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Scanning: Using ID Tracker III for Logging/Recording

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Instead of using the recording/logging feature of the Butel ARC software for the Uniden BCD396XT, I’ve begun using ID Tracker III to record and log traffic off of the SEGARRN TRS to ID new talkgroups.  ID Tracker III has some features which make it a much better analysis tool than the virtual control recorder/logger in the ARC software, so that tipped the scales toward ID Tracker III after using both for a period of time.  I’ve also been using it with an Uniden BCD796D to record and log aviation, marine VHF, and railroad communications and with with an Uniden BC780XLT to record and log some military aviation activity.

ID Tracker III running on an Acer netbook computer that I use with my portable monitoring station.  The radios are an Alinco DJX-10T (rear) and Uniden BCD396XT (front).

The first reasons for settling on ID Tracker III have to do with versatility and system loading.  It is a Windows based program that uses very little system resources; it has worked quite well on my Windows 7 based desktop, laptop, and netbook as well as an older Windows XP based netbook.  This allows me to run it in the background so it can log and record while I do other things on the computer.  On the desktop, I’ve actually had it, ARC Patrol (for the Uniden Home Patrol), and the RadarBox software all up and running at the same time with no conflicts or system slow downs.  It will work with a variety of scanners including the PSR-500/600, PRO-106/197, BCT8, BCT15, BCT15X, BC250D, BC296D, BR330T, BC346XT, BCD396T, BCD396XT, BC780XLT, BC785D, BC796D, BC898T, BCD996T, and BCD996XT.  You can also install the program multiple times on one computer for different scanners rather than switching settings between different radios.

ID Tracker III also offers good tools for identifying and analyzing radio systems, particularly trunked repeater systems.  It will work on Motorola Type I, Type II, Type III, EDACS, EDACS SCAT, LTR and Motorola P25 trunked systems.  Although it’s name implies that it tracks trunked systems, it also logs and records conventional systems as well.  Just as the virtual control on ARC-XT does, ID Tracker offers computer control of the scanner.  It, like ARC-XT’s basic recording and logging feature will log talkgroup IDs and UIDs (individual radio IDs) but does it in a more useable manner.  You can set the program to log talkgroups using several settings:  All, Identified, Unidentified, Priority, Priority/Identified, or Priority/Unidentified.

Screen capture of ID Tracker III’s basic display and ID List

The screen capture above shows the basic ID Tracker III display and the ID list.  The basic display shows frequency/talkgroup information, a signal strength meter, recording indicator (the circle above the S-meter), transmission timer, number of hits, and time of day.  The ID List display shows the System, talkgroup ID, Description, and site the talkgroup was logged off of as well as the time of the last hit and the number of hits on it.  The ID list also shows the last couple of UIDs heard on the talkgroup.  On newer radios like the Uniden BCD396XT, the software will import talkgroup ID tags from the scanner into the software’s ID tags but on older scanners you may have to manually enter talkgroup ID tags.  I find this listing much easier to use than ARX-XTs listing which includes talkgroup hits and UID hits mixed within the same list.  ID Tracker III color codes talkgroup IDs based on identification.  You can tell it whether or not a talkgroup ID is identified or unidentified; identified talkgroup IDs will appear in the list in green, unidentified talkgroup IDs will appear in yellow.  Checking them as identified or unidentified can also determine whether or not the program logs the talkgroup based on your logging settings (mentioned above).

Screen Capture of ID Tracker III’s System Settings Display

ID Tracker III’s System Settings display is where the software truly becomes useful for identifying talkgroups and UIDs.  Under the Trunking tab, it lists the UIDs heard on the system and the frequencies logged in use by the system.  On the UID list, you can add descriptions to the UIDs indicating what department/agency/unit they are.  The most useful tool on this display is at the bottom of the column listing the UIDs.  When you select a UID in the list, the talkgroup IDs that the UID has been logged on appear in the box at the bottom of the column; knowing which talkgroups the UID has been on can go a long way towards identifying a UID.  With ID Tracker III you don’t have to manually sift through hits to find this information.

ID Tracker III also has a very useful built in audio player for reviewing the recordings it makes.  ID Tracker records onto .wav files which you can play on almost any audio player.  Individual transmissions are compiled into single files for each talkgroup ID but the ID Tracker audio player segments them into transmissions which are time/date stamped.

Screen capture of ID Tracker III’s built in Audio Player

You can control recording by telling it what you want to record:  None, All, Identified, Unidentified, Priority, Priority/Identified, or Priority/Unidentified.  Above, I mentioned that you can tell ID Tracker whether or not a talkgroup is identified, this is where that comes in useful, you can save disk space by setting the program to just record unidentified talkgroups (or if you’re looking for something specific you can always temporarily call an identified talkgroup and unidentified one).  You can also select specific talkgroups to record by setting them as priority.  You can play the audio files back as the whole file or as segments within the whole file; the files are listed on the left hand side of the Audio Player and the segments are listed on the right hand side.  The segments are not only time/date stamped, but if you’re tracking UIDs the UIDs will show in the comments section of the segment.

ID Tracker III not only works well on trunked systems, it works well on conventional frequencies for much of the same reasons.  The main reason I use ID Tracker III on conventional systems is for recording.  One of my main scanning interests is military aviation communications; the ID Tracker Audio Player allows me to easily listen to an entire training operation or pick out just certain segments of an air traffic control audio file.

Screen capture of ID Tracker III working with a BC796D on conventional frequencies

The screen capture above shows ID Tracker III working with an Uniden BC796D to log and record conventional frequencies.  You’ll notice in the basic display that some of the bars at the bottom of the display are lit up; when used with an older scanner that uses banks, these are the bank indicators.  A green bar indicates that the bank is active, a red tip on the right of the bar means that bank is set to record (these bars aren’t used by more recent scanners that use dynamic memory).   Just as with talkgroup IDs, frequencies are color coded:  green for identified and yellow for unidentified.  In the case of the BC796D, ID Tracker didn’t import the frequency ID tags from the scanner, I had to enter them manually (I still haven’t gotten around to setting whether they’re identified or not, hence all of the frequencies are yellow).

I highly recommend using ID Tracker III if you’re looking to computer log or record scanner activity, especially if you’re working to identify new talkgroups or users of a system.  It’s versatile, does the job well, and I forgot to mention….  free.  The software is freeware but donations are requested by the programmer.


3 Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    Thank you Mac! I downloaded ID TRACKER but was a little intimidated by it at first Your article helped me get it up, running, and recording Priority marked objects. I liked it so much I already made a donation. Thanks for the helpful article.

  2. […] ambulance – so their Squads are EMS units. Since the change, I’ve been using a combination of ID Tracker III and Unitrunker to try to find out what talkgroups the Glynn County FD and Brunswick FD are […]

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