omni and beam antennas, altering the frequency in very small steps, changing the modulation from normal too narrow but nothing really helps. I've felt as though the P25 data is overmodulated but nothing I can do about that. The GRE and Uniden radios plus DSD all decode 155.490 just fine even DSD works fine when using the same R2500 for the receiver and feeding its audio to the laptop for DSD.
The signal level from that signal is also very good here but not quite good enough for an indoor antenna.
 

Scooter-stl

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I'll give you a short answer for now and address the other stuff later (I'm heading home).

From my very short experience using the PSR500 as a mobile, I thought the RF might have been a little weak compared to my other handheld scanners. However, I only used it for a day or so before I made its permanent home here at my office. If I take it away and experiment I might make some of my listeners unhappy, me included. :)

Btw, I just got back from Radio Shack and they only have window mount antennas, not the magnetic mount I was after. I tried the Gravois (near Gustine) location and then called the one on Hampton and they don't have it either, so I suppose I'll have to find one online. The internet shops have better options anyway.
 

kruser

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That figures. It is the shack though so I guess no big surprise they don't have the other antennas.

One of the county shacks always seemed to have more scanner related items in stock. It was either the Brentwood of Kirkwood location I think. I'm pretty sure it was Kirkwood as that used to be my old stomping grounds and I still have a lot of the old gang that live in the area so I seem to frequent the area often. Brentwood just always seems to be off the beaten path no matter what so I don't get there often but I did buy the radioshack version of the PSR600 there as they were the only store that had it back then. If you end up tryin a shack again, maybe call the kirkwood store and checking. I'd imagine they are along your journey home maybe if you go 44 and they are only about maybe 1/4 to 1/2 mile north of 44 on Lindbergh. Out front of the Lowes or is it Home Depot store that can be seen from the highway.
Buying online may get you better quality though. I've not bought a mobile antenna in years so I have no suggestions in that area.
I think a lot of people had pretty good results with the magnetic one the shack sells. The one that has the two small loading coils that is. I assume they still sell that one. I used one mobile years ago and now use it on the apartment roof for testing purposes only but I'd changed the cable that came out of it with a very short hunk of LMR200 to a female N connector so I can hook LMR400 to it for 700MHz and higher testing. I stick it in the middle of one of the large AC units so it gets a ground plane. The AC unit is also grounded to the building so it works better then I'd imagined it would. Rain made its way into both coils and the base before though so it corroded everything. When I cleaned that up is also when I changed the cable and connector. I also sealed the coils and base very well as it is up there year round for years now.
 

Scooter-stl

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Quick note:
I found a magnetic mount antenna at Rat Shack in Chesterfield Valley. I'll have it up and running tomorrow morning.

Regarding SLFD response units, you'll rarely hear them unless they are pretty close by. That's using a handheld with stock antenna, and yes, it will be much nicer hearing both ends of the conversation when they go P25.

Today I experimented with the magnetic mount on my car today, and it was pulling in a lot more talk than I used to get. In particular the Highway patrol and CB channels, but it's also pulling in VHF much better than it used to.

When we built our house I put a big honking UHF/VHF/FM antenna as well as Radio Shack's best outdoor antenna (2005 vintage) in our attic, but I've yet to hook the scanner antenna up to my wall outlet. The coax is there, I just need to terminate it at the wall jack, so I'm curious to see what kind of stuff that will pull in.
 
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