I purchased a HomePatrol-1 for my elderly mother a few weeks ago (her analog RadioShack scanner had simply stopped receiving anything, & the HomePatrol is user-friendly for a non-techie like her).
Anyway, I'm pleased in general with it. I updated the 2011 programming with the July 2014 update with Sentinel (left the firmware alone, at least for now). The antenna it came with got fair reception, but I replaced it with a Uniden back-of-unit telescoping antenna (P/N BATG0540001, obtained via the nice folks at BearcatWarehouse.com)--that has made a signficant difference in what I'm receiving. I'm pulling in some unlikely signals from 30-60+ miles away. I live in Joplin, Missouri, & I'm receiving (with little effort), signals from as far away as Vinita, OK, Chanute, KS, & Parsons, KS, with especially busy activity from NE Oklahoma. I've noticed that the scanner itself is highly directional though, independent of the antenna; move it a few degrees one way or the other, & new signals will come in at the expense of others. It's more directional than I would've thought actually.
My only disappointment has been that I've not heard any Joplin, MO police broadcasts (which I understand to be digital), & very, very little from the Jasper County, MO sheriff's department (only the ocassional rural dispatch from them). That seems strange to me, since I only live 4 miles from the Joplin city limits, & have the scanner located near a window within line-of-sight of the town's commercial TV & radio towers, with no big obstacles in between. (If anyone has any ideas on picking up these channels, I'm open to them.)
Anyay, I'm pretty happy by adding the Uniden telescoping antenna, & would recommend that to HomePatrol users wishing for a replacement.
Joplin police and fire are on the 800 MHz P25 system. You should update both the database and the scanner's software, then make sure you've got the proper service types selected (law-dispatch, law-talk, law-tac, fire-dispatch, fire-talk, fire-tac etc.) and make sure you keep up to date on the database. You'll probably have to update your copy of Sentinel too since it requires the new version to support more recent updates to the database.
All digital formats are harder for the scanner to decode than analog ones. If you can't get anything after the most recent updates, you may need an outside antenna.
The reason for the constant updates is that Joplin has a fairly new P25 radio system and it's still being fleshed-out. There could have been changes which you didn't apply yet that prevent you from hearing anything. Another possibility is that Joplin may be migrating to the MOSWIN system which is mostly encrypted. You will not hear anything from any encrypted system or talkgroup. Even on the Joplin P25 system there are some talkgroups marked as encrypted (records and traffic) which, though only part-time encrypted - are not going to be in the Uniden download since they're marked as encrypted. You could add them to a favorites list manually though with data from Radioreference.com.
Bob Peloquin - KB1VUA
RR db admin (Massachusetts), USA
Scanner/GPS/Ham Radio enthusiast
Thank you so much for your help! I truly appreciate your informative reply.
Working incrementally to see what happens, I already input several more service types--the ones you suggested have increased traffic significantly. (Still no Joplin police traffic heard--yet--but the Joplin fire department is loud & clear, so as you mention, these channels are likely encrypted. After the 2011 EF-5 tornado that struck here, Joplin is brimming with federal disaster assistance funding, & I'd imagine that no expense has been spared in upgrading police radio capabilities.)
And yes, I will update the scanner accordingly.
Your advice is greatly valued. And, as I mentioned, the use of this new telescoping Uniden antenna has improved reception significantly over the original antenna that came with the HomePatrol, & I'd recommend that to new users looking to bring in better reception & more channels.
Last Edit: 24 Dec 2014 01:23 by DennyD. Reason: typo fix