eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone

from Leonard Garland Kc6rwi on May 16, 2016
View comments about this article!

It was great in the 70's when I would see a helicopter bearing down, and I'd switch on tac 2 and know exactly what was going onÖ From a black and white I'd hear "airship, what do you have?" Being in Los Angeles there was always activity and it was all in the clear. A few tactical frequencies on VHF and you'd have some long range entertainment, The cop cars where the Adam 12 type 4 door road runners that had sweetest rap rap exhaust of any cop car. The police loved them and drove them hard. You could buy them at auction for a song. Many of the undercover cars had a standard AM antenna that was actually a cut two frequency FM antenna, easy to spot if you knew.

There is so much easy activity to pick up. -- I came across a hidden transmitter very near out shop. It was on 168 MHz, only a few blocks from my work. I guessed it might have been in a brief case. I hunted it down and confirmed its location by removing the antenna from the hand held still getting a signal. It was an income tax preparer office. I just walked back to work and never forgot about it.

Even when the President Ford came to town passing by in front of our shop all communications in the clear, it was easy to learn what check point you where on by listening to previous passes. I'd come out to the curb to watch, I knew it was coming and of course no radio in my hand. Don't even think of watching from the roof.

The FBI, it sounds dangerous just to mention monitoring that agency now. They had frequencies in the VHF band that constantly gave out hot calls of bank jobs with description and details as well. I think even then they where a bit smarter than to have tactical frequencies going with further details.

Need some dark humor the bus system in LA was aging, the had a dozen UHF frequencies and the bus drivers had phones that needed a delay of sec or two to begin to talk. After they got an understanding of that there would be reports of all sorts of mechanical problems. I can see why itís blocked now: Insurance concerns. Many times the driver would complain of loose brakes, or steering, roaches coming out of the wall, or disturbances where the driver chases down the bad guys and gets beat up. The supervisors would many times tell the drivers to continue on with defects arguing that they can do it.

I lost interest when the systems went digital and trunked and the Bearcat radios to me seemed so expensive. I picked up Ham radio and let the two hobbies overlap. Of course there is little overlap when the handheld you buy has extended receive on VHF, but there is nothing left to listen to.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by ONAIR on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
If you are willing to shell out the necessary $$$, you can still hear plenty!! :)
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KB2DHG on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
YEA, I agree, I miss those days and have all but given up on listening in anymore...
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by AA4LR on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I helped an old timer in Floyd County, GA a couple of years ago. He'd been an avid scanner listener for many years, but the local authorities had slowly gone to a digital trunked system.

For his birthday one year, his family got him a new digital trunked scanner radio. It was remarkably complicated. However, at his house, he barely heard anything.

If he took his radio in his car and went downtown, he heard plenty, but at the house - virtually nothing. Someone convinced him he needed an outdoor antenna, which he put up, but it didn't seem to help.

That's where I came in. I studied his radio manuals, and verified that his rig had be properly programmed. (which seemed to be verified by the fact he could hear stuff downtown)

I checked out his antenna installation, and it seemed to be completely textbook. His next step was to mount the antenna higher on a mast next to his house. I told him he seemed to be doing everything right, it just appeared they weren't using as strong a signal as they used to in the old analog system, and that's why he was having so much trouble.

It is a shame that he would have to go to so much effort just to do today what was easily accomplished with a small desktop radio with a built-in whip antenna not so long ago.
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KI4ENS on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
In Lexington KY, even if you shell out the $$$ for a digital trunking/ APCO-25 scanner you get nothing as the Police channels are now encrypted.

Fire and Ambulance are still on the old EDACS trunked system for now. They are supposed to move to the P25 system and not be encrypted. But since they could turn encryption on at a "flip of a switch" it is not worth the $$$.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K1EBU on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I guess I am lucky living out in the Boondocks of western Massachusetts. All of the surrounding communities are still good ole analog. Police, Fire, EMTs. I have an old Pro 2026 and a GP at 25'. Can pickup pretty much all of the towns. The scanner is usually on when the HF rig isn't. If they ever do switch I don't know if I'd spend the money on a new radio. Another reason why some of the newer technology sucks... 73 Gary
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K8QV on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Scanners? There's an app for that. Download a couple and listen to more than you ever heard on your scanner.
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by HAMMYGUY on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
The "Easy" days are certainly gone, however the traffic is still there unless its encrypted. This is a very expensive option especially for Motorola users.

You can still capture most of the conversations by simply tapping the IF of most scanners and then feeding the audio into a decoder program. Or use an SDR receiver capable of receiving the range you want to hear, and feed this same audio via a virtual audio program into the decoder.

Using DSPPlus you'll be hearing traffic again.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KV4BL on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, Leonard! I rarely ever try to listen to public safety anymore because of the digital trunking plague.
While I understand how trunking works and the logic behind it, I cannot PROPERLY program one of these radios. As bad as it was having to buy and wait on crystals, if I could snap my fingers and change things, I'd take the days of old crystal controlled radios over what we now have. In my county of residence, back in the late 90's, I said the Sheriff must have something to hide when he encrypted their radio system. Apparently he did as he was just released from Federal prison this month after being busted for taking bribes. Unfortunately, his replacement hasn't seen fit to take down the cone of silence. Things that make you go hmmmm.

Apps and such are not as good as listening on your own radio and they are of zero benefit if the department you want to listen to is encrypted. The last few times I tried to listen to Davidson-Nashville Metro PD on those apps, the audio was so weak and raspy as to be not worth the effort. So many of the live feeds have terribly weak audio.

I used to program regular analog scanners for friends and friends of friends all the time, often from memory with regard to frequencies used in their area. I hate this digital trunked garbage. Used it for seven years at my job before retiring. It was so clear, it was like a wired intercom when we first got it. As time went by, the audio quality gradually degraded to a raspy, nails-on-chalkboard, sound.

73,
Ray KV4BL
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by W0CBF on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
My scanner sits on my station just like it did years before. Oh, I failed to mention that I can't listen to anything but aircraft and use it to monitor the NOAA weather station. The apps are easy to use but nothing like the "good old days". When the new systems went digital and trunked all of the fun was removed. Especially the terrible audio quality and chopped signals make it useless.

73's
Chuck
www.kcham.com
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K8JD on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I upgraded to the "trunktracker" Bearcat and programmed the local systems and that went just fine, but it only lasted a few years before the systems went to P25digital
The upgrade ro the diigital was above my paycheck !
Now I can hear all the aero traffic for a hundred miles and local fire depts and school busses and some smaller businesses but 90 percent of everything else is on digi systems. Even the Amateur radio repeaters are starting to switch over to digital systems and the few analog systems are pretty Quiet,.
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by SWMAN on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Here in Dallas Tx I guess that I am a little lucky. With the city as big as it is with over 2000 police cars and 11 subdivisions, the city has never switched to trunking or digital yet. The police and fire are still all analog. I have a friend that is on the force and they told him to change out more that 2000 radios would be a great cost to the city. So for now I can hear everything as before. A lot of the smaller cities have all switched to the new systems. Dallas may change some day but no plans when they will do it.
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K8JD on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I took my old analog scanner to the Florida keys and thought there would be lots of air traffic on the VHF marine channels but it was quiet as a mouse down there !!
Thwe mariners down there must be using cell phones to conduct marine business !!!
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K6AER on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Almost everything on two-way radio is P25 digital or a near version. Most all businesses just use cell phones.
The glory days of FM 2-way radios is gone.

I understand you can still hear analog VHF/UHF FM on the ham bands.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by ONAIR on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
You can still hear lots of scanner activity online! Sometimes even near your location. Just go to: www.Broadcastify.com ;)
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by NA5XX on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Funny the timing of things. I saw this article just after I did an online search for a scanner to install in my go box. Glad I didn't buy one. I will pass now.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K2PI on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
For a time, it was expensive, and I have the Uniden Digital P25 Scanner to prove it. But, when I wanted another, I found that I could do the same thing with fairly little effort for about 20 dollars, the cost of two RTL SDR dongles, and two pieces of software - DSD plus to decode the P25 and Unitrunker to control the tracking of the trunked signals. One RTL dongle to listen to the control channel with Unitrunker and control the other dongle, automatically hopping and following the signals. Unitrunker also lets you log the ID's on the trunked system, label them, the whole shebang. All for about 20 bucks and some time spent learning how to do it.

This is just one link on how to do it. And yes, there is still plenty to hear.

http://www.rtl-sdr.com/rtl-sdr-radio-scanner-tutorial-decoding-digital-voice-p25-with-dsd/

 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KC0NOX on May 16, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Certainly more difficult & more expensive. But there are some advantages.

I live near a trunking site which happens to be on the corner of 3 Missouri Highway Patrol divisions. With my handheld at home, I have 100% copy on all 3 troops. Used to be I could only hear the dispatcher of one or two.

With Radio Reference & good programming software, you can stay on top as well as program for traveling. The PSR-500 can store multiple separate "virtual scanners" which allows me to leave each area's dataset in the radio once I've got it programmed. If I go to another state, just load in that scanner set into the memory. When I'm back home, or the next state, just pull up the correct scanner set. Done. I wish amateur radio manufacturers would do this!!

Traveling was never easy, but mostly due to the advances in computing capability, you can program & store an entire trip. Couldn't do that in the old days. I believe there's one that will simply track your location and update the trunking systems automatically. That's pretty stinking simple.

Heck, way better than the old crystal days.

Joe
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by W2UIS on May 17, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I now use a Home Patrol scanner to listen.
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by W5YZR on May 17, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I agree. And it will not be long before everything is encrypted. Times change....
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by WB6FQZ on May 17, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Here in Kern County Ca. most everything is analog and in the clear, at least for now.
In God we trust, everyone else we monitor.
FQZ
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KB3LIX on May 17, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I guess I am very lucky here in Western Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh, located about 25-30 miles North of me still uses a multi-channel conventional UHF dispatch system.
They tried a Motorola 800 mHz Trunked dispatch system
YEARS ago and promptly scrapped it.
It was given to the Fire Dept who rapidly scrapped it too.

It was finally given to the sanitation & building inspectors.

The emergency services scrapped it
because the portable radios in many instances, could NOT hear the trunking control channel.
In turn, since the portables could not hear the control
channel, they did not know what to do or where to go,
so they became useless BRICKS.

800 mHz in the Pittsburgh area terrain just did not propagate in and around the hills/valleys in the city.

My local departments and the Pennsylvania State Police
are also using conventional VHF systems for
much the same reason. 800 mHz in this terrain SUCKS.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been working
on development of a state wide 800 mHz trunking system
for many years. They have been able to get it to work in the eastern part of the state where the terrain is relatively flat, but not here among the hills
of western PA.

The 800 mHz infrastructure that is in place is used
for MDT's in the PSP vehicles.
Still lots of problems, but NOT immediately used
in LIFTE THREATENING situations.

If the MDT's cannot get thru, they can still use
VHF to request vehicle registration, driver info, wants/warrants etc.

Of course, cellular telephones & NexTel are also being utilized when security is REALLY necessary.

None of the agencies in this area use any type of
encription so the telephones realloy come in handy.

 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by NT9M on May 17, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Ham radio is my hobby. Covering the news in a largely rural county for a radio station is my profession. So a few years ago I bought a digital scanner to keep up with things.

Just one catch. Local law enforcement use their cellphones more than their radios. I swear you seldom see an officer driving a squad car who doesn't have a cellphone pressed to his or her ear.

Anything really worth hearing is either over their telephones or by messaging via the data terminals (computers) in their cars. There's been at least one personal injury crash in the last year caused by a local officer who was distracted by his computer.

 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K8QV on May 17, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
If we reject the scanner apps available to us, then the only thing that those who are pathologically nosy about other people's business will have to learn how to hack into cell phone communications.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by WA1RNE on May 17, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
In the Boston area, scanning is slowly becoming a losing battle. In my city, Fire and other services are on trunked systems which I can easily hear, but police have gone to P25 although unencrypted - for now- at least for general operations. For all I know, some tactical channels may be encrypted.

Other towns have transitioned to P25, some with all operations encrypted.

Last I heard, the P25 consortium is now heading towards encrypted control channels which will mask group and individual ID's.


http://www.project25.org/images/stories/ptig/P25_Standards_Updates/TR8_2015_summary_6.25.15_REV03_FINAL.pdf


With this steady move toward security and in some cases, complete encryption, rapid obsolescence issues are becoming an issue and I won't take a chance on investing in another scanner until I hear otherwise.

..WA1RNE
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by N4JTE on May 17, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I think it's better these days for numb nuts like me. In my earlier years in fort lauderdale, I would avidly listen to the DEA channels in the 400 area.
One day I got a little too avid when I listened to a stake out on a buy in a parking lot and decided to join the party. While sitting there I heard one of the agents asking control to run my plate!!
Needless to say I went into the Shoprite and picked up some unneeded milk, hi
Bob
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by AB1DQ on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Funny, for me it's never been easier to listen in thanks to all the apps available that stream PD, FD, Air, Rail, Utility stations.

I know all the reasons why it's not the same as listening to an actual scanner for activity in your community, and the radio-purist in me can't argue. But the nosy bug-on-the wall in me loves being able to listen into what's happening in other big cities.

Currently the Chicago PD feed is my favorite...damn there are a lot of shootings in the Second City!

73 de AB1DQ
James
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by JOHNZ on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Ironically, for years, FCC internal communications utilized standard DES (Data Encryption System), with a 56 bit symmetric key algorithm. Further weakening security, they utilized frequencies which were published in the public record. Net result? Any high school computer geek with a desktop could read so called "encrypted" FCC communications. This information was widely published in various print publications and on the internet, yet the FCC continued to use this compromised system of encryption and published frequencies. There are reports that resident engineers continue to use the DES, which calls into question competence at the FCC? A person I knew about who was very much into scanning would often share some of the very unusual things he monitored in FCC communications.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KK4MSE on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I live just south of Louisville. Fortunately everything in my county and the surrounding counties is still analog. Louisville Metro is trunked, Kentucky State Police are P25. I get everything else on dad's old Regency desk top. My eighteen year old Pro70 recently died. I'm considering replacing it with a new Digital/trunking hand held. The best deal I can find one is $300. for the Whistler 1040.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K7EXJ on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Here in central Washington state our county just went all encrypted (including state patrol) for everything but fire and ambulance.

No apps are going to let you monitor that stuff here any more. I suspect that within a few years they'll all be encrypted.

This will undoubtedly spur a thriving black market in stolen (or "found") encrypted hand held radios as well as "surplus" gear when the devices age out of service.

Should be interesting.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by JOHNZ on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
K7EXJ said: "This will undoubtedly spur a thriving black market in stolen (or "found") encrypted hand held radios as well as "surplus" gear when the devices age out of service."

Such radios are worthless for reading encrypted comms. Even simple encryption systems utilize rotating encryption keys and session keys. That is unless you are the FCC (see my previous post in this thread).
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KB7QOA on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
A lost or stolen radio will not be a gateway into the encrypted communications. Once reported as missing, the system operator can remove it's key from the system and it is a glorified paper weight. Not to mention that a lot of those radios will have GPS built-in, making tracking the radio down very simple.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by EXK3JTP on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Even where P25 is simulcast on VHF times have changed. Baltimore City Fire simulcasts on the former dispatch and fireground channels so I keep an old Uniden hand-held at my downtown office. More than once I have seen smoke from a large fire, heard and saw responding units, but the radio was silent - Communications cut off the VHF repeater! I bought, then sold, a Trunk tracker; programming was complex and frustrating, and the signals were choppy. - K3JTP
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by EXK3JTP on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Even where P25 is simulcast on VHF times have changed. Baltimore City Fire simulcasts on the former dispatch and fireground channels so I keep an old Uniden hand-held at my downtown office. More than once I have seen smoke from a large fire, heard and saw responding units, but the radio was silent - Communications cut off the VHF repeater! I bought, then sold, a Trunk tracker; programming was complex and frustrating, and the audio was broken up. - K3JTP
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by WA3SKN on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Sounds like you are not aware of the repercussions of "The communications act of 1996"!
Encryption, encryption, encryption!

-Mike.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by WB6TNB on May 18, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Nobody has mentioned the deterioration in signal to noise ratio as a result of the switch from wideband to narrowband. My Wouxun HT can be programmed for narrowband so that isn't a factor.

Fortunately everything on the Central California Coast is still out in the open.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by N0QBH on May 19, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
An earlier post mentioned the $20 scanner.
Been doing it for a couple of years with great results - however, it is not "plug & play".
You will have to install some 3rd party programs to make it all work and occasionally, reset the USB ports after a shutdown.
In short, it's not for appliance operators.
Mike N0QBH
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KU4UV on May 19, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Yeah it's getting that way all over. I used to love listening to the police calls overnight on my Bearcat scanner back in the 90's when I was in high school. The signals from Lexington came in great, even 30 miles away here in Richmond on the telescoping whip antenna. The Lexington police comms made for some interesting listening during the wild U.K. celebrations. I don't know what the TV reporters use now to listen to the police comms. I used to works at WTVQ-TV, and there were always 3 or 4 scanners in the newsroom. The scanning hobby is slowly dying, but a lot of this is due to the current mistrust and safety issues that officers are facing across the country, so I can kind of understand.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K3LUE on May 20, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I suspect that money drove this technology as much as the advertised or perceived notion that we needed to "update." A ton of money has been and will continue to be spent by cities, townships, municipalities to install, maintain and upgrade these systems. And if you talk to the rank and file that have to use these new systems, they claim the reality is that they are no better and often worse, inadequate coverage, quality, dependability, than the previous systems we are talking about in this thread. And of course, once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it never goes back in. Point of no return or whatever you want to call it, what we have is what we will have to live with, not just the fact that a hobby was sacked, but the users of these new systems are stuck with it....as are the taxpayers.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KR4GT on May 20, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Yep, the "good old days" of the scanner hobby are pretty much over for most of us. I got my first scanner in 1990, and have owned many since then. I used to be able to listen to everything I wanted to, including 45 Mhz and 900Mhz cordless phones, and even analog cellphones in the 800 Mhz range before through images. Heard some stuff that would make a sailor blush! I bought a Radio Shack Pro-651 APCO 25 scanner in November of 2014 when they were on sale, hoping to be able to listen to local public safety (I work for the local PD). I could pick up Richmond, KY PD clear as a bell at the station because it is near the EOC's tower, but at home it was a garbled digital mess. Most of Madison County is encrypted now, unless you enjoy listening to bus driver (I do not). At least I can still pick up Kentucky State Police clear as a bell.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KD8DVR on May 20, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Get a pair of RTL-SDR dongles, run some free software, get an outside antenna and coax...

You are good to go under $100. Monitor trunked analog and digital systems.

Encryption on many tactical groups will stop a scanner cold; but most stuff still is in the clear.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K8LEA on May 20, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
The Township PD here went APCO25 a couple years ago I stuck it out for a while but finally bought a nice Uniden hand-held. Which just doesn't like the PD's APCO25. Oddly, another department sharing the network works fine....

SO, I upgraded to the next level handheld. That one works like a bandit, although IMHO it's impossible to program without a PC. Fortunately, I've got several of those. The FD upgraded to APCO25 about the same time, and once I diddled the programming.

The fool thing needs special batteries (the first one has even more special batteries, and from e-bay, they were dead on arrival), and keeps breaking belt clips. I ended up with three wall wart power supplies,too.

Then the PD scrambled their dispatcher and most of the cars. The only good news was that I didn't buy another unit for the car....

Someday, maybe, I'll torture a buddy of mine (who sells such things) out of some kind of decoder.

Regards,

Stu
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by N5JRN on May 20, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
More expensive now? I'm not so sure about that.

Take the Realistic PRO-2001, which sold for $399.95 when it was introduced in 1978. It was one of the first frequency-synthesized scanners, and had but 16 memories!

Figure in inflation and that price would be nearly $1500 today. Yet for $300 to $400 today you can get one of those "too expensive" P25 trunk tracker scanners. $400 today would be $150 in 1978 dollars, which is about what an 8-channel crystal-controlled VHF-only scanner cost back then.


Sources:
US Inflation Calculator: http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/
Radio Shack Catalog, 1978: http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/catalogs/1978/
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by NC4TB on May 22, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
It's a shame law enforcement feels like it has to hide what it is doing by using digital encryption. Most law enforcement traffic does not to be kept secret from the public. If there is a fugitive running loose in the neighborhood, the public has a right to know, in real time, what is happening. In fact, in times past, we used to get quite a few calls from "scannerland" informing us where a wanted subject or suspicious vehicle could be found. Rarely were the bad guys smart enough to monitor our frequencies. Now the gangs and cartels can afford to bribe someone for the encryption sequence, but us common folk can't. Perhaps some police really are afraid of being monitored.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by NC4TB on May 22, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Almost had forgotten, we had a deputy years ago who was prone to checking parked cars in secluded areas. He wasn't a bit shy about giving the description and tag number of the car as well as the names, dates of birth, and addresses of the occupants for "warrant checks". No telling how many illicit romances were broken up by his actions (or how many marriages). But it was fun to listen to. Now all those checks are done on the in-car computer system.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by JOHNZ on May 22, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
NC4TB said, "Now the gangs and cartels can afford to bribe someone for the encryption sequence, but us common folk can't."


You have my interest. What are you referring to, when you say "the encryption sequence"?
How can someone obtain an "encryption sequence"?
Tell me more.




 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by AF4KK on May 22, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
It certainly takes more effort and expense but you can still hear PLENTY of activity out there! Between P25, analog vs. digital, DMR and all that,the mixture of modes is staggering. But with some know-how and the right equipment, the sky's the limit!
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KI7AQJ on May 23, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I live where there are over a dozen different municipalities, some with their own police departments. Some used repeaters, or simplex, others used trunked systems, and others were trunked and fully encrypted. We had an incident where a parole officer was having a problem checking on a parolee. The parolee was being uncooperative. I had a decoder, and had to custom program some of the trunking for one city, and the county, so I had good coverage. They police were trying to deal with this parolee, when the police chased some other fool down the street where the incident with the parolee was being resolved. The parolee freaked out, when he saw 8 police cars come screaming up the street. he ran back into his apartment, and got a gun. Needless to say, the situation escalated way beyond what it was. The SWAT team responded, and it sounded like a Vietnam war firefight. The parolee was killed. The motorist being chased was apprehended about a mile from the apartment where the parolee was killed. The story the police gave to the media, was not even close to what really happened. They never mentioned a separate chase, escalating the situation. Not only could I hear the radio traffic. I saw what happened. I could smell the cordite, and hear the breaching charges that blew a hole in a brick wall. I saw the car being chased cutting through an empty lot, as more cars gave chase. The police are making up their own rules, and covering up their actions, so they can do whatever they want. When I was about 13 years old we even hacked the police computers for license plate checks, ID checks, and units dispatch locations. We had a line backfeed switching detector, that would disconnect the phone line, the instant a trace was detected, so we could only get a glimpse before the call self terminated, to keep us from getting caught. Nowadays, people with decoders, are putting the police radio traffic audio on the internet, so next time you see "breaking news", or 23 police cars or a circling police helicopter, try looking online. You may find someone is decoding the encryption, and putting the audio feeds on the internet. You can't pick channels, or select what you want to hear, but it is better then nothing, and if the system is being monitored by whomever is broadcasting it online, you should get the whole incident. Gone are the days of the information check channels, chase, tactical, & precinct channels. We had duplicates for each precinct for Phoenix on VHF and UHF, as well as information, chase, & chase ii (tactical). When things get busy or the computers go down, information check channel will come back to life. The scanner was also great for a severe weather warning too. You would get a chase emergency tone on every channel, and the following message would be broadcast, "All motor officers, take cover immediately, severe weather is imminent, a sever thunder storm, is approaching from _________ with high winds, heavy rain, hail." I really think we have a right to know what the police are up to, so long as we don't call a hotel room under observation by narcotics officers, and warn the suspects. Glendale's trunking was almost impossible to sort out. The radios had PTT codes you had to sort out, or you would get police, fire, trash trucks, water & sewer, and power & light, all mixed together. Now you need to work around encryption and some really weird trunking techniques. I found an alpha numeric pager that probably belonged to a reporter or a policeman, that gave an alpha-numeric message about any emergency radio traffic. I mainly used it to avoid such areas, while I was running an emergency service van for electrical distribution work. I think I know who lost it too. It was handy as all heck for me. DPS would pull over a van filled with illegal aliens every day, and they would spill out & run around on the freeway. That is a great place to not be, or avoid passing through.
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by KI7AQJ on May 23, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
The gangs & cartels have infiltrated most police departments including immigration customs & border patrol, and the DEA. One ICE agent was arrested for providing the locations of seismic sensors & cameras along the border. A few Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies have been arrested for providing uniforms, radios, full auto assault rifles & equipment, including a car to the cartels. I think it is so rampant now these departments no longer even report it anymore. I am in Arizona, and I remember the first time I saw the Mexican border. My father worked for the feds. We were in Organ Pipe National Monument. The border was a broken down barbed wired fence with some rusty signs on it. That part of the park has long since been shut down, due to smuggling traffic. It looks like a garbage dump now. It used to be quite beautiful with organ pipe cactus and some of the most unique rock formations I have ever seen. Now it is a big dumping ground for the illegals, their coyotes, drug smugglers and their trash. It was a remote area back then (1970s), and rarely used by anyone.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by JOHNZ on May 23, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
@KI7AQJ
You spin numerous assertions and allegations but do not provide a shred of credible documentation or evidence to back up same. Perhaps you missed your calling as a police fiction writer?

Your comparison to a "Viet Nam fire fight" was particularly interesting. When, where, and with what unit did you serve in Viet Nam? Hint: From those of us who actually did serve in Viet Nam, a suggestion, make a different more accurate comparison next time?
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by W8LV on May 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Just on word (or acromym) for "The Cure": SDR.
These little dongle thingies that are indeed radios hold the key to the multitude bible.

Additionally, I would add LEGISLATION as part of the answer: We should have unencrypted police communications as an EXPECTATION in our society:

WE pay the taxes. Police need to be TRANSPARENT to the citizens, other then (of course) when they are in tactical mode.

A network of police radios connected across the Internet makes listening seemless: apps for your phone and for that matter, home computer provide just that, and at a very low cost, or free.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by N9YNG on May 25, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I have a GRECOM PSR-800. It does a superb job at the digital and trunked systems in my area (NNJ). But, it's only two systems that interest me. Most of the local municipalities are still on analog, however, so my old desktop scanner still works quite well.

Programming the PSR-800 is a little... weird. You have scan lists (I organize these my municipality/service), scan sets (a group of scan lists, I organize these by region), and then it has "virtual scanners." So many options, it can get confusing. You really need the programming software, which itself is a little clunky.

When I was a little kid, the scanners my dad's friend all required crystals for the local PD and such. So, if you wanted to listen to another frequency... needed another crystal.

I guess "easy" is a relative term.
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by K0LSR on May 29, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I used to have an analogue scanner and I can still hear a lot but as many have said, most systems are going digital now. I appreciate that you can use an app to listen but this is Radio and I just refuse to use an app. I use my phone to make calls.
 
RE: The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone: JOHNZ  
by NC4TB on May 31, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
To answer your question about encryption sequence, it is the code used to program the digital encryption program the radios use to keep their transmissions secret. Without it you hear nothing useful. I don't know much about the new systems, but the older ones required a visit to the radio shop to program the encryption code, as well as pl/ctcss and frequencies.
To obtain it you would have to threaten or bribe the radio tech that supports the radio system of interest. I guess if you were really skilled you could monitor the system and use some sort of computer program to read the encryption code. By now they probably have systems that use a rolling random encryption sequence like the garage door openers that use a different code each time it is operated, but the receiver knows what the new code will be and will open for no other. Same way for the radios.
If it is a fixed encryption code, it likely is changed periodically to discourage unauthorized listening.
You might want to Google ENIGMA, the German cypher generator machine used in WW2. The radio digital encryption systems work in similar fashion, in that you must have the "key" to make the system work.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by N8YQX on June 12, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Actually, P25 has made scanning easier. I just program the control channel for my local tower, and I can hear almost everything; no need to program each agency's frequency.

If I want to listen to a specific TGID, then it's just a matter of punching in that TGID. It's no more work than a conventional repeater system.
 
The Easy Days of Scanning are Gone  
by AF4KK on June 15, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Oh, there is still _ALOT- to listen to (at least down here in South Florida)! True, there is trunking and plenty of digital systems. True, the scanners are quite expensive but they do SO MUCH more - and you don't have to buy crystals!! Most of the time, the first responders I hear use plain English and can be quite descriptive - especially when the eyes in the sky get involved! There is still a whole bunch of activity out there; you just need to right tools for the job! :)
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other Operating Articles
Why Does That Idiot Keep Calling Me?