It was the best of decoders, it was the worst of decoders……… As you can tell I’m quite the literate bastard and highly up to speed on my Dickens.
I love digital signal decoding as it is almost something that you seemingly aren’t supposed to do, hence the attraction of it all. There are several hunks of software that can decode digital signals and each one has it’s strength and weaknesses. The ones I have dabbled around with are:
There are certainly others, not to mention maybe the most powerful one (but by far the one that requires the most geek foo) is GNURadio.
One of my favorite programs for decoding digital audio is DSDPlus. I’ve been using it a couple of years to dissect and decode SINGLE digital signals. Like for instance if I’m in the airport or airport hotel I can listen to DMR radio where the baggage handlers are talking to each other, or the mall cops are planning how to be real cops. Or you can hear the hotel staff on their radios which is sometimes really fun.
BUT…….DSDPlus also follows Digital Trunked Radio. That is where there is a Control Channel which is monitored and then the calls are “trunked” to available frequencies allowing for more users to use the system without confusion. Also users can be placed into Talk Groups which keeps down the confusion even more. Entire cities can use one radio system to control municipal services such as Police, Fire, EMS, Public Works, Events, etc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have a Uniden SDS100 scanner however the only software available for programming and firmware and database updates is Windows only. Sigh. I’m a Mac guy. Wineskin to the rescue. Download Wineskin and double click.
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.