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    Exclamation Chronic Failures w/Motorola's Trunked Emergency Communications Radio System

    Failure of the Centre County, Pennsylvania, 911 Emergency Communications System

    Chronic and Ongoing Problems with Motorola’s Trunked 800 MHZ Network

    For almost a year now, fire departments, police departments, and first responders in Centre County, PA, have endured an intermittent interference or system malfunction that causes transmissions to sound distorted or audio to “drop out”. The problem generally appears as a garbled radio transmission, usually from a field unit, and sometimes appears as dropped audio into the 911 Communications Center and to other field units. The problems began in the fall of 2006. Motorola engineers have been unable to determine the source of the interference or system malfunction. Failure of the emergency communications radio system endangers firefighters and places the general public that we serve in jeopardy.

    Attached below is a recording of the actual interference being experienced by firefighters in Centre County:

    http://www.centrecountyfire.com/audi...terference.wma

    I am looking for any information, or if any other departments or agencies who may have experienced this type of interference. The radio system is a Motorola Type II Smartnet 800 MHZ Trunked System which is about 10 years old.

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    Any new cell phone towers in the area?
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    Sounds a lot like the problems that are currently being experienced by the City of Victoria, and the CREST system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post
    Sounds a lot like the problems that are currently being experienced by the City of Victoria, and the CREST system.
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    Hmmm. It almost sounds like the receiver is being desensed by the repeater. It comes in good for a split second and then its gone. You can tell he isn't just in a bad spot; if that was the case, it would just be consistent garbled crap.

    Is this problem intermittent? Like can you stand in the same place and have it work fine and then have it not work 10 minutes later?
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    Default Well.........

    I'm with NM, This isn't a typical "Dead Spot" type of problem. Dave asked about Cell Towers. I'd want to see the records of all new Cell equipment installed, and any work on existing cell equipment, in the County, and within 15 miles of the County line in all directions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    I'm with NM, This isn't a typical "Dead Spot" type of problem. Dave asked about Cell Towers. I'd want to see the records of all new Cell equipment installed, and any work on existing cell equipment, in the County, and within 15 miles of the County line in all directions.
    I mentioned it as we've had our Motorola trunked system for almost 20 years and we had all the problem areas identified and worked out for some time. Then the cell towers started popping up everywhere. Now we have a whole new list of problem areas.
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    Motorola engineers have placed monitoring devices near the tower sites, but have been unable to detect any signals which are interfering with the system. The intermittant interference/failure is being experienced countywide. This is not a "dead spot" problem. Field users can transmit fine one second, then the next transmission will "drop out". One can also be transmitting fine, then all of a sudden the audio drops out in the middle of the conversation. I have attached another example of the interference/failure.

    http://www.centrecountyfire.com/audi...erference2.wma

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    Lightbulb a quick fix

    Hopefire,

    May I suggest using the old string and can idea? In all seriousness, your 800 system sounds similar to the one in service in metro Atlanta. You can be transmitting just fine then nothing and back to transmitting again. We HAVE NOT come up with a solution to the problem, neither has Motorola. The only thing we have figured out is that it is not related to dead spots. so we are in the same position as you.

    I do not know if ya'll have a back-up system or not, but rely on that more than the 800 system. My former department uses the 460mhz for the pagers and that works just fine without interruption; only problem is the fire ground channels are on the 800. I wish you the best of luck with your radio problems and if you get an answer let me know too!

    Thanks
    Last edited by MPVFD2046; 09-10-2007 at 03:02 PM.

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    The weird part is that the Motorola engineers can not find the problem. To me this points to the hardware. I am surprised that they did not try replacing some of the equipment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopefirecompany View Post
    I am looking for any information, or if any other departments or agencies who may have experienced this type of interference. The radio system is a Motorola Type II Smartnet 800 MHZ Trunked System which is about 10 years old.
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    Not sure of the exact system we use but it is a trunked 800 motorola system. It sucks and has since the day it was put in. Motorola blames the cell companies, they blame Motorola, and we continue to experience radio problems. In a city the size of Philadelphia, when the the fire department loses all radio capabilities, it kinda fooks things up. The police had problems when they needed them most. When they would broadcast over citywide band for a high priority "officer needs assistance" the whole dame system would crash leaving them no radio capabilities.

    I would believe one of the major problems is our city "tested" our system using the water and gas companies. No priority traffic, no urgent messages, no lives hanging in the balance. If the system didnt work right, workers didnt care and sure as hell didnt complain. That was one less water main to fix for the day.
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    Default Just a matter of time....

    Update:

    Just a matter of time before something bad happens, here is the latest audio of an incident, a working fire, the interior crew cannot communicate with exterior. Communications are garbled. Bad, bad, situation...

    http://www.centrecountyfire.com/audi...ne-garbled.wma

    Motorola cannot determine what is causing this interference. If anyone has experienced this interference, or know of a solution, please let me know!

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    Why are they using a repeatered or trunked channel for interior operation in the first place. They should be using analog conventional simplex for that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    Why are they using a repeatered or trunked channel for interior operation in the first place. They should be using analog conventional simplex for that.
    It's more common than you'd probably think. I know locally the St Gabriel/East Iberville FD uses 2 talk groups known as (Fire and Fire Ground) on the City of Baton Rouge Trunked Radio System.
    It was one of the many things I was uncomfortable with when I was on that department. I hated the idea of entering a structure with a radio and hoping the trunked repeater 10 miles away would relay my signal to the truck 100 feet away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cellblock View Post
    It's more common than you'd probably think. I know locally the St Gabriel/East Iberville FD uses 2 talk groups known as (Fire and Fire Ground) on the City of Baton Rouge Trunked Radio System.
    It was one of the many things I was uncomfortable with when I was on that department. I hated the idea of entering a structure with a radio and hoping the trunked repeater 10 miles away would relay my signal to the truck 100 feet away.
    I agree with cellblock. I would even go a step further and say that using repeatered systems (analog or digital) on the fireground is the norm rather than the exception.

    The really sad/funny thing is that lots of people that should know better - as in chiefs, radio technicians, and even firefighters think it is a GOOD thing.

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    We use a trunked motorola 800 mHz system. It has been in service for 12 years with some upgrades. It sounds to me like you have a capacity issue. Probably just need more "channels." We started with four channels and a control. We had some of those issues, and added two more total of six channels plus a control channel. That eliminated nearly all of the problems.

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