Author Topic: Narrowbanding info  (Read 8135 times)

Kim_Heusel

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Narrowbanding info
« on: May 25, 2011, 10:17:56 AM »
This site lists information about dates when narrowbanding will take effect on some railroads.

https://www.aar.com/aar_rf_ms_Filter.php?railroad=&division=&subdivision=&date_comEst=&sort=&page=18

Kim Heusel

shane_man15

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2011, 10:45:25 AM »
This site lists information about dates when narrowbanding will take effect on some railroads.

https://www.aar.com/aar_rf_ms_Filter.php?railroad=&division=&subdivision=&date_comEst=&sort=&page=18

Kim Heusel
Will any of this affect listening to trains via scanner or watching them via ATCS?
Shane Smiley (shane_man15)

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sataraid1

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2011, 11:02:14 AM »
Will any of this affect listening to trains via scanner or watching them via ATCS?

For VHF voice communication, it depends on what kind of hardware you're using. Some receivers will be significantly compromised, some will be able to monitor narrow transmissions on the existing AAR channels just fine but will not be able to tune the new splinter channels, some will be completely compatible.

The 800 and 900MHz band plans where ATCS lives are not changing.

CIOR

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2011, 11:15:19 AM »
Had 2 different radio people tell me that as for the time being we won't see any changes in operations, but we might lesser sound coming from the speaker.  Was told that until the railroads request the new frequencies, the old scanners won't have an issue, after that unless you can do the smaller steps then your out of luck.

sataraid1

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2011, 11:41:24 AM »
Had 2 different radio people tell me that as for the time being we won't see any changes in operations, but we might lesser sound coming from the speaker.  Was told that until the railroads request the new frequencies, the old scanners won't have an issue, after that unless you can do the smaller steps then your out of luck.


There will definitely be a loss of audio volume, since the current VHF signal will be losing half of its deviation. What remains to be seen is exactly how that's going to sound in the real world, and I suspect that some radios will be degraded more than others.

Older scanners won't be able to tune the new splinter channels, but I don't foresee the railroads stampeding to use them anyway. Especially out on the road. Look for splinter channels to pop up in major terminals and for tertiary purposes like MOW and police first.

If and when the railroads *do* start using splinter channels, bleedover will be a significant issue for older gear as well.

indyspy

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2011, 11:59:25 AM »
Looks like the Indy Terminal will be one of the first on. The site says 6/2/11 for the terminal, 6/8/11 for the Indy Line.

Damn. Now I am going to move up my plans for the TK-7160 radios I was going to get.

One for my car and one for the INRD.GOTDNS.COM feed. $250 a pop.

I don't see anything about INRD or LIRC narrowband plans. Anyone know their plans?
« Last Edit: May 25, 2011, 12:13:33 PM by indyspy »
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sataraid1

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2011, 12:48:43 PM »
I don't see anything about INRD or LIRC narrowband plans. Anyone know their plans?

All INRD licenses that I've been able to find have been updated. I don't know when they plan to make the changeover, but they're kind of chained to what CSX does, since they have to interact with them at both ends of the railroad. The fact that the Indy area will presumably be changing before the CE&D does might complicate things.

I do know that they're sticking with their existing channels, so that's a plus.

sataraid1

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2011, 01:03:08 PM »
Looks like the LIRC license has been updated, too.

CIOR

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2011, 01:47:49 PM »
Its funny, because there have been many discussions about the change over dates and in a few areas those have come and gone with no changes.
Some have noticed changes with radios.
I've noticed on some engines when the crew gets within about a 1/2 mile of my location, the audio drops out and you can't understand them.  Was told this is a new radio. 
The radio I use is narrow band abled, so that won't be an issue.

indyspy

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2011, 02:48:48 PM »
Yeah I think a lot of loco radios have been narrowbanded allready.
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sataraid1

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2011, 03:20:34 PM »
I often wonder if that's a new radio or a lazy engineer. I'm sure we're all familiar with hearing a mic keyed and then 15 seconds of cab noise but no voice. You can hear the flanges squeaking, but not what's being said!

CIOR

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2011, 04:43:42 PM »
I often wonder if that's a new radio or a lazy engineer. I'm sure we're all familiar with hearing a mic keyed and then 15 seconds of cab noise but no voice. You can hear the flanges squeaking, but not what's being said!

Not the same, but ya I know what you mean.  And if it was lazy, I'll say Conductor.  They just set there..LOL

The one thing I hated about Conrail desktop locomotives, the radio is mounted up by the ceiling of the locomotive, and if you don't have a handset, its tough, you have to stand up to talk plainly.  Don't know about you, but over 200+ miles with signals every 2-4 miles, I'm not standing up every time to call a signal.  The railroad wants to get tough about it, then provide the crews with the proper equipment!

shane_man15

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2011, 07:59:18 PM »
Well, I know for a fact that the scanner that I use can be used on trucked systems. However, All this narrowband/broadband/wideband stuff is a little confusing.

It's hard to know whether a radio that's at least 10+ years old is capable of that.
Shane Smiley (shane_man15)

Modeler of the Muncie, Richmond, and Fernald Railway.
Train horns are also my thing.

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1976

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2011, 02:19:58 AM »
And if it was lazy, I'll say Conductor.  They just set there..LOL
As Aunt Esther would say, "Watch it, sucka!"

sataraid1

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2011, 11:33:25 AM »
Well, I know for a fact that the scanner that I use can be used on trucked systems. However, All this narrowband/broadband/wideband stuff is a little confusing.

It's hard to know whether a radio that's at least 10+ years old is capable of that.

A simple test: try to program in 160.2375 and see what happens.


The concept and impact of narrowbanding really isn't that complicated. Essentially, every specification of the current channel plan will be cut in half. Half the channel width, half the spacing between channels, and half the deviation. Cut everything in half, and you end up with twice as many channels for the FCC and the AAR to dole out to the railroads in the same amount of spectrum.

Of the changes mentioned above, half deviation is what will impact older radios the most. Deviation is the change in frequency a radio uses to replicate analog waveforms like a human voice. (ie, the modulation in "Frequency Modulation") Most radios expect 5kHz of deviation. When it starts getting only 2.5 kHz, the net effect is a loss of volume.

Modern radios have more amplification in the audio output to make up for this, older radios don't.

My Icoms and Yaesus have a simple menu option to set the radio for narrowband reception. Your scanner may have a similar menu, or may do it automatically. It's been so long since I've owned a scanner, I'm not really familiar with any current models.

If an older radio has a pretty robust amplifier and speaker, you may well be able to just crank up the volume and still get along fine. But it'll make the squelch tail REALLY loud.

Bear in mind, this only applies to narrowband transmissions on CURRENT AAR channels. Older radios and most HAM rigs won't be able to tune the new "splinter" channels. But as I've said before, I really don't expect the railroads to start moving to splinter channels right away.

shane_man15

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2011, 11:51:49 AM »
A simple test: try to program in 160.2375 and see what happens.
Well, I put it in and it just rounded it up to 240. Which is odd. This radio is capable of up to 800 MHz and 900 MHz frequencies and I've got the ATCS frequencies on the scanner, and it doesn't "round up" with those frequencies at all.
Shane Smiley (shane_man15)

Modeler of the Muncie, Richmond, and Fernald Railway.
Train horns are also my thing.

GIMME A CORVETTE ALREADY!

sataraid1

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2011, 12:15:07 PM »
Well, I put it in and it just rounded it up to 240. Which is odd. This radio is capable of up to 800 MHz and 900 MHz frequencies and I've got the ATCS frequencies on the scanner, and it doesn't "round up" with those frequencies at all.

The 800 and 900 MHz band plan is already "narrow", and always has been. The microprocessor in your scanner knows this. That's why 935.9375 works, but 160.2375 doesn't.

You need to consult your manual, and see if there's an option to manually change your tuning steps.

SemperVaporo

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2011, 12:20:29 PM »
Well, I put it in and it just rounded it up to 240. Which is odd. This radio is capable of up to 800 MHz and 900 MHz frequencies and I've got the ATCS frequencies on the scanner, and it doesn't "round up" with those frequencies at all.

Years ago the government (FCC) decided what "Bands" (set of frequencies from one arbitrary value to some other arbitrary value) would be broken into "Channels" (a particular frequency in the Band) separated into "Bandwidths" (the particular frequency plus and minus some arbitrary value) and assigned these Bands/Channels to certain uses (commercial radio, TV, Military, Business, etc.).  It was also decided which Bands would be Amplitude Modulation and which would be Frequency Modulation (AM or FM).
 
Your Scanner KNOWS what these Bands and Channels are, or rather, WERE, and limits your input to "fit" the rules in an effort to help you not arbitrarily enter a frequency that is not in the middle of the specified Channel of the Band.  The government also limits what frequencies you are allowed to scan, so your scanner specifically will not let you tune to military frequencies or certain commercial/business frequeucies (Cell phone, cordless phones, etc.).
 
But now the FCC has changed the "rules" for the frequencies set aside for Railroad communications and what your scanner "knows" is now wrong.
 
Theoretically, what your scanner knows could be changed, but it would require a change to the firmware (software permanently encoded into hardware), which probably means exchanging a microchip on a circuit board in the scanner.  I doubt if any of the scanner manufacturers are the least bit interested in providing a new chip programmed with the new information... they'd all rather sell you a whole new scanner.
 
Semper Vaporo
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shane_man15

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2011, 01:47:54 PM »
The 800 and 900 MHz band plan is already "narrow", and always has been. The microprocessor in your scanner knows this. That's why 935.9375 works, but 160.2375 doesn't.

You need to consult your manual, and see if there's an option to manually change your tuning steps.
I checked and unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it.
So, looks like a new radio will need to be purchased.

Any suggestions?
Shane Smiley (shane_man15)

Modeler of the Muncie, Richmond, and Fernald Railway.
Train horns are also my thing.

GIMME A CORVETTE ALREADY!

CIOR

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Re: Narrowbanding info
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2011, 04:09:11 PM »
I checked and unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it.
So, looks like a new radio will need to be purchased.

Any suggestions?

Yaesu FT-250R.....   ;D  and they are on sale through June!  And better than a scanner!