Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Show Off Your Shack - Rick Hughes

Learn how to Show off your shack! - read more

Shack Owner: Rick Hughes
From:  Colcord, Oklahoma in the NE part of the state. 75 mi east of Tulsa.
Call Sign:  KB5RTE - General Class Amateur Radio (Ham 21 Years)
Equipment: Uniden HomePatrol-1 and Yaesu FT-8800

I mostly listen to Public Service bands, local law enforcement, fire departments and of course amateur radio repeaters. I ap registered as a Skywarn Spotter and do some local weather watching for a TV station in Tulsa on occasion

Learn how to Show off your Shack! - read more

Friday, July 20, 2012

Firmware Alert - Uniden HomePatrol-1 [2.03.01]

By Jonathan Higgins

Uniden HomePatrol-1 (HP-1)
Firmware Update: 2.03.01

What included in the update?
  • Improved the SD Card Error message to help resolve troubleshooting issues.
  • Added a low-pass filter switch option for raw data output mode.
  • Added a remote command to control the low-pass filter switch.
  • Fixed the issue where the display mode setting was reset after cycling power.
  • Fixed that some systems were not appearing in Add Channel mode.
  • More details

    This update should fix a couple of the little bugs that were reported to Uniden. Nothing major in this update.
How to update your HomePatrol?
  1. Plug your HP-1 into AC Power to prevent power lost during update.
  2. Connect your HP-1 to your PC via the Programming cable.
  3. Open the Sentinel Software
    (If you don't have the software download it here)
  4. Click "Update" tab
  5. Select "Update Firmware"
  6. Your HomePatrol should be selected, click "OK"
  7. The software will prompt you once the download is done.
  8. Disconnect the programming cable from your HP-1
  9. Please allow a few minutes for the update process to run.
  10. Your HP-1 will restart and the firmware update is complete.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Riding the Rails - Downeast Scenic Railroad
Ellsworth, Maine

If you like trains and railroading, like I do, bring your scanner with you the next time you take a train trip. It will give you an exciting behind the scenes look at railroading!

Downeast Scenic Railroad
Ellsworth, ME

Over my Fourth of July Vacation I spend some time camping in Bar Harbor, Maine. Where I found the Downeast Scenic Railroad. On Saturday or Sunday you may see the Black and Red 1948 diesel engine, green vintage passenger cars and red caboose running alongside you as you travel on Route 3/1 in Ellsworth, Maine.

Tickets and Boarding the Downeast!
You can pick up tickets at Cadillac Mountain Sports located on 34 High St in Ellsworth, Maine and you can board the train directly behind the store.  Check Downeast Scenic Railroad website for train schedule.

Taking a ride of the Historic Calais Branch Line Along this ten mile 90 minute trip along the historical Calais Brach Line you will learn about the local manufacturing and see many forms of Maine's wildlife from Moose to Bald Eagles, from deer to snapping turtles.

My Family and I boarded the Saturday 1:30 PM train, pulled by Engine #54 1948 General Electric Locomotive (Formerly owned by Belfast & Moosehead Railroad in Unity, Maine).  Two Green Vintage Passenger cars and one open flat car completed the train set. We made our way to Ellsworth Falls then the engine switched directions on a run around track then making our way to Washington Junction the rail yard for Downeast Scenic Railroad. At Washington Junction Engine #54 made the run around again, to take us back to Ellsworth.

Great ride on a hot summer day in July, next time I'm in the Bar Harbor/Ellsworth area I will do this again for sure!

Run around at Ellsworth Falls

Run around at Washington Junction 

Engine 1055 at Washington Junction

Caboose 2608, MOW Hopper Car, and Engine 53 in Washington Junction Yard

Washington Junction Yard Office and Dispatch

Sights along the line

Downeast Scenic Engine 54 heading back to Ellsworth

Extending the ride!
Downeast Scenic Railroad hope to one day restore the line all the way west to Brewer, Maine. - See Map

Scanning Downeast Scenic Railroad
If you're staying in Ellsworth or railing the rails for the day, listen to all the railroad action on 160.5000 MHz.

Main Dispatch Commutations are on 160.5000 MHz [WQFL775]
They also have the following channels 161.0700, 161.2000, and 161.5200 MHz [WQFL775]

My Scanning Gear
Uniden BCD396XT with the stock antenna
Soft leather Case with Swivel

Scanners and Camping!

By Jonathan Higgins

Scanners and Camping!

When I'm not working at Scanner Master I like to spend my weekends camping in the spring, summer and fall.  My wife and daughter introduced me to camping and we started out tent camping.  It was an amazing feeling to pack up the car and hit the road to a new or favorite destination.  Enjoying the land like the early settlers had, spending the nights under the stars near a campfire.  I have grown to love this and we have now invested in a travel trailer, what we like to call our second home on wheels. Being the scanner geek that I am, I always pack a scanner on these trips.  Working at Scanner Master, I have many opportunities to try different products in the camping environment.

Getting there!
I tow my travel trailer with my pick-up truck which is already equipped with the Uniden BCD996XT, GPS Receiver, and the Uniden RH-96 Remote head.  It's taken a while but I have most of the public safety agencies for New England programmed into it along with the GPS Data.  The scanner keeps me informed about any accidents or incidents along the way.

Recommended Programming - Getting There!
If you're doing a lot of highway travel, be sure to program State Police/Highway Patrol and state highway departments. 

You may want to program some of the secondary State Police channels/talk groups, these channels could be used for radar details.  States are trying to generate income from every avenue including giving speeding tickets.  Keep in mind some of these secondary channels/systems maybe non-repeaterized, and in-line of sight. 

In some states the State Highway Departments are playing more of a roll with traffic incident such as accidents.  These channels can tip you off to lane closers and delays, most of time this info is relayed on these channels for the Highway Traffic Information boards.

At the Campground!
I would recommend a portable unit, you can run it on batteries and you wouldn't be dependent on AC/DC power.  Before the trip I usually do research on RadioReference.com and then program my handheld scanner.   If you frequent the same area a few times a year you may want to store the programming into a V-Folder on GRE or a high number system on a Uniden unit with Dynamic Memory. 

It's always fun to listen to the campground communications.  Most campgrounds use two way radios for communications, such as MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service) or FRS (Family Radio Service).  Most scanners have both MURS and FRS/GMRS as preset service search.  Keep in mind these communications are not on a repeater they are in-line of sight (low power).   If they are not using the assigned FRS or MURS channels you can use Close Call (Uniden) or Spectrum Sweeper (GRE) technology.

NOAA Weather Radio
Summer can bring some wild weather... Your scanner can also act as weather station, with most scanners you're one press away from a Local NOAA Weather radio station report.  There are more than 900 NOAA Weather stations across the United States.   Not only can you tune into a weather report anytime you want you can also set up your scanner for weather alerts.  This is very simple to set up once you're at your destination, it will alert you about those surprise thunder storms.

Camper Shack!
Uniden HomePatrol-1 in the sleeping quarters, using the Windshield Mounting Kit for the Uniden HomePatrol-1.

Here is the SpecturmForce Wide band Antenna with Mag Mount and SMA outside of the camper using a Bracket for Mobile Scanner Installations.  This bracket was a perfect surface for the antenna, and can be easily removed when traveling.