Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dodging the Trunk

So after spending a weekend in Eagle County, Colo., a few weeks ago, I've renewed appreciation for the scanning landscape here in L.A. County. Mostly, I am greatly relieved that none of the agencies I routinely monitor have switched to a trunked system. While the LAPD's move a few years ago to a digital system forced me to spend a few hundred bucks to upgrade scanners, it wasn't that big of a deal.

My good man NathanMK had the foresight to pre-program his little Uniden TrunkTracker with a host of Eagle County frequencies before he departed Boston, and I brought along my SportCat 180 that is trunk-tracker capable, but is owned by someone that has never programmed a trunked system. In the past, I've just programmed a bunch of the EGE frequencies in the scanner, locked out the control channel (easy to find since it's the channel with the annoyingly loud buzz) and basically rolled the dice. In between the idiotic radio traffic about various Eagle Transit and Vail Transit bus routes, I'd get snippets of public safety traffic. But since my scanner wasn't programmed to trunk, the calls would jump all over the frequencies and I'd almost always only hear bits and pieces of conversations.

Nathan's pre-program was like a revelation of sorts, but it was still a pain-in-the ass, largely owing to spotty reception in our lodgings and giant mountains blocking the various signals bouncing around the county. Halfway through the weekend, I jury rigged my scanner into some semblance of a programmed TrunkTracker and had slightly better success cutting out all the useless public works and bus traffic.

By the time I returned to L.A., I was happy to resume my usual scanning habits, which the local public-safety agencies make fairly easy. There were a few amusing calls to be heard in Colorado, but also made me happy that trunking seems like a distant possibility here. I also thank my lucky stars that the city of Beverly Hills has yet to enact its long-threatened trunking system.

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