Trouble Scanning VSP on Uniden BCD325P2

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765W

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Your suggestion to add the VSP frequencies as conventional instead of as a P25 trunked seemed to work. I'm able to hear some occaisional control channel static(I'm assuming it's control channel static) and some VSP Division 2 conversations with about 4-5 bars. Any idea about how to translate this information into fixing the trunked config? I've upgraded the BCD325P2 scanner for DMR and changed over from FreeSCAN to Proscan since some of the local county traffic is DMR. Thanks!
 

jonwienke

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Is it possible some of the site frequencies you programmed in the trunked system are voice frequencies rather than control channels? Any digital transmission on a freq programmed conventional may be received as "static", even if it's a voice transmission. It depends on whether the scanner realizes it's hearing a digital signal and attempts to decode it.

Do you have all the frequencies for each site programmed, or just the control channel? If you only program the control channel, and the site switches the control channel to another frequency, you will lose the ability to monitor that site.

The best way to distinguish control channel and voice data is control channels are broadcast continuously, and voice is only broadcast when a user keys the mic.
 

765W

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I've programmed every frequency listed for each site that's in VSP Divisions 1, 2 and 3. Some of the sites have only 1 frequency and others have 8 to 10 frequencies. I programmed them all assuming that the control frequency may have already changed for a given site but the change isn't documented/updated on radioreference.com. Are you suggesting that I remove any site frequency that's not a control or alternate frequency, or should I leave them all in there. Thanks again!
 

jonwienke

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Leave them all in. It won't slow down scanning significantly, and you'll be covered if the control channel switches to another frequency on the site's list. The sites with only one frequency listed are a potential issue, because if the control channel switches to another frequency, you will not be able to hear that site at all.
 

765W

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Thanks, that makes sense to leave them all.

Having the frequencies currenty programmed as conventional, I noticed that when there is VSP voice traffic, NFM appears below the frequency, which I believe is telling me that it's an analog voice frequency. There is a "NAC:195" that flashes beside the NFM during voice traffic, but I'm not sure what that's telling me...may be a location specific ID...it's almost too fast to read. When I moved the scanner to the other end of the house, I started to get VSP Division 3 traffic instead of Division 2...maybe being located on the border of VSP Divisions 1, 2 and 3 is causing this? Is there any reason that I shouldn't just leave it programmed as conventional at this point?
 

jonwienke

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NFM just means 12.5KHz channel width. NAC code indicates P25 digital.

If you're picking up different sites from different locations in your house, that means that your interior walls are blocking the signal. You should install an outdoor antenna if you want to receive everything.
 

765W

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Makes sense. I'll move to a different antenna at this point. Thanks again!
 

troymail

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Is it possible some of the site frequencies you programmed in the trunked system are voice frequencies rather than control channels? Any digital transmission on a freq programmed conventional may be received as "static", even if it's a voice transmission. It depends on whether the scanner realizes it's hearing a digital signal and attempts to decode it.

Do you have all the frequencies for each site programmed, or just the control channel? If you only program the control channel, and the site switches the control channel to another frequency, you will lose the ability to monitor that site.

The best way to distinguish control channel and voice data is control channels are broadcast continuously, and voice is only broadcast when a user keys the mic.
Of course some are voice frequencies -- we were looking to see if (a) the control channel was present in the set of frequencies programmed and of good quality (we don't know for sure about the latter part of that question) and (b) if voice activity is present such that if the CC was being clearly received and processed properly, think should work correctly (i.e. the site is active).

The static could also be just noise or some interference that is affecting the quality of the signal to the point that the radio cannot decode it.

Makes sense. I'll move to a different antenna at this point. Thanks again!
...or, just go outside.... it's VHF and - as far as I know, not simulcast.... so it should work fairly well unless you're just too far away or getting some type of interference (which a better antenna will just make worse). Still, some of these STARS sites are hard to receive - particularly at distances... I have the same problem here in NC with some VIPER sites.

BTW - looking again at your PM - this statement says alot:

"Your suggestion to add the VSP frequencies as conventional seemed to work. I'm able to hear some control channel static and some VSP Division 2 conversations with about 4-5 bars. .... It's a little choppy at times, but that may be a distance/location problem."

Sounds like even the voice in conventional mode is not great... chances are that the CC isn't of good enough quality to receive the system without some type of boost (assuming it isn't an interference issue).

Again - this sounds like a distance or interference issue.... The signal bars on a scanner are not always providing a good indication of signal quality... just that power (signal of some type) is present.

Many systems like this are designed for highway patrol use - the farther you get off the highway, the worse they are....
 
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765W

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I walked outside and the signal quality seemed better, and then, I drove about 10 miles away, but I didn't really notice an increase in the number or the quality of voice transmissions. I did notice that the site frequencies communicating were changing as well as the VSP divisions as I moved into a different area. In comparing the quality of what I'm getting on my police scanner android app to the quality on my 325P2 scanner, there is a noticeable difference in quality, so I think that brings me back to my location as the problem. I'm not sure where or how broadcastify is getting their signal for VSP Division 3, but they're certainly more useful than my scanner at this point. Regardless of any configuration issues, with close call, I'm assuming that I should get any close call transmissions from nearby VSP radios within 5 miles or so, is that a bad assumption?
 

765W

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Thanks for the .996 file. One obvious difference...I noticed that you have frequency data populated under the 'APCO BAND PLAN' tab, and my config has no data there. Did you enter this manually or was this populated by an import from RadioReference.com? The data looks like the 6 frequencies found in the table called "Custom Table for Pro-96/2096:" that's located under 'MISC SYSTEM INFORMATION", but I don't recognize the first two frequencies...851.00625(6.25khz) and 762.00625(6.25khz). Can you explain the importance of the APCO BAND PLAN tab and where the first two frequencies came from? Thanks again for your help.
 

JamesO

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I find STARS very hard to receive without a decent outside antenna and I am only about 3 miles off a major Interstate but i am also at near the VA/MD border.

What you can do is set a Custom Search and set the step size to 7.5 kHz and put the scanner on Hold then tune to the expected Control Channel for the sites you want to monitor and then see how many bars you have and see if the LNK is solidly displayed.

In order for the the scanner to properly track and receive traffic the control channel needs to be strong and stable.

I have used my HP1 while traveling through VA while away from home and have had very good luck while on the Interstate. I never leave the Interstate while traveling so I cannot say how well the HP1 would function beyond the Interstate.

If I have time I may attempt to configure my 325P2 for STARS in my area, however, as mentioned the expected performance may differ in other areas around VA and may not be a valid comparison.

What city/county do you reside in?

I tend to cheap and listen to the VSP on the patch to my local P25 public safety system. This saves me a bit of headache trying to worry about STARS.

You may also need to check and see if you possibly have 152 pagers swamping your location and radio as well.

This may be of interest to you as well - Travel Reference (VA) STARS Sites and Nearby Routes List - The RadioReference Wiki
 

765W

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Thanks for the information. I'm located on the border of Orange County, VA, so VSP Divisions 1, 2 and 3 are all relevant depending on which way I turn when leaving home. Thanks for the STARS travel reference link...it will help me program/organize the VSP sites by division. Should the APCO BAND PLAN frequencies be present for all sites/groups using the VA STARS system? Thanks again.
 

765W

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I reloaded the VSP sites and groups as a P25 Trunked System instead of conventional, and VA STARS seems to be working now. I'll test if for a while, but I think the fix was adding the APCO BAND PLAN frequencies under each P25 site. Thanks again for your help.
 

troymail

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I reloaded the VSP sites and groups as a P25 Trunked System instead of conventional, and VA STARS seems to be working now. I'll test if for a while, but I think the fix was adding the APCO BAND PLAN frequencies under each P25 site. Thanks again for your help.
So -- what was different about how you programmed the system this time as a trunked system vs. the first time? Did you use different software? Software vs. manual programming?
 

765W

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Yeah, I used Proscan to import the data from RadioReference instead of FreeSCAN, and the System was imported as P25 instead of MOT2, so there was no need for me to change this manually this time. The only real difference that I noticed between my config and the .996 file uploaded by WMBIO was the APCO BAND PLAN frequencies, so I added those frequencies. I guess STARS doesn't work without them? If that's the case, I wish they were imported automaticallly along with the System. I'm getting countless voice transmissions today and with very clear/strong reception. Thanks again for your help.
 

troymail

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Yeah, I used Proscan to import the data from RadioReference instead of FreeSCAN, and the System was imported as P25 instead of MOT2, so there was no need for me to change this manually this time. The only real difference that I noticed between my config and the .996 file uploaded by WMBIO was the APCO BAND PLAN frequencies, so I added those frequencies. I guess STARS doesn't work without them? If that's the case, I wish they were imported automaticallly along with the System. I'm getting countless voice transmissions today and with very clear/strong reception. Thanks again for your help.
I've seen other similar issues reported by users of FreeScan... guess that is why it is free.
 
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