09 March 2010

WestmoCo TeamSpeak - What Do You Think?

Whew... need to brush a year's worth of dust off in here in order to find the controls... and well.. once again, it's been far too long since we've posted a new entry, but the time has come to get the following info out to our ever faithful WestmoCo live scanner stream listeners, so here goes...

We'll begin by briefly recapping what most of our 'regular' visitors/listeners already know, and that is the news that on 30 JAN 2010, our longtime TeamSpeak server hosting provider (IBN - Incident Broadcast Network) abruptly closed its doors for good, leaving our popular WestmoCo TeamSpeak feed without a home. Fortunately, this did not affect our other three live feed formats which are hosted with different providers, and so our TeamSpeak community at least had a place to go in order to keep listening. After about a month of our TS3 stream being 'off the air', another (to be left un-named) person attempted to take over the reigns and breathe new life into the server, which was now being hosted on "DeadlyServers.com". This was good news at the time and we were happy to take advantage of it by adding our WestmoCo stream, and all seemed good... for about 3 weeks. Then, apparently, the new operator defaulted on the costs owed to DeadlyServers for the setup/rental of the TeamSpeak platform, and so, understandably, the server owner had no choice but to purposely shut it down due to non-payment. We patiently waited to see if this problem would be resolved, but after some time now, it doesn't appear that this arrangement will be resurrected anytime soon. OK.. so our homeless TS3 feed is back to square one, and that brings us to the now...

This is where you come in, if you so choose... so please keep reading... It seems to us now, with the way things are, that the best way to get control over the 'where', 'how', and 'who' pieces of the equation for bringing our TeamSpeak feed back online in a serious way, would be to take over complete control of it ourselves. Now this is not a brand new idea.. as we've long considered running our own TeamSpeak server and not have to depend on any other third party entities whom may or may not be all that reliable. The only thing that held us back before, is the same thing that holds us back now... paying for the rental cost of hosting the TeamSpeak server. Now before getting into the details of how much that might be in actual dollars, let me take a moment first to explain how it would work.

If we were to set up our own TeamSpeak server for this purpose, it would provide a TS3 platform for streaming our Westmoreland County live scanner audio ONLY. There would be NO other live scanner channels on it, in the way that IBN had feeds from locations all over the US and elsewhere. This one would operate in the exact same way as before, except that it would be completely dedicated to our single WestmoCo channel, with no other audio being offered. The primary reasons for this would be to keep any support/maintenance efforts to the bare minimum, and, more importantly, TeamSpeak servers are ordered and rented by the total number of simultaneous users (i.e. broadcaster + listener connections, called 'slots' in TeamSpeak terms) that one wishes to have be able to connect at one time. Simply put, the more people that can connect at once (broadcasting and listening), the more you pay.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how that works, here are the important numbers:
The pricing to rent a TeamSpeak server ranges from approximately $2.50/monthly or $25.50/yearly for up to 5 simultaneous users, to $72.50/monthly or $739.50/yearly for up to 250 simultaneous users. I know right..? ..from Not Bad to No Way! Now, the number of users our feed averaged when on IBN was about 50 (more during occasional big incidents), and only about half that on the last short-lived server that didn't work out. So based on the fees included in the pricing range mentioned above, on the low side, for us to host a server that would allow up to 25 simultaneos users would cost us $9.25/monthly or $94.25/yearly. To be able to support up to 50 simultaneous users in the feed raises the ante to $17.00/monthly or $173.40/yearly.

Again, as most of you know (and if you don't, please see our previous post below this one), over the past year or so we have been accepting donations from some of our generous listeners to help supplement our slim-to-none budget just to keep the broadcast side of the feeds operating here (thanks to all of you!), without having to support any of the cost of renting a TeamSpeak server on top of that as this plan would add into the mix.

So... two things...
1. Are there enough of our listeners interested in our feed returning to the TeamSpeak community format, in addition to our other current online format streams, to make it worthwhile to even consider paying for a dedicated TS3 server for our feed?

2. Would we be able to count on enough of our generous donors who would be interested per #1 above, to help us offset the cost by contributing some amount toward the rental of the TS3 server?

We would really appreciate having some input from you on this subject so that we can either give it the amount of serious thought it may deserve, or, to simply 'let go' for now and carry on without a TeamSpeak flavored WestmoCo stream. Please send any comments or questions on this subject in to us here by using the 'Contact Us' button at left, or simply email them in to: webmaster@gmans.net.

Thanks for reading.

24 February 2009

GMANS.net Requesting Sponsorship Donations To Support The Live Scanner Feeds

Well, it's all you hear in the news these days... the economy is in a downturn, stocks are tanked, your 401k or other life's savings investments are hemorrhaging $100 bills, prices on just about everything are up, food, gasoline, your utilities, etc., etc... Unfortunately it's all as true as the painful pinch we are all feeling from it in our backsides (the wallet area to be exact) and the NKNOC Labs and GMANS.net are no different here. Until the Pennsylvania Lottery Commission decides to cooperate with us in a more favorable fashion and inform us that our Powerball numbers are worth more than the paper they're printed on, we are under the crunch along with most everyone else.

Since 04 July 2005, GMANS.net has been broadcasting the scanner audio of the Westmoreland County 800Mhz TRS over the Internet in live streaming feeds, free to anyone that cares to listen... and we have been pleased to do it. What began a long time ago as a curious blend of hobbies in mixing radios with computers and to simply make sound go from "here" to "there" along the information highway just for fun, has now grown into a multi-thousand dollar broadcasting system made up of expensive scanners, antennas, computers, servers, audio processing and recording gear, software, and of course a dedicated broadband WAN connection that allows us to share the feeds with every place on the planet that has "the Internet". Pretty cool right..? Well, yes.. very cool until the monthly bills arrive, and/or some piece of equipment needs upgraded, repaired or replaced, not to mention all of the time required to maintain everything in order to keep the feeds running smoothly 24/7/365 Live! for your listening pleasure. Our feeds (TeamSpeak, Icecast/Windows Media and the new Audio/Video) have a combined average of over one hundred listeners at any given time of the day or night! The bittersweet story there is that as much fun as it is sharing the feeds with literally hundreds of people, many from WestmoCo listening to what's going on in the county (and maybe even their neighborhood)... it's not much fun in bearing the weight of all the costs alone. The sad ending to that story is that if costs ultimately become more than we can handle, we would have to discontinue the live feeds, as we will never charge listeners a fee to hear the broadcasts in order to support their operation. Some will even tell you that is not legal anyway, but that's another blog story for another time...

For the reasons above, GMANS.net has begun to ask for a little help in carrying the load. If you enjoy listening to the live Westmoreland County scanner feeds that we provide and don't want to see them go away, please consider making a small donation that will go directly toward the operating costs of keeping the feeds up and running. Many of our listeners log in on a daily basis, some even staying connected 24/7 so as not to miss anything (and that's fine), so we know that there would be many unhappy users if the feeds had to go silent. Consider the comparison of making a small donation versus having to purchase a $500.00 digital scanner to stay tuned in, and it would only work where you could receive the finicky 800Mhz signal. The live feeds work from anywhere that has a PC and the Internet.

The great thing to realize about the popularity of the feeds is that with the high numbers of steady users, if every listener gave a single dollar, we could comfortably fund the feeds for quite a while. Now of course the idea of every user donating likely won't happen (feel free to prove me wrong there folks!), but even if 1/4 to 1/2 of our users contributed something, we would still be able to easily stay 'on the air'. The point is that it doesn't require donating any large amount, although that would be fantastic, just a $10-$25 contribution will make a huge difference. If you listen to our feeds and think that it would be a sad thing to have them disappear, please lend your support to the live broadcasts by giving whatever you can afford in a donation.

We've made that very easy to do by using the safe and secure PayPal system, so you can use your PayPal account if you are a member (free and easy to sign up), or if not, you can simply use one of your credit cards like you would when making any online purchase. Please log on to our web site at www.GMANS.net, and click the PayPal 'Donate' button on the main page and follow the instructions. It's fast, easy, and safe.

Join those who have already decided that losing the live feeds would be a sad thing and have made their contribution to support them. Everyone making a donation has the option of having their names displayed on our "WestmoCo Live Scanner Feed Supporters" page on our web site if desired. Use the 'Sponsor List' button on our menu to see who has shown their support by donating.

We would like to thank EVERYONE who made a donation to the live feeds so far..!

Please give it some thought... We're counting on you..!

Scan on... and stay safe out there.

Thanks for reading.

16 February 2009

GMANS.net Web Site Updated and the G-Blog is Back

Well, it's been quite a while since the last time I was able to take a few minutes to post an update here. Let me wipe the dust off of this blog and then post a few news items...

OK... first and foremost, the GMANS.net web site has undergone several new modifications/additions over the past week or so, most are visually noticable with the main item being the new streaming audio/video scanner feed of the Westmoreland County DPS 800Mhz TRS page. This is actually our 3rd live WestmoCo scanner feed now, running via Windows Media Player (or equivalent) WME9 format behind our existing TeamSpeak and Icecast versions. All three carry the exact same audio, so don't stress over which one you should use to listen. You can use one, a pair, or all of the above. We have been receiving many good reports so far about the new feed that runs the visual of active TalkGroups and Radios using the system as you listen. This began as an experimental project and is still undergoing a bit of tweaking here/there, but if it works out and it's popularity with listeners (and now viewers..!!) remains high enough, it just may become a permanent fixture. Many users like it, but also still like the community feel of TeamSpeak in being able to 'see' each other in the channels, and use the text chat feature that allows listeners to get text updates in the chat window on working incidents and then interact and discuss those incidents as they happen. TeamSpeak can also boast having 70 channels to choose from as well. These are exclusive TeamSpeak features and really can't be reproduced in any other audio streaming format such as the Icecast or WME9 versions. Conversely, TeamSpeak has no way to display the active TalkGroups (TAC channels) or Radio ID's like WME9. This is why one really can't replace the other and will likely both co-exist side-by-side (so to speak) for the duration, as long as I can maintain the equipment required.

Next... The 'GuestBook' and 'Contact Us' pages have finally been reactivated, after being down for quite some time after the NKNOC was moved into it's new location. So, PLEASE take a moment to sign the GuestBook by clicking its button on the menu bar at left when you get a chance. Let us know how we're doing.. We would love to hear from you. Also, if you need to contact us directly in a more private setting, please feel free to use the 'Contact Us' button on the menu to get in touch. We will receive your message directly and if a response is required, we will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

There are a few other changes, but mostly cosmetic things, so not really worthy of pointing out here. You'll see those as you explore the site. One last thing I will mention is that there are a few new photos of the radio/computer control room here at the NKNOC, so take a look if you want to see where all of this originates from. Well, most of it anyway...

Alright.. that's it for the first one back.. don't want to over-do it..! Until next time...

Take care.. stay safe.
I'm out.

30 September 2006

3 Quick Reminders

It's been so long that I almost forgot what it looks like in here... ;^)

Well, only time for a few quick announcements as follows:

1. Check out the NKNOC Labs web site to see the latest updates, in particular, the Pro96Com Page with many new screenshots of the software in action. A must see...

2. Also visit IBN at
www.incidentbroadcast.com to get the latest on all of the changes happening there, not the least of which is the development of a brand new CAD I/N system! If you haven't done so already, be sure to register there as a member to take advantage of all of the services we provide. All FREE..! The 50+ live scanner audio feeds on the TeamSpeak server alone are worth the price..! Oh wait.. there is no price.. it's all FREE! Many new recorded scanner incidents in the Recorded Audio section! So be sure to visit IBN soon. Did I mention that everything we provide is FREE? IBN is the Internet's choice for the best in free, live online scanner broadcating and other 9-1-1 related web services!

3. And lastly, a reminder that WCDPS's EXERCISE URBAN THUNDER is less than 30 days away..!! Don't miss it.. be sure to tune in to the NKNOC Labs live online scanner feed to hear all of the action! Check our scanner page for easy instructions that will have you set up and listening live from right where you're sitting in mere minutes! If you're not tuning in.. you're missing out!


04 July 2006

WCDPS Live Scanner Feed Turns 1 !

First, I would like to wish everyone a safe, healthy & happy Independence Day holiday! Remember, the Holiday is not about the date ("the 4th of July") as just being the one on which firework displays are enjoyed, but rather how this great country gained its freedom on that day back in 1776, the priceless freedom that we all still enjoy today. A salute to all of those since that time who have sacrificed to make sure that happens each and every day we wake up. That's what we are really celebrating.

Second, this July 4th marks the One Year Anniversary of the Westmoreland County Dept. of Public Safety's 800Mhz Trunked Radio System channel on the IBN TeamSpeak server! It was one year ago on this day in 2005 that the WCDPS channel was approved and made its debut on the IBN "airwaves", streaming '24x7x365-Live!' ever since from here inside the NKNOC Labs and out to the world via the Internet. The Westmoreland County channel quickly gained a strong local following, and remains one of the most popular broadcasts on the TeamSpeak server.

I would personally like to thank Brian (IBN01), the owner of the Incident Broadcast Network, all the Admins, the Broadcasters, Listeners, and all other members of the IBN community that make this possible. Without all of Brian's hard work (and never giving up..!), and the super support of all of the Admins, Broadcasters and Listeners, the Incident Broadcast Network would never have achieved its top slot in the online broadcasting industry, and would probably not still be in existence today. So another fitting salute to all those that participate in making IBN what it is.... a leader in free, live, online scanner audio broadcasting, and one of the top names in 9-1-1 related content on the web!

Looking forward to another great year...

18 June 2006


This is just a quick entry to alert readers that the Incident Broadcast Network, that carries the live streaming scanner audio of the WCDPS TRS (& many others) has changed server hosting locations. What does that mean to you, the web site visitor or the TeamSpeak listener? Not much really....

...other than IBN's digital assets being moved to and operated from a new physical location, nothing really changes. You still visit the IBN website via the same links, and listen to the TeamSpeak broadcasts in the same way as well. The only change in Teamspeak would be for those listeners that happen to use the IBN IP ADDRESS as the Server Name in the TS Connect screen. In this case, the "old" IP will no longer work and will give a "Socket Error 1104".

In the 'SERVER NAME' box in the Connect Screen, use either of the following:



OK... that's it for now. Hope you continue to enjoy our live audio feed of the Westmoreland County 800Mhz TRS radio traffic, and as always, please don't be shy in letting us know what you think. We love getting your email and will reply to all, answering any questions you might have.


...and a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all you Dads out there!! :^)

~ Ciao

21 May 2006

Back Again For The First Time... huh?

Wow... just can't seem to get back in here to post on a regular basis these days. Every time I get the notion, something else seems to come up to take priority. Well, I've made it this time so here we go...

As always, I like to focus this Blog primarily on the Westmoreland County 800Mhz Digital TRS, which by the way, will be turning 2 years old this coming fall! (01 Nov to be exact). Seems like only yesterday... hmmm. Here are a few things I would like to touch on this time around, in no certain order....

  • Pro96Com tells me that at this very moment, there are 184 TalkGroups, and 3,723 radios in use on the county's APCO-25 airwaves. Be sure to have a look at the portion of our web page which is dedicated to the Pro96Com software program. Pro96Com takes the digital data stream output from an APCO-25 capable scanner, and presents realtime information about the Frequencies, Towers, Talkgroups, Radios, and much more, right on your PC screen as the system is in operation. Download our Pro96Com & Win96 files FREE by using the links on our Scanner Page.
  • Based on new radio ID's seen in the past few weeks, I'm thinking that at least one new Dispatch Console was brought online recently inside the EOC, to accomodate the addition of several new dispatchers there?
  • A new group of approximately 20 or so radios have been identified on the TRS, as recently as this morning, programmed for & affiliated with a new talkgroup, #394. Unsure what the use for these is/will be at this time. (If you know.. drop us a line!)
  • District 3 PD (Greensburg area PD's) even though not "officially" switched full time to the TRS, continue to make daily use of their 800 radios on TAC 4 as another means of communicating. This is encouraging, although why they don't switch over full time is really unknown.
  • District 2 PD (Murrysville) has started becoming less shy about keying up on 800 it seems, which is good. They have the radios, so they should use them to get a feel for how the 800 system performs for them. They have been observed talking to Delmont PD units on District 5 TACs recently. I believe it is only a matter of time (when their dispatching contract expires again..?) before Murrysville PD will join the rest of the districts on the 800 TRS permanently. This also holds true I think for the handful of fire departments that also "opted out" of the TRS. It is a "COUNTY WIDE" system, and it will serve the residents of the county best as an Emergency Communications platform when all first responders can use it to help coordinate their (much appreciated!) services. This will understandably be seen more and more as the system continues to be tweaked and tuned to chase out the last of the bugs, and as the density of the coverage footprint is made to reach all areas of Westmoreland's 1,000 square miles of ground.
  • Deadspots and individual radio problems not withstanding, we have noticed only sporadic outages involving larger portions of the system. Troubles with landline connectivity(?), or glitches in software installations/upgrades or service work occurring(?).
  • Fire Siren activations via the new 800 system seem to be on the increase. Activation electronics continue to be installed at the subscriber base station radios for selected companies around the county. We still hear about some failures of sirens to activate being reported over the air, but not sure if this is due to the 800 TRS or not.
  • The 800 system was used recently on Primary Election day (Tuesday, 16 May), for what seemed to be the purpose of supporting the use of the new electronic voting machines for the first time within the county. My theory is that approximately another 20 or so portable handhelds were deployed to members of the county's Technology Dept. personnel (IT-MIS folks, and maybe some election personnel too...), who's job it was to communicate any problems or questions with the machines/voting back to a Base-HQ for support. The reason this is just a theory is because all comms for this were on TalkGroup Public Service #5, and were (mostly..) all encrypted, so the few transmissions heard "in the clear" gave only a hint. Not exactly sure who was manning the radios that day, but they must have done a pretty good job as reports were that there were very few problems and voters seemed pleased with the new "iVotronic" machines. This scenario however seems to lean away from the primary "emergency use only" intent of a platform that has limited frequencies right now, and not sure if it caused any 'busys' or not. The encrypted comms were quite lengthy and numerous throughout the day on Tuesday.

Well, that's about all I have time for this trip. I'll try to get back over here for another post soon. Until then... Scan On!

"Scanners hear it 1st!"