Over the past couple of weeks, this is something I’ve been putting some thought into – Should I scan both the Chatham-Effingham TRS and the SEGARRN system or just the SEGARRN if I live in Savannah or Chatham County? Since the Chatham SEGARRN tower sites came on the air, I’ve been scanning both systems because even though they were multicasting on both systems via Smart-X, not everything was showing up on both systems. Recently, it seems the transition from the Chatham-Effingham SmartZone mixed mode system to the SEGARRN digital system is getting to the point where I’m hearing most traffic on both systems. That observation is what prompted me to think about it and here are the conclusions I’ve come to.
- If you only have an older generation scanner you’re going to have stick with the Chatham-Effingham TRS. If your scanner is analog only or won’t receive or trunk track on 700 MHz frequencies, you’re out of luck with the SEGARRN system because the frequencies in use in Chatham County are in the 700 MHz range and in digital voice only. If you’re interested in upgrading to a digital scanner capable of monitoring the SEGARRN, you’re going to be looking at around $450-500. My personal recommendations would be the Uniden HP-1 “Home Patrol” for the casual scanning hobbyist or the Uniden BCD396XT or BCD996XT for the more in-depth hobbyist.
- If you have a new generation scanner, I would scan the SEGARRN TRS for most Chatham County agencies and scan the Chatham-Effingham TRS for just Effingham and Tybee Island . Over the last week or so, all of the public safety traffic I’ve heard on the Chatham-Effingham TRS I’ve heard on the SEGARRN. Furthermore, I’ve heard some Savannah and Chatham County public safety traffic on SEGARRN which hasn’t come across the Chatham-Effingham TRS. Based on those observations, it would be best to just scan the SEGARRN on a regular basis. I would still scan the Chatham-Effingham TRS From time to time to make sure nothing has changed. Update 15 January 2013: I’ve been in Savannah for the last week, the longest I’ve been in town for awhile, and noticed that Tybee Island FD isn’t always coming across the SEGARRN TRS (although Tybee Island PD seems to). I also confirmed that not all of Effingham County Fire/EMS traffic is coming across the SEGARRN TRS. If you want to hear TIFD and Effingham Fire/EMS, I would scan the SEGARRN TRS and the Chatham-Effingham System but limit it to just those agencies.
- If you live in Effingham County you still might want to primarily scan the Chatham-Effingham TRS. I’m not in Effingham as much as I used to be, so I’m not sure if most of their traffic is showing up on both systems or not. It would probably be best to do a side by side comparison and make your decision based on that. Additionally, there are some SEGARRN coverage issues in parts of Effingham County, so you would want to base your decision on which system you receive best. Update 15 January 2013: If you’re in Effingham County, you’ll definitely want to keep scanning the Chatham-Effingham TRS; I’ve noticed over the last week that not all of Effingham Fire/EMS traffic has been coming across the SEGARRN TRS. Note: I’m still looking for feedback from readers on how well you can hear the SEGARRN TRS in various parts of Effingham County.
- If you are in an area where SEGARRN site coverage overlaps, you might want to scan the Chatham-Effingham TRS as primary and SEGARRN as secondary. Unlike the Chatham-Effingham TRS which uses different frequencies at each tower site, the SEGARRN uses the same frequencies at each tower site within a county. This poses a problem for scanners which are using a lesser receiver and processor than found in the multi-thousand dollar transceivers being used by system users. Essentially, the scanner receives the signal from both tower sites slightly off-sync and has a problem sorting out the digital audio. This can sometimes be fixed by using the attenuator feature on the scanner, which can have the effect of causing the scanner to hear just one of the two tower sites. If that doesn’t work, you may want to still scan both systems.
Another benefit of scanning the SEGARRN system in Savannah and Chatham County is that you can keep tabs on what’s going on in surrounding counties by listening to just one system. With the Chatham-Effingham TRS, you’ll just hear Chatham and Effingham counties but scanning the Chatham SEGARRN sites you’ll hear Chatham, Effingham, Bryan, and Liberty counties.
If you give one of the options above a try, let me know how it works out by leaving a comment below. Seeing how it works for folks in various parts of the city and county could help others make a better decision on what they’re going to do.