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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Up Close Radio Scanning

Over the past few years, a number of the more active two way radio users in the Launceston area have gone off the air, in most cases they have either moved to MDT type devices, mobile phones or no longer use radio communications at all. These include some taxi companies, RACT roadside vans and some delivery companies. While these might not have been everybody’s preferred monitoring targets, they were active a lot of the time and had wide coverage areas from their hill top high power repeaters, making hearing them very easy. 

In the past couple of years a number of businesses have started using ear piece communication devices in the UHF band, these are very interesting to listen to but due to the low power they use you need to be very close to be able to hear them, this calls for some up close radio scanning. Below are some examples of the methods I have used to be able to monitor these signals in a “low profile” way. In all these cases I have based this around using my UBCD436PT which is a larger size handheld, if you have a smaller handheld radio then this is even easier. Back when mobiles phones were much larger (bricks) it was easier to pass off a radio scanner as something else, these days that just would not work. 

My daily carry radio kit (UBCD436PT, aerials, cables and so on) is based on a $1 Kmart lunch box, which I have published the details of it here on my blog.  I choose this so as not to draw any unwanted attention to myself or the contents of the lunchbox. It does not scream “expensive stuff inside” and blends in. I take the view that it is better to be discrete with my scanner listening hobby, especially within the view of the public. It does nobody no harm but it is best to draw attention to our innocent activities, which can be easily misunderstood. For this reason I prefer a set and forget type of setup, this means I can’t listen at the time but with using the UBCD436PT’s recorder feature I can later review what it finds. This also helps with blending in. 

Please note: None of this is written to encourage you to attempt to take a banned item in to anywhere, simply as a way to enjoy the radio scanning hobby in a low profile way.

Radio in my vest:


This works best in winter (wearing a heavy vest like this is summer makes you stand out, exactly the opposite of what we want to do). Before you reach your intended monitoring target, turn the volume all the way down and slip your radio in close call mode / with the recorder feature enabled in to a secure pocket, walk around the target area as normal, knowing your radio is logging all the traffic it hears for later review. I have used this method a few times in the CBD area with good results. If possible, enabled the keypad lock so that you don’t accidently press a key and end up with nothing logged.

In my backpack:


As the next step up from having the radio in your vest pocket, in this case before you reach your intended monitoring target, turn the volume all the way down and place your radio in close call mode / with the recorder feature enabled back in to a non-descript / low profile case and then place this in your backpack. This works well in the warmer months when wearing a vest would not be practical or if you are going to be walking around for a longer period of time. If you are careful you can also use the cover of your backpack to check any loggings by keeping the radio hidden in the case. A disadvantage of this method is that some shops do check bags and it can also increase the chances of somebody trying to steal your bag. 

Under the pram:




Really trying to blend in? In this case before you reach your intended monitoring target, turn the volume all the way down and place your radio in close call mode / with the recorder feature enabled back in to a non-descript / low profile case (such as my lunch box case) and then place this under a pram. Trying to do this with an empty pram is not a good idea and I don’t recommend stealing children for this purpose, I am lucky I have my own. Add a nappy bag or a lunch box with food (just don’t get mixed up and give a toddler the one with your expensive radio in) and you can walk around, knowing all radio traffic is being logged and recorded for later review. Very few places check prams and even if they do, they won’t normally check inside a lunch box. 

A mix of all of the above methods has allowed me to confirm a number of UHF headset frequencies and also log various other low power / limited coverage radio systems for later review.


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Scanner Loggings - January to June 2017

70.32500 - ABILITY TAXIS
72.12500 - CONNORVILLE
72.27500 - LES WALKDEN
72.82500 - ABILITY (TX)
73.13000 - B W MANION
75.32500 - * UNKNOWN
75.59000 - BEAMS BROS
77.52500 - SES-NORTH
77.65000 - TECS
78.01250 - WTC WORKS
78.28750 - LCC-MTARTHUR
78.31250 - LCC-FREELANDS
78.37500 - AMBO-DPORT
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-MILLERS
78.82500 - AMBO-DAZZLER
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
80.15000 - TECS (TX)
80.78570 - LCC (TX)
80.81250 - LCC (TX)
81.53750 - TFS (TX)
81.56250 - AMBO (TX)
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
157.53750 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
157.57500 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
157.62500 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
157.77500 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
157.90000 - BORAL (TX)
158.00000 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
158.01250 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
158.26250 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
158.45000 - REDLINE (TX)
158.83750 - TOXFREE (TX)
161.05000 - TOX FREE SIMP
161.07500 - ARTEC
161.45000 - TASRAIL SIMP VHF
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
162.73750 - ST JOHNS AMBO
163.03750 - FRANK O'CONNOR
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
415.51250 - FIRE-UHF SIMP
438.05000 - VK7RBH-BENLOMOND
438.55000 - VK7RAB-MTARTHUR
439.77500 - VK7RDR-DAZZLER
450.17500 - SKATIE
450.30000 - SW WHOLESALERS
450.75000 - FORESTRY TAS
451.33125 - TASRAIL (UHF LINK)
454.27500 - METRO (TX)
457.67500 - TECS
462.10000 - OFFICEWORKS
462.25000 - KMART LTON
463.40000 - TARGET LTON
464.27500 - METRO-ABLES
464.37500 - METRO-FREELANDS
464.55000 - SECURITY
465.31250 - TARGET MOWBRAY
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)
474.80000 - SSL SECURITY SERVICES
474.85000 - TRANSPORT INSP
474.92500 - PFEIFFER CRANES
474.95000 - JMC GROUP
475.00000 - CHURCHILL PARTS
475.05000 - MCDERMOTT COACHES
475.05625 - TAS RACING
476.42500 - UHF CB CH 1
476.43750 - UHF CB CH 41
476.45000 - UHF CB CH 2
476.46250 - UHF CB CH 42
476.47500 - UHF CB CH 3
476.48750 - UHF CB CH 43
476.50000 - UHF CB CH 4
476.51250 - UHF CB CH 44
476.52500 - UHF CB CH 5
476.53750 - UHF CB CH 45
476.55000 - UHF CB CH 6
476.56250 - UHF CB CH 46
476.57500 - UHF CB CH 7
476.58750 - UHF CB CH 47
476.60000 - UHF CB CH 8
476.61250 - UHF CB CH 48
476.62500 - UHF CB CH 9
476.63750 - UHF CB CH 49
476.65000 - UHF CB CH 10
476.66250 - UHF CB CH 50
476.67500 - UHF CB CH 11
476.68750 - UHF CB CH 51
476.70000 - UHF CB CH 12
476.71250 - UHF CB CH 52
476.72500 - UHF CB CH 13
476.73750 - UHF CB CH 53
476.75000 - UHF CB CH 14
476.76250 - UHF CB CH 54
476.77500 - UHF CB CH 15
476.78750 - UHF CB CH 55
476.80000 - UHF CB CH 16
476.81250 - UHF CB CH 56
476.82500 - UHF CB CH 17
476.83750 - UHF CB CH 57
476.85000 - UHF CB CH 18
476.86250 - UHF CB CH 58
476.87500 - UHF CB CH 19
476.88750 - UHF CB CH 59
476.90000 - UHF CB CH 20
476.91250 - UHF CB CH 60
476.92500 - UHF CB CH 21
476.93750 - UHF CB CH 61
476.95000 - UHF CB CH 22
476.96250 - UHF CB CH 62
476.97500 - UHF CB CH 23
476.98750 - UHF CB CH 63
477.00000 - UHF CB CH 24
477.01250 - UHF CB CH 64
477.02500 - UHF CB CH 25
477.03750 - UHF CB CH 65
477.05000 - UHF CB CH 26
477.06250 - UHF CB CH 66
477.07500 - UHF CB CH 27
477.08750 - UHF CB CH 67
477.10000 - UHF CB CH 28
477.11250 - UHF CB CH 68
477.12500 - UHF CB CH 29
477.13750 - UHF CB CH 69
477.15000 - UHF CB CH 30
477.16250 - UHF CB CH 70
477.17500 - UHF CB CH 31
477.18750 - UHF CB CH 71
477.20000 - UHF CB CH 32
477.21250 - UHF CB CH 72
477.22500 - UHF CB CH 33
477.23750 - UHF CB CH 73
477.25000 - UHF CB CH 34
477.26250 - UHF CB CH 74
477.27500 - UHF CB CH 35
477.28750 - UHF CB CH 75
477.30000 - UHF CB CH 36
477.31250 - UHF CB CH 76
477.32500 - UHF CB CH 37
477.33750 - UHF CB CH 77
477.35000 - UHF CB CH 38
477.36250 - UHF CB CH 78
477.37500 - UHF CB CH 39
477.38750 - UHF CB CH 79
477.40000 - UHF CB CH 40
477.41250 - UHF CB CH 80
479.32500 - WARREN J SPEERS (input)
479.42500 - LCC QVM (TX)
479.57500 - LCC PARK (TX)
480.05000 - MARCOMNET (TX)
483.35000 - MARCOMNET (TX)
484.80000 - BOAGS
485.25000 - MARCOM WATSON
488.55000 - MARCOM WATSON
492.60000 - LTON COLLEGE
493.22500 - LGH (DMR)
494.92500 - LCC SWIMMING

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

EDACS Talk Groups - June 2017

04-023 Aurora *
04-025 Ltn Service Jobs Aurora
04-032 NE Service Jobs Aurora
04-034 Ltn Service Jobs Aurora
04-044 Ltn After Hours Aurora
04-052 E-Coast/Midlands Aurora
04-061 GenerationOpsCtl Aurora
04-062 Faults&Line chks Aurora
05-002 TRANSEND
14-062 Ericsson Chat 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Scanner Funny

One I heard the other day on the local police talk group:
VKT Hobart: VKT to all units. All units please be aware that we are having rolling database restarts between now and 20:00 hours tonight. During this time your in car tablets might not work very well or be much use to you"
Random unit: Are they ever?
Second random unit: They couldn't be any less useful.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Search Loggings - 1/6/2017

These were all found using search mode and the recorder feature of the UBCD436PT.

70.325 = Ability Taxis
78.3125 = Launceston City Council
78.625 = Ambulance Mt Barrow
79.0375 = Fire Launceston
156.425 = Marine Weather
158.8375 = Tox Free Input
162.375 = TasRail Millers Bluff
163.050 = Redline Buses
464.275 = Metro Buses
474.375 = LCC Parking
474.950 = JMC Group
488.55 = Marcom Watson


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

UBCD436PT - More Thoughts and Experiences

I have now had my UBCD436PT for a few weeks. Some more thoughts and my experiences:
-  I am still a big fan of its performance on the 800MHz trunking band.
- The VHF / UHF performance is not great. I have now been able to test it in a wider range of locations and it is still not as good at picking up signals, especially in the 70-80MHz band.
- The VHF airband is an exception to the above, it preforms very well in this band.
- I have made great use of discovery mode, it now runs in this mode whenever I am not activity using it for listening.
- Battery life is good.
- Build quality is excellent.
- The Uniden software works well and I am understanding this well.
- The display and back lighting options work well, I often having it running beside my bed and can easily read it.
- The LED alert light is great and after some careful programming I am finding this very useful.
- The system / dept / chan keys are very useful, once you understand how to best use them.

Using the Recorder Feature to Confirm 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 short video of this in use, I have created a new system (called Logging System) on the UBCD436PT and then added the frequencies in question in to this. I can then leave the UBCD436PT recording and then come back later to review these loggings.


video


Based on my recordings over the past few weeks I have confirmed the following:

485.25MHz / 141.3Hz = Bus Company
485.25MHz / 167.9Hz = Gravel /landscaping supplies
485.25MHz / 173.8Hz = Security

488.55MHz / 123Hz = Cement Company (Hanson?)
488.55MHz / 151.4Hz = Courier 

Over time I will continue to record these frequencies and add extra information as I come across it.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Low Profile Lunch Box Radio Scanner Carry Case - May 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 while keeping a low profile.

Based on my experience in the past, I decided to move away from a soft bag like I have used recently and started looking around for a hard case. This needed to be big enough to hold my UBCD436PT scanner, aerials, chargers, cords, ear phones and spare batteries but I didn't want to go to a "Pelican" type case due to cost and sizing options, plus they scream "expensive stuff inside", much like camera bags do. I needed to go for something that looked cheap and not valuable but which still provided a good level of protection.

Recently I was at our local Kmart store, they had put a heap of "back to school" items on clearance, including an $8 lunch box, down to $1, for that price I grabbed one as I liked the size of this and the only thing lacking was a way to keep my radio protected. I had an idea of a way to do this. On my home I called past Bunnings and grabbed some foam wrap, red cloth tape and a small piece of metal I could use as a divider.

A few nights later I spent some time in the shed setting this up. The first step was to cut the foam sheeting to go around the metal divider I then used some double sided tape to mount the foam to the case and then wrapped it in the red cloth tape. I then bent the ends of the divider and bolted this to each end of the case.  I then spent some time sorting my various radio scanning accessories and setting up space in the case for them all.

Overall for less than $5 and an hour of my time, I have a case which provides a good level of protection to my UBCD436PT radio scanner, it looks about as "low profile" as you could get and it was cheap. Nobody would pick it from the outside as anything other than a lunch box, just how I like it. 











Wednesday, 24 May 2017

UBCD436PT - Scanner Stand

They say "necessity is the mother of invention". I have been moving my UBCD436PT around the house a fair bit of late as I have been doing various things, I had a mobile phone type holder which I have used in the past with my UBC126AT but found this was not heavy enough to hold the larger UBCD436PT and stop it from falling over. I was recently at Bunnings and found some metal plates which I thought I could use to make a stand.

I bent the top plate until I got the angle correct for my radio (this would vary for different radios due to size and weight), cut out a section for the belt clip to sit in and wrapped it in tape and then attached the top and bottom parts with some small bolts. Total build time was about 15 minutes.

Over the past few days I have been using this, it allows me to use my scanner at the correct angle. While this was designed for a radio scanner the same idea could be used for almost any handheld radio with a belt clip.








UBCD436PT - Using the Recorder Feature with Close Call

Below is a short video of me using the recorder feature with Close Call on the UBCD436PT for unattended logging. This was done about a week ago on rubbish day when I knew that the truck drivers would be active using their radios. Please note that as this is recording hits on the input frequency of 158.8375MHz which is the repeater output frequency of 163.4375MHz.


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/