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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Taking Frequency Hunting to an Extreme Level

Please note: all names and frequencies have been de identified due to the nature of this. 

Background:
Back when I started scanning in the late 1990's, a local transport company had a licensed frequency of xx.xxxMHz which was registered to them "John Smith Transport".

In around 2003/2004 this frequency went dead. A few years later I found them using a shared repeater on xxx.xxxxMHz. This was licensed to "ABC Communications" but was being used by "John Smith Transport". I spent a lot of time listening to them to confirm this.

In the past year, this frequency has also gone dead, I suspect they have moved to a UHF simplex frequency which was used by another company, which they purchased a couple of years ago, I can't confirm this.

Their depot is located at the end of a public road with no other businesses anywhere close by. Due to the nature of what they transport they get very nervous about anybody hanging around. My efforts so far had not proved successful. Time to get more serious about this.

First Idea: Hide a scanner close by.
I have done this in the past where I have parked my car for the day, left a scanner in Close Call mode with auto store and came back later to see what it has found. Sadly due to the area this is in it is not possible. 

Close to their admin office is some bushes which I could “hide” a scanner in, coming back later to check what results it had found. I found a suitable case and undertook some testing of the run time of my UBC126AT in close call temporary store mode, sadly this was less than 7 hours so it would not last a full work day. I was unwilling to look at adding extra batteries at this would require a much larger case and add to the cost of this project. I also found that the bushes had been removed in the last few weeks so this would making hiding the case much harder.  At this point I was ready to give up on this project.

Second Idea: Hide in plain sight.
A few days ago I was talking to a friend, who knows I am in to scanning in a big way and we started talking about this little project. He suggested hiding in plain sight. Whereas before I was trying to do this by hiding a scanner and leaving it, could I rock up looking like I was meant to be there for a different purpose and use this to my advantage? We threw around a few ideas and came up with a plan.

Today, Monday the 16th January was the day. I had a rare week day off work and so used this to my advantage, my thoughts being that while this company work weekends, being a week day this would give me the best possible chance of them using radios.

My mate arrived with his work Ute which he didn’t need for a couple of hours as he had to go in to the city for a meeting, this has the logo of who he works for and a yellow flashing light on the roof and some witches hats in the tray. He also loaned me a hi-vis vest and a hard hat to complete the picture. 




I headed off to get changed in to some “work” clothes. We had decided I should look more like an engineer than a hands on worker for this.

I dropped him off in the city and told him to give me a call when he needed a lift. 

I had packed a hard carry case with all my required radios:
- UBC126AT: in the cabin running in Close Call Temporary Store mode.
- UBC72XLT: Programmed with the repeater input / output frequencies for the two frequencies they have used in the past plus the UHF simplex frequency which belonged to the other company they had purchased a couple of years ago.
- Spare batteries, note pad, pen and my other scanner accessories.

I arrived in the public road that runs beside their depot and parked about half way down. I got out and set up some witches hats around a pit on the foot path, before returning to the Ute and turning on my scanners.


Over the next half an hour, I sat and waited for one of the frequencies to come alive. I got in and out of the Ute a few times and moved the witches’ hats around. I saw a few trucks come and go but nothing on any of their frequencies or Close Call.  A security car drove out of their depot at one stage but kept going, I am unsure if this was because of me. Feeling a bit disappointed that I had not had any hits, it was only when I picked up the UBC126AT, which was running in Close Call Temporary Store mode that I noticed it was not searching the UHF band (band 5). I turned this on and within seconds I had a “hit” on UHF CB channel XX (476.XXXMHz). I quickly programmed this in my UBC72XLT. Over the next half an hour I got multiple hits on this and on my UBC126AT, which was running in Close Call mode.

Happy that I had located their frequency, which is a UHF CB channel, I packed up the witches hats and headed in to the city for a coffee before giving my mate a lift home.

Final Result:
The end result was that within a couple of hours I have been able to confirm that they are still using two way radios and what frequency they are using. I now know it is not worth scanning their old frequencies. This was an interesting experience, where I took hunting down a frequency to an extreme level and it was a good test of a method I might be able to use again in the future, if I need to.


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