SDS200 Using Location Control

garys

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I monitor a large multi Site Con+ system. It has a total of 39 sites across four states. Since I now have the Uniden GPS, I decided to give Location Control a try on that system. It's in it's own FL, with all of the sites listed.

I put in the Lat/Long, selected "circle" and put in a range for each site. I set each site not to Avoid. I turned on Use Location Control as well. The FL and System keys are enabled.

I started the scanner and got nothing. Manually scrolling through the systems and the system doesn't even display. I rechecked the setting and tried again with no luck.

I turned off Location Control and the system appeared and scanned fine. Of course it was cycling through all 39 sites, which I didn't want.

I added the Nationwide data base to the scan selection and that works fine, so it doesn't seem that there is a problem with the GPS. I even checked to make sure that I had the correct location format and serial port speed selected.

I set the range of the GPS to 10 miles as opposed to the default of 0.0 miles.

I read through the Understanding Location Control part of the manual, twice.

I seem to be missing something, probably something obvious.

I've been doing all of this in my driveway which is no more than 10 miles from three different sites in the system and still nothing. I'm going out to do some errands, so I'll test it mobile even though I usually get all of those sites in my truck sitting in my driveway.

Anyone have any ideas as to what I might be doing wrong?
 

jonwienke

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Wrong coordinates, most likely flipping the sign on the numbers. Or you didn't populate coordinates and range for any of the departments.

ProScan lets you drag/drop circles on a map, which gives you a sanity check of data accuracy.
 

garys

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Right coordinates, I double checked that. However, the Uniden manual doesn't do a great job explaining that you have to set a location for each department in a trunked system. Mark's Easier to Read Manual has that clearly noted. So, I entered Lat/Long for a site that's in the middle of the state and set the range for the departments to 150 miles.

I probably discovered that just about the same time you were typing your message.

ARC536 is also a bit weird because Location Control only pops up with you write a system to the scanner. It's easy to miss, although that was "On" when I looked at the programming for the system on my scanner.

Once the thunderstorm ends, I'll pop the micro SD card back in the truck and try again.
 

garys

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I have it working now. I discovered a couple of things after it did start tracking sites.

I had the Hold time set to 1 second because there are so many sites in the system. I changed that to 3 seconds since I'm now only tracking 3 or 4 sites at a time.

I also discovered that a few sites had bad longitude data. I used copy and paste to make the data entry faster. Unfortunately, In a few cases I inadvertently added a space when I was doing the pasting. That corrupted the data and as a result those sites weren't turned on when they should have been.

A site that was no where near me was turned on when it shouldn't have been. I discovered that the lat/long data in the RRDB is incorrect. The coordinates listed are actually for one of the Boston, MA sites. Just a duplication and I'm sending the correction along to the admin.

I'm still doing some fine tuning, but the scanner and GPS are working as they should on this system. I might actually do the same thing with a smaller multi site system to speed up scanning.
 

jonwienke

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Getting all of the coordinate and range data right can be a PITA, but it's definitely worth it, especially if you use the scanner mobile.
 

garys

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It's a bit finicky, but then it usually takes me several tries to get any programmable radio just as I want it.

Getting all of the coordinate and range data right can be a PITA, but it's definitely worth it, especially if you use the scanner mobile.
 

garys

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Continuing with my learning how to use Location Control I found out that it pays to play with the radius on individual sites. If you aren't hearing a site that you think you should be, start entering radius values until it shows up on the scan sequence. It might take a few tries.

I also found that some of the lat/long data on the two sites I'm trying to monitor is inaccurate. I've been checking the lat/long against the FCC license data and entering the FCC data with more accurate results. Once I have all of the sites dialed in, I'll send the data along for an update. If you are using Location Control for large networked trunk systems, check the site location data.
 

ofd8001

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On site locations, there is a potential for human error on lat/long entry. Doubling checking never hurt. On range, that is the estimate of how far the signal should travel or be "receivable". As you know, many things can influence how far away one may actually receive transmissions. So experimentation is good.

On Department ranges, these are typically limited to the geographical boundaries of the applicable jurisdiction. In many cases, it is possible to receive a Department's channels much farther away. Experimentation here is also good.
 

jonwienke

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Edit that stuff in ProScan. You can drag and drop circles on an actual map.
 

garys

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Range for the sites is fairly easy to figure out. Range for departments is trickier. On the two commercial trunk systems I'm following, some users can pop up on any of the 38 sites. Others are fairly local and only use one or two sites.

There is also a lot of overlapping coverage on both systems. For that reason, site radius is less of a concern most of the time.

The general recommendation in the manual for the SDS200 is to set site range to zero, but I've found in some cases it works better to put in a distance and then just see what happens.

I don't expect that I'll use Location Control on conventional systems with a fixed geographic area, but as I get more experience, that might change.

I use ARC536, so I don't expect that I'll get ProScan as I'm familiar with how the Butel software works and very comfortable with it.
 

jonwienke

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The general recommendation in the manual for the SDS200 is to set site range to zero
Absolutely not. You're confusing the global range setting. If site range is set to zero, it won't ever get scanned if global range is also zero.

Site location and range should be set to reasonably approximate the area where the site's signal can be received. It should never be set to zero, as that means the site has no coverage area.

Department location and range should always be the smallest possible circle enclosing the city, county, state, or other geographic area serviced by the department.
 

garys

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Page 23 of the owners manual "GPS or manual location: 0- miles radius.
0 miles means that your location is precisely known. For a radio to selected, it's circle must enclose your precise location. This setting is great if you are traveling... the scanner automatically selects and deselects systems as you drive through each systems coverage zone."

Now, for a system that you build by hand and are familiar with, that obviously isn't the case. I've been adjusting the sites on the two large systems I monitor as I get more experience with using GPS. On a networked system like those two, some TGs can appear on any site in the system. I've found that private ambulance services, two services, and even refuse collection services can cover wide areas. Which, of course is why some utilize wide area systems and don't try to build a system themselves.

Which is why I picked a Lat/Long at the center of each Department and then set the radius from there. So far it's working out quite well and I might add Location Control to a couple of other systems I listen to.

I've found that for these two 900 Mhz systems, a 10 mile range for each site works pretty well.
 

ofd8001

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Page 23 of the owners manual "GPS or manual location: 0- miles radius.
0 miles means that your location is precisely known.

I've found that for these two 900 Mhz systems, a 10 mile range for each site works pretty well.
That is exactly correct for the Range setting for the scanner itself. However, there are other Ranges applicable. One is for a site on a trunked system and the other for a Department. Unfortunately "Range" is used in 3 different contexts.

When you connect a GPS device to the scanner, it will default the scanner Range to 0. However, I believe you can over-ride this with another value if desired.

A Site Range should, as Jonwienke said, approximate the RF footprint of the site.

While Jon and I agree on Site Range, I am of a different opinion on Department Range. I'm interested in listening to as much as I can. So I will increase the Department Range. There is a town 40 miles away that I am interested in monitoring. Their signal easily reaches where I am, however using the database Department Range, I would not hear them. So I have to increase the Department Range accordingly for that community.

Jon's statement is consistent with the Radio Reference Database "rules". Bottom line is that this is a user option.
 

garys

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Yes, it's a complex system and like all such systems there is a distinct learning curve. I'm like you in terms of wanting to hear as much as possible. Which is why I haven't used Location Control other than the two systems I've mentioned.

My primary purpose for buying the GPS was for when drive outside of my normal listening area. I'll just activate the national database and let the scanner turn systems on and off as it sees fit. For my local area, which encompasses New England, I've programmed systems and Favorites Lists instead of using the database. I don't, at least at this time, see a benefit to using Location Control for them.

Perhaps, as I get more familiar with it I'll start doing it more.
 

jonwienke

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@garys
The manual section you quoted is referring to the global range setting in the scanner menu, not site or department range settings.

@ofd8001
Setting department range extra-large is generally unnecessary, as you can increase the global range setting and accomplish the same thing. But it's a lot easier to set global range back to 0 than it is to re-edit dozens of departments. Also, in conventional systems, increasing department range has the same effect as site range in trunked systems.

Given that most trunked systems filter site traffic so that only talkgroups in departments overlapping the site's RF coverage area are allowed, there is little or no practical benefit to extending department range beyond its actual service area. If you want to hear traffic 3 counties away, you are generally going to need to pick it up from sites 3 counties away, and global range is a far more sensible way to do that.

Statewide talkgroups should already be in a statewide department with range set to cover the entire state. If they aren't, submit a correction.
 

garys

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The bottom line is that there is a lot of flexibility with Location Control. The good part is that users can configure it the way that best works for them. That comes with a significant learning curve and I think that the manual could be a bit better in explaining things.

I wasn't at first sure it was going to be worth buying, but I'm glad I did.
 

ofd8001

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My primary purpose for buying the GPS was for when drive outside of my normal listening area. I'll just activate the national database and let the scanner turn systems on and off as it sees fit. For my local area, which encompasses New England, I've programmed systems and Favorites Lists instead of using the database. I don't, at least at this time, see a benefit to using Location Control for them.
I'm in a similar situation where I'm subject to traveling in many areas of Kentucky. I have a lot of the state set up in Favorites Lists. I will use Location Control/GPS so that I'm only listening to an area I'm reasonably close to and it is likely that I can receive them. The Location Control will preclude me from attempting to receive stuff too far away to hear, thus improving efficiency.

I'm also using configuration/start-up keys. 1 is for close to home, 2 is kind of a first ring around home and 3 is the whole state. The benefit to this is that the scanner will only load systems for the area I'm in, rather than everything in the scanner. Saves a few seconds at startup time.
@garys
The manual section you quoted is referring to the global range setting in the scanner menu, not site or department range settings.

@ofd8001
Setting department range extra-large is generally unnecessary, as you can increase the global range setting and accomplish the same thing. But it's a lot easier to set global range back to 0 than it is to re-edit dozens of departments. Also, in conventional systems, increasing department range has the same effect as site range in trunked systems.

Given that most trunked systems filter site traffic so that only talkgroups in departments overlapping the site's RF coverage area are allowed, there is little or no practical benefit to extending department range beyond its actual service area. If you want to hear traffic 3 counties away, you are generally going to need to pick it up from sites 3 counties away, and global range is a far more sensible way to do that.

Statewide talkgroups should already be in a statewide department with range set to cover the entire state. If they aren't, submit a correction.
Well. . . if I was to increase my global range so that I'm hearing "stuff" 3 counties to the South, that means I'm subject to hearing "stuff" 3 counties North, East and West too, which I might not want to.

Yet another real life situation. There was a lot of scanner activity in Minneapolis in recent months. Let's say I'm living in the South end of Bloomington which is about 9 miles from Minneapolis center of jurisdiction. The Range for the Minneapolis Department is 8 miles, so I would be out of range. (The site for Minneapolis shows 15 miles range). So if I set my global range to 2.0 miles, thus gathering up Minneapolis, I might also be pulling in St. Paul, which I am not interested in.

Bottom line is there are many routes to the same destination and one should know them all so they can settle in on which is best for them.
 

garys

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I ended up combining four FLs under one Start Up key. They are Boston and the North, West, South metro areas. Initially each was on a separate Start Up key and I'd end up restarting frequently. Then one day it dawned on me that if I had them all under Start Up Key 0, I could just turn off any that I didn't want to listen to with two key strokes. That freed up more Start Up Keys so that I could add more areas and New England States. Right now, I still have to available Start Up keys. I might update my New York files.

Note, if anyone is tempted to chime in and tell me it's illegal in New York, please start your own thread somewhere else. Thanks. ;)
 

jonwienke

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I'm in a similar situation where I'm subject to traveling in many areas of Kentucky. I have a lot of the state set up in Favorites Lists. I will use Location Control/GPS so that I'm only listening to an area I'm reasonably close to and it is likely that I can receive them. The Location Control will preclude me from attempting to receive stuff too far away to hear, thus improving efficiency.

Well. . . if I was to increase my global range so that I'm hearing "stuff" 3 counties to the South, that means I'm subject to hearing "stuff" 3 counties North, East and West too, which I might not want to.

Yet another real life situation. There was a lot of scanner activity in Minneapolis in recent months. Let's say I'm living in the South end of Bloomington which is about 9 miles from Minneapolis center of jurisdiction. The Range for the Minneapolis Department is 8 miles, so I would be out of range. (The site for Minneapolis shows 15 miles range). So if I set my global range to 2.0 miles, thus gathering up Minneapolis, I might also be pulling in St. Paul, which I am not interested in.
GPS is the correct solution for traveling, because it eliminates having to deal with quick keys, and lets you focus on driving instead of fingering the scanner keypad constantly.

Your best bet in the Minneapolis case is not to kludge department range settings, but to make a location preset for Minneapolis to tell the scanner to scan stuff there. It's way easier to swap location presets than to adjust umpteen department range settings. It doesn't matter what you're trying to do, fudging department range values is never the best or most elegant solution. It's a kludge that has more drawbacks than advantages.
 
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