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Friday, 19 May 2017

UBCD436PT - Using the recorder for confirming frequency usage

In my local area we have a few frequencies which are owned and operated by a two way rental company that then shared these frequencies between multiple users, using different CTCSS tones. This makes confirming who is using the frequency harder then simply being able to look up the user on the ACMA database.

Since purchasing the UBCD436PT, I have found that the recorder feature is excellent for this sort of thing, it not only records the audio but also the frequency, CTCSS tones and other information. Below is a photo and a short video of this in use, I have created a new system on the UBCD436PT and then added the frequencies in question in to this.



video

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

UBCD436PT - First Thoughts

Recently I was lucky enough to purchase a Uniden UBCD436PT. Below is a link to the Uniden webpage about it:
https://www.uniden.com.au/australia/p_ubcd436pt_index.asp

It has been many years since I have owned a trunk tracking scanner so it has been a big learning curve to get back in to using a high end scanner like this.

I am planning on documenting my progress with this, what I like / don't like and any issues I come across as a reference source for anybody who has one of these or is thinking of getting one.

My focus to this point has been on getting it programmed how I want, working out some of the advanced features and getting my head around the "Sentinel" programming software.

After two weeks of use, these are my first thoughts:
- It works very well for trunk tracking, it can "hear" very well in the 800MHz band and will decode EDACS control channels at very low signal levels. I mostly listen to the West Launceston and Mt Barrow sites which both cover where I live well.
- The VHF / UHF performance is not great, my UBC126AT out preforms it for general VHF / UHF scanning. I have tested this on it's own standard aerial (which is junk and useless), an after market VHF/ UHF whip and also a couple of different external aerials. In all cases it falls short of what my UBC126AT can receive.
- It has so many features and different modes of operation. I have become a big of discovery mode (as can be seen below) which I often leaving it running in for periods of times while I am at work or busy, coming back later to review the results.








Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Multiple Use Radio Case

With a new scanner having recently joined my radio setup, which I had been hoping to do for a while I have taken some elements and ideas for some of my previous radio cases and used these to cover my two basic needs:
- My daily carry needs. (Orange case)
- My "event" / portable scanning session setup. (Black case)

I had to cut off the top and bottom tabs on the orange case to make it fit (I had not thought to do this before). The end result is that the smaller orange case which has my daily carry kit now fits in the larger black case which has two other scanners, battery charger and other bits and pieces.







Friday, 28 April 2017

AFL at Utas Stadium - 29/4/2017

Today the AFL is on at Utas Stadium. I went for a walk by this morning and was able to log the following frequencies in use:

484.925MHz - Security / Gate Checks
506.75MHz - Audio feed of various ads. 
509.55MHz - Open Mike - Testing from various locations
509.925MHz - O/B talk back. Testing cameras, lighting and general chat. 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Portabse

I am a big fan of Portabase. I first started using it back in 2010. At the time I had been using an Excel spreadsheet for my radio related frequencies and information but I had found some limits of using this. I made a good start but after some issues I gave up and went back to using Excel. I have recently tried Portabase again and have had much better success this time.



PortaBase (portable database) is a program for conveniently managing one-table database files. It is available for many platforms, including Linux, Mac OS X (Tiger and up), Windows (XP and up), Maemo (Diablo and Fremantle), and the Pandora handheld PC. Notable features include:
  • String, Integer, Decimal, Boolean, Note (multi-line text), Date, Time, Calculation, Sequence, Image, and Enum column types
  • Add, edit, and delete rows of data
  • Custom data views (subsets of the columns in any order)
  • Filter the displayed rows using sets of conditions
  • Sort the rows by any combination of columns, each in ascending or descending order
  • Optional page navigation buttons, with custom number of rows per page
  • Add, delete, rearrange, and rename columns at any time
  • Specify default values for columns
  • View summary statistics for columns (total, average, min, max, etc.)
  • Import data from CSV, XML, and MobileDB files
  • Export data to CSV, HTML, and XML files
  • Command-line format conversions (to and from XML, to and from CSV, from MobileDB, to HTML)
  • Data file encryption
  • Unicode support
  • Pick any available font to use throughout the application (except on Mac OS X)
  • User-specified alternating row background colors (except on Fremantle)
  • Simple calculator widget for entering numeric data
PortaBase is free software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Portabase can be downloaded from here: http://portabase.sourceforge.net/




Wednesday, 26 April 2017

UHF CB Channel 11 Usage

UHF CB channel 11 (476.675MHz) is the "unofficial" calling channel, from my listening it does not seem to get much use for that. Generally most UHF CB users either call on the local repeater (channel 2 in the Launceston area) or their own working channel.

Of late I have noticed an increase in the amount of radio traffic on UHF CB channel 11, other than the local channel 2 repeater or channel 40 (the road channel) it has been the most active UHF CB channel in the Launceston area.

I was out for a walk with my daughter in her pram recently and came across some road works, we had to stop to let a truck pass. I got talking to one of the guys who was doing traffic control and noticed he had a UHF CB. He told me that a lot of the road works / construction companies had agreed on using UHF CB channel 11 for this type of work, by having them all on the same channel they can talk to each other and coordinate what is going on. This might also be part of the reason why a couple of companies have migrated from VHF highband to UHF, they can use the one radio for both UHF CB and also their own business frequency. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Portable Scanning - Launceston CBD - 18/4/2017

Today I went for a walk around the CBD with my daughter in her pram. We started off at city park, walked across the CBD to Royal park, back via the Launceston Fire Station and the CBD to KMART and then back to the car. I had my UBC126AT running in close call temporary store mode in the top of the pram, my loggings are below:

81.53750 - TFS (TX)
81.56250 - AMBO (TX)
411.18750 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
462.25000 - KMART LTON
463.40000 - TARGET LTON
476.50000 - UHF CB CH 4
476.82500 - UHF CB CH 17 (Security?)
476.90000 - UHF CB CH 20 (TOLL)
479.57500 - LCC PARK (TX)

UHF CB channel 17 (476.825MHz) also had a hit in the mall, audio was asking for a staff member to do a bag check as a lady was leaving the shop, I suspect this might have been Best and Less.







Monday, 17 April 2017

Daily Carry Radio Case - April 2017

Over the years, while involved in the radio scanning / amateur radio / ultralight DXing hobbies, I have used a number of different bags and cases for carrying my radios and associated bits and pieces. Some of these bags and cases have worked very well, others have not for various reasons. 

I have again returned to my love of portable operation, this has meant finding a suitable carry case or bag for my radios to undertaken these activities in parks and other locations.

Based on my experience in the past, I decided to move away from a soft (camera) bag like I have used recently and started looking around for a hard case. This needed to be big enough to hold a scanner, aerial, chargers, USB cord, ear phones and spare AA batteries but I didn't want to go to a "Pelican" type case due to cost and sizing options.

Recently I was at Bunnings when I came across this case, for $20 it is big enough to hold a scanner plus the bits and pieces I need to carry. It is not as big as a pelican case like I have used in the past and I can easily throw it in to whatever bag I am using, if that is my work laptop bag, a backpack for days out or just by itself in the car.

I added some bubble wrap to the top of the case and a few stickers on the outside compleates the look.

Overall for less than $20 and an hour of my time, I have a case which provides a good level of protection to my radio.












Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Russian WoodPecker

I found this a very interesting read.

http://www.abandonedspaces.com/uncategorized/abandoned-the-massive-totally-bonkers-soviet-early-warning-radar.html

TARGET Frequencies - Active



A few weeks ago I noticed the two new frequencies below on the ACMA database for both the TARGET stores in Launceston. I programmed them in to my UBC126AT but as my day to day drive does not take me past them I had not been able to confirm them in use.

463.40000MHz - TARGET LTON
465.31250MHz - TARGET MOWBRAY

Last week I happened to call past TARGET Mowbray and noticed that all the staff I saw had ear prices. On Saturday I had a couple  of spare hours so I decided to head to each of the stores and see if they were active yet.

I started at TARGET Mowbray, I sat in the car for about 20 minutes close to the doors and didn't hear that frequency active at all, I decided to put my scanner on my belt and head in for a walk around with it in close call temporary store mode. Within a couple of minutes I had a close call hit with the CTCSS tone also logged.

After this success I headed in to the CBD to see if the city store were also on the air. Again I had my UBC126AT on my belt, this time I also had an ear piece in to be able to hear the conversations. I spent a little bit of time walking around the store and was able to confirm the frequency is in use, the CTCSS tone in use and some call signs / a general idea of how they use them.






Saturday, 15 April 2017

Some Changes To My Blog

Please note that I have made some changes to how I am approaching the radio hobby and what information I will be posting.

- I am expanding in to HF radio including ultralight DXing so overtime will be posting more about that.

- I won't be posting my frequency logs except as part of another post or where a new frequency is found or a user is confirmed.
- My focus is very much on stealth / event scanning and locating new frequencies / users. 

I will also be posting anything else related to radio communications in general.

How to ID signals

You are scanning the bands and come across a weird looking and sounding signals - what do you do next?

There is a great wiki on signal identification that contains what they look like on a waterfall and what they sound like on the air.

A great future reference site for the bookmarks list.

http://www.sigidwiki.com/wiki/Signal_Identification_Guide

Monday, 10 April 2017

NBN Cable Installers on UHF CB

Today I have logged via Close Call some NBN cable installers using UHF CB channel 21 (476.925MHz) in the Riverside area.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Scanning Repeater Input Frequencies - Why would you do it?

In almost all cases, you should program your scanner with the output frequency of a repeater. Since this is the frequency that the repeater is using to rebroadcast all communications and as repeaters with an antenna mounted high up will have much better line of sight to mobiles and portables and cover a much larger area.

When using Close Call mode, you will mostly get hits on the input frequencies of repeaters. This I have found useful for both finding new frequencies in use and also with confirming the user of frequencies, especially on shared repeaters where multiple users are sharing the same frequency but with different CTCSS tones.

As I focus more on traffic analysis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_analysis) the content of the message becomes less important than when, where, why and who is using a given frequency. What I have done in the past few weeks is to take a group of the more active frequencies in the Launceston area and program the input frequencies in as below.

72.82500 - ABILITY (TX)
80.15000 - TECS (TX)
80.78570 - LCC (TX)
80.81250 - LCC (TX)
81.53750 - TFS (TX)
81.56250 - AMBO (TX)
157.90000 - BORAL (TX)
158.01250 - TASRAIL (TX)
158.45000 - REDLINE (TX)
158.83750 - TOXFREE (TX)
454.27500 - METRO (TX)
479.42500 - LCC QVM (TX)
479.57500 - LCC PARK (TX)
480.05000 - MARCOMNET (TX)
483.35000 - MARCOMNET (TX)

This limits the radio traffic to only what is physically close to my location. So far my results have been encouraging, a number of times I have been able to visually match what I see (such as trucks from a company who use a shared repeater) with radio traffic on the input frequencies and the matching CTCSS tones.

Over time I will continue to log these results and share them on here and my blog.

Close Call Hit on 157.900MHz

This morning I was driving in Legana with my UBC126AT in close call auto store mode. I noticed some construction work going on near the shopping centre, a few seconds later I got a close call hit on 157.900MHz which is the input frequency for Boral off Mt Arthur on 162.500MHz.

https://web.acma.gov.au/rrl/assignment_search.lookup?pEFL_ID=717073


Toll Transport - UHF CB

Yesterday I had to attend an appointment in Newstead. I left my UBC126AT in close call temporary store mode in the car. When I returned to the car, I had a close call hit on UHF CB channel 20 (476.900MHz). After listening to the traffic for a few moments I confirmed this is being used by Toll Transport at the Newstead depot.



Sunday, 2 April 2017

Active Frequencies 1/1/2017 - 30/3/2017

Below is my list of all the active frequencies I have logged in the Launceston area in the first three months of 2017.

70.32500 - ABILITY TAXIS
72.12500 - CONNORVILLE
72.27500 - LES WALKDEN
73.13000 - B W MANION
75.32500 - * UNKNOWN
75.59000 - BEAMS BROS
77.65000 - TECS
78.01250 - WTC WORKS
78.28750 - LCC-MTARTHUR
78.31250 - LCC-FREELANDS
78.47500 - FORESTRY TAS
78.55000 - GT COUNCIL
78.62500 - AMBO-MT BARROW
78.65000 - FIRE-TAMAR
78.70000 - AMBO-MT DISMAL
78.77500 - AMBO-MILLERSBLUFF
78.82500 - AMBO-DAZZLERRANGE
79.03750 - FIRE-WEST LTON
79.06250 - AMBO-WEST LTON
79.13750 - FORESTRY TAS
79.15000 - FORESTRY TAS
79.47500 - FORESTRY TAS
79.56250 - FIRE-NE
79.60000 - FIRE
79.66250 - FIRE-NE
118.10000 - TOWER-HOBART
118.70000 - TOWER-LTON
119.10000 - CTAF
120.70000 - FIA/DEVONPORT
122.60000 - FIA/WYNYARD
123.45000 - AIR SIMP
123.80000 - FIA-NORTH
123.95000 - FIA/NW
125.55000 - FIA/SOUTH
126.35000 - AIR SIMP
126.50000 - FIA-LTON
126.70000 - CTAF
126.90000 - CTAF/NW
127.30000 - CTAF-GT
129.50000 - QANTAS
130.12500 - JETSTAR-HOBART
130.22500 - JETSTAR-LTON
130.35000 - VIRGIN BLUE
134.75000 - ATIS/LTON
145.02500 - 2M HAM SIMP
145.42500 - 2M HAM SIMP
145.45000 - 2M HAM SIMP
145.47500 - 2M HAM SIMP
146.37500 - 2M HAM SIMP
146.45000 - 2M HAM SIMP
146.47500 - 2M HAM SIMP
146.50000 - 2M HAM SIMP
146.52500 - 2M HAM SIMP
146.55000 - 2M HAM SIMP
146.57500 - 2M IRLP
147.00000 - VK7RAA-MTARTHUR
151.40000 - TRAFFIC LIGHTS (DATA)
156.35000 - MARINE
156.37500 - MARINE VHF 67
156.40000 - MARINE VHF 8
156.42500 - MARINE WEATHER
156.60000 - MARINE VHF 12
156.70000 - MARINE VHF 14
156.80000 - MARINE VHF 16
157.57500 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
157.62500 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
157.77500 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
158.00000 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
158.26250 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
161.05000 - TOX FREE SIMP
161.07500 - ARTEC
161.62500 - MAST
162.37500 - TASRAIL-MILLERS
162.38750 - TAS GAS PIPELINE
162.47500 - BORAL
162.50000 - BORAL
162.60000 - TASRAIL-DAZZLER
162.61250 - TASRAIL-MTARTHUR
162.66250 - TASRAIL-SNOWHILL
162.71250 - GRAHAM RAND
163.05000 - REDLINE BUSES
163.07500 - HOLCIM
163.43750 - TOX FREE
163.86250 - MARCOM WATSON
164.30000 - REDLINE BUSES
411.18750 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
411.31250 - AMBO-UHF SIMP
411.61250 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
411.76250 - AMBO-UHF SIMP
412.36250 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
413.70000 - AMBO-UHF SIMP
415.45000 - UHF RENTAL
415.48750 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
438.05000 - VK7RBH-BENLOMOND
438.55000 - VK7RAB-MTARTHUR
439.77500 - VK7RDR-DAZZLER
451.33125 - TASRAIL (UHF LINK)
454.27500 - METRO INPUT
462.10000 - OFFICEWORKS
462.25000 - KMART LTON
464.27500 - METRO-ABLES
464.37500 - METRO-FREELANDS
464.55000 - SECURITY
465.40000 - MARCOM WATSON
467.17500 - TECS
467.47500 - CASINO SECURITY (DMR)
469.70000 - UHF RENTAL
471.52500 - BASIN CHAIR LIFT
471.70000 - PFRIFER CRANES
471.90000 - UHF RENTAL
472.50000 - TASRAIL SIMP UHF
472.82500 - M D DUNCAN
473.10000 - TARGET LTON
473.50000 - TASRAIL SIMP UHF
474.12500 - WARREN J SPEERS
474.22500 - LCC MUSEUM
474.37500 - LCC PARKING
474.77500 - UNI SECURITY (DMR)
474.85000 - TRANSPORT INSP
474.92500 - PFEIFFER CRANES
474.95000 - JMC GROUP
475.00000 - CHURCHILL PARTS
475.05625 - TAS RACING
476.42500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 01
476.45000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 02
476.47500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 03
476.50000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 04
476.52500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 05
476.55000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 06
476.57500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 07
476.60000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 08
476.62500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 09
476.65000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 10
476.67500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 11
476.70000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 12
476.72500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 13
476.75000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 14
476.77500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 15
476.80000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 16
476.82500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 17
476.85000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 18 (LTON TIP)
476.87500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 19
476.90000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 20
476.92500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 21
476.95000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 22
476.97500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 23
477.00000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 24
477.02500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 25
477.05000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 26
477.07500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 27
477.10000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 28
477.12500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 29
477.15000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 30
477.17500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 31
477.20000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 32
477.22500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 33
477.25000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 34
477.27500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 35
477.30000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 36
477.32500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 37
477.35000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 38
477.37500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 39
477.40000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 40
479.32500 - WARREN J SPEERS (input)
484.80000 - BOAGS
485.25000 - MARCOM WATSON
488.55000 - MARCOM WATSON
492.60000 - LTON COLLEGE
493.22500 - LGH (DMR)
494.92500 - LCC SWIMMING

Why radio scanning is the perfect hobby (For me at least)

Over the past 18 years “hobbies” have been a major issue for me.

It all started in October 1999 when I brought a Tandy brand 100 channel handheld scanner that  covered from 66 MHz to 956 MHz, I used this almost nonstop from the day I had  it, after getting some good frequencies from my electronics teacher at college.  After using this radio for about 6 months I had saved up enough with a bit extra money from my 18th birthday to buy a brand new scanner, I got a Uniden UBC9000xlt base scanner in March 2000. 

I totally feel in love with scanner at this point and have never looked back since. I then got an external aerial installed and that greatly improved the number of frequencies I could hear and the quality of the signal. During March 2002 my beloved Tandy handheld got damaged by an accident at my work place while it was sitting on a bench. This meant I had to buy a new handheld scanner; I got a Uniden UBC3000xlt handheld. 

This was constantly with me whenever I was away from home and I have spent many nights listening to my scanners as major events have unfolded and spent many hours listening to what's going on around my city. Around October 2002 I got interested in being able to listen to the state-wide EDACS based radio system that the police and our power company use. After searching the internet I came across the Uniden UBC245xlt trunk tracker ii scanner. I put one on lay by hoping to be able to pay it off as a Christmas present for myself. 

As it happened 2 days before I was to pick it up, my car got broken in to at work (I left a door unlocked for 2 minutes while loading boxes) and my UBC3000xlt handheld got stolen. I pick up my new 245xlt in 2 days time and after a shaky start  programming it for the EDACS system, I was rewarded by getting it to work It is all ways with me and I loved it.  The way that it allowed me to follow transmissions as they move frequencies is amazing and a real benefit after having to use a normal scanner to try and listen to it. Over the time I have had my scanners, my interest groups have changed many times, starting off with the Air band and emergency services, moving in to the business users and I liked listening to the EDACS system, and the fire service.

This lead me to UHF CB and then to me obtaining my amateur radio ticket (ex VK7FPGB) which I let lapse about 10 years ago due to a lack of time / equipment and a location suitable to do this.

In early 2008 I was getting a little bit sick of the radio scanning hobby and the issues associated with this, which in part lead me to try my hand at photography. Very soon after starting with this I found I had some talent and a passion for photography. In late 2008 I decided to get back in to radio scanning in a small way which then grew again and this lead to me focusing on this and photography taking a back seat. Over the next 5 years I changed and moved between both these hobbies plus I also tried my hand at creative writing, computer animation, programming and I also became heavy involved in the LEGO Technic hobby to the point where in early 2013 I ran a LEGO expo in Launceston called “Brixhibition” and following this I was elected the vice-president (North) of the Taz-brick Collectors Club.

By the middle of 2013 things had come to a head and after much soul searching I decided to leave all my other hobbies behind and just concentrate on the ultralight DXing hobby. Late in 2013 Gary DeBock offered to build for me a Tecsun PL-380 with this famous 7.5” Loopstick mod, when I received this in the mail my interest and passion for ultralight DXing really took off. In early 2014 I again returned to the LEGO Technic hobby, by late 2014 I had again sold off all my LEGO and this has been a really good decision on my part. I have also suffered from some health issues over the past 12 years and these mean that sometimes I am unable to get out and do things that I would like to do, ultralight DXing is a good reason to go out when I want to / can and it is also just as enjoyable if I am stuck at home too. Since the birth of our daughter in late 2014 I have found a new way to combine my ultralight DXing hobby with family life, often when I take her out for a walk I throw my ultralight DXing kit in the pram and take the chance to undertake some portable sessions when I am able to.


In late 2015 I again came back to the radio scanning hobby, this time with a new found focus and desire to enjoy it for what it is, a relaxing hobby which I enjoy. I run a blog related to this where I share my postings and this is something I really enjoy.

Now in 2017 I am continuing to focus on logging active frequencies, hunting down new frequencies in use and generally focusing on the "technical" side of the radio scanning hobby.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Project - Average Frequency Hits Over a 24 Hour Period.

Over the past week (five business days) I have had a scanner logging all the hits on the 350 frequencies I have programmed in. I excluded weekends due to the fact that a number of business are closed and I didn't want this to impact the results. I record how many "hits" were logged per hour for five days and then averaged the result. This can be seen in the graph below.

My analysis:
In the early hours of the morning you get just under two hundred hits. Most business users are off the air then so this would mostly be the Tasmanian Fire Service, Ambulance Tasmania, some airband and UHF CB plus very limited business users.
Between 5am and 6am shows a massive jump as a number of users come on the air, this includes Tox FREE waste doing wheelie bin pickups and the Launceston City Council CBD street cleaning crews. Between 7am and 8am even more business users come on the air and the large amount of hits logged during this time would be due to staff preparing for businesses to open and people preparing for the day ahead. Metro busses are very active during this time period.
As the day progresses traffic stays steady with a noticeable drop around 12pm which I put down to lunch breaks. Logged hits start to drop off around 5pm and continue to drop off as the evening progresses.