Friday, April 25, 2008

Events This Weekend

I've found two events this weekend that may provide for some interesting monitoring:
  • On Saturday, the University of Maryland-College Park holds an open house. Their trunked system should be busy. See this page for details:
  • On Sunday, the Folger Shakespeare Library celebrates Shakespeare's 444th birthday. In one previous visit to the Folger, I only found one frequency: 461.0625 [127.3]. This frequency was used by both security and staff members. Any updates would be appreciated.
The Nationals will be in town this weekend for a series against the Cubs. See previous blog posts for Nationals Park frequencies. And the Wizards will be playing the Cavaliers at Verizon Center on Sunday. There's not much to monitor at the Verizon lately, since they've switched to MOTOTRBO, but 461.5125 [ d152] might be active. That's a frequency used by CSC Event Staff.

What I Listen to on I-95 from Fredericksburg to DC

Since I frequently make the hour trip on I-95 from Fredericksburg to DC, I thought I'd post what I'm listening to (and where) on the drive. I'm almost always listening with the BCD396T scanner with the Radio Shack 800 MHz antenna.
  1. I begin in Fredericksburg scanning five different entities: Spotsylvania County, Fredericksburg, Stafford County, Virginia State Police, and the "Special" system. Spotsy is their EDACS trunked system, plus several conventional frequencies. Fredericksburg is several public safety and business frequencies. Same with Stafford. Virginia State Police is their four dispatch frequencies that they use around the state, plus their Tac and Surveillance channels. (I've also got a few other Virginia state agencies' frequencies in this system, like VDOT.) Finally, the "Special" system is a slew of conventional frequencies. It includes the low-power and itinerant business frequencies, the "local control" channels, common public safety channels that are in use nationwide, and others. There are too many frequencies to list, but maybe that's something for a future post. (The scanner actually takes about three seconds to go through all these frequencies!)
  2. I listen to these five "systems" from mile 130 to about mile 140. At that point Spotsy tends to get fairly weak, so I turn it and Fredericksburg off. After passing Exit 143, I turn on two more systems: Prince William and Quantico Marine Corps Base. Prince William consists of the Motorola trunked system, plus frequencies for Potomac Mills Mall and Prince William Forest Park. Quantico includes their conventional fire frequency (149.3500) and their 380 MHz trunked system.
  3. I keep these systems going until about Exit 160. (I usually turn Stafford off around Potomac Mills, Exit 156.) At Exit 160, if not earlier, I turn on Fairfax County and Fort Belvoir. (I can receive Fairfax well from about Exit 152 on.) Fairfax consists of their Motorola trunked system, and several conventional frequencies. I don't normally listen to the Fairfax Services trunked system on the road. Fort Belvoir is the 380 MHz system used at that base.
  4. I turn Prince William and Quantico off shortly after crossing the Occoquan River. Fairfax and Belvoir stay on at least until I get on I-395. On approaching the Springfield Interchange (at about Exit 166) I turn on Arlington. Arlington consists of both the current Motorola trunked system, as well as the new P25 trunked system. It also includes a bunch of conventional frequencies.
  5. Once through the Springfield Interchange, I might turn on DC, but many times I just leave the scanner on Arlington. DC consists of the 460 MHz Motorola trunked system used by the Metropolitan Police, and the 800 MHz Motorola trunked system used by DC Fire and City Services.
That's about it. I keep the Virginia State Police and the Special system on for the entire drive. So basically the scanner scans those two systems, plus whatever jurisdiction I happen to be passing through at the moment.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Centerplate Frequencies

Centerplate, the concession manager at Nationals Park that I mentioned in the previous post, does have some frequencies licensed in DC for use at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. While it's unlikely these frequencies would be used at Nationals Park, they might be worth a shot:


All five of these frequencies are licensed for simplex use, at four watts output.

Nationals Park

At last night's game, I found a few interesting frequencies at Nationals Park:

461.8125 [ d612] Cleaning
464.5500 [ 67.0] Advertising Sign Maintenance
867.7625 [156.7] DCFD First Aid/Medical (S)

The sign maintenance frequency was used at RFK. The cleaning frequency is an odd choice, as it is sometimes clobbered by the Nationals' MOTOTRBO repeater on the same frequency. I was surprised to find DCFD on one of their analog simplex frequencies, as they have always used a talkgroup (2096) from their trunked system at RFK and Nationals Park before last night. MPD was on their usual talkgroup 21232 (Citywide 2). Most of the traffic was related to traffic control/street closures, but some brief traffic from interior units was also monitored.

I didn't find anything for the concession operator, Centerplate. They may be hanging out on 451/452 MHz frequencies, which I forgot to search.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Gravelly Point

Someone just asked me for directions to Gravelly Point from Fredericksburg. Since it's a great location for recreation (and scanning), I thought I'd repost the directions here:

Take I-95N to I-395N, and get off at exit 10B (the George Washington Parkway south). Merge onto the Parkway, and then take the exit for Reagan National Airport. (As you're going south on the Parkway, you actually pass Gravelly Point on the left before you get to the airport, but Gravelly Point is only accessible from the Parkway going northbound.) Once in the airport, follow the signs for the Parkway north. This will take you out of the airport, and you'll go about a mile before you get to Gravelly Point on the right. There is a decent-size parking area there, but it fills up on nice days, particularly on the weekend.

One other thing: be careful when getting on the Parkway from 395, and then again when getting on from the airport. There is really no merge area when coming down the ramps.

Gravelly Point is a great place for scanning, as it's just about in the center of everything. (How many other central places can you find that boast [unlimited] free parking?) There's an excellent view of many forms of transportation. One might see planes, helicopters, boats, and the Metro in the space of a few minutes.

Because of the numerous transmitters at the airport (which create intermod), one might have to use the attenuator on certain frequency bands. I've found this to be particularly true between about 461.0000 and 461.5000. I think the culprit is 461.1375, which is a frequency used by USAirways for ground operations. When that frequency is quiet, the intermod problem seems to be much better. Of course, other scanners might not have this problem, but they may have other intermod problems. I'm usually using a BCD396T when 461.1375 causes a problem.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Papal Visit - April 17 Monitoring

Yesterday was a long day, but I got a ton of good monitoring in. I left Fredericksburg at 5 AM, and arrived at Gravelly Point an hour later. For the next thirteen-and-a-half hours (!), I monitored just about every frequency range or trunked system I thought might be in use for the events.

I brought four handheld scanners: the GRE PSR-500, Uniden BCD396T, BC246T, and BC250D. The 500 was searching 162-174 and 406-420 MHz. The 396 was monitoring a bunch of things, including the 800 and 460 DC trunked systems, the analog and P25 Arlington trunked systems, a bunch of "special" frequencies (itinerants, low-power, common public safety), the 461-465 band, and several miscellaneous frequencies such as Catholic U, the Red Cross, Park Police, etc. The 246 was searching the marine band. And the 250 was scanning the Metro trunked system and the Airport Authority trunked system. The 250 conked out after several hours, so I set the 396 to scan those two trunked systems.

What follows is a list of what I found. I was able to hear operations inside Nationals Park for the Mass, because apparently the organizers rented radios. The four repeaters they used made it to my location just north of Reagan National just fine. Judging by the frequencies they used, they may have rented the radios from Bearcom.

Since I was scanning for the entire day, I also logged 30-40 more frequencies unrelated to the day's events (mostly federal and business). I'm looking forward to sifting through these over the coming days.

157.0500 [ CSQ] Coast Guard (Marine Channel 21A)
157.1500 [ CSQ] Coast Guard - Primary Operations (Marine Channel 23A) (some DES encryption)
158.8500 [NAC 001] MPD Motorcade Detail (patched to DC Trunked System talkgroup 18480) (encrypted)
159.1500 [NAC 653] MPD Motorcade Detail (unencrypted)
166.7250 [127.3] Park Police (Channel 1) (street closures)
170.1750 [156.7] Capitol Police (Channel 3)
409.0000 [NAC 293] Disaster Medical Assistance Team (encrypted/unencrypted)
461.5000 [ d243] Pope John Paul II Cultural Center Security
462.3750 [ 88.5] Red Cross (unknown if used for event)
463.4375 [ d465] Catholic University Engineering
464.5750 [100.0] Catholic University Security
464.6000 [206.5] Mass at Nationals Park - Organizers (R)
464.6250 [210.7] Mass at Nationals Park - Organizers (R)
464.6500 [218.1] Mass at Nationals Park - Organizers (R)
464.7000 [225.7] Mass at Nationals Park - Organizers (R)
464.8125 [ d155] Mass at Nationals Park - Audio/Visual

DC Trunked System Talkgroups:
1952 DCFD ("radios to give out")
2160 DCFD (Medical)
2176 DCFD (Medical) (patched to 868.0125)
9840 DCFD (Hazmat, etc.)
10032 DCFD Unknown
18288 MPD Special Operations Division Alternate
18320 MPD Harbor Patrol
18416 MPD Protection Detail? (unknown if used for event) (encrypted)
18480 MPD Motorcade Detail (patched to 158.8500) (encrypted)
33840 Emergency Management Agency ("HHS" and "JTF-Med")
33904 Emergency Management Agency
34448 Department of Health
35536 Emergency Management Agency 1
35600 Traffic Management Center
36880 Hospital Roll Call
59952 MPD Special Operations Division (Simulcast)

Metro Trunked System Talkgroups:
50192 Transit Police Tac 6 (crowd control at Navy Yard station)
58032 "EM" units (coordination at Navy Yard station)

Arlington Trunked System (Analog) Talkgroups:
33840 Motor Units/Escorts
34096 Metropolitan Medical Strike Team

Arlington Trunked System (P25) Talkgroups:
34 "MMRT test"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Papal Monitoring Ideas

From Alan Henney on the Scan-DC mailing list:

The NCR radio cache supposed to be deployed this week for the Pope's visit.

Some of these radios will be operating on the 800 MHz tacs: 866.0125, 866.5125, 867.0125, 867.5125 and 868.0125.

The old VHF MPD channels -- 158.79, 158.85 and 159.15 -- are worth trying. 158.85 is encrypted.

All of the Secret Service chatter I heard on Tuesday was encrypted, as is typical these days.

123.025 is good for helos.

494.9375 was used by PGPD on the motorcade.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Park Police Frequency for Motorcade

Park Police used Channel 1 (166.7250 [127.3]) for street closures in downtown DC. (I can barely hear them from Fredericksburg.)

Prince George's Frequency for Pope's Arrival

From an anonymous source: the Prince George's County Police will be using Channel 6 (494.8875 [127.3]) for the Pope's arrival this afternoon.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Pope's Visit to DC (Part 3)

More things to monitor:

Nationals Park
Here's a rundown of what's used at Nationals Park. Unfortunately, the primary frequencies are MOTOTRBO, which is unmonitorable. But there are still quite a few analog things to listen to at the stadium. (Note that most of these are simplex, so you'll have to be near the stadium to monitor.)

461.3875 [ d152] CSC Event Staff
461.5125 [ d152] CSC Event Staff
461.6625 [ ] Nationals Staff (MOTOTRBO digital modulation--cannot be monitored)
461.8125 [ ] Nationals Staff (MOTOTRBO digital modulation--cannot be monitored)
461.9875 [ ] Nationals Staff (MOTOTRBO digital modulation--cannot be monitored)
463.7875 [ ] Nationals Staff (MOTOTRBO digital modulation--cannot be monitored)
463.9375 [ ] Nationals Staff (MOTOTRBO digital modulation--cannot be monitored)
464.5000 [114.8] TV? (active 3/30/08)
464.5500 [167.9] Fireworks Coordination?
464.6500 [107.2] TV? (active 3/30/08)

Metro's trunked system should be quite active, especially before and after the Mass at Nationals Park. The Transit Police have used one of their Tac channels (usually either Tac 6 or Tac 7) for crowd control at busy stations. Tac 6 and Tac 7 are talkgroups 50192 and 50224, respectively. Of course, the Transit Police dispatch talkgroup will be active (analog 2224, digital 49168/57296). Also listen for bus supervisors dealing with rerouting buses. Their primary talkgroup is 24592.

Red Cross
The Red Cross has provided water and medical support at some of Washington's big events in the past, and they may be working for the Pope's visit. They've used 462.3750 [ 88.5]. It's unknown whether this frequency is simplex or repeated. The Red Cross is also licensed for a repeater on 461.4750 and mobiles on 464.2500.

The Secret Service is coordinating overall security for the Pope's visit, as it does for all visiting heads of state. This Capitol Hill Monitor newsletter (PDF) has an excellent article about the Secret Service. Search the 162-174 MHz and 406-420 MHz bands for other federal activity.

The Pope's Visit to DC (Part 2)

Other things to monitor:

The following five agencies are all on the Washington, DC Trunked System:

Metropolitan Police (MPD)
Talkgroups 16656 (Special Operations Division), 21232 (Citywide 2) and 18288 (SOD Alternate) may be active. These talkgroups, which are in the clear, will probably mostly be used for street closures. Talkgroups dealing with the motorcade and protection details will probably be encrypted.

DC Fire (DCFD)
DCFD will probably use Special Events 1-3 (2096, 2112, 2128). Also check the two "direct" channels (867.4875 [156.7] and 867.7625 [156.7]). They've been used at previous events.

DC Emergency Management Agency (EMA)
This agency has several talkgroups. They've been heard on 33872, 35536 and 35568. 35536 has seen the most use during recent events.

DC Department of Transportation (DDOT)
DDOT also has several talkgroups (34512, 34576, 35600). The Traffic Management Center is frequently heard on the same talkgroups. 34512 was used by traffic control officers during the opening of Nationals Park. 34576 used to be the "primary" DDOT talkgroup, but isn't heard much anymore.

DC Department of Health (DOH)
This agency uses talkgroup 34448. Talkgroup 34416, an unknown talkgroup, may also be used by DOH.

The Pope's Visit to DC (Part 1)

The Pope will be visiting Washington this week, arriving Tuesday afternoon and leaving Friday morning. There will be events at various locations around the city. Here are some suggestions for monitoring:

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
461.2000 [ 82.5] Security
(Additional licensed frequencies: 464.3250M, 464.6750M, 151.8350B/M)

Pope John Paul II Cultural Center
461.0750 [ d131] Visitor Operations
461.5000 [ d243] Security
(Additional licensed frequencies: 466.9250M, 469.9250M, 457.2250M, 461.8500R)

Catholic University
464.5750 [100.0] Security
(Additional licensed frequencies: 461.7250M, 461.7750M, 461.7500M, 464.9500M)

463.4375 [ d465] Unknown what this frequency is used for. Mentioned "Cardinal Hall" and "Michigan Ave." Cardinal Hall is on the campus of Catholic University.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Licensed frequency: 463.9125R

Sunday, April 13, 2008

World Bank/IMF Meetings This Weekend

One other big event this weekend I forgot to mention in the earlier post: the World Bank/IMF meetings. MPD will probably coordinate most of the street closures, and they'll probably use the Special Operations Division talkgroup (16656). As for frequencies for the World Bank itself, try these two, which were confirmed in use recently:

151.9550 [107.2] Security
463.7500 [ d606] Engineering

(The Security frequency is simplex. The base can be heard from some distance, but you'll have to be close to hear the mobiles. The Engineering frequency is a repeater.)

Newseum Finds

Here's what I found at the Newseum's opening on Friday:

461.7750 [ ] Staff (MOTOTRBO digital)
461.8250 [ ] Staff (MOTOTRBO digital)
463.5750 [ d251] Unknown
463.6250 [ ] Staff (MOTOTRBO digital)

451.8125 [ d205] Food/Catering (Channel 1)
456.8000 [ d223] Food/Catering (Channel 2)
462.5875 [ 77.0] Store (may also use [ 67.0])

460.6500 [ 97.4] PW Feats (event management - 4/11/08)

Most of the staff used the three MOTOTRBO repeaters, but there were a few analog frequencies in use. The 463.5750 frequency is licensed as simplex MOTOTRBO, but they were using it in analog mode. I only heard a brief conversation on it, however, and couldn't figure out the use of the frequency. The food/catering frequencies were very active (especially Channel 1), as they had catered events for all the VIPs in attendance for the grand opening. The PW Feats frequency was used for the coordination of the street party on Pennsylvania Avenue before the Newseum opened. I've never seen this freq before, but keep an eye on it for other PW Feats events.

Interestingly, the Close Call feature on the BCD396T scanner worked in finding the three MOTOTRBO repeaters. I didn't expect this, since MOTOTRBO uses TDMA. However, Close Call did not capture the inputs to the repeaters (466.7750, 466.8250, 468.6250).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Newseum Opens Friday

The Newseum, "The Interactive Museum of News," opens on Friday after being delayed for about six months. They will be using MOTOTRBO radios, so unfortunately the museum will be unmonitorable. But you may want to bring the scanner anyway, in case they happen to be using some regular analog frequencies. (This may be especially true in the first few days of operation, if they need to supplement their regular radio usage.) Here are the frequencies they've licensed, for informational purposes only:

461.7750 R/M
461.8250 R/M
463.6250 R/M
452.2750 M
463.5750 M

Events This Weekend

Here are a couple of notable events this weekend, and what to listen for:
  • The Cherry Blossom Parade (Saturday at 10 AM, Constitution Ave. between 7th and 17th Sts.). In 2005, the parade used talkgroup 0-17-169 on a local Champion Communications LTR trunked system. In 2006, the parade used several UHF frequencies: 464.6250 [ d071], 464.7500 [ d116], 469.6250 [ d072], 469.6500 [ d115].
  • The Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival (Saturday from 11-6, several blocks around 12th and Pennsylvania Ave.). The Street Festival has used Family Radio Service radios in the past.

Scanner Meeting in Richmond on Saturday

For those willing to do a bit of traveling, there is a scanner meeting in Richmond on Saturday from 1:30-4:30. This meeting doesn't have a topic, as most of the meetings do, so it will probably just be general discussion. It's at the LaPrade branch of the Chesterfield County Library. Here's the address:

9000 Hull Street Road
Richmond, VA 23236
(804) 276-7755

Camden Potomac Yard New License

Camden Potomac Yard, an apartment building south of Reagan National Airport, has received a license for a UHF repeater on 464.9125.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Events This Weekend

Here are a couple of events this weekend and what to listen for:
  • This evening is the fireworks display on the Southwest Waterfront. I would listen to the marine channels, the itinerant channels (for the people launching the fireworks), DC talkgroup 2640 (DCFD Fireboats), and DC talkgroup 18320 (MPD Harbor Patrol). Another interesting thing to listen to might be the Airport Authority's trunked system. Specifically, check out talkgroup 1680 (Reagan Airport Operations Dispatch), which was active during fireworks on the Alexandria waterfront a year or two ago. (Operations Dispatch has to give the organizers clearance to begin launching the fireworks, so the display doesn't interfere with air traffic.)
  • Tomorrow morning is the Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile Run. In the past, the organizers have used one repeated UHF channel. The frequency seems to change from year to year. Two recently-used freqs have been 463.8000 and 461.4000. Also listen for the Park Police, especially channels 1 and 4 (166.7250 and 166.8500, respectively). MPD should be providing traffic control, probably on talkgroup 16656, and DCFD will probably provide medical support on the Special Event talkgroups (2096, 2112, 2128).
Any other listening tips/finds? Post a comment. Thanks.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

TAGS Buses in Springfield (VA)

Anyone know what the TAGS buses in Springfield are using for radios? Someone asked me yesterday, and I said I didn't know. Based on their antennas, they are using a UHF frequency. My guess is they're using a leased LTR system, or maybe Metro's 490 MHz trunked system.

National Academies New Application

The National Academies (on 5th St. in DC) put in an application for five simplex frequencies. Here they are: