Monday, December 23, 2013

Updated Email Address

Just a reminder to all the folks out there who want to get in touch with me. My old email address at Monitoring Times will be going away soon, so emails should now go to my new address.
chrisparris @ thefedfiles.com.

The Spectrum Monitor is Out!

The first issue of The Spectrum Monitor is now available for download. If you have a subscription, you should have received an email with instructions on downloading your copy. If you want to purchase a single copy, you can do so by visiting the web site at http://www.thespectrummonitor.com



The magazine is in a digital PDF format that can be viewed on almost any current digital device, including computers, tablets and smart phones.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Luke AFB Moves to P25 Trunked System

Reports from the Phoenix, AZ area indicate that a new, APCO P-25 trunked radio system is in operation at Luke AFB near Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix. This new system has superseded the older UHF Motorola trunked system that has been serving the base for years.

According to listener provided information, here are the system specifics:

SYSTEM ID = 3D6
WASN = BEE00
SITE NAC = N3DE
SITE = 014
RFSS = 001

406.3625
406.5625
407.1625
407.3625
407.7625
407.9625
408.5625
408.7625
408.9625 - ALT CC
409.3625 - ALT CC
409.5625 - ALT CC
410.1625 - PRI CC


http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=7769

Interestingly, this trunked system shares the same System ID with two other trunked systems, also located at Air Force Bases in Florida and Mississippi. Information in the Radio Reference thread indicates this a planned wide-area system to service many USAF installations, in a similar way the ELMR 014C trunked system serves the Navy & Marines.

I also just noted that the P25 trunked system down in Tucson, AZ at Davis-Monthan AFB is showing a System ID of 3F6, and a Site ID of 002. Part of the same network? Maybe someday...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

US Capitol Police Trunked System On The Air

I just started monitoring the new US Capitol Police VHF P-25 trunked system that should replace the analog VHF conventional channels that are currently in use.

Here is what the system that is on the air is showing for details at this time:
SYS ID - 582
SITE NAC - N580
SITE - 001
WACN - BEE00

173.1625
173.8125
173.4750
170.5750

No affiliations or channel grants are being shown right now, as previous new reports were that the system is on line for coverage testing.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Coast Guard Data Bursts?

I have recently seen complaints from multiple locations about hearing some sort of digital noise or interference on the Coast Guard primary air operations frequency of 345.0 MHz. I thought I was not hearing it myself, but I set up one of my tunable wide-band receivers on this frequency and did hear it clearly when I opened the receiver squelch all the way.

What I am hearing is a series of short bursts  of noise, almost like a burst of machine gun fire. The length seems to be from 4 to 6 "bursts" in a group, although some have been two groups of 4 or more in a row. I can also heard weaker stations followed by bursts from stronger stations. Sometimes the bursts are at a moderate tempo, and some seem to be very rapid compared to others.

Here are some short clips of what I heard. Turn the volume up when watching these:

video

video

video

At first I wasn't sure if these noises were intentional or just some form of interference, but after  hearing them and listening to the patterns, I am guessing they are intentional usage of the frequency by the Coast Guard. As to what this is used for and why they are using this frequency remains a mystery. Anyone want to guess at what's going on here?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

State Department 409.5250 MHz Work in LA

video

While in the Inland Empire near LA, I caught someone doing some work on the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) repeater on 409.5250 MHz, N293. Besides a test tone, they were looping a test audio track of a man and a woman reading sentences that test the readability and the quality of the digital encoding & decoding. You can hear some of the errors that occurred while I was monitoring.

Eventually it sounded like they got the errors to a minimum, at least by listening to the audio tests. This went on over a couple of days this past week.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Monitoring Times Final Issue

The last ever issue of Monitoring Times magazine has hit the streets today. Farewell old friend, it was a great ride!



Monday, November 04, 2013

US Capitol Police Begin Testing of New Radio System

According to this article, the US Capitol Police are beginning testing of their new radio system:

http://www.rollcall.com/news/capitol_police_begin_testing_long_delayed_radio_upgrade-228775-1.html

The article states that they are testing system coverage of portable radios in each room of the Capitol building.

The system was planned to be a P25 VHF trunked system, with encryption being likely. Here is what information we have for frequencies from the original proposals of the trunked system. This list shows proposed trunked system channel, repeater transmit frequency & input frequency;
 
1 - 169.5750 / 162.2500
2 - 169.8375 / 162.6125
3 - 170.1375 / 162.8000
4 - 170.3750 / 163.1625
5 - 170.5750 / 163.6000
6 - 171.0000 / 164.0125
7 - 171.4125 / 164.3250
8 - 171.7875 / 164.6125
9 - 172.3875 / 164.8125
10 - 172.6875 / 165.0375
11 - 172.9625 / 165.5375
12 - 173.1625 / 165.7750
13 - 173.4750 / 166.2250
14 - 173.8125 / 166.4250


Details of this new system (System ID, WACN, NAC, etc.) are still waiting to make it to the radio forums, but I will update when information becomes available.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

NOAA Weather Transmitter Causing Interference

According to this release from NOAA, the New York City area weather transmitter seems to be causing some interference issues with the Coast Guard:

NOUS41 KOKX 041949
PNSOKX
CTZ005>012-NJZ002-004-006-103>108-NYZ067>075-078>081-176>179-092100-

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW YORK NY
345 PM EDT FRI OCT 4 2013

...NOAA WEATHER RADIO NEW YORK CITY REMAINS OUT OF SERVICE...

THE NOAA WEATHER RADIO TRANSMITTER THAT SERVES THE NEW YORK CITY
METROPOLITAN AREA HAS BEEN CAUSING RADIO FREQUENCY INTERFERENCE ON
THE U.S. COAST GUARD CHANNEL 16 TRANSMITTER FOR INTERNATIONAL
DISTRESS...SAFETY AND CALLING SINCE LATE JULY.

THE NEW YORK CITY TRANSMITTER BROADCASTS ON A FREQUENCY OF 162.550
MHZ AND THE U.S.COAST GUARD TRANSMITTER BROADCASTS ON A FREQUENCY OF
156.800 MHZ. OTHER TRANSMITTERS...IN VERY CLOSE PROXIMITY TO THE NYC
TRANSMITTER BROADCAST ON A FREQUENCY OF 168.3 MHZ.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IS WORKING WITH SEVERAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
AGENCIES TO ISOLATE AND RESOLVE THIS TECHNICAL PROBLEM. WE HAVE
INSTALLED A FILTER ON THE NYC TRANSMITTER...WHICH REDUCED...BUT DID
NOT ELIMINATE THIS PROBLEM. WE WORKED WITH ANOTHER FEDERAL AGENCY
AND OVERSAW THE INSTALLATION OF ANOTHER FILTER...ON A TRANSMITTER
BROADCASTING OVER 168.3 MHZ...WHICH DID NOT FURTHER REDUCE THE RADIO
FREQUENCY INTERFERENCE.

WE CONTINUE TO WORK WITH THE U.S. COAST GUARD TO RESOLVE THIS
PROBLEM AND APOLOGIZE FOR THE INTERRUPTION OF OUR ROUTINE WEATHER
BROADCASTS.


...NOAA WEATHER RADIO WILL BE PLACED IN OPERATION TO BROADCAST 
SHORT FUSE LIFE THREATENING WEATHER WATCHES AND WARNINGS...

NOTE THAT THE NYC TRANSMITTER WILL BE PLACED IN OPERATION FOR THE
ISSUANCE OF SHORT FUSE LIFE THREATENING WEATHER WATCHES AND
WARNINGS...SUCH AS TORNADO...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM AND FLASH FLOOD
WATCHES AND WARNINGS...TO ENSURE DISSEMINATION THROUGH THE EMERGENCY
ALERT SYSTEM...WHICH IS CARRIED BY THE BROADCAST MEDIA.

THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND FOR LISTENING TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO.

WE WILL PERIODICALLY PROVIDE YOU WITH UPDATES ON THE STATUS OF THE
NEW YORK CITY NOAA WEATHER RADIO TRANSMITTER VIA THESE PUBLIC
INFORMATION STATEMENTS.

$$
GC

The 168.3000 MHz transmitter mentioned in this release is an FBI P25 repeater. It appears that the mixing between the FBI repeater and the NWS broadcasts are causing interference issues on marine channel 16. Various filtering solutions have apparently not solved the problem.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boulder, CO Area Trunked Systems

I recently found myself with some spare time and a rental car in the northwest part of Denver. I decided to cruise up and see what I could find active in the federal bands.

There are a more than a few federal facilities in the Denver area, and in the Boulder area, the Department of Commerce has multiple facilities for NOAA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

I came across at least 3 VHF and UHF trunked sites that may be related to NIST and Department of Commerce agencies in the area. The first was a P-25 VHF trunked system using the System ID of AD5, and here are the details:

System ID             : AD5
WACN                  : BEE07
Tower Number (Decimal): 2-1
Tower Number (Hex)    : T0201
Control Capabilities  : Data,Voice,Registration
Timestamp             : Sat Oct 19 09:36:45 2013

-Tables
#Format: Table ID,Base Freq,Spacing,Input Offset,Assumed/Confirmed,BandWidth,Slots
00,162.00000,0.01250,-6.97500,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
01,162.00000,0.01250,-8.77500,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
02,162.00000,0.01250,-1.06250,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
03,162.00000,0.01250,-8.80000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
04,162.00000,0.01250,-4.60000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
05,162.00000,0.01250,-5.68750,"Confirmed",0.01250,1

-Frequencies
#Format: Channel,Usage,Frequency(/Slot),Input Channel,Input Frequency(/Slot),Input Explicit(1/0),Hit Count
"01-0807","c",172.08750,"01-0807",163.31250,0,0

-Neighbors
#Format: TowerID,TowerIDHex,System ID,Channel,Frequency,Tower Name
202,"T0202",ad5,"03-0808",172.10000

System ID             : AD5
WACN                  : BEE07
Tower Number (Decimal): 2-2
Tower Number (Hex)    : T0202
Control Capabilities  : Data,Voice,Registration
Timestamp             : Sat Oct 19 09:38:13 2013

-Tables
#Format: Table ID,Base Freq,Spacing,Input Offset,Assumed/Confirmed,BandWidth,Slots
00,162.00000,0.01250,-6.97500,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
01,162.00000,0.01250,-8.77500,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
02,162.00000,0.01250,-1.06250,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
03,162.00000,0.01250,-8.80000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
04,162.00000,0.01250,-4.60000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
05,162.00000,0.01250,-5.68750,"Confirmed",0.01250,1

-Frequencies
#Format: Channel,Usage,Frequency(/Slot),Input Channel,Input Frequency(/Slot),Input Explicit(1/0),Hit Count
"03-0808","c",172.10000,"03-0808",163.30000,0,0

-Neighbors
#Format: TowerID,TowerIDHex,System ID,Channel,Frequency,Tower Name
201,"T0201",ad5,"01-0807",172.08750

As you can see from the above PRO96COM files, there are two VHF sites that show each other as neighbors. I could copy both from the Boulder area. In addition to these two VHF sites, there was a UHF site using the same System ID, but showing no connection to the VHF sites;

System ID             : AD5
WACN                  : BEE07
Tower Number (Decimal): 3-3
Tower Number (Hex)    : T0303
Control Capabilities  : Data,Voice,Registration
Timestamp             : Sat Oct 19 10:50:26 2013

-Tables
#Format: Table ID,Base Freq,Spacing,Input Offset,Assumed/Confirmed,BandWidth,Slots
00,400.00000,0.01250,9.00000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1

-Frequencies
#Format: Channel,Usage,Frequency(/Slot),Input Channel,Input Frequency(/Slot),Input Explicit(1/0),Hit Count
"00-0818","c",410.22500,"00-0818",419.22500

I also found two UHF P-25 trunked sites using the System ID of AD1. Here is that information;

System ID             : AD1
WACN                  : BEE07
Tower Number (Decimal): 4-101
Tower Number (Hex)    : T0465
Control Capabilities  : Voice,Registration,Authentication
Timestamp             : Sat Oct 19 09:41:12 2013

-Tables
#Format: Table ID,Base Freq,Spacing,Input Offset,Assumed/Confirmed,BandWidth,Slots
00,400.00000,0.01250,9.00000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
01,400.00000,0.01250,0.00000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1

-Frequencies
#Format: Channel,Usage,Frequency(/Slot),Input Channel,Input Frequency(/Slot),Input Explicit(1/0),Hit Count
"00-0858","c",410.72500,"00-0858",419.72500,0,0

System ID             : AD1
WACN                  : BEE07
Tower Number (Decimal): 5-100
Tower Number (Hex)    : T0564
Control Capabilities  : Voice,Registration,Authentication
Timestamp             : Sat Oct 19 09:39:12 2013

-Tables
#Format: Table ID,Base Freq,Spacing,Input Offset,Assumed/Confirmed,BandWidth,Slots
00,400.00000,0.01250,0.00000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1
01,400.00000,0.01250,0.00000,"Confirmed",0.01250,1

-Frequencies
#Format: Channel,Usage,Frequency(/Slot),Input Channel,Input Frequency(/Slot),Input Explicit(1/0),Hit Count
"00-0805","c",410.06250,"00-1525",419.06250,1,0

-Neighbors
#Format: TowerID,TowerIDHex,System ID,Channel,Frequency,Tower Name
4101,"T0465",ad1,"00-0858",410.72500

Notice that tower 5100 shows tower 4101 as a neighboring site, but tower 4101 does not show 5100 as a neighbor. (I have been advised that P-25 trunked system programming now allows for non-reciprocal neighbors in trunked systems.)

I am fairly certain that the AD5 VHF systems are being used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric  Administration and their projects in the area, as they submitted a request for bidder information on radio system components using these same VHF frequencies back in 2008,

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=b9fc10eca8957361d0183329c46dcbaf&tab=core&_cview=0

What relationship the UHF AD5 site has to the VHF sites is unknown. The users of the UHF AD1 system is currently unknown.

Unfortunately, all of these systems were running in idle with no traffic heard. This was a weekend near the end of the federal government shutdown, so I didn't expect too much.

There was some discussion on the Radio Reference forums about some new federal trunked systems being heard in the Boulder, Ft. Collins areas north of Denver, but no one seemed to have any information on them.

Press release on The Spectrum Monitor

-->
PRESS RELEASE
10-23-13
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ken Reitz
e-mail:  ks4zr1@gmail.com
Phone: 540-967-2469

NEW RADIO MAGAZINE TO LAUNCH



            A new electronic publication, The Spectrum Monitor, will follow the final issue of Monitoring

 Times, a paper and electronic publication covering amateur, shortwave and scanner-related topics, which ceases publication after a thirty-three year run following the retirement of its publisher, Bob Grove.


            Managing editor, Ken Reitz KS4ZR, made the announcement in the November issue of

 Monitoring Times. "As the accolades poured in, all readers, regardless of how long they had been

 subscribers, expressed sadness and dismay at the closure of the magazine. I came to believe that there might be enough interest to warrant continuing the publication in some other form. I took it upon myself to explore the possibility of a follow-on magazine, not connected with Monitoring Times or Grove Enterprises, it's publisher."


            The Spectrum Monitor will debut with the January 2014 issue, on December 15, 2013, and will carry virtually all of the current Monitoring Times columnists and feature writers. Reitz noted, "These are the experts in all facets of radio who have helped make MT the best, full-spectrum magazine available and we are all excited about continuing our work for the new publication."


            The Spectrum Monitor will be available only as an electronic publication in PDF format which may be read on any desktop, laptop, iPad™, Kindle Fire™ or any other device capable of opening a PDF file. Details on how to become a charter subscriber may be found at www.thespectrummonitor.com.


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Spectrum Monitor

As you know, Monitoring Times magazine is ending publication with the upcoming December 2013 issue. Some of the MT editors & writers (including myself) will continue with an on-line magazine, The Spectrum Monitor. The magazine will be available as a PDF file that can be downloaded to your computer, tablet or smart phone.

The web site for the magazine is now on line, and you can check it out at the magazine web site:

http://www.thespectrummonitor.com

Saturday, October 05, 2013

US Capitol Police Channels

I've had some inquiries about where to listen when looking for the US Capitol Police. As mentioned in a previous blog post, they are one of the few remaining federal law enforcement agencies in Washington DC that are still analog.

Here is a quick rundown of what the US Capitol Police have been heard using in DC and when providing protective details around the country. Channels 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are all repeaters, and channels 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 are simplex on the same frequency. Channel 11 is reported to be a repeater channel as well. The two TRAVEL channels listed are simplex. I have caught them on TRAVEL 3 with Representative Gabrielle Giffords when she was in rehabilitation.


169.2250 MHz, 110.9 PL - F1 / F6

165.5375 MHz, 146.2 PL - F2 / F7
170.1750 MHz, 156.7 PL - F3 / F8
162.2500 MHz, 173.8 PL - F4 / F9
162.6125 MHz, 127.3 PL - F5 / F10

173.5250 MHz, 167.9 PL - F11 & TRAVEL 2
173.8750 MHz, 094.8 PL - TRAVEL 3 
163.1000 MHz - Federal Common channel
164.6000 MHz
164.6250 MHz, D023 & D074
164.8000 MHz
168.3500 MHz - Federal Common channel 

In addition to these, you can check out the proposed new channel lineup that appeared a couple of years ago when they posted requests for bids for the new P25 radio system:

http://mt-fedfiles.blogspot.com/2011/09/new-uscp-radio-system.html




Radio Problems Cited in Capitol Shooting Incident

Media outlets are reporting stories of poor equipment performance and radio system incompatibility during the car chase and shooting that occurred near the White House and US Capitol this past week.

One article describes the older radios that the US Capitol Police are using and why they have not been upgraded:

http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Capitol-Police-Radio-Modernization-Slowed-by-Cost-Overruns-Delays-226521891.html

A second article now states that the US Capitol Police and Secret Service were not able to talk to each other during the incident:

http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/04/20823007-secret-service-capitol-police-radios-couldnt-communicate-during-dc-chase?lite

The US Capitol Police have been utilizing analog radios now for many years. In these days of "federal interoperability" and P-25 radios, they had plans in place to upgrade to new radios with digital repeaters sometime soon. Rumors around the DC scanning list  had the new radios being deployed for the presidential inauguration in January, but obviously that did not happen.

As far as the Secret Service and Capitol Police being able to talk to each other, I would bet that they do have some common channels in their radios, but they may not know it. This reminded me of the DHS report on radio training in the agency:

http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2013/OIG_13-06_Nov12.pdf

I would also venture that normally they do not need to talk to each other directly. Standard procedure would most likely be that the dispatchers for each agencies would be talking to each other, either via land line or a common channel, and advising field personnel. Having the officers in the field switching around to different radio channels during this chase/shooting would probably not be recommended by most training curriculum.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

DEA, FBI & FPS Updates

I've added some additional information to the DEA frequency updates featured at the top of the home page of the Fed Files blog.

A source sent some confirmed frequency information from the northern Florida area:

410.4125, N156 - DEA repeater in Tallahassee, FL
411.1750. N156 - DEA simplex operations

410.8000, N201- Federal Protective Service, Pensacola, FL

167.7875, N167 - FBI, Orlando, FL
173.5000, N167 - FBI, Orlando, FL

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Armed Federal Agencies

With all the controversy surrounding the EPA and their use of armed agents in Alaska recently, I saw  this story about all the federal agencies that you didn't know had armed law enforcement personnel:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/09/14/armed-epa-agents-in-alaska-shed-light-on-70-fed-agencies-with-armed-divisions/

As I have mentioned in several Fed Files columns, nearly every federal agency has some division that is charged with investigating and enforcing the federal agency's own rules and regulations.

Friday, September 13, 2013

DoE Seeking New Radio System

The Department of Energy is seeking vendors for replacement of their current Motorola trunked radio system at their Oak Ridge, Tennessee facilities. The current system is to be replaced with a wide-area APCO P-25 digital system, according to the bid specifications.

There were some indications posted on Radio Reference about hearing some P25 control channels in the UHF band near Oak Ridge.

Here is some information from the General Services Administration (GSA):

https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DOE/PAM/HQ/DE-SOL-0006098/listing.html

DHS OIG Report on Communications Management

The Department of Homeland Security continues to have difficulties in managing their communications resources, says a new report out from the DHS Inspector General. You can read a copy of the new report here:

http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2013/OIG_13-113_Aug13.pdf

In the report, examples of mismanagement include two component agencies of DHS that have been storing more than 8,000 pieces of radio equipment for a year or longer at their maintenance and warehouse facilities, while other DHS communications programs suffer from critical equipment shortages.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Fed Files on Twitter

Preparing for life after Monitoring Times, I have established a Twitter account for posting breaking news and updates on the federal frequency monitoring scene.

You can follow my tweets @TheFedFiles.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

CBP Changes in Houston Area

I'm seeing reports of major changes in the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) repeaters in the Houston, Texas area. It appears that they have changed out the primary area analog repeaters on 165.2375 (NET 1) and 165.6875 (NET 4). Reports are that these have been replaced with 170.1250 MHz, N304 or 100.0 PL  (mixed-mode repeater) and 171.6625 MHz, N301. Also, 170.1000 MHz, N301 has been heard in the Galveston area, possibly as "D-NET 200". Neither 170.1250 or 171.6625 has previously been part of the standard CBP VHF channel lineup, but they both have appeared in the new, wide-area CBP networks along the southern US-Mexico border in Arizona and Texas. This could be signaling a major re-channeling of the CBP network in some areas. Stay tuned for further developments...

UPDATE!
Another new DNET channel has been identified near Houston. 170.4625 MHz, N301 is being called "DNET 201". I caught some testing on 170.1250 MHz, N301 near Bush Intercontinental Airport last week.

UPDATE 2!
These changes are not just in the Texas Gulf Coast area. Reports from Wichita Falls, Texas have 172.0625 MHz, N301 as D-NET 202. Keep listening for more CBP changes.

UPDATE 3!
Houston area sources confirm that 171.6625 MHz, N301 is identified as D-NET 207. Also reports of hearing simplex activity on 167.8875 MHz, N301 in the Wichita Falls, TX area. This might be a new simplex CBP channel, as it has not previously been an exclusive FBI allocation, despite being in the normal range of FBI operating frequencies (167-168 MHz)

UPDATE 4!
172.8625 MHz, N301 was heard in the DFW area. No channel name associated with this yet.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

NFM in the UHF Miltiary Air Band?

Recently I have received reports of uses of narrow-band FM for voice traffic on various frequencies in the 225-380 MHz military air band. Most recently a report showed up on the MILCOM mailing list detailing how a Coast Guard C-130J was heard using NFM on 345.0 MHz to talk with a USCG cutter, then when calling their station inbound they were AM.

This may be due to the proliferation of all-mode radios in some military aircraft. Several years ago I caught some Air National Guard aircraft repeatedly trying to contact their base ops in NFM, but the base station was having a hard time hearing them because the base was AM.

Possibly these issues are due to incorrect settings on the radio presets, or operators not knowing what mode they should be in.

Anyone else catching aircraft using NFM in the UHF military band?


Friday, August 16, 2013

NTIA Plans Spectrum Monitoring

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) plans a remote, real-time, spectrum monitoring project. You can read some interesting, preliminary information about it here:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2013-20148.pdf

This project will monitor real world usage of radio frequency spectrum in 10 cities and evaluate possible plans to more efficiently utilize both federal and non-federal spectrum.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

170.7875 MHz in Boston

Reports of a new frequency being tested by "radio services" were received from sources in the Boston area. The frequency heard was 170.7875 MHz, but no P25 NAC has been confirmed. This frequency has a sort of mysterious past, having been heard at various events but never positively identified.

Here's what I have logged it as:

170.7875, N001 - heard in Washington DC at last two Presidential Inaugurations
170.7875, N496 - unknown agency at Super Bowl
170.7875 - used as a voice channel in the IWN trunked system
170.7875, N452 - identified as a DHS Common channel
170.7875, N272 - been used for aerial surveillance in various areas of the country.

This may be amongst the new DHS "common" allocations to provide each DHS agency with its own common channel.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Bob Grove Interview About Monitoring Times

For those interested, here is an interview with Monitoring Times founder and owner, Bob Grove, regarding the fate of the magazine and his upcoming retirement.

http://blip.tv/HamRadioNow/episode-89-goodbye-monitoring-times-6625372

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

USDA Intercept Concerns

The September edition of the Fed Files column is on voice encryption and security in federal radios. During research, I found this page, from the Department of Management at the US Department of Agriculture:

http://www.dm.usda.gov/ocpm/Security%20Guide/V2comint/Intro.htm#Intercepting

It shows that all federal agencies, from the FBI to the USDA, are at least trying to let their people know about the possibilities of intercepted communications. The page does not specifically mention radio systems, but I suspect most USDA employees don't' deal with radios on a day-to-day basis.

Friday, July 26, 2013

New DEA Frequencies in GA

I have seen reports of activity on some of the new P25 DEA frequencies in west-central Georgia. 406.9750 MHz, N156 was heard used as a repeater. The reporter is listening to other "new" DEA frequencies for activity as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Monitoring Times Magazine to Cease Publication

The following is a statement from MT Publisher, Bob Grove W8JHD:

       After 33 years of publishing the most informative and lauded magazine on monitoring the radio spectrum, Judy and I are finally going to retire. We are grateful for the dedicated efforts of our fine staff of writers for the excellent work which has kept MT alive for all these years. While we know the discontinuation of MT, with our December issue, will be a disappointment to our readers and writers alike, we realize that a combination of a down-turned economy, as well as the ready availability of free listening and technical information on the Internet, has reduced sales and subscriptions throughout the market place. I would like to thank you personally for your knowledge, your dependability, and your professionalism in making MT the publication that is most often referred to in the radio monitoring hobby. It is a legacy that we have all inherited.

Warmest regards to all our writers, Bob and Judy Grove

 ---

To all the Fed Files fans out there - The Fed Files column will continue monthly through these last issues of Monitoring Times. I will keep the Fed Files blog active and I am looking into other on-line outlets to provide updates on federal frequency monitoring. Keep watching this blog page for further details over the next

Monday, July 22, 2013

USMS Lost Radios

I have written in the Fed Files column about how the TSA has lost radios in the past, and the stray equipment has show up on eBay. Now if appears that the US Marshals Service has had some radios get away from them as well:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/22/report-us-marshals-lose-track-thousands-two-way-radios/?test=latestnews

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323664204578609720405017446.html 
(Subscription required for the second link)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

New VHF Frequencies - Houston

Some new VHF channels were noted in the Houston, TX area recently:

163.8125 MHz,  N864
173.7125 MHz,  N293

There was some speculation that this may be a new US Marshals repeater setup, with various NAC's used on the input frequency. Indications are that this is being used in the Kansas City area. Further research is in order!

New DoD UHF Trunked System in Portland, OR

Although this is usually Larry Van Horn's domain, since it's in my backyard, I thought I would post about it!

A new P-25 trunked system is on the air in the area of the Portland International Airport. The system is apparently in support of operations at the Portland Air National Guard Base on the south side of the field.

Here are the system specifics from PRO96COM:

System ID : 00A
System Name : DOD USAF
WACN : 92195
Tower Number (Decimal): 101
Tower Number (Hex) : T0101
Tower Description : PORTLAND AIR BASE, PDX
Control Capabilities : Data,Voice,Registration
Call Sign(s) :
Timestamp : Fri Jul 05 15:12:18 2013

-Tables
#Format: Table ID,Base Freq,Spacing,Input Offset,Assumed/Confirmed,BandWidth
00,380.00000,0.00625,20.00000,"Confirmed",0.01250

-Frequencies
#Format: Channel,Usage,Frequency,Input Frequency,Hit Count
"00-0012","a",380.07500,400.07500,0
"00-0044","a",380.27500,400.27500,0
"00-0228","c",381.42500,401.42500,0
"00-0312","a",381.95000,401.95000,0
"00-0834","a",385.21250,405.21250,0

* For some reason the system is showing a 20 MHz offset for the input frequencies, but it is actually 10 MHz. I have seen this phenomenon on other 380 MHz DoD trunked systems.

As of this weekend, no radio affiliations were seen, and base operations on other, conventional 380 MHz channels appear to continue as usual. Not sure when this system is slated to become live, but it is on the air and audible throughout northwestern Portland and Vancouver, Washington.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

USCG on 167.6250 MHz?

A listener in Michigan is reporting he got a Close Call hit and heard P25 Coast Guard communications on 167.6250 MHz, N293.  Here is the Radio Reference thread:

http://forums.radioreference.com/marine-monitoring-forum/269338-coast-guard-digital.html#post1993308

Even though I have never heard of that frequency being allocated to Coast Guard operations, it could be a new allocation for a special use channel. Some under-used frequencies, especially near border areas, can be utilized by agencies that you would normally not expect.

Also, some are thinking this might be a special channel for interoperability with the FBI, since it falls in the 167 MHz area that we are used to seeing their communications in. However, many of the frequencies in the 167-168 MHz area are not exclusive allocations to the Justice Department or the FBI, and can be assigned to other agencies. Also, there are plenty of existing federal interoperability channels already in the FBI and Coast Guard radios that are available for use by both agencies.

UPDATE! 

Another listener now states that CG Sector Toledo has been using 167.1125 MHz, N293 for some of their operations. The channel has been identified by users as "AG-101".

Thursday, June 13, 2013

FBI Frequency Updates Added

At the suggestion of a blog fan, I have started to add FBI frequency updates to the various agency pages at the top of the Fed Files blog. Since the FBI does not operate on a standard, nationwide channel plan, listing the various known FBI channels by US city should provide some idea of what frequencies are used where.

I have just started, so things may look a little sparse for a while, but I will be adding more as I have time. Also, if you have any FBI frequencies for your area, please pass the along and I will add them to the list.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New DEA UHF - UPDATE!

I recently received some information on another new UHF channel associated with the DEA transition to P-25.

412.5750 MHz, N156 has been heard in use in Mississippi as a simplex air-to-ground channel.

UPDATE!

I just received information that there is a new DEA repeater on 406.6000 MHz, N156. It is located in southern Mississippi, specific location unknown as of now.

The DEA list on the top of the blog home page has been updated with this new information.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

New York City FIO2

For a while now, I had confirmed that 171.1750 MHz, N653 was officially designated as NYC Federal Interop 2. However, I had never heard anyone using it.

But when I arrived in town this last week, I heard a couple of days of traffic from some group moving around the NYC area. They were a large enough group that they had to take separate ferries when they were using the Staten Island ferry. It sounded like some sort of escort. The only call sign I caught was "1A7", so no idea what agency it was. I did also hear "Topside" a couple of times, but not sure if it was a call sign or just telling someone where they were on the ferry!

Boston Area Mystery Aircraft

Many media outlets are carrying stories about Boston area residents being disturbed by low-altitude, "mysterious" aircraft at all hours. Here is one such story:

http://theaviationist.com/2013/05/12/fbi-planes-boston/

Officially, the FBI and Boston officials are not confirming anything about these flights, but anyone checking the aircraft N numbers, or paying attention to federal radio traffic in the area are pretty likely to figure this one out...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dalai Lama Visit

The Dalai Lama is attending an environmental conference in Portland, Oregon this week. The Department of State Diplomatic Security Service was handling the motorcade & security for the visit and was heard using 409.5250 MHz, N293.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Arlington TX Logs

Spend a few days in the Arlington, Texas area and logged a bit of federal activity while there:

165.2125, N001 - US Secret Service MIKE - Bush (43) Protection Detail at Rangers game
165.3750, N001 - US Secret Service CHARLIE
167.2625, N167 - FBI
168.3375
170.6750, N167
170.9375, N167 - FBI
171.6125, N167 - FBI
172.9000, N001 - TSA at Dallas Love Field
173.6000, N156 - DEA VHF repeater
173.7000, N156 - DEA VHF repeater
173.7250, N156 - DEA VHF repeater
173.8125, N167 - FBI

I will be back in June and try for some more catches then...

Thursday, May 02, 2013

More VHF DEA?

When in the Dallas - Ft. Worth area, I stumbled upon some additional VHF frequencies that might be DEA related.

While the DEA continues to utilize the UHF federal spectrum for it's primary communications, there have been some VHF federal channels that are utilizing the same P25 NAC of N156 that their UHF channels use. These frequencies have been noted in multiple areas of the country, but mostly in North Central Texas. The guess at the time is these are used for interoperability with other federal agencies, or perhaps a local task force. Confirmation is difficult, as all the communications have been encrypted. And so far, the only evidence that this activity is DEA related is the N156 NAC.

Previous reports have the following frequencies in use, all using the P25 NAC of N156:

173.6000, N156
173.7250, N156
173.8625, N156

In addition, I have heard 173.6750 & 173.7000 MHz used with the same NAC.

Here is a link to the current DEA frequency list:

http://mt-fedfiles.blogspot.com/p/dea-frequency-updates.html

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Southern Border Radio Traffic

A recent story on Fox News here linked to a web site that claimed to be posting recordings of clear Border Patrol radio traffic from along the southern United States.

The site, called "Secure Border Intelligence", http://secureborderintel.org/arizona_audio.html, shows links to daily compilations of clear radio traffic along the Arizona border area. My personal experience has shown that the Border Patrol traffic on the newer P-25 digital repeaters in the area is mostly encrypted. But some field units, particularly aviation units, are sometimes not using encryption while working the border.

The group apparently is aiming to show that illegel border crossing activity continues at a hefty pace, despite claims by some in the government that the border is more secure. The archived audio is presented much later than it occurred, so not much real time intelligence can be gleaned from it. But I'm sure this will fan the flames in the controversy over encrypting law enforcement radio traffic and the mobile computer apps that allow users to monitor police radio traffic.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

ACY Coast Guard Activity

I had a couple of days to hang out at Atlantic City International (ACY) and caught some Coast Guard helicopter training activity.

On two consecutive days there were 2 HH-65C Dolphin helicopters running air intercept training. Both departed each day from the Coast Guard ramp at ACY. They did not identify themselves by their CG number, which is how I am used to hearing normal Coast Guard air units ID themselves. In this case, they used BOUNCER 1 & BOUNCER 2 as their flight call signs, and used 237.9 MHz and 345.0 MHz as an air-to-air tac channel. On the way back to base, I caught 164.3000 MHz, CSQ as the base aircraft maintenance channel. 412.9750 MHz, N293 (NET 409) was used for radio guard while the birds were in flight.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

LAX Stopover Logs

Just some quick logs from a layover at LAX between flights. Plenty of clear traffic during the short time I was listening, even on the FBI nets!

3/21/13
163.1375, N293 - USCG NET 113
163.6750, N217 - CBP Border Patrol
166.9125, N245 - CBP MA-4
167.2250, N374
167.4625, N167 - FBI A5
167.6625, N167 - FBI A7
168.8000, N170 - CBP JIOP
168.8250, N104 - CBP Charlie 100
172.4500, N148 - CBP MA-1
172.9500, N293 - FAA

Friday, February 22, 2013

March Fed Files Correction

In the most recent Fed Files column, there is a list of VHF frequencies at the end of the column that are not identified as to what they are. Sorry that these were not identified more clearly.

These frequencies are allocations available for use by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for their conventional radio operations. These are currently in use, at least until the new UHF P25 trunked system takes over, and even then there will still be some non-trunked channels in use.

Here is a list of the TVA allocations:


40.3100
40.3700
40.4300
40.4900
40.5300
40.5700
40.6100
40.6500
40.6900
40.7300
40.7700
40.8300
40.8700

162.0250
163.0500
163.1250
163.1500
163.1750
163.3750
164.2500
164.4750
164.5750
164.7250
164.7500
166.2250
166.2500
166.2750
166.3250
166.3750
166.6375
166.8250
166.8750
167.0250
167.0750
167.1000
167.1250
167.1500
167.1750
168.2250
168.2750
168.3250
168.4750
168.5750
169.4000
169.6250
169.6750
169.7250
170.0250
170.0500
170.0750
170.1500
171.3875
171.6500
171.7000
171.7500
172.0250
172.4250
172.4500
172.4750
172.5750
172.6250
172.6500
172.7500
173.0500
173.7625


I will have more on the TVA trunked radio project in a future Fed Files.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

NBA All Star Game

The NBA All Star game is coming up this week in Houston, Texas. The event is getting some federal agency protection, as many large public events are these days. Some postings on the Houston area scanning lists have some potential activity listed in relation to the All Star activities:

161.2050 MHz, 146.2 - Amtrak Police K9 units
168.5875 MHz, N169 - ICE National Tactical 2
171.4375 MHz, N653 - Federal Interoperability 2 "Patch"
171.6125 MHz, N167 - FBI
171.6875 MHz, N167 - FBI
172.2125 MHz, N167 - FBI
172.2875 MHz, N167 - FBI

More as it becomes available.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII Game Day

Monitoring the game day activities from Super Bowl XLVII. My post is a matter of feet from the Superdowe in New Orleans, and federal activity has been plentiful.

You can check out this CBS News video about Super Bowl XLVII security preparations here:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50140183n

More later!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

CBP Border Patrol Changes in South Texas

As of the first days of 2013, the CBP Border Patrol along the Rio Grande River in South Texas appears to have migrated over to new frequencies and P25 digital radios.

According to some postings on Radio Reference, here are some of the new Border Patrol operational channels near Brownsville, Texas;

162.2875, NA50
163.0625, NA40
163.4750, NA61
163.5250, NA10
163.6500, NA60
163.9750, NA21
164.4375, NA51
164.7375, NA41
166.9875, N310
168.3875, N312
169.2625, N293 - CBP Air 3
169.5750, NA80
169.6000, NA20
169.6375, NA31 - Weslaco 2
169.6625, NA30 - Weslaco 1
170.1250, NA40
170.3375, NA50
170.4375, NA61
170.5375, NA40 - Harlingen 1
170.9875, NA60
171.1875, NA20 - McAllen
171.1875, NB20
171.3250, NA11 - Rio Grande City 2
171.3250, NA41 - Harlingen
171.6625, NA12 - Rio Grande City 1
171.6625, NA51
171.7125, NA22 - McAllen 2 
171.9625, NA10 - Rio Grande City (?)
171.9875, N311
172.2375, NC20
172.2625, NA21 - McAllen 1
172.7125, NA60
 



Saturday, January 26, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII Preps in NOLA

Activity surrounding Super Bowl XLVII continues in New Orleans. There have been some indications of increased federal and military helicopter activity around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the site of the big game.

Today we had multiple passes of the Department of Energy Bell 412 helicopter with what appear to be sensor pods on each side.


This photo is of a similar helicopter that was spotted overflying the Washington, DC area prior to the Presidential Inauguration.

UPDATE:
Beginning Thursday, 1/31 I finally started hearing some activity on the Federal Interop repeater on 171.4375 MHz, N653, known as "NO FIO", part of the DoJ 25 Cities Project. Many radio tests and some references to the "JTOC" or Joint Tactical Operations Center. I haven't been able to sniff out much pre-game information about the JTOC in New Orleans this year in the local media.

In addition to the many agencies on site here at the Superdome, one interesting one is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Security Police. They are providing K9 support at vehicle checkpoints. The SPR Security vehicles are sporting VHF hi-band antennas, but haven't heard anything specifically from them yet.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Presidential Inauguration Updates

As things get busy in DC for the Presidential Inauguration, you can look for updates at this thread on Radio Reference:

http://forums.radioreference.com/washington-dc-radio-discussion-forum/258164-dc-2013-inauguration.html

I am headed to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII coverage, so I will try and post some updates from the Big Easy over the next couple of weeks...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

FEMA Net in NY/NJ Area?

Back in November, 2012 when I was in the Staten Island area right after hurricane Sandy hit, I noted several UHF FEMA frequencies that had P25 radio traffic right after federal aid started moving into the area. The one frequency that seemed to show the most "hits" was 407.6625, N421.

I'm back in the NYC area and am still hearing a lot of short transmissions on this frequency, but I'm not sure if this is a permanent FEMA repeater in the area, perhaps part of a wide-area FEMA network. I have also heard these same key-ups with no voice on the same frequency in the Atlantic City, NJ area.

The key-ups with no voice may be the repeaters being in a "vote-scan" mode that allows field radios to select the nearest repeater automatically.

UPDATE: Just to clarify, there is encrypted voice traffic on these repeaters, not just voiceless key ups...

UPDATE 2 - On my last two trips to the Atlantic City area, the key ups on 407.6625 are no longer being heard.

Friday, January 11, 2013

US Park Police Prepping for Inauguration



Reports from the Washington, DC area have the US Park Police doing some sort of radio programming changes in preparation for the upcoming Presidential Inauguration. Postings indicated that USPP officers were being notified to bring radios in for re-programming last week. And recently there were some indications that there were some on-air testing of a "Special Events Channel". No indication of what frequency that channel might be, but some speculation that it may be on the NCR IWN trunked system. More as it becomes available.

You can get a preview of possible active radio frequencies for the Inauguration on the latest issue of the Capitol Hill Monitor newsletter. You can find the latest issue here:

http://henney.com/chm/0113/chm0113.pdf 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Inauguration Preparations Underway



The Presidential Inauguration, scheduled for January 21st, has Washington DC area public safety agencies prepping for the upcoming event. Here is some information regarding the Coast Guard and their security zones in the DC area:

http://www.gsnmagazine.com/node/28188?c=maritime_port_security

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Pittsburgh FPS Update

I have been able to confirm a change in the Federal Protective Service frequency for the Pittsburgh, PA area. Previously they had been using 413.8750 MHz, but they have now switched to 409.4000 MHz, 103.5 PL. Reports are that Philadelphia, PA is also using this same frequency & CTCSS tone.