Linn County Fire and EMS
Feed Status:     Listeners: 36
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Monitoring Cedar Rapids and the surrounding area through the Linn County Simulcast.


Operator: Scott Abing
scottabing@gmail.com

Overview:

Linn County, Iowa, fire and EMS live audio feed including Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities. My goal is to include useful unencrypted SARA network talkgroups from the Linn County Simulcast, I have blacklisted encrypted police and sheriff traffic along with unencrypted operations communication, leaving mostly fire and EMS in the stream. I also include any police or or sherrif dispatch communication which is unencrypted. I provide this stream as a public service in my spare time for the betterment of the community.

Equipment:

Linux based HP t620 thin client pc with open source scanning software OP25 tuning w/NooElec NESDR Smart v4. System and network connectivity on battery backup for 24/7 dedicated service.

Scanning Strategy:
I use a reductive process for talkgroups. All unencrypted traffic which exists on the Linn County Simulcast goes in the feed automatically unless blacklisted. No talkgoups are actually programmed per se and that is what makes the software I use special. This means as new talkgroups come online you will hear them instantly. Also, you may hear traffic which I ultimately need to blacklist. Please contact me if you have questions, comments or concerns
 
Dating Status:
Single and available... This feed has yet to attract the single ladies I was hoping for. So far it has just been a bunch of dudes wanting me to help program their scanners... If you are a single lady between the age of 30-45 please hit me up, I'm actually a relatively normal person who won't ever mention this feed in public.
 
Technical Log:
 
3/14/22 Adjusted sync timing on the metatags with the radio communications. Different apps handle the timing differently so if this has made things worse for you just let me know what app you are using and what you are seeing. This is also a bit of a moving target as the streaming provider isn't awlays consistent. Goal is to have the talkgroup name appear at the same time you hear that particular talkgroup's radio communication. If you want to see this inormation you need to use a streaming app which supports this feature.
 
3/7/22 Metadata updates (new alpha tags)
 
3/7/22 System is back up after an outage lasting about a day and a half. I was unable to fix a software issue remotely so the system was offline until I had physical access. This is the first outage lasting longer than a few minutes which I can't blame on any of my service providers. 
 
3/6/22 Outage
 
1/4/22 User Justin contacted me to let me know there was a TG blasting some undesireable chatter. I have blacklisted the TG to make the stream more listenable. 
 
12/15/21 Over 300 users listening with the weather event taking place - I will do my best to keep the stream online if it gets ugly.
 
7/4/21 user reported issues, system reboot was necessary to bring everything back online correctly
 
6/14/21 Metadata updates - added around 70 new talkgroup ID's 
 
4/2/21 Listeners peaking around 50-60 per day on weekends over the past few months! I'm glad to see this project benefiting others. Honestly, I have put this on autopilot for the past 4 months and the thin client running linux and OP25 has been rock solid. Please provide feedback if there are things which need to be addressed. I respond to email and if there are requests for changes which make sense then I take action. 
 
12/14/20 Metadata updates - added around 100 new talkgroup ID's
 
12/14/20 User Brian asked about an unidentified talkgroup which lead me to pull the latest info into my metadata spreadsheet.
 
12/3/20 User Joel checked in with some questions about programming his scanner
 
11/28/20 Network upgrades today, service will be up and down, will keep it up as much as possible.
 
9/15/20 While I was on vacation a few users notified me that the feed was garbling. I rebooted remotely initially and now I've updated to the latest version of OP25 and moved the installation to an old thin client. So now on different hardware and software. There is still some slight garbling at times.
 
9/6/20 Another power outage resulted in the feed going offline as mediacom service went down. The stream is now running on backup power over verizon until power is restored and mediacom comes back up.
 
8/16/20 I was unable to secure a reliable data connection needed to keep the stream online after the unprecedented wind storm that hit Cedar Rapids on 8/10/20. As an aside, my house took roof & water damage along with the antenna mast snapping in half. My primary internet provider, Mediacom, went down when they lost power and my backup, Verizon, did not provide the stable bandwidth needed to get the stream to the server. On 8/16/20 Mediacom service was restored to my house thus allowing me get the feed going again.
 
8/5/20  Now using outdoor omnidirectional antenna feeding this feed and the secondary feed.
 
7/11/20 The scanner software has been configured to automatically handle control channel frequency changes
 
7/9/20 The raspberry pi scanner has now been up for over 45 days without interuption in service to broadcastify. I will keep providing the feed and focusing on uptime as a priority. I welcome your questions, comments or concerns. 

7/8/20 To follow up on a previous note about audio quality and adding a directional antenna; I did purchase yagi antennas and conducted testing, but determined there was no appreciable gain in the decoding quality. So the main feed is still using a basic omnidirectional antenna and receiving signal from multiple towers in the simulcast system. Originally, a user had complained of occasional garbled audio; the best that I can determine is this is brought about by a combination of irregular signal quality into the simulcast system and the method of error correction employed by the OP25 software. After contacting the lead dev of the software, trying multiple antennas, SDR's and PI's all yielded the same result, I’m going to move on. I feel the audio quality is generally pretty good and not bad at all for free software on a $40 computer… Always open to any suggestions or a free SDS100...

7/7/20 Eric who is running a new feed for Johnson County contacted me. I haven't listened yet, but if there is a reliable and consistent JC feed up now, I will start to eliminate some of the JC chatter from this feed. 
 
6/10/20 Daily listener count is now around 50
 
6/9/20 Broadcastify had some issues today, they reported an outage at 6:02pm and reported it fixed by 8:23pm - this was reported as an issue with their hosting provider and some issues continued past their reported fixed time.  In other news, I'm configuring a server for streaming secondary feeds and already have it in testing. More on that soon...
 
6/8/20 New undocumented tg 52022 has been blacklisted since it is encrypted.
 
6/8/20 Identifying 50006 as IA TAC 6 until an official name is given. This seems to be Iowa State Patrol communication for multiagency interoperation and is being used in the Iowa City Area. 

6/7/20 User Tom checked in to compliment me on the feed and inquired on how I'm able to scan nonprogrammed talkgroups like we had last night with 50006. See new note at the very bottom of this info.

6/6/20 Undocumented talkgroup 50006 popped up tonight with communication around the Iowa City Protests so I'm temporarily calling it "Iowa City Protest" but it is likely a state or regional tactical interop communication talkgroup like 50002 IA TAC 2. 

6/6/20 Keeping all IC protest unencrypted communication available

6/6/20 Blacklisted 50002 IA TAC 2 due to out of area communication  - will consider for inclusion in secondary feed.

6/6/20 Blacklisted 16406 UnityPoint Amb due to out of area communication - will consider for inclusion in secondary feed.

6/6/20 Blacklisted 57905 VMED28 Patch & 52034 VMED28 - will consider for inclusion in secondary feed.

6/6/20 - Blacklisted 57902 VLAW31 Patch & 57903  PT to PT Patch, BH talkgroups 40703, 40702, 40710, 10703, 10704, 10705, 10702, 50721.  - will consider for inclusion in secondary feed.

6/5/20 - Blacklisted hospital talkgroups eliminating ER communication - will consider for inclusion in secondary feed on my own server.

6/1/20 - User kodka11 inquired about the hardware config and also wanted me to be aware of the Broadcastify terms of service which I have been disregarding to include ER communication during the COVID-19 outbreak.

6/1/20 - Users peaked at 297 with the heightened awareness around potential looting and civil unrest.

5/28/20 - A user n0zjt complained about ER communication and system maintenance talkgroups inclusion in the feed. 

5/27/20 - A user Alex Langer has complained of anomalies in the audio, to address this I will be purchasing a directional antenna. The assumption is these warbles or hiccups could be related to receiving from multiple simulcast towers. I feel it is listenable in its current form but will explore this option to see if I can do better for the users. Upgrades are expected around June 3rd, 2020.

5/26/20 - Blacklisted additional encrypted channels.

5/24/20 - At peak there were 37 listeners today, the most since coming online 1 week ago. The new headless pi4 has now been running without issue for 48 hours and looks to be stable. 

5/23/20 - Retimed alpha tags in an attempt to better synchronize with the audio.

5/22/20 - Service taken offline briefly at midnight to swap hardware and enable alpha tags. You will now see talkgroup ID's when the scanner is latched on a talkgroup. I have moved everything to a headless pi4 device for uninterrupted 24/7 operation and will monitor stability. Now using liquidsoap as the streaming application for op25.

5/19/20 - Service is stable and the stream is made public

5/17/20 - Service brought online for testing - cake day!