VSP Richmond and antenna

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virginiaguy1

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Hello all,

I have a couple questions here and I was hoping I could receive from help

1) I'm looking to pick up VSP's normal traffic around the Richmond and Williamsburg area; at what frequencies does VSP operate around these areas? I've tried looking at the charts here but I found them a wee confusing -- it seems to me as if it's between around 150-160 MHz, but I'm not too sure

2) Would an antenna like this be appropriate for this use case (using a scanner)

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing your responses
 

hill

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That antenna may be over kill. I would look to purchase an VHF quarter wave. This antenna would only be around 19" long.

I have had no trouble receiving VSP in the Richmond Area on just a handheld scanner's antenna. Been down that area a few times within the last year for work and stayed on West Broad Street. Had a good copy on the system from there. The Virginia STARS system operating on VHF seams more robust and easier to receive than many 700/800 Mhz systems.

You need to have a scanner that can handle at least P25 phase 1. Plus need to set it up as trunked system to be able to receive the talkgroups.

If you don't understand trunking you need to read this basic information on it via the link below.

 

GmanX

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That antenna is will def work on a vehicle. Its a pretty solid antenna
 

GmanX

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Oh yeah it wont be 55 inch long when you tune the antenna. Closer to 32 inch tall. You will have to get a radio guy to tune it up. Otherwise a quarter wave antenna will work better.
 

virginiaguy1

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Oh yeah it wont be 55 inch long when you tune the antenna. Closer to 32 inch tall. You will have to get a radio guy to tune it up. Otherwise a quarter wave antenna will work better.
Awesome, that's about the length I'm looking for! (and the length I've seen on VSP cars based on visual estimation)

I wasn't able to find the cutting chart though so who really knows
 

virginiaguy1

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I'm also looking at some antenna which require a ground plane, vs others that don't, and I'm not sure which would be appropriate for the boot of my sedan

What practical differences would an antenna that requires a ground plane vs those that don't, and would there be any differences to length? I'm not sure if there's a more appropriate place to ask these questions
 

LEH

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The talk groups you would want to include would be those for Division 1 (Richmond area down to James City County line) and Division 5 for JCC and the rest of Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore.

As a couple of comments have stated, VSP is on the Statewide STARS P25 trunked system. Read the link Hill posted to get a better understanding. Basically think of a cell phone system for public service.

Another set of talk groups to include would be the Div 1 and 5 DOT. These are the VDOT safety patrols and they get dispatched more often for problems on the interstates than VSP. They're the ones you'll hear tell if a road is closed or just limited number of lanes.

Scanner(s) that will work for you include Uniden's 325P2, 436, or SDS 100 (handhelds) or 996P2, 536, or SDS200 (CB radio size). Whistler has their TRX-1 and 2 units. They all receive P25 Phase 1 and 2 and for Uniden you can buy upgrades for DMR and NXDN (Charles City County Sheriff use DMR for their dispatches).

You might want to consider an antenna like the Larsen NMO150/450/800 that works well for all the frequency ranges listed and is a smaller. A multi band antenna would work for other systems you may want to listen to (like JCC fire [police like Richmond/Henrico] are encrypted). Charles City and New Kent are now on 800 Mhz trunk systems.

If you do go with an NMO antenna like the Laird or the Larsen, do not forget to order a mount. As most NMO mounts are designed for Ham systems, the connector is most likely a PL-259 so you'll need an adapter for either a BNC or SMA (depends on the scanner you buy, so decide on scanner first so you know what you need to get it running).

I apologize if you are familiar with monitoring, I've helped some newbies recently who needed the overkill.
 

virginiaguy1

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The talk groups you would want to include would be those for Division 1 (Richmond area down to James City County line) and Division 5 for JCC and the rest of Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore.
Gotcha, so it would be that 10MHz range mentioned earlier (150-160)

As a couple of comments have stated, VSP is on the Statewide STARS P25 trunked system. Read the link Hill posted to get a better understanding. Basically think of a cell phone system for public service.
Okay, went ahead and read it, and while most of it went over my head, I now have a more basic understanding of it, so thank you to the both of you

Another set of talk groups to include would be the Div 1 and 5 DOT. These are the VDOT safety patrols and they get dispatched more often for problems on the interstates than VSP. They're the ones you'll hear tell if a road is closed or just limited number of lanes.
The main reason I'm interested in this is for emergency service photography, mainly VSP as they're hard to find around here, so stuff like that wouldn't be of much use to me

Scanner(s) that will work for you include Uniden's 325P2, 436, or SDS 100 (handhelds) or 996P2, 536, or SDS200 (CB radio size). Whistler has their TRX-1 and 2 units. They all receive P25 Phase 1 and 2 and for Uniden you can buy upgrades for DMR and NXDN (Charles City County Sheriff use DMR for their dispatches).
Gotcha, I'll take a look at all of those models and see which fits my price well. I'm also looking to see if I can find a cheap used APX radio but I doubt I'll find one for what I'm looking to spend

You might want to consider an antenna like the Larsen NMO150/450/800 that works well for all the frequency ranges listed and is a smaller. A multi band antenna would work for other systems you may want to listen to (like JCC fire [police like Richmond/Henrico] are encrypted). Charles City and New Kent are now on 800 Mhz trunk systems.
I have considered 800 MHz but honestly everywhere around me is encrypted, as you said RPD, Henrico, New Kent, probably the only thing left is Hanover but eh

If you do go with an NMO antenna like the Laird or the Larsen, do not forget to order a mount. As most NMO mounts are designed for Ham systems, the connector is most likely a PL-259 so you'll need an adapter for either a BNC or SMA (depends on the scanner you buy, so decide on scanner first so you know what you need to get it running).
My car already has an NMO connector, so on that point I'm ready to go! I measured it and it sits just under 1.5 inches (I can post a photo if you want)

I apologize if you are familiar with monitoring, I've helped some newbies recently who needed the overkill.
Nope, I'm not the most familiar, so this stuff helps! I do have a mate who has explained some of this stuff to me, but I'm far from knowing most things
 

hill

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I don't know the model, but you can see their cars with antenna on the roof.

Not changing the subject, but Fire Departments sbould be able to received. I mainly listen to fire and only police is the stste ones.
 

clbsquared

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Buy a newer model scanner capable of receiving multiple platforms. Program all of the areas you would like to monitor. Most Fire and EMS is in the clear. Any kind of highway incident or state road incident which requires Fire and EMS to respond, ( accidents, car fire, etc) will 9\10 times have a trooper or multiple troopers responding to it. Don't cut yourself short by only monitoring STARS. Also, in this area VSP still uses SIRS, which is a low band (39.540 or 39.420 IIRC) to communicate with local LE.
 

LEH

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Gotcha, so it would be that 10MHz range mentioned earlier (150-160)
The frequencies for VSP on the STARS network range from the low 150 to 162 Mhz. They are spread across the state on 66 different sites to ensure coverage for the entire state. You will need a trunking scanner to receive the system. There are probably 5 sites in the Richmond area and 2 on the Peninsula (one in Williamsburg and the other in Hampton).

Think of talk groups (TG) as a party line phone number on the system. TG 1 for STARS is VSP dispatch for Division 1 (which includes Richmond). You can find the VSP Division boundaries on this site. When a VSP unit in the Richmond area transmits, the system identifies the unit and assigns a channel on the nearest tower to that radio. At the same time, the system tells all other radios on TG 1 a transmission is about to come to them.

The main reason I'm interested in this is for emergency service photography, mainly VSP as they're hard to find around here, so stuff like that wouldn't be of much use to me
You actually may find the VDOT road assistance more help than the actual VSP channels. Especially for accidents that require roads or exits to be blocked. These guys talk a lot, VSP is more direct and to the point.

QUOTE="virginiaguy1, post: 3342032, member: 1418448"]
I have considered 800 MHz but honestly everywhere around me is encrypted, as you said RPD, Henrico, New Kent, probably the only thing left is Hanover but eh
[/QUOTE]

Unfortunately many law enforcement agencies have elected to encrypt, discussing the merits/demerits of that is discouraged on RadioReference. It is a way of life now. However, keep in mind most fire departments are still broadcasting in the clear and they will be dispatched to any serious incident. If you are interested in shooting emergency service incidents, fire/medic calls would be very good sources of where to go.

As an aside, if you have Netflix they have a series, shot in LA, called "Shot in the Dark" about independent news crews. Check out some of the 'rigs' in their cars to catch the action.

As to type of scanner to buy, will you be taking the scanner with you if you leave the car, then handheld. If you want to mount it then 'mobile'. Brand is open to debate, though Uniden has a larger selection. Their top of the line is the SDS 100 (handheld). Probably their low end unit now is the BCD 325P2. You can find the SDS100 for around $650 (less if used) and the 325 for around $375. In between is the BCD436 you can find for around $450. All have good and bad points.

Good for the 100 is what is called 'simulcast distortion' is much less than the others and a pretty color display. Downside (to me at least) is it uses a 'battery pack' (rechargeable, but if you don't have access to some charger you are SOL [and not Standards Of Learning]). For the 325 or 436 you can get distortion on 'simulcast systems' (multiple towers all on the same frequencies [Richmond is simulcast] whereas STARS have different frequencies on each site) and both are a bit 'dated', but potent units. Both run on AA batteries.

Uniden also has their Home Patrol (HP) models, but I have not used one.

If you would like and want to meet somewhere between Williamsburg and Richmond, I can bring a couple of my scanners along and you can get a feel. We could also talk photography. :D Just IM and we can set up a time and place.
 
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