Huntley Scanner - Scanning McHenry County Fire Districts
Est. April 2019
Fire Departments in McHenry County have transitioned from their Analog VHF systems to the Starcom21 Statewide Illinois network, which spans across Illinois and some parts of Iowa. The technology uses a more well known digital system called Project 25. By being on Project 25, specifically Starcom21 Statewide Illinois, our departments can travel to any location in the state and their radios will still work not only with local dispatch, but also other agencies.
This technology shares voice frequencies among multiple talk groups, rather than the previous method of having a dedicated frequency for each agency. In general, a single agency may have a handful of talk groups that are dedicated for them (see below). The voice frequncy is assigned by a control channel when a radio keys up. That control channel will then 'tell' the other radios on the talk group which frequency to tune to. All this happens in an instant. Each Starcom21 site has a set of voice / control frequencies. All of McHenry County makes up site 146 in the statewide system.
Analog scanners and many early digital scanners do not work on this system as it is very complex. A P25 Phase II Simulcast compatible scanner is required for this system. The downside is that these scanners are very expensive (The Uniden SDS100 is $650). However, there is an affordable solution! Our scanner is provided by several $30 RTL-SDRs which when paired with a computer, can "show" the computer the RF signals coming over the air. A free program on the computer called SDRTrunk then converts that digital signal from the control frequency, and can simultaneously monitor all active voice channels. This program then pushes each individual "call" to the Broadcastify Calls platform, as well as the respective Broadcastify Stream. The setup is relatively technical however the documentation on the SDRTrunk wiki is pretty helpful to get started!
The following frequencies are used for fireground operations statewide, and use analog frequencies incompatible with our Starcom21 feeds, therefore traffic on these frequencies will not be heard on our Broadcastify feeds.
IFERN is used by dispatch agencies to request mutural aid when an incident calls for it. Fireground Red is the primary channel for fireground operations, but other fireground channels may be used if needed. Fireground Green is often used for helicopter to ground operations in McHenry County.