StarCom Site Help

Status
Not open for further replies.

jobes

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
277
Location
IL
Hello,

With my local's Huntley and Lake in the Hills moving to StarCom21 I think I've finally grasped my understanding of the system.

But, I still having a difficult time understating how sites work. Say I want to program DuComm (Bartlett DuPage County) into a new system do I use my local McHenry simulcast site?

Using my BCD436 I was able to locate the system and saved to a new favorite list but when I activated that favorite it was scanning all IL sites and not picking up and transmissions.

I've tried reading every wiki I could find but its just not clarifying it for me.

Any help would be deeply appreciated.
 

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,534
Location
Far NW Valley
Networked systems like StarCom use a combination of Simulcast and individual sites. In the suburban area you are in they use Simulcast sites.

These systems work kind of like cellular systems. Site 101 in the DuPage area has several simulcast towers all on the same frequency set. Radios within the footprint of Site 101 tend to stay affiliated with 101, meaning they are using 101's frequencies. If all radios in that conversation are using 101's freqs (meaning they are affiliated with 101) then the conversation will be heard only on 101 and not the neighboring sites.

If a radio in that conversation is affiliated to another tower then the conversation will be heard on that tower as well.

This all serves to keep communications restricted to the towers needed to complete the communications and to avoid wasting resources of the system.

If you want to hear stuff in DuPage then you want to program in the site in DuPage (101) and hopefully you can hear it from where you are. If not then a better antenna might help but if you are pretty far even that might not help.
 

jobes

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
277
Location
IL
I'll see what I can pull in using the assigned site. Thanks once again Rich.
 

RoninJoliet

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2003
Messages
3,044
Location
ILL
If you can hear the "control channel" you usually can hear the "tower" and the TG's associated with it....I live in Joliet and can hear T113,102, 126 and 125 because I get at least 3-5 bars on the CC used on those towers...I cannot hear T101 in DuPage Co so no luck ....
 
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
95
Location
Basement Dweller, Huntley IL
Starcom21 Sites RF Levels in Huntley IL

Take a peek at the DuPage Site Tower coverage area map, (ie the RF Field Strength Level map) which you can find by clicking on the Dupage County Simulcast Site (System Frequencies link) on the Starcom21 Database. Zoom in on the map, Red circle, coverage area is up to Hoffman Estates, Elgin, Arlington Heights areas, the Red circle area is the Full Strength RF Signal Coverage, anything past that is marginal RF level. This is the point where RF signal level will drop off into the mud and you may not receive enough RF control signal to be useable to trunk. I have not tried to use the Dupage site as if you zoom in on the map, full RF signal level cuts off in Elgin at Rte #31 or thereabouts, so Huntley is outside the main coverage area. I am at the Lith/Huntley border near the new Huntley Hospital.

In Huntley, I mostly use the Kane Simulcast Tower as I can rx it in my basement with full strength, on my portables with stock antennas. It seems to work "the best" for this area. The NWCD Site (141), I am a few miles past the Full Strength Coverage Area, (Ending West for me at Randall Rd) and I only get 2 bars or less and so many fades, I can't use reliably. 4 floors up in the new Huntley Hospital today, I got Full Strength on this NWCD site (for once) and perfect 100% signal levels at the windows facing both south and then also east. But on the map the hospital is just past full strength coverage area (red zone) but I was 4 floors up so up goes the signal level.

I have tried using the McHenry Tower (14E) and I didn't get any control signal lock, even today at the hospital, yet I'm in the Full Signal Coverage area. That site is whack, I've never had any luck using it. (Ssshh, I think the ISP mostly abandoned it and it is just "Left On" for licensing proofs or future use). This is listed as the McHenry ISP/Simulcast site, but there's something screwy about it, it don't work good.

Now the Other McHenry Site, (#140) is a crapshoot. I'm in Full RF Signal Strength area, I get full control signal lock (using bandscope I get max signal levels on it) but I miss a lot of D15 traffic and other TGs too, like all the IDOT TGs and such. It does have McHenry Sheriff (all Enc) but the RF signals fade like stink and I can't use it reliably. They don't seem to carry the full simulcast (ISP State) loads either as it seems just for McHenry county (local towns TGs here mostly). Whatever. Seems two out of four of their STA licenses have expired for the site also. Same signal coverage as the other McHenry site mostly too. I haven't heard Bartlett TGs, here but it probably wouldn't carry them. Best bet on Kane site and NWCD sites, as technically, they would have to show up on these as these are in the county.

Now it all depends on what TGs they decide to put on your tower and what get priority to the full power xmitters on that system. The Kane Tower site (142) seems to be carrying the full load of ISP's TG traffic with the strongest signals in Huntley. Plus all of IDOT TGs and such into Chicago. But it also has the DuComm stuff on it too. The NWCD site seems to be setup to give priority to local NW towns first over state TGs traffic and DChgo. But these TGs are still there too, which is why this site has so many frequencies running on it. A huge TG load, all the ISP TGs and all the NW towns.

As for Lith/Huntley PD TG #34103, I've heard them on the NWCD site, the Kane site, the McHenry (140) sites. Mapwise, Lith PD TG should show up on all three sites, as they're in main coverage area. I have gotten Ducomm stuff on the Kane site fine. Works there.

Just try the (Kane site (142), McHenry (140) and NWCD (141) control channel frequencies and get rid of the others. I gave up the Zip code method, it screws it all up. You will need to create/label an all new Favorites list. Plug each control channel lineup into a New System, give it a separate Quick key. Add all the TG data to each system. Label each system. I just copy/pasted all the TGs data from my Kane site to the other two sites. But keep the sites completely separate on separate Quick keys. Hope it works out.
 

retired25

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
26
If you want to listen to LITH and Huntley, you want to use site
1 (1) 046 (2E) McHenry County - Simulcast McHenry, IL 851.7375c 851.350 852.550a 853.0375a 853.3125
The McHenry/ISP site 020 appears to have been migrated into site 046. It is no longer appearing as a peer site in unitrunker.
 

RoninJoliet

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2003
Messages
3,044
Location
ILL
I don't know where he got those tower #'s but I hear Kane Co and LITH-Huntly on T126-Kane Co just fine here in Joliet....
 

jobes

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
277
Location
IL
Thanks RF looks like we are neighbors. I'm just south of the farm across Algonquin Rd.

I'll focus more on site control and see what I can hear based on your recommendations.

Take a peek at the DuPage Site Tower coverage area map, (ie the RF Field Strength Level map) which you can find by clicking on the Dupage County Simulcast Site (System Frequencies link) on the Starcom21 Database. Zoom in on the map, Red circle, coverage area is up to Hoffman Estates, Elgin, Arlington Heights areas, the Red circle area is the Full Strength RF Signal Coverage, anything past that is marginal RF level. This is the point where RF signal level will drop off into the mud and you may not receive enough RF control signal to be useable to trunk. I have not tried to use the Dupage site as if you zoom in on the map, full RF signal level cuts off in Elgin at Rte #31 or thereabouts, so Huntley is outside the main coverage area. I am at the Lith/Huntley border near the new Huntley Hospital.

In Huntley, I mostly use the Kane Simulcast Tower as I can rx it in my basement with full strength, on my portables with stock antennas. It seems to work "the best" for this area. The NWCD Site (141), I am a few miles past the Full Strength Coverage Area, (Ending West for me at Randall Rd) and I only get 2 bars or less and so many fades, I can't use reliably. 4 floors up in the new Huntley Hospital today, I got Full Strength on this NWCD site (for once) and perfect 100% signal levels at the windows facing both south and then also east. But on the map the hospital is just past full strength coverage area (red zone) but I was 4 floors up so up goes the signal level.

I have tried using the McHenry Tower (14E) and I didn't get any control signal lock, even today at the hospital, yet I'm in the Full Signal Coverage area. That site is whack, I've never had any luck using it. (Ssshh, I think the ISP mostly abandoned it and it is just "Left On" for licensing proofs or future use). This is listed as the McHenry ISP/Simulcast site, but there's something screwy about it, it don't work good.

Now the Other McHenry Site, (#140) is a crapshoot. I'm in Full RF Signal Strength area, I get full control signal lock (using bandscope I get max signal levels on it) but I miss a lot of D15 traffic and other TGs too, like all the IDOT TGs and such. It does have McHenry Sheriff (all Enc) but the RF signals fade like stink and I can't use it reliably. They don't seem to carry the full simulcast (ISP State) loads either as it seems just for McHenry county (local towns TGs here mostly). Whatever. Seems two out of four of their STA licenses have expired for the site also. Same signal coverage as the other McHenry site mostly too. I haven't heard Bartlett TGs, here but it probably wouldn't carry them. Best bet on Kane site and NWCD sites, as technically, they would have to show up on these as these are in the county.

Now it all depends on what TGs they decide to put on your tower and what get priority to the full power xmitters on that system. The Kane Tower site (142) seems to be carrying the full load of ISP's TG traffic with the strongest signals in Huntley. Plus all of IDOT TGs and such into Chicago. But it also has the DuComm stuff on it too. The NWCD site seems to be setup to give priority to local NW towns first over state TGs traffic and DChgo. But these TGs are still there too, which is why this site has so many frequencies running on it. A huge TG load, all the ISP TGs and all the NW towns.

As for Lith/Huntley PD TG #34103, I've heard them on the NWCD site, the Kane site, the McHenry (140) sites. Mapwise, Lith PD TG should show up on all three sites, as they're in main coverage area. I have gotten Ducomm stuff on the Kane site fine. Works there.

Just try the (Kane site (142), McHenry (140) and NWCD (141) control channel frequencies and get rid of the others. I gave up the Zip code method, it screws it all up. You will need to create/label an all new Favorites list. Plug each control channel lineup into a New System, give it a separate Quick key. Add all the TG data to each system. Label each system. I just copy/pasted all the TGs data from my Kane site to the other two sites. But keep the sites completely separate on separate Quick keys. Hope it works out.
 

jobes

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
277
Location
IL
Would anyone be willing to provide a Sentinel file so I can see and understand the correct structure of the systems?
 

jobes

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
277
Location
IL
Ok so I created all the sites in ARC536 that I believe will work. Can someone confirm my attached systems and see if I've done it correctly or any changes I need to make?
 

Attachments

Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
95
Location
Basement Dweller, Huntley IL
Huntley SC21 Sentinel File

Enclosed is my Sentinel file. I don't use ARC, but Sentinel isn't letting me use, it only gives me my own. I tried to use the import function, no luck either. Probably have to relabel it as my own favs list and re open but I don't want to mess.

As far as Site Numbers I listed, those were the Site NAC #s for the towers.
 

Attachments

jobes

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
277
Location
IL
Thanks RF

I tried my file yesterday and most seemed to be good with the exception of DuComm still. I've tried both McHenry sites and Kane but nothing.

I'll give your file a try tonight.
 
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
95
Location
Basement Dweller, Huntley IL
Starcom21 Audio Quality

I spoke to a Lake In The Hills Police Officer and Paramedics today about the "Audio Quality Issue." They all agreed that "Nobody knows who's talking anymore" on the new Starcom system. He said that the "Test Radios" worked a lot better in the trial runs. They could tell who was who on old the VHF radios. No problem.

Being a sound engineer myself, I am certain this new "Audio Quality Issue" on SC21 is due to squashed audio bandwith, as the audio frequency response seems to be just completely gone past 1khz. (Due to the RF signal Narrowbanding, the audio freq response is severly limited) But of course...the fine detail of the human voice, lives right beyond 2-6 khz and up. Without this fine detail, you really can't tell who is who anymore. I sure can't on the scanner. The old VHF radios had excellent freq response, probably pass 20Hz-15 khz on a good day with sub audible PL tones. Not the SC21 radios. The human Ear/Brain processing CPU is much better than we realize at interpretating vocal characteristics by sound alone.
 

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,534
Location
Far NW Valley
I spoke to a Lake In The Hills Police Officer and Paramedics today about the "Audio Quality Issue." They all agreed that "Nobody knows who's talking anymore" on the new Starcom system. He said that the "Test Radios" worked a lot better in the trial runs. They could tell who was who on old the VHF radios. No problem.

Being a sound engineer myself, I am certain this new "Audio Quality Issue" on SC21 is due to squashed audio bandwith, as the audio frequency response seems to be just completely gone past 1khz. (Due to the RF signal Narrowbanding, the audio freq response is severly limited) But of course...the fine detail of the human voice, lives right beyond 2-6 khz and up. Without this fine detail, you really can't tell who is who anymore. I sure can't on the scanner. The old VHF radios had excellent freq response, probably pass 20Hz-15 khz on a good day with sub audible PL tones. Not the SC21 radios. The human Ear/Brain processing CPU is much better than we realize at interpretating vocal characteristics by sound alone.
Having used both StarCom21 and analog channels it is more of the digital processing than the bandwidth. Digital sounds different than the analog systems it is replacing and once accustomed to it users tend to start recognizing voices again.

One thing I noticed on StarCom21 subscriber radios (vs. scanners) is the absence of artifacts in the conversation. When we first got a StarCom radio in the comm center our people would be looking around the room for the person talking, not recognizing it was coming from the radio.

There was a similar "break-in period" for the analog wide to narrow conversion and that might have been more traumatic than the StarCom change. The voices sounded more tinny of course and it took a while before people were comfortable. In small towns users rely more on the voice than the unit numbers so it took a bit to re-acclimate one's self with them after both conversions.
 

jobes

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
277
Location
IL
Not surprised really. With 40yrs of listening (not including the TV show Emergency haha) I too have a very difficult time understanding some transmissions but most I can still.
 

jobes

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
277
Location
IL
RF, have you had any success hearing Arlington Heights FD or other FD's on NWCD besides Elk Grove/Palatine which comes in perfectly on the McHenry tower?
 
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
95
Location
Basement Dweller, Huntley IL
Arlington Hts FD on NWCD Site

Yes, I get these calls so much it was hogging up my scanners! Especially the Robotic Renee FDs callouts. Every third scanner hit I got was for EMS/FD for some NWCD village. I find their semi-compu-automated EMS dispatch just sickening & heartless. What's next? Will they soon just skip the Paramedics altogether and send you a Google Self Driver car with Flashing Red "Emergency" stick on Pizza sign on top to take you to hospital? Cold.

My Mom (86 yrs old) was in Huntley Hospital 2 weeks heart attack, has only 15% heart function EF. Just came back last week, fell 2x already, almost went right back Sat night. "Huntley Fire Dept you have a Fall Victim at ..." My house 2x in 2 days. I haven't listened much to anything. Endless Doc visits, nurses will come right to home 6x/week now for a few weeks. Ughh. 24hr care. Me now.

At least we still have Real-Human-Beings in LITH/Huntley PD/FD doing radio dispatch callouts. And Great Paramedics. No Robotic Renee please. And Phase 2 on the scanner is still 2x LOUD on NWCD system.

(To N9JIG...I agree, we are doing an IMBE AMBE (AD/DA) voice conversion process, and our scanners are only decoding the digital/analog end result with unknown RF signal quality. And the scanner is still just a scanner. I'm waiting for the backward compatible (and better quality) audio codecs to come along. Might be a while, I know. I actually think the ISP sounds relatively good on Starcom21. Worked it out they did.)
 

FFPM571

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 11, 2003
Messages
1,282
Location
Chicago area
NWCD Fire and Huntley FD and PD is not Phase II it's still Phase 1 as I can hear them on my XTS5000 that does not do Phase II
 

Johnnydollar2

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
1,321
Location
IL
NWCD phase 2

@RF-guy Yes. NWCD does dispatch in Phase 2 on 2752 off and on. Don't know why. It BLASTS the auto voice and tones compared to phase 1. Luckily, Whistler has given us those +2 -10 controls for digital transmissions like those. Most the time NWCD 2751-52-53 are in Phase 1. AND as far as that Automated dispatcher? you must not know the reason FOR that? it's so the real folks *humans* can be on the phone longer getting vital information while the auto dispatcher gets things rolling. Ask anyone working at NWCD or any dispatch center that uses those. It's actually a HELP to citizens and saves time.
 

Johnnydollar2

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
1,321
Location
IL
FFPM571 - yes. You're right. I still hear all the same talkgroups on my old Pro96. Only phase 2 doesn't come over it. Most the time NWCD uses phase 1 for dispatching and at times Phase 2 for 2752 and most the Fireground talkgroups. I have heard fireground in phase 1 many times too. It's just one more benefit of having a Phase 2 capable radio eh?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top