12.27.20

Saturday Night’s All Right For Scanning

I reported two weeks ago about the loss of my primary VHF/UHF communications monitoring antenna after almost 20 years of yeoman service. Despite being a unity-gain, albeit wide-spectrum, antenna, the Diamond discone performed well, and monitoring distances out to 60 miles in certain directions were possible, allowing us to hear as far as Long Island and the Catskills.

Last night I decided to make two determinations. The first was to see how far one might possibly listen with an inside antenna, and the second was to see what one could listen to in this locale that was not P25 Phase II or encrypted. I listened for one hour (2100-2200 EST) yesterday evening monitoring the VHF & UHF public safety, and VHF aircraft bands. Listening location was Plymouth, CT ( Maidenhead Grid FN31lq). Elevation was ~800′ ASL which is maybe a little higher than average terrain in the area. Equipment was a whistler WS1040 handheld scanner with a 22″ telescoping whip antenna (approx resonant frequency 130 MHz.).

In the course of one hour I logged 28 frequencies. Six of those frequencies were VHF aircraft band. One was VHF-low band. Four were P25. None were encrypted. Overall it was a quiet evening. Longest distance received on public safety bands was 35 miles. Not surprisingly this distance was achieved with the aid of terrain as Stratford, CT is right down the Naugatuck River valley on the Long Island Sound shore, and Clove Mountain, NY is at 1400′ ASL giving it a decided height advantage being 600 feet above us, and 200 feet above the next highest elevation on the RF path. Being that the frequency was on VHF-low band didn’t hurt either. VHF Aeronautical band reception was typical, and >100 Mile reception range of in-flight aircraft is to be expected when the transmitter is up at >30,000′ ASL. Being snuggled up against TRACON N90 ensures that there is always plenty of radio traffic to be heard from 118-137 MHz., and plenty of it can be heard with just a rubber duck antenna indoors.

The following frequencies were logged during this exercise:

  • 46.360 – FM – CSQ – Dutchess County, NY FD
  • 118.475 – AM – Waterbury/Oxford TWR
  • 132.175 – AM – ZNY Elk Mountain
  • 132.825 – AM – Albany (NY) APP/DEP
  • 133.425 – AM – ZBW Woodstock
  • 134.3000 – AM – ZBW Kingston
  • 135.800 – AM – ZBW Islip
  • 151.0325 – NFM – PL 67.0 – Beacon Falls, CT FD
  • 151.3700 – NFM – PL 82.5 – Seymour, CT FD
  • 152.3225 – P25 – NAC 033 – Torrington, CT PD
  • 153.1250 – NFM – PL 179.9 – Tolland County, CT Dispatch “TN”, West/Vernon (FD/EMS)
  • 154.1300 – NFM – PL 74.4 – Meriden, CT FD
  • 154.1900 – NFM – DPL 205 – Farmington, CT FD
  • 154.3100 – NFM – PL 167.9 – Hartford, CT FD
  • 154.3100 – P25 – NAC FD2 – Stratford, CT FD
  • 155.1075 – PL 82.5 – Litchfield County, CT Dispatch “LCD” (FD/EMS)
  • 155.2275 – NFM – PL 179.9 – Vernon, CT FD
  • 155.2350 – NFM – PL 97.4 – American Medical Response (AMR), Bridgeport, CT
  • 155.4900 – NFM – PL 162.2 – East Hampton, CT PD
  • 158.7750 – NFM – DPL 343 – Washington, CT “town channel”
  • 158.7825 – NFM – PL 186.2 – Oxford, CT FD
  • 158.9775 – NFM – PL 162.2 – Oxford, CT EMS
  • 159.0300 – P25 – NAC 110 – Plainville, CT PD
  • 453.1875 – NFM – DPL 743 – Tolland County, CT Dispatch “TN”, West/Vernon (FD/EMS)
  • 460.3250 – NFM – PL 203.5 – Watertown, CT PD
  • 460.6000 – P25 – NAC 293 – Thomaston, CT PD
  • 462.9500 – NFM – PL 192.8 – Northwest CT C-MED
  • 462.9750 – NFM – PL 118.8 – North Central CT C-MED

Connecticut has a bit of a reputation in the scanning community with the recent upgrade of the state’s trunked system to P25 Phase II and the widespread use of encryption on public safety radio systems. It has led many to claim that communications monitoring with low to mid-tier equipment is difficult to impossible in this state. Yet, at present there is still plenty of COMINT potential with a simple P25 Phase I capable unit monitoring conventional (non-trunked) radio systems in the state.

Like many other matters dystonautic, when it comes to local COMINT it is important for you to do your own independent research and not reply on the often incorrect information found online.