St Louis County to purchase new radio system

Status
Not open for further replies.
Joined
May 13, 2011
Messages
20
Location
St. Charles, Mo
I would not think that one way paging is going to die anytime soon.
It is still heavily used in the medical field for doctors and hospital staff.
They could use local systems for the hospital staff but the doctors still need the high power systems when away from the hospitals.
We have a LOT of doctors at work and every one of them still carries a one way pager.
I live near three major hospitals and they all seem to need a VHF and UHF (930) transmitters on their rooftops. The 900 signals do not mess with much here but the VHF signals tear the heck out of anything but a commercial grade receiver. I do agree that one way paging is dieing in the public sector but if you monitor the two common VHF frequencies, I'd bet they are still running a 75% duty cycle.
The signals in the 930 range run an even higher duty cycle.
I'd love to see they day that they die off though! I must use vhf PAR filters on the scanners for most of my VHF monitoring otherwise the paging signals get in and wreak havoc.
I also own Icom R7000 and R9000 receivers and those are mostly immune to the paging crud as I call it. Much better front ends there.
Hospital systems are amazing. Think about it, the antenna's up on the roof and the E-plane of radiation goes out toward the horizon, not down into the bowels of the heavily shielded radiology, maintenance office, or into the areas where biomedical equipment generates heavy RF noise. They're not very efficient. But some have quarter kW transmitters on 152.0075 or 157.45 just to brute force into the building. A lot of the hospitals do contract with paging companies to co-locate their equipment, but there aren't many companies still doing it. I think RCC in Franklin County is about the last local still in paging. If you were further out from those big buildings, you'd be doing a lot better.

Have you tried EMR filters? I think they make a series that's pre-tuned to the old IMTS and paging range.
 

kruser

Active Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
3,409
Location
St. Louis County, MO
Hospital systems are amazing. Think about it, the antenna's up on the roof and the E-plane of radiation goes out toward the horizon, not down into the bowels of the heavily shielded radiology, maintenance office, or into the areas where biomedical equipment generates heavy RF noise. They're not very efficient. But some have quarter kW transmitters on 152.0075 or 157.45 just to brute force into the building. A lot of the hospitals do contract with paging companies to co-locate their equipment, but there aren't many companies still doing it. I think RCC in Franklin County is about the last local still in paging. If you were further out from those big buildings, you'd be doing a lot better.

Have you tried EMR filters? I think they make a series that's pre-tuned to the old IMTS and paging range.
My antenna height is about the same height as the hospitals roof so that makes things even worse for me being about 3/4 mile away.
I do use filters on my antenna feed into the scanners. I buy filters made by PAR Electronics.
They sell them pre-tuned for 152 and 158 paging ranges in the VHF band and then again the same but in the UHF paging range. I don't have any problems with UHF paging transmitters here though.
Dale at PAR cutom built me a filter for 929 - 932 as I was getting blasted which caused desense in one of my poorer receivers. The PAR filters do a superb job in reducing the paging signals by about 30 dB I think the specs say. That is plenty to allow my receivers too handle the signal.
Of course I can still hear them when tuned on freq but no more desense or intermod at all even in the cheapest of front end designs.
I never needed any filters when I use an Icom R9000. It could handle the paging signals no problem.
The PAR filters drop off pretty fast so they do not cause much signal loss once you tune outside of the paging range.
Two years ago I needed two filters, one for 152 and another for 158 but today I only need the one at 152 MHz.
I'm not familiar with EMR filters but I'll look them up. Thanks for that info.
One thing I did forget was that I've also used the large cavity notch filters. I think by Decible Products. I tuned them both to the worst offender and they worked fantastic but they also had a much wider skirt so they knocked out too much outside of the paging range for my likes.
They now reside on my repeater at work on the receive radio and knock out the same paging signal from getting into the repeater!
The paging signal would never key the repeater due to DCS codes but you could hear the paging crud when a user was talking through the repeater. Those huge cavity filters worked wonders for solving that problem. My work repeater is also a VHF system.
Oh well, enough about filters and paging. I strayed way off the thread topic.
 
Last edited:

rcc13

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
8
Location
Washington, MO
First off...Hal: I don't even want to get started on the "consultants" of this world. I see almost every day how some consultant took a lot of money and gave out advice that hurts an agency. It's pathetic actually.

The big problem of site's is what still baffles me on the 700/800 systems. In Franklin County that has also been discussed but it is absurd to me. I do understand frequency problems in the cities...but still. The bottom line with 700/800 systems is pay twice as much to get half as much. It really is that simple.

I also agree with some of the other comments. The STL County system has not even been designed to the best of my knowledge. Experience in other cities nation-wide would tell us that the county 700/800 system may not be operational for a couple of years and certainly not until after the narrowbanding deadline.

I want to echo Kruser on paging. While it is NOT what it used to be. I sign up new paging customers every month. There is still a need. Yet another beef of mine, LTE is NOT the answer yet and won't be for the foreseeable future. Just not reliable enough. We even offer paging via text message to smart phones. But now you are dependent on the users LTE network. Just not reliable enough for first responders or anyone with life or death urgency.
 

kruser

Active Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
3,409
Location
St. Louis County, MO
I want to echo Kruser on paging. While it is NOT what it used to be. I sign up new paging customers every month. There is still a need. Yet another beef of mine, LTE is NOT the answer yet and won't be for the foreseeable future. Just not reliable enough. We even offer paging via text message to smart phones. But now you are dependent on the users LTE network. Just not reliable enough for first responders or anyone with life or death urgency.
Curious on your new paging signups, is most of it 900 MHz Flex stuff now or an equal mix of VHF and UHF (450) and 900?
We switched to using 900 MHz FLEX some time back and had a lot of problems. It seemed like a signal issue at first as I could hear weak signals on the 931 frequency.
Then the signals would blast so I suspected a tower not keying all the time. They sent a tech to the area and he confirmed all was ok. He also called me and told me that at least two of the hospitals near me have paging transmitters on the roof on the same frequency.
Now I know why we miss pages at work mainly, it is not because of a weak signal, it is caused by two signals arriving out of phase most likely as we sit exactly halfway between these two hospitals which are no more than two miles apart the way the crow flies. I suppose they setup like that to brute force signals down inside the bowels of the tall buildings like our pal Hal suggested.
At home I have no problems as I'm on the other side of one of the hospitals so my signal arrives from that building mainly. It is also so strong that no antenna is needed and a pager will work even if placed inside a steel box like a refrigerator or microwave. I’ve tried this!

I'm curious though as to new signups on the VHF paging frequencies. Those are the ones I wish would just go away! Monitoring the signals of the two worst offenders for me, 152.240 and 158.700 I think, they are still both very active systems so it makes me feel that there are a lot of users still on them.
I use a pager mainly for receiving alerts from an energy management system and other alarms on the computer network. Paging works great for me for these purposes. We do not allow cell phones at work for most of the staff so a pager is a must. I'm in a category of those that need a cell phone though so I can carry it if I wish (I do not wish too!) along with the other managers and my staff but it is nice to not be so easily reached!
I'd really not give up my pager for anything. It also works in some rural areas where cell phones do not. I was actually amazed that the pager did work being 930 MHz but it does. I'm talking an area about 45 minutes due south of St. Clair, MO in the hills. I can top a mountain (as I call it) and get a cell signal but no way at the cabin which sits down really low. The pager signal makes it though even though the "mountain" sits between the cabin and St. Louis. I'd have zero issues with a VHF pager as those signals are very strong in that area the last time I monitored signal levels . My flex pager does miss some characters at the cabin but usually never the entire message. I guess if it does, I'd never know! That's still better than a cell phone which gives me nothing at all! Somebody came down a few months ago and they did get a cell signal but I did not ask which carrier they were on. US Cellular and at&t and Verizon do not work.
Are their other cellular that have their own towers in the rural areas?
Or maybe someone is still running an AMPS signal down there.
Speaking of amps, the old AMPS service from SBC worked great but that is gone now of course. I still have a bag phone I carried when we went to the cabin as I could hook a small Yagi too it and get great signals plus it had a full 3 watts of RF so it had no problems talking to the tower. I miss the old AMPS days, I really do. No delays from the analog to digital conversion and you could still recover weak signal communications unlike digital which is all or none it seems.
Most carriers’ analog to digital is much faster now it seems but some are still horrible. One of the managers at work is on Verizon and she has a huge delay before she hears what I say. It may as well be simplex mode it is so bad. The same delay occurs when I use one of my guys Verizon phone to call this woman. I'm not sure if the delay is on Verizon's network or if it is just her phone but it is horrible to the point you just want to hang up on her!
at&t to at&t cell calls seem to be pretty good about not adding much delay.
 
Joined
May 13, 2011
Messages
20
Location
St. Charles, Mo
First off...Hal: I don't even want to get started on the "consultants" of this world. I see almost every day how some consultant took a lot of money and gave out advice that hurts an agency. It's pathetic actually.

The big problem of site's is what still baffles me on the 700/800 systems. In Franklin County that has also been discussed but it is absurd to me. I do understand frequency problems in the cities...but still. The bottom line with 700/800 systems is pay twice as much to get half as much. It really is that simple.

I also agree with some of the other comments. The STL County system has not even been designed to the best of my knowledge. Experience in other cities nation-wide would tell us that the county 700/800 system may not be operational for a couple of years and certainly not until after the narrowbanding deadline.

I want to echo Kruser on paging. While it is NOT what it used to be. I sign up new paging customers every month. There is still a need. Yet another beef of mine, LTE is NOT the answer yet and won't be for the foreseeable future. Just not reliable enough. We even offer paging via text message to smart phones. But now you are dependent on the users LTE network. Just not reliable enough for first responders or anyone with life or death urgency.
NOW it clicks - RCC/ Washington. Derr! You guys are on 450 and are probably the only local paging outfit in the region after Taylor took down his VHF system. Last I saw, his Nucleus bases were all unplugged at the sites and are probably Ebay'ed by now. I have to wonder how much traffic on the 900 systems is actually local and how much of it is pumped in over satellite from other markets just to keep the channel active so others can't claim it's unused.

The consultant of the same letters as yours decided that it would be best to let the manufacturers write the specs on where to put things. Some of the stakeholders involved in the early days thought that was stupid and did not leverage existing resources. It would require a build on existing sites, a tear-down, and a rebuild once the "real" sites the selected bidder proposed to meet coverage requirements on frequencies that weren't there. The brainiac who dreamed that strategy up was canned but not after others who were disgusted with the strategy took the opportunity to retire and walk away disgusted. And some people passed away during this time, too. But imagine that the consultants are walking in the front door and various salesmen are walking in the back door. I'm told that's what's in the stew.

LTE is network intensive. Where, except in the business corridors and affluent areas, will you find the fiber transport to pipe into LTE? What happens when to the whole system when a farmer, construction crew, or thief stealing anhydrous for his meth lab puts a backhoe to the fiber (which would most likely not be a ring)? LTE also has no direct capability. We've seen all these great "wireless" systems fold during floods and hurricanes and terror. The computer heads think having a big server in Atlanta and another big server in Seattle can run the entire country, and that's hardened. Except when something affects the site that's supposed to be handling the local traffic, or the last mile to the site. Only a fool believes it can shoulder the load of critical communications as things are now, and as willing as people are to invest in hardened transport.
 
Joined
May 13, 2011
Messages
20
Location
St. Charles, Mo
Are their other cellular that have their own towers in the rural areas?
Or maybe someone is still running an AMPS signal down there.
Speaking of amps, the old AMPS service from SBC worked great but that is gone now of course. I still have a bag phone I carried when we went to the cabin as I could hook a small Yagi too it and get great signals plus it had a full 3 watts of RF so it had no problems talking to the tower. I miss the old AMPS days, I really do. No delays from the analog to digital conversion and you could still recover weak signal communications unlike digital which is all or none it seems.
Most carriers’ analog to digital is much faster now it seems but some are still horrible. One of the managers at work is on Verizon and she has a huge delay before she hears what I say. It may as well be simplex mode it is so bad. The same delay occurs when I use one of my guys Verizon phone to call this woman. I'm not sure if the delay is on Verizon's network or if it is just her phone but it is horrible to the point you just want to hang up on her!
at&t to at&t cell calls seem to be pretty good about not adding much delay.
I miss AMPS service, too. The latency on digital phones drives me nuts. Someone pauses, I start to talk, and then they start talking because I didn't respond right away because of the delays. Makes you want to say "Over" just like the Army. The compression sounds distorted to me, too. It's a strain to listen to and I'd rather tell someone to hang up and call me on an old fashioned wired phone. Improvement? Then again, I liked IMTS.
 

rcc13

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
8
Location
Washington, MO
Hal...you and I need to have lunch some time!!!

First off, do you have any idea how much we hate that there is this other company out there with our name? And of course they have to be in communications. Now, I don't like knocking any company. BUT...if you do a tiny bit of research on the other RCC, you will find some interesting tidbits about alleged collaborations with Motorola. That's all I'm saying there.

As far as paging...there are still other nationwide paging companies operating in the STL area. Paging is still used far more than most people believe.

I also agree with all of your points about LTE. But guess what? If things progress, we sure are going to find out what kind of an LTE network you can build when you toss billions of dollars at the problem. Want to guess what my tiny little radio shop could do with that same money? I could outfit the entire Midwest with digital 6.25 VHF systems. I guess I need to hire some lobbyists of my own.

As a side note to the LTE issue...our business cell plan normally provides us with 5 bars and a great signal here at our office. For over a month now we keep losing coverage all together. Can't even make a call. That would be OK for first responders, right? Especially when we call and they just can't seem to figure out what the problem is. I can't see a police department having ANY issue with that kind of reliability, can you?
 

mjthomas59

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
510
This system is a whole lot further along than people know apparently. Its been in the works for quite some time, and the basic plan was in place prior to the MSHP designing their system. Its really not clear when it will be done, but the agencies that I have talked with, that are potential users for this system, are well aware that they will need to narrowband their VHF stuff before this new system is fully online. The good news is a lot of these agencies either have narrowband capable stuff already, or lease their radios, which will be upgraded this year anyway.

As far as interesting "collaboration", I would start looking at places like the East-West Gateway, STARRS, the big RCC, and Motorola. I would suspect there are some interesting coincidences between who has worked for who in their past lives.
 
Last edited:

rcc13

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
8
Location
Washington, MO
mjthomas,

I agree that the system is moving along. The way I understand it, once the system infrastructure is in place, radio builders other than Motorola will be allowed to bid on individual department equipment. I had a meeting with Icom a couple weeks ago and they are working on the specs, etc. As long as the Icom radio fits the profile for the system, we can sell them to anyone on the system.

I'm not sure how much I should be commenting on, being the "little RCC". But yes, there are some strange relationships associated with this whole deal. I just keep shoving my foot in doors and trying as best I can. But knowing that there are others who see things like this at least is some justification.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top