New SDS scanner

Are you a beginner or an expert? Have a question about monitoring? Or a seasoned pro who has some tips and advice? This is the forum for you. Class is in session at Scanning 101, no extra credit needed.
Post Reply
Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

New SDS scanner

Post by Hoghank »

I'm lost...

Scanning has become complex- and I'm a novice to this new gear. I read a bit on the site, and think this is where I can post this type of question.

Apparently my town (Longmeadow MA) has gone to a "trunked system" with WestCom? So I studied up trunk systems and talk groups, and grasp the concept- but not sure if I can go the next step on my own. I have an older programmable Bearcat 350A Scanner. Am I going to be able to continue to monitor Longmeadow PD with my equipment or will I need a new scanner?

If I needed a new one... If I basically want my town Police & Fire- can you steer me to an entry modle "base station" scanner (I just mean not portable). Do I need to be able to program it via computer?

If there's aready a post that covers this, just point me at it and I'll study up.

Thanks for letting me join Scan New England

User avatar
W1KNE
Owner-Webmaster
Posts: 4864
Joined: 19 Aug 2005 12:00
Location: Taunton, MA
Contact:

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by W1KNE »

Welcome to Scan New England.

Yes, unfortunately your Bearcat 350A will not pick up the new WestComm digital trunk. You will need a new scanner for it.

You will have to get a new scanner. To make your life easier, if you don't want to go through programming a new scanner, I will suggest either a HomePatrol II or a 536hp scanner. Both models can do "zip code" scanning and you can fairly easily set it up. If you want to try your hand at more complicated programming, you can go with an SDS series scanner. It will handle the P25 simulcast better than anything with this system, but it's expensive. It has a ton of bells and whistles and is a really solid performing scanner.

-- Mike
Mike Fitzpatrick
Broadcast Engineer - RF Enthusiast - Municipal Fire Alarm Collector
Owner: Scan New England - NECRAT.US
Issues with Scan New England can be privately addressed to me.

Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by Hoghank »

Thanks Mike!

When there's a disaster, or the sirens are wailing near by I like to listen in.
So did my town have to change the equioment in every cruiser & fire truck as part of this?

Starting to look at gear!

cdgordon
Forums and Wiki Moderator
Posts: 1275
Joined: 29 Aug 2005 15:46
Location: Granby, CT

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by cdgordon »

It would depend on what model radios they had before but it is not likely they had the radios that are capable of P25 digital trunking.

chris

Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by Hoghank »

I have an SDS100 Coming today...

I'm reading through the posts here, and have watched most of the videos on Youtube about progamming and set up.
If you have any recommendations of where I can study & learn I'd appreciate it.

I guess I will start with programming my town, try to understand that and then move on to learn other stuff.

Thanks your help !!
Last edited by Hoghank on 21 Oct 2020 10:02, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
W1KNE
Owner-Webmaster
Posts: 4864
Joined: 19 Aug 2005 12:00
Location: Taunton, MA
Contact:

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by W1KNE »

The two biggest things if you're not familiar with it right out of the box to get to know very well with operating the scanner.

1) Understanding scan lists and turning them on and off

2) Understanding "service types" and turning those on and off. The service types are the biggest gotchya that catches most people off-guard.

-- Mike
Mike Fitzpatrick
Broadcast Engineer - RF Enthusiast - Municipal Fire Alarm Collector
Owner: Scan New England - NECRAT.US
Issues with Scan New England can be privately addressed to me.

jbella
Posts: 299
Joined: 12 Oct 2005 11:24
Location: Gardner

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by jbella »

All I can tell you is with the #36's and the SDS series, you really have to invest time in understanding how they work and take the time to plan out how you want to set up your radio for your needs.

I've had scanners and radios for damn near 40 years, program XTS & APX Motorola radios, and it still took me a while to figure out those damn things. I still don't use them to their capabilities, but at least I understand how they work. Don't get too frustrated too quickly. Use your software of choice (I stuck with the free Uniden Sentinel software), program, reprogram, start over from scratch, do whatever you have to.

http://new.marksscanners.com

(Note this is a new web address) Has mucho easierer to read guides for the radios. The Uniden techno-speak, corporate manuals leave a lot to be desired.

I'm certainly not the most adept here at these radios, but feel free to ask and I'm sure plenty of us will jump in.

Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by Hoghank »

Thanks!

You guys have set my mind at ease... I'm reading program posts and getting apprehensive about how deep some people go.

Do I need DMR? (I think that's a +$75 upgrade)

Do I need an external antenna?

Read read & practice practice I will!!

User avatar
ecps92
Wiki Administrator
Posts: 5394
Joined: 07 Dec 2005 19:26
Location: South Shore, MA
Contact:

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by ecps92 »

Answers to your questions, all are "Depends" - no stock/standard answer.

Do you need DMR... who around you is using DMR [mostly business ops, but some government]
who do you plan [think future too] on monitoring... see what the Wiki shows currently for that county and state

Do you need an external antenna - only you will know by experimenting and keep in mind "too much signal" can also be a bad
thing with digital and multiple transmitter sites transmitting simultaneously.

Some folks have had luck with an antenna as small as a paperclip [for some monitoring] and then others need something in the attic or on the roof.

Hoghank wrote:
21 Oct 2020 11:16
Thanks!

You guys have set my mind at ease... I'm reading program posts and getting apprehensive about how deep some people go.

Do I need DMR? (I think that's a +$75 upgrade)

Do I need an external antenna?

Read read & practice practice I will!!
Bill Dunn N1KUG
Cruise Ship Frequencies
http://scanmaritime.com

"The tougher it is to find a frequency, the more it makes me want to work to find it. - I've learned to use the SEARCH Button"

User avatar
pete
Forums and Wiki Moderator
Posts: 676
Joined: 29 Aug 2005 20:42
Location: Fall River

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by pete »

Hoghank wrote:
21 Oct 2020 11:16
Thanks!

You guys have set my mind at ease... I'm reading program posts and getting apprehensive about how deep some people go.

Do I need DMR? (I think that's a +$75 upgrade)

Do I need an external antenna?

Read read & practice practice I will!!
If all you are interested in listening to is your towns (Longmeadow) Police and Fire as you previously posted, then NO, you do NOT need the DMR upgrade. Your town is on a UHF P25 trunking system which the SDS100 receives without any upgrades.
https://www.snewiki.com/wiki/index.php/ ... onal_Trunk

As far as an outside antenna goes, it depends on how close you are to the transmitting sites, surrounding terrain, other obstructions and several other factors. When you get the scanner, see if you receive the Control Channel for West Comm with just the supplied antenna. If you do, then your all set.
Pete :Pats: :sox: :Bruins:
never forget W6 & 343 & C9

User avatar
W1KNE
Owner-Webmaster
Posts: 4864
Joined: 19 Aug 2005 12:00
Location: Taunton, MA
Contact:

Re: Welcome to Scanning 101

Post by W1KNE »

Hoghank wrote:
21 Oct 2020 11:16

Read read & practice practice I will!!
Hank,
I split your questions/topic into its own topic for clarify.

-- Mike
Mike Fitzpatrick
Broadcast Engineer - RF Enthusiast - Municipal Fire Alarm Collector
Owner: Scan New England - NECRAT.US
Issues with Scan New England can be privately addressed to me.

cdgordon
Forums and Wiki Moderator
Posts: 1275
Joined: 29 Aug 2005 15:46
Location: Granby, CT

Re: New SDS scanner

Post by cdgordon »

If your interest is Public Safety, Ludlow PD, Holyoke FD and some commercial EMS are DMR (off the top of my head). If you don't mind missing them, you are all set for now without it. There are several DPW's that also use it.
I would also recommend that you learn the programming software at some point rather than relying on Zip Code scanning. A custom list with just what you want to hear without worrying about having too much on or not enough.

chris

Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

Re: New SDS scanner

Post by Hoghank »

Well...

I spend a few hours getting acclimated to it and I got it to work sort of...

I can hear towns that I programmed using sentinel. Maybe I missed needed frequencies as I tried to delete the stuff I didn't want before writing to the scanner.
I will erase and rewrite again today.

I'm pulling stuff I want into unique favorites folders. Some stuff I put into a folder didn't show up on the scanner, so maybe I missed an important part of the file.

Today I'm going to slow down and just try to get my hometown Longmeadow up and running. I heard some communications but only about 10% of what was normal before the switch to trunked system so I am missing a piece of the puzzle.

Can I share my Sentinel setup for comments?

Thanks for letting me be a novice.
Last edited by Hoghank on 22 Oct 2020 08:55, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
W1KNE
Owner-Webmaster
Posts: 4864
Joined: 19 Aug 2005 12:00
Location: Taunton, MA
Contact:

Re: New SDS scanner

Post by W1KNE »

Make sure your service types are enabled of everything you want to listen to.
Mike Fitzpatrick
Broadcast Engineer - RF Enthusiast - Municipal Fire Alarm Collector
Owner: Scan New England - NECRAT.US
Issues with Scan New England can be privately addressed to me.

Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

Fire Tone out questions

Post by Hoghank »

I'm reading about FTO (Fire Tone Out) and my scanner SDS 100 can decode it.

How is that different than monitoring the fire frequency where they also seem to tone out the calls?

And I'm reading all over the place and don't understand how to program for it.

User avatar
ecps92
Wiki Administrator
Posts: 5394
Joined: 07 Dec 2005 19:26
Location: South Shore, MA
Contact:

Re: Fire Tone out questions

Post by ecps92 »

https://www.snewiki.com/wiki/index.php/ ... _Tone_Outs

Nothing different from a normal Monitoring/Scanning. However FTO / aka Pager Tones [Plectron, Motorola etc]
do allow you to leave your radio in silent mode, UNTIL your favorite TONES are played [like a FireFighters Pager]

Some folks use them, as they don't want to listen to [for Regional Dispatching] all the other cities/towns and only want their one town,
others [Many thanks JB - over the years] do keep track of those tones, and have built quite the list. Your use of them may vary
Hoghank wrote:
23 Oct 2020 09:23
I'm reading about FTO (Fire Tone Out) and my scanner SDS 100 can decode it.

How is that different than monitoring the fire frequency where they also seem to tone out the calls?

And I'm reading all over the place and don't understand how to program for it.
Bill Dunn N1KUG
Cruise Ship Frequencies
http://scanmaritime.com

"The tougher it is to find a frequency, the more it makes me want to work to find it. - I've learned to use the SEARCH Button"

Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

Re: New SDS scanner

Post by Hoghank »

Thanks that makes sense!

So if my town is not there... does it mean they don't use that system? Or we don't have that info yet?

User avatar
ecps92
Wiki Administrator
Posts: 5394
Joined: 07 Dec 2005 19:26
Location: South Shore, MA
Contact:

Re: New SDS scanner

Post by ecps92 »

IF anything is not listed, just means that - No one has shared it, or spent the time [hours/days of monitoring]

Keep in mind , tones can be broken down by
Company - Engine, Ladder, Ambulance, Rescue, Chief, Quint etc
Station - Station 1, Station 2 etc
All Call, Working Fire, 2nd Alarm, Coverage Needed Fire, Coverage Needed Medical

And we as Hobbyists, will NEVER know all the possible codes, despite monitoring for years.
Hoghank wrote:
23 Oct 2020 11:21
Thanks that makes sense!

So if my town is not there... does it mean they don't use that system? Or we don't have that info yet?
Bill Dunn N1KUG
Cruise Ship Frequencies
http://scanmaritime.com

"The tougher it is to find a frequency, the more it makes me want to work to find it. - I've learned to use the SEARCH Button"

Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

Re: New SDS scanner

Post by Hoghank »

Can someone show me what the Longmeadow / Westcomm "favorites" should look like?

I copy the files from Sentinel still think I'm doing something wrong- I get occasional transmissions- but not much?

I tried to submit a screen shot of what I have - but the BBS won't accept it.

Is there a better way to do it than "Append to favorites" and then write to scanner using Sentinel?

Thanks

cdgordon
Forums and Wiki Moderator
Posts: 1275
Joined: 29 Aug 2005 15:46
Location: Granby, CT

Re: New SDS scanner

Post by cdgordon »

The system is not very busy. Only Longmeadow PD & FD are on it and they aren't exactly a hotbed of activity.
As long as you are seeing activity on those two groups, that is it for now. Longmeadow PD TGID 33793 and Longmeadow FD 33792. Chicopee FD uses the system for the alert tones only so far, no operations traffic.
On the SDS radio, you should see ID SCANNING or ID SEARCHING. When it stops on activity, you should see one of the above group numbers after "TGID ".

chris

Hoghank
Posts: 10
Joined: 15 Oct 2020 18:45

Re: New SDS scanner

Post by Hoghank »

Thanks Chris

I can get WX and some other stuff- just seems to not match what I got on 460.425 in days of old

I thought maybe I have a db thing wrong.

I have all services on... and it LOOKS right on Sentinel

Post Reply