Saturday, December 26, 2009

Patrolling the US Border via Webcam

I found an interesting story about folks being able to watch US border web cams and report suspected illegal crossings from home:

According to the story, you can log on here to sign up to view the border cams:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More on Coast Guard UHF Usage & SRCUS

Following up on the reports of Coast Guard operations on 413.0000 MHz, I have received some information regarding acquisition of UHF tactical radios by the Coast Guard:

This web page describes the installation of new radios in CG vessels under 87 feet in length. It specifically mentions new tactical VHF and UHF radios, and requires APCO P-25 operation with AES encryption capabilities. It also specifies that the UHF radios be capable of operations on the DoD 380 MHz trunking systems, known as the Enterprise Land Mobile Radio systems (ELMR).

It appears that this is all part of the Coast Guard's Short Range Communications Upgrade System or SRCUS;

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coast Guard P-25 UHF Nets

I received a report from the Southeast US that the Coast Guard has started utilizing some frequencies in the 406-420 MHz band for its operations.

413.0000 MHz, P-25 (NAC not reported but I suspect N293) was heard in use by Coast Guard Sector Charleston along with 2 MH-65C helicopters.

They referred to this as "CG-410", which makes some sense in the new NTIA naming schemes. The other CG P25 net channels all start with 1, such as NET 101, since they are all in the VHF band and the frequencies start with 1. The 400 MHz channel frequencies all start with 4, so the NET numbers will apparently start with 4 as well.

I have not heard of any routine use of the federal UHF band by the Coast Guard, but there have been some vague references to new UHF radios for CG cutters and law enforcement use. Keep watching this band for more Coast Guard operations. Here are some known UHF allocations for the US Coast Guard:


Monday, December 14, 2009

New Federal Prison

As had been rumored for a while, the federal government will acquire a state-built prison facility in Thomson, Illinois to house terrorist prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This will most likely mean a new federal trunked radio system will be built at this facility as part of the takeover by the US Bureau of Prisons. I have no firm information on what frequencies will be used here, but most likely will be similar to the other BoP trunked systems and use 406-420 MHz. Because of the high profile terror suspects to be held at this facility, there will be encryption in use for sure.

Keep watching for further developments on this.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

South Florida New TRS?

A source has reported a new trunking control channel in the Miami/Dade County area of South Florida. Here is what has been spotted:

Motorola Type II
406.8125 MHz Control Channel
System ID: e723

Although not much to go by, this frequency is used in many of the US Bureau of Prisons trunked systems located all over the country. As was noted in previous blog posts, some of these systems are not compliant with the newer NTIA channel plan using a standard 9 MHz repeater offset. In some cases, these systems are being upgraded or replaced. Since it is close to the end of the year, there may be a rush to get these systems up and running as soon as possible.

If you have any federal UHF trunked systems near by, keep and ear on them for possible changes in the near future.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Houston BoP Updated!

I have received some information from the Houston, Texas area that seems to indicate a new UHF trunked system has shown up and is apparently located at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Houston. The current system information is:

Motorola Type II
System ID: 7707
Base: 408.0000
Step: 12.5
Offset: 380
408.1000, 409.6500, 410.0250, 412.4250, 414.3000

The new system is showing this information:

Motorola Type II
System ID: e726
407.4125, 408.4500, 409.4125, 410.2125

Listeners are reporting that 407.0125 MHz may also be part of this new system, but that has not been confirmed yet.

I am guessing this is being done to bring the old system in line with the new NTIA federal UHF channel plan, with 9 MHz repeater offsets. And it may have been easier to simply replace the system than upgrading all the system components already in place. We'll watch for further system info as it becomes available.

UPDATE: As of 12/18.09, this new system is in use and the old system (7707) has been deactivated.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

BoP Update

I recently received some information on a Bureau of Prisons trunked system at the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania. It has been tough to come up with information on some BoP facilities, as many of them are located in remote areas of the country with not too many listeners around to send in reports. As with most BoP facilities, they are using a Motorola trunked system. Here is the information that I received:

FCI Loretto
Motorola Type II
System ID: 744b
Base: 406.2000
Step: 12.5
Offset: 380
406.2125, 407.0125, 409.0125, 409.2125, 409.7375, 410.9000

NOTE: I know I promoted the updated BoP list as being available on the Monitoring Times web site, but the site is undergoing some re-design and the Readers Only area is no longer an option. As for now, if you wish to receive a copy of the latest Bureau of Prisons update, pleasase drop me an email at the Monitoring Times address at the top of the blog.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

UPDATE - 169.6 MHz NYC

A couple of weeks ago, some listeners in the New York City area reported some clear, P-25 traffic on this previously un-heard frequency. Reports were that they were hearing 169.6000 MHz, NAC 169 repeating traffic from the Federal Protective Service UHF repeater. Then it appeared to be carrying traffic from a New York PD Citywide channel, and later traffic from Newark PD was heard.

A poster on Radio Reference has indicated this was being used by a group from the Department of Homeland Security as a test project. Although saying it was DHS still leaves a lot of speculation as to what the specific agency and purpose was, this frequency is definitely worth keeping an ear on.

I'll hopefully have more information after a couple of trips I'm scheduled on to NYC over the next few weeks.

UPDATE - 409.4 MHz is Las Vegas FPS

Back in mid-September I reported on some activity on 409.4000 MHz, NAC 940 in the Las Vegas, NV area. Listeners had reported sporadic, clear activity on this frequency and had not been able to identify who it was.

I was in Las Vegas for a week and listened to that frequency when I could. I was only able to copy a few transmissions, but they all occurred in the mornings between 07:30 and 08:00 AM each day. A unit would call in to "DENVER" and report in service. DENVER would then acknowledge, and nothing else was heard by me. Others have reported hearing traffic stops and requests for backup from LV Metro PD units on this repeater.

Some have suggested this is the Federal Protective Service. At first glance that might make sense, but I have some concerns:

A) The frequency is not one used by FPS in any other region or city that I have found.

B) Every other FPS Region does regular check ins with units during shifts.

C) The total lack of traffic other than checking in each morning is also baffling. And only seems like one or possibly two units on duty.

Still not enough information to positively identify the agency yet, but we'll keep listening.

UPDATE - I have received some reliable information that this is indeed the Federal Protective Service repeater for the Las Vegas area. The FPS apparently has a very small presence in the LV Metro area and that explains the lack of radio traffic and the lack of roll calls. FPS MegaCenter in Denver is indeed the dispatch point for the LV repeater.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

166.4625 MHz Las Vegas TSA?

I've been hearing numerous transmissions in the area of McCarren Airport in Las Vegas on 166.4625 MHz, P-25 with a NAC of 001. It appears to be the Transportation Security Administration operators working with the full body scanners at the security checkpoints. The operators are apparently in a different area from the scanners themselves, and are calling out when the subject being scanned is clear and if there are any anomalies detected by the scanner. The transmissions are all simplex and low-powered.

The frequency is assigned as Treasury Common as well as DHS Common in many federal agency radios. This frequency and P-25 NAC is known to be Channel 13 in the standard TSA channel plan. I have heard similar traffic in other locations, specifically at the Tampa airport during the Super Bowl last year.

169.6000 MHz NYC

I've received some reports of a mystery P-25 frequency active in the New York City area.

169.6000 MHz, NAC 169 was first reported as being a patched simulcast of the Federal Protective Service UHF channel, 417.2000 MHz. I was first wondering if this might be the reason some FPS vehicles have been seen with VHF antennas on them.

But further reports have come in that say this frequency has been heard repeating various NYPD Citywide channels and Newark NJ PD channels as well.

The frequency itself has been used by many different federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, US Coast Guard, Customs and Department of Energy, to name a few. It's unknown who is using this frequency for what purpose, but further monitoring may give us a clue.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

World Series Game 3

I was working in Philadelphia for game 3 of the World Series baseball game between the Phillies and the Yankees on October 31st. I was pretty busy with getting the TV coverage of the game on the air, but just before the rain-delayed start of the game, I spotted a motorcade of 6 black SUVs and a limo headed into the stadium. So I thought I'd better get the scanner fired up.

It turned out that our VPOTUS, Joe Biden was in attendance. The Secret Service was in the stadium providing protection for the VP. During the game, TANGO (164.6500 MHz) was in use, but just prior to the departure, CHARLIE (165.3750 MHz) became active, and both frequencies seemed to be busy when the motorcade left the stadium. All communications were encrypted P25, with a NAC of 001.

There is a marked difference between the protection details the Vice President gets versus the POTUS, although there was still a large Secret Service detail, complete with counter-sniper teams all over the stadium.

Friday, October 30, 2009

FPS moving from ICE to NPPD

As was rumored to be the case, DHS announced today that the Federal Protective Service (FPS) will be moved from Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the National Protections and Programs Directorate (NPPD). The announcement can be found here:

More information on the NPPD can be found here:

"The realignment allows FPS to focus on its primary mission—securing General Services Administration (GSA)-owned and leased federal buildings by performing building security assessments and deploying appropriate countermeasures—while enabling ICE to focus on the smart and effective enforcement of immigration and customs laws."

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I've been down in the Orange County, California area the last week and have come across some active channels that remain a mystery.

408.4000 MHz, 412.6500 MHz and 417.4000 MHz are all being heard in P-25 with a NAC of $167. It appears that 417.4000 MHz might be the input to 408.4000 MHz. Others have reported some surveillance and radio checks on the 408.4000 frequency, but what agency?

The 408.4000 frequency used to be a federal agency common, but that assignment changed at the beginning of 2005 when the UHF federal band began to be re-channeled. Many military bases have been heard using the 408.4000 frequency in the past. The 412.6500 frequency has some Justice Department assignments, as well as the 417.4000 frequency.

Some would probably look at the $167 NAC as proof of being the FBI, but there are plenty of other possible agencies that might use this NAC. And I still haven't seen enough evidence hat the FBI routinely uses their UHF assignments for surveillance operations, but things might be changing.

Further monitoring will be required. If anyone in the SoCal area has any further information on this activity, let me know!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Interoperability Channel Names

APCO International has released a draft copy of it's "Proposed Standard Channel Nomenclature for the Public Safety Interoperability Channels". The draft can be viewed here:

This is to help standardize the channel names for the federal and non-federal interoperability frequencies through out the US. The document also provides a complete list of the frequencies for reference.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

USCG San Francisco - Update

While passing through SFO (San Francisco International Airport) recently, I had some time to search the federal bands. I came across Coast Guard Sector SF working with craft in the bay on 171.3500 MHz, P-25 with a NAC of 293.

This seemed to be their normal operations channel for the area, and several times I heard them refer to this as "LE-6" on their radios. Previously "LE-6" has been part of the federal interoperability channel plan as 167.2500 MHz. Could it be that this is a repeater with LE-6 as the input? Or could this be a different LE-6?

The 171.3500 MHz is a Coast Guard allocation, and I have heard it used at CG Air Station Astoria as a helicopter maintenance channel.

UPDATE: I was informed by some good folks from the Bay Area that this is a long established Coast Guard "L-E" frequency that is still being used, but now in P-25 mode. The "L-E" repeaters (short for Law Enforcement) were common in some areas that the Coast Guard operated. In theory, the old LE repeaters should be superseded by the new CG NET channels as the RESCUE 21 system is expanded.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FPS Operation Shield

I heard some Federal Protective Service units on roll call this morning report that they were participating in "Operation Shield" activities. Roll call was on 408.2 MHz here in the Portland, OR area.

A quick search of the Internet told me that Operation Shield is an ongoing program that is part of the FPS operation. Here is a link to see what they are up to:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pittsburgh G20 MACC Operational

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured a story on the start up of the G20 Multi-Agency Command Center in Pittsburgh:

So far lots of G20 related action on the federal, state and local frequencies, including many of the national interoperability channels. Among the federal agencies that are participating are the Coast Guard, Secret Service, State Department and aviation units probably with Customs & Border Protection Air Marine division. I'll have more later on as information comes in.

Monday, September 21, 2009

409.4 MHz - Las Vegas

A while back, a poster on Radio Reference asked about who might be using 409.4000 MHz, P-25 in the Las Vegas area. Several suggestions were posted about is possibly being part of the NNSA UHF trunked system, federal contractors, etc..

The UHF federal band, 406.1 to 420 MHz, is pretty saturated in southern Nevada. The NNSA trunked sites, as well as the NTTR EDACS sites take up a lot of available channels, and there are some conventional users as well. But I had never logged any activity on this frequency in my past visits to Las Vegas.

One poster on Radio Reference says that one party on a previously heard transmission may have used DENVER as their call sign. That made me think of the Federal Protective Service dispatch center in Denver. But, this frequency has not been previously associated with FPS operations in any other areas. The frequency itself has been used as part of many federal and military UHF trunked systems, as well as conventional assignments to the VA and Department of Energy.

I purposely set up one scanner just on 409.4 during my visit to LV this past week. I only caught two brief transmissions, and was able to confirm a P-25 NAC of 940. This indicates to me that this is not a normal FPS dispatch channel, as they often run routine check ins and units are always calling in service.

Anyone want to see if they can figure out who is using 409.4 in the Las Vegas area? Let me know what you hear!

Friday, August 28, 2009

FAA Porcupine

While running between terminals at San Francisco International Airport (KSFO), I spotted a van literally covered with antennas. The van carried federal GSA license plates, but when I got along side, it had well worn FAA decals on the doors.

You probably can't tell by the cell-phone camera photo I snapped, but the van had 12 to 15 antennas cut to almost every radio band you can think of, including what appeared to be a CB antenna. I'm sure this van is used by the FAA electronics support technicians, but it sure looks like they enjoy radio of all types & frequency bands.

The smallish SUV in front of the radio van was also an FAA vehicle, but carried no antennas that I could see.

Monday, August 24, 2009

TSA Encryption

I've started noticing some changes in the TSA communications in my area and wondering if the same is happening in other areas as well.

Until recently, all of the TSA P-25 communications at my home airport of Portland, Oregon (KPDX) have been unencrypted. Simplex communications at all the security checkpoints has been on 172.1500 MHz, with different NAC's for each, and some administrative type communications have been heard on a repeater on 172.9000 MHz, N001 (169.3000 MHz input). About three weeks ago, I started hearing a lot more activity on the 172.9000 MHz repeater, but it was all encrypted. Until that time, I was only catching some random, brief encrypted traffic when someone accidentaly switched the secure mode on.

With some exceptions, most TSA traffic seems to be in the clear. San Diego has been encypted for quite a while now, and perhaps others.

While I'm not sure if this might be related, but I recently spotted some marked TSA vehicles that indicate they are operating more than just baggage screening and passenger checkpoints. The new-looking trucks were marked "EXPLOSIVE DETECTION K-9 TEAM", and were parked on the ramp area of a major aiport. Could these secure communications be tied into more activity by TSA activity not normally seen by the public?

Another Federal Mototrbo User

On a recent trip to the Chicago area, I discovered that the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago is using Mototrbo radios on 406.6625 MHz.

Mototrbo is a product line of digital radios marketed by Motorola. It is not compatable with any of the digital scanners available today.

The Federal Reserve seems to have a habit of doing their own thing when it comes to radios. Each branch of the FRB has something different, some analog, some digital and now some are Mototrbo. It still amazes me that they would go against the APCO P-25 standards the have been championed by the federal government for interoperability. But on the other hand, who would they have to be interoperable with?

406.6626 MHz is a common frequency used by Federal Reserve facilities across the country, along with 410.4875, 413.9250 and 415.6625.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pittsburgh G20 Summit - New Frequencies?

With a little more than 5 weeks until the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh starting, I've started to receive reports of unusual activity across the radio spectrum in the area.

Reports are that multiple frequencies were transmitting APCO P-25 digital, with many unusual frequencies for the area and many using a NAC of 167. Here is what was recently reported as active with apparent testing:

150.5625 NAC 167 - Frequency is a Civil Air Patrol assignment
150.6000 NAC 167

153.2225 NAC 167

157.6425 NAC 167

163.9500 NAC 173
165.9750 NAC 167

168.5000 NAC 100
168.8250 NAC 167 - Previously known Pittsburgh FBI
169.4000 NAC 167

171.3875 NAC 167

Besides these previously unknown frequencies, here are some that were heard active, but may not be related to the G20:

169.0125 NAC 357 - VAMC Police
169.8000 NAC 389 - DHS ICE wide area network

We will see what else comes alive as the G20 approaches. Past events such as this often reveal unusual frequencies being used by some of the foreign security details. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Axe Men" Production - 168.050

While searching the federal bands at home in northwest Oregon, I recently came across some unusual radio traffic on 168.0500 MHz. It sounded like someone in a helicopter (I could hear the turbine whine in the background), talking with someone on the ground (unheard by me). The conversation seemed to be from a producer with the "Axe Men" TV reality show, working on shooting and getting some particular topics on the audio track. I believe it is the "Axe Men" show based on some of the logging company names that were heard on the radio traffic, companies that were featured in the past shows.

The frequency of 168.0500 MHz is often used by the US Forest Service and National Interagency Fire Center as a tactical channel. Why these folks were using it at this time is unknown. Perhaps there were working with the Forest Service and had a USFS helicopter, and that frequency was handy to talk to the folks on the ground.

The "Axe Men" TV show airs on The History Channel and is produced by Original Productions,

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Colville National Forest

Although many of the US Forest Service web sites have had the frequency data for the radio systems scrubbed from the available documents, occasionally some still get posted.

If you are interested in frequencies used by Colville National Forest in Washington State, you can find this document on their web site, at least for the time being:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MT Reader Survey 2009

Please help us at Monitoring Times find out what you are interested in and what you want to see in future issues. When you have a moment, please click on over to:

This will download a Reader Survey form. Fill out this form, when finished you can email it to Help us provide you with what you want in Monitoring Times!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Upcoming Events - NLE09

FEMA's National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE09) is scheduled for July 27th through July 31st, 2009;

NLE is the new FEMA designation for what were the TOPOFF exercises. This exercise is scheduled to involve FEMA Region VI, which includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Additional detail will be coming as the exercies planning continues.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

More on FPS

And speaking of the Federal Protective Service;

According to the above linked article, the FPS is under fire for not providing the level of protection that Congress is expecting. Testimony indicates that investigators have been able to walk around freely in federal building and even smuggled simulated explosives past security checkpoints.

Further down in the article there is mention that the FPS will be transferred out of the juristiction of ICE and become part of the National Protection and Programs Directorate, a collection of agencies tasked with assessing security risks;

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

FPS Adding VHF?

I have received reports from some areas that Federal Protective Service vehicles are beginning to sprout VHF hi-band antennas in addition to the normal UHF antennas used for the FPS radio system. So what are these antennas for? The FPS car pictured here seems to have a four-antenna array for LoJack tracking or something similar. The reports I've received are usually referring to single VHF quarter-wave or 5/8 wave gain antennas now showing up on vehicles.

Some suggest that they are getting VHF radios for multi-agency interop capability. Others have suggested that the FPS has been and is using the CBP Customs nationwide VHF radio network. I have not personally confirmed this and have not heard any traffic that could be FPS, so I'm not sure about this one.

The FPS, under Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in DHS, currently operates on a national UHF radio system that is dispatched from regional Mega-Centers. Most cities have switched to (or will soon) P-25 digital. Here are the known UHF frequencies utilized by the Federal Protective Service.

406.2000 MHz
406.4125 MHz
406.7000 MHz
407.0000 MHz
407.1750 MHz
407.2125 MHz
407.3625 MHz
408.2000 MHz
408.5375 MHz
410.8000 MHz
411.0375 MHz
413.4750 MHz

413.8750 MHz
413.9500 MHz
414.4750 MHz
415.1750 MHz
415.2000 MHz
416.0250 MHz
417.2000 MHz
417.2500 MHz
417.4250 MHz
417.6500 MHz
419.1500 MHz
419.1750 MHz
419.6500 MHz
419.8750 MHz.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

New FAA Radio Update

Back in November of 2006, I received frequency information from the new FAA land-mobile P-25 radio network, known as the FAA "C2" system. Here are the frequencies from the 11/06 Fed Files column:
Receive / Transmit
Channel 1 172.9250 169.3250
Channel 2 172.9500 169.3500
Channel 3 172.9750 169.3750
Channel 4 172.8500 169.2500
Channel 5 172.8750 169.2750
Channel 6 166.1000 162.3000
Channel 7 172.8250 169.2250
Channel 8 172.9125 169.3125
Channel 9 162.1375 166.0375
Channel 10 167.9375 171.4875
Channel 11 166.3875 162.3375
Channel 12 171.7125 167.8875
Channel 13 172.1750 172.1750
Channel 14 166.1750 166.1750

Now that the C2 radios are being deployed, the channel lineup seems to have changed somewhat. The radios are setup with two zones, one is P-25 digital and the other analog. The channel lineups are slightly different between the two zones. Here is the P-25 digital zone:
Channel 1 172.9250 169.3250 - N293
Channel 2 172.9500 169.3500 - N293
Channel 3 172.9750 169.3750 - N293
Channel 4 172.8500 169.2500 - N293
Channel 5 172.8750 169.2750 - N293
Channel 6 166.1000 162.3000 - N293
Channel 7 172.8250 169.2250 - N293
Channel 8 172.9125 169.3125 - N293
Channel 9 172.1250 172.1250 - N293
Channel 10 172.7375 172.7375 - N293
Channel 11 172.1750 172.1750 - N293
Channel 12 166.1750 166.1750 - N293

And this is the analog zone, all channels programmed with a 136.5 CTCSS squelch tone:

Channel 1 172.9250 169.3250 - 136.5

Channel 2 172.9500 169.3500 - 136.5
Channel 3 172.9750 169.3750 - 136.5
Channel 4 172.8500 169.2500 - 136.5
Channel 5 172.8750 169.2750 - 136.5
Channel 6 172.9000 169.3000 - 136.5
Channel 7 172.8250 169.2250 - 136.5
Channel 8 172.1250 172.1250 - 136.5
Channel 9 172.1500 172.1500 - 136.5
Channel 10 172.1750 172.1750 - 136.5
Channel 11 166.1750 166.1750 - 136.5

Interesting that the frequencies used by the TSA (shown in channels 6 and 9) are back in the FAA radios, but in the analog mode. Since the TSA radios are all P-25 digital, I think this is not meant to provide interoperability between the FAA and TSA.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

USCG Sector Portand Update

Since posting about the US Coast Guard utilizing more federal interoperability frequencies, I have run into some changes in my own listening area in Portland, Oregon.

Until recently, the CG tended to operate on either the standard VHF marine channels allocated for Coast Guard use. They also had access to, and used often, a talk-group on the Portland metro area 800 MHz public safety trunked system. However, around the time of the Portland Rose Festival, most of the activity on these channels seemed to disappear.

While searching around, I discovered that they had moved to one of the new CG "NET" channels in the APCO P-25 mode. So far SECTOR PORTLAND is using NET 21 (165.3125 MHz) in P25. It does not seem to be a repeater, but the base transmitters are probably located at one of the new Rescue 21 antenna sites in the area. Also, while the US and Canada had some navy vessels docked at Portland's Waterfront Park for the Rose Festival, CG security PACCOMM was heard using 163.1375 MHz, NET 113.

Minneapolis FRB

As some may recall, we have noted that the Federal Reserve branch banks across the US have been using a common set of UHF frequencies for their communications, but in all different modes. Some are analog, others are analog with DCS squelch tones and some are P-25 digital. But now
I received a report from a listener in the Twin Cites that indicates the Federal Reserve Branch Bank in Minneapolis is using a UHF LTR trunked system.

According to the supplied information, the trunked system is as follows:
406.6625 - LCN 10
410.4875 - LCN 01

I've learned long ago not to underestimate the possibilities of what can show up in the federal bands, but this is indeed unusual! Until I make it back up to Minneapolis, can anyone supply any further information on this system?

DHS Demos Thales Liberty Radio

The Department of Homeland Security will be testing a new multi-band portable radio from Thales. The pilot program will involve field testing of the Thales Liberty muli-band portable radio that will cover both VHF and UHF public safety bands as well as 700 and 800 MHz channels. The test program will involve multiple agencies, both in the US and Canada and will involve first-responders as well as federal agencies.

The 14 pilot organizations that will be involved in the test program are:

-2010 Olympic Security Committee (Blaine, Wash., and Vancouver, B.C. Canada)

-Amtrak (Northeast Corridor)

-Boise Fire Department (Boise, Idaho)

-Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (Ottawa, ON Canada)

-Customs and Border Patrol (Detroit)

-Federal Emergency Management Agency (Multiple Locations)

-Hawaii State Civil Defense (Honolulu)

-Interagency Communication Interoperability System (Los Angeles County, Calif.)

-Michigan Emergency Medical Services (Lower Peninsula Areas)

-Murray State University (Southwest Kentucky)

-Phoenix Police Department and Arizona Department of Emergency --Management Greater Phoenix and Yuma County)

-Texas National Guard (Austin, Texas)

-U.S. Marshals Service (Northeast Region)

-Washington Metro Area Transit Authority Transit Police (District of Columbia)

According to information on the Thales Communications web site, the radio can be configured to operate in multiple mdes, including analog, APCO-25 digital, conventional and trunked.

Monday, June 22, 2009

CBP Operating Predator Drones

Reports are that the DHS Customs & Border Protection directorate are now using Predator B unmanned drones to keep the northern New York state border under surveillance. The full story can be seen here:

Reports had been that the CBP had several of the drones available for their use, but never where they were being used. The story indicates that these drones are not permanently based in New York state, but are being used for training and evaluation.

Local scanner listeners should keep an ear out on normal VHF air traffic control frequencies, as the drone should announce it's location to surrounding air traffic, or it's presence should be announced in warnings by local ATC.

DTV Transition - Boon for Scanners?

Has anyone else noticed a marked improvement in scanning the federal bands since the turn-off of analog full power TV stations? In the last couple of weeks, I have traveled to New York City, Los Angeles and Tucson, AZ and noticed that both my Uniden radios and GRE/Radio Shack scanners are not getting clobbered by interference and images in the 162-174 MHz band like they used to.

Normally all of my newer P-25 capable scanner would exhibit lots of signal level on their S-meters while scanning through the VHF bands, even when no signal was being received. I've always believed that this was a result of the front end of the radio being overloaded from high levels of RF. But I also believe that the problem was a result of the scanners receiver design and not the TV stations. Problems from this overload included low sensitivity and images of the wide-band FM audio sub carrier on some VHF frequencies. These have all seemed to vanished since the analog transmitters have shut down. Even at my home listening post, where I have a direct, line-of-site view to all the TV stations in the Portland, OR area, things are very quiet across the VHF federal and UHF military air bands.

Upcoming Events - G20 in Pittsburgh

It was recently announced that they next meeting of the G20 Summit will be in Pittsburgh, PA on September 24th and 25th.

These summit meetings are usually great monitoring opportunities for not only federal agencies, but local and state agencies as well. These events also seem to attract the anarchists and professional protesters as well. Security will be tight for the meeting dates and the days leading up to them as well.

There are some very good folks monitoring things in the Pittsburgh area, so we'll see what comes up during this event.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

NASA Glenn TRS On Line

The new UHF P-25 trunked system apparently is on the air at the John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. This system is apparently going to replace the UHF EDACS trunked system that has been in use.

Reports I have received show this for current system information:
System ID - 258
406.1500 MHz
406.7750 MHz
408.4250 MHz

Monday, June 01, 2009

USCG Using Federal I/O Channels

Recent reports are that the US Coast Guard has started using some of the new Federal Interoperability channels for their operations in the field.

Back in early 2008, the Coast Guard began using new narrow-band radios, capable of APCO P-25 digital mode as well as analog. When the new radios went on line, so did some new frequencies.

For many years, Coast Guard listeners were familiar with the "LANT" VHF FM land-mobile channels that some Coast Guard operations used. With the move to narrow-band radios some of these frequencies changed, and they are now referred to by "NET" numbers. Here is the most recent list of these new USCG NET channels, as published in the May 2008 Monitoring Times:
NET 01 139.9750
NET 02 140.4750
NET 03 140.7250
NET 04 141.6125
NET 05 150.7250
NET 06 141.5500
NET 07 150.3000
NET 08 162.0500
NET 09 162.1250
NET 10 162.2500
NET 11 162.3250
NET 12 163.0500
NET 13 163.1375
NET 14 164.3000
NET 15 164.3125
NET 16 164.5500
NET 17 164.5625
NET 18 164.9000
NET 19 164.9125
NET 20 165.2625
NET 21 165.3125
NET 22 165.3250
NET 23 165.3375
NET 24 166.1875
NET 25 167.9000
NET 26 168.8625
NET 27 171.2375
NET 28 172.3125
NET 50 172.0375 (Not Confirmed)
NET 51 165.4625 (Not Confirmed)

Note that in some areas, the NET numbers seem to have 100 added to them for APCO P-25 digital, so NET 1 would become NET 101 if they are digital. Unknown if this is standard through out the entire CG.

In addition to the new P-25 NETs, the new radios also contain the new VHF federal interoperability frequencies that have been made available to all federal agencies. There are two groups of VHF federal interop channels available in the CG radios and here they are:
VHF Law Enforcement (LE)
LE-A 167.0875 (simplex)
LE-1 167.0875
LE-2 167.2500
LE-3 167.7500
LE-4 168.1125
LE-5 168.4625
LE-6 167.2500 (simplex)
LE-7 167.7500 (simplex)
LE-8 168.1125 (simplex)
LE-9 168.4625 (simplex)

VHF Incident Response (IR)
IR-C 169.5375
IR-1 170.0125
IR-2 170.4125
IR-3 170.6875
IR-4 173.0375
IR-5 169.5375 (simplex)
IR-6 170.0125 (simplex)
IR-7 170.4125 (simplex)
IR-8 170.6875 (simplex)
IR-9 173.0375 (simplex)

So far, the Coast Guard has been heard using LE-A and LE-2 in some areas. The channel names for these interop frequencies have been changing often, so CG radios also have the 167.0875 MHz channel as LE-C for "LE Calling".

More can be found on these and other federal and non-federal interoperability frequencies in the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide that was mentioned in a previous blog posting. You can find the latest NIFOG download here:

LEWC Information

After searching for new information about the Justice Department's Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) trunked system, I discovered that the new acronym in federal communication is LEWC, or Law Enforcement Wireless Communications. I've also seen some references to LEWN or Law Enforcement Wireless Network in some documents.

LEWC is a broad concept for federal LE communications, which still includes the IWN as part of the big picture. But they have apparently come to realize that the IWN is not going to happen soon enough to replace some of the conventional legacy communications systems in use by various federal aagencies.

Here is a link to the Justice Department's FY 2010 Performance Budget of LEWC. Inside the report are some interesting timetables and maps showing a proposed schedule for some of the new installations and possible IWN expansion:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Declassify Federal Frequencies?

As part of their move towards "transparent" and open government, the White House has started asking for suggestions. One member of the FEDCOM list has submitted a proposal that asks for declassifying federal frequency assignments.

You can see his suggestion here:

You are able to vote on weather you agree or disagree with this suggestion on this page.

No idea if this will lead to anything, but it's an interesting idea.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Secret Service Requests Funding For Upgrades

Two news sources discuss budget requests by the Secret Service for upgrades to their IT systems:

Although both articles refer to problems with the USSS "communications" systems, a deeper read seems to indicate the problems exist with computer networks and information security.

In addition, there is congressional testimony that you can read here:

There is some reference to incompatible "telecommunications" between the US Secret Service and the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), but again, I think it refers more towards computer network and phone communications.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

FPS UPdates

I've recently received information that both Houston and Dallas Federal Protective Service radios have switched to new frequencies and are now P-25 digital. The Dallas FPS is reported to be using 410.8000 MHz, NAC 201. Houston is also on 410.8000 MHz, but no confirmation on the NAC yet (but I'll bet it's also 201). Input to these repeaters should be 419.8000 MHz, now following a standard 9 MHz repeater offset in the federal 406-420 MHz band.

NIFOG Update

The latest version of the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) is available for download here:

This guide is filled with useful information about interoperable communications, including frequencies and other good stuff. This version corrects some errors that were in the last version.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shuttle EVA Communications

I have been asked about possible shuttle EVA communications frequencies that could be monitored while the shuttle Atlantis is overhead. Although you would need to be in just the right place, it is possible to catch some traffic from the space shuttle on their UHF frequencies.

296.8 MHz, 259.7 MHz and 279.0 MHz are the three UHF simplex frequencies that are used by the EVA astronauts while outside the shuttle. The shuttle communications system relays these frequencies down to earth via S-band, Ku-band or TDRSS links.

To the best of my knowledge, these are not encrypted and are AM. There was some reserch being done a few years ago about replacing the EVA radios with something new and possibly digital in the 400 MHz band, but I don't know where that project is currently (my NASA sources have moved on to other careers).

Here are some good links to the NASA web site that deal with shuttle EVA and flight communications:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu Frequencies?

Due to the recent news reports of possible Swine Flu threats in this country as well as Mexico and Canada, I have seen some requests on line for frequencies that might be in use by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

Although I doubt at this point there is going to be any radio traffic from these agencies related to the Swine flu, I will post the HHS frequencies that were featured in the March 2008 edition of the Fed Files.

Department of Health & Human Services (All frequencies are in MHz)
41.430 (Nationwide)
41.470 (Nationwide)
41.530 (Nationwide)
41.650 (Nationwide)
41.690 (Nationwide)
41.790 (Nationwide)

163.2500 (Nationwide Medical Paging Allocation)
164.3000 (Nationwide)
164.9875 (Nationwide)
171.2375 (Nationwide – shared)

407.7000 / 416.7000
408.0500 / 417.0500
409.0000 / 418.0000
410.0250 / 419.0250
410.2000 / 419.2000
410.2250 / 419.2250
410.4000 / 419.4000
410.4250 / 419.4250
411.2250 – Simplex
411.4500 – Simplex
411.8250 – Simplex
413.4500 – Simplex
413.8750 – Simplex
415.4000 / 406.4000
415.8250 / 406.8250
415.9250 / 406.9250
416.9750 / 407.9750
417.6500 / 408.6500
417.7000 / 408.7000
419.1500 / 410.1500
419.6000 / 410.6000
419.6250 / 410.6250
419.8000 / 410.8000

As for CDC frequencies, the only ones I have seen are used for security at their facility outside of Atlanta.

Also from the Fed Files column, here is an HHS mobile unit that was seen in the Chicago area. Note the mobile satellite system as well as the land-mobile radios.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Super Bowl Helicopters

In the May 2009 issue of Monitoring Times, the Fed Files column contains a wrap-up of active frequencies that were monitored at Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa. I mentioned in the column about spotting two mysterious helicopters that were stationed near the stadium in our designated "Emergency Evacuation" rally point next to the football stadium.

Unfortunately the space in the magazine did not allow for any photos of the mystery helos, so I decided to post them here. You should be able to click on the photos for a larger view.

And I did not get any closer photos and was unable to catch the N numbers off of the helicopters on the one trip they made around the stadium. They arrived in the dark and departed the Monday after the Super Bowl.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Federal Reserve Update

As has been reported over the past year or so, many of the Federal Reserve Branches have changed to some standard UHF channels, some still in analog, some in P-25. I recently received a report from a listener in the Richmond, VA area and reports these frequencies as being active:

410.4875 MHz, 131.8 pl - Security Operations
406.6625 MHz, 131.8 pl - Facilities and Maintenance
413.9250 MHz, CSQ - Paging

The security and maintenance repeaters are reported as using the new +9 MHz offset, now standard in the federal 406-420 MHz band.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Treasury Update - Los Angeles

A few weeks ago I asked about anyone hearing any traffic on some of the known Treasury channels. I've been working in Los Angeles for the last week or so, and found some significant activity on a common Treasury Department frequency.

165.9500 MHz, N009 was busy for several days this past week with some sort of surveillance operation. I got the feeling that there is another P-25 repeater on this frequency that I was not picking up well enough to decode. The repeater I was hearing well appears to be covering the downtown LA area. I was not able to confirm the input of 167.0000 MHz yet.

In addition to this frequency, I've found several VHF P-25 repeaters that may or may not be related, and will be posting those soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Federal Use of MotoTRBO?!?

Those who read the posts in the Radio Reference web site forums have no doubt noticed an increase in the number of posters asking about something called MotoTRBO. This is a new product line of XPR radios from Motorola that offers a proprietary digital format. An interesting description of the MotoTRBO system is available here:

The new product line seems to have gotten popular with businesses, casinos, colleges and university security departments. Public safety agencies have started to utilize MotoTRBO equipment in some areas, which is a concern to scanner listeners as this digital format is not compatible with any scanners.

Now, I can report that it appears the MotoTRBO line of radios may be in use by a federal agency. The Portland VA Medical Center campus in Vancouver, Washington has been transmitting something on 409.4375 MHz that certainly sounds like the MotoTRBO sound samples available on the Internet. I have been hearing the signal for a couple of weeks now, but was finally able to confirm where it was coming from today. Here is a sample of what the MotoTRBO format sounds like on an analog scanner:

This is interesting in that I was under the impression that federal agencies were strongly urged (if not required) to make all new radio purchases with APCO P-25 compatibility in mind. In fact any public safety agency that was hoping for federal grants to help with communications purchases was also urged to go with something that was P-25 compatible. So why the move towards the MotoTRBO radios? Price? Features? The fact that they can't be monitored?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Where Has Treasury Gone?

A lot of folks are wondering what has happened to radio traffic from the various bureaus of the Treasury Department, and particularly the IRS. In the March, 2007 Monitoring Times, I tried to answer that question.

Sometime in the late 1990’s many of the radio frequencies used by the IRS seemed to go silent. Looking back, this seemed to occur about the same time that various reforms in the IRS organization were signed in to law. The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 may have changed what the various divisions of the IRS were responsible for and may have changed their radio communications needs. Shortly after these frequencies seemed to go silent, the Treasury Department also entered in to a plan to consolidate and restructure their radio communications system. They had originally started a pilot project to develop their own integrated wireless network, however they have since joined forces with the Justice Department’s IWN project.

But where are the Treasury and IRS communications today? The only thing I have actually confirmed as being active with the IRS lately is the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or TIGTA, TIGTA was created when the 1998 IRS Restructuring and Reform act was passed. TIGTA has two frequencies that they have been heard using. One is a repeater on 164.5375 MHz with 172.6375 MHz input and the other is also a repeater, but on 165.9500 MHz with 167.0000 MHz as the input. I have also received information, but not confirmed, that TIGTA may be using 165.3375 MHz as a tactical frequency. However, since the IWN trunked system has become active in the Portland, OR region, these frequences have been rarely heard.

I recently came across this report from the Treasury Department's Wireless Program Office. You can read the brief report here:
. In this report, there is a clear indication that some agencies of the Treasury have moved to commercial cellular and mobile data communications systems rather than continue using federal land-mobile systems.

Treasury Department communications are out there, but they may have begun to shift frequencies, perhaps in anticipation of the future Integrated Wireless Network. So keep in mind that the Treasury and IRS communications could have moved. But here is a list of previously known Treasury frequencies, so check these out and see if anything is active in your area:


Monday, March 02, 2009

More From Houston-Updated

Just getting ready to depart the Houston area from IAH, and found a few interesting items.

168.9250 MHz, 167.9 and 171.1750 MHz, 167.9 are both keying up with no audio, sometimes noise on the input side. Both frequencies appear to be repeater outputs, but 171.1750 MHz is giving me Close Call hits at IAH (George Bush Intercontinental Airport), so it's very near there.

Caught some simplex P-25 traffic on 414.5625 MHz, NAC 168. No idea who this might be as it was encrypted and I have nothing on this frequency being assigned to anyone.

And caught 169.3000 MHz, with a NAC of N009 several times. This is the TSA frequency that is normally used as an input to a repeater on 172.9000 MHz. However N009 appears to be used on this frequency in the simplex mode. First time I've caught this in use.

And while waiting in Terminal A for my flight, I heard an analog repeater key up with a noisy input on 172.9000 MHz, no PL tone. Yes, that is the TSA repeater frequency, but it was clearly getting keyed up in analog. The signal strength seemed to indicate that the repeater was not located at IAH, but probably near by.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Houston Federal Interop Testing

I was working in Houston, Texas this week and caught some testing of the federal interoperability repeaters.

On Thursday evening, I caught traffic from Houston FBI to various federal and state agencies on 170.7250 MHz and 171.4375 MHz. Both were using P-25 with a NAC of 653. The 170.7250 MHz channel is known as COMMAND and 171.4375 MHz is called PATCH. These same frequencies are used in other cities and are part of the DoJ 25-Cities Project.

I seem to recall some reports of these same two frequencies being used by the Houston FBI field office. When they use these repeaters, they called them L-1 and L-2, probably referring to the channel numbers on their radios.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More on Federal P-25 NAC

Since federal agencies have started using IMBE P-25 digital radios, and scanner listeners have had access to scanners that will display the P-25 NAC (Network Access Code), there has been an ongoing effort to discover any patterns to the use of any particular NACs by different federal agencies.

While much of federal radio traffic is enrypted, the identification of the user by the NAC can be a big help when finding new and encrypted frequencies.

So far, there have been only a few federal agencies that appear to be using a particular NAC for all their frequencies. Here is a list if what has been confirmed so far:

uses N650, N651, N652 and N653.

DEA uses N156.

FBI often uses N167, but has been seen using other NAC's on their frequencies. Why is still a mystery.

SECRET SERVICE is using N001 on their simplex and repeater output channels, but so are other agencies (TSA, CBP Border Patrol).

STATE DEPARTMENT Security Service appears to be using N0F0.

It now appears that the US Postal Inspectors are using a common NAC on their new P-25 repeaters. That NAC is N482, so if you are serching around the federal UHF (406-420 MHz) band and come across an encrypted frequency using a NAC of 482, that will most likely be the Postal Inspectors.

More coming as we figure these things out...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

GAO Report on FAMS

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report on progress with the Federal Air Marshals Service (FAMS). The report can be found here:

The Federal Air Marshals Service operates under the Transportation Security Administration, part of Homeland Security.

There has been much speculation about what the FAMS is using for communications. The GAO report mentions some items concerning research into a viable communications solution for the Air Marshals.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Update

With the kickoff fast approaching, things are getting busy here in Tampa.

The FBI and DHS are the prime agencies covering this event so far, and the Thunderbirds are scheduled for the fly by at the national anthem.

More later!

BTW, this is where I am working during the game...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII

Now that the Inauguration has passed, the next big event to monitor will be Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa. I'm on scene now, but so far the federal bands have been pretty quiet in the area. I did spot what appeared to be a DHS-marked AS350 AStar helicopter flying around the stadium on Thursday morning. But it's still over a week away so things will start ramping up soon.

For those who might want to listen in to the NFL event and behind the scenes communications at Raymond James Stadium, try looking up WQJQ418 on the FCC web site!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


As news reports are being broadcast about the US Airways flight emergency landing in the Hudson River, many in the NYC area are probably curious about the NTSB investigation team that is headed that way.

Here is what I have most likely for the NTSB as far as radio frequencies. I have no idea if they are analog, digital or what:

165.1500 - NTSB
165.1750 - NTSB
165.6250 - NTSB
165.7500 - NTSB F3
165.7625 - NTSB F1
166.1750 - NTSB F2
168.1750 - NTSB
169.0750 - NTSB

Now, a few caveats about NTSB frequencies...

1) I have never actually heard these or confirmed their usage.

2) I have never known or spoken to anyone who has actually confirmed these as being used.

3) Many lists found on the Internet seem to mix up FAA and NTSB frequencies freely. The NTSB is a completely separate & independent agency and is NOT part of the Department of Transportation.

4) I know someone who trained at the NTSB HQ in Washington DC. He noticed that all the teams that were prepping to leave on assignments took only cell phones and FRS type radios with them. It's unknown if they have radios shipped in on long investigations or what, but the folks he talked with had no knowledge or experience with real land-mobile type radios.

Remember, these are assignments that may be used by the FAA and other agencies. If you can confirm any of these as in use by the NTSB, you will win a prize of some sort!

A listener reported that he did actually hear the NTSB back during the Valujet crash in the Florida Everglades. The frequency was 165.7500 MHz and was encrypted full-time. So far nothing from New York City.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Presidential Inauguration Activities

Reports are coming in of potential communications activities related to the upcoming Inauguration. An active frequency to keep an ear on appears to be one of the federal interoperability repeaters that is part of the "25 Cities Project" organized & funded by the Justice Department. Here are the DC area repeaters:

DCIO1 - 159.15000, N653
DCIO2 - 168.87500, N653

DCIO2 N - 173.75000, N653
DCIO2 S - 168.08750, N653
DCIO2 W - 166.78750, N653

Reports are that DC I/O 2 or "C-TAC 2" may be in use for the upcoming activities.