Honolulu Skyline as seen from Kapiolani Community College, Photo by David Cabatu

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Frequently Asked Questions

This list shows some of the most frequently asked questions about this site, and hopefully we'll have the answers for them.  The most common question people ask are "I'm trying to find frequencies for ___", or "You told me to go to your site and I can't find it."  The problem with some people is that they're just lazy to find the information themselves, and they'll always need the assistance of some higher up.  So all I ask is, PLEASE consult this page BEFORE asking any questions!

Question: I'm trying to find frequencies for ___

Answer: It depends on what you're looking for!  Public safety agencies, such as police, fire, ambulance, civil defense, and lifeguards can be found under the Public Safety link under the Scanning menu item above.

If you go to Public Safety and your agency uses a trunked radio system, click on Trunking and you'll find sites, frequency, and talkgroup information for the system you're looking for.

If you go to Public Safety and your agency uses a conventional radio system, frequency information will most likely be posted on the appropriate public safety page.

Any thing OTHER than Public Safety can be found under the appropriate link on the Scanning menu item above.  If what you're looking for is not listed, it is probably listed under Business/Other.  If what you're looking for is absolutely not listed on this site, then I don't have it.

*This was the most commonly asked question as of late.  (In previous versions of this site, you'd have to go to Departments, then click on the appropriate department name for information).  I've tried to make it simpler by putting under the scanning link for your reference.  If this question is asked on an obviously available service -- I will not answer it.  I'm sorry, but I hate sounding like a broken record.

Question: How often do you update these pages?

Answer: I update these pages on my own free time (if and when that becomes available).  Since the Public Safety section is as complete as possible,  I can spend more time on other parts of the site, like Miscellaneous (non-public safety type information).  You can do your part by submitting news, frequency information, and items radio related that may be of interest to our audience.

NOTE ON BREAKING/DEVELOPING NEWS: Events that are newsworthy can occur on Oahu at any given time.  News regarding police and fire incidents that are most likely to make the TV news may be posted upon confirmation of the incident, and breaking news may appear on the Incident Page Network ticker listed on every page -- so you'll be informed of what's going on in your area.

Question: Where do I send updates for my area?

Answer: Please send all updates to me at [email protected]Be sure to include the county and state on the subject line of your e-mail so I know what pages to update.  Not including this information will frustrate me, but the information that you send might not get updated!  Remember this catch phrase: "Help me, so I can help you!"

Be sure to include the following information

- City, county, and State
- Frequency/frequencies
- Is it conventional or trunked?
- Type of trunking system (if known)
- User - try to be as specific as possible
- A description of what you heard.  Include unit numbers, locations given, jargon used on the air.  If it was a police frequency: the units called, what area the frequency/unit serves.  If it was an EMS frequency, indicate if it was a dispatch position, or hospital-to-ambulance communications, etc.  If it was a fire department frequency, indicate whether you heard fireground or dispatch, as well as any apparatus involved.

Question: Honolulu is on a digital radio system, and I have a digital scanner, why can't I hear them?

Answer:  Like ice cream or soda, there are different flavors of digital!  There's Motorola ASTRO Digital (APCO25), Ericsson has two flavors of digital (first-generation AEGIS, second-generation ProVoice).  Honolulu's system is a mixture of EDACS (Enhanced Digital Access Communications System) and ProVoice digital.  Both of Ericsson's digital formats cannot be monitored with any scanner on the market at this time.  However, there are scanners out that can monitor non-encrypted Motorola APCO 25 digital format, commonly known as ASTRO.

Question: I heard that amateur radio operators can operate digital voice.  Can I monitor such communications with a scanner or specialized equipment?

Answer: There are also different flavors of digital voice communication available for amateur radio operators.

The first form of digital communications available is based on the 10F3 digital standard, found on Alinco radios with digital voice capability.  In addition, there are different digital cards available prevent portable and mobile radios from communicating with each other.

Another form of digital communications available is based on the D-STAR digital format revolutionized by Icom Japan.  Several models available for sale in the U.S. (Icom IC-V82/U-82, Icom IC-2200H, and the new ID-8 dual-band VHF/UHF transceiver, have the capability to do digital voice).

Amateur radio digital voice can also use the APCO 25 standard.

As far as being able to monitor such transmissions, only APCO 25 digital signals can be monitored with any APCO 25 digital-capable scanner.  All other amateur radio digital voice formats (10F3 & D-STAR) cannot be monitored with any scanner except by having the actual radio equipment itself.  Keep in mind that having the equipment to monitor is allowed, but transmitting on frequencies for which you do not have a license for is a FEDERAL OFFENSE that carry severe penalties if you are convicted.  Remember, since it is a FEDERAL offense for transmitting without a license, folks like the FBI have no problem dealing with you.

Question: Where did you get all this information?  Isn't it private?  Can't it be misused?

Answer: Frequency usage in the U.S. is a matter of public record.  The information on these pages come from many sources: the FCC database, various scanner references, my own monitoring and that of my acquaintances, updates and information sent from hobbyists who have visited these pages, etc.  As far as misuse is concerned, I do not advocate that nor suggest it.  Virtually any information can be misused by someone who is so inclined, but that should not prevent anyone from making it available for those who will make good use of it.

Question: Does Hawaii have a scanner/radar detector law like other states?

Answer: The Hawaii Revised Statutes does not have a written law restricting the use of scanners or radio monitoring equipment.  However, the law of common sense shall be used at all times:

- It is LEGAL to own a scanner in this state.
- It is LEGAL to use while mobile in a vehicle (for those not licensed by the FCC)
- It is LEGAL to use while mobile in a vehicle with a valid amateur radio license issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

- It is ILLEGAL, by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1934, as amended, to listen to any type of radio telephone calls/conversations (cellular or cordless)
- It is ILLEGAL, by Federal law, to monitor any scrambled and/or encrypted communications.

In closing...

Our hobby has already been attacked by local, state, and federal governments restricting the use of radio monitoring devices while mobile and on our person (See state laws as it pertains to New York, Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, Minnesota, and South Dakota).  Years ago, Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) even introduced legislation to ban scanners nationwide.  He felt that ordinary citizens shouldn't have access to law enforcement, fire/EMS, and weather radio communications that are broadcast on the public airwaves.  We all have a part in taking responsibility when it comes to monitoring, so our airwaves will remain public for years to come.

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Copyright 2000-2006 by David J. Cabatu.  All Rights Reserved.