Radio Systems

Manager Gary Hardwick 513.695.2860 gary dot hardwick at wcoh dot net

Supervisor Glenn McKeehan 513.695.1316 glenn dot mckeehan at wcoh dot net

Technician Corey Burton 513.695.1177    corey dot burton at wcoh dot net

  • 1 Radio System Network Operations Center (NOC) hardened with layered redundancy and Emergency power.
  • 10 Tower Sites with equipment, shelters & emergency power.
  • 14 public safety grade microwave links for the Data Backbone.
  • 44 Microwave links for Public Works Information Backhaul.
  • 1180 handheld Portable radios.
  • 754 Mobile radios (+54 from last year).
  • 230 Fixed Base stations.
  • 178 Control base stations including School Emergency radios (+17 from last year). In 2015, our radio subscription base of 70 agencies made 6,394,598 total calls with 519,623 minutes of
    conversation (equivalent of
    continuous talk  for 361 days!)

 

Digital System Highlights

  • Became appendage of State of Ohio’s MARCS radio system
  • Added 4 tower sites for better coverage (total of 9)
  • Improved coverage/reception Countywide
  • Statewide roaming capability on certain talkgroups
  • Encryption on sensitive talkgroups
  • Increased capacity to 19 conversations at one time
  • Improved interoperability with neighboring Counties now that all adjacent communities have joined MARCS IP

Check out the 2013 newsletters for monthly updates on the digital radio system upgrade.

Purpose (updated 2/9/17)

▪ Technician Shop – daily radio system database maintenance, provide service for walk-in radio users.  Resolve repair/parts/accessory invoices. Program fleet of 2,500 radios as needed.  Maintain readiness of Hot Box radios and portable communications equipment. Provide on-site radio communications support and service to the Sheriff’s Office units at the Hill Climb Event and other special events.
▪ Tower Work – handle as much radio tower maintenance as possible to cut costs.  Outfit tower buildings with equipment, cabling, etc. Design, engineer, install Microwave data links for various Warren County buildings (Engineers office, Garage, Time Warner feed, etc).

 5-Year Goals

▪ Continue to upgrade Microwave Data distribution network to provide more links & better bandwidth for Water, Wastewater, WCPSN, County Data and Telephone users that depend on fast, reliable, Ethernet, Internet, Scada, & VoIP data service connections.
▪ Maintain digital radio system.
▪ Complete 2 touches of radio programming
1) insert the digital talkgroups/frequencies, and
2) remove analog talkgroups/frequencies.
▪ Convert the old analog radio system to a portable, back-up emergency system.

Beyond Boundaries – August 2012

History

The Warren County Radio System was designed to provide better communications for the Law Enforcement and Fire Departments in a county with challenging coverage problems. Our County’s terrain varies greatly and is very unforgiving to  radio communications. With two rivers, the Miami & Little Miami, and their tributaries, there are elevation changes of 620 to  1065 feet above sea level.

The Radio Systems Division (RSD) began in 1989 with the construction of the 800 MHz Simulcast Trunked Radio System. The system began with two tower sites / five radio channels and has since grown to five tower sites / 15 radio channels.  RSD manages approximately 3000 mobile, portable, and control station radios for roughly 90 County departments and agencies. RSD maintains ten radio consoles in the County 911 center and supports Lebanon, Franklin, & Springboro’s dispatch centers as their first call for radio issues around the clock.  Also competing for the same resources are non-public safety departments like Warren County Water, Engineers, Adult Transit, MRDD, etc.

 System Description

  • The second of five generations of Motorola trunking systems.
  • The Warren County 800MHz Trunked Radio System is a Motorola 5 tower site, 15 channel, Analog, Simulcast, Smartnet II system.  It will support 14 simultaneous radio transmissions county wide.
  • 800MHz is an efficient frequency because it saturates an area due to it’s smaller wave length.  We have 15 frequencies and use 4 data channels.
  • We currently have five tower sites that receive and transmit.
  • Trunking – refers to a system that utilizes talk groups to communicate to one another.  Talk groups are programmed into the radios (currently there are over 300 talk groups).  Talk groups are assigned frequencies when the radios are keyed up.  When the radio is not keyed up it doesn’t keep the frequency busy and other talk groups could use the frequency.
  • Simulcasting – all towers receive and transmit, however the main tower site assigns which tower will actually be doing the transmitting and receiving and puts all of the towers in synch to create a clear signal.  Depending where you’re located in Warren County will depend on the tower that you’re actually using.  When a radio is keyed up, all the towers will receive the transmittal, however the main site will actually assign which tower will handle the transmission.  This process takes about two seconds.
  • It’s a repeater system.  When using a repeater system you transmit to the repeater on one frequency and receive on the repeater output frequency.  You transmit out on one frequency and receive at 45 MHz lower.

 

The Tower Sites

  • Zoar – covers the southeast and south central part of our County; “mother” site for transmitting and receiving, contains most of the computer equipment, controls the four other radio towers, the original tower constructed in 1989.
  • Manchester – covers the northwest portion of Warren County, receives and transmits, second site on the system in 1989.
  • Hatfield – covers the central and eastern parts, receives and transmits, saturates area, third site on the system XXXX
  • Snider – provides coverage in the central and southern parts of the County, receives and transmits, fourth site on the system, the radio team constructed the majority of this tower, only contracting out small portions of the project.
  • Goose Creek – covers the northeast Waynesville, Corwin and Massie Twp area.  This tower helps to fill in difficult
    areas of the Park and the surrounding areas.
  • There are three other towers – Black Hawk, EOC, and Lytle. These are used for telephone and microwave
    communications, but as our system grows, they are prime locations for our data systems network and future digital trunking enhancements.
  • These towers offer a great WiFi hot spot for you to park at and work on your MDC.  This also gives a presence at the site and keeps it safe.

Be aware of “Dead Zones” Through our experience working with the radio system, we’ve discovered some areas that lack coverage.  Be conscious of these areas in case you find yourself in an emergency – radio communication may not work (rivers, steel / concrete buildings).

The system works so well we take it for granted. It’s there every time we need it. People that work with it everyday may not realize it has become so much of an extension of their persona. If the 800 MHz Trunking System were to go away, it would be like a car with no roads on which to travel. To do without Warren County’s Trunking System today, with the population we have now, is inconceivable.

So when a radio does not work, it puts the operator into some kind of shock. They will look at the radio like it’s the first time they have ever seen it. Please remember no system is perfect. Everyday a new building is going up using some new insulation with metal foil backing and glass with sun block (that is not the only thing it blocks). RF, Radio Frequencies cannot pass through solid materials. The more dense the material, the harder it is for the radio wave to pass through. If an Officer  walked into this type of building it could block the signal from him till he re-emerges. So it is important to know the limitations of your equipment and the system. You have to work with the Radio System to make it work for you.

Can we cover the whole world? No, Under the FCC guide lines, we can not cover the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.  If we did,  we would be interfering with other systems. At certain times of the year, when the atmospheric conditions are right, we can hear systems near Columbus and they can hear us.

 

Radio System Rules & Facts

You cannot have a group of people live together without rules; our radio system is no different.  Here are some facts and rules of proper communications that we all need to follow:

Rule:  Listen before you key the radio.  If you just turned on your radio, make sure the talk group is not in use. There is always something going on, don’t be the person everybody shakes their head about.

Rule:  Don’t key the radio if you’re going to be impossible to understand. It’s a balanced system. Receive and transmit are equal. If the system is noisy to you, you will be noisy to the system.  If this is the case, speak slowly and distinctly, do not raise your voice as it will only make you harder to understand.

Rule:  Don’t key the radio if you’re having a bad time hearing. If you have to raise your voice to hear it above your surroundings, then your surroundings are being heard by the system. A microphone is like an ear.  Beware of background noises like wind or sirens, etc.

Fact:  Know what you’re going to say before you key the radio.

Rule:  Key the radio before you talk.  Because the trunking system must assign a channel each time you transmit, there is a delay of less than ½ of a second before your group will hear your first word.  Key the mic, take a breath, then talk.

Rule:  If you are on a talk group controlled by a dispatcher, you are to talk to the Dispatcher and no one else.  Unless directed to do so by the dispatcher.

Fact:  Keep it short. The average time a police officer transmits is six seconds.

Rule:  Don’t create feedback. Do not key a radio next to another radio or portable that is of the same talk group.

Rule:  Never play music on the radio. You are on a Public Safety Frequency. The FCC takes great pleasure in catching that kind of thing.  You are looking at fines and possible jail time if you are caught.

Rule:  Never use bad language. Speak as if you’re in a court of law with an angry judge.  The FCC may be monitoring.. Fines and possible loss of licenses may result from your improper action.

Fact:  No matter what time of the day or what channel you transmit on … PEOPLE ARE LISTENING TO YOU! What you say on the radio today, you could read in the paper tomorrow.  Never say something you do not want repeated back to you in a court of law. The system is being recorded at all times, and the data is stored for years.

 

2011 Highlights

  • Continued replacing/reprogramming user mobiles and portables in support of the Sprint /Nextel Re-banding activity.
  • Completed demolition of the guyed EOC tower on Justice Drive, removing the wires that stretched over the parking lot resulting on heavy bird population and soiled vehicles below.
  • Completed and commissioned Uhf, Vhf and 800 MHz antennas on new EOC tower.
  • Installed and outfitted Tower at SPD.
  • Installed Tower at Engineers Markey Road facility.
  • Completed inventory of user UHf Paging equipment. Deployed over 200 new units replacing pagers that would not function properly when we the convert Paging System to meet the FCC required system narrow-banding Specifications.  Retuned all user pagers and infrastructure transmitters to meet the new Narrow-Band requirements.
  • Designed and installed the microwave links for Community Services, Armco Park, LLMWWTP, the Water Treatment Plant and the Engineers offices at Corwin House. These links reduced communication expenses by replacing leased lines for telephone and Ethernet access.
  • Upgraded dish antennas on 5 Microwave links.
  • Expanded Microwave Backbone by adding Lytle to Hatfield link.
  • Corrected lightning protection and grounding issues at Manchester tower.
  • Installed Ice Bridge protection at Snider, Manchester and Hatfield.
  • Continued Black Hawk tower site development, new structure placed on site, Dec. 2011.
  • Replaced all Tower Sites’ 800 MHz System receive antennas with units that are 700/ 800 MHz-capable.
  • Responded to and resolved 122 after-hours DPR Requests for Service.


Tech Shop

  • Handled normal office hour database maintenance and walk-in traffic.
  • Re-banded 1,059 user radios.
  • Provided programming or firmware ‘flash’ upgrades to 942 mobile/portable radios.
  • Resolved 162 Repair and Accessory invoices.
  • Performed 5 mobile radio Removal & Installations.
  • Completed system-wide user equipment inventory reconciliation in support of Nextel Rebanding project.
  • Maintained readiness of Hot Box Radios.
  • Provided on-scene communications, radio support & service of the S.O. units on site for the Hill Climb event.

 

Man-hours

  • Work Time – 6,229hours,  plus 191 hours OT
  • Vacation Time – 198 hours
  • Sick Time – 203 hours

 

2012 Planned Activities

  • Complete Sprint/Nextel re-banding activities including Infrastructure.
  • Continue upgrades to AC and DC power systems at Tower sites.
  • Continue upgrades to microwave system by completing links for SPD to Lytle, Lytle to GC, County Garage and Old Engineers office to EOC, Black Hawk to Hatfield and others as needed.
  •  Install Uhf and 700/800 MHz antennas at Lytle and Black Hawk sites in prep for current Paging and future Digital radio infrastructure.
  • Refit Hatfield tower, replace aging Uhf and 800 mhz antennas, add EMA Amateur antennas/line for both EMA repeaters.
  • Refit Snider Tower replacing aging Uhf and 800 mhz antennas
  • Replace all tower sites’ Tower Top Amplifier systems with equipment compatible with the new Digital radio system.

 

 

 

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