Tag Archives: MMR Network

Victorian Government Operational Communications Program Update & other matters

Hi All,

It’s been far too long since our last article, but that’s what happens when you have work, a wife and kids to consider. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had to contend with all of the above whilst still trying to have a hobby.

Victorian Government Emergency Management Operational Communications Program

As most will know the initial deadline for Victoria Police in rural areas to go encrypted on an expanded RMR Network has passed. It was an ambitious date to begin with and those who have worked in government circles will realise that.

Also let’s remember it was a timeline that was initially set during an election when point scoring between parties is at fever pitch.

Once the waters settle a little and everyone who has a stake in such a project has their say, formulates business cases, does their feasibility tests, runs tenders, sources suppliers etc. a more realistic, and attainable timeline tends to be seen and in most cases differs from what was originally stated.

This is a massive project! It is never an easy task trying to get everyone on the same page, so I don’t think we should be too surprised that we didn’t see Victoria Police in rural areas running digital encrypted on the RMR Network by July, 2017. You have to remember the original timeline announcement was set in April 2015, for a project of this size that isn’t a big window.

If it was just Victoria Police involved in the project and moving to an already long-established system then I think they would’ve achieved it. But the reality is there are many other entities involved in such a project and they’re moving to a relativity new system that needs to be expanded in order to cater to several agencies and be at a certain operational readiness in the desired areas before switch-over.

An expanded RMR Network will see the remaining four CFA Districts in the Metropolitan Fire District (Districts 7, 8, 13 & 14) migrate to the network.

The RMR Network has already started to expand and we should see just over 235+ sites when done, up from 199 sites. Some of these new sites will permit the outer Country Fire Authority brigades in the outer Metropolitan areas (Districts 7, 8, 13 & 14) to finally migrate across to the RMR Network like the rest of the agency.

An interesting note is that some time ago I was advised that the Sheriff’s Office of Victoria (SOV) was halting plans to migrate across to the RMR Network in order to do an internal review and assessment of their future communication needs.

If you have a read through some of the initial documentation and announcements SOV were part of the ‘master plan’ of inclusion and even had funds allocated to them for the exercise. However the recent revived timeline announcement doesn’t include them. I believe you will find as it stands at present they’re out of the project altogether for now, which means they may need to hand back some money to Emergency Management Victoria they received in order to budget the project at agency level under the ACMA Compliance project. Time will tell.

Motorola APX series radios are expected for Victoria Police in rural areas and Corrections Victoria.

There was a post by a user on the ‘Aussie Scanners’ forum back in July 2017 stating he’d suddenly noticed a few of his local Police carrying Tait portables and not their usual Motorola radios. I believe you’ll find some Tait units were loaned to Victoria Police via another agency for trial and testing purposes, however don’t expect to see Tait rolled out for Victoria Police. I believe you will find Motorola will be supply new radios to Victoria Police, Corrections Victoria (CV) and possibly the State Emergency Service (SES).

Victoria Police and SES will in all probability get some dual band assets, not all radios will be dual band, but expect some areas to have access to such, this will permit roaming between the two networks. I’m uncertain where AV (Rural) is at for the moment, dual band radios were touted for them as a possibility at one stage I believe. We should see only Victoria Police and CV will run encryption on their talkgroups and enjoy some nice new Motorola APX units as well as some

Surf Life Saving Victoria is still in the picture and expected to migrate with Kenwood radios.

Also of note regarding government communications is the current situation for Vicroads and its various operational departments such as  Works, Incident Response Service (IRS), Transport Safety Services (TSS) and the Traffic Management Centre (TMC).

Vicroads at present is not part of any network migration plans, which is quite interesting in my opinion. They are a government department and are existing users of a radio system, they also play a very large and vital role in keeping the road network humming along and dealing with all sorts of matters and incidents on the road network.

Vicroads used to use a very extensive radio system several decades ago with one of the greatest coverage footprints of any government department across the state at the time, some might even argue it actually surpassed elements of Victoria Police’s then VHF and later UHF network. So what happened?

I’m told that in short a certain Premier back in the 90’s envisioned that as cost saving exercise they could sell and dismantle the system and migrate to the then VHF SMR Network (based on MPT1327 protocol) which was in its early years of operation, which is pretty much what occurred. However some UHF allocations were retained for use in Metropolitan areas and the final one of those UHF frequencies was vacated only a couple of years ago.

Vicroads TSS Officers appear a little more fortunate with their current radio access than their IRS and Works colleagues.

Not long after the disastrous Black Saturday fires of 2007 there was some concern regarding their works depots lack of access to radio infrastructure and that of the Transport Safety Services (TSS) and Incident Response Service (IRS) should they need to allocate resources in to disaster affected areas outside of the metropolitan area, and they realised they couldn’t just have crews relying on mobile phone networks for obvious reasons. The TSS are bit more fortunate in this regard in that most, if not all, of their units also have access to the VHF SMR Network for rural operations and UHF for metropolitan operations in addition to MDT access. However the IRS and Works Department don’t appear as fortunate.

Things seemed to get a little worse only a few years back when they had to vacate the last of the UHF allocations of which the IRS were big users of. This also meant that some work depot crews also lost access to radio communications. The TSS were lucky in that they could fallback to the SMR Network.

I believe with the passage of time there may have been some administration matters that required them to forgo the last UHF frequency allocated for their voice communications, happy to be corrected if anyone can shed some further light on the matter.

Vicroads now find themselves on a leased UHF frequency, which incidentally if I’m correct is licensed to a chap who was instrumental in setting up the rather large radio network Vicroads used to own and operate that I mentioned above.

Surely one would think they have a good business case for access to the MMR and RMR Network? Whilst I understand they are not necessarily classed as an ESO, given the role they play on our vital roads infrastructure in time of fires, accidents, natural disasters and major incidents & events and their very regular liaison with various ESO’s they would be better serviced, as would the State and its population, they should be using the MMR and / or RMR Network?

Late last year a very limited user trial was held for several weeks in order to test some 1.8Ghz LTE technology based on a Sonim XP7 handset. The Sonim XP7 was loaded up with TASSTA PTT Software.

The Sonim XP7 handset & cradle (only) being trialed by Vicroads with TASSTA PTT software.

TASSTA software can include the functionalities of digital radio and smartphones combined. Included can be Group and Individual calls, Priority call via Push-to-Talk as well as many other additional features such as Messaging and Data transfer such as files and images, status messages, encryption, history and voice recording, GPS, emergency calls with full-duplex-mode, remote control (picture and voice), Man-Down, alarm, ID management and time tracking.

After the initial and brief limited user trial it was decided to try a trial on a larger scale, this commenced around the end of June 2017 and was intended to last for 3 months or so, so you would’ve noted the leased UHF frequency falling silent. The trial was to include the TMC, Works, TSS and IRS. It looks however as if the trial has come to halt in parts due to a number of factors. One of those being some friendly advice in regards to the legalities around the ‘use handheld device whilst driving’ rules and regulations. From this I’m assuming that the trial did not include a full fit-out of the communications package featured in the image and possibly just the cradle and handled device itself. Again if anyone can shed further light on the matter I’d be interested to hear it.

I believe there may have been another minor matter pertaining to the durability of aspects of the device, however I’ve been unable to confirm if those are device related or end-user practice related.

Around 2014 Simoco was awarded a tender by Vicroads to supply new radio hardware (based on the SRM9000 series) which included a P25 upgradeable solution. So surely access to either one or both of the States P25 networks is not that unattainable or questionable and would allow for everyone’s favourite phrase since the events of Black Saturday, enhanced interoperability.

A few months ago the below message was sent to me via the site and from someone  called ‘billy’. Below is the message from ‘billy’;

all a waste of time i use a prop mtorolla radio with all tac and repeaters on all ditital emergency frequencys you will never be able to acess or listen to what i do mobile or base not even god ha ha ha hacker on the loose f### your pi##y scanners cant encrypt nothing waste of money ,out

Billy it is so hard to argue with such well researched, composed and intelligent arguments such as yours.  But I’ll give it go, please see below for my response, also remember ‘billy’ you’re not as invisible as you think on the internet. 😉

A special message for ‘billy’. Thanks for your input to the hobby.

Morons playing with radios

Obviously big news of late in the hobby pertains to an event that occurred only the day before the State Government outlined it’s new expected migration date for the Victoria Police to the RMR Network and with it network security and encryption. I am of course referring to the incident outlined at the following links;

Read this: Victoria Police – Radio Pirate Article 1
Read this: Victoria Police – Radio Pirate Article 2
Read this: Victoria Police – Radio Pirate Article 3
Read this: Victoria Police – Radio Pirate Article 4

Below is a recording of the communications during the above highlighted pursuit and transmissions by a ‘radio pirate’ on the Victoria Police VHF Voting Network. The recording commences shortly after an armed robbery involving firearm. Victoria Police Highway Patrol members from call-sign ‘Wellington 613’ are heard locating a vehicle possibly involved and then engaging in a pursuit of the vehicle. Examples of some of the subsequent illegal transmissions by unknown persons can be heard initially at 6min & 19secs, 6min & 30secs and again at 8mins & 37secs mark of the recording. Further transmissions occur throughout the event and subsequent file.

Its a long file but worth preserving as an example of just one of the reason why Victoria Police in rural areas need to migrate to a secure network just like their metropolitan brothers and sisters did 12 years or so ago. File kindly supplied by Anonymous.

This is not the first time such an incursion on to the Police radio network has occurred. An example is in the below ACMA article from 2011.
Read this: ACMA Blog Article 2011

Below is an audio file recorded during an ACMA investigation in to pirate radio transmissions in 2013 on the Victoria Police VHF Voting Network. An ACMA callsign is heard requesting a radio-check and channel identification clarification.

Before the courts in recent times we’ve also had the following;

Read this: Melbourne Airport Hoax Radio Transmissions Article 1
Read this: Melbourne Airport Hoax Radio Transmissions Article 2
Read this: Melbourne Airport Hoax Radio Transmissions Article 3

Is it any wonder some people scowl at scanner and radio owners at times? Your average Joe can’t really differentiate between a serious hobbyist, casual listener and some wanker who acts in a manner that screws up the scene even more. All of the above examples solidifies many agencies and entities push to secure and encrypted systems and their already twisted view on the hobby.

I’ll leave it at that for now, if anyone has any information they’d like to share or advise of then drop us line.

Happy Scanning!

General news, updates and other observations.

Firstly let me commence by wishing you all a Merry Christmas, I hope you haven’t had to release your belt notch out to far as you recover from your food induced comas.

There has been quite a bit happening of late, and sadly for myself not much in the way of scanning due to a work promotion and the arrival of child no.2 four months ago.

Victoria Police rural communications update.

Back in August 2015 we reported on how Victoria Police was to migrate from their existing VHF Voting Network to a new system. You can read that particular article here: The AOR AR-DV1 & encryption looming for Victoria Police rural communications.

2008_04_16_P4058788CMax
Telstra has won the contract to supply and maintain radios and related equipment for Victoria Police in rural areas. The project will provide encrypted communications for all Police operations in those areas and give country based Police the security their big city brother and sisters have enjoyed for over 10 years now. Image courtesy of Chris Maxwell.

Last week it was announced that Telstra had won the contract to supply, install and maintain the new radios as part of a seven year deal. As many had speculated and advised, Victoria Police rural communications will migrate to the RMR Network and be encrypted.

Telstra in partnership with Motorola supplied and installed the RMR Network, initially for the Country Fire Authority, although there has always been plans to open the network up to other government users as part of a much bigger plan to lessen the amount of systems used by ESO’s and related entities.

As to which radio will be supplied that is still open to speculation and I understand there has been some evaluations being undertaken. News reports advise more than 8000 radios for Victoria Police, Victoria State Emergency Services, Life Saving Victoria and Corrections Victoria will be rolled out as part of the deal.

A news release from Premier Andrews states the following;

The Andrews Labor Government is replacing outdated and unsafe police and emergency services radios to help them safely and effectively fight crime and respond to emergencies.Minister for Police Lisa Neville and Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today announced a seven-year contract with Telstra to upgrade police and emergency services radio equipment.

The new radio equipment will replace outdated analogue systems with new secure, encrypted digital equipment providing better voice clarity, coverage and the capability to track the location of devices, improving member safety and response times.

Importantly, the new radios will stop communications being intercepted by the public through a smartphone app or scanner.

The contract delivers on an election commitment and provides more than 8000 radios for Victoria Police, Victoria State Emergency Services, Life Saving Victoria and Corrections Victoria, and can be expanded to provide radio support services for other Government agencies.

Work is underway upgrading the radio towers with further work on key base infrastructure in early next year enabling the roll out of the in car and hand held radios from middle of 2017.

The Labor Government invested $11.5 million in the 2015/16 Victorian State Budget for police to upgrade to the new digital system, with further funding realised through efficiencies made by moving to the new digital system.

The Minister for Police Lisa Neville was quoted as saying; “After four years of inaction by the former Liberal Government we’ve got on with the job of delivering for country police and ensuring they have the modern resources they need to catch criminals safely and effectively.”

“The safety of Victorian Police is our highest priority and we’re making sure that the public can’t listen in on police operations and they have the right tools to catch criminals.”

Whilst the Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino said; “We’re providing our emergency services personnel with the resources they need to effectively respond to emergencies and keep Victorians safe.”

“This sophisticated technology is more secure, has better voice clarity, will reduce the risk of communication failures and improve safety for our emergency services personnel and the community.”

I’d be expecting a dual band radio, particularly for the Police, to permit operation on both the RMR Network (VHF) and the MMR Network (UHF). The same may be a possibility for the State Emergency Service, and whilst not mentioned in recent reports also Ambulance Victoria. This would fix some of the issues raised from the Royal Commission in to the Black Saturday fires of 2009 relating to radio supply and operation of such by Victoria Police members sent to assist.

In short vehicles from Metropolitan areas with MMR radios fitted were obviously useless in the rural area where there were no MMR towers and in some cases the Officers were supplied rural radios to use instead yet were unfamiliar with the radio type and its operation. Time will tell.

If the transition to the RMR Network for country police is anything like that to the MMR Network, well over 10 years ago, for their big city brothers and sisters then I’d be expecting the old existing network to run parallel to their allocations on the RMR Network for a period of time. Then we’d probably see the old VHF Voting allocations ‘re-tooled’ then possibly absorbed in to the RMR Network for use. Much like they did with the old 467/468/469MHz UHF allocations on the MMR Network.

Uniden Australia, Pacific Telecommunications, the UBCD436-PT / UBCD536-PT & BCD325P2-AU.

So as many who are familiar with the above mentioned units these are not sold directly by Uniden Australia, they are instead sold under licence by Pacific Telecommunications and are the ‘local’ version of the BCD436HP & BCD536HP units sold by Uniden America.

Many would also be familiar how there was no real set plan to release local units initially by Uniden Australia, for whatever reason or debate, until came the time the Country Fire Authority set about wanting to replace some widely used Motorola branded ‘listening sets’ (scanner damn it!) used by its members. The consideration for such units for its members was due to the CFA’s migration to the RMR Network and EOI’s were called. From that ‘local’ versions of the BCD#36HP units were born, with the expected UBCD prefix.

There was an embargo date put in place until the public could obtain a unit, one would suspect to ensure CFA members wanting a unit had first preference. I’m told this was not the case, but no real explanation or reasoning has ever been provided for the date embargo.

So now we come to the reason of my touching on the above units again.

Uniden America some time ago released a paid DMR upgrade option of its BCD#36 family of units (May 2017 article). Now earlier this month Uniden America also announced the same upgrade option for its BCD996P2 and BCD325P2 units.

bcd325p2-au
The BCD325P2-AU shown here retains the ‘BCD’ prefix of US units, a move away from the usual ‘UBCD’ we’re used to seeing locally. Instead the units designation in ends in ‘AU’, obviously denoting Australia. (Image supplied courtesy of Jim of Ozscan).

Whilst the BCD996P2 was never released on the market here in Australia or New Zealand the BCD325P2 was released locally as the BCD325P2-AU.

bcd325p2-au-b
A simplistic label on the rear of the BCD325P2-AU is the only visible means to denote that the unit differs slightly from the US BCD325P2 units. (Image supplied courtesy of Jim of Ozscan).

We, like some others, are assured that Uniden Australia are negotiating and working behind the scenes to procure and release the paid DMR upgrade option for the UBCD436-PT and UBCD536-PT units, there has been no mention if this will include an upgrade path for the BCD325P2-AU.

While we’re discussing the ability to upgrade units to DMR capable units Uniden, can we please sort out that ridiculous issue  Australian owners of US units have faced that in order to procure the upgrade option you have to have a credit card registered to a US address. Absolutely ridiculous and not ideal at all, whilst some have found a way around the issue (virtual credit cards and the like) it just simply is not good enough.

If the whole credit card fiasco is due to limiting potential exposure to credit card fraud I think you may find the US leads Australia in credit fraud. A recent Nilson Report confirms this and goes on to state; ‘the U.S. currently accounts for 47% of global credit and debit card fraud even though it generates only 27% of the total volume of purchases and cash’. But I digress, it is what is.

ACMA Online Database ‘warning’ note.

I recently visited the ACMA online database to quickly chase something up and noted a ‘warning’ has appeared on the search page. acma_logo

Visitors to the page are now seeing this: ‘WARNING: Searching Assignments by Site Postcodes or Site Postcode ranges is now deprecated. [See explanation on this Help Page]’.

When you visit the help page a further explanation is provided and states;

‘Postcode information is no longer being added for new Sites or maintained for existing Sites and current Register searches that allow searching Sites by postcodes or postcode ranges are now deprecated in this Register. Register searches that allow searching Sites by postcodes will be removed from the Register in the near future and replaced with an alternative search.’

Whilst I’m not sure what the ‘Sites Postcodes’ or ‘Site Postcode’ search function will be replaced with it will be a shame if it gets replaced with something that isn’t as informative or is open to interpretation. There are already a few ways to ‘hide’ allocations and it will be a shame if another one creeps in.

Possible changes to the MMR Network and a new customer.

It has been well over 10 years since the MMR Network was first introduced to Victoria with the initial contracts signed between the Victorian Government and Motorola in 2004. The contract called for a fully operational date of 2006, just in time for the 2006 Commonwealth Games that Melbourne hosted. The MMR Network was to replace 3 analogue UHF systems then used by Victoria Police, Metropolitan Ambulance Service and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

The MMR Network has consistently achieved or exceeded its required levels of availability and has been a success, despite what you read on the internet by some chap that heard from his postman, who happened to talk to his wife’s friend who worked for Telstra and had daughter who dated a guy with a CB Radio. It’s done it, time and time again.

Motorola Quantar formed the backbone of the initial MMR Network.

The original remote site equipment, consisting of P25 Phase I (FDMA) Motorola Quantar Intelligent Site Repeaters, each a 19″ rack unit weighing approximately 25kg, was upgraded during the 2013 – 2014 period to Motorola GTR8000’s.

The Motorola GTR8000 which replaced the Quantar in MMR Network sites during 2013-2014.

With the upgrade to the GTR8000 came the ability of Phase II (TDMA) operation, software upgrade to core switching equipment, migration to a full IP architecture including all dispatch consoles, a new high-availability IP-based logging service to capture voice radio transmissions and the ability of inter-operating with all other Phase 2 enabled networks.

For those unfamiliar with how a trunking system works it is in short a computer controlled system that allows the sharing of radio frequency channels among a group of users.

Further information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trunked_radio_system

Now ever since the MMR Network was first designed the Victoria Police was very adamant that any voice frequency they used had to be partitioned from other users of the network. The main reason they did this was a measure towards ensuring that no radio of theirs was ever queued and left waiting for an available talk frequency. Queuing is obviously not what you want in event of a major incident with a multitude of talk-groups being used by resources combating said incident.

Subsequently other uses of the network did the same as Victoria Police. There have basically been three different pools of ‘talk frequencies’ sitting in the system, one for each entity using the MMR Network.

Whilst this might help to ensure a low ‘queued call rate’, it is not really making good use of the frequencies and could mean agencies possibly missing out on radio resources (talk frequencies / talk-groups) when needed and available as they may not be being used by the other agencies.

There are features built in to the system to minimise ‘queued calls’.

So now here we are in 2016 and over the last few years a much clearer path has been laid in regards to the direction that the State of Victoria’s existing and future radio systems are to take, some of it in part due to the disastrous events of 2007 during what has become known as ‘Black Saturday’.

Probably the most recent of those changes that many would be familiar with is in the new RMR Network currently in use by much of the Country Fire Authority. It is near identical to the MMR Network however based on VHF for rural operations.

Another change has been the inclusion of another frequency for use by the states paging network known as the Emergency Alerting System (EAS).

The main change for the MMR Network is the possibility of a new user migrating to it, that being the State Emergency Service metropolitan units, not to be confused with their country units who are apparently earmarked for migration to the RMR Network.

That brings me to the second possible change for the MMR Network and one I touched on earlier in this post, frequency partitions.

Recently I noted a few MMR Network sites running with un-partitioned frequencies, meaning VicPol, Ambulance Victoria and MFB are all sharing the sites allocated ‘talk frequencies’ for their talk-groups, just as Motorola originally designed the system for.

So far the un-partitioned frequency operations has been noted on the Chadstone and Surrey Hills (SiD 0164h-0109) simulcast sites with reports of this also possibly occurring on Keilor (SiD 0164h-0203) and the Epping and Greensborough (SiD 0164h-0113) simulcast sites. There has been talk of a further site which I’m yet to confirm (due to distance) such activity on and that this may have been ongoing since late 2015.

With the changing face of Victoria’s communication systems it would appear that the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA), who manage the MMR Network on behalf of the state and will also do the same eventually for the RMR Network, are looking to free up capacity.

If they wanted to increase capacity on the MMR Network by adding additional frequencies there would be hefty price to pay one would imagine, and at a guess I’m tipping that it is cheaper to remove partitions to free up the capacity already actually there, just not being used smartly, than add to it.

Knowing how adamant that the one particular user of the MMR were for the partitions to be in place originally I’m tipping it was no easy feat to convince them to do otherwise and would’ve even taken a detailed study and report to back those wanting to undertake such practises.

If you’re after a bit of light reading you can get an idea of some of what is planned for the State of Victoria’s communication networks here:

Breaking down the MFB Appliance Portables and their UiD’s.

Many of you who monitor the MMR Network and also like to pay attention to the appliances and portable UiD’s may, or may not, have noticed something in regards to the MFB’s portable radios.

I’m not going to concentrate on the actual primary appliance UiD’s as there are already several resources covering this elsewhere on the net (like the Unofficial MFB Wiki Page) and if you look at the MMR Network UiD’s page on this site you’ll see the primary pattern, that being 199###, where ‘###’denotes the MFB’s appliance fleet number, or ‘Car number’ as it is more commonly referred to. So Car 028 would have a MMR Network UiD of 199028

Back to the main purpose of this blog…MFB portable radios!

Many keen observers are familiar with how appliances portables break down to identifying portables as belonging to a particular station.

As an example let’s look at the basics many will have noticed.

Pumper 50 from Fire Station 50 located in Ascot Vale will have a portable radio UiD showing as 150001, many believe this would breakdown as;

First Part = 1 = MFB
Second Part = 50 = Station 50 (Ascot Vale)
Third Part = 001 = Portable 1

Agency

Station

Portable ID

1

5

0

0

0

1

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Let’s pay particular attention to the Portable ID section, the third part in the above table, being the ‘001’. What many don’t realise is that this section does in fact hold even further identifying protocols, in particular the 4th and 5th digits in the overall UiD, so in essence a fourth part can be introduced.

As a comparison lets also look at another UiD of another appliance from another station, that appliance will also be a different appliance type.

A Pumper Tanker from Fire Station 52 in Tullamarine with a portable radio UiD of 152033, which many would expect to breakdown as;

First Part = 1 = MFB
Second Part = 52 = Station 52 (Tullamarine)
Third Part = 033 = Portable 33

Agency

Station

Portable ID

1

5

2

0

3

3

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

In actual fact the 4th and 5th digits of the over MMR UiD identifies a particular appliance type. In this case the ‘03’ identifies appliances of the ‘Pumper Tanker’ type and the final 6th digit the individual portable number assigned to the appliance.

So the reality is;

First Part = 1 = MFB
Second Part = 52 = Station 52 (Tullamarine)
Third Part = 03 = Appliance Type (Pumper Tanker)
Fourth Part = 3 = Portable 3

Agency

Station

Appliance Type

Portable ID

1

5

2

0

3

3

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

From what I’ve been able to glean so far from various software logs and other notes is that Part 3 which is made up of the 4th and 5th digits should follow the below table;

Part 3

Part 4

4th Digit

5th Digit

6th Digit

0

0

Pumper Individual Portable ID

0

1

Pumper (‘A’ Appliance) Individual Portable ID

0

2

Pumper (‘B’ Appliance) Individual Portable ID

0

3

Pumper Tanker Individual Portable ID

0

4

Ultra Large / DeCon / Hazmat Individual Portable ID

0

5

Water Tanker Individual Portable ID

0

6

Teleboom Individual Portable ID

0

7

Ladder Platforms Individual Portable ID

0

8

Rescue Individual Portable ID

0

9

Control Unit Individual Portable ID

1

0

Transporters (‘A’ Appliance)
Individual Portable ID

1

1

Transporters (‘B’ Appliance)
Individual Portable ID

As with anything there are always exceptions to the rules. For example;

Fire Station 6 Portables still use ID’s which would correspond with a Pumper even though they now use a Pumper Tanker. This is simply because their radios have not had their UiD’s updated since they changed their appliance type some time back. Fire Station 7 is another example of this.

Appliance types may change at a Station should their vehicle become unserviceable and it is replaced with a different appliance type until they get their usual appliance back from the workshops or is back online. An example of this could be when Fire Station 44’s Teleboom is taken offline and there are no spares of this type so it is replaced with a Pumper or Pumper Tanker for a period of time.

Please remember the above is a guide only and does not cover Commanders, Zone Cars, Rehab Units and the like. It also is dependent on crews returning the correct radios to the correct appliance and not moving them about at multi appliance stations.

MMR Network – Site upgrades commenced.

Some of you who monitor the MMR Network in greater detail than others may have noticed an interesting message in the raw data of late.

The message does not appear in the data from all network towers, yet, only those that have received upgrades.The works are part of  a 130 million dollar agreement announced between Motorola and the State of Victoria in 2012. The agreement builds on the previous one that was in place between the two entities since the MMR Networks inital inception.

The message basically confirms whether a MMR Network site is now capable of TDMA for those radios that support such, such as the APX series generation of radios. At present the use is very limited, appearing to include only a few technicians and small number of Victoria Police elements with trial APX series radios.

An example of the raw data (from 0164h-0102 – 120 Collins Street) with the aforementioned tell-tale TDMA message is obtained using Pro96com software is presented below;
30 00 00 04 6A 08 66 70 43 A2 23 E1 05/28 17:34:43 TDMA Sync Broadcast – *Invalid* 2004/03/06 14:02 (930) -10

Any site having received an upgrade should show the ‘TDMA Sync Broadcast’ text in the raw data. At this stage a rough timeframe of the site upgrades is believed to be one site per week. I’m uncertain as to how many sites have already received the upgrades but you should be able to find out easily enough if you check the raw data via a sites control channel.

TDMA Wiki Information
MMR Network Upgrade News Article 2012

Some updates, discoveries & a thank you.

Hello to all yet again,

We’ve been lucky enough to have two lots of MMR Network Frequency mapping data supplied to us by Mat. The sites in question are the Epping / Greensborough (0113) simulcast system and Campbellfield (0153). The information has been added to the existing PDF document available for viewing under the relevant MMR Network menu selection. Many thanks to you Mat.

Another recent update pertains to a TGID for the MFB radios we had up until now been uncertain of. Radio Zone 3 Channel 16 which is labelled as ‘MAS’ is intended to be used as part of the brigade Emergency Medical Response (EMR) program under dire circumstances. We can now confirm that the TGID that makes up this channel is 20048. Many may recognise this as being an Ambulance Victoria TGID. It is the same TGID that makes up part of their radio system on the MMR Network, that being Radio Zone 1 Ch.125 which is labelled as ‘CLIN EMR’.

Also Radio Zone 1 Ch.53 on the MFB radios which is for the Announcement Talkgroup (ATG). This channel is intended for system wide announcements. Users who utilise it have their message broadcast across all active TGID’s / Channels. Needless to say it use is limited. I’ve often wondered if it has its own actual TGID and recently discovered it doesn’t, no TGID is held in the radios codeplugs for it. Go figure that one out! If anyone can shed more light on this I’d be grateful for it.

Finally user ‘Wonky‘ has been generous enough to supply a great amount of some of the outstanding NAC’s for the MMR Network Sites. The information has been placed on the relevant MMR Network Sites page. Many thanks to you Wonky.

Happy scanning folks!

MMR & RMR Network – System towers frequency mapping

Well this has been a long time coming since we first tweeted about it on February 29th, 2013! Due to work restraints it’s taken nearly a month to get this out to those interested and to be able to find a format in which to present it.

We finally managed to sit down a few weeks back and commence mapping who uses what frequency on the MMR Network. As many familiar with the network would know the voice frequencies are partitioned, that being that each service has its own frequency set aside within the system for its talk requirements.

Obviously not all towers, well actually nowhere near all of them, have been mapped as of yet. That is going to take a fair amount of time and hopefully some input from those able to assist in this exercise.

A few interesting observations regarding this exercise so far.

A  network user whose radio sends data tends to use a ‘talk frequency’  from another agency in order to do so. We’ve noted that if an Ambulance radio has a need to send data packets it will use a ‘talk frequency’ from those set aside for Police or Fire, never one of its own. On the other hand if a Police radio has a need to send data packets it will do so on a talk frequency set aside for Ambulance or Fire and so on.

For those wondering how we obtained these results we used a UBCD396XT and ran the Pro96Com software with it in order to decode the P25 control channel data on each of the system towers completed so far.

The program is available here for those interested and would like to have a go themselves; http://www.psredit.com/pro96com/

Screenshot

The results completed so far are available under the sites MMR Network menu. We’ll try to complete other sites as results come to hand. The plan is to have each site on its own page and in numerical order.

Anyone who has the ability to assist in this exercise feel free to drop us a line for an explanation of what’s required.

Scanning, a thing of the past?

For several years now there have been folks in the scanning community who have claimed ‘scanning is dead’, but just as there have been those who believe it was dead there have been those claiming otherwise.

Without a doubt during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s a very large portion of scanner owners were those who enjoyed listening to Police, Fire and Ambulance related transmissions.

Within Australia many of the state’s Police Forces have either already moved, or are in the process of moving, to not only digital communication systems but those that are capable of the dreaded encryption.

As a result scanner sales in Australia appear to have declined to a point where many of those businesses that once carried such items no longer do so.

In fairness to the above observation it should also be noted that two of the major retailers who once sold such items have had a change of business direction. One being Tandy Electronics who were purchased by the Woolworths group in 2001 and later absorbed in to Woolworths Dick Smith Electronics business operations, itself being purchased outright from its namesake by Woolworths in 1982. Dick Smith Electronics which was once considered ‘a must visit’ for hobbyists has decimated its hobby radio electronics section. (That’s a whole other issue!)

Although they’ve never actually said so outright many thought that Uniden planned on quitting the scanner market altogether in the Australia & New Zealand region.

Without a doubt most of the cries regarding the death of scanning has come about as a result of various federal and state emergency and law enforcement agencies move to more secure radio systems. With the addition of encryption these are unable to be monitored in the traditional sense.

I have to admit initially I would be one to quickly debunk anyone who would claim scanning was dead. When the Victoria Police moved to the MMR Network and with it the ability to encrypt their talk-groups I simply continued to monitor other services and systems. There was still a huge amount to listen in on and enjoy.

However nowadays I am a little slower to debunk.

My reasoning for this is that as more and more agencies move to more secure systems, as technological advances become less expensive to implement or replace existing systems there has indeed become less and less to monitor. It is now not only emergency services and law bodies that are accessing such technologies, but private industry as well.

In Melbourne in recent years we’ve since the emergence of the Motorola P25 MMR Network for the emergency services in Melbourne Metropolitan and Geelong areas and we’ve also seen several Federal agencies that operate in Melbourne move to encrypted P25 systems.

Now MotoTRBO, Kenwood’s NXDN and TETRA systems have also become more prevalent and many of the existing Motorola Type II Trunking systems converted or modified. As such many are no longer able to be monitored with any scanners currently available on the market.

The complexities of the MMR Network adopted by a large part of Melbourne’s emergency services saw a large amount of the long time scanner users simply give up on trying to understand the system and how to successfully monitor those TGID’s that were un-encrypted.

Even if they did purchase a capable scanner on the ever shrinking Australia scanner market they didn’t really understand the system and how it worked. Instead they relied on those who could understand or had adapted to set up their purchase.

The same thing had happened prior with the 800MHz Trunking boom with many failing to grasp and understand initially how it worked and as such were more likely to listen in to the old reliable VKC, VKN8, VicFire and 3WX for their radio communications fix.

Gone were the days of simply punching in up to 6 digits and away you went. Now there was trunking, conversations ending and jumping to another frequency, data control channels, TGID’s, logical channel numbers and the list goes on.

As a long time scanner user it appeared that each time new protocols and possibilities were introduced the hobby would lose something in both the ability to monitor and those who chose to partake in the hobby.

The developments that have been made in the communications scene seem to far outweigh those made in the commercial scanner market to enable the ability to monitor.

Whilst at this stage there are still systems to monitor I can’t help but look back at what we no longer can monitor and have to ask myself just how much time does this hobby have if some serious developments are not made?