Whistler TRX-1 With P25 Phase 1 LSM system

I have a Whistler TRX-1 Police Scanner and live in New Bern, NC.  There are two systems that I track in New Bern.

The New Bern Public Safety (NBPS) and North Carolina VIPER system.   VIPER works great however the New Bern Public Safety……..not so much. It only rarely grabs a transmission and then if it does it is very broken up or robotic. Not good.

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The Aftermath of Hurricane Florence

Thanks to TV reporters pretending the storm was a lot worse than it was the entirety of the free world thinks that all of New Bern is destroyed and is now just like the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  I’m not trying to minimize the damage to New Bern as it was substantial but New Bern is a Semi-Large Small Town and everyone doesn’t own a home or business on the River.

Basically the Hurricane created HARD days all of Thursday and Friday with some wind and rain on Saturday but no so bad that you couldn’t perform your recovery actions.

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Hurricane Flo – Part Deux

As Barry Manilow said……….”Looks like we made it”.  The hurricane is over but the aftermath lingers on.   This is me at 2AM.  What a fella won’t do for coffee.  When times are hard having your favorite beverage helps tremendously.  I can’t stress enough what a morale booster it is.

Day 3 of no power begins.  I have a full generator tank and 10 gallons of gas left. I also have 1 inverter generator with about half a tank and THREE more waiting that says I can keep the fridge on a few more days.

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Hurricane Florence

Today is the day we find out if I’m as prepared as I think I am.   While it no longer seems to be a direct hit it does seem like we are JUST outside the hurricane force wind zone and will be in the Northeast Quadrant of the storm where the heavy rains are.  Some forecasts show 20-40 inches of rain in this area which will cause massive flooding.  I fully anticipate our neighborhood will get cut off.

I’m an RTL-SDR geek and in a pinch that means when the NOAA satellites fly by I can download the Automatic Picture Transmission signal (APT) directly from the satellite and receive real time telemetry.   That’s pretty cool I think.  Here’s one from Sep 12th in the late afternoon.

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NOAA Weather Radio for $23

Hurricane Florence coming!  You’ve all seen weather radios and you’ve all seen they generally cost $50 or more.  On a good day you can find one for $35 or so.

The goal is to receive NOAA which transmits on the following 7 frequencies.  There will be one or two specific to your area.  The frequencies below are in MegaHertz (MHz).

 

 

In New Bern, NC, where I am the frequency transmitted on is 162.400 MHz on KEC84 and is referred to as WX Channel 1 on most radios.  Almost all household radios and such do not receive in the range of 160 MHz or so.  FM radios stop at about 108 MHz.

So, if you have a laptop you can buy one of these RTL-SDR devices for $23.  Simply plug it into a laptop with the included antenna attached.

 

Now to download a program to run the RTL-SDR device.  Go to here and download the Windows SDR Software Package.  Unzip the files into a directory of your choice and run the SDRSharp.exe file.

NOTE:  When you first install the RTL-SDR device you may need to reinstall a driver for it.  It will indeed install a driver but it isn’t the right one.  These are actually TV devices for PAL TV (European Standard) but to use it as a Software Radio it need another driver.  Download the Zadig driver from here.  Then install it.

CLICK ON OPTIONS AND CLICK ON LIST ALL DEVICES, THEN SELECT BULK-In Interface.  In the left hand driver box it will say RTL something something.  Click “Reinstall Driver”   My box below is what it looks like after the successful installation.

Now install the rtl-sdr device.  Go to the folder where you unzipped SDRSharp and double click the file “install-rtlsdr”

Now set the correct device and increase the gain. Select “RTLSDR USB” then make sure the device block is populated. Also the gain is set at the weakest setting.  Click the little gear looking thing to see all this.   Slide the RF Gain slider at the bottom of the pop up box until you get a good strong signal on the NOAA channel.   Profit.

Meanwhile, back in SDR#

Now tune to 162. 400 MHz and click the play arrow.

And you now have a $23 weather radio.

Whistler TRX-1 Mini Review

So at this point it is safe to say I’m a police scanner junkie.  This started with my love of Software Defined Radio (SDR) devices.  You get an SDR then you tune to FM stereo, then you track aircraft ADSB, then somewhere along the lines you start listening to anything you can which includes emergency services stuff.

First you just listen to analog police, then you find out there are digital trunked systems.  That evolves into using programs such as DSD+ with Unitrunker or another program called SDRTrunk or OP25.

 

Then you realize that you’re into hardware scanners.  I started out with a Uniden SDS100 which is probably the most technologically advanced consumer grade scanner on the market at this moment.  It probably unseated the Whistler TRX-1.  If you read the forums there is kind of a Ford/Chevy thing going on with Uniden/Whistler.  I had to see what all the fuss was about so I got the Whistler TRX-1.

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ProScan for Uniden Scanners

So I bought the Uniden SDS100 hardware scanner, and I love it.   But it cost $700, and then I added DMR decoding for $60, and NXDN decoding for $50.  So I’m into this in a big way.  The SDS100 is POWERFUL.  It is not a toy by any stretch of the imagination.  It comes with free control software called Sentinel (yeah the download is hard to find on that page).  Sentinel is adequate for managing favorites and reading and writing to the scanner and it is all you NEED.

However I stumbled across this hunk of software called Proscan which looked interesting but it also costs $50.  Where does the cost with this scanner end?  Well, like most programs Proscan has a 30 day trial version so I gave it a shot.  After playing with it for like an hour I knew it was worth the cost so I bought it.  It does NOT disappoint.

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An affordable GPS module for SDS100 Scanner

Ok, I’m more and more impressed with my new SDS100 scanner and just learned that it has GPS capability (with an added external module).   Heck I was impressed that you could just type in the zip code and pull in all the local services fit to scan.

And that’s all good unless you are MOVING because as you move on down the highway your zip code obviously changes.   Also if you have a GPS module then you don’t even have to know what zip code you are in.  Win, win.

Trouble is the “official” accessory for the SDS100 GPS module costs another $100 (with shipping) or so on top of the scanner which already costs about $700.  In addition to that you need a $20 cable not included. Ouch!   So…..$120 for GPS or roughly $40.  You decide!

This module was designed by a poster at  RadioReference.com named Hit_Factor who came up with a $42 DIY module.

This is what we are going to make.  We need:

GPS Receiver – $35

Mini USB Connector – $7.50 for 10

A USB cable with a USB “A”  connector on one end.  You probably have one laying around somewhere.  Doesn’t matter what is on the other end as you’ll chop it off anyway. It needs to be of sufficient wire gauge so it can carry current.  Some cables have tiny, tiny 28 ga. wire.  That won’t cut it.

 

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Uniden SDS100 Scanner

I have so many computers doing various police scanner programs such as SDRTrunk and OP25 that I started running out of computers and Raspberry Pi’s.  I’m really enjoying listening to the police scanner much like my father did many years ago with his Radio Shack scanner.  I decided to reclaim some computers so I went out and bought a Uniden SDS100 Scanner from Bearcat Warehouse.  I had some questions regarding shipping and the scanner and the guy on the phone was super helpful and even called me back to let me know when my SDS100 shipped.  

First impression is the cost.  Youzah!  $650 but this thing does all the digital modes however sadly you have to pay for additional modes if you want them.  Not sure that impresses me but I think there is a licensing fee involved with DMR or NXDN so if it were added up front the scanner would be more expensive.

Before you can really do anything at all with the scanner it has to have the firmware installed and the USA (or Canada) database updated.  You’ll require a Windows only (BOOOOO!) program called Sentinel. Sentinel can be downloaded from a sticky thread in the Uniden Tech Support Forum on RadioReference.com

The latest BETA firmware can be found in a sticky thread there as well.  Bear in mind the Sentinel program will install STABLE firmware. BETA firmware is installed differently than STABLE firmware.

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