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Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Years Eve Scanning

Our new years eve was fairly quiet, spent with some friends. On the scanning front, in the afternoon I was driving near city park when I got some faint signals on the Eagle Security frequency of 462.2875MHz. As I drove closer to the CBD this improved until I was able to confirm that this was being used by security staff at the "Royal Eve" event at Royal Park. Later in the night as we drove home this was very active.

Other services were fairly active with both the T.F.S and A.T attending to new years eve related incidents. I can't comment on Tasmania Police as I don't / can't listen to them. Ability Taxis on 70.325MHz were very active. Metro were busy arranging shuttle buses from the city and Redline were also active. Little was heard on UHF CB which is a little strange given normally it is full of crazies on this night. The three "DMR" security frequencies were all active but I am unable to decode their signals.



Monday, 26 December 2016

Close Call Hit - Penny Royal Launceston

Today while out and about driving on the bridge that links Riverside to the CBD, I got a Close Call hit on UHF CB Channel 1 (476.425MHz). This is very close to the Penny Royal complex, when the audio of "Can you open the gold mine" I knew this is what it was being used for, based on the information in the links below.

As this was logged on my UBC72XLT scanner, I don't know if a CTCSS tone is in use or not.

http://pennyroyallaunceston.com.au
http://www.leisureinnpennyroyal.com.au/penny-royal-adventures

Christmas Scanning / New Aerial

Our Christmas was very nice, spending time with family and friends. Our two year old got spoilt by everybody and I for one ate way too much food...

I "officially" got my new scanner (Uniden UBC126AT) from my wife, which I have been using for the last few months and a few other gifts. I had this running in "Close Call Temporary Store" mode most of the day in the car while at our families and friends, it didn't log anything of note.

A couple of weeks ago I found my old UHF CB whip which is mounted on a 3M pole up the side of our garage. I had left it there when I had removed it about six months ago at the time that I moved my radios from the garage and in to the house. I had a bit of a look and found a spot I could mount the UHF CB whip and bracket on our BBQ areas roof, which backs on to the wall where my radio desk is inside. I spoke to my wife and agreed to this being mounted. Late this afternoon I had some spare time and the weather was not too hot so I spent an hour or so mounting this to the roof of the BBQ area and running the cable in to the house behind my radio desk. My quick test after installing it shows much improved signal levels compared to the standard aerial on my UBC126AT. Over the next few days I hope to have a chance to give this a good try, my hope being that I will be able to hear a couple of signals which are not quite receivable at the moment from my home.







Sunday, 18 December 2016

Radio Magazines

A great run down on some radio related magazines, I used to read a number of these.

http://scanradionsw.blogspot.com.au/2016/12/radio-magazines.html

Close Calling LED Signs

Around six weeks ago, I was driving along Wellington Street in Launceston when I stopped at the traffic lights near the Westbury Road turn off. I had my Uniden UBC126AT scanner with me, running in close call mode.

I got a close call hit on 162.500MHz which is the repeater output frequency for Boral on Mt Arthur. This was "open carrier". I thought this was a little strange as I was over 22km from where this repeater is located (see the map below)


I thought it might have been a driver using this in simplex mode, but I have never heard them do this before. A couple of weeks later I was again driving in this area and again had a close call hit on this same frequency, 162.500MHz. This I found very strange. 

Last week I was driving past Queechy High School when I again got a close call hit on 162.500MHz, this really puzzled me. I parked my car and got out, by following the signal strength I was able to locate the source of the signal to this LED sign.


On my drive home I drove along Wellington Street and got another close call hit on this frequency, looking around I spotted this sign.


It seems that these LED signs radiate a open carrier signal on 162.500MHz. Range is up to 25 metres.




Funny Scanner Logging - Redline Coaches

On Saturday I was having a bit of a scan around the bands, Redline Coaches on 163.050MHz became active.

A driver asked for base to have a roll of duct tape ready when he arrived at the depot to fix the front of his bus. He would not say over the air what had happened.  A few drivers gave him a bit of a ribbing over the air about it.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

CBD Close Call Hits - 16/12/2016

Today my wife and I went in to the city to do our Christmas shopping. I took along my backpack and in this I had my Uniden UBC126AT radio scanner running in "Close Call Temporary Store Mode". This logs any close call hits in to a special 10 channel memory bank as they are found, this allows them to be reviewed later (but before the power is turned off as this special 10 channel memory bank is cleared when the power is turned off). This mode is very useful for "up close" monitoring when you don't want to have your radio scanner on show, have it running in your bag or on your belt and check the results later on.

Logged hits for the Launceston CBD in the four hours were:
146.400MHz - VK7RAA 2 Metre Repeater. Input frequency.
158.450MHz - Redline Buses (CTCSS tone logged). Input frequency for 163.050MHz on Abels Hill.
411.1875MHz - Tasmania Fire Service UHF handheld (CTCSS tone logged). Launceston 1.2?
412.3625MHz - Tasmania Fire Service UHF handheld (CTCSS tone logged). Rocherlea 1.1
474.375MHz - Launceston City Council (CTCSS tone logged). Parking Services
476.800MHz - UHF CB Channel 16. Best and Less staff. I heard this one alert me, so I sat outside the store and had a quick listen to confirm the usage of it.

Overall I was more than impressed with how well this mode worked. I can see myself making more use of this in the future.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Radio Scanning Desk - December 2016

For the last couple of years, my radio scanning has mostly been focused on portable operation. I have recently been able to setup a desk at home which I am now using for radio scanning. I have a small netbook which runs the Scan125 Control Program which I used for remote control / logging of my UBC126AT scanner. I often set this up for logging while I am busy doing other things or out, I can then return later and review these loggings which I use to help confirm active frequencies.

Below are some photos of my set up. From left to right we have.
- Uniden UH-042XR handheld UHF CB. I use this for scanning our UHF CB band and also while on road trips.
- HP 10" netbook. This is used for logging, research and frequency management / programming.
- Uniden UBC126AT. This is my main scanner and when I am not using out of the house, it lives here connected to my netbook for logging active frequencies.
- Uniden UBC72XLT. This is my backup scanner which is mostly used for monitoring some of my more active frequencies and also in close call mode.






Launceston Tip Radio Usage

Today I took two loads of rubbish to the Launceston Refuse Centre (tip). I had my Uniden UBC126AT with me in close call auto store mode. I knew from a previous visit that they use UHF CB channel 18 for day to day operations.

While waiting in line to be weighed before entering, I got my first close call hit on UHF CB channel 18 (476.8500MHz), this was a staff member asking a front end loader driver to compact down some waste in one of the bins. 

When I was directed to one of the bins to unload, I left UBC126AT in the car, when I returned to exit I got a hit on 80.8125MHz which is the repeater input for 78.3125MHz, this is the main Launceston City Council frequency for the city area, this is located on Freelands Lookout. This was asking for the gate to be opened.

As I drove closer to the entry / exit point I noticed three aerials on the roof (see photos below):
One is a VHF mid-band aerial which is for 78.3125MHz
One is a UHF aerial, this would be for UHF CB channel 18.
The middle aerial looks to be a VHF / UHF TV aerial, this is pointing towards the Broadcast Site Juliana St West Launceston.

The use of the VHF mid-band frequency is not something I was aware of and I will update my notes to reflect this.










Friday, 9 December 2016

Holiday Scanning - East Coast and Hobart

We have just returned from a bit of a family holiday, down the East Coast and in Hobart. While this was a family holiday and this was my focus, I did manage to fit in some scanning time.

St Helens: I logged the following frequencies in use, this was a mix of searching the bands plus the use of close call.
79.4625MHz - Forestry Tasmania
79.500MHz - Forestry Tasmania
79.650MHz - Tasmania Fire Service
123.8MHz - Air Traffic Control 
129.5MHz - QANTAS
130.125MHz - Jetstar
130.225MHz - Jetstar
130.350MHz - Virgin
156.425MHz - MARINE
156.6MHz - MARINE
156.8MHz - MARINE
Various UHF CB channels, a few of these were logged via the Close Call auto store mode.

Hobart: This has a bit more variety of frequencies and I made good use of the Close Call auto store mode which I left running while we were doing various things including in the car as we were driving around.
78.4125MHz - Ambulance
78.9125MHz - Ambulance
79.0375MHz - Tasmania Fire Service
118.1MHz - Hobart Tower
123.8MHz - Air Traffic Control 
125.55MHz - Air Traffic Control
129.5MHz - QANTAS
130.125MHz - Jetstar
130.225MHz - Jetstar
130.350MHz - Virgin
162.6MHz - TASRAIL
163.925MHz - REDLINE Buses
165.15MHz - O'Driscol Coaches
464.175MHz - Metro Buses
Various UHF CB channels, a few of these were logged via the Close Call auto store mode, being used for traffic control at road works sites.
I also logged a few frequencies in the 466/467MHz band with constant data, I suspect these are being used at Risdon Prison, one was found via Close Call when driving past.

Loggings on 469.7MHz

I have recently been hearing some signals on 469.7MHz in the Launceston area. This is a "rental" frequency which is licensed to many different users. We used this frequency for our radio fox hunts a few years ago.

Signals have been logged at various times of the day in the Launceston CBD area, Summerhill and Mowbray. The contents of the signal makes me suspect this might be used for NBN rollout work or something along those lines with talk about cable lengths, tools required and most recently, some talk about back fill needs and when sections will be done. Another frequency worth keeping an ear out for.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

New Active Frequency - 471.700MHz

I have recently come across a new active frequency in the Launceston area.

471.700MHz is registered to "Pfeiffer Cranes" which is being used by crane drivers for operational control. It is active during the day at times and yesterday it was still active in to the early evening.

Monday, 12 September 2016

My Radio Scanning Tips

Below is a list of radio scanning related hints and tips. Some of these are my own, others are ones that have been shared with me over the years by other scanner users.

Carrying your gear:
There are a few different ways you can carry your gear around, a lot of this depends on how much radio “stuff” you need to carry and how you use your scanner.
Some people can just throw their handheld scanner in a pocket as they walk out the door while others might need a better way to carry gear.

I personally have used many different cases and bags over the years, at one stage I had two Pelican brand hard carry cases. I have recently moved across to a much smaller hard case, this holds my UBC126AT, aerial, batteries, charger and USB cable. I also have a much larger hard ABS case which holds my whole radio collection and accessories. If this is too much of an over kill I have seen people use digital camera bags which work well as they are well padded plus they don’t draw “unwanted” attention when out in public.

Head phones:
With the amount of people these days using iPods, iPhones and other music devices with head phones, it is possible to pick up some good headphones fairly cheap that make you blend in with other people. I have a set of white in ear headphones that look very much like iPod ones and when I wear these while walking around with my UBC126AT on my belt or in my pocket I don’t look out of place. People assume I am listening to music, I use this to my advantage.

Programming:
If you have more than one scanner / radio then try and keep them setup as close to the same as possible, for example if your handheld has bank / system 1 as the Fire Service then try and have your other radios with bank / system 1 as the fire service also, this makes things a lot easier when using different radios or trying to explain to somebody else how to use it if you’re driving or so on.

Before you start programming your scanner think about and plan what frequencies you want to program in and how you want to arrange them, some people like to group them based on service or coverage area where as others prefer in frequency order. My UBC126AT is programmed like this:
1 - 000 North (Fire, Ambulance, SES and common 000 frequencies)
2 – Air band / Amateur Radio
3 – UHF CB
4,5,6,7 – VHF / UHF Business band
8 - Services we don’t talk about ;)
9 - Hobart / Devonport / Burnie Frequencies
0 – Scratch bank for temporary storage or when trying to ID frequencies in use

Data management:
The more you get in to the scanning hobby the more information you need to keep track of.
When I first started I had a sheet of paper with the 100 channels I had in my handheld.  Over the years this increased to the stage where I had a folder on my computer full of many gigabytes of radio related information.













Thursday, 8 September 2016

Article - Non Police Scanning in Tasmania

It is a cold winter’s night, after a hard day at work you arrive home and reach to turn on your radio scanner, it comes to life with various users but after a little while of scanning you notice you have not heard any police talk groups active, you check and confirm the system / bank is turned on and the talk groups are not locked out. The scanner seems to be working and other users are coming in well, so nothing seems wrong with your equipment.

The next day you jump online and see other users have reported the same thing, it has finally happened, the police have switched back to digital encryption and are now unscannable.

The above was written back in 2010. As I am sure everybody knows by now, the Tasmanian Police are unscannable, at least in and around the major population areas of Tasmania, from what I have seen this could even be increased to cover most / all of Tasmania in the future.

With this in mind I thought a post with some ideas of ways to find out what is going on now the police are gone would be helpful.

First I must say that I don't see the police going “secure” as the end of the scanning hobby or any other such rubbish that I know has happened in other states where forums and websites have disappeared almost overnight once the police became un-scannable, while I am sure some people find the police very interesting to listen to and are not sure what the future holds now they are gone I ask this question, would you stop watching TV and sell your TV if your favourite show got taken off the air? I would say no you would not, you would find something else to watch and that is what I hope most people will do now the police are mostly gone from a scanning point of view.

Here are some other users it might be worth having programmed in to listen to:

Tas fire and Tas ambulance services: while these are not as active on the radio as what the police are you still hear quite a bit on them, especially in regards to accidents where you sometimes get more or different information to what the police talk about.

Security companies: Quite often you will hear them talk about things before the police are even aware of something happening and they being somewhat less formal with their communications give out a lot more information over the air compared to the police.

Taxi's: About the least formal radio users (second only to UHF CB users) on the air and quite often with the number of taxis on the roads driving around and sitting in public areas waiting for jobs they see things as they happen which then get reported to the police so quite often you hear things before the police know about them. Over the past few years they have become a less appealing target as the major companies are now using MDT type systems and use no voice communications in the Launceston area. Some of the stuff I have heard on the taxi channels over the years is amazing.

Air band: this would be the single most active band of frequencies in most areas of the state and while 99% of comms are day to day stuff you do sometimes hear interesting things happening.

Amateur radio: I know this is not every body’s cup of tea and I am the first to admit sometimes the on-air conversations can be a little dry but every now and then you do hear interesting things especially given how many hams are active on the air when they are driving around.

UHF CB: This band has a lot of idiots but with channel 40 being the road channel you hear about accidents and other road related events as they happen.

Local council: Another group of semi formal radio users, they are sometimes asked to clean up after accidents and with them being out and about they see things as they happen.

Bus drivers: These are around on the roads from early morning to late night and see incidents as they happen.

Delivery drivers / truck drivers: very in-formal radio users and always up to date with what is going on.

If none of this sounds interesting then what about trying some different  areas of the hobby like the following:

- Trunking: remember the police are not the only users of the EDACS network and I find Aurora quite interesting at times in the past.

- HF / shortwave radio: Not something I have much experience in of late but what little I have done in the past has been interesting.

- Searching out / confirming new frequencies: my favourite part of the hobby and something I spend a lot of time doing, I am surprised by how few people seem interested in doing this.  

Current Scanner Frequencies

These are the frequencies I currently have programmed in my scanners for the greater Launceston area. Please note that not all of these frequencies are "active" and some might go weeks or months without any use.
Last updated: 6/3/2017

000 SERVICES:
76.03750 - FIRE-F35
76.40000 - SES-COMMON 000
76.48750 - FIRE-F34
76.91250 - ST JOHNS AMBO VHF
77.00000 - FIRE-F33
77.12500 - AMBO- SIMP
77.52500 - SES-NORTH
77.58750 - FIRE-F37
77.75000 - FIRE-F38
78.03750 - FIRE
78.52500 - FIRE F11 NE
78.52500 - FIRE F24 MIDLANDS
78.56250 - FIRE
78.62500 - AMBO-MT BARROW
78.65000 - FIRE-TAMAR
78.68750 - FIRE
78.70000 - AMBO-MT DISMAL
78.77500 - AMBO-MILLERSBLUFF
78.82500 - AMBO-DAZZLERRANGE
79.03750 - FIRE-WEST LTON
79.06250 - AMBO-WEST LTON
79.56250 - FIRE-NE
79.60000 - FIRE
79.61250 - FIRE
79.65000 - FIRE
79.66250 - FIRE-NE
79.83750 - FIRE-F32
79.93750 - FIRE-F31
410.98750 - AMBO-UHF SIMP
411.18750 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
411.31250 - AMBO-UHF SIMP
411.40000 - ST JOHNS AMBO
411.61250 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
411.76250 - AMBO-UHF SIMP
412.10000 - ST JOHNS AMBO
412.36250 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
413.70000 - AMBO-UHF SIMP
415.46250 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
415.47500 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
415.48750 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
415.51250 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
415.53750 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
462.03750 - ST JOHNS AMBO
470.40000 - ST JOHNS AMBO
472.15000 - ST JOHNS AMBO
472.20000 - ST JOHNS AMBO
507.95000 - ST JOHNS AMBO

AIRBAND / AMATEUR RADIO:
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
29.60000 - 10M HAM CALL
53.87500 - VK7RAA 6M
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
438.05000 - VK7RBH-BENLOMOND
438.55000 - VK7RAB-MTARTHUR
439.77500 - VK7RDR-DAZZLER

BUSINESS TWO WAY:
70.32500 - ABILITY TAXIS
70.83750 - LTON TAXIS
72.02500 - ACC SERVICES
72.12500 - CONNORVILLE
72.27500 - LES WALKDEN
73.13000 - B W MANION
75.56000 - GLEN DIX ELEC
75.59000 - BEAMS BROS
76.95000 - FORESTRY SIMP
77.08750 - LCC
77.15000 - GT COUNCIL
77.65000 - TECS
77.76250 - MV COUNCIL
77.88750 - ARMAGUARD
78.01250 - WTC WORKS
78.28750 - LCC-MTARTHUR
78.31250 - LCC-FREELANDS
78.47500 - FORESTRY TAS
78.55000 - GT COUNCIL
78.83750 - FORICO
78.90000 - NM COUNCIL
79.00000 - DOWNER WORKS
79.11250 - TECS
79.13750 - FORESTRY TAS
79.15000 - FORESTRY TAS
79.16250 - MV COUNCIL
79.47500 - FORESTRY TAS
151.40000 - TRAFFIC LIGHTS
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
158.00000 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
158.26250 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
161.05000 - TOX FREE SIMP
161.07500 - ARTEC
162.08750 - TAXI COMBINED
162.31250 - SUNCOAST EXPR
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
162.85000 - CHRIS HALL INVESTMENTS
162.96250 - W OCONNOR
163.03750 - FRANK O'CONNOR
163.05000 - REDLINE BUSES
163.06250 - THORNE
163.07500 - HOLCIM
163.08750 - CENTRALCABS
163.12500 - ACC SERVICES
163.21000 - DISTRIBUTION GROUP
163.42500 - TECS
163.43750 - TOX FREE
163.57500 - TECS
163.60000 - STAR TRACK 
163.62500 - BSH ELECTRICAL
163.86250 - MARCOM WATSON
163.91250 - MARCOM WATSON
164.05000 - COMBINED COMMS
164.30000 - REDLINE BUSES
164.96250 - SOUTHERN CROSS TELEVISION
165.86500 - SOUTHERN CROSS TELEVISION
166.15000 - AJ BROWN
166.27500 - HANSON
167.53000 - MANION PLUMBING
168.11250 - GT TAXI
415.45000 - UHF RENTAL
415.47500 - UHF RENTAL
415.50000 - UHF RENTAL
415.52500 - UHF RENTAL
415.55000 - UHF RENTAL
450.17500 - SKATIE
450.30000 - SW WHOLESALERS
450.35000 - ANNANCONDA LTON
450.47500 - EAGLE SECURITY
462.06250 - DEREK PHILIPSON
462.10000 - OFFICEWORKS
462.11250 - SUPREME COURT
462.18750 - DOE NC STAFF
462.25000 - KMART LTON
462.28750 - EAGLE SECURITY
462.35000 - TAS RACING
462.43750 - DEREK PHILIPSON
462.47500 - HOLLYBANK
462.88750 - PUB SECURITY
463.17500 - ACC SERVICES
463.57500 - SHAW MADDISON
463.85000 - TASMAN GROUP LONGFORD
463.90000 - CASINO SECURITY
464.27500 - METRO-ABLES
464.37500 - METRO-FREELANDS
464.42500 - RACT
464.55000 - SECURITY
465.40000 - MARCOM WATSON
467.07500 - BULLOCK CONSULTING
467.17500 - TECS
467.47500 - CASINO SECURITY
469.55000 - FAMILY COURT
469.65000 - HOLLYBANK
469.70000 - UHF RENTAL
469.90000 - JF MACHINERY
470.05000 - UHF RENTAL
471.30000 - BOAGS
471.47500 - UHF RENTAL
471.50000 - UHF RENTAL
471.52500 - BASIN CHAIR LIFT
471.57500 - UHF RENTAL
471.60000 - UHF RENTAL
471.62500 - EAGLE SECURITY
471.67500 - UHF RENTAL
471.70000 - PFRIFER CRANES
471.77500 - UHF RENTAL
471.80000 - UHF RENTAL
471.85000 - SILVERDOME
471.90000 - UHF RENTAL
471.92500 - UHF RENTAL
471.95000 - UHF RENTAL
471.97500 - UHF RENTAL
472.22500 - BOAGS
472.50000 - TASRAIL SIMP UHF
472.70000 - WALLANDER
472.82500 - M D DUNCAN
473.10000 - TARGET LTON
473.40000 - TASRAIL SIMP UHF
473.50000 - TASRAIL SIMP UHF
473.85000 - UNI SECURITY-AMC
474.12500 - WARREN J SPEERS
474.17500 - TAFE
474.22500 - LCC MUSEUM
474.27500 - TASRAIL SIMP UHF
474.28750 - DEREK PHILIPSON
474.37500 - LCC PARKING
474.47500 - UNI SECURITY
474.52500 - UNKNOWN
474.70000 - REDLINE BUSES
474.77500 - UNI SECURITY 
474.80000 - SSL SECURITY SERVICES
474.85000 - TRANSPORT INSP
474.87500 - LCC CARRVILLA
474.92500 - PFEIFFER CRANES
474.95000 - JMC GROUP
475.00000 - CHURCHILL PARTS
475.05625 - TAS RACING
475.07500 - TASRAIL SIMP UHF
475.10000 - EAGLE SECURITY
475.25000 - UHF RENTAL
479.32500 - WARREN J SPEERS (input)
479.90000 - TOLL TRANSPORT
484.80000 - BOAGS
484.82500 - HAYWARDS
485.11250 - ROWING TASMANIA
485.25000 - MARCOM WATSON
486.37500 - SCTV UHF
487.35000 - TNT AUSTRALIA
488.55000 - MARCOM WATSON
488.70000 - TECS
491.67500 - MARCOM WATSON
492.37500 - MYER SECURITY
492.60000 - LTON COLLEGE
493.22500 - LGH
493.27500 - DOOR OF HOPE CHRISTAN CHURCH
494.92500 - LCC SWIMMING
495.02500 - AMCOR PACKAGING
509.88750 - LTON GRAMMER





Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Portable Traffic Lights on 151.400MHz

One out of the weird radio signals group. 

On Tuesday night I was driving along Talbot Road Launceston when I had a close call hit on 151.400MHz. This frequency is used by portable traffic lights, normally for road works. I was unable to find the source of this.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Article - Hunting out new and exciting frequencies - Updated – April 2017


Introduction:
The VHF / UHF radio spectrum is an amazing treasure trove, full of many different people and groups who are all using two way radios for various purposes. Some of these are groups such as CB and Amateur radio operators who either have fixed channels such as UHF CB operators with 80 fixed channels or amateurs with their many megahertz of bands they can use. Other bands such as the VHF air band and the 156MHz marine band are very fixed in nature so you can be fairly sure that any frequencies you find in those bands are somehow related to those services, however this is not always a given as I will show below.

The focus of this document is the VHF / UHF radio spectrum in Tasmanian (where I am located) however most of the information is relevant to anybody with an interest in being a “frequency detective”.

Below is a quick rundown of the major bands and what you can hear on each of them in Tasmania.

25 -50MHz: low power transmitters, 27MHz CB, cordless phones (not recommended), some older types of baby monitors, defence communications.
50 -54MHz: Amateur 6M band
70 -87MHz: Commercial users, government, emergency services (Fire, Ambulance and SES in Tasmania).
88-108MHz: FM broadcasts band
108-137 MHz: Aircraft band
144-148 MHz: Amateur 2M band
148-150.00 MHz: Pagers (data only)
150-174 MHz: VHF Marine band, Commercial users.
225-400 MHz: Defence allocations, includes UHF Military Band
403-420 MHz: Commercial users, emergency services UHF handhelds, linking frequencies
420-450 MHz: Amateur 70cm band.
450-520 MHz: Commercial users, government, UHF CB
820-960 MHz: trunking, links (The TASGRN can be found from 865-870MHz)
960MHz up: mainly links, very little voice communications to be heard.

When I first started out in the radio scanning hobby back in 1999, I didn’t know anybody else who was in to radio scanning as a hobby. With the lack of websites and other sources for assistance at that time, I was pretty much on my own as far as searching for frequencies and finding out whom each frequency belonged to and what it was used for. Because of this I was forced to spend many hours searching the bands looking for new frequencies and then listening to them while making notes to help work out whom it was using each frequency.

There are a few different situations that would require you to have to do a bit of detective work and we will look at each of these in turn.

Finding a new frequency active and trying to ID the user:
The easiest way would be to simply look it up on the ACMA database and see who it is assigned to. Now while that that would be the easiest way, in some cases you will find that the frequency is not assigned to anybody in your area, this means you have to do some research and detective work to find out who is using the frequency.

I have found the easiest way is to get a piece of paper and write down as much as you can find out from listening to the traffic that frequency carries; you need to look for things like this:

When is the frequency active? Is it mainly 9-5 business hours or is it in use during the night and weekend?

Are call signs or codes used? Do any of these sounds like what is used on any other channels you hear. Or do the codes suggest who it might be?

Range / coverage area? Can you only hear it when you are in some parts of the city or does it seem to have wide area coverage and is the signal stronger in some places then others?

Content? What do they actually talk about? Is there anything said that could help you work out who they are? Things like places, times, names. Do they talk about any products or areas? Do the opening / closing times relate to any business / places you know of?

In late 2004 while searching the UHF band I came across the frequency of 474.225MHz active, which was not on the ACMA database is use at all in Tasmania. Nobody on our scanning group knew who it was, over a few months of listening to them and noting down key parts of what they said I was able to work out who and where it was being used.

Finding a frequency for a known user:
The easiest way would be to simply look it up the company name on the ACMA database and see if they have any frequencies assigned to them, but in some cases you will find that there are no frequencies assigned to them or there are some listed but none seem to be the one you want. There are a few things you can do, first look for any frequencies that they do have assigned to them, if they are mostly in a single band say around 474MHz then this would be the best area to search for them. Also keep an eye out for any handheld or cars with aerial, basically the longer the aerial the lower the frequency in use. If you have one of the newer Uniden scanners with “Close Call” then give this a try and see if you can find them when close by somebody using a radio. Common sense and caution should be exercised when doing this.

Scanning / search at major events:
I like to keep an eye out on both the TV news and the local paper for any events coming up that are likely to see a major use of radios, some events include things like major sporting events (AFL, V8 car racing), Targa Tasmania and the Launceston Cup. Other events worth searching the bands for include the Launceston Show in October, Carols by Candle Light every December, Festivale in mid-February, visits by the prime minister / other heads of state, concerts and other events that will see a large group of people in one area.

There are many methods that you can use when scanning these types of events and to a large extent it will depend on how close you want / can to get to the event and if scanning / searching within the event is possible. I would be very careful these days with having any radio equipment in view of the public and trying to sneak in radio gear to events that ban it would be a big no no. Using various stealth techniques can be useful, this is something I have done in the past and which I have used to produce good results. Some of the basic tips for this are:
- Carry your scanners in such a way that they can be mistaken for something else; a digital camera bag is great for this.
- Don’t display you radios so that the public / event staff can see them.
- In a lot of cases being close to but not inside the venue is the safest bet.
- Close Call is your best friend
- White ear phones can make you look like somebody using an Apple device, use this to your advantage.
- Smaller aerials work best, they are easier to carry and reduce the signal level so that only strong local stations can be heard.
- Focus on the UHF band as this is where most hand held radios operate.

The first thing I do is check out any ads or websites for the event and see if any companies who are sponsoring the event are known radio users, if they are you can be fairly sure that there radio channels might be in use.

Once the event is being set up / underway if you can get close enough and have a scanner that supports “close call” then give this a run and see if it picks up anything worthwhile / related to the event.

I have done some testing of the close call feature and depending on how “dirty” the RF spectrum is depends on how well this feature works.
In the past doing some testing on an average suburban street I have got these results using the close call feature on a Uniden 396T:
5W UHF CB – 500m
2W 146MHz Handheld – 300m
0.5W 433MHz handheld – 120m
0.05W 173MHz Wireless microphone – 30m

If you don’t have a close call capable scanner then you will need to do some searching of the bands, most handheld’s these days are in the UHF band, try search 460MHz to 512MHz in 12.5KHz steps, if this does turn up any users then try both the VHF high band and the VHF Mid band and see what you can find.

Taking Frequency Hunting to an Extreme Level
- Please note: all names and frequencies have been deidentified due to the nature of this. The below is only for the most extreme cases where the other methods above have not produced the desired results.

Back when I started scanning in the late 1990's, a local transport company had a licensed frequency of xx.xxxMHz which was registered to them "John Smith Transport".

In around 2003/2004 this frequency went dead. A few years later I found them using a shared repeater on xxx.xxxxMHz. This was licensed to "ABC Communications" but was being used by "John Smith Transport". I spent a lot of time listening to them to confirm this.

In the past year, this frequency has also gone dead, I suspect they have moved to a UHF simplex frequency which was used by another company which they purchased a couple of years ago, I can't confirm this.

Their depot is located at the end of a public road with no other businesses anywhere close by. Due to the nature of what they transport they get very nervous about anybody hanging around. My efforts so far had not proved successful. Time to get more serious about this.

First Idea: Hide a scanner close by.
I have done this in the past where I have parked my car for the day, left a scanner in Close Call mode with auto store and came back later to see what it has found. Sadly due to the area this is in it is not possible.

Close to their admin office is some bushes which I could “hide” a scanner in, coming back later to check what results it had found. I found a suitable case and undertook some testing of the run time of my UBC126AT in close call temporary store mode, sadly this was less than 7 hours so it would not last a full work day. I was unwilling to look at adding extra batteries at this would require a much larger case and add to the cost of this project. At this point I was ready to give up on this project.

Second Idea: Hide in plain sight.
A few days ago I was talking to a friend, who knows I am in to scanning in a big way and we started talking about this little project. He suggested hiding in plain sight. Whereas before I was trying to do this by hiding a scanner and leaving it, could I rock up looking like I was meant to be there for a different purpose and use this to my advantage? We threw around a few ideas and came up with a plan.

Today, Monday the 16th January was the day. I had a rare week day off work and so used this to my advantage, my thoughts being that while this company work weekends, being a week day this would give me the best possible chance of them using radios.

My mate arrived with his work Ute which he didn’t need for a couple of hours as he had to go in to the city for a meeting, this has the logo of who he works for and a yellow flashing light on the roof and some witches hats in the tray. He also loaned me a hi-vis vest and a hard hat to complete the picture.

I headed off to get changed in to some “work” clothes. We had decided I should look more like an engineer than a hands on worker for this.

I dropped him off in the city and told him to give me a call when he needed a lift.

I had packed a hard carry case with all my required radios:
- UBC126AT: in the cabin running in Close Call Temporary Store mode.
- UBC72XLT: Programmed with the repeater input / output frequencies for the two frequencies they have used in the past plus the UHF simplex frequency which belonged to the other company they had purchased a couple of years ago.
- Spare batteries, note pad, pen and my other scanner accessories.

I arrived in the public road that runs beside their depot and parked about half way down. I got out and set up some witches hats around a pit on the foot path, before returning to the Ute and turning on my scanners.

Over the next half an hour, I sat and waited for one of the frequencies to come alive. I got in and out of the Ute a few times and moved the witches’ hats around. I saw a few trucks come and go but nothing on any of their frequencies or Close Call.  A police car drove out of their depot at one stage but kept going, I am unsure if this was because of me. Feeling a bit disappointed that I had not had any hits, it was only when I picked up the UBC126AT, which was running in Close Call Temporary Store mode that I noticed it was not searching the UHF band (band 5). I turned this on and within seconds I had a “hit” on UHF CB channel XX (476.XXXMHz). I quickly programmed this in my UBC72XLT. Over the next half an hour I got multiple hits on this and on my UBC126AT, which was running in Close Call mode.

Happy that I had located their frequency, which is a UHF CB channel, I packed up the witches hats and headed in to the city for a coffee before giving my mate a lift home.

Final Result:
The end result was that within a couple of hours I have been able to confirm what frequency they are using and know it is not worth scanning their old frequencies. This was an interesting experience, where I took hunting down a frequency to an extreme level and it was a good test of a method I might be able to use again in the future, if I need to.


Some final thoughts:
After all of the above, please also do keep in mind that just because a frequency is in a given band such as the air band or VHF marine band, it does not mean that all transmissions are related to those services. In 2006 a number of radio transmissions where heard in the greater Launceston area on VHF marine band frequencies which were related to the day to day operations of a business, they had sourced some VHF marine band hand held radios and were using these for their business. Once they were made aware of this they moved to the UHF CB band.

Finally a note of caution. Not every user of two way radios are happy about the fact that their transmissions can be heard and these can be linked back to them. Twice I have been contacted by business two way radio users who have asked that their frequencies remain “confidential” due to the nature of what they are doing. In both cases these companies had taken a number of steps to not link their transmissions to their business name, my detective work allowed me to match the transmissions to a business name (some people will see the irony of a business which has tried to hide who they are contacting me which just confirms who they are). I also am very cautious with sharing any details related to a number of government frequencies including those used by agencies involved in tactical law enforcement at a state or national level. While these frequencies use a variety of secure encryption methods, the mere existence of a transmission on one of their frequencies, even if the content is encrypted can be a guide as to that something is happening. It is especially important when using “close call” and this information should not be shared.

I personally find hunting out and searching for new frequencies and users to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the radio scanner hobby and I am surprised that more people don’t seem to do it.

Go on, hit that search button and see what you can find.