Alachua County Now Digital
After some initial problems getting everything up and running in 2001, local area public service agency comms have now moved to 800 MHz frequencies, and are using digital modes.
The digital system used in our area is a Motorola Type II Digital SmartNet system which uses both analog and digital radios. It uses digital trunk, digital conventional (simplex), analog trunk, and analog conventional (mostly Mutual Aid). The owner/vendor is GRU. The system is already in operation on 812.4625 - 815.9875 MHz, with outputs on 852.2375 - 860.9875 MHz. All of the City of Gainesville and Alachua County public service agencies (police, fire, and rescue) have moved their systems to the fleet. This also includes agencies like Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), Regional Transit System (RTS), Alachua County Animal Control, and the City of Gainesville Traffic Engineering System.
While some services are still using analog (for examples, ACFR/GFR Dispatch/Paging Channels 1 and 4); most have gone to digital. Normal analog "trunking" scanners will not work with the local digital trunked communications system. The new Uniden digital scanners (BC-785D/BC-250D w/BCi-25D plug-in card) ARE able to properly hear the local public service agency digital comms without any problem. (Confirmed at Gainesville Amateur Radio Society meeting, 01/15/2003, using BC250D handheld scanner with BCi-25D digital plugin card.)
Digital-capable Scanners Finally Available!
As of January, 2003, Uniden finally began offering APCO-25 digital-capable scanners. These are "first generation" units which cover the 3600 baud digital comms; and they do NOT cover the higher speed 9600 baud digital comms. (The "second generation" units will have that capability, but it may be a while before they become available.)
These "first-generation" scanners will not be able to interpret the digital signals of an Aegis-type digital system. However, that should not be a problem here in Alachua County, since a Motorola system is what is being used.
The handheld unit is the BC-250D. It REQUIRES the plug-in Digital Accessory Card (BCi-25D - another $300) if you want it to receive digital communications.
The base/mobile unit is the BC-785D. As well, it ALSO requires the plug-in BCi-25D plug-in card to receive digital comms.
The prices for both the base/mobile unit and the handheld actually appear to be the same - around $370 depending upon who you buy them from, plus shipping. The prices actually vary from $330 to $370, but the shipping varies so wildly that everybody seems to come out about the same cost, no matter what you do.
For more DETAILED information about these scanners, what they can and can't do, prices, and problems noted by users, see Harry Marnell's page called Latest Digital Scanner News & Reports.
UPDATE 01/15/2003: THE UNIDEN DIGITAL SCANNERS DO WORK WITH THE DIGITAL SYSTEM HERE IN ALACHUA COUNTY!!! At the Gainesville Amateur Radio Society's meeting, last night, one member (James Callahan) did indeed HAVE the BC-250D handheld scanner, and he actually brought it in and we had a chance to listen. You could hear local police, fire and rescue comms just fine. And this was just with what freqs the scanner could automatically find itself, without even having any actual control channels programmed in. The speaker audio could be a little better, but it does have a jack for an external speaker or headphones, of course. I can't actually afford one of these things, myself; but the confirmation that they actually worked was, I suppose, a nice enough birthday present in itself, for me. 8^)
UPDATE 12/02/2003: RADIO SHACK DIGITAL SCANNERS ALSO WORK WITH THE DIGITAL SYSTEM HERE. Jim Carr, KC4MHH, has tested the Radio Shack digital scanner and it also works with the local system, here in Alachua County.
The Local Digital Bandplan
"That's great and all, but what frequencies and codes do you program into these new scanners?" you ask.
Believe it or not, that information is really not all that important to know. With these new scanners, you just tell the thing to scan around a bit, and they'll find and save everything for you. Then, it's just a matter of writing everything down and sorting them in your memories and banks as you see fit.
HOWEVER...as you wish...
Here's what I have been able to find out about our local area. If anyone happens to know control channel(s), talkgroup codes, and frequencies for other services and agencies, please do tell me so that I can put that information up here, as well.,
When programming the below frequencies and groups, remember that the Control Channel is 868.8125.
Note that the numbers in the "TALKGROUP" columns are in hexadecimal AND binary. The numbers that are required by the UNIDEN scanners are the right-most BINARY numbers. (They are simply the left-side hexadecimal numbers first converted to decimal, and then multiplied by 16.)
Information About Trunking and Digital In General
This stuff is all pretty new to me, too; but here is some information that I've found elsewhere on the web which may help you to understand trunking and digital in general, as well as our own local digital system.
Laws Regarding Scanning/Monitoring
For information on STATE-LEVEL laws restricting the use of mobile scanners, see Mobile Scanner & RADAR-Detector Laws In The United States, by your's truly.
For more information on U.S. FEDERAL laws regarding general monitoring, see the NF2G Scannist Pages, by David Stark/NF2G; and the Strong Signals web page, by Richard Wells/N2MCA, which contains a quick list of general monitoring laws in the US and other countries as well.
Regarding Local Area Trunking & Digital
c/o Todd L. Sherman/KB4MHH
Gainesville, Alachua Co., Fla.
Page Created: March 01, 2000.
Last updated: December 02, 2003.
Copyright © 2000- by Todd L. Sherman/KB4MHH. All Rights Reserved.
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