Thinking of getting back into scanning. (Harris Co.)

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AndrewGS

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I'm thinking about picking up a new Uniden 436, but I'm concerned about what is available to listen to and for how long. I'm worried about dropping $500 on a scanner and not being able to use it in the future because of the big E-word. I've looked through the database and noticed a lot of encrypted content, like HFD and HPD tactical and investigators as well as basically all the Federal stuff and even some HCSO. Is there any indication that there will be more encryption in the future?

I'd mostly be listening to Humble PD/Fire, Aircraft, HCSO, HCCO, Spring VFD and sometimes HPD and HFD. I know I can listen to most of what I want to now, but I'm concerned about the future.

What other in-the-clear stuff might I find interesting?

This isn't a negative thread on encryption, just a thread concerning the future of encryption in Harris County.
 
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Ironically enough the only agency on your list that may be completely unmonitorable in the future is Spring VFD/Comm 4 - the 1960 corridor fire departments are looking at Kenwood Nexedge, but probably not until 2016 at the earliest. Of course something would still have to be left up in analog for paging and dispatch.

As for every other agency on your list, routine dispatch will remain clear and monitorable for the foreseeable future. Humble is transitioning to the City system with Phase II talkgroups, so you would need something capable of that.
 

AndrewGS

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Ahh, that's nice. I won't be able to hear what's going on around my parents house then.

I just moved to Humble and I figured they'd get onboard the PII train, I just didn't know when. I was going to have my grandfather, an Humble City Counselman, ask the PD guys what the future held, but he passed away last month before I could.

I miss the days before wide-spread encryption and digital phones. But hey, I can understand both sides of the argument.
 

Ensnared

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Robust Scanning Area

I'm thinking about picking up a new Uniden 436, but I'm concerned about what is available to listen to and for how long. I'm worried about dropping $500 on a scanner and not being able to use it in the future because of the big E-word. I've looked through the database and noticed a lot of encrypted content, like HFD and HPD tactical and investigators as well as basically all the Federal stuff and even some HCSO. Is there any indication that there will be more encryption in the future?

I'd mostly be listening to Humble PD/Fire, Aircraft, HCSO, HCCO, Spring VFD and sometimes HPD and HFD. I know I can listen to most of what I want to now, but I'm concerned about the future.

What other in-the-clear stuff might I find interesting?

This isn't a negative thread on encryption, just a thread concerning the future of encryption in Harris County.
Yes, there is heavy use of encryption on the new HPD system, but Harris County has taken a more sensible approach to encryption.

The new Uniden scanners are nice; however, I would certainly wait for a little while longer before purchasing a Uniden product. At this time, the jury is still out concerning what Whistler will be launching as far as digital scanners. At this time, we don't know whether other radio systems will be added to these radios. Reportedly, Whistler will be launching their radios in March of this year.

If you did not know, GRE was purchased by Whistler. I prefer the way GRE handled the radio's storage capacity. I like having Virtual Folders where I can program 20 different working memories. For one folder, I have only Harris County programmed. If I travel into a surrounding county, I then load another Virtual folder. Of course, there are many different ways to program like this. I think Uniden is more limiting with respect to storage capacity when compared to GRE-styled scanners.

The area where you live is a very robust listening area.

The Federal activity on TxWarn MOT or P25 can be deceiving. While there are Federal talk groups on these systems, there are also a large number of Federal conventional frequencies, both analog & digital. Yes, a great many of these are encrypted, but some are not. If you're lucky, you might run across a simplex analog surveillance detail.

For Federal listening in your area, I suggest you review this blog from a former columnist from the former Monitoring Times magazine. The Fed Files Blog

Yes, I mourn the days when I could hear HPD Homicide, Narcotics, etc.,; however, Harris County is very active with respect to "in-the-clear" radio traffic.

Good luck.
 
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Yes, there is heavy use of encryption on the new HPD system...
As far as the average listener is concerned HPD's use of encryption is largely a non-issue. What is encrypted now used to be on simplex and wasn't monitorable unless you were close or had a good antenna up outside... and were still somewhat close. Granted you can't hear Fox calling foot chases on A8 Car-Car anymore but everything else that the casual listener is interested in is clear and monitorable. The GGSL (Public Works layer, where the Phase 1 channels are) doesn't even have 700 MHz voice channels so you don't even need a 700-capable scanner. They even left Detective and Special Ops open.

Bottom line - this isn't San Antonio or Williamson County, or even Fort Worth. There is no reason for someone not to buy a scanner based on fears of a total blackout.
 

AndrewGS

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Humble, TX (Houston)
I had a PSR-800 for a month or so last year and it was a good scanner, but I really like these new Unidens. I've got one reserved at the local ham shop and if I get it and something better comes along later I'll just sell the Uniden and get it. I'm impatient so I've gotta have it NOW! lol

I actually did hear some surveillance on a DEA suspect last year that was in the clear on the Federal frequencies. So, maybe I'm getting too concerned about encryption.
 
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Ensnared

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HPD Past

As far as the average listener is concerned HPD's use of encryption is largely a non-issue. What is encrypted now used to be on simplex and wasn't monitorable unless you were close or had a good antenna up outside... and were still somewhat close. Granted you can't hear Fox calling foot chases on A8 Car-Car anymore but everything else that the casual listener is interested in is clear and monitorable. The GGSL (Public Works layer, where the Phase 1 channels are) doesn't even have 700 MHz voice channels so you don't even need a 700-capable scanner. They even left Detective and Special Ops open.

Bottom line - this isn't San Antonio or Williamson County, or even Fort Worth. There is no reason for someone not to buy a scanner based on fears of a total blackout.
From my memory, I recall listening to HPD on several channels that were not simplex. 460.40 & 460.45 were some of my favorite channels. Now, Narcotics & Homicide are indeed encrypted. 460.425 was often used as a talk channel. I believe it was simplex.

Regarding the Detective & Special Operations talk groups, these are MA. Yes, you can hear them, but not like before.

Still, HPD could have completely locked out the public. In comparison, Fort Worth, Texas is taking a "all encrypted" approach. So, I guess I am happy with what is left in Houston. At least Harris County SO took a more sensible approach to encryption.
 
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