MONEXes (Monitoring Exercises) are important because they help you understand what your listening equipment is capable of doing, they help you improve your skills in both COMINT and OSINT, and they help you figure out what frequencies in your area are useful for keeping an ear on events. Communications monitoring equipment is not something you can purchase and toss in a go-box for when the balloon goes up. You need to get proficient with the equipment before the shit hits the fan. Information gathering is as important a survival skill as firearms proficiency, or growing your own food. MONEXes are the way to COMINT proficiency.
So far the last two MONEXes have been sector (or band) searches. This one is going to be a point search. If you don’t know what the difference is between the two, it is detailed in my book Commo, which is available as both a free PDF download via several online locations, and as a hardcopy book via Lulu. For the sake of immediate background info, a sector search is a frequency search between two frequencies, such as from 144 to 148 MHz. That by the way is the two meter amateur band, the most commonly used and active local coverage ham band. A point search is a search of a number of discrete frequencies, as opposed to a part of the RF spectrum from one frequency to another.
You should already be familiar with the FCC General Menu Reports website from the previous article in this series. This time, you will returning to it, and performing a “Site / Market / Frequency” search. For Service Selection, you will selecting Specific Services Only, Land Mobile – Private. Another selection item, Radio Service Selection, will become visible. You will again select Specific Services Only, and (PW) Public Safety Pool, Conventional. Select your state of residence, and your county of residence. You can also input a frequency range of 30 to 1300 MHz., but it’s not necessary. When have finished these selections, click on the Submit Query button. You will then receive a list of frequencies/licenses. Save this list.
Your typical tactical type radio transmission, from a COMSEC aware party, lasts no more than 5 seconds. Public safety transmissions will be a little longer, so 5 seconds is a good search time. You should know how many channels per second your scanner will do. Multiply that number by five. Note the result (NN). Take your list, select the first NN frequencies off that list, and program them in your scanner. Listen to them for a week or so. Note down which ones have activity, and what you hear on them. My signal intercept notebook is a hardcover composition-type notebook that I bought at the local dollar store. Yes, it only cost me a buck. Continue until you have performed a point search on all the frequencies in the list.
User-generated frequency data such as that from radioreference.com is very accurate, but also can be incomplete in certain regions (Wyoming comes to mind) due to the lack of contributions. By using the FCC General Menu Reports website, you will be able to get information on all FCC licenses in your region. It will help you find “new” frequencies that have yet to be contributed to the online scanner hobbyist sites.
Here is another simple point search MONEX. Program in the following frequencies in a memory bank of your scanner (frequencies in MHz.): 121.500, 121.950, 122.200, 122.700, 122.725, 122.750, 122.775, 122.800, 122.850, 122.900, 122.925, 122.950, 122.975, 123.000, 123.025, 123.050, 123.075, 123.100, 123.300, 123.400, 123.425, 123.450, 123.475, 123.500, 123.600, 125.125, 127.275. Listen to them for at least a week. Note down which frequencies you hear traffic on, and the nature of that traffic. These are all general aviation frequencies, although a few have specific purposes. While you are listening to them, do some Internet research on these frequencies.
You may also want to do a “Site / Market / Frequency” search on the FCC General Menu Reports website of the frequency range 118-137 MHz. within a 50 mile or so radius of your location. Add those frequencies to your point search. Then visit skyvector.com and bring up your location on both the high and low altitude online enroute chart maps. Find the nearest ARTCC Remoted Sites (aka sector frequencies) to your location. Note down the frequencies and add them to your point search. The FAA’s web site wil have a guide to the symbols found on the different aeronautical charts. While you are visiting skyvector.com, make note of the air traffic lanes near your location. The information will come in handy when you put together your ADS-B monitoring station with a $20 RTL-SDR, some free software, and a late model PC running Windows or Linux.