MRS down for the count

OK, that's it. I submit. D-Link and Linksys tie for worst piece of shit in consumer-grade networking junk.

Junk 2, Me 0.

After my brother-in-law spent wayyyyyy more time than should be required of an innocent bystander trying to get the HP laptop with D-Link WiFi card to associate with the p.o.s. Linksys WRT54G, we realized that the Linksys had decided to restore its factory defaults simply because it lost power.

Gee, that's nice! Thanks for that. I guess all those settings that I wasted time entering really weren't that important to save, after all. Enough time wasted coaxing this garbage to do what it is supposed to do.

So the McLean Relay Station, after a mere week online, will remain offline until I can grab the pile of junk that comprises it and haul it upstairs, plug it directly in to the offending Linksys, and give it a reliable hardwired Internet connection. 802.11 was simply not meant to be at that house. Then we shall see what else can break in my absence.

Depending on how things go, I will likely procure another router that is not a big piece of shit and replace the Linksys altogether. End of Linksys problems.

I doubt that it will be restored to service before the Presidential Inauguration. It is just a hobby for me, after all. And 1100 miles away.


Bote's Mixer Board channel tags

Bote's Mixer Board in Fort Lauderdale now offers channel tags to serve you better.

The scanner is a BC 780 and undoubtedly it must report the control channel to Gordon's wonderful channel tagging utility known as Talkgroup Monitor. So you will see a lot of nonsense in between transmissions. But, at least you will see the source of what you are currently hearing. It is formatted to show the channel tag in the Title field of the data stream. WinAmp typically displays this before (to the left of) the name of the stream.

As mentioned previously, these channel tags are famously viewable in WinAmp (recommended), VLC, iTunes, and Windows Media Player. Give it a try.


MRS: Murphy's Law strikes agan

Of course everything at the newly re-installed McLean Relay Station worked swimmingly while I was in town for over a week. Now that I am 1000 miles away back in sunny south Florida the UPS feeding the router and the server at the site decided to crap out, at least that's the problem based on initial reports.

Once repairs have been effected I will make the necessary tests and report back here that the feed is once again online.

UPDATE 17:49
So the APC UPS failed and has been removed from the system pending replacement.

The p.o.s. D-Link air card shoved into the laptop that rebooted just fine every single time I was there has decided that it now does not want to find the access point without a kick in the ass, and my father is ill-equipped to be putzing around with a laptop to get it back online.

So the damned thing stays offline until I can get somebody over there to make the laptop pretty-please find the access point, then it will automagically start streaming again.

And yet again I learn the lesson: don't use consumer-grade junk to do a professional job.


McLean Relay Station online

Sorry about that, Chief. The power has been restored to the scanner on the McLean Relay Station.

Now you will actually hear radio traffic once again.


McLean Relay Station up full time

Bote's McLean Relay Station is up full time with channel tags to serve you better. Please avail yourself of the links on the left. They most likely will bring up the Shoutcast server status page if you just click on them.

If you want to listen outright, just copy the link contents and paste into your favorite player, including WinAmp (preferred), iTunes, VLC (VideoLAN), or Windows Media Player (no channel tags).

The systems monitored include (and are usually limited to):

0 - The Federal District of Columbia fire trunked radio system
1 - Arlington County, Virginia public safety digital trunked system, fire
(1) - Arlington County, Virginia public safety analog trunked system (catch all)
3 - MWAA (Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority) DCA and IAD trunked system, fire
4 - Fairfax County, Virginia public safety trunked system, fire
7 - Montgomery County, Maryland public safety trunked system, fire

At my option I might open up or deactivate certain groups as needed since I have remote control capability of this scanner. With the upcoming presidential inauguration fun and games I'm sure this capability will come in very handy. :-)

Because this feed monitors several trunked systems that employ duplicate talkgroup ids you might see DC fire on the channel tags when MWAA fire is talking. That's the way it goes. If you refer to the Council of Governments handy-dandy numbering chart above you can tell who you are hearing: the jurisdiction numbers are prefixed onto the unit numbers, so engine 705 is former Kensington (Montgomery) engine 5-1 and tower 401 is former McLean (Fairfax County) tower 1. Also, the damned channel tags don't seem to keep up when the scanner is rapidly stopping on different channels so you can't always believe what you read on the Internet.

More will be posted here as warranted.


M.R.S. Now With Channel Tags

The McLean Relay Station now has channel tags (or "alpha tags") so you can tell what you are hearing.

A few talkgroups are duplicated among several trunked systems so I chose the label most likely to be heard, but remember this if you see something that doesn't add up.

Let me know on the RadioReference streaming scanner forum how it works.



New feed demo: McLean Relay Station

Yes, the McLean Relay Station is back online for a demonstration run.

This time around the focus is not railroad radio, but public safety. [Note 1]

Arlington County's digital trunked system comes in the best, with Fairfax County's a distant second. Both of these trunked systems give occasional fits to Uniden scanners, but for the most part they get the job done.

The focus of this new feed will be fire and rescue communications. Perhaps Arlington police will sneak on there when warranted. During this demo period you never know what you'll hear. Ya been tol'

If things work out well, I will make this feed permanent. You can listen with WinAmp, iTunes, Windows Media Player, and VLC. There might be existing Teamspeak feeds with this same traffic, but this feed allows just about anyone to hear it without requiring the installation of any new software.

If I can set up the talkgroup tags to fill in the Title field on your player, that will only make it that much better to monitor.


da Bote Man

Note 1: I really like rail communications because they are pure and simple: FM high band simplex, no repeaters getting in the way, clean audio (mostly), and you know when a train is nearby based on signal strength. But these days the VHF band is getting even more polluted with noise generated by computerized devices of all kinds. Plus, the many various high powered transmitters around the receive site overload all but the best receivers. So the effort to receive railroad communications in McLean does not justify the results.


Boca Box channel tags

Bote's Boca Box upgraded: now you can see who is talking with channel tags!

Thanks to Gordon of ScanAmerica, I installed his Talkgroup Monitor last night on the Boca Box feed to include the talkgroup or channel tags in the stream. You will see the name of the current channel while listening on WinAmp. I am not sure about iTunes or other players and clients.

If you go to the Shoutcast DNAS page that lists statistics about the feed and look at the Song History page, ignore the time of day listed next to each channel in the history list. The server's clock has never kept accurate time, varying by as much as several MINUTES each hour. Sorry about that.

Next up, I hope to try this on my Mixer Board feed out of Fort Lauderdale, but that uses a BC780 which might not work with Gordon's add-on. Stay tuned.


Boca Box lineup change

A small change to the system lineup on Bote's Boca Box: Deerfield Beach fire is out, Boynton Beach public safety is in.

The indoor antenna simply can not hear Deerfield Beach's system very well, so I'll try it with Boynton Beach fire and see how it goes.

So now the lineup is:
Boca Raton public safety
Delray Beach public safety
Boynton Beach public safety
[ maybe FEC railway if there is something to hear, but lots of computer noise and poor reception make this unlikely ]

At least I have the 3 digital public safety trunked systems in there, so those of you who don't have digital scanners can partake.



Boca Box downgraded

Bote's Boca Box has been downgraded.

It will no longer have an antenna up on the roof, but it still hears Deerfield Beach surprisingly well. The railroad stuff has been greatly scaled back, leaving only the FEC road channel open; CSX road channel and FEC uplink to the dispatcher are both hit with computer birdies, so those are gone. This is with a crap antenna inside a 1st floor window, but it's better than nuttin.

Lemme know if weird stuff happens. At least I can put my hands on the equipment readily if something goes awry.


FTL stream audio restored

I could not figure out where the audio was disappearing from the Fort Lauderdale stream, but it magically came back while I was juggling cables around. Then I could not get it to fail.

Don't argue with success, right?

I have no idea how long it was down because I listen to the scanner locally here, not the feed. I wish someone had alerted me. It never gets THAT quiet on the scanner here. :-)


Boca Box back up

The prodigal son has returned and reset the piece-of-crap Terk VR-1 volume regulator which apparently was the stopping point of the scanner audio all this time.

It does the job well enough when it is working, but it is ultra sensitive to power glitches. Even on the APC UPS it still found a way to fritz out. Nothing is ever trouble-free.

All is well now, though.




Boca Box no audio

Bote's Boca Box has decided to stop emitting audio from the scanner. I have tried everything I know to fix it remotely, now I will have to get access to the radio room and see what happened up close and personal. This might not be until next week sometime.



Bote's Mixer Board back online

DOH! I killed all systems here as Fort Lauderdale was rocked mightily by a nasty thunderstorm the other day. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn on the streaming machine after things settled down.

Sorry about that, Chief!


Hurricane Fay action

Bote's Mixer Board
The focus remains on Fort Lauderdale public safety while Tropical Storm Fay approaches the southern tip of Florida.

I'm watching the RADAR image over the last couple hours and it sure looks like Fay is tilting towards us more than previously.

The current line-up includes Fort Lauderdale fire, police districts 1 and 3 (north side, south side, and beach side), Pompano Beach fire, BSO Oakland Park (district 12), Broward fire, and the Broward interoperability talkgroups.

If any other talkgroups of interest come alive I will open those up, as well.

My DSL connection is still flaky, no repair on that yet, so if you lose the feed just try back a short time later. It will be up and down throughout the storm.

Bote's Boca Box
No change, same programming as usual.

The worst should occur here through tomorrow morning, then rapidly clearing.

Happy monitoring!


Public safety, mostly

Both Bote's Mixer Board and Bote's Boca Box will focus on public safety communications over the holiday weekend of July 4th, Friday-Sunday.

The railroads have annulled a number of trains for the holiday, plus public safety typically has its hands full between drunk drivers wrecking their cars to boaters in distress to other creative incidents.

Bote's Mixer Board will be exclusively public safety for Fort Lauderdale and Broward County West fire districts, while Bote's Boca Box will have public safety from the 3 cities of Boca, Boynton, and Delray with the railroad channels open as well. If the trains talk, you'll hear them, but don't expect much over the holiday weekend.


FTL back to rails

Now that FEC has decided to call signals (!!!) I am switching the Fort Lauderdale feed back to FEC Railway exclusively for the time being.

I have been traveling and have not checked the logs, but offhand I'd say that public safety was more popular among my massive listener base. I'll see what I can do, but for now I want to hear as much FEC as possible from work.



Bote's Mixer Board tests cops & fire

Bote's Mixer Board will be trying out public safety traffic in and around Fort Lauderdale for the next little while. The train stuff will still be available on Bote's Boca Box.


No marine channels on Boca Box for now

The Boca Box feed computer is acting flaky all of a sudden, so I have locked out the marine bank for now since I will have no access to the radio room for a couple weeks. The marine channels seem to be the most problematic, between drunken weekend warriors carrying on and on or the Coast Guard droning on with a repetitious announcement over their piss-poor sounding radio system.

I don't want the thing to go belly-up with no physical access and no remote access either and be forced to listen to the nonsense so I have made this temporary change. The rest of the public safety and railroad line-up remains unchanged.


Boca Box back up

Bote's Boca Box is back up and running.

I don't know why it was acting weird, but I didn't have time for a detailed analysis. It appeared to be running normally when I looked at the local console, but a reboot works wonders for Windows!


Boca Box up and down

I haven't figured out what is going on, but Bote's Boca Box is acting weird, so until I can get in there tomorrow to look at it the Boca feed might be up, or it might be down.


Boca Box lineup

I'm liking the marine reception on the Boca Box feed, so I will leave that group active for a while to see how it is during the week. There was some humorous stuff during the past week that piqued my interest.

I have locked out the police traffic as it is not the purpose of this feed and is far too active for my wishes. The cops made good test traffic to see how the feed was working early on, but now we will only hear from the police if there is a large incident involving them.

So the lineup is now marine simplex channels in the Boca Raton area, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and Deerfield Beach fire departments, and FEC and CSX railroads in the Boca area.

Because I have remote control capability I sometimes focus on one of these, particularly FEC in the late afternoon as the action heats up and passes right by the Boca receiver.



Boca Box up to full coverage

Bote's Boca Box hears better now that it has an external antenna 30 feet up in the air.

For now I have it wide open to Boca, Boynton, Delray, and Deerfield fire, marine channels, FEC & CSX railroad, and a bunch of interop channels. I'll cut this back after I get a feel for how much traffic this generates and how far it can hear on simplex.

I was even able to pull in Broward County's and Fort Lauderdale's trunked control channels, and Hollywood's was weak but probably usable.

Palm Beach County has that obnoxiously overdriven voice on their Locution dispatch computer, so I'm not inclined to subject anybody to that racket. I pity the firefighters and paramedics who are forced to listen to it as part of their jobs.



FTL stream back up

The Fort Lauderdale streaming scanner feed, code named Bote's Mixer Board, is back up. Same bat channel:


The same program as before is carried here: FEC and CSX railroad in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area, plus occasional marine traffic when it's not too obnoxious. When there is something neat on the other pots of my mixer board I might send those to the feed, which is why you never know what you'll hear.




Maybe next time

They had the wrong hard drive for the RAID array at the server's co-location facility, so the drive replacement was postponed. Maybe next time it will happen.


Boca up, but going back down for a skosh

Not 2 days after I move my Boca Raton streaming scanner feed to Boca Raton, I get notice that the host unix system that streams these feeds needs its hard drive replaced. I guess I didn't wait long enough. It seems that every time I get my feed going the machine develops another problem. Must be the electrons in my stream.

SO! Sometime tomorrow morning after the hard drive gets replaced I expect to get a call that everything was lost and I have to completely re-install the whole damned thing from scratch--again. We ought to keep a supply of hard drives with the exact image ready to slap in there once a week as each new failure crops up.

Work is getting busier, but hopefully I will get enough time this week to move the scanner to its longer-term location hooked to a real antenna. Right now it's on a back-of-set job that picks up more computer r.f. noise than desired signal, at least on the CSX and FEC railroad channels. It picks up Delray Beach's trunked system well, and Boca Raton not too bad.

Stay tuned here for updates. Not the Yahoogroup, that is dead. This is the place now.


Another outage

My feeds are down while I help recover from yet another server outage. I thought the point of a co-located server with good connectivity was to prevent this kind of outage, but it has been just one problem after another.

Somehow our partition on the virtual machine that we were allocated wound up with a corrupted operating system. I didn't think that was possible in this environment, but there it is.

The entire partition had to be wiped and reloaded to get the paying customers back online as quickly as possible. My configuration will come when it gets done, so no feed for now.

Sorry for the late notice.


Cutover to new streaming server

For several weeks I have been testing my proposed new feed that will feed the Boca Raton area through our new Shoutcast streaming audio sever.

That server has now been cut in, so you might need to reboot your streaming machines to clear their DNS cache and force them to look up colostreaming.com with the new i.p. numeric address.

For now, the "Boca" feed is monitoring Fort Lauderdale area trunked systems, including Fort Lauderdale fire and police (good for Spring Break fun) and Broward County fire's West channel and BSO channel 6A (district 5 in the wild, wild west and district 12 Oakland Park). Deerfield Beach fire is in there as well.

I will post here when the Boca feed is actually feeding Boca Raton railroad traffic and occasional public safety stuff.


Boca Raton, Florida feed testing

I am testing a new feed for the Boca Raton, Florida area.

It will carry railroad audio from both CSX (including Tri-Rail and Amtrak) and FEC (Florida East Coast Railway).

It will also be programmed with Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, and Palm Beach County public safety trunked systems.

Because the scanner can be remotely controlled via the attached computer, I will be able to steer it to active incidents should the need arise.

The antenna will be about 30 feet in the air so it should have pretty good coverage. I hope that the receiver does not get overloaded with RF garbage which would limit its effective sensitivity. Only time will tell once I get it on the air next week.

Once it is on the air it will only be temporary. It could be yanked out of there at any time in the future, so don't get too attached to it. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Look for the announcement here when it is online in Boca Raton. For now, it is feeding Fort Lauderdale and Broward County public safety traffic as a test.

That is all.


server back up, mostly

Thanks to quick work by Jeff at the co-lo facility, the Shoutcast server in Dallas is back up much faster than I anticipated. I am currently sending my stream to the old, repaired box while I configure a replacement machine.

Hopefully, the transition will go smoothly.


Server out of service

The server at the Dallas co-location facility has died, so until a replacement can be procured this feed will be unavailable. I will post here when it returns to service.

Happy New Year!