Saturday, December 27, 2008

Blue Ridge Parkway-Updated!

Listeners along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina have started to report that the US Park Police that patrol the BRP have switched over to new P-25 digital repeaters for their patrol operations.

While vacationing in North Carolina I came across at least one new P-25 frequency that appears to be the Blue Ridge Parkway patrols. I heard 172.7250, N120 while traveling from Charlotte to Asheville, NC. They appear to have stopped using their old frequency of 167.1750 MHz that used to be heard all over the area.

Here are a list of the frequencies that have been reported as active along the route of the Blue Ridge Parkway:


While in Asheville, I believe I heard the BRP Patrols on 172.5000 MHz, N4c5. Also, traffic on 172.7250 MHz was alternating between P-25 and analog while listening on December 27th.
UPDATE 2: The 172.7250 MHz P25 channel has been confirmed as Great Smokey Mountain National Park, not the BRP.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the Monitoring Times and Fed Files readers out there.

Holiday travel has been a challenge for me this year, due to the snow and ice in the Pacific Northwest. But things look like they are starting to settle down and hopefully return to a normal, wet winter!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New GAO Report on IWN

The latest GOA report on the current progress of the federal Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) has been released, and you can find a copy here:

In a nutshell, the latest report says that the cooperation between the Justice Department, Treasury and Homeland Security has collapsed. The original vision of a shared, nationwide radio communications network for federal agencies has turned out to be not exactly what everyone wants and probably can't be deployed as hoped.

A few more key points:

The original pilot project in the Pacific Northwest continues to operate and is growing, but users still report that some of their requirements have not been met. These agencies continue to utilize their legacy radio systems outside of the IWN.

The pilot project appears to be too costly to be expanded nationwide and still fulfill the needs of Justice, Treasury and DHS. While the Treasury Department has been signed on as a participant of the project, they appear mostly as observers and seem to be waiting to see what happens, while Justice and DHS have moved off on their own.

The Justice Department has begun upgrading it's land mobile communications system on it's own, outside of the IWN project. They are calling it the Law Enforcement Wireless Communications Solution. This appears to include recent upgrades to the FBI, US Marshals and other radio systems that listeners have reported over the last year or so. I cover some of this activity in the January issue of Monitoring Times.

Customs and Border Protection has been upgrading their own radio network since 2005. Listeners along both the Northern and Southern US have reported these changes to APCO P-25 over the last two years or so.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has also been upgrading their radio communications network, referred to as the Tactical Communications Modernization Project. This project is not geared towards building their own communications network. Instead, ICE is looking to partner up with other federal agencies and utilized existing infrastructure to accomplish what they need. Again, this is what we have been hearing over the last few years on the radios.

The GAO report asks Congress to try and get these agencies working together again. To pursue their individual projects risks a lot of wasted time and money by duplication, according to the GAO audit.

Interesting to see what becomes of the IWN project in the coming months.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Arizona Scanning

I was in the Phoenix & Tucson areas after Thanksgiving, so I had some time to scan the bands for activity...
162.0625 MHz, N001 - CBP Border Patrol BP WEST repeater
162.3125 MHz, N001 - CBP Border Patrol BP EAST repeater
163.7000 MHz, N001 - CBP Border Patrol WHITE TANK repeater
163.7250 MHz, N001 - CBP Border Patrol LEMMON 1 repeater
163.7750 MHz, N001 - CBP Border Patrol
164.0625 MHz, 206.5pl
164.6000 MHz, 100.0pl - CBP Customs NET 5
166.3500 MHz, N111 - Unknown, possibly VAMC in Tucson?
167.8250 MHz, N293
168.9750 MHz, N001 - CBP Border Patrol LEMMON 2 repeater
169.6000 MHz, 114.8pl - Coronado National Forest
169.6875 MHz, 167.9pl - Department of the Interior - BLM?
170.1250 MHz, 100.0pl - ?
170.5875 MHz, 162.2pl - Unknown analog repeater in Phoenix area
171.2625 MHz, N293
172.2125 MHz, N167 - FBI Tucson area
172.9000 MHz, N001 - TSA at Tucson International
409.3625 MHz, P-25

And we made a quick side trip up to Kitt Peak. The National Science Foundation vehicles all carried VHF hi-band antennas and I may have caught some of their radios with the Close Call, along with other transmitters located up on the peak:

155.6250, D343 - May be some sort of bus service or school district.
164.3500 - NSF Operations at Kitt Peak
165.2375 - Definitely a CBP Customs NET 1 repeater up there!
168.5250 - NSF operations on Kitt Peak
859.0000, D025
860.0000, D025 - Don't know who these two conventional repeaters belong to, but they were definitely located up on Kitt Peak.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

White House Operations?

I caught an interesting program on the History Channel the other night. It was sort of a companion program to the inside look at Air Force One that aired a few months ago. This program was an inside look at the White House.

Although the program focused mainly on the history of this building and had some interesting stories of what goes on behind the scenes, there were some subtle clues to communications that goes on within the White House fences.

There were several camera shots of various maintenance workers doing things like vacuuming or moving furniture around. Many seemed to have radios on their belts. Unfortunately, even in high-definition, I couldn't tell what band they were on.

That got me thinking about all the various Washington DC scanning resources that have logged many of the security & Secret Service channels used at the White House, but I don't recall seeing anything identified as being maintenance or operations (non-security) related. I would guess that even these communications may be secure, as there is all kinds of interesting intelligence that might be gleaned from routine maintenance communications.

Is there anyone out there that may have some information on what the routine operations & maintenance folks at the White House might use for communications?

I also noticed that the program dealt extensively with the layout and history of the first and second floors of the White House, but only mentioned the later-added third story in passing. Any idea what is up on the third floor?

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all the Fed Files fans out there. This holiday weekend finds me working in Ontario, CA. I haven't had a lot of time for listening to the scanner, but here are a few things I have heard from my hotel location:

164.9375 MHz, 103.5 - Angeles National Forest
166,9125 MHz, N245 - CBP Border Patrol "MA-4 SP", part of the So Cal EVRP network
167.3125 MHz, 167.9 - FBI
171.4750 MHz, 103.5 - Unknown
172.1500 MHz, N002 - DHS TSA at Ontario Int'l
172.6750 MHz, 146.2 - Unknown, running 10-28's
173.7375 MHz, 167.9 - FBI, simplex

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nashville Now

Caught some interesting traffic from the Federal Reserve Branch Bank in Nashville last night. I don't know if anything made the news wires, but they had a fire alarm go off and had to evacuate the building.

406.6625 MHz, NAC 293 - This frequency appears to be common amongst all the FRB Branches that I have come across so far.

New In New York

I just spent a few days in Mid-Town Manhattan and was able to confirm some P-25 NAC info, and had a few new things pop up.

167.7875, P-25 NAC 653 - This is the Federal Interoperability repeater that is linked with 414.750 MHz. Finally caught the NAC they were using. Also heard some encrypted P-25 traffic during the time I was there.

167.8875, 127.3 pl - Analog simplex operation or a repeater input. Don't know who this is or where they are but I do hear the dispatch side often. Anyone in NYC heard this?

171.6875, P-25 NAC 9c5 - Unknown user on this one.

172.6625, P-25 NAC 615 - Unknown user here, but heard lots and lots of key ups, as if the repeater was getting hit with some noise or interference.

406.1500, P-25 NAC 293 - VAMC Brooklyn

406.3375, P-25 NAC 482 - This is a US Postal Inspectors frequency. Traffic was encrypted.

408.1000, P-25 NAC 0f0 - State Department Security Detail.

408.1250, P-25 NAC 293 - VAMC Manhattan

417.2000, P-25 NAC 293- Federal Protective Service

417.5500, P-25 NAC 156 - DEA

And finally, has anyone in the NYC area confirmed the use of 409.9250 MHz? I have seen a report of some P-25 activity on this channel. One poster on RR said that it was a State Department frequency at the UN, but I have never seen or heard of this frequency in the State Department pool of frequencies before. I'm wondering if they were thinking of 409.6250?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

More Fed Files Posts Coming!

Sorry for not much new on the Fed Files blog lately. Unfortunately, my primary job has been keeping me so busy, I haven't had much time to post much.

I have recently acquired some new hardware that will allow my to start collecting P25 NAC information on the federal frequencies I run in to. Starting in 2009, there will be more NAC data posted here and in the Fed Files column in Monitoring Times.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

IWN Moving Ahead in Arizona?

Reports are beginning to surface of strange digital signals starting to appear on federal VHF frequencies in the Phoenix / Tucson areas of Arizona. The signals resemble Motorola trunking control channel data, but no one was able to decode or read these data channels.

The frequencies that were active with these signals were 167.6500 MHz, 167.7375 MHz, 170.7625 MHz, 173.0500 MHz, 173.2375 MHz and 173.7625 MHz. 163.8375 MHz was also heard, but very weak. It could have been an image or perhaps a mobile that was broadcasting the signal in to the repeaters.

Most likely these are digital "test patterns" used to check system coverage and signal propagation on digital radio systems. This V.52 test signal is used to check Bit Error Rate (BER) which is an important consideration in digital radio coverage. This may indicate that new trunked sites on the Justice Department's Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) P25 radio system are about to start appearing the Southwest US.

The prime contractor for the IWN is General Dynamics. Their web site, and the DoJ web site for the IWN reveal no new updates on the status of the IWN, so no idea when these new sites will be up and running, but keep searching the federal VHF band for new P-25 activity!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Campaign '08 Secret Service Call Signs

It is post convention campaign time and the candidates are traveling across the country for more and more events. Here is an update on the candidates and their Secret Service call signs, confirmed from multiple sources:

John McCain - PHOENIX
Cindy McCain - PARASOL

Barack Obama - RENEGADE
Michelle Obama - RENAISSANCE

Sen. Joe Biden - CELTIC
Jill Biden - CAPRI

Gov. Sarah Palin - DENALI
Todd Palin - DRILLER

Other family members of each of the candidates may have code names assigned to them as well.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike Recovery

I have been monitoring the situation in southeast Texas and hurricane (now tropical storm) Ike. In addition to the news networks and the Weather Channel, DirecTV is providing a feed of the Houston CBS affiliate full time on channel 361.

It appears that an amazing number of state, federal and military resources, called "Task Force Texas", are being poured into the Houston/Galveston area to help with recovery and restoration of services and power. I had received word from friends in Houston before the storm hit that FEMA was already staging equipment and vehicles in the old Astrohall, near Reliant Stadium.

Although this is certainly an amazing monitoring opportunity with all the activity going on, most folks in the area either have other, much more important things to worry about, or they have no power. But if you are in the area and want to search for any recovery communications, don't overlook the federal UHF band, 406 to 420 MHz. FEMA and associated groups such as DMAT and Urban Search and Rescue crews are almost certainly utilizing radios in that band as they were at the two recent political conventions. Plus national guard units have been known to utilize this band for short range, simplex communications.

TSA Trying "Calmer" Radios

The TSA is apparently moving towards the use of speaker mics and earpieces with their radios at airport checkpoints. The move is intended to help keep the checkpoints "calmer" by eliminating the yelling across the checkpoint areas. You can read the story here:,0,7802412.story

I had noticed the new blue TSA uniforms when I travelled through Minneapolis / St. Paul airport a week ago after the Republican convention.

Monday, September 01, 2008

RNC Opening Day

Just a quick update from St. Paul and the Republican National Convention. As has been reported by the news media, President Bush and VP Cheney will not be making an appearance at the convention center, but may do a video presentation.

Security operations continue to build, and we have had flights of both military and Coast Guard helicopters overhead. No sign of the Customs air assets yet, and no idea if there will be a combat air patrol overhead.

Since this event is designated as a National Security Special Event, all sorts of agencies are involved with the convention security, from the Secret Service to the FBI, US Marshals, Postal Inspectors and the military.

I'll have more as the convention continues.

Friday, August 29, 2008

RNC Build Up

Now that the dust has settled in Denver, the focus shifts towards the eastern half of the Twin Cites, St. Paul, Minnesota.

The radio spectrum has started to get busier and more new and unusual frequencies are being seen and heard here. This morning the Coast Guard flew 2 HH-65 Dolphin helicopters around downtown St. Paul and the Xcel Energy Center and the site of the Republican National Convention. No sign of any Customs air assets yet. Secret Service and other federal frequencies are starting to come alive with radio tests and encryption.

There are rumors flying about that if Hurricane Gustav makes a beeline for New Orleans, the RNC may be delayed by a few days or perhaps a week. The situation is being monitored and we'll find out if anything changes soon.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Denver DNC Ramps Up

The radio spectrum in the Denver area is becoming increasingly filled with communications related to the Democratic National Convention, which starts tomorrow at the Pepsi Center.

As we reported in an earlier blog post, the Multi Agency Communications Center started operations on Saturday, and reports of all sorts of federal activity in the VHF and UHF bands continue to pour in. Much of the activity is reported as using APCO P-25 digital with encryption, especially the US Secret Service channels, which is the lead agency for this event.

Also, reports are coming in that more new talk groups are being spotted on the Colorado State P-25 800 MHz system as well as the federal "Front Range" UHF trunked system. Most of these new talk group users are using the encryption feature, so identifying the channels will be difficult at best. Some conventional UHF federal activity is being heard in the downtown Denver area as well, some even in analog.

There are some web sites hosting live feeds of the Denver area public safety communications, including this one:

Tom Kneitel, 1933-2008

I received word this morning that Tom Kneitel, author of many scanning and monitoring related books and writer for Popular Communications magazine, has passed away at the age of 75.

As many long time "Fed Heads" will remember, Tom was the author of the CRB books series "Top Secret Registry of US Government Frequencies". The last edition was the 8th edition, printed in 1993. These books were the bibles of the federal scanning hobby and provided much of the basis of all federal scanning & monitoring well before the Internet age.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Denver MACC Opens For DNC

The Multi Agency Communication Center for the Democratic National Convention has begun operations in Lakewood, CO this morning. The MACC is set up in the Denver Federal Center to support all the federal agencies involved in the DNC. The lead agency for this National Security Special Event is the US Secret Service, a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

A similar communication center will be established in St. Paul, MN for next month's Republican National Convention.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Federal Protective Service Frequency Shift

The process of re-farming the federal UHF channels continues with the shuffling of radio frequencies used by the Federal Protective Service (FPS). The FPS is a division of ICE (Immigrations & Customs Enforcement) under the Department of Homeland Security.

In most areas, 415.2000 MHz, 417.2000 MHz and 419.1750 MHz serve as the primary radio frequencies used by the FPS. However, some areas have begun moving towards repeater output frequencies in the 407 - 410 MHz area. This is due in part to the federal requirement of a standard 9 MHz repeater offset, so input frequencies are +9 MHz.

I have noted changes in the FPS radio system in some eastern US cities over the last year or so, but changes recently came to the Pacific Northwest, where I make my home. In the last week the FPS has moved to repeaters on 407.0000 MHz, 408.2000 MHz and 410.8000 MHz in the Portland, OR area. Reports are that the Seattle / Tacoma area has or will follow soon. Keep the 415.2000 MHz and 417.2000 MHz channels in, as they may be used as simplex talk-around channels. And all these repeaters are APCO P-25 digital mode.

Keep an ear open in your area for FPS frequency changes!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

FEMA Phone System Hacked

According to new reports, FEMA had someone hack access to the federal agency's internal phone network and placed calls to the Middle East and Asia.

The story can be found HERE.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Customs AMD At Selfridge

The Air Marine Division of CBP Customs is now operating out of Selfridge ARB in Michigan. This makes a total of 5 AMD air bases along the northern US border. The others are Bellingham, WA, Great Falls, MT, Grand Forks, ND and Plattsburg, NY.

Listeners should keep an ear out for activity on the known UHF air band frequencies set aside for use by the AMD,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Northwest CBP Gone P25

Listeners along the Washington / British Columbia border have reported that the US Border Patrol, part of the DHS Customs & Border Protection division, have recently switched to APCO P25 digital.

The Border Patrol channels in the far northwest Washington area, 163.625 MHz and 163.675 MHz, also utilized by local law enforcement agencies, had been in the analog mode for many years now. The switch to P-25 digital in this area follows a similar story along the Arizona / Mexico border that occurred late last year.

I recently finished a trip to Laredo, Texas and found the Laredo Sector of the CBP is still utilizing analog with DES encryption.

It appears that the CBP is not waiting for the IWN project to update their communications gear. Although I am certain the new P-25 radios will be compatible with the VHF IWN trunking system when it arrives along the border areas. The IWN already has sites along the Washington / BC border, but they have not apparently been utilized by the CBP as of yet.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Big Apple Update

I got to spend a week in New York City for the MLB All Star Game and found a few interesting things...

First, while spending my days at Yankee Stadium, I did catch some near-field hits on some federal frequencies. The NYPD was obviously the primary agency for event security. Their primary on-site channel was NYPD TAC F, 485.4375 MHz and was a blast to listen to. Prior to the gates opening on Monday evening for the Home Run Derby, I spotted several law enforcement folks wearing FBI event credentials and carrying VHF Motorola XTS-5000 hand-held radios.

During the events on Monday and Tuesday evenings I caught some P-25 transmissions on 168.8250, 173.6625 and 165.9250 MHz. That last one is a new one to me, and it had traffic from the "Command Post" and various "Sierra" units doing radio checks. I believe it was coming from the stadium, as I was getting Close Calla & Signal Stalker hits on that frequency when it was active. And as a side note, I caught the NY Governor's security detail on 155.4600 MHz.

After the All Star events were finished and I was relaxing at our hotel, I started noticing some previously unheard P-25 frequencies popping up in my searches of the VHF federal band. Since the New York area listeners have been very helpful with my "unknowns" in the past, I thought I would post them and see if anyone else has identified them yet.

168.0750 - encrypted
168.2250 - clear, surveillance
168.3000 - encrypted

All of these were APCO P-25 digital transmissions. Where I actually caught some traffic on these, I have noted. Some were just the transmitter being keyed up with no voice, so I couldn't tell if it was encrypted or not. At one point, many of these frequencies seemed to be transmitting around the same time, as if someone was testing various repeater sites. I also hear the same thing on some of the known FBI repeaters in the NYC area. Could these be related?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

IWN Updates?

I haven't seen much information on the Internet about the current status of the Jutice Department's Integrated Wireless Network (IWN). The last update on the IWN web site was from over a year ago when the primary contract was awarded to General Dynamics:

I also found this document regarding the FY 2008 budget of the IWN:

The above document does show references to a timetable of modules to be completed. Most of these are in Oregon and Washington State, but some refer to the Gulf Coast. Keep an ear open for developments in that area.

And finally, I came across this site:
The person who launched this site seems a bit mis-informed and paranoid.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Here's wishing a very Happy Independence Day Weekend 2008 to all the Fed Files and Monitoring Times readers!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

2008 National Hurricane Operations Plan

The 2008 version of the National Hurricane operations Plan is available here:

Radio frequencies are mentioned on pages 5-20 and 5-30, along with lots of other interesting information.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

DHS Lags in Preparations for Transition of Power, Study Says

Noting Timing of Terrorist Attacks, Report Urges Readiness
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 26, 2008; A17

The Department of Homeland Security is moving too slowly to prepare for the risks that will accompany the first presidential transition for U.S. counterterrorism agencies formed after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to a study scheduled for release today.

The department's plan to train scores of key career officials, temporarily fill the posts of 26 departing political appointees and complete a transition plan are insufficient or should be accelerated, according to a 118-page report by the National Academy of Public Administration that was funded by Congress and DHS.

The report urged the presumptive presidential nominees, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), to move more quickly than previous candidates to submit the names of top aides for security clearances in order to ensure that they are ready to handle a national security crisis upon taking office.

Breaking with tradition by moving the deadline up two months -- to September from November -- would ensure that background checks are completed in time for officials to receive classified briefings the day after Election Day.

"For a first-ever presidential transition in an era of terrorism, we need to think and act nontraditionally," said the academy's president, Jennifer L. Dorn.

In a 9/11-style incident or other crisis after Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, an untested team of presidential advisers and unfamiliar career officials would have to make instant decisions, she said.

"The question is, will there be trust and confidence in the judgment of career personnel who come rushing in to the White House to say, 'Mr. President, we recommend shutting down the nation's air traffic control system'?" Dorn said.

The report marks the latest in a string of assessments by outsiders as well as actions taken by DHS leaders to make sure that critical security agencies remain effective as they undergo the first handoff from one president to another.

Terrorists may seek to exploit the transfer of power, the report said, noting the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, five weeks after President Bill Clinton took office; the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, eight months after President Bush took office; the Madrid train bombings in March 2004, three days before national elections; and failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow just days after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown assumed power.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said the senator "agrees that the next president will need to expedite the transition process, and if elected, will take the steps necessary to ensure a safe, fast and orderly process." Randy Scheunemann, McCain's foreign policy and national security director, said that "Senator McCain is acutely aware of challenges associated with a wartime transition, and he will address these matters in the appropriate way at the appropriate time."

Elaine C. Duke, DHS acting undersecretary for management, said the report shows that DHS is on track and far ahead of other departments, but she added: "Do I agree we have more to do? Certainly. We will be working on this every day."

Under pressure from Congress, homeland security officials held exercises for top officials in February and May, increased the number of career executives, lengthened the chain of succession to the DHS secretary and identified top career officials to serve as interim leaders in about two dozen vital positions.

The DHS also is preparing transition handbooks and briefing materials and will finish a formal transition plan in October.

But the academy report said DHS should complete a comprehensive plan by the time both parties have finished their national conventions, Sept. 4.

The department is behind schedule in setting up training workshops planned for July 1 and has not identified career officials to fill all vacated political appointee slots.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

EPA Frequencies

One of the more elusive federal agencies to monitor is the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. They have a visible presence at many events, including many of the Homeland Security operational training simulations, but not many people have actually logged any EPA radio traffic.

I was once at a raid involving the local police and agents from the EPA, but it appeared that the EPA folks were carrying UHF radios on the police system.

In my preparation to visit the EPA's research vessel BOLD, I pulled up all the EPA frequency allocations I could muster:

163.4375 - Nationwide allocation (shared)
164.4500 - Nationwide allocation (shared)
165.2375 - DHS CBP Customs (EPA contracted dispatch)
165.4125 - Nationwide allocation (shared)
166.4375 - DHS CBP Customs (EPA contracted dispatch)
172.5500 - Nationwide allocation (shared)
172.7000 - Nationwide allocation (shared)

Besides these frequencies, be sure and try the nationwide federal interoperability channels and federal itinerant channels. And I'm sure the VHF marine band channels would be in use on any operations on or near the water. I have no area specific allocations, so try all these and let me know if you hear anything.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

EPA OSV BOLD Visits Pacific Northwest

Among the ocean-going visitors to this years Portland Rose Festival is the Ocean Survey Vessel Bold. The Bold is the only OSV in the marine fleet of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This was also the first visit of the ship to the Pacifc Northwest. I had a chance to tour the Bold at the waterfront in Portland.

Lots of interesting research programs take place on board this ship. Side-scanning sonar and remotely operated vehicles for underwater observations were shown during the tour.

While on the tour I noticed quite a bit of VHF marine communications and HF communications gear on the bridge. The ship also appears to carry a satellite base phone aboard. The folks working on board were using FRS radios, so I was unable to locate any agency-specific radio gear on board.

For more information on the Bold, here is a link to the EPA web page:

And the operations of the ship are managed by a federal contractor, Seaward Services of Dania Beach, FL:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

St. Paul MN Scanning Update

I was recently in St. Paul, Minnesota for some preliminary meetings regarding broadcast coverage of the Republican National Convention in September. While there I found some activity in the downtown area.

164.3375 MHz, 167.9 - US Postal Service operations
165.2375 MHz, 100.0 - DHS Customs & Border Protection NET1
167.2625 MHz, P-25 - Clear testing of what might be some new radio system. probably FBI
167.4375 MHz, P-25
167.6375 MHz, P-25
167.8875 MHz - VA Paging
170.6250 MHz - P-25
170.7375 MHz - P-25
170.7625 MHz, D271 - Unknown agency
171.6875 MHz, P-25
173.8125 MHz, P-25
407.0000 MHz, P-25 - DHS Federal Protective Service

Most of the VHF P-25 was encrypted or too short to confirm it's use. The clear traffic was a lot of testing. I don't know if these are new to the St. Paul area or not.

McCain Campaign Update

As I posted a couple of weeks ago, Sen. John McCain has recently been confirmed as having Secret Service protection as he campaigns across the US. He had previously dismissed the security detail from the Secret Service, but apparently reconsidered as the conventions draw closer.

Now, I have received word of Sen. McCain's Secret Service call sign. It is reported as "PHOENIX", which is appropriate in several ways. This now joins the list of other candidate call signs listed below.

Hillary Clinton - EVERGREEN
Bill Clinton - EAGLE

John McCain - PHOENIX
Cindy McCain - ?

Barack Obama - RENEGADE
Michelle Obama - RENAISSANCE

And even though they are not running for office, there may be convention or campaign apperiances:

President Bush - TRAILBLAZER
Vice President Cheney - ANGLER

Thanks to all the blog readers and listeners in the field for this information!

When Federal Frequencies Get Hijacked?

I was recently working near the location of a Championship Off Road Racing event in Nevada. I discovered that someone at this event was using 169.1125 MHz, simplex, for what sounded like race officials. I don't know exactly who this group was, but they used this frequency for quite a long time before, during and after the racing events. I wonder how they picked this channel and why...

You never know who might show up on some frequencies!

Monday, May 12, 2008

McCain Now With USSS

I was able to confirm today that Sen. John McCain is now accompanied by a security detail from the US Secret Service. There had been some speculation earlier in the campaign as to who was providing security for Sen. McCain, as he had previously refused Secret Service protection.

Sen. McCain was in Portland, Oregon on a campaign stop, and the Secret Service detail was using 165.3750 MHz (CHARLIE), P-25 mode. I was unable to snag the call sign for Sen. McCain.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Anyone Listening to 165.4250 MHz?

OK Fed Files fans, it's time to help track down a mystery frequency! If anyone has one of the presidential candidates coming for a visit soon, besides the known US Secret Service channels found here,

please check the frequency of 165.4250 MHz for activity. I have received reports of some activity on this frequency during some candidates visits and want to see if it has widespread use.

The frequency is interesting in that it is not a previously known Secret Service channel. In fact in most federal databases it has NO previous users noted.

So if you have room in your scan list, pop that frequency in and let me know what you hear!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Border "Virtual" Fence Scrapped

It appears that the virtual fence built by Boeing is not performing as expected. Details here:,2933,352213,00.html

The story indicates that there will be some additional towers and surveillance devices set up to help control the border area in southern Arizona.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Pittsburgh - New FBI P25

Despite it's slow start in moving towards APCO P-25 digital radio systems, the FBI is starting to make the switch in different regions of the country. I've been spending some time in the Pittsburgh, PA area and can confirm that some new P-25 repeaters have started to make themselves heard here.

The new repeaters are on 165.8250 MHz, 165.8750 MHz, 168.8250 MHz and 168.9250 MHz. The repeaters all seem to have an input frequency of 163.7500 MHz. Mostly encrypted but a few clear transmissions have been heard, all showing a P-25 NAC of 167.

Not sure if these repeaters are replacing some analog equipment, or these are serving a new purpose for the Department of Justice in the Pittsburgh area.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Political Campaign Acitvity - McCain to get Secret Service Detail

News media outlets are reporting that Senator John McCain will discuss Secret Service protection with DHS officials next week. For some time now, candidate McCain has publicly said that he did not want the burden of Secret Service protection.

Despite claiming not to want the protection of the Secret Service, I have seen reports that Senator McCain might have actually had some sort of security detail with him on the campaign trail. But some have reported that he had the US Capitol Police with him, others claimed it was the FBI and one posting even seemed to think the US State Department was somehow involved with security for McCain. I haven't seen any hard data to support any of these theories.

The other political candidates, Clinton (both Bill & Hillary) and Obama, currently have Secret Service protective details. The big question now is what will Senator McCain's call sign be?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Presidential Campaign Activities

Is it just me, or does it seem like this presidential political campaign has been going on forever? Back in June of 07 (!) I mentioned that the media was reporting Senator Barack Obama had been given the call sign of "Renegade" by the US Secret Service:

I can confirm this is still the case. During a recent visit to the state of Oregon, Senator Obama's security detail was using 165.3750 MHz, P-25 digital mode. And he is still being called RENEGADE.

The security details are using various USSS frequencies depending on the location and detail requirements:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Las Vegas NNSA Update

It would appear that the UHF federal trunked systems in the Las Vegas area have gone through some channel changes prior to the narrow banding deadline of January, 2008. Last time I was in the LV area I noticed some UHF trunked channels that were not heard before, and this trip I was able to sit down and analyze some of what I am hearing.

I was only able to grab a few of the sites, but here is what is currently in use:

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Trunked System
System ID = 7526
Motorola Type II, with APCO P-25 voice

Site 004 - Las Vegas DoE Facility
406.9875 - Control Channel

Site 006 - Angel Peak, NV
406.1125 - Control Channel

Site 009
407.3500 - Control Channel

Site 010 - Nellis AFB
407.9875 - Control Channel

It also appears that the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) EDACS system has changed some frequencies around. I was able to copy an EDACS control channel on 406.5625 MHz, 408.0500 MHz and 409.9625 MHz. I have not seen these frequencies listed as part of the NTTR system in the past.

More updates on this as I am able to figure them out...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

US Geological Survey

After seeing some requests for frequencies for the US Geological Survey, I decided to post all that I had in my database. These were compiled for the March 2005 Fed Files column. I have included not only land mobile voice channels but also some very narrow band data channels that appear in the federal NTIA assignments.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NOAA WP-3D in Portland

While waiting at Portland International Airport (KPDX) for a commercial flight, I spotted a NOAA WP-3D aircraft taxing out for takeoff. The aircraft was NOAA 42, N42RF.

NOAA often flies research missions out of the Pacific Northwest doing wind and storm research out along the Pacific coast. Here is a link to the NOAA web page describing what the annual missions are all about this year:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

March Fed Files Correction

Before I get too many more emails, I want to post a correction of something that was in the March 2008 Fed Files column regarding the federal use of Network Access Codes or NAC's on P-25 digital radio systems.

I incorrectly stated that NAC 293 will act as a digital carrier squelch on professional P-25 radio equipment. I should have said that NAC F7E will operate as a digital carrier squelch on P-25 radio equipment, although I have also been told that this only applies to repeaters and not radios in the field.

The NAC value of 293 is what some are calling a "default" NAC that seems to be used by quite a few agencies.

I have to confess that I don't' own any professional P-25 equipment yet, so I rely on the kindness of strangers for this information...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Secret Service Frequency List

I've started to have some requests for Secret Service frequencies during the height of the '08 political campaign season. Here is what was published in the July 2007 Fed Files column.

Remember that at this time, only Senators Clinton and Obama have full time Secret Service protection. I have heard, but not confirmed, that Senator McCain may have US Capitol Police with him, or private security. But McCain has publicly refused Secret Service protection.

Also note that it is highly unlikely that the White House Communications Agency would be involved with any visits other than for the President or Vice President.

US Secret Service VHF Allocations
162.0750 USSS Uniformed Division

162.2875 Laurel, MD Trunked System

162.3125 USSS Uniformed Division

163.3125 USSS Uniformed Division

163.4500 Laurel, MD Trunked System

164.1000 X-RAY, New York City Field Office 1

164.1750 USSS Uniformed Division

164.4000 PAPA

164.4375 USSS Uniformed Division

164.6500 TANGO

164.7500 X-RAY

164.8000 X-RAY
164.8875 OSCAR
165.2125 MIKE
165.2625 X-RAY
165.3375 X-RAY
165.3750 CHARLIE

165.4125 X-RAY
165.5125 X-RAY
165.5250 Laurel, MD Trunked System
165.6500 X-RAY
165.6875 X-RAY - Washington DC Field Office

165.7875 BAKER

165.8500 X-RAY
165.9000 X-RAY

166.0000 Dignitary Protective Division 5

166.0250 Laurel, MD Trunked System

166.0500 X-RAY

166.2000 X-RAY - USSS Uniformed Division

166.2625 Laurel, MD Trunked System

166.4000 GOLF

166.4625 DHS Common


166.5625 X-RAY

166.5875 X-RAY

166.6375 X-RAY

166.6500 Laurel, MD Trunked System

166.8000 X-RAY

167.0125 Reported POTUS / VPOTUS Protection Details

167.0375 Reported POTUS / VPOTUS Protection Details

167.4000 Laurel, MD Trunked System

167.9000 X-RAY – Dallas Field Office



168.2375 Diplomatic Protection Division 1

168.5875 Diplomatic Protection Division 2

169.9375 USSS Uniformed Division

170.0000 JULIET – Washington DC Field Office Alternate

170.0875 Diplomatic Protection Division 3

170.4375 USSS Uniformed Division

170.9875 USSS Uniformed Division

171.3875 New York City Field Office 2

171.7625 USSS Uniformed Division

172.0625 Diplomatic Protection Division 4

172.2250 New York Field Office 3

172.5625 USSS Uniformed Division

US Secret Service UHF Allocations


407.6750 WHITE
407.7500 GRAY

407.8750 GREEN


407.9250 INDIA




414.6750 YELLOW

414.8000 BLUE
414.8500 BROWN – Technical Security Division

414.9500 ORANGE – Technical Security Division

415.1000 BLACK

415.6500 SILVER

415.6750 GOLD – Technical Security Division
415.7500 GREEN

415.8000 VIOLET

415.9750 RED

418.1250 LAVENDER

418.1500 YELLOW

418.3250 BLACK

418.3500 GRAY

418.7750 ORANGE – Technical Security Division

418.8000 BROWN – Technical Security Division

419.0750 GOLD – Technical Security Division

419.1000 SILVER

419.7250 RED

White House Communications Agency (WHCA) VHF Allocations

162.6875 YANKEE

165.2125 MIKE

165.3750 CHARLIE

165.7875 BAKER

166.2000 Reported in use at Camp David Presidential Retreat
166.4625 DHS Common
166.5125 ALPHA / SIERRA

166.7000 NOVEMBER

167.0250 WHISKEY – Paging, reported no longer in use

167.9000 HOTEL
169.5125 SIERRA

169.9250 DELTA
170.0000 JULIET

171.2875 ZULU

White House Communications Agency (WHCA) UHF Allocations

406.4500 Transportable Trunking System
407.1250 Transportable Trunking System


407.6750 Wideband UHF reported

407.8000 Transportable Trunking System

407.8500 ECHO – No longer in use

408.8500 Transportable Trunking System

408.8750 Transportable Trunking System

408.9250 Transportable Trunking System

415.6750 Wideband UHF reported

415.7000 FOXTROT – No longer in use


418.2750 Transportable Trunking System

418.3750 Transportable Trunking System

418.4000 Transportable Trunking System

418.5000 Transportable Trunking system

418.5250 Transportable Trunking System

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Phoenix Fedcom

Well, it's Super Saturday and I finally have a minute to post a quick note. I had meant to post some federal communications updates related to the Super Bowl activities in Phoenix, but have been just too darned busy to keep up with it!

I have had the scanner running with me and have collected some new federal operations here at the event and I promise to share them after the show is over on Sunday.

Needless to say, the Customs AMD UH-60's have been flying around U of P Stadium all week in preparation for the big event. Several other local, state and federal agencies have been flying around as well, along with the Goodyear blimp. The Blue Angels have made some brief appearances as well, getting ready for the fly-by on Sunday.

Gotta get back to work, but keep checking and I'll update the scanning stuff soon. And a special thanks to some of the Phoenix area scanner listeners for their email updates to me the last couple of weeks!

Friday, January 25, 2008

South Carolina Campaigns

I've seen some reports of Secret Service operations on 165.7875 MHz, USSS BAKER in South Carolina in regards to the political campaigns. Unknown if this is related to the Clinton or Obama campaigns. More as it becomes available...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

DHS NRF Resource Center

The DHS National Response Framework presents the guiding principles that enable all response partners to prepare for and provide a unified national response to disasters and emergencies – from the smallest incident to the largest catastrophe. The Framework establishes a comprehensive, national, all-hazards approach to domestic incident response.

A new series of PDF files is available at the NRF site, with some communications information:

Monday, January 21, 2008

New York Area Fedcom

Just a couple of quick notes from my last trip to the NYC area...

Once again, I was in town for the weekly Federal Interoperability radio check in. This check in occurs every Wednesday morning on a couple of federal frequencies. Last time I was only able to hear the repeater on 167.7875 MHz, P-25 digital and unencrypted. This time I was able to copy the UHF side of the check-ins on 414.7500 MHz, 82.5pl, analog mode. The input to this repeater is 407.7750 MHz, 82.5pl, analog mode.

Also, the last few times in town, I heard quite a bit of both analog and P-25 activity on 417.5500 MHz. The analog activity was all OTAR (Over The Air Re-keying) data, and the P-25 activity was pretty much all encrypted. My guess is this is a DEA repeater, as this is one of their allocations. Other DEA channels still show some analog activity.

And finally, I was hearing a lot of traffic on 413.4125 MHz, P-25. All the traffic was in the clear and sounded like some facility security operation. At times the traffic seemed to sound like a VA medical facility, but not sure where it was coming from.

UPDATE: A listener in the know informed me that 413.4125 MHz is indeed the VA Medical Center in East Orange, NJ. Thanks!

Super Bowl XLII Federal Monitoring

I'm headed to Phoenix this week to start work as part of the international coverage of Super Bowl XLII. Technically we will be in Glendale, west of Phoenix, where the University of Phoenix Stadium is located.

If past Super Bowls are any indication, there will be plenty of local, state and federal agency communications to search for during the next couple of weeks. I will be updating the Fed Files blog with interesting finds, and the May issue of Monitoring Times will have a more detailed look at what went on.

BTW, if there are any Phoenix area listeners that might want to keep in touch via email or IM, please feel free to contact me at the Fed Files email address.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Campaign Communications

Some additional information on the political campaigns communications has started to surface. A post on the FEDCOM list indicated that at least one candidate's staff was using 462.6250 MHz for some of it's communications.

This might be a good time to review what they might be using for radio frequencies. If you have a chance, check these out at locations where some of the candidates are making appearances. These would most likely be used for staff operations, not security, but could still provide some interesting listening...

Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS)
151.820 MHz
151.880 MHz
151.940 MHz
154.570 MHz (shared with business band)
154.600 MHz (shared with business band)

GMRS Frequencies
Repeater outputs (inputs are +5 MHz):
Interstitial frequencies (simplex, not more than 5 watts):

Common Business Frequencies
IS=Special Industrial

027.4900 IB Itinerant
035.0400 IB Itinerant
043.0400 IS Itinerant
151.5050 IS Itinerant
151.6250 IB RED DOT Itinerant
151.9550 IB PURPLE DOT
152.8700 IS Itinerant
154.5700 IB BLUE DOT (also MURS)
154.6000 IB GREEN DOT (also MURS)
158.4000 IS Itinerant
451.8000 IS Itinerant
456.8000 IS Itinerant
462.5750 ZA WHITE DOT
462.6250 ZA BLACK DOT
462.6750 ZA ORANGE DOT
462.7125 ZA Radio Shack HTs (GMRS)
464.5000 IB BROWN DOT Itinerant 35w.
464.5500 IB YELLOW DOT Itinerant 35w.
467.7625 IB J DOT
467.8125 IB K DOT
467.8750 IB GOLD STAR
467.9000 IB RED STAR
467.9250 IB BLUE STAR
469.5000 IB Simplex or input to 464.500 if
repeater. Itinerant 35 w. max
469.5500 IB Simplex or input to 464.550 if
repeater. Itinerant 35 w. max

Saturday, January 12, 2008

DoE Hanford Update

I was able to spend a couple of days monitoring the goings on at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington recently. I was primarily trying get an update on the status of a P-25 VHF trunked system that had shown signs of coming on the air the last two or three times I was in the area.

But this trip, I found no sign of any P-25 control channels! I don't know what happened to the system, but in past visits I have monitored a P-25 trunking control channel (System ID = def) on 164.3500 MHz and 164.4125 MHz, but nothing on any VHF frequency was found. I did hear the same, rapid Morse ID that appears on all the Hanford VHF frequencies on 164.4125, but no other activity.The other analog VHF radio nets for Hanford (Patrol, Fire, etc.) continue to operate as normal.

Another interesting thing is the UHF EDACS trunked system located at the Hanford Site is still up and running, but over two days I never heard a peep out of it. In the past this system has been fairly active during certain shifts with a lot of construction and maintenance operations. I've always thought it was mostly for contractors operations:

And new system that I saw on Radio Reference claims to belong to Bechtel, a major nuclear energy contractor. However, this system does not appear to be on the air at this time:

Friday, January 11, 2008

Campaign Communications

I've finally seen a report of some political campaign communications being monitored.

During the time around the New Hampshire primary, the local Secret Service office was heard operating in P-25 mode on the USSS BAKER frequency (165.7875 MHz) with RENEGADE CP in operation. It was pretty much assumed that RENEGADE is the call sign for candidate Barack Obama, and is confirmed in this story:

Also, during the Iowa Caucuses I received a report of USSS OSCAR (164.8875 MHz) being used for a motorcade in Davenport. The original information guessed that this was for John McCain, but as far as I can determine at this time, the only candidates that have Secret Service protection at this time are Clinton and Obama. Also, McCain has stated that he is not interested in Secret Service protection.

I have been surprised at the lack of postings or information about the security details at these early campaign events. I'm not sure if it's just a lack of people willing to search for activity, or folks are just keeping it quiet.