Digital Scanner Programming 9


On the PRO-651/652 Digital Trunking Scanners, you CAN receive the Richland County Sheriff and OSP. It can be daunting to program the new digital scanner setups to receive digital and trunked system because the process for setting up your scanner to connect to the new MARCS and MARCS-IP systems is different from the old analog ways of listening. Since this guide is for helping local residents set up their scanning and start listening to things in this area, the specific codes and frequencies listed are for the Mansfield, OH area. This guide should be fairly easy to follow even for other areas, as long as you substitute the listings for your own area. References to the listings are provided, so anyone should be able to set up their scanner with this guide. The first few sections are just some basic information on how the newer systems work, followed by the actual step by step instructions for programming. For this guide, a RadioShack Pro-652 was used, but the menus on the Pro-651 should be nearly identical, and most other brands and models will be similar, just reference your manual. It is recommended that you follow the links in the next two paragraphs to have your desired codes and frequencies available when you start programming.

You can always purchase a programming cable and software, and set up your scanner using a computer. This approach is much easier to manage several sets of codes, and you can use preset systems. However, since not everyone use comfortable with that approach, and some people just prefer manual entry, here is a guide for manual entry.

First, understand the basic differences between the systems. You can think of analog and regular digital stations as radio stations. Agencies are using their radios on a specific frequency, so if you tune to the frequency, you will be able to hear whatever is broadcast. In the new system, a series of repeater towers are used, and each tower has several frequencies that it uses, but will generally have a main and a backup frequency. You need to set up the tower connections (often reference in the scanner as TSYS) by specifying the type of system being used, and the frequency of the tower nearest to you. You can find the names of towers here (http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?action=siteMap&sid=6643&type=rr) and then match the tower name to its frequencies (http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=6643).

After the tower system is set up, you still will not recieve any broadcasts, because your scanner does not know what it should be listening to. To remedy this issue, you need to set up talk groups, often referenced in the scanner as TGRP. You can set the group to WILDCARD which means that it will listen for anything that comes off of that tower. The problem with that is that many agencies are switching to trunked systems, and can share towers, so you may be listening to a lot of chatter that you don’t care about. If you replace the WILDCARD with the talkgroup ID of the agency you want to listen to, then you can filter out what you don’t want to hear. You can find a list of the MARCS-IP talkgroups here (http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=6643).

To start, we need to create a TSYS entry. This will be done while creating the first  TGRP entry. Press PGM, then NEW, and finally TGRP. Move the cursor to the line for TSYS and select NEW. Here we are creating a new trunked system. For the newest system (MARCS-IP), you will want to create a P25 Auto type system. In the Tag entry, give it a meaningful name, such as MARCS-IP. Then scroll down to frequencies and press SEL. Here, you will enter the frequencies of your nearby tower(s). For the Mansfield area, the Mansfield C.I. tower is used, with frequencies of 771.63125 and 774.20625. You can enter frequencies for more than one tower, or multiple frequencies for each tower, just be aware that by doing so, it may take slightly longer to scan through the entire channel listing. Enter your frequencies and press Save. You will now be back in the trunking setup. Press Save again, and you should be in the talkgroup setup once more. If you want to hear everything local, you can leave the ID set to WILDCARD, or if you want to filter the broadcasts, enter the talkgroup ID of the agency you want to listen for. For example, the Richland County Sheriff is 42009. Press Save. Your trunking system for MARCS-IP and the Richland County Sheriff is now set up. If you want to add more Agencies to the same trunked system, such as the Mansfield PD Dispatch, you don’t have to set up another TSYS, only add a new TGRP, which is as simple as pressing PGM, New, TGRP, making sure that the TSYS is set to the previously created TSYS entry (in my example, it was referenced as MARCS-IP), and then enter the TGRP for the new agency (42004 for MPD). Save the ID, then Save the TGRP, and the new entry is done! This works since the TSYS is the tower system that multiple groups are using, and by adding more TGRP entries, you are adding more agency groups to the tower system.

This is definitely the way you want to set up your scanner for any agency that supports MARCS-IP, because the current plan is to phase out the old MARCS system by March of 2015 (update: as of April 2015, most MARCS systems are still in use), and only use the MARCS-IP system which we just programmed.

For some agencies though, you will need to have the older MARCS system set up. This is true currently for OSP in this area. The older system uses a Motorola 800Mhz setup. So, here is how to create the MARCS TSYS. Note, that if you do set up a MARCS system, it will need to be changed soon. For example, Ohio State Patrol is using the MARCS system right now, but once that system is discontinued, you will need to convert it to the MARCS-IP system by adding their talkgroup ID once they switch.

If you already have the MARCS-IP set up and are becoming comfortable with programming your scanner, you might find it easier to just press PGM, Edit, select the MARCS-IP TSYS and then Dup to create a copy of it and just alter a few settings. If you want to start from scratch with it, let’s start by creating another TGRP (press PGM, then New, then TGRP). In the TSYS entry, change it from the existing MARCS-IP to New, and press SEL, since we do not want to use the MARCS-IP system for this one. The system type for the new TSYS will be Motorola 800/900 instead of P25. Give the tag another descriptive name, such as MARCS, so we can tell which system new TGRP entries are being added to. Move on to the frequency entry, and enter the frequencies for your nearby tower(s) again. Note that these will be different than the MARCS-IP towers. You can find your tower frequencies (http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=901) and their locations (http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?action=siteMap&sid=901&type=rr) to input here. For the Mansfield area, the cleanest channel usually seems to be 853.08750 (even though 853.8625 is the primary control frequency), but you can enter multiple frequencies like before. Save the frequency list, then Save the TSYS entry. You should now be back in the TGRP set up, which will let us create the first entry in the MARCS system. You can find talkgroup IDs here (http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=901). The ID for OSP in District 2 (near Mansfield) is 16384 and 16400 for dispatch and tactical. You can leave it as WILDCARD to hear everything, or create entries for each of the talkgroups you want to hear instead.

You can now hear agencies that are broadcasting on the MARCS and MARCS-IP systems. To add conventional frequencies is trivial, just press PGM, then New, then CONV, and enter the frequency you want to listen to, and press Save.

If you have more than one scanner, and they are compatible with each other, you can use a standard stereo (sometimes mono) auxiliary cable to connect them via their PC/IF ports. On the PRO-651 and PRO-652, press PGM, GLOB, then go to Clone Send. This will make the setup on the other scanner an exact copy of this one.

I have skipped over most of the general info on the scanners, as this is a tutorial for how to get the digital trunking systems up and running. If you want to learn how to control the light color when a broadcast comes on, or how to give names to each group or channel, or just how to use the functions in general, please consult your manual.

RadioReference.com and ScanOhio.com are great references for the frequencies and specifics about each agency. If you have trouble, or don’t want to mess with it, we can always do the work for you, for a small fee. Visit QraComputerServices.com for contact information, or call 419-689-9612.

 

 


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