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Puzzled in Little Compton

Posted: 01 Feb 2016 10:46
by HannaMary
I live in Little Compton and I'm relatively new to the digital scanner world. Years ago, I had an analog scanner and listened to local police and fire dispatch with no problem. As their communication system changed (over to RISCON, I guess) I didn't know enough about what was going on to pursue it, so I wasn't monitoring for several years. Seven months ago I decided to learn about digital scanners and I purchased a Uniden HomePatrol-1. I initially set it up for just the Little Compton Police and Fire and I seemed to be hearing most of the activity...not that there is a lot here beyond police stops, false fire alarms and a few EMS, but there was usually some kind of activity several times a day including a twice daily radio check. Over time, I noticed that the number of communications I was picking up was declining and more recently I sometimes receive only the dispatcher's side of the communication and not the field calls coming in or their responses to the dispatcher...also sometimes missing the daily radio checks. I've tested the scanner by broadening the reception area...with the following results...Block Island comes in loud and clear, Middletown is strong, Tiverton is a poor, static signal, and Little Compton continues to be unusually quiet.

I'm wondering if I'm missing something in how I'm programming the scanner. I use the Sentinel software for the database, I've researched and re-read the manual and I've reset the scanner several times. In addition to being on the RISCON, do some towns use a back-channel encryption system? Is there a reason Tiverton is such a poor signal? And finally, is there an alternate way for me to manually enter frequencies or talk groups...would that make any difference?

Thanks for any assistance or advice
HannaMary

Posted: 02 Feb 2016 08:54
by pete
There could be numerous reasons why your not hearing your town. First, they aren't that busy. Second, with the RISCON system, reception quality is pretty much Location, Location, Location. Just moving the radio across the room or sometimes a foot or two can make a world of difference. (If you're only using the supplied antenna on the scanner). Are you using "location based scanning" where you put in your location (Little Compton, or zip code) and are scanning from the entire database, or have you created a "favorites list" with just your town or maybe surrounding towns ? Have you selected the correct service types (Fire Dispatch, Law Dispatch, etc.) The HP 1 is easy to use, right out of the box, but does have many variables to "fine tune" when trying to receive a specific system. Hope that helps some.

Posted: 02 Feb 2016 19:27
by Tim
I am receiving Tiverton PD and Little Compton PD better then I ever have in Fall River. Her problem sounds like a cell tower being close by. Like Pete said try moving the scanner to a different room in the house or to the 2nd floor.

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 10:03
by HannaMary
Pete and Tim....thanks very much for your responses.
Unless I'm experimenting to see if I can hear other locations, I generally use a "favorite's list" that only has LC PD and Fire. Yesterday the scanner did pick up sporadic bursts of local call activity all day, so it is definitely is working...and as you suggest not every day is a busy day here in LC. What I will do is include Tiverton in my favorite's list and move the scanner around the house to see if I can pick up them any better than I have in the past. I may also try to same for Westport, MA. I appreciate your help.

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 16:58
by HannaMary
[HR][/HR]Well, it's been a year since my first post when I described the difficulty I was having receiving Little Compton Police and Fire via RISCON. RISCON reception continued to be infrequent and erratic and then stopped altogether. I tried moving the scanner to different rooms with no luck and finally turned off my HomePatrol 1 and got caught up in other projects.

I recently decided to give the HomePatrol another try and after multiple attempts I still can't receive any RISCON signal for anywhere in RI and it's making me crazy. Here's what is working...I can receive Fire and Police in Bristol County MA including Fall River, Westport, Dartmouth no problem, so I don't believe the scanner is the problem. I even drove over and sat next to the RISCON South Zone Tower in Little Compton on Amy Hart Path and still no RISCON signal. Is it possible I'm programming it incorrectly for the statewide system?

If the scanner is defective or if there is some other reason the Uniden HomePatrol 1 can't pick up my town, I don't want to continue wasting my time. Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 17:11
by ecps92
When was the last time you connected the HP1 to the Database for an update?
It could be the Frequencies changed.
HannaMary wrote:[HR][/HR]Well, it's been a year since my first post when I described the difficulty I was having receiving Little Compton Police and Fire via RISCON. RISCON reception continued to be infrequent and erratic and then stopped altogether. I tried moving the scanner to different rooms with no luck and finally turned off my HomePatrol 1 and got caught up in other projects.

I recently decided to give the HomePatrol another try and after multiple attempts I still can't receive any RISCON signal for anywhere in RI and it's making me crazy. Here's what is working...I can receive Fire and Police in Bristol County MA including Fall River, Westport, Dartmouth no problem, so I don't believe the scanner is the problem. I even drove over and sat next to the RISCON South Zone Tower in Little Compton on Amy Hart Path and still no RISCON signal. Is it possible I'm programming it incorrectly for the statewide system?

If the scanner is defective or if there is some other reason the Uniden HomePatrol 1 can't pick up my town, I don't want to continue wasting my time. Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 18:20
by HannaMary
In the process of troubleshooting, I covered as many issues as I could think of....I updated the firmware and database, I reset the scanner several times,I erased user data and lists, I re-programmed the scanner directly as well as via the Sentinel software and I refresh the Database before I try something different.

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 21:48
by W1KNE
Can you pick up Mass State Police, or Bristol County Sheriffs. I wonder if your 800 MHz section of your HP has gone "deaf" (The RF stages are no longer working well).
It's possible there is an issue with your HP. From L.C. you should be getting some RISCON without much effort at all.

Posted: 18 Jan 2017 09:40
by pete
RISCON, South Zone, is working. If you can receive the MSP system on 800,(Zone 3 from Copicut Hill in FR, very strong signal) then the HP 1 hardware wouldn't seem to be the problem. I'd try checking the control channel frequencies for RISCON and see if your getting a signal. (Currently 853.875) LC PD and FD are coming in without a problem here (Fall River) right now. As mentioned in previous posts, the HP 1 with just the attached antenna is very susceptible to interference and has trouble decoding weak signals.

Posted: 18 Jan 2017 10:26
by HannaMary
Thank you for your replies. Per your suggestions, this morning I programmed the scanner exclusively to MA State Police and Bristol County Sheriff's Dept channels and I have not received anything since I did that an hour ago. If the scanner has gone "deaf" to the 800 MHz range, is there any fix for that?

Posted: 18 Jan 2017 13:34
by pete
Could be hardware, or still a reception problem. (A new cell tower nearby that is overloading your HP 1 on 800) If a hardware problem, best repair option is to send it directly to Uniden. They are very good with repair work and usually have about a 2 week turn around time. Sent you a PM.

Posted: 18 Jan 2017 15:31
by Citywide 173
Since the HP-1 has multiple power options and is relatively small, perhaps charging a set of batteries (or just some fresh AAs for that matter) and taking it for a ride around town while monitoring the RISCON and MSP systems would help to identify whether or not the receiver has gone deaf on 800.

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 10:59
by HannaMary
Update...

Fellow forum member, Pete, and I met up in Fall River yesterday to compare the RISCON reception on both our HP-1 scanners. Pete reviewed the programming process with me and we were able to receive the RISCON signal and MA State Police on my scanner. The good news is that we learned that it's not a hardware problem and I was optimistic that it was my user error in programming it. So I kept the scanner programmed as we had it set up and I headed back to Little Compton. Unfortunately, since my arrival back in LC last night there were only two brief calls received from the the Southern Simulcast RISCON region, and no MA state police. The scanner will flash LC, Tiverton, Middletown, Portsmouth etc, sometimes for several seconds, but doesn't pick up the transmission.

Perhaps the local tower here is overwhelming the scanner? Who knows? However learning that the scanner is functional under the right circumstances is a big help because I would have considered getting it repaired and instead I'll just continue experimenting with it as I have time. As interesting as this is to me...and I will look into the idea of an exterior antenna...I'm not sure how much more time and/or expense I want to spend on this.

Many thanks, Pete, for taking the time to assist me yesterday. I certainly learned more about the scanner and how it works than I did before.

I really appreciate the support this forum provides.
Helen

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 12:07
by Citywide 173
Have you tried turning attenuation on for the system?

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 12:37
by HannaMary
Yes...I have tried it with and without attenuation...no luck.

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 13:17
by ecps92
Did you try LESS of an Antenna as was suggested, with the Paperclip, in the RR forum on this same issue ??
HannaMary wrote:Yes...I have tried it with and without attenuation...no luck.

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 13:57
by HannaMary
Yes...I have tried it using a paperclip as an antenna...no change.

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 14:09
by ecps92
Sometimes TOO much antenna is a bad thing
HannaMary wrote:Yes...I have tried it using a paperclip as an antenna...no change.

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 17:00
by ecps92
Re-Reading this and those who listen to RISCON more than this tourist, Please jump in.

Might it be those TG's she has are ENC, hence not able to hear anything other than the quick flash-in-a-pan ??
Pete? others ?
HannaMary wrote:Update...

Fellow forum member, Pete, and I met up in Fall River yesterday to compare the RISCON reception on both our HP-1 scanners. Pete reviewed the programming process with me and we were able to receive the RISCON signal and MA State Police on my scanner. The good news is that we learned that it's not a hardware problem and I was optimistic that it was my user error in programming it. So I kept the scanner programmed as we had it set up and I headed back to Little Compton. Unfortunately, since my arrival back in LC last night there were only two brief calls received from the the Southern Simulcast RISCON region, and no MA state police. The scanner will flash LC, Tiverton, Middletown, Portsmouth etc, sometimes for several seconds, but doesn't pick up the transmission.

Perhaps the local tower here is overwhelming the scanner? Who knows? However learning that the scanner is functional under the right circumstances is a big help because I would have considered getting it repaired and instead I'll just continue experimenting with it as I have time. As interesting as this is to me...and I will look into the idea of an exterior antenna...I'm not sure how much more time and/or expense I want to spend on this.

Many thanks, Pete, for taking the time to assist me yesterday. I certainly learned more about the scanner and how it works than I did before.

I really appreciate the support this forum provides.
Helen

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 19:43
by pete
ecps92 wrote:Re-Reading this and those who listen to RISCON more than this tourist, Please jump in.

Might it be those TG's she has are ENC, hence not able to hear anything other than the quick flash-in-a-pan ??
Pete? others ?
No, not encrypted. Both Little Compton and Tiverton Police and Fire are in the clear. Her HP 1 did receive fairly well where we were, (Fall River) I don't know what the signal level is like at her home. Considering she had been receiving those TG's before, and isn't now, I'm thinking something new is interfering with with the control channel signal. Maybe a new cell site ? As she stated,I was able to determine that the scanner is working on 800, UHF, and VHF.

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 20:07
by Tim
Pete, I'll take a ride down to Little Compton this weekend with my R/S 106 and the R/S 800 mhz antenna. I'll try some different area's for her.

Posted: 20 Jan 2017 06:51
by ecps92
-K Wasn't sure, especially with the blips of traffic here-n-there, that she mentioned.
pete wrote:No, not encrypted. Both Little Compton and Tiverton Police and Fire are in the clear. Her HP 1 did receive fairly well where we were, (Fall River) I don't know what the signal level is like at her home. Considering she had been receiving those TG's before, and isn't now, I'm thinking something new is interfering with with the control channel signal. Maybe a new cell site ? As she stated,I was able to determine that the scanner is working on 800, UHF, and VHF.

Posted: 20 Jan 2017 09:03
by pete
I think I've solved the problem ! Over on RR, Upman (Uniden rep) responded to your post and mentioned that 853.875 (current CC for RISCON South zone) was listed in the RR database, but Not on the FCC license. Doing some digging on the FCC website I found license WQEE894 that had the Little Compton Tower (Amy Hart Path) listed as a transmit site, has EXPIRED. The new license WQDV555, (granted 8/21/15) does NOT list that site. Closest site to you (and me) now appears to be Portsmouth (838 East Main Rd. Tower behind RISP barracks). This would account for why you were receiving this system before, but not now. If the signal is now coming from Portsmouth, you may not be getting it at your location.

Posted: 20 Jan 2017 09:46
by deacon
Will the Little Compton site come back on -line???

Chuck

Posted: 20 Jan 2017 10:29
by HannaMary
Pete....I, too, saw that response to my similar thread on RadioReference.com but I didn't fully understand the implications until you (and also RescueOne on RR) just explained it. I guess I would have thought that I would pick up the Portsmouth tower because my location in Little Compton is right near the intersection of West Main Road and Meetinghouse Lane and I'm just across the Sakonnet River from Middletown and Portsmouth. With this new information about the Portsmouth tower is there anything else I can try with the scanner that might make a difference?

Thanks,
Helen