Multi-Site Trunked System Programming for Whistler/GRE Object-Oriented Scanners

From The RadioReference Wiki

Applicable Scanners

  • Whistler: TRX-1, TRX-2, WS1090, WS1098, WS1080, WS1088
  • Radio Shack: Pro-668, Pro-18
  • GRE: PSR-800

Issues with monitoring multi-site trunked systems

Earlier Whistler models such as the WS1040/WS1065 (and their Radio Shack/GRE variants) offer multiple scan modes for multi-site trunked systems:

  • Stationary - Scans all control channels being received (and thus all sites).
  • Roam - Scans all control channels being received, selects the best, stays there, and only re-scans if reception is lost.
  • Off - Stops at the first control channel and does not move to another.

However, the database enabled object-oriented scanners listed at the start of this article only scan multi-site systems using the Roam method; once an acceptable site is located the scanner stays on that site and only looks for another site if reception is lost. In many areas this causes a great deal of radio traffic on other nearby tower sites to be missed.

The solution is to program each site or group of sites as a separate system so they will be scanned.

Multi-Site Programming

This method applies to any multi-site trunked system but will use Ohio MARCS-IP in Central Ohio as an example.

1. Start with a blank Virtual Scanner, define the desired coverage area (for example, Central Ohio), and name the Virtual Scanner as such.

2. Using the "Preferred" options under the Library Import tab of the EZScan software, choose the system and select for download all of the desired tower sites and talkgroups for the preferred coverage area. Make sure to add a talkgroup wildcard. Import this information to the scanner.

3. Name the newly imported system "Ohio MARCS-IP."

4. Set up scan lists and miscellaneous settings (backlight, LED, decode levels, etc) as desired, making sure to put the talkgroup wildcard in a separate scan list. Do a "save to archive" so you have a backup of your initial programming. This archive will serve as a clean backup in case you have to start over.

5. Copy the "Ohio MARCS-IP" system and name the new system "Franklin County." Lock out all except the Franklin County simulcast. Scan lists can be left alone or the scan lists which do not normally pertain to Franklin County can be locked out. Leaving all scan lists enabled increases the chance of catching talkgroups which may have roamed away from their usual site.

6. Copy the "Ohio MARCS-IP" system again, name the new system "Columbus City", and lock out all except the Columbus City site. Scan lists can be left alone, or all scan lists can be deselected except the scan lists for talkgroups which normally use the Columbus City tower site (Columbus FD, Columbus PD, etc).

7. Repeat this process for each site (or group of sites) you want to treat as separate systems, locking out all but the desired sites for that "system."

8. Finally, in the "Ohio MARCS-IP" system you started with, de-select all except the scan list which holds the talkgroup wildcard. This will allow you to scan the wide-area system as needed for additional talkgroups not found in your defined scan lists.

By programming in this manner, most of the tedious data entry and configuration process only needs to be done once. The scanner will scan each site or group of sites separately, giving a much better chance of hearing desired radio traffic more reliably. When traveling, scan lists and systems can be enabled or disabled as needed to scan what is nearby.

Other Tips

  • It will probably be necessary to experiment with the digital decode settings on the Advanced tab; once the DSP Level Adapt has been optimized, P25 simulcast decode is almost flawless.
  • For whatever reason, these radios do not like manually entered system settings. When entering tower sites and system settings manually, very little is received; however, when the Library Import feature is used to select and import the specific tower sites, reception is flawless. Even though sites and settings are all identical, manually entered systems just do not seem to function properly.

However, talkgroups can be imported using the copy/paste method with good results.