August Update

August Update

On the off chance that anyone is still reading my blog, I thought I should check-in and tell y’all what’s been happening.

So, work is… work. Pretty much the same garbage, different day. Our boss is completely obsessed with the upcoming strategic planning “event” in September and honestly most of us could not find it in us to care less. It isn’t that planning for the future isn’t important, but when current operations are messed up and we’re having to scramble to keep our heads above water it becomes difficult to not want to get out of the current situation before figuring out what we can do 2-3 years down the road.

On the bright side of work related things I have an interview next month for a job in Baltimore. It’s something I’ve been looking at for a long time and really wanting to do. Next to working in public safety it’s on the top of my list. It would be working with blindness technology and new products and stuff along those lines. More details later if things pan out, but prayers now would really be appreciated. Treva is a little, uh okay a lot, freaked out about moving across the country. If it’s God’s will it will all work out. I’m flying out the 11th and I guess the interview will take most of the day on the 12th.

Let’s see. What else has been going on?

We were on local AM radio the other morning. We talked about the Center we work at and it was kind of cool. I recorded it for posterity sake if anyone is incredibly bored and wants to listen to it :-). I was going to throw it up and call it a Podcast bonus episode, but I figured it really was not that exciting.

Speaking of podcasts, we got a new one up last night. It’s over at

I bought a new toy yesterday too. I finally broke down and bought a Uniden BCD-396T digital scanner. I can actually listen to the new state digital system and other trunked systems when I travel. I had to order it from Milwaukee because the store in Hamilton was out, but it should be here by Wednesday. I hate waiting. 🙂 In the meantime I’m playing around with one of the software packages for programming the thing and learning the new concept of how Uniden’s Dynamic Memory works.

Instead of the way a “traditional” scanner works, where you can store X number of frequencies in y number of banks, Uniden has devised a more logical method of Systems and Groups that more closely mirrors the way radios are used. A system contains groups. In a Conventional system groups hold frequencies. In a Trunked system the system itself holds the frequencies, but groups hold the different talkgroups. So, for example, I have a Conventional system programmed for our local area. There are 5 different groups. Law Enforcement, Fire/EMS/EMA, Municipal Services, Amateur Radio, and Business. It gets a little more complex when you try to program a multi-site trunked system like we have in Indiana. I’ll spare you the technical details, because I’m guessing I’ve made at least a few of your eyes glaze over already, but this type of Trunked system works quite similarly to a cellular telephone network. Each radio can affiliate with one or more towers and unless a tower has a radio affiliated with a specific talkgroup it will not push that talkgroup out on itself. A talkgroup is basically like a channel in a “normal” system. The basic problem in programming one of these systems is which tower sites to program and how to do it. Option A is to put all the control channels into one system and whichever the scanner locks onto first that’s the tower you will hear traffic from. Option B is to create different systems for every control channel. This way, you can hear traffic from multiple towers. The downside to Option B is that it takes up more space in the scanner’s memory. The downside to Option A is that if you can actually pick up more than one tower it won’t scan them both because it stops on the first control channel it finds. I’m starting with Option A because I don’t think I can hear many control channels from here. In playing around with a different radio I was only able to hear one of the two towers in my county. Basically, what the whole affiliation thing boils down to is who you can hear and where. If, for example, an ISP unit is affiliated with the Henry county tower and I can’t hear the henry county control channel, I won’t hear that unit unless another ISP unit, in the same talkgroup, is affiliated with a tower I can pick up. This doesn’t affect dispatch since they are connected via wireline at the console to the Zone Controller and don’t really care about the towers. We’ll see how this all works when I actually get my hands on the radio.

Right. Enough of the boring stuff. That’s about all that’s been going on. Now it’s time for work. 🙂