Washington 700 MOSWIN Tower

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rbritton1201

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I'm hearing transmissions from Washington PD via both the Weldon Spring tower as well as the St. Clair tower. The scanner just stops on whichever tower catches their signals as it scans over them sequentially. So, it's random as to which tower I hear them on. So, it seems that Washington PDs frequencies are subscribed to both towers, and the same talk group always pops up on the scanner, TGID 4803, when I do hear them.

It's hard for me to say whether I'm hearing them at all times, or just some of the time, because I don't know what I may be missing at times when they're so silent. But, I get the sense I'm not hearing the volume of voice traffic I would anticipate hearing from an agency that's the size of Washington PD, especially with the long periods of time when I hear absolutely nothing from them, up to 2-3 hours of total silence at times.

So, I believe I'm only hearing them some of the time based on my own prior experience. When I do hear them, I usually hear the full content of the traffic at hand, both the base transmissions, and the responding cars. There doesn't seem to be any breaks in the continuity of conversation, like I'm losing signal all of a sudden. The conversations are heard in their entirety until the next go around occurs where they're onto a dispatching of a different call, a different traffic stop, etc...

But, they seem to go silent for uncharacteristically long periods of time when nothing is heard whatsoever. At the same time, I'm hearing transmissions on my other scanner, the SDS200, from MSHP, and nothing seems to be missing from the routine of traffic I'm accustomed to hearing off of the exact same towers with respect to amount of calls, etc..., and there is continuity with respect to their transmissions that doesn't seem out of sync with what I would anticipate hearing based on prior experience. With Washington PD, it's my intuition that I'm not hearing everything I should be hearing, and I have a lot of experience that makes me think something is off, especially with respect to the dead silence, and just the reduced amount of radio traffic when I do hear them.

I never hear Washington PD on their old analog channels anymore, but I do have them programmed into the scanner, just in case they revert over to analog out of some necessity to do so, just in case something were to go out with respect to their digital system, etc...Their analog channels are in the scanning sequence, but I never hear them on them anymore. So, the cause of the anomaly isn't that they're switching between analog and digital, and I might be losing the continuity of conversation or they're switching over to analog for long periods of time.

Fact is, I wish they would switch back to analog because then I could hear them, and wouldn't feel so confused by what I'm not hearing. I monitored them on analog for many tears before the switch, and there's definitely an anomaly of some kind going on with respect to their digital system. Now, when I'm up in the Washington city limits with my BCD436HP portable, locked onto the Washington 700 tower, I sense that I'm hearing the whole enchilada, no long periods of dead silence, and a normal volume of radio traffic, etc...

I got a couple of questions. Are you saying you can hear Washington PD on both the St Clair and Weldon sites at all times or just some of the time? Also, during those times of complete silence on MOSWIN does Washington PD revert back to their old VHF frequency?
 

scanman1958

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Thanks for the info. You have done a lot of leg work. And good work. I still understand your frustration with reception as it is similar to mine with StarCom in IL.

You did say at your home you can still routinely pick up MSHP on St Clair and Weldon sites just like normal, but the Washington signal seems to disappear. Do you have the scanners in the SEARCH mode so you can hear most everything on those sites? Maybe that could help.

Glad you are getting closer to an answer. BTW I think a yagi pointed to Washington may help with that specific site but won't help with the area VHF sites.
 

rbritton1201

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Thanks! I might try that "SEARCH" feature to see what I might be missing. I'm not really sure how to use that feature, but it's a good suggestion, and I'll check into how to use it.
 

rbritton1201

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So, I went up to Washington last evening, turned on my BCD436HP, which had previously been picking up the Washington700 tower with a fully deflected signal indicator on the scanner when approaching Washington on Hwy 47, about a mile outside the city limits. But, last evening there was no control channel signal whatsoever off the Washington 700 tower.

I also have Weldon Spring and St. Clair 700 towers programmed into the scanner, and receipt of those control channel signals was spotty when in Washington. But, I expected that, as those towers were always spotty when I was in Washington. If I was up on a ridge in Washington, I could usually pick those towers up, all be they at reduced signal indicator levels, readable but spotty, and generally completely dead if I was down in a valley, like near Hwy 47 and Hwy 100.

What I don't get is why all of a sudden the Washington 700 tower control channel is completely gone! Washington PD wasn't using their analog system either. So, I guess they were relying on Weldon Spring and St. Clair towers?

I know I've been beating a dead horse here," and I apologize, but it really makes NO SENSE to me whatsover, and it's very frustrating! I am beginning to speculate about what Kruser mentioned, that they are turning the Washington 700 tower off for some unknown reason, or experimenting with other frequencies, etc...When I do hear Washington PD through the Weldon Spring and St. Clair 700 towers, they are always on talk group 4803, so at least that is consistent.

I do suspect the radio that's monitoring TG 4803 probably drops its affiliation with the Weldon site or is maybe even powered off. When that happens, you won't hear TG 4803 on Weldon unless another radio is also affiliated with the Weldon site. Not much you can do about that!
From your testing, it sounds like you are just in a bad area for the Washington 700 site. That's really the site you need to hear if you want to hear everything from Washington City....That's of course a guess but it does make sense they may make changes after the site is actually on the air.
 
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rbritton1201

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Uhhppphhh! They're back online. This afternoon, I picked up the Washington 700 tower's control channel, including some voice traffic, from of all places, the Union City Park on the West side of Union, certainly not an elevated position. I was parked next to the city Lake, which is actually quite small, probably less than a few acres in size. So, it's not like being parked on Lake of the Ozarks, where the flatness of a large body of water would assist in reception conditions. The signal indicator was only a couple bars, but enough to hear some voice traffic via Washington 700 tower.

What I don't get is why all of a sudden the Washington 700 tower control channel is completely gone!
iti
 

rbritton1201

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I had an opportunity to be within the Washington city limits today for about 1-1/2 hours, and I did some further investigation. I think I may have a pretty good theory as to where the MOSWIN "Washington 700" antenna may be located. The Washington Big Blue water tower at Hwy 47 and Hwy 100 is located in what Washington calls Water Tower Park. Basically, the park contains the water tower, and a very nice professionally constructed building at the base of the water tower, where water tower controls and radio equipment is obviously housed.

There's an antenna on the top of the water tower where it appears there may be a P25 antenna installed, or not, could be, but my money is based on other evidence I discovered that has me more convinced as to where the actual Washington 700 MOSWIN antenna is installed. But, I don't think that the antenna on the top of the big blue water tower is the MOSWIN Washington 700 antenna, it just seems too long to me for 773-774 Mhz.. You can see where it transitions from the mast to the antenna (see red circle below). If you expand the photo, the antenna portion still seems too long to be a 773-774 Mhz. antenna. But, you be the judge...Furthermore, the positioning of the antenna that's the subject of my suspicions as to where this Washington 700 MOSWIN antenna is actually located may explain why signal strength is relatively limited compared to most MOSWIN towers.

TOWER4 (Small).jpg

Let me explain further as to where I believe the Washington 700 tower is...Within the water tower park grounds, which is a small postage stamp in size (no park per se, no picnic tables, no bar-b-que pits, etc...just a huge water tower, and a service building at the base of the tower.

But, on the Northwestern corner of the park grounds, there's a telephone pole, relatively tall as phone poles go, and the antenna I suspect as being the Washington 700 antenna is atop that phone pole. The suspected antenna in question is still at a pretty high elevation topographically, just not located on top of the actual water tower, where it would stand to reason that if it were on top of that water tower we should be seeing much stronger signal strength out of Washington 700 than we are. But, rather than being a matter of reduced power on Washington 700, as some of us have speculated, I think it's an antenna elevation issue.

Below is a photograph of the telephone pole where I believe the MOSWIN Washington 700 antenna is possibly located. On top of that phone pole, the antenna installed there is on a mast that elevates an antenna off the top of the phone pole. The antenna appears to be white fiberglass, short, like 773-774 Mhz. short. The cabling runs down the pole, and terminates in a metal enclosure about 18" square that's mounted on the bottom of the phone pole, and the enclosure is accessible standing on the ground in front of the metal enclosure. There is also what may be some kind of yagi style antenna mounted to the North side of the top of the phone pole. I don't know if the two antennas are technically related, but perhaps the yagi style antenna has a directional effect. I don't know the technicalities of these P25 antennas, but it would stand to reason that their system might require a boost to the West. When I drove from Hwy 100 North on Bluff Road, which is on the far West side of town, I received signal off of Washington 700, but in some areas, around the Rawlings warehouse, signal was just a little spotty, but mostly decent signal along most of Bluff Road.

photo4.jpg

On the water tower park grounds, on the Northeast corner of the "park" property, there's another Post, relatively tall, but it appears to be of aluminum construction, and large enough to likely be hollow. Maybe they considered using it as a quasi tower for the MOSWIN antenna, but I didn't observe any antennas on the aluminum post, nor does it seem reasonable they would use this post since the post is aluminum. But, the metal post resembles where an antenna would be contained were they intending to hide a cell tower antenna, you know the kind that are manufactured out of a composite material. except it doesn't seem large enough in diameter to contain celular antennas, and it's made out of aluminum. I didn't see any cables or anything extending down the post. Now, if they're using this post to enclose the MOSWIN antenna, they could have cables inside the post, and buried into the service shack in an effort to secure the antenna and equipment, since MOSWIN is a public safety critical radio system. But, from what I can see, I doubt this aluminum post is "our" MOSWIN Washington 700 tower.

photo3 (Small).jpg

Today, I established that Washington 700s signal extends East out Hwy 100 to around St. Johns Road. If you drive further East than that, you lose signal around Jones Lane. If you drive South on Hwy A, you start to lose signal around the little town of Krakow, signal is in and out, and fades quickly when you get past Krakow. But, when you get past Krakow, the St. Clair 700 tower comes on-line, and you can hear transmissions from Washington PD all the way into Union via the St. Clair 700 tower. When I was in Washington city limits, I could also occassionally read Washington PD through the Weldon Spring tower, but it was a little spotty at times. So, about a couple of miles outside of Washington to the South, you're likely to drop Washington 700, and pickup on the St. Clair 700 tower, which is an actual tower, providing a much wider coverage area than Washington 700. I didn't venture North, over the bridge, but I suspect the signal to the North off of the phone pole, if that is where Washington 700 is located, would be pretty decent. If I get that way someday on Hwy 47 into Dutzow, and/or up Hwy D, and/or toward Warrenton, I'll check it out and report back. Now, my BCD436HP was only operating off the factory supplied rubber duck antenna. If you have a better mobile antenna while on the go, YMMV more positively with respect to reception within Washington 700s intended range.

I was also able to remotely monitor Washington PD off of my base station setup through my cell phone, which works off of the St. Clair and Weldon Spring towers, and compare those signals to the signals I received via my BCD436HP while within close proximity of Washington city limits. I concluded that I'm not missing any traffic going through the Weldon Spring and St. Clair 700 towers, at least that's the case while I was within Washington city limits for 1-1/2 hours. Unless they mess with their setup, which they may be doing on occassion, it does not appear that I'm missing any transmissions by going through Weldon Spring and St. Clair 700 towers versus receiving transmissions off of the Washington 700 antenna system. Washington 700s significantly reduced footprint doesn't seem to negatively impact my ability to fully monitor Washington PD through my base station setup remotely via cell phone when I'm out an about, or when I'm in my shack.
 

rbritton1201

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I made a circuit today across the Washington bridge to test the coverage of the Washington 700 MOSWIN site...

First, I went into Dutzow, North on Hwy TT, to about the top of the steep Hwy TT hill, and signals were a little spotty the entire way. At the intersection of Hwy TT at Hwy D you start to lose signal, more or less. So, I turned South on Hwy D into Marthasville. I had no signal whatsoever off the Washington 700 site from Hwy D, all the way down into Marthasville.

I didn't go North on Hwy 94 from Dutzow, but I imagine the Washington 700 coverage would correlate pretty well with what I experienced going up Hwy TT from Dutzow. But, with respect to Hwy 94, once you rise up in elevation out of Dutzow, Hwy 94 follows a very high ridge line, and coverage may extend up Hwy 94 for some unknown distance, due to the road's high elevation. Someday, I'll test it for real.

I didn't go further North on Hwy 47 from Marthasville city limits, but I suspect you would start to lose Washington 700 signal as soon as you proceed out of Marthasville city limits less than a mile or so, if that.

One other interesting thing occurred today that shocked me...I received unexpected signals while I was in downtown Marthasville. The traffic I received was from MSHP Troop "F" (Jefferson City), off the MOSWIN Owensville "Drake" tower, quite a distance indeed.

I was only using the Remtronix REM-842B rubber duck antenna on the BCD436HP. Of course, if I had the scanner connected to a decent mobile antenna over the same route, results may have better than what I experienced with only the rubber duck antenna from inside the car.
 

rbritton1201

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In talking with an experienced installation guru with respect to these kinds of systems, my theory about the Washington 700 phone pole does not seem to be valid. It is apparently more likely that the antenna system may be on top of the big blue water tower. It has been explained to me that these systems have separate transmit and receive antennas oriented in close proximity to one another. It's possible that the antenna system for the Washington 700 tower is depicted in the following image, where the potential antenna system is circled in blue. It was explained that the antennas on the top of the phone pole are more likely to be a data link to the water tower controls. With respect to the antenna circled in red, it's just one antenna, and not likely to be the Washington 700 antenna, which should have two antennas oriented in close proximity. If I blow up the image, it appears there may also be a dish attached to the mast of the possible Washington 700 site, and I'm not sure what to make of that. But, it is difficult to see when I blow up the image, so it may be that the dish is mounted to it's own mast. I have yet to investigate the area around the police station and city hall, to see if there may be a tower there. So, for now, it's speculation that the antennas that are circled in blue are in fact the Washington 700 site. But, it's a very strong possibility due to the strong signal strength when in close proximity to the water tower.

TOWER4 (Small)2.jpg
 
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kruser

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If you get back near the water tank, remove your antenna. If you still have signal with the antenna removed then the source is very near and likely on top of the tank.

I also did some testing north of Washington on 47 and 94. I had much better results than you did but I was using a mobile antenna on my vehicles roof. I had a very good signal for many miles north of Washington on 47 but along 94, the signal did drop off sharply as the road dipped down into the valleys around one of the towns with one of the popular wineries. I don't remember the name of the winery or town though. The signal was totally gone when I was still a couple miles away (south) from Troop C's tower near 94 and I-64.
I basically had a decent signal along much of 94 when the road was up on a high ridge but the signal was poor or gone down in the valleys until I was only a few miles out of Dutzow.
Again though, this was with an VHF only antenna. Maybe some day I'll travel out that way again but with a decent tri-band antenna on the roof.
 
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scanman1958

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The radio guru was probably right. Transmit and receive antennas. Look closely to see if there are two identical antennas with one basically on top of the other. Those are probably them. Nearly all MOSEIN antennas are "one above and one below".
 

rbritton1201

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I was told that if a site is added into the MOSWIN system, which it seems Washington 700 may be in that category, rather than being part of the original MOSWIN network, the applicant can get away with utilizing other types of man made structures, such as water towers, building roofs, etc...which would not otherwise be authroized. Not saying that's the case with Washington 700, but if the site is on top of a water tower, it's likely it's categorized as an added site, not subject to MOSWIN standards for a typical MOSWIN installation. And, as we all know, the behavior of the Washington 700 site isn't "typical" with respect to performance.
 

kruser

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I was told that if a site is added into the MOSWIN system, which it seems Washington 700 may be in that category, rather than being part of the original MOSWIN network, the applicant can get away with utilizing other types of man made structures, such as water towers, building roofs, etc...which would not otherwise be authroized. Not saying that's the case with Washington 700, but if the site is on top of a water tower, it's likely it's categorized as an added site, not subject to MOSWIN standards for a typical MOSWIN installation. And, as we all know, the behavior of the Washington 700 site isn't "typical" with respect to performance.

That sounds possible.
I know Moswin was originally designed around the sites being VHF sites with exceptions for existing 7/800 MHz sites like St Louis City and a small handful of others around the state.
As coverage issues dictated, it seems they started adding the majority of the 700 MHz sites. I can't recall when I last saw a new VHF site show up for Moswin. Any new sites have all been 700 MHz sites not using their state license.
I agree the performance aspect of the Washington, MO 700 MHz site is a bit of a mystery!
I know I was very surprised the morning I found I could actually get a signal from the site as well as the 700 MHz St Clair, MO site. Both of them are a pretty good distance here to the east end of Chesterfield for the 700 MHz sites.

I saw someone comment on the Starcom sites in Illinois. I also can barely copy any of those sites. About the only Starcom site I can hear from here is the Madison county site 3-001.
The other sites near the IL/MO border require good RF conditions for me to be able to get a signal even with the yagi beam. Usually they are lost to solar radiation once the sun rises.
 

Papagei

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I am so tempted to get a Yagi up outside to see what it would do for me. But, as you said, it would be quite a hassle to go through, getting it outside, elevating via a mast (a tower is out of the question, LOL!), all the antenna system grounding, cable expense, labor, etc...Just too much when I'm not able to elevate a simple mast sufficiently to achieve line of sight.
The Home Depot in Chesterfield will rent you a 32 foot fiberglass extension ladder at $33 for four hours. Get an old analog TV Yagi-Uda antenna, lash it to the top rung, run some RG-6 down to your radio (smile and eat the 75/50 ohm loss), and do a test. :D

You probably need to lean the ladder against the eaves of your house, or a stout tree branch if a suitable one is available - it's too heavy for one person to hold it vertical for more than a few seconds. It also probably helps if the wind is light-and-variable or lower. If there are overhead power lines or the neighbor's shed (or dog, or car...) in the area where the ladder could fall, don't do this.

If it works, though, then you can feel better about setting up a real, official mast.
 

KA0KDW

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Per MSHP techs. If you see a blue fiberglass antenna on a water tower it’s very possible to be the MOSWIN site. All the 700 sites use blue fiberglass antennas.
 

KA0KDW

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That sounds possible.
I know Moswin was originally designed around the sites being VHF sites with exceptions for existing 7/800 MHz sites like St Louis City and a small handful of others around the state.
As coverage issues dictated, it seems they started adding the majority of the 700 MHz sites. I can't recall when I last saw a new VHF site show up for Moswin. Any new sites have all been 700 MHz sites not using their state license.
I agree the performance aspect of the Washington, MO 700 MHz site is a bit of a mystery!
I know I was very surprised the morning I found I could actually get a signal from the site as well as the 700 MHz St Clair, MO site. Both of them are a pretty good distance here to the east end of Chesterfield for the 700 MHz sites.

I saw someone comment on the Starcom sites in Illinois. I also can barely copy any of those sites. About the only Starcom site I can hear from here is the Madison county site 3-001.
The other sites near the IL/MO border require good RF conditions for me to be able to get a signal even with the yagi beam. Usually they are lost to solar radiation once the sun rises.
The actual build plans back in the very early 2000’s was for MOSWIN to be 700. Somewhere I have the location plots for all the purposed site locations. Long story short there was some issue with the vendor so the vendor was dropped. When they got a new vendor they updated to plans to be VHF/700. Main buildout would be VHF and coverage gaps would be filled in with 700.
 

kruser

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The actual build plans back in the very early 2000’s was for MOSWIN to be 700. Somewhere I have the location plots for all the purposed site locations. Long story short there was some issue with the vendor so the vendor was dropped. When they got a new vendor they updated to plans to be VHF/700. Main buildout would be VHF and coverage gaps would be filled in with 700.
That does ring a bell now that you mention it!
Boy how time flies. It seems like not even a year ago when I was monitoring the mobile testers doing signal strength tests around the state!
 

KA0KDW

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That does ring a bell now that you mention it!
Boy how time flies. It seems like not even a year ago when I was monitoring the mobile testers doing signal strength tests around the state!
Yep. Now aside from going on/off duty it’s rare to catch techs chatting on the system. Several years ago DPS told the techs to start using their phone or other means for chatting “this isn’t a chat system”. Now I listen to several techs on P25 amateur radio and on occasion we all chat on DMR amateur radio.
 
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