Thursday, 9 March 2017

Guide to Radio Scanning in Launceston Tasmania

A few times of late I have had people contact me asking for some "starter" frequencies for Launceston area. I have now written a bit of a "Guide to Radio Scanning in Launceston Tasmania". This covers not just frequencies but also some background information on them and advice on suitable equipment. Please note that you can’t listen to the Tasmania police in Launceston as they use an 800MHz EDACS trunking radio network with encrypted talk groups.

Please note that you can’t listen to the Tasmania police in Launceston as they use a 800MHz EDACS trunking radio network with Provice talk groups.

What is radio scanning?
Radio scanning is a hobby which is enjoyed by people all across Australian and the world. Radio scanners are special radios that receive signals not audible on normal AM/FM radios like you might have in your home or car. Various groups make use of two way radios; these include the 000 services such as ambulances, police and fire services. Business users such as buses, trucks and security companies, aircraft, trains, boats, amateur radio operators and CB radio can all be heard on a radio scanner.

Interest in radio scanning in Australian has dropped off over the past decade in general, as most of the 000 services and some business users have migrated to “secure” forms of two way radio communications which cannot be received on any radio scanner. This has seen scanning appeal less to the casual listener, these days most people with an interest in radio scanning are now approaching this hobby from a technical point of view where searching the bands for new signals, data logging / decoding and other more technical interests have taken over from listening to the 000 services which used to be the main reason most people had a radio scanner.

Contrary to some widespread beliefs and misinformation, radio scanning is perfectly legal in Australia unless you are listening to communications carried over the public telephone network. This includes mobile phones, cordless phones, sea phones and any phone patch interconnects which some commercial two way radio users may have.  Some common sense around radio scanning is to not repeat what you hear to any third parties and not to use what you hear for commercial gain or illegal purposes.

Depending on what you wish to listen to, radio scanners can be purchased new for less than $150 all the way up to $1000 or more. Second hand radio scanners can be found for around half these prices, however a word of caution. Not all radio scanners (especially those sold on the second hand market) cover all the required frequency bands. To get the most benefit, a radio scanner for use in Tasmania needs to cover at least these frequency bands.

Why can’t I hear some frequencies?
This could be for a number of reasons. Some radio users have switched to digital modes, these require very expensive and complex radio scanners or the use of a computer with decoding software.

Your location and the location of the transmitter plus the frequency band in use also play a huge part in what frequencies you can hear. Generally the lower the frequency, the better coverage it will provide (in open areas). This is why for example the Tasmania Fire Service use frequencies in the 78/79MHz band with high mountain top repeaters for wide area coverage. On the other hand, Launceston City Council parking staff use a UHF frequency of 474.375MHz which provides coverage around the CBD and city area. At higher frequencies the radios (especially handhelds) are generally smaller and have smaller aerials which makes carrying them much easier.

In and around the greater Launceston area are a number of two way radio sites. Below is a list of the major ones and what users they carry. All of these can normally be received in the greater Launceston area.

Mt Arthur:
Forestry (VHF)
TasRail (VHF High)
West Tamar Council (VHF)
Launceston City Council (VHF)
Tasmanian Fire Service (VHF)
Amateur Radio (VHF High and UHF)
Boral (VHF High)
Marcom Watson (VHF and UHF)
Tasmanian Electronics (VHF, VHF High and UHF)
UHF CB Repeater (UHF)

Mt Barrow:
Air Services Australia (VHF Airband)
Ambulance Tasmania (VHF)
Tasmania Fire Service (VHF)

West Launceston:
Ambulance Tasmania (VHF)
Tasmania Fire Service (VHF)

Abels Hill:
Metro Buses (UHF)
Redline Coaches (VHF High)
TOX Free (VHF High)
Marcom Watson (VHF High)
Tasmanian Electronics (VHF High and UHF)

Freelands Lookout:
Launceston City Council (VHF)
Metro Buses (UHF)

Please note that a number of radio users have their repeaters located at sites other than the above, this can include at their own buildings or sites.

I personally have over 350 frequencies programmed in my scanners, these cover a wide range of users and some get very little use. From this large list I have broken them down in to a list of the top 40 frequencies for the Launceston area which I have listed below in groups with some notes, I have done this so that you can only program those frequencies which you are interested in.

000 Services
77.52500 - SES-NORTH (Main SES channel for the North of the state)
78.62500 - AMBO-MT BARROW (Ambulance Tasmania frequency for Mt Barrow, covers the North well, carries the same traffic as the West Launceston frequency)
78.65000 - FIRE-TAMAR (TFS frequency for West Tamar area)
79.03750 - FIRE-WEST LTON (TFS frequency for Launceston area)
79.06250 - AMBO-WEST LTON (Ambulance Tasmania frequency for West Launceston, covers the Launceston area well, carries the same traffic as the Mt Barrow frequency)
79.56250 - FIRE-NE (TFS frequency for North East Tasmania)
79.66250 - FIRE-NE (TFS frequency for North East Tasmania)

Air band
118.70000 - TOWER-LTON (Launceston tower frequency)
123.80000 - FIA-NORTH (High level aircraft frequency)
129.50000 - QANTAS (VHF company frequency)
130.12500 - JETSTAR-HOBART (VHF company frequency)
130.22500 - JETSTAR-LTON (VHF company frequency)
130.35000 - VIRGIN BLUE (VHF company frequency)

Amateur Radio
147.00000 - VK7RAA-MTARTHUR
438.55000 - VK7RAB-MTARTHUR

476.45000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 02 (Mt Arthur repeater)
476.85000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 18 (LTON TIP)
477.40000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 40 (Road / truck driver channel)

Business Radio Users
70.32500 - ABILITY TAXIS (Used by a maxi taxi company, very active at times)
72.27500 - LES WALKDEN
77.65000 - TECS (Rental frequency, used by Joe Lyons Transport)
78.01250 - WTC WORKS (West Tamar Council works frequency)
78.28750 - LCC-MTARTHUR (Launceston City Council works frequency, suburb and rural areas)
78.31250 - LCC-FREELANDS (Launceston City Council works frequency, CBD / city areas)
78.47500 - FORESTRY TAS
162.50000 - BORAL
162.61250 - TASRAIL-MTARTHUR (TASRAIL frequency, covers North East area)
163.05000 - REDLINE BUSES (Redline bus frequency. Used for airport pickups and carries state wide traffic)
163.43750 - TOX FREE (Waste company, very active early morning)
464.37500 - METRO-FREELANDS (metro buses frequency for greater Launceston area, very active at times)
467.17500 - TECS (Rental frequency, used by a delivery/ bus company)
473.50000 - TASRAIL SIMP UHF (TASRAIL UHF shunt channel)
474.22500 - LCC MUSEUM (Launceston City Council staff at QVMAG)
474.37500 - LCC PARKING (Launceston City Council parking officers)
485.25000 - MARCOM WATSON (Rental frequency. Used by Sainty Coaches / bulk goods delivery)
488.55000 - MARCOM WATSON (Rental frequency. Used by delivery company.
492.60000 - LTON COLLEGE (Launceston college cleaning / support staff. Mostly active of a morning and late afternoon.)
494.92500 - LCC SWIMMING (Launceston City Council. Used at Launceston swimming centre. Mostly active during the summer months and of a weekend)

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