31 December 2012

Happy Narrow Band Eve!

Just a few hours 'till we fall off the fiscal cliff and hit the narrow band deadline. Monrovia PD finally switched over last Friday, and now I am waiting for the mutual aid fiasco to begin.

The states "White" frequencies switched over to the nationally standardized V-Fire nomenclature a few years ago. White 2 became VFire 22, White 3 became VFire 23, and starting January 1st, the last holdout, White 1 will narrow band and become VFire 21. I have a feeling LA County fire will still refer to their VHF radios as their "White" radio even there will no longer be any "White" channels.

I have heard many local police agencies still use the "CLEMARS" nomenclature when post narrowbanding the label should now be CA LAW1. So I wonder, have they not narrowbanded their CLEMARS freqs, or did they keep the old CLEMARS label on their narrow band channels? Either way I'm guessing there is going to be some confusion and over deviation in 2013.

Have a great one and don't forget your spare battery!

09 December 2012

APCO making new standards!

The APCO Standard for Public Safety Communications Common Incident Types for Data Exchange is out, it's a list of terms to help 911 call centers, dispatch centers, first responders, etc. pass incident info between each other more efficiently.

Read the document at apcointl.org

13 October 2012

On scene of Endeavour crossing the 405

This weekend the big news story in LA has been the Space Shuttle Endeavour's treck from LAX to it's final destination at the California Science Center in Exposition Park. As I drove home from work on Friday I heard that Endeavour would be parked on Manchester Blvd. for the next few hours while they prepared to switch to a lighter transport system to cross the 405 freeway. I had no firm plans for the evening, and I missed the fly-over last month, so I decided to swing by and take a look.

Toyota, a sponsor of the California Science Center, is participating in the transport by pulling Endeavour on a "light weight" dolly over the 405, using a single Toyota Tundra. Of course Toyota is also paying to turn this feat into a promotional video to help promote their "Made in the USA" Tundra, and demonstrate it's capacity to pull a 150 ton package.

I worked my way through the crowd standing on La Cienega and got a few shots of the orbiter in front of the iconic Randy's Donuts. I happened to be filming as the Tundra and Endeavour started rolling across the Manchester Bridge.

Toyota's Endeavour site

California Science Center | Mission 26: The Big Endeavour

24 September 2012

Raspberry Pi and radio.

I have been playing around with this small Raspberry Pi "box" for a few weeks now, and it's a lot of fun. It's not so much a "get business done" machine, but a simple $35 Linux computer that can fit almost anywhere, and run simple tasks using little power.

The Raspberry Pi was introduced in February in the UK, but has taken the hacker/maker/gadget/nerd world by storm. Right now my R-Pi is running xbmc, but I want to get another one set up to run OP25, but there are literally thousands of things you can do with a Raspberry Pi.

"Raspberry Pi and Ham Radio"


23 August 2012

LA Times: Town criers in the age of Twitter

A growing group of L.A.-area residents share a passion for listening to police scanners and spreading that news online, in real time, via Twitter. 'It's like theater,' one says.

Read the full story at the LA Times

17 August 2012

USFS to OK night aerial drops on So Cal fires

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has decided to allow nighttime aerial attacks on wildfires in Southern California in a change of policy spurred by controversy over a 2009 blaze that grew to 250 square miles and threatened Los Angeles suburbs, congressional representatives announced Thursday.
Photo of Station Fire above JPL. Credits to Eecue,
 used without his permission, I'll apologize next time I see him;)

It appears that next year (2013) the USFS will contract one helicopter for night flights / water drops for the southern portion of USFS Region 5, AKA Southern California. LA County helicopters already got the go ahead to fly at night a few years ago, as long as the crew were comfortable with the task, but it's good to see that the feds are back on board.

16 August 2012

"Old Fire" Arsonist Convicted, faces Death Penalty

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) - A jury on Wednesday found a California man guilty of murdering five people who had heart attacks after he deliberately started a blaze that ballooned into a massive wildfire.

Jurors in San Bernardino found 30-year-old Rickie Fowler guilty of setting the Old Fire in the foothills above San Bernardino in October 2003 that burned 91,000 acres and torched 1,000 buildings over nine days.

Read more at KFI news.

26 July 2012

EDACS Failure; you can't blame this on Obama

Oakland PD's EDACS system failed Monday as President Obama was leaving after giving a campaign speech. This left 100 officers who were keeping downtown protestors at bay unable to communicate.

Meh, who needs direct tactical channels...

Read more at sfgate.com

Fullerton releases Kelly Thomas 911 call

Wednesday, after months of speculation, the City of Fullerton released an audio recording of the now infamous "Slidebar phone call" that lead to the eventual death of schizophrenic homeless man, Kelly Thomas. The July 5th, 2011 call, from an employee of the Slidebar to the Fullerton PD, reported that a "creepy homeless guy", known as Kelly, was walking through the parking lot near the Fullerton transportation hub, pulling on car door handles. The female RP, who's name has been redacted, is believed to be a manager at the Slidebar.

picture from FullertonsFuture.org

Listen to the call here (right click to download) 

The recording was released after Fullerton resident Richard Dwyer filed a public records request in July, claiming that the caller was coached by the Fullerton PD to exaggerate Thomas' activities to quicken police responce. The recording does not show any coaching from the police dispatcher.

20 July 2012

KFI's Mike Nolan involved in plane crash

KFI news is reporting that traffic reporter Mike Nolan "KFI In the sky," was involved in a plane crash this afternoon. Mike and one other person aboard were transported to the hospital and are in stable condition.

KFI reports that Nolan's single engine Cessna 182 had engine problems around 6:30 Friday afternoon and crashed, hitting some power lines, in a rural area near Corona. "Emergency officials say Mike and his passenger were extremely lucky," reported KFI reporter Amy King, the two were able to get out of the plane before it burst into flames. totaltrafficla.com is reporting that Mike "is in the hospital with non-life threatening injuries." Sounds like he may have some broken bones, but it sounds like he is in much better shape then his plane.

Press Enterprise story

KTLA 5 story

KABC 7 story

A 2002 interview w/ Mike Nolan

We hope you have a speedy recovery Mike!

14 July 2012

Los Angeles Metro finally starts to get their act together!

I know this really has nothing to do with Disaster Communications but it is so rare that anyone in Los Angeles city government does anything right I felt that I needed to write something about it. 

thesource.metro.net has revealed that starting sometime this summer the Los Angeles Metro rail lines will begin running 'till 2:00 AM on weekends, and it appears that Metro is considering 24 hour rail service, but I'm not holding my breath.

29 June 2012

71% of Americans agree that ignorance is bliss.

New Study Finds Americans Unaware of Local Disaster Communications

Despite a record-breaking year of federally declared disasters in 2011, including floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires, many Americans still lack basic awareness of their local emergency communications systems. At the BE Safe America Congressional Briefing presented by Safe America Foundation at the U.S. Capitol, Federal Signal Corporation today announced the findings of the 2012 Public Safety Survey, which takes a hard look at how knowledgeable and prepared Americans are for emergencies. While the survey found that more than 56 percent of Americans believe they are aware of the steps they need to take should disaster strike, the results uncover a shocking lack of knowledge—and even indifference—surrounding emergency alerts and notifications.

Read the entire press release here.

15 June 2012

Pasadena PD now in the clear, sort of...

Yesterday the Pasadena Police Department released a press statement announcing a non encrypted ICIS talk group of 2485, this will allow the public to listen to the initial dispatch, incident type, location and time of Pasadena PD calls.

From the release:
The Pasadena Police Department is increasing its public information efforts by providing more crime statistic information on its website and the radio frequency codes for the public to listen to radio calls for service. 

11 June 2012

Kings win Stanley Cup!


Congrats to the Los Angeles kings for winning their first Stanley Cup! In related news LAPD is on city wide tactical alert, but for now it sounds like people outside Staples Center are behaving themselves. We'll see if anything happens after the sun goes down.

03 June 2012

Report on LAPD 12 hour system failure

A report from the General Services Department regarding the April 3rd power failure of LAPD's radio system on Mt. Lee is out.


However this doesn't go into why the supply of power from the "Uninterrupted Power Supply" was suddenly interrupted, during a routine test, other then the manufacturer (Emerson Network Power) saying the power supplies need to be properly maintained.

17 May 2012

Solar Eclipse Warning!

Frankie MacDonald is back with some warnings regarding this Sunday evening's solar eclipse over the west coast. 

02 May 2012

"Occupy" punk assaults LAPD officer

I nominate this guy for Mother ƒµ©k∑® of the Month! 

Tuesday, May 1st at the down town May Day occupy/commie/labor/union/anarchist rally this ass-hat decides to assault a female officer at 4th and Hill by sucker-punching her with a snare drum.

Fortunately someone with a conscience was recording and posted the video of the attack on YouTube. If anyone knows who this piece of garbage is you can anonymously drop a dime on his ass by calling the LAPD tip line at 800-222-TIPS (8477)

LA Riots: Thin Veneer of Civialization

Chuck Devote recounts the 92 LA Riots

"As soon as we stepped onto Crenshaw, the sergeant locked and loaded. Instantly, I heard the other troops do the same. I stopped and turned around. “Take the rounds out of your chambers,” I said, “This is America, not Lebanon."

27 April 2012

FCC waves narrow band requirements for "T band"

"In this Order, we waive...the January 1, 2013 deadline for private land mobile radio licensees in the 470-512 MHz band to migrate to narrowband technology... We take this action in light of recent legislation directing the Commission to reallocate spectrum in the 470-512 MHz band."

Read the FCC release here.

This is huge for LA County Fire and the LASD, who were holding off on narrow banding their UHF systems since congress has decided to reallocate the 470-512MHz spectrum. What is the point of replacing millions of dollars of equipment to comply with the 2013 narrow band requirements when less then a decade down the road it will all have to be replaced with new equipment because of recent legislation that was part of the "Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012".

The only thing I can see that radio systems have to do with "Job Creation" is creating jobs at the big M, however inside the act is a whole section on public safety communications and spectrum management. The MCTRJA includes a provision that, no later than nine years after the date of enactment, (2021) the FCC shall reallocate the T-band (470-512 MHz) currently used by public safety. This means that LAPD, LASD, LACoFD, ICIS, and a majority of municipal public safety in Los Angeles County will have to move from the T-band to either VHF or 700/800.

You can read a summary of the MCTRJA here. The part containing public safety radio and spectrum reallocation begins at Title VI.

The 470-512 spectrum is to be auctioned off by the NTIA to establish a national public safety interoperability broadband network which will be operated by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) A system like this has been in the works since 9-11, but many feel that it is a pipe dream and really just a giant boondoggle since you can always spend more money adding to the network, increasing network performance, etc. It's the kind of thing that will get more funding as more problems arise, meanwhile existing comms systems in LA, NY, Chicago, and several other major cities will have to start from square one.

Correction: The FirstNet broadband network will be placed in the 700MHz "D block" spectrum, and the T-band is to be auctioned off (probably to telecommunications companies) as most of the 700 MHz band was in 2008.

I have heard from several people who currently maintain systems that are in the T-band range they have strong doubts that they will be kicked off their frequencies, even though the FCC has stopped "acceptance and processing of certain applications 90 services operating in the T-band,” but only time will tell. At least for now LA County Fire and Sheriff's can stick with their old wideband gear.

09 April 2012

Villar knows at least he's not to blame for LAPD failure.

Mayor Villaraigosa says he's not sure what caused the 12 hour blackout of the LAPD radio system on Mt. Lee last Tuesday.

“We are in the process of reviewing that issue,” said Villaraigosa. “I did meet last week, my staff has had a couple of meetings, we’re trying to get to the bottom of what happened.”

The mayor, knot sure if the outage was due to hardware or personnel failure, says he will get to the bottom of it as soon as he is finished filling his one million potholes.

01 April 2012

LA County Fire, actually starts narrow-banding.

Well it was no April fools joke, I woke up this morning and noticed something was different, there was no 0700 "wake up call" on LA County Tac 19. That's because Tac 19 is no more.

For years there has been a daily 7:00 AM test of the old Quick Call alerting system on what was a remnant of the original VHF dispatch system for LA County Fire. In recent years the 154.400 MHz frequency, called Tac 19, has been used for communicating between LA County dispatch and various County Fire and LASD Air Rescue helicopters, not to mention by USFS, Cal Fire, and Search and Rescue personell on the ground during emergencies.

28 March 2012

CA Courts computer network, $500M FAIL!

Two-billion dollars would buy enough cat5e to run along the I-5 the length of California ten-thousand times!

Over the past decade California has spent a quarter BILLION dollars trying to set up a computer network that would connect court houses across the state's 58 counties. The TWO BILLION dollar project was to modernize the court system's computers to the level of peerless records accessibility experienced at the DMV.

So It's 2012, I can order some shoes from China on my phone while driving down the freeway,  but a courthouse in LA can't get files from a courthouse in Sacto? The good thing is they only spent $500K on this project, with only 5 counties connected, before they pulled the plug. I'm guessing these are the small counties up north too.
There are about 2,300 judges in the California courts, at $499 a piece we could buy each one an iPad and have them use Dropbox, after tax that would still be under $125K.

Read more at the San Jose Mercury News

WTF is going on in Pasadena?

First was last Saturday a Pasadena PD officer pulling a Steven Seagal and shooting 19 year old Kendrec McDade from his patrol car. Now we have the 911 caller who reported an armed robbery that led to the McDade shooting being arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The investigation into a controversial killing of a college student by a Pasadena police officer last weekend took a dramatic twist Wednesday when police arrested a 911 caller who set the chain of events into motion, accusing him of lying.

The officer shot 19-year-old Kendrec McDade from the driver’s seat of a police cruiser in a narrow alley in the city’s Northeast district about 11 p.m. on Saturday. Police were chasing two robbery suspects. They were dispatched to the scene after a man called 911 claiming that the pair were armed and stole his laptop computer.

But on Wednesday, police officials said they concluded that the man lied to police about the gun and that detectives now believe neither McDade or the other person were armed.

Read more at the LA Times.

19 March 2012

Sheriff's Dept. accused of not providing air support

L.A. County Sheriff's Department examines whether calls for aircraft to respond went unanswered so it would look like funding cuts were threatening public safety. Wasteful spending is also alleged.

By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times

March 17, 2012

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators are probing allegations that supervisors from the department's Aero division purposely delayed responding to calls for emergency air support.

At least one former Aero Bureau supervisor has publicly made accusations of impropriety. In a lawsuit filed against the county, Lt. Edison Cook said deputies were instructed by their supervisors to "slow down on service calls in order to miss calls for service." One sheriff's supervisor, Cook said, instructed other supervisors to complete their quota of required special shifts during the day, not the night, when most calls for service go out.

Open mic...

Cop Keys Down While Having Sex In Squad Car

"Anytime you communicate via a handheld or console microphone you want to remain professional. Our job is to make sure all officers follow procedures. In this instance it's possible he didn't follow proper procedure,"

Read the Whole story here.

12 March 2012

DIY tactical repeater for $100

Wiring / physical mod instructions can be found here.

Instructional video on how to downband an LPH for 144MHz

09 March 2012

Catastrophe Network


I Ran across this new blog that is aimed more towards personal family preparedness. They also publish what the call the "Standardized Amateur Radio Prepper Communications Plan".

Great all we need is someone else trying to coordinate national frequencies.

28 February 2012

I can't stand "HAM"

I saw the below image today on FB, It's an add for a "Ham radio social network!" You know what really bothers me, the phrase "ham radio".

Historically this phrase was first used as a pejorative by professional radiotelegraph operators to describe unskilled and incompetent amateur operators but today "Ham" radio is more commonly used then "Amateur" radio. For a lot of operators the phrase is embraced, and usually fits because many times good intentioned "Hams" are unskilled and incompetent operators, and the title "Ham" even matches their physical appearance.

20 February 2012

Forbes calles LA-RICS "Next Solyndra"

Here is a story that the mainstream media has largely ignored; a tale of cronyism, special interests, law-breaking, bureaucratic delays, union complaints, last-minute changes in the law solely designed so that Los Angeles could keep federal grant money, panicked spending of federal money, and ultimately more than $800 million of your tax dollars.

Like all tragedies, it holds a powerful lesson: massive Keynesian spending programs often fail to create jobs or grow the economy, but insider “experts” rarely fail to get their piece of the action.

Our story begins with a lofty and laudable goal. In bureaucratic argot, it is known as “interoperability.”

read more here...

17 February 2012

John and Ken suspended from KFI

So I have been wondering whether to post something on the suspension of John and Ken, and since KFI is a primary source for distributing emergency info I thought it may be apt. Oh yeah and this is also MY BLOG and I can post about whatever I want.

So J&K got suspended from their top rated evening drive show for making "insensitive and inappropriate" comments about the late Whitney Houston, referring to her as "The crack ho". Now I agree that that comment is insensitive and inappropriate, but isn't that John and Ken's shtick?

The reason I listen to John and Ken is the fact that they discuss current events in a non politically correct manner. They are blunt and many times offensive, I don't always agree with what they say but I am always entertained and informed, even when I think they are wrong.

I like many other regular KFI listeners are changing the dial until John and Ken are back on February 27th. KFI didn't stand by their men, so I'm not standing by them.

In the mean time I am listening to indie rock on KSPC 88.7 FM, old school hip hop on KDAY 93.5 FM, and getting my news and entertainment from the .450 repeater.

Redondo Beach Fire kill Rihanna for new kitchen

Ikea is looking to donate a new kitchen to a deserving fire station. Click here to vote so hopefully Station 1 can get back to saving lives instead of killing songs.

10 February 2012

Pasadena continues to deny access to police radio traffic

PASADENA - Nearly a month after the police department switched to a digitally encrypted radio signal, city leaders still have no plans to allow local media live access to police chatter, officials said.

Pasadena began employing the system on Jan. 7, switching from an analog radio signal to an encrypted signal that prevents journalists and hobbyists from monitoring the police signal.
On Friday, Pasadena police Lt. Phlunte Riddle said the department was unsure whether it could accommodate the media with digital scanners.

Riddle said the greatest concern remains officer safety.

"People who do bank robberies use scanners, and Radio Shack sells these things cheap," Riddle said.      

Read more from the Pasadena Start News

Join the discussion at SoCalScan

09 February 2012

Climb a tower > get naked > eat McDonalds

McDonald's hamburgers lure naked man off downtown tower

Police were able to lure a naked man who spent hours atop a downtown radio tower with McDonald's hamburgers.
The man climbed to the top of the tower Wednesday night. At one point, police sources said, he asked for hamburgers from McDonald's. Officials complied, and he agreed to come down after eating his meal.

08 February 2012

Radio Sound FX

Want an old school MODAT notification on your iPhone? Want to confuse or annoy people with spurious MDC bursts? Check out W2SJW's radio sounds page.


07 February 2012

How to scan a trunking network on Astro 25 radios

Cool technique to monitor frequencies of a trunking system, without affiliating, on a Motorola FPP Astro 25 radio. 

01 February 2012

Mighty Fine Junk hack

So I went by H.R.O. today and picked up an inexpensive MFJ duplexer  diplexer. It is designed to split 2M and 70cm, but will work to split any high band VHF from UHF 430 to 520.

The first thing I did was pull it apart. At $24 it's the cheapest diplexer I have found, so I figure it can't be too hard to DIY.

Inside you have what you would expect to find, a series of inductor coils and caps. The VHF side uses a 100nF cap the UHF side 47nF. Unfortunately my Fluke doesn't do mH so I'll have to measure the inductors some other time.

22 January 2012

New 5.11 tacticool hat for 2012.

Most people who carry a radio or two in their line of work are probably familiar with the 5.11 Tactical line of clothing designed for extreme operators, door kickers, and donut munchers. I know a few blacktical shemagh wearing forum moderators who have whole 5.11 outfits that color coordinate with their Magpul accessories.

Now nothing says Mutual Aid like 5.11's fade resistant polo shirts that have three points to clip speaker mics, and you gotta love a pair of pants that have enough pockets for a couple dozen radios. But before you suit up to head down to the local Starbucks you better pick up the new 2012 hat from 5.11.

5.11 doesn't sell their hats, they only give them away. I picked mine up last week at the SHOT show, but I'm sure LAPG will soon have some sort of deal where you get one free if you buy three pairs of pants, or a Light for Life, or some polos, etc. 

I will admit for being a Cambodian made give-away-able hat, 5.11 did a good job this year. The hat is made of ripstop material, and the embroidery is pretty solid, they even embroidered a little sniper dude on the side. They removed the traditional metal button (the thing that smashes into your skull when you wear shooting muffs) from the crown of the hat and replaced it with a 1" x 1" piece of "loop" which I guess you could velcro a infrared reflector patch to so helicopters can see you sitting out on the patio at Starbucks. I also noticed, the interior stitching is piped with a 5.11 ribbon similar to the way New Era does their 59Fifty ball caps, but unlike the 59Fifty's these of course are not fitted. However, the adjustable hook and loop on the back can reasonably fit my size 7 1/2 mellon. 

14 January 2012

Picked up a new BK

Well, not new it's an old LPX2101 800MHz LTR trunking radio. It was listed as broken for parts, but with a price of $2 I figured I'd pick it up. It's pretty unique, physically, for a Bendix King. I powered it on and it spears to be working, but just the screen is dead, or more likely just needs to be reseated. We'll see what happens.

10 January 2012

What old Moto radios are NB capable?

I was in a discussion the other day of what Jedi series radios could be narrowbanded to 12.5kHz. This pdf file from Motorola lists that the following discontinued portables "may be capable of migrating to 12.5 kHz Efficiency."

HT1550 XLS
JT 1000
MT 2000
MTS 2000
Spirit GT
XTS 3000
XTS 3500

Not sure what they mean by "May Be," probably just means depending on when the radio was made, or how it is flashed you are SOL. Why don't they just publish a "these will be paperweights after Jan 1st, 2013" list, or a FUBAR list?

08 January 2012

I almost ran into a police pursuit tonight.

I saw the local bird flying ahead of me as I was driving tonight, but thought little of it since it's Saturday night. Then I heard over the local PD freq that a pursued vehicle had just pulled into a cul-de-sac about a block or two from where I was, and the occupants had bailed. I caught a little of the ending on video from a side street, then boogied on out of the way and let the boys in blue do their work.

07 January 2012

Alternate batteries to Alkaline AA's

There has been some discussion on the Bendix King user group about alternate batteries to standard alkaline AA batteries when using a BK clamshell. For years I have kept a set of nine 2000mAh Sanyo Eneloop batteries in my clamshell and I will say they outperform the standard BK battery as far as run time and there is also a notable improvement in "getting out" from areas where I have been unable to raise dispatch or hit a repeater. Even in my FT-60r "alkaline tray" I have used the eneloops with results that outperform the standard Yaesu battery.

The Energizer Ultimate Lithium are some of the lightest and longest lasting AA batteries on the market. They have a shelf life of over a decade even in extreme environments, so you can leave them sitting in your backpack for years and don't have to worry about them. Here is a spec sheet from Energizer comparing them to Alkaline cells. While the lithium's are not an economical alternative to the eneloops, which have a +1000 cycle recharge life, when backpacking the lithium batteries would cut the weight of my clamshell in half. You could probably go on a three day backpacking trip with just a clamshell of lithium cells and as long as you keep transmissions to a minimum it would probably last the entire trek.

Open free ham HT software.

Get all those frequencies on that HT organized!

Free software from Jim Mitchell, KC8UNJ

Of course use at your own risk, Don't brick your radio!

DIY BK tactical repeater

Here is a pdf file explaining how to convert old Bendix King HT's into a low power tactical repeater. I have done this before with a MPH and LPH I bought off eBay for about $10 each. I'll post more info later.


06 January 2012

NIFC communications hot sheet

Wild fire season is a serious concern if you are like me and live in the wildland interface areas of So Cal. The National Interagency Fire Center has a blog where they post communications info pertaining to wildland fire fighting.