STARS Reception

Status
Not open for further replies.

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
Greetings. Have a 396XT and am having strange problem. I recently upgraded to the latest firmware (1.11.something) and for all intents and purpose knocked out STARS reception. Apparently the latest firmware did cause problems so I rolled back to what I had (1.08.14) but STARS still sketchy, esp in car. Will show control channel with 4-5 bars but with no decode....then will go to "NFM", then hit another CC and get reception for a minute until the bouncing process starts anew. Now I know through the glass antenna are not the best BUT it picks up marine and weather on VHF fine and I can sit in Churchland (Portsmouth) and listen to VA Beach (20-30 miles) loud and clear so I am not thinking antenna problem. Also with the RS 800 antenna attached I get zero reception in the car whereas before I was. I have adjusted P25 settings to no avail, except that it worsens above 50. I feel that messing with the firmware has caused my problem as it was working fine beforehand. Has anybody had this or heard of this happening or am I just the lucky one. Any input would be appreciated.

Eugene KG4AVE
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
Since this seems to be a peculiar and isolated STARS problem, I am posting here rather than antenna or tech section as STARS is particular to VA.

Eugene KG4AVE
 

LeSueurC

Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2014
Messages
931
Location
Portsmouth, VA
Try adjusting the P25 threshold to 7 and make sure the threshold mode is manual.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
Thanks.......I remember (I think I remember) reading that unlike the 396T, the XT has no manual setting, but I could be wrong. Will adjust and see what happens. Thanks again.

Eugene KG4AVE
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
LeSeur: Did as suggested...found that 8 and 45 on the P25 settings works the best....still not right in Suffolk/Portsmouth. Works fine in NN/Hampton but as soon as I cross the M&M into Suffolk...as soon as I hit land, it is though a curtain drops and it goes from 5 bars to zip with no CC displayed. Just the reverse in going to NN, as though a curtain raises as soon as I hit the waters edge on the bridge. In driving around Suffolk/Portsmouth, it will occasionally have the signal strength indicator flashing with 3-4 bars, but it will not capture the CC, except on occasion, when it will capture and hold a CC for bout 10-15 seconds then back to flashing or no signal indicator. This is very strange. BTW....does the same with a RS 800 MHz duck which worked in the past in the car from tidewater through the Eastern Shore to MD so........????

Eugene KG4AVE
 

fredva

Member
Feed Provider
Joined
Mar 19, 2007
Messages
1,696
Location
Virginia/West Virginia
Perhaps the firmware upgrade was coincidental. You might try verifying that your tower frequencies are current. If you are headed south when you lose reception, you might check the Chesapeake, Franklin, and VB tower programming in particular. It's just a thought.
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
fredva: Good thought. It was definitely worse with the new firmware and in my post in another forum on how to roll back firmware....posters said the new firmware did make it worse. I agree that if rolled back to the firmware which worked....that should be that.....which is why I am so puzzled. Anyway I will double check those sites....thank for the advice. More to come.

Eugene KG4AVE
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
Sites are correct according to RRDB. The Chesapeake site is the one which covers Portsmouth/Norfolk and overlaps with VB. Even put in all the other frequencies in case they did a CC switch....still no change. It even stopped capturing the CC in Hampton last night (again showing a flashing signal indicator with 5 bars) but worked fine today....so who knows.....I think it has become possessed.

Eugene KG4AVE
 

DavidNVA

Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Messages
76
Location
Northern Virginia
Sites are correct according to RRDB. The Chesapeake site is the one which covers Portsmouth/Norfolk and overlaps with VB. Even put in all the other frequencies in case they did a CC switch....still no change. It even stopped capturing the CC in Hampton last night (again showing a flashing signal indicator with 5 bars) but worked fine today....so who knows.....I think it has become possessed.



Eugene KG4AVE


I've been unable to pickup VA State Police for the past few days up here in Northern Virginia. Traveling between Prince William and Fairfax County. It was working fine up until then and their traffic is still being received via the patches Fairfax County Police have setup.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

LeSueurC

Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2014
Messages
931
Location
Portsmouth, VA
Sites are correct according to RRDB. The Chesapeake site is the one which covers Portsmouth/Norfolk and overlaps with VB. Even put in all the other frequencies in case they did a CC switch....still no change. It even stopped capturing the CC in Hampton last night (again showing a flashing signal indicator with 5 bars) but worked fine today....so who knows.....I think it has become possessed.

Eugene KG4AVE
I live in Churchland also, I'd recommend putting the Chesapeake, VB, Hampton and even Franklin sites. This morning I was getting Appomattox 1 & 2, Richmond 1&2 off the VB site, weird but is happened before.
 

cpetraglia

Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2003
Messages
858
Location
Fairfax, VA
I've been unable to pickup VA State Police for the past few days up here in Northern Virginia. Traveling between Prince William and Fairfax County. It was working fine up until then and their traffic is still being received via the patches Fairfax County Police have setup.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I am in Fairfax and everything is working fine. Quite busy right now.
 

DavidNVA

Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Messages
76
Location
Northern Virginia
Hmmm.. Not sure what would have changed on my bcd436, must have changed a setting inadvertently.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


How odd, I just turned it back on to investigate what setting a changed and everything is coming in loud and clear now. I swear it wasn't working earlier or yesterday! Oh well, glad it's working again. [emoji482]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
I have them all in there. Still no change in mobile reception and even at home on duck antenna and in comparison to GRE/RS scanner with back of set whip extended to 15 inches, side by side the Uniden is only receiving about 1/2 of the transmissions as compared to the GRE. Uniden will switch between CC's and will still on occasion give 5 bar signal indicator but no signal.

Eugene KG4AVE
 

tglendye

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2002
Messages
1,798
Hi Eugene. I don't have any real answers to your issue, only a couple of comments. I seem to remember other scanner users reporting issues receiving STARS in the VAB area. I think the belief was that it was from some other RF interference. It's been a couple of years since I've been there for any length of time, so I am not sure.

I know that for me, traveling east from the western part of the state on I-64, then through Chesapeake toward OBX, if I am in my vehicle with my 436 without an external antenna, I lose CC's more than I have them. In my vehicle with an external 1/4 wave vhf antenna, the scanner receives the CC's and tracks very well. I should mention this is with a PRO-197. I believe the 436 tracks STARS as well with a good CC signal.

I think STARS reception is mostly the antenna- especially inside of a vehicle without an external antenna. I think the metal in vehicles blocks a lot of RF in the lower bands (VHF lo and hi), and the digital signal complicates matters for the scanner when reception is spotty.

I think you have two separate issues. Too much RF interference conflicting with the CC in different locations in the area. And being a little "crippled" by the RS 800 antenna in a vehicle- although I know it works well for STARS outside of vehicles. I know in passing through the Tidewater area, it doesn't take much for me to lose STARS when not using an external antenna. But I can't explain why it worked well before your firmware update.
 

W4UVV

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2002
Messages
1,619
Location
Prince George, Virginia--Central Va.
The Deadly Digital RFI

I joined the Navy in 1962 and was assigned to VU-4 (Aviation Detachment) as NAS Oceana for 3 years and lived in Va. Beach. I operated my SSB ham radio equipment on the HF bands and had the latest analog vhf tunable scanner. Occasionally my scanner reception was not good and I never found out exactly why at the time. Additionally, depending upon weather conditions (inversions) or foggy overcast days, ch.13 TV Hampton audio had a periodic cyclic whine interference which I sourced as a harmonic of the local tv station weather radar.

Some airports also have cloud height detecting radar operating 24/7. The radar signal is transmitted vertically and the reflected signal and any related harmonics can radiate beyond the airport.

I was told by some local hams that a possible RFI source was the Navy ships which rotate in and out of the Naval Station using various radars powered on 24/7 with any multiple harmonics also radiated.

After discharge from the Navy, years later in the early 80s, I began doing private satellite tv installations and doing portable teleconference downlink support in the mid-Atlantic area. It didn't take long before I discovered analog RFI if I was in the direct path of a telecom PTP link. Expensive filters were available for analog RFI and results varied.

This problem did not have to happen but the FCC, in hindsight, foolishly decided to assign alternating frequency sectional ranges in the 3,700-4,200 mhz. band. With the advent of Ku band (11,700-12,200 mhz) becoming popular for now mostly digital RFI free satellite tv signals distribution. I did a satellite teleconference downlink support job at the Norfolk Scope in early 2000 period using a specific 11,000 mhz. frequency for the event. When locked on the target satellite, transponder polarization and color bar test pattern I only saw digital RFI. I couldn't believe it. Ku band had the reputation as being "RFI bullet proof". I quickly realized there was only one possible solution which might or might not work. I relocated my satellite tv antenna to the building's opposite side which thankfully worked and my satellite tv signal was stronger than the PTP RFI signal. Later I researched as to why the digital PTP digital RFI and discovered I was receiving a 5 watt input 11,000 mhz.mid-band telephone co. PTP path to some other telecom site.

If the RFI signal is digital and stronger than the desired received signal, basically blocking, attenuating via a directional antenna or moving to a different location where the desired signal is stronger than the RFI signal is the only practical solution.

A classic DIGITAL RFI reception situation can include the following: weather conditions; no signal present or inconsistent or weak signal.

This assumes the scanner is correctly programed; the antenna is sufficient and typical reception normally is consistent above threshold and not choppy,

I bet the RFI source(s) of inconsistent scanner reception often can be sourced harmonics from various area civilian, government or military radars or private sector, government, military radio systems harmonics regardless of locations combined with temporary weather conditions.

John
W4UVV
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
TGLENDYE: I do have a through the glass antenna, which I know is not the best but I can hear VB from Portsmouth with it, so I don't suspect it is that. Works well enough with all other systems including VHF conventional. I have used the duck in the car before and had no real problem picking up STARS anywhere. May not have fully decoded 100% of traffic but still at least stayed on a CC most of the time. I will admit that I always had worse decode on the southside as well as the area between James City and New Kent Counties (border between Div. 5 and Div. 1). I too have no idea why the pre/post firmware problem either...makes no sense. W4UVV: I would not r/o RFI. It overloads the GRE scanner (will only pick up STARS with telescoping whip, any external antenna wipes it out.). It is frustrating to say the least, esp as it seems a new problem. Thanks for the feedback.

Eugene KG4AVE
 

W4UVV

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2002
Messages
1,619
Location
Prince George, Virginia--Central Va.
GRE Scanner Front End Signal Overload Issue

TGLENDYE: I do have a through the glass antenna, which I know is not the best but I can hear VB from Portsmouth with it, so I don't suspect it is that. Works well enough with all other systems including VHF conventional. I have used the duck in the car before and had no real problem picking up STARS anywhere. May not have fully decoded 100% of traffic but still at least stayed on a CC most of the time. I will admit that I always had worse decode on the southside as well as the area between James City and New Kent Counties (border between Div. 5 and Div. 1). I too have no idea why the pre/post firmware problem either...makes no sense. W4UVV: I would not r/o RFI. It overloads the GRE scanner (will only pick up STARS with telescoping whip, any external antenna wipes it out.). It is frustrating to say the least, esp as it seems a new problem. Thanks for the feedback.

Eugene KG4AVE
------------------

I am very familiar with the GRE PSR600 front end signal overload issue. I also use Uniden XLT and 536 scanners. I have antenna RF pre-amps tower mounted and never had any problem with any Uniden models. But when I first used the PSR600, signals either were non-existent or attenuated. When I finally understood the problem I initially used individual value RFattenuators. My PSR600 now has a separate in line attenuator with multi-switch user selected combinations of RF input signal attenuation. I assume the newer Whistler models perpetuated the earlier GRE front signal overload issue.

I soon tired trying to use the PSR600 for multiple radio systems scanning and manually adjusting for the optimum attenuation for whatever combination. So now I use it for monitoring only STARS optimizing it for the weakest STARS site I can receive.

Looks like your GRE scanner's front end signal overload issue is worse than mine. Although pricey, an in-line user selectable attenuator switch box should result in better reception but it will require you having to select the optimized attenuation value for each target radio system you want to monitor.

John
W4UVV
 

Eugene

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
526
Location
Portsmouth, VA
I may have to do that as the in set attenuator is not enough. I had same problem with second GRE PSR600 in my other car. Had to use an 800MHZ unity gain trunk antenna to get any reception on it on STARS. Any other tuned or gain antenna wiped it out while in this area. It does decode STARS better as long as it does not overload, but that is a big problem. Thanks.

Eugene KG4AVE
 

W4UVV

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2002
Messages
1,619
Location
Prince George, Virginia--Central Va.
One In Line Attentuator required for GRE & also Whistler? radios

I may have to do that as the in set attenuator is not enough. I had same problem with second GRE PSR600 in my other car. Had to use an 800MHZ unity gain trunk antenna to get any reception on it on STARS. Any other tuned or gain antenna wiped it out while in this area. It does decode STARS better as long as it does not overload, but that is a big problem. Thanks.

Eugene KG4AVE
-------------------

Eugene,

My past experiences programing and using GRE (RS) scanners concluded several things:

1. The GRE user programing OS software was primitive, limited, and very difficult for most purchasers to use including some who were teckie types. Thankfully GRE allowed third party software like Win500 I used for programing the 106 and 197 models. Otherwise, it would have been very frustrating for most users including myself attempting to program their scanner..

2. Whistler redesign based partially on the GRE PSR800 model and introduced new models with new features. Based upon reading some of the user complaints about programing the Whister models, I concluded Whistler perpetuated the old GRE basic logic with primitive user editing software functions.

3. Whistler decided NOT to allow third party software vendors like Butel, and Don STARR (Win500) to offer user friendly software for their models. In my opinion, that was a stupid business decision for those potential scanner users who want the option of purchasing more user friendly software that the basic scanner OS software offers and probably would have resulted in more scanner sales.

4. My guess is that most Whistler users scan only the Virginia files which were programed at the factory level. They learn a few user features for basic use and hope that the radio systems they want to monitor were correctly pre-programed. That is the main reason I didn't purchase a Whistler scanner was I knew I would experience frustrations attempting to use the primitive user editing software as the GRE scanner models had. .

5. Thankfully, Uniden did allow third party software vendors for their 436 and 536 models. If I did not have ARC536PRO I would have 536 scanner programing problems/frustrations. In my opinion, the Uniden Sentinel Software OS package is about one enhancement level above the 1990s version of MS DOS. It still has be used for certain features as firmware updates, etc. but otherwise I avoid having to use it unless absolutely required.

6. Regarding the GRE(Whistler also?) front end signal overload problem, attached are pictures of what I use with my GRE PSR600. They are not cheap so it depends upon had bad you want to hear a particular radio system. Currently, my in-line attenuator is selected for 30db for STARS but for other PSR600 systems, I have to attenuate one as much as 38 db attenuation. In my opinion, the problem is sourced to a GRE system design error which also may have been perpetuated to the Whistler models. My XLTs and 536 are connected to the same RF pre-amped antenna and have no input signal overload problem.

7. Do Google searches and see what returns. My guess is the prices will be over $100. I bought mine used for $75 about 7 years ago and has proven to have been worth every penny..

John
W4UVV
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top