Sunday, September 27, 2020

Political Campaign Aircraft Tracking

The October Federal Wavelengths column will give you some tips on monitoring political campaigns if they visit your area. After the column was written I found out someone is blogging about the aircraft being used for the Presidential campaign trips. There are a number of aircraft involved in transporting not only the candidates and their families but staffers, advance and support teams.



Thursday, September 24, 2020

Federal Scanning with Scanner School




For those who would like to hear me talk about federal monitoring with Phil, W2LIE, here is a link to Podcast #142 with yours truly:

Las Vegas Update

In the July and August columns, I published the frequencies I had logged while spending some extended time in Las Vegas. Here are those frequencies for future reference;

162.8500         N167               FBI

162.9750         N167               FBI

163.0000         N196               TSA Input to 172.9

163.1250         N4CE              Hoover Dam NPS -always TG 10636, RID 1

163.2125         N100               Possible IRS TAC - RID 583xxxx

163.3375         N47C              BLM law enforcement - input to173.6750

163.6500         N167               FBI

163.7000         N169               ICE

163.7125         114.8 pl           Simplex, chat about where to eat

163.8125         N167               FBI

163.8625         N167               FBI

163.8875         N167               FBI

163.9625         N167               FBI

163.9875         N167               FBI

164.3500                                 Weak analog voice traffic

164.4500                                 Weak analog voice traffic

164.4750         110.9 pl           USFS daily weather reports, input to 172.2750

164.5000         123.0 pl           USFS aircraft, fire related

164.5000         146.2 pl           USFS aircraft, fire related

164.5000         156.7               USFS aircraft, fire related

164.7000         N68F               BLM law enforcement, input to 173.1500

165.0000         103.5               USFS aircraft, fire related

165.3750         N001               US Secret Service CHARLIE, Las Vegas Office

165.4125         D754               Old EPA Lab maintenance, still active

165.7250         N293               US Marshals Service – input to 170.7500


165.8250         N293               RID 344xxxx

166.2375                                 Weak analog voice traffic

166.2750         100.0               Simplex, talking about where to eat again

166.3000         CSQ                National Parks Service, Lake Mead NRA Admin

166.3750         110.9               Fire suppression aircraft, NIFC Air-to-Ground 66

166.3750         123.0               Fire suppression aircraft, NIFC Air-to-Ground 66

166.3750         136.5               Fire suppression aircraft, NIFC Air-to-Ground 66

166.4000                                 US Secret Service GOLF

166.7250         146.2               National Interagency Fire Center, TAC 5

166.7375         N314               RID 515xxxx, 517xxxx

166.7625         CSQ                BLM Las Vegas, NIFC Air-to-Ground 23

166.8000         CSQ                NIFC Air-to-Ground 06

166.8875         N293               RID 522xxxx


167.1375         CSQ                Federal Itinerant - fire suppression aircraft

167.1500         107.2               NPS Lake Mead NRA - input to 170.0500

167.2625         N167               FBI A-1

167.3625         N167               FBI

167.4375         N167               FBI A-8

167.5375         N167               FBI D-5/D-6

167.5500         CSQ                NIFC Air-to-Ground 42?

167.6625         N167               FBI A-3

167.6875         N167               FBI A-6

167.7125         N167               FBI

167.8625         CSQ                VAMC Medical paging

167.8875                                 Weak analog voice traffic, NIFC Air-to-Ground 48

167.9000                                 NIFC Air-to-Ground 38

168.0000                                 NIFC Air-to-Ground 75

168.0250         N61F

168.0250         156.7               Analog voice, radio check

168.2000         146.2               National Interagency Fire Center, TAC 2

168.4000                                 NIFC Air-to-Ground 22

168.5875         N169               ICE Nationwide TAC 2, RID 628xxxx

168.6125         110.9               Federal Itinerant, fire related

168.6500         110.9               National Flight Following, USFS

168.6750         167.9               NIFC Air-to-Ground 71

168.7750         103.5               USFS SOA (Scene of Action), fire related

168.7750         131.8               USFS SOA (Scene of Action), fire related

168.8375         N293              

168.9250                                 Weak analog voice traffic

169.1500         CSQ                NIFC Air-to-Ground 72

169.9125         N300               DHS, RID 628xxxx

170.0500         CSQ                NPS Lake Mead NRA

170.4750         110.9               USFS Mt. Charleston

170.6000         N3E8               BLM, Mt. Potosi

170.6000         N68F               BLM

170.6250         N167               FBI

170.6625         N167               FBI

170.7500         N293               US Marshals Service, Federal Courthouse, RID 828xxxx

170.8000         N293               US Marshals Service, RID 828xxx

171.4750         103.5               NIFC Air-to-Ground 64

172.2750         CSQ                USFS Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest, Angel

172.6000         N064               BLM, Mt Potosi

172.7500         146.2              

172.8750         N293               FAA, Angel Peak

172.9000         N196               TSA @ McCarren Airport - RID 760xxx, 764xxx

173.0500         114.8               BLM, Hayford

173.6250         79.7

173.6750         N47C              BLM law enforcement                       


406.3375         N482               US Postal Inspectors, RID 110xxxx, 871xxxx, 873xxxx

406.9375         DMR               US Postal Service, Color Code 1

407.9375         DMR               US Postal Service, Color Code 1

409.4000         N940               Federal Protective Service, RID 673xxxx, 675xxxx


419.5000         156.7               DEA Local Option repeater


In addtion to these frequencies, here are some Las Vegas Mystery Frequencies to keep and ear on:



The frequency of 118.7 MHz is not much of a mystery, but what this frequency is used for can be a mystery. This channel is used as a “company” channel for the JANET flights arriving and departing from Las Vegas McCarran airport that ferry workers to the Groom Lake area, sometimes referred to as Area 51. These white 737 aircraft flights have been the subject of many documentaries concerning Area 51. The flights are operated by a contractor for the U.S. Air Force and are easily monitored as they come and go from Las Vegas. Once they leave the Las Vegas area and head for Groom Lake, the frequencies they switch to are still a mystery to me.



This analog repeater has long been heard with various maintenance operations at what sounds like a federal facility. I was never able to catch enough information to place it, but local listeners heard enough to pinpoint to location to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) laboratories near the UNLV campus. However, the EPA has since shut down their labs at this facility, but the maintenance radio traffic continues. Could another agency or company be leasing the building? It’s unknown and will probably require a drive by of the facility to see if there are new signs up.



For probably ten years now, this frequency has been broadcasting an analog carrier continuously for no known purpose. It is an active FBI frequency here in Las Vegas, and the agency does use it in the P-25 digital mode, but that appears to be a separate transmitting location or simplex use. The signal has been known to vanish for a short time, but it always comes back. During my stay in Las Vegas, I noted the analog carrier was off the air twice, but it returned within a couple of hours. Why is this happening? Some had speculated it is a stuck transmitter, others have suggested a spur or harmonic of another radio transmitter somewhere. Why it has a constant carrier on it is unknown.



In many areas of the country, the frequency of 167.8625 MHz is likely carrying some form of medical paging data or voice traffic. This was noted some years ago as a nationwide assignment to the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers across the country. And Las Vegas had quite a bit of paging traffic on this frequency for some time, but my most recent visits revealed that the paging transmitter is still operational and identifying itself every so often, there are no paging data or voice messages being broadcast. What happened? Did they move to a commercial paging service, or perhaps found pagers redundant now that everyone has a cell phone?



This frequency has been noted by local listeners as emanating from Nellis Air Force Base and is referred to as GIANT VOICE. It is linked to numerous public address speakers around the base and is used for emergency announcements. Reports are various voice tests and data bursts are heard here, but during my stay here in Las Vegas, I did not catch anything on that frequency. It’s possibly too low powered, but I was hearing aircraft on the ground at Nellis, so I think I would have heard that.



I came across activity on this frequency during my searches of the UHF band and found something unusual. The frequency seems to carry traffic that sounds a lot like AEGIS encryption. However, this encryption mode is very old and probably not supported by Harris anymore. But who could it be and why are they using an old, outdated digital encryption mode? The old UHF trunked system used by the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) did use AEGIS encryption on frequencies in the 400 MHz band, but that system has been replaced by a new, P-25 digital system in the 380 MHz band. Did someone inherit some older UHF radios and still use them?



This frequency was long noted as the local Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) repeater for the Las Vegas area. For many years it could be heard in use, quite often with little or no encryption. Around 2015, the activity on this repeater stopped, and after some time, everyone assumed it had been taken out of service. But over the last year, several signals have been heard on this repeater that sound like someone playing with a radio and doing test counts. In some cases, the radio was heard using voice inversion, and sometimes you could hear DTMF dialing tones being sent. Local monitors have not determined if someone is knowingly trying to utilize this repeater, or perhaps someone has the input frequency accidentally programmed in an amateur transceiver. In any case they have never apparently offered a call sign when transmitting.  



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Federal Trunked System 3CD

Some recent discoveries of new control channels in the federal UHF bands have indicated that these trunked systems are part of a larger trunked system core, using the system ID of "3CD".

This is a single system core that is managed by Motorola Federal Solutions. They call it the Managed Zone Core:

Motorola drops trunked sites as needed and then leases sites on this core to various federal locations or facilities that don't have the budget to build a system from the ground up. 

So far, a majority of the sites seem to be at Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and hospitals. But a number of sites in multiple states are utilized by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

While all these sites and agencies share the system core controller, they are not interconnected with each other. Each operates like it was a standalone trunked system. I do think some of the VA sites in Florida may be networked to each other, as I did hear some testing early on that was identifying various sites for test counts. 

System ID       3CD

WACN            BEE00

Flavor              Phase 2

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Tower  1-41    Atlanta, GA

406.1125, 407.8125, 409.3000, 410.0375

Tower  1-42    Chamblee, GA

406.7750, 408.4375, 408.6375

Tower  1-43    Lawrenceville, GA

408.8375, 409.0375, 409.2375

Tower  1-44    Ft. Collins, CO

408.8375, 409.2375, 409.9375, 410.0375

Miami VAMC

Tower 1-33     Miami, FL 

408.0000, 409.3250, 409.5125

Orlando VAMC

Tower 1-11     Orlando, FL

406.5000, 407.8625, 408.2375, 409.4375

Coatsville, PA VAMC

Tower 1-66     Coatsville, PA

170.1875, 170.5875, 172.6875

Jesse Brown VAMC, IL

Tower 1-04     Chicago, IL

407.8375, 408.2375 


There are probably more federal facilities that may end up using this system core, so keep an ear out for P25 control channels in your area that have the system ID of 3CD!


Saturday, August 22, 2020

RC-26 Aircraft Use In Protests Investigated


Articles in the Air Force Times indicates there was an investigation into the use of  Air National Guard RC-26 surveillance aircraft for airborne observations of the protests in various cities around the country.

 The bottom line appears to be that the requests for use of the aircraft did not go through the proper authorization needed for this type of operation. The RC-26 aircraft are not considered "intelligence" gathering platforms by the National Guard Bureau. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

163.4625 Mystery

 OK, blog readers, here's another federal frequency mystery for you...

163.4625 MHz, NAC 001, radio ID of 1, talk group of 1.

Heard encrypted communications in the Seattle area recently. A check of my logs have shown that it mostly appears to have been allocated at various military bases across the country. 

 I have logged it with various NAC values at some of the Super Bowl games I've been working. 

The NTIA allocations seem to indicate military or Department of Energy allocations.

 Any guesses?



Saturday, July 18, 2020

West Palm Beach Monitoring


Since Donald Trump became President, there has been much speculation about frequencies in use at Mar-A- Lago, Trump’s compound near West Palm Beach, Florida. Many local listeners have claimed the Secret Service wasn’t using their usual VHF or UHF radio frequencies as none of those had been heard active when the President was on location. However, I had an associate who happened to be in West Palm Beach and just a short distance from the Trump compound. He managed to log quite a few known Secret Service and White House Communications Agency (WHCA) channels active prior to a POTUS arrival, so I think the rumors of a new, super-secret, GHz band radio system in use there may be premature.


Here is what was heard in West Palm Beach:


162.7000         N293               US Marshals Federal Courthouse

163.0500         N293               USCG NET 112

163.1125         N169               ICE National TAC 3

164.8875         N001               USSS OSCAR

165.3125         N293               USCG NET 121

165.3750         N001               USSS CHARLIE

166.5125         N001               USSS/WHCA SIERRA/ALPHA

166.7000         N001               WHCA NOVEMBER

166.7375         N0D0              PBI TSA input to 172.1500

167.0375         N001               USSS Presidential Protection Detail

167.4875         N167               FBI A-3

167.6125         N293               US Marshals Service

167.7375         N167               FBI A-2

167.7625         N167               FBI A-1

168.2750         N001              

169.1625         N293               CBP AIR 4

169.2625         N293               CBP AIR 3

169.3000         N013               TSA at FLL

169.9125         N167               FBI

169.6000         N200               ICE     

170.1625         N375               ICE

170.3750         N200               ICE

170.5500         N001              

170.6000         N301               DHS HSI

170.7250         N301               DHS HSI DNET-36

170.7375         N200               CBP

170.7500         N293               US Marshals Federal Courthouse

170.8375         N167               FBI Palm Beach

171.1875         N303               CBP Miami

171.3250         N296               CBP Miami

171.4375         N653               Federal Interoperability

171.6875         N167               FBI

171.7625         N303               DHS HSI

171.9625         N282               CBP West Palm Beach Port of Entry

171.9875         N167               FBI

172.1500         N0D0              TSA @ PBI Airport

172.1875         N167               FBI

172.2375         N301               CBP

172.2875         N167               FBI Miami C-2

172.7125         N283               CBP Port Everglades

172.7625         N200               ICE

173.1875         N301               CBP

173.6500         N156               DEA

173.7250         N650               BATFE

173.9260         N650               BATFE


406.2000         N201               Federal Protective Service (FPS)

407.1375         N482               US Postal Inspection Service

410.8000         N201               FPS

413.0250         N293               USCG NET 411

Ft. Lauderdale Frederal Frequencies

As I was in the Miami area for over two weeks for the Super Bowl, I spent a fair amount of my down time at my hotel, which was located in Fort Lauderdale. Even though I didn’t think I would catch much Super Bowl related communications from there, I figured it would give me a chance to check out routine federal activity in the Broward County area.

I set up a couple of antennas on my hotel room balcony. Many people who spotted my antenna setup on my Twitter posts wondered what kind of antennas they were and how they worked. I ended up doing a lot of Coast Guard and marine traffic monitoring as I had a front row seat at the entrance to Port Everglades.

Here are the active frequencies I logged from my hotel room monitoring setup:

162.6250         N303               CBP Miami Area
163.0500         N293               US Coast Guard NET 112
163.8375         N167               FBI
165.3125         N293               US Coast Guard NET 121
165.7875         N001               US Secret Service BRAVO
167.3375         N167               FBI
167.5375         N167               FBI
167.6125         N293               US Marshals Service
167.6625         N167               FBI
167.7625         N167               FBI
167.8625         CSQ                VAMC Paging
168.0000         100.0 pl          
168.4625         N68F               Federal Interoperability LE-5
169.2625         N293               CBP OAM AIR-3
169.2625         N61A
170.1625         N375               ICE
170.2375         156.7 pl          
170.3750         N200               ICE
170.6000         N301               CBP
170.7375         N200               ICE
171.1875         N303               CBP Miami Area
171.3250         N296               CBP
171.3875         N300               ICE
171.6875         N167               FBI Miami Area
171.7625         N303               CBP
171.9875         N167               FBI OPS 2
172.1875         N167               FBI OPS 4
172.2875         N167               FBI OPS 3
172.4125         N303               CBP
172.7125         N283               CBP Port Everglades
172.9000         N013               TSA @ FLL airport
172.9000         N019               TSA @ MIA airport
173.0750         CSQ                LOJACK data bursts
173.6500         N156               DEA
173.7250         N650               BATFE
173.8000         N286               CBP
173.8750         N1D3              EPA or possibly US Capitol Police?

406.2000         N201               FPS
407.1375         N482               US Postal Inspection Service
408.0000         N3C0              VAMC trunked system Miami
409.5250         N293               US Department of State (DoS)
410.0750         CSQ                FAA Data
410.7625         N254               ? RADIO ID 56693, TG 52976
410.8000         N201               FPS
413.0250         N293               USCG NET 411
418.6750         156.7 pl           DEA
418.7500         156.7 pl           DEA
419.5250         156.7 pl           DEA

Atlanta Federal Frequencies

Late in 2019 I spent a few days in Atlanta for work and logged some active federal channels. Many of these frequencies were active a year ago when I was in town for the Super Bowl, but there were actually some new catches as well. Here is what I recorded over my time there:

162.2250         NB10              ICE
162.9250         NB11              ICE
163.7875         N167               FBI
163.8125         N864               U.S. Marshals Service
164.1625         N293
164.4000         N001               U.S. Secret Service PAPA
164.7875         N001               TSA at ATL Airport
165.7250         N293               U.S. Marshals Service
166.4750         NB10              ICE
167.2125         N167               FBI
167.3875         N167               FBI
167.4875         N167               FBI
167.5375         N167               FBI
167.6750         N293               U.S. Marshals Service, Federal Courthouse
168.4625         N68F               Federal Interop LE-5
168.8375         N001               TSA @ ATL Airport
168.9250         N167               FBI
169.3750         NB10              ICE Wide Area Network
169.7375         NB10              ICE Wide Area Network
169.5750         N156               DEA
169.6625         N292
169.8125         N293               MLK Center Atlanta - Security
169.9125         NB10              ICE Wide Area Network
170.1000         NB10              ICE Wide Area Network
170.4375         NB10              ICE Wide Area Network
170.6500         N156               DEA
170.8500         N864               U.S. Marshals Service
171.1875         NB10              ICE Wide Area Network
171.3250         N281               CBP
172.2625         N293
173.1000         N167               FBI
172.8750         N293               FAA
172.9000         N001               TSA at ATL Airport
172.9750         N003
173.7875         NB10              ICE Wide Area Network

406.1125         N3C1              HHS CDC Site 1-41
406.1375         DMR               Color Code 1 - Postal Service Sorting Center
406.3375         N482               US Postal Inspection Service
406.5000         N293
406.7750         N3C0              System 3CD, Site 1-42
407.0000         N201               FPS Atlanta Operations
407.0125         N2B5              US Prison Atlanta TRS C92B
407.7250         N482               Postal Inspection Service
407.8125         N3C1              HHS CDC Site1-41
407.8375         N293
408.0000         N293               Security Patrols, gate checks
408.2500         N2B5              US Prison Atlanta TRS C92B
408.4375         N3C0              HHS CDC Site 1-42
408.6375         N3C0              HHS CDC Site 1-42  
409.2125         N2B5              US Prison Atlanta TRS C92B
409.3000         N3C1              HHS CDC, Site 1-41
409.4125         N2B5              US Prison Atlanta TRS C92B
410.0375         N3C1              HHS CDC Site 1-41
410.5250         N2B5              US Prison Atlanta TRS C92B
410.7375         DMR               Color Code 2, Talk Group 101 - Security
410.8000         N201               Federal Protective Service
412.9000         N001               Security Patrols
413.0500         N0F0               Department of State
413.4750         N201               Federal Protective Service
413.9500         N201               Federal Protective Service
413.9875         118.8PL          Automated voice alarms
415.0500         N293               U.S. Postal Inspection Service
415.3375         N482               U.S. Postal Inspection Service, input to 406.3375
415.5000         N293  
416.0000         N270  
416.7250         N482               Postal Inspection Service, input to 407.7250
419.8000         N201               Federal Protective Service, input to 410.8000