My New Scanner

About a month ago, I bought a new police scanner, a nice and expensive one.  I bought the Uniden BCD536HP scanner.  I often like to listen to the Del City police and had noticed in recent days that my old scanner, a Radio Shack Pro-2051 was quiet most of the time.

What I hadn’t known was that the FCC had rebanded the 800 MHz spectrum, forcing people, businesses and public services to change frequencies to meet the new 800 MHz frequency spectrum.  What it did was make my old scanner obsolete where I could not hear many of the trunking systems.  Many newer model scanners had the ability to be reprogrammed to match the rebanding but not this model. It was essentially obsolete with respect to anything in the 800 MHz band.  That meant that I was out of luck because virtually every trunking system in the Oklahoma City area uses the 800 MHz band.

While this new scanner was expensive, I justified it with the idea that I will get more than 10 years of service from it.  My last scanner was over 10 years old already.  After having a scanner for so many years, it is hard to go without one.  I can sit here and listen to police, fire and emergency systems from as far as 50 miles away. Many local businesses and public service organizations are also on there.  It is a really cool hobby to have.

This scanner has some amazing features being pre-programmed with thousands of frequencies from the RadioReference.com database. It updates the frequency database weekly and also allows you to create your favorites lists.  It has wifi capability to allow you to control and stream your scanner remotely via a wireless phone.  Of course these features are not yet available as of the posting of this blog post.  I definitely love this scanner and think it is worth the expensive price tag if you are a scanner enthusiast.  It has more than  enough features to make it a good purchase.

Oklahoma City FM Radio

Every time I turn on the radio here in Oklahoma City I am confused because there is another station on the air.  Being an amateur (HAM) radio operator, I tend to think that we are having a tropospheric episode bringing in distant station but my ears are not fooling me.  It appears that our local stations are experimenting with creating HD1, HD2 and HD3 stations that are rebroadcasting their stations on low power stations around the metro area.  One of the highest profile stations to do this recently was KRXO 107.7.  They have taken their high power classic rock station and turned it into a new sports station called The Franchise.  They have taken their classic rock station and moved it over to 107.7 HD2 and simulcasting it over on the analog 104.5 on a much lower signal.

It looks like they now have an HD3 station called Generation Now 96.5 playing hit music.  This is another low power station that does cover the metro pretty good considering its lower power.  They play the same type of music as KRAV-FM in Tulsa so it was only natural that I would think we had Tulsa booming in this morning.  Also I’ve noticed a couple new stations on 92.1 and 92.9.  The 92.1 seems to be simulcasting KRMP Heart and Soul on AM 1140.  The 92.9 station is simulcasting KEBC, the comedy station on 1560 AM.  In each of these cases, the stations are owned by the same company, Tyler Media.

I like the new additions and hope they last.  I am really liking the new 96.5 station.  I live out in the far eastern part of the metro and still able to receive all of these stations in the cars and in the house.  Since I live so far on the East side, I get many of the Tulsa stations as well so the FM band is completely filled.  I sure wish car manufacturers would start installing HD radios stock so that people will get use to the extra stations.  I also wish that portable and home stereos would come with them stock.  I’ve run across people that have no clue what HD radio is.   I will scroll across the band and document what is available as I have time.

The FM radio band is a constant, ever changing place so putting up a list of all stations becomes obsolete nearly as soon as you do it.  Also you have to deal with low power stations all around the metro giving you a false impression.  You may be hearing a powerful station on one side of town and be weak on the other side.  Once you get to the other side of town you hear a whole list of other stations that are weak on my side.  It is a good thing that I find this sort of thing interesting or I would get frustrated making these lists :).

Shortwave Radio

My Shortwave Ragio

We have been living in limbo for the last year and a half while we worked on our house and then sold it.  We will not be moving into a new house until the end of 2011.  For this reason all of my ham radio equipment is still in storage.  As a ham radio for 28 years, I have been missing be able to get on the air.  I bought the Grundig Satellit 750 shortwave radio for just this sort of thing.   I cannot talk on the air but I can listen to stations from all over the world with this radio.  It is a very nice radio that has AM or medium wave, FM broadcast, Airplane band, and shortwave, 1.7 MHz to 30 MHz..

I have been very pleased with the performance of this radio.  It has single side band (SSB) capability, narrow and wide band features to prevent interference from interference on adjacent frequencies.  One of the interesting and useful features is the ability to turn the AM ferrite antenna on the top to achieve the best signal.  This saves the user from having to turn the radio to get the best signal the way a person would have to on a normal AM radio.  The sensitivity on this radio is better than average.  While we are living in an apartment we do not expect too much as far as performance because there is no room for antennas and the building is surrounded by metal.  This has not been as much an issue as we thought because this radio has such a great sensitivity.  The radio allows the user to scan with small and large steps for fine tuning.  As most people know, a shortwave radio can be slow to tune on a fine tuning mode.  This radio has fine tuning and it also has a fast scan where it scans five KHz steps.

I know this is a very nice radio that is worth every bit of the money that it costs.  You can still find it on Amazon.com for $249.99 for free shipping.  If you are in to shortwave listening, I would certainly recommend this radio.  If you live in an apartment complex or a place where you are not allowed antennas, this radio will fulfill your needs.

Poison Ivy Almost Gone

This morning I woke up to go to work and was still itching pretty bad though you could barely see it.  This evening when I came home from work I noticed something was different.  No itching at all!  After four and a half weeks it is finally on its way out and all I can say is thank God!  This has been a rough month with the never ending itching and even worse the allergic reaction to the medicine.

During this time I had two very big events my life and that was graduating OU and the other was seeing my family in New Mexico for the first time in 21 years.  The enjoyment of both of these events were a bit lost because of having the most severe poison ivy outbreak known to the human race.  For those of you that saw it, you know what I am talking about.  For the rest of you, I will spare you the pictures but I do have some. 🙂

While we were gone on our trip my oldest son Kevin was a hero.  He did not get to go with us on our vacation because he forgot to tell his boss about it until it was too late to let him off.  I was upset for a while but that was changed when some bad guys broke into our house while we were gone.  My son captured two of the three and the police caught the other one.  Everyone of them were over 18 years old so we are pressing charges.  He walked in on them inside the house.  Just yesterday he was at work and helped to capture a thief at his work.  I told him that being a police officer may be his calling.  The bad guys come right to him.  I am so proud of him and the way he handled the situation.

Now that I am feeling better this weekend I have to work tomorrow.  That is okay because it will be a short day.  I am working a straight eight hours from 6:30 am to 2:20 pm.  That should go fast and I will be able to squeak by with a decent weekend after all.  Our WIN System repeater was blocked this week because of a stray signal that was mistaken for intermod.  This happened once before in 2007 when a local ham was transmitting amateur television (ATV) on 439.25 MHz.  This local ham is very close to the repeater antenna and has a very high gain antenna.  I am not sure if that is what happened this time or not.  Another possibility is that another new ham was trying to get into the repeater with a handy talkie (HT) and was not getting into the system very well.  I am hoping that was the scenario because that is an easy one to fix.  We have since been unblocked but we are reluctant to connect back up until we confirm the source of the signal.

Just the other day I posted about the new Microsoft search engine Bing.com and how cool it was.  A story came out today that shows that in just three days, it has taken the number two search engine spot world wide over taking Yahoo.  I have mixed feelings about this because I have always loved Yahoo and still think they are very relevant.  At the same time I am really pulling for Bing to succeed.  I really do like the way it operates.  Well I have rambled long enough so I will get this posted.

IRLP Upgrade

This weekend the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) sent out an upgrade that would vastly improve the audio from node to node.  This update changed out two files, the imike, and ispeaker.  This allows nodes to connect to each other with uncompressed audio making an incredible audio quality.  This increase in audio quality also increased the bandwidth required to stream the audio by 100%.  Now the stream requires 80 Kbps to carry the audio virtually solidifying the requirement for broadband Internet.

To date, there are only five reflector channels that are capable of handling the uncompressed audio.  These are 9200, 9003, 9739, and 9755.  Nothing has changed on the reflectors except that the owners of these listed have set up those channels to select UNCOMP as the default codec.  It is likely that not all reflector owners will opt to use this uncompressed audio because of the incredible demand for bandwidth.  Since most of these reflectors are operating on donated bandwidth, they may be reluctant to double the bandwidth required if there are many users like the WIN System which typically has 50+ nodes connected 24 hours a day.

Any individual node that calls another node will be able to experience the improved quality of audio.  Both of our repeaters have been updated to the new audio though our 443.3 repeater may not be noticeable because it is connected to the WIN Sytem 24 hours and they have not upgraded their channel yet on the 9453.  I have been amazed at the improved quality as it is virtually perfect.

Another improvement that came with this, most users will not notice because it happens behind the scene.  Before, when a node would connect to a node for the first time, it would automatically download two .wav files. These were the announcement files that you hear when connecting or disconnecting from the other node.  After you visit many nodes, the node hard drive begins to fill up with many audio files making it difficult to do a backup.  Also since many of the nodes are using older computers, they sometimes have smaller hard drives.  With this upgrade, the nodes now stream these connect and disconnect announcements from the IRLP servers so nodes owners are no longer concerned with filling up a hard drive.

Dave Cameron, VE7LTD, the creater of IRLP put out a beta test version of this upgrade last Wednesday and more than 250 nodes participated with zero errors.  On Thursday night, he decided to push the upgrade out on the nightly updates.  On Friday morning, all nodes should have received this upgrade.  We are thrilled with the performance on both of our repeaters.  Since both of them are on broadband Internet connections, this higher bandwidth requirement was not an issue with us.

Thank you for those of you that use our nodes/repeaters.

Paul