Trouble locking onto MARCS with pro-106 in northern Delaware County

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SlyFerret

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Dec 19, 2002
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Delaware, Ohio
He everyone, hopefully somebody here will have some tips for me.

I've been playing with my new scanner for a few weeks now, and overall, it seems to be a great piece of equipment. A nice upgrade from my trusty old pro-93. I have programmed in the things that I want to listen to using the ARC500 software and the USB programming cable. I also picked up the 800MHz antenna from Radio Shack to help improve reception on these digital trunked systems.

I'm able to monitor the COIRS system from my house without a problem, but I seem to be in a MARCS black hole, which really surprises me. Since COIRS works so well, I'm not inclined to believe that there is some sort of problem/defect with my radio.

I live very near the Delaware State Park dam. I looked at the map of tower locations for MARCS and programmed the nearest towers to my house.
Site Map: Ohio MARCS - Multi-Agency Radio Communications Trunking System, Statewide, Multi-State

There are a handful of towers around me that I would think would give me excellent MARCS coverage. I have the control channels for the following sites programmed into my MARCS tsys: Riverview, Marion, Columbus, Marysville, Richwood, and Centerburg, in hopes that I'll be able to pickup the system as I travel around Delaware, Marion, and Franklin counties.

MARCS is setup as a Motorola type II system in my radio (not P25). I have tried configuring multi-site for stationary (with and with out check all CC), as well as roam. I've fiddled with the high and low thresholds to no avail. I just don't seem to be able to get a good enough signal on the scanner to get a lock. I rarely get the "T" symbol that shows that the scanner is receiving control data.

If I drive a few miles north on US-23 heading on the way to Marion, I get a solid lock, and I'm able to monitor OSP comms just fine... until I get back within a mile or so of home. Driving down towards Delaware, my reception stays spotty.

Does anyone have any tips for programming MARCS into the PRO-106? Is there some obscure setting somewhere that I need to tweak? to help me get a lock on MARCS?

I admit, it really does simply look to be a location/signal strength problem, but there are enough towers within (what I would think to be) range of me.

Is there any information out there regarding the coverage patterns of the MARCS tower sites? I know it's possible that they are designed to cover specific areas, and may not be simply omnidirectional.

-SF
 

wa8pyr

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He everyone, hopefully somebody here will have some tips for me.

<snip>

Is there any information out there regarding the coverage patterns of the MARCS tower sites? I know it's possible that they are designed to cover specific areas, and may not be simply omnidirectional.
The vast majority of them are omnidirectional.

However, MARCS is designed for 97% mobile coverage, and while the coverage surveys at completion showed portable in-street coverage somewhere in the 90% range (if I recall correctly) there are certainly places where portable coverage, especially with a handheld scanner, are less than ideal. This is why at least two state agencies (OSP and ODNR) use 700 MHz in-car repeaters to improve coverage.

Being near the Delaware Dam puts you near the center of Delaware County, and thus kind of right smack in the middle between several sites (Columbus, Riverview, Granville and Marion leap immediately to mind); there is a real possibility that you happen to live in one of those spots where portable coverage just isn't quite that great.

All I can suggest is to make sure that your attenuator is turned off and that all your connections are good. Radio Shack used to sell (might still sell) a suction cup gadget that allowed you to get your handheld antenna onto a window about 5 feet from the handheld; something like that might help as well.
 

MPGehrisch

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Dec 3, 2011
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Delaware, Ohio
I've done a little testing by driving around and getting closer to towers in my area. At this point, I've determined that there isn't anything wrong with my programming. I am dealing with a reception issue in an area with poor coverage.

I'm going to look at what my antenna options are. I hope to be able to improve reception with a better handheld antenna. Once I get a permanent location in the house to setup my shack, I'll get an antenna up outside.

-SF
 
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