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Thread: New System Buildout - P25 Phase II Motorola System

  1. #1
    apco25guy No Longer Registered

    Default New System Buildout - P25 Phase II Motorola System

    First - if this is not an appropriate place to start this, Mods please move as you see fit.

    The County I work for has bid/funded and is in planning/design phase of a Motorola P25 Phase II 12 channel Simulcast system. I am a supporting project manager to another PM on this more as the only internal SME outside of end users that truly don't have a clue what it takes to put something like this together. The manager of the older system is retiring and has no interest in being a part of the new project. I could go into this more, but its not worth my time.

    I guess my question is rather broad in 'scope'.... but simply.... Are there things you other sys admins wish were done but were not dealt with or thought of during build out / design, etc... The county has a consultant that has been retained and will be leading the charge with us and I just want to be able to talk about and participate with items that might not be thought of .. or more importantly might be over looked because they aren't easy or they 'can be done other ways'..

    I already asked Motorola how they plan to test Phase 2 failsoft .... and I got a blank look from our engineer. Didn't exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy, but I wanted to hear how that would work.. "I'll get back to you".

    Things I'm looking for if anyone cares to share....

    What did Motorola cut corners or not do 'as effectively' as you thought during your systems' build outs?
    If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?
    Etc....

    I'd love for this to be a rolling thread for conversation, but I'll take whatever I can get.

    Any system admins that would rather discuss offline, feel free to PM me. I understand how it is sometimes.

    Thanks in advance.

    Jonathan


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    As far as motorola it was a very smooth process for us, staging is where u spend a few days with the enginnering guys and intenioally pullin cables, your failsoft question can come to light during staging. You get to see how the system will react to differnt failures. forcing Failures of ZC's,SC's, Switches, routers, servers. ect....Each all at the same time, if it is a redundant core.

    If you are using encryption, make sure you know or enter the key/s yourself into the KVL during staging. Fielding radios with a key/s that staging engineers put in makes for a tough life down the road. When 100's of radios have been fielded with Staging Keys. It can be problimatic in the future, especially if your KVL goes **** up. LOL
    Last edited by moetorola; Oct 15, 2013 at 05:25 PM.
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    Some of these thoughts are going to sound a little bizarre for a few of them but will explain in detail. . .

    First- Definitely don't be afraid to ask questions of the Engineer on the project. I am currently involved (as system manager for my facility) in a deployment of a 7 tower / 7 channel simulcast P25 Phase I Site on 800 MHz to replace an exising 7 channel Smartnet II 2 Tower simulcast system. I have asked numerous questions of our engineer and occasionally got that "deer in front of headlights" look and the response "I'll get back to you". I'd only panic/worry if the engineer doesn't get back to you within a few days (even if at say 2 days, calls says I don't have an answer yet but have been in touch with X, Y, and Z to find out an answer, that's ok as some of the stuff takes time for an official response to happen)

    Second- When you get your system acceptance test plan for staging, go over it with a fine toothed comb. Make sure you are comfortable with what is being tested. If you see something you want tested, let the engineer and PM know. They will add it into the test plan. In my case, actually found out some of the particulars the system "could do" that weren't explained real well or at all in meetings prior to this point.

    As the other OP mentioned, when you are in staging, thats the time for all the what ifs. . . . kinda fun to go over to the equipment and say "what happens if this happens?" A question I had, as well as our support company had for the folks at staging was-what happens to the system if the tower with the comparators goes off line? Do things fall back to individual tower failsoft? In our case 1 of 7 towers goes offline and that tower happens to have the comparators- The engineers there weren't entirely sure. . . . so power and network cables were pulled. Again this is the time to do some of these tests to make sure you understand how everything functions.

    Now for my last thought-Things that should be included that may or may not be-
    Spares- Spare of everything. Complete Repeater including PA, network components, RX multicoupler, TX Combiner, tower top pre-amp, antennas (just to name some of the spares we have requested here). Seems strange, but our last antenna outage was quite some time to get a replacement as our normal supply chain has them ordering direct from the factory when needed so you have a lightening strike and have to wait while the bugger is manufactured . . . . . .

    As far as the other components, it was that overage of onsite spares that has kept our current 6809 Smartnet II controller operational. nothing like having Motorola say - FRU's unavailable, we have to send the part in for repair. In almost every case, we have had an onsite spare to keep things operational.

    I haven't really seen corners cut but wish more thought had been done by the bean counters on my end for some of the stuff that was missed on our site work. Currently the tower company we use for our existing towers, supply us with the building and back up power as well as a manual transfer switch to connect our generator up in case there is a catastrophic failure of the back up generator on site during an outage. Our bean counters didn't think of stuff like this. Redundant AC on the shelters (if you are buying shelters as part of the project) are very nice to have. Nothing like trying to find an AC repair man when the outside temp is -30 and you are asking for someone to provide emergency AC repairs in January.

    Just my $1.95. Hope the thoughts are of some use.

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    Study the Harris system that is currently coming online in Ontario County, NY. And do everything completely opposite. Seriously. The system sucks. How people haven't died yet, I have no idea.

  5. #5
    apco25guy No Longer Registered

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    All great feedback so far...

    Spares for everything sounds like something I need to insist on. They don't fight too hard with that do they? I'll make sure I make it a strong sticking point.

    Love the feedback guys.. Keep the ideas coming!

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    An oldie but goodie, if your 800Mhz do NOT let them do any sort of coverage test without full foliage on the tree's. You will also want spare Trak GPS parts and the units that have two GPS receivers in them. Order your T1's in enough time to get the bugs worked out of them. Around here it can take months to get a reliable T1.
    "Don't worry about what I am, cause I'm a state agent so what you need to do is make sure your doing the right thing **** boy" -J. Dewitte

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    And remember, if it's not in the contract, written down and signed by both parties... it's meaningless. Any requirements you have must be included in the contract. If you need to make amendments, work with your legal team/city attorney to get that done.

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    Don't count on T1s being reliable 6 months later, either. Make sure you have provisions for making levels easily verifiable. Better yet, private microwave instead of T1s if you can swing it.

    The most issues we have is with the phone company. Levels seem to change on a whim, which plays unholy havoc on voters and anything else that is expecting 'X' and gets 'Y' instead. -Or maybe expecting 'X' and gets 'null'.....
    "God as my witness" - Jeremy Dewitte - Felon

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    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    Don't count on T1s being reliable 6 months later, either. Make sure you have provisions for making levels easily verifiable. Better yet, private microwave instead of T1s if you can swing it.

    The most issues we have is with the phone company. Levels seem to change on a whim, which plays unholy havoc on voters and anything else that is expecting 'X' and gets 'Y' instead. -Or maybe expecting 'X' and gets 'null'.....
    100% agree with you. Working for a phone company/ISP, we get calls all the time of water in the line, ports misconfigured, cut lines, the list goes on and on. Needless to say, use private microwave if at all possible. It may cost you now but it could save you in the long run.
    Poor planning leads to poor results-->Welcome to OKWIN.

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    Also be sure that you are provided a copy of all config files of every router, switch, and anything else that has a config file. The files would be avaliable on the server/s. But it always nice to have a copy on your laptop. Although you can do it all yourself later down the road once the system is installed, much easier to do in staging. You should also get a copy of the firmware installed in everything. Even a copy of every Site Controller and BaseRadio Codeplug. Also request all passwords, even the backdoor passwords including ALOM passwords if applicable. And verify they are correct in staging. If you are or go self maintained, you will need them. Nothing worse than needing to log into equipment and the password is incorrect. You should also recieve a list of IP's for every piece of networked equipment. And a cable Matrix sheet. Most all of this should be provided to you by Motorola.

    Side note:
    You will want to request a laptop probably from your IS/IT department. Preferably that is new, and it must absolutly never see the internet. We had to request windows XP (would of had VISTA) to be installed. Most of the moto cofig software should be Windows 7 compliant/certified by now, but not for sure. That laptop will be used for system maintenece only,,NO WEB SURFING on this laptop. You can load CPS software on it, but download the CPS from another internet capable computer and scan it for virus'e. Never had an isuue DL'ing from MOL though. Then transfer it to that laptop with a USB flash drive that is only used for that precedure. May seem extreme, but this is what we do and actually was required by Moto. They may have changed this requirment now but still nice excuse to get new laptop/s,,LOL. Oh and don't forget a USB to SERIAL dongle (KeySPAN makes a good one), as you know most new laptops don't have serial anymore.

    When the the trucks start arriving to your sites, be there on site to explain to the movers how sensitive the equipment is, and explain that if they drop it, or bang it on a door frame. They will beat down right there on site....LOL. Seriously though, these guys are contracted by motorola, they have no clue about what there hauling. If the sites are gravel, get a bunch of plywood to laydown for a path, makes things easier and safer for all.

    Case in point: Truck arrives with 2 alcatel microve racks, mover had no lift gate. But wanted to know if he could just put some tires on the ground to absorb the impact as he pulled away. We said to the driver we would not sign for the equipment if it was unloaded this way. They ended up renting a fork truck delivered to unload the equipment once we told him the cost of the equipment he was proposing to smash to the ground on tires to absorb the impact.
    Last edited by moetorola; Oct 17, 2013 at 08:29 PM.
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  11. #11
    apco25guy No Longer Registered

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    Moetorola, forgive my ignorance.... whats' ALOM related to your statement of the ALOM passwords..etc..

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    All Lights Out Module (ALOM) If the server is shut down 'powered off' but power still applied, it is a way to boot the server remotely and a few other things can be monitored.
    Radio Referenced...Those who think they know it all are very annoying to those of use who do.

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    I already asked Motorola how they plan to test Phase 2 failsoft .... and I got a blank look from our engineer. Didn't exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy, but I wanted to hear how that would work.. "I'll get back to you".
    I am not a System Administrator, I guess more of an "Agency" one but I will share a concern you should look at. Don't know if you are migrating from an existing trunking system or not but Failsoft operation is a valid question that deserves testing and some planning thought. 12 site Simulcast means to me that you are covering LOTS of area or a dense Metro area. Can you comment? Issue I have run into several times..... System I am on is now 10 site SmartZone 7.13, not Phase 2. During some upgrades and migration from SZ 4.x,the Zone Controller(s) crashed more than once sending the system into Site Trunking. Fine if all of your units are in the footprint of a single site but if you have radios separated by 25-30 miles like I do, not going to work, no wide area. What would be the plan if the system goes total dark? Ours did a couple of times. Wasn’t pretty. You have 7TAC / 8TAC resources? Another system conventional or trunked you are or can be on? Cellphones (shudderrr…)?

    Perhaps things will be great on a new Phase 2 buildout. Again, our problems happened during migration and upgrade so I might be an extreme case but you got to have a WTF to do worst case scenario plan if it happens.

    Dave

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    You should be able to in a simulcast system and if it fails to Site trunking to have specific channels and major sites disabled.

    Example site 1, 2, 3 have overlaping coverage and are in site trunked, site 1 would have channels 1,2 and 3. Site 2 would have 4,5 and 6. Site 3 would have 7,8 and 9. Under normal circumstances you will probably never see all sites go to failsoft. Same could be done with failsoft, you would want major sites online but channels set up as in first example. Other sites that that are less priority you could set to never enter failsoft. Every system is designed to handle failures in different ways. But just and example that could be possible.

    A major part of system set up is in the portables, they have to be setup correctly for everything to work correctly. You can program the portables on the the way the will react to a site trunking condition or failsoft, even talkgroup based on where the will fail too site wise.

    I do not have a lot of experience in simulcast though, we are a multi site system. But I still remember a few things from school. LOL

    And as the other poster mentioned , have some 7tac and 8tac repeaters fired up for back up. Don't forget to add these channels to your console too. And have your primary talkgroups set up on consolettes. Set this up under a back up tab on the console. Or better yet, have a control station at every position. Just in case the console itself goes down. Example generator does not fire up and you deplete your UPS's. If you loose your console connection especially if you are not using any microwave and using T1's (you will have fun with T1's by the way) the dispatchers still have to have comm's to the subscribers. We keep Portables charged and ready for backup, but we are lucky, because the site covers our dispatch full signal. May not be in your case though.
    Radio Referenced...Those who think they know it all are very annoying to those of use who do.

  15. #15
    apco25guy No Longer Registered

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    We're definitely doing microwave for all backhaul links.. We are moving some sites / adding new ones / taking off others... so all the paths are being engineered or have been ... once all sites are firm and in place. T-1s suck for this type of critical application IMHO due to the reliance on the telco.. but sometimes it is what it is right?

    All fantastic points. So far moving along well. Currently there is some discussion on coverage testing and big M is conveniently saying spec is using a 1/2 wave 800 on the portable for all portable testing. Who using a 1/2 wave on their 800 portables?? really? Not sure how thats going to go.. I don't think big M liked me calling them out on that .. but its true .. the guys/gals on the road are all going to switch them to stubby 800s if they can... Not sure I can argue.. I'm going to have to be extra vigilant on watching coverage testing I think.

    Keep the suggestions coming guys. All very appreciated and nothing is too small to mention. I want to make the best out of this deployment and have NO problems being nit-picky with regards to how things are implemented.

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    Coverage Testing---I think it was already mentioned- - - definately make sure your trees have leaves. Big difference in coverage up here in the mountains with leaves on VS leaves off.

    Additionally for piece of mind (and later verification) when trying to determine "Is there a problem?", if you have access to an Anritsu LMRMaster with the P25 coverage mapping options, it might not be a bad idea to use it to get an actual plotable map of the signal strengths of the Control Channel and the Bit Error Rate.

    That way when your users start bringing in other vendors P25 radios and there are issues you have a documented base line to verify against.

    Neighboring agency up my way is running into issues on a Phase I system with non-Motorola units. Firefighter says radio doesn't work HERE. County goes out with their equipment, and radio works at that spot. Finding lots of problems with non Moto subscriber radios. . . .

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    We require PD, FD and EMS to use the long 7/800 antenna on the portable. The Short can only be used if on a PSM. There is a big difference between the long and short antenna. The excuse that the long 7/800 antenna is uncomfortable is hog wash. We have never had complaint's that the long 7/800 is uncomfortable. The only reason they like the short, is cause it looks cooler.


    When we do PM's on portables and they come in with a short antenna they get a little upset when it it comes back with a long. Lieutenants and Sergent's hate that. In a few cases we have put super glue on the short antenna of the PSM so they could not move it, they would move the antenna to the portable with NO antenna on the PSM. And these are/were XTS5000's. We had it put in policy by the Chief's that they do not jack with antennas, or face a pink slip.

    The difference between antennas could be life or death in my opinion being the extreme case.

    I highly recommend the long antenna on the portable, anybody else agree?
    Last edited by moetorola; Oct 20, 2013 at 04:58 PM.
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  18. #18
    apco25guy No Longer Registered

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    Tower sites locked in... Equipment order is about to be signed... We're rolling.

    We're moving quickly into discussions with our users and talking fleet mapping and the like... Any suggestions or learned lessons from this part of the process I can be ahead of the curve on?

    Thanks guys. All the suggestions are appreciated.

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    Less is more. Some of our member agencies went hog-wild from 5 conventional channels to 60 talkgroups. Now they don't understand why they get busies.

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    Be sure you have Common talk groups. IE, talkgroups that are in each and every subscriber unit on the system. PD,FD,EMS,PW dog catchers..etc.... should all have these talk groups. We put these channels in an interop zone that every radio has with the 8call/tac channels. We put 7call/tac channels in a seperate zone, cause there are so many of them on 700.

    From my experiance with a disaster do not leave out these talk groups and the 7/800 interops.

    And as the other poster said, don't go hog wild over talkgroups, dog catchers dont need 4 talkgroups LOL. Even though they may think they need em. We had 12 talkgroups intially for public works, after running reports on usage it was found they ended up only actually using 2 talk groups Streets and Parks. The other TG's had no PTT's in over a year. LOL we deleated all but 5 TG's for them.
    Radio Referenced...Those who think they know it all are very annoying to those of use who do.

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    One other thing you might want to consider is making the first and last TG in the primary zone(s) the primary TG that the responder will use. That way if they are down (while possibly on another TG) and can't see they know to turn the selector knob until it hits a limit. They are then guaranteed to be on their primary TG.

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    Very good point, for fire we put the FD's ATG on channel 16.
    Also keep in mind emergency function of the radio's for PD if they hit he emergency, the audio on the portable will be muted, as to not alert the perp to the Emergency button push. Fire we have setup completly different.

    You can setup the emergency to be steered back to primary channel if emergency is pushed.
    We have had guys that should of used there emergency button, but felt they were not in a deadly situation. We train them know to not be scared of using the Emergency button. It's for Emergency communications too. Not just a physical emergency to the person.

    It is a good time on your subscribers to test and optimize your radio's audio too. I assume you will be using APX6000's set up multiple audio profiles and link them with apropriate TG's. Example: Our fire dispatch channel has a differnet profile than our fire working channels. IE, Advanced noise suppression, and pass filter on fire working channels.


    We do not enable alert for site trunking on users radio's, the radio's only display Site Trunking. Although it has not happened for an extended period of time, it can be very annoying for them to hear the damn beep all the time, if it is an extended outage.
    Last edited by moetorola; Nov 12, 2013 at 04:08 PM.
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    While we're on the topic of subscriber units:

    For $DEITY's sake, go talk to the guys who will be using these radios day in and day out. Find a set of bunker gear and structural gloves and try to operate the radio. Stick a duty belt on and see how the radio carries, what other accessories might be needed. Ask these guys (and everyone is different - fire won't work the same as PD who won't work the same as public works) to find out how they use their radios day in and day out.

    It's very frustrating to see huge new systems go in with programming templates designed by some radio nerd in a closet somewhere.

  24. #24
    apco25guy No Longer Registered

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    Happy Holidays... The project has been 'slow' having just been through a couple of holidays and now that the project is spinning back up, I wanted to pose a question/solicit an opinion of the great minds of P25.ca

    "Encryption"

    Obviously a new system should evaluate the needs with regards to encryption... and I fully believe there should be some TGs that are encrypted, but during our fleet mapping meetings (2 so far), I brought up the topic as a feature set. The questions started to flow and I'm excited to get the group to think about all th options available to them in order to fully maximize the system.

    My personal belief is that the majority of the TGs should remain in the clear and TGs that deal with traffic that shouldn't be overheard SHOULD be encrypted.. However, the lack of experience I have as a whole with encryption makes me uneasy with speaking intelligently and with authority over the TYPE of encryption users should choose and why...

    ADP isn't "interoperable" in that its a priopritory alto. I interrupted the "BIG M" rep with that comment and I began to receive the 'evil' eye ... Obviously AES256 has additional costs (hardware, management, etc).... but am I fighting a battle that shouldn't be fought? If ADP only is ok (and its cheaper in the grand scheme of things), then I don't want to waste political capital when i might need to step up and make a more 'adamant' objection down the line... if that makes sense...

    I guess in all this rambling, what are your feelings regarding encryption, its uses, choices of encryptions, and ultimately how its managed. Opinions and thoughts are welcomed as I really want to see how others feel on the topic.

    Thank you in advance. You all have been very helpful in the past.

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    emergency button are good if your disp agency has a good policy in place. Not mine.. Example beep from radio after button push.. "Medic 115 p2 your emergency button was activated. " great im in a situation inside a location and police aren't there yet but you now just blared to anyone listening that I've hit a button.

    They need to ask something basic like medic 115 status?

    Also yes don't need to go hogwild on talkgroups.