ANZAC Comms Seldec-4 Decoder

For all radio and related equipment reviews.
Forum rules
All work must be your own or you must have written permission to display it.
Locked
RF-Bot
PLL
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:11 pm

ANZAC Comms Seldec-4 Decoder

Post by RF-Bot » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:45 pm

Submitted by: Mike T


Image

Having been a Fire-fighter for nearly 20 years, I like to keep up with what is going on with our neighbouring brigades, with respect to turnouts, appliances and second alarms, etc. Sure you can do that with a scanner, but a scanner will not decode the CCIR tones used by the Fire Service MSU's (Mobile Status Units) in every fire appliance, commanders vehicle and every station.

About 5 or 6 years ago, I spied an ad in a local radio magazine here, advertising a Sel-Call decoder unit.

I thought the idea sounded pretty cool, so on the face of what was mentioned in the ad, I enquired about and ordered one, that's after having settled down from being told that it would cost me NZ$420 delivered!! (And no, that is not a typo!)

About 4 days later, a box turned up, containing what could be described as a small child's lunch-box and a Clear-File book.


What You Get:

  • The actual Seldec-4 decoder unit. This comes in a clear case, so you don't have to open it up to see what is inside.

  • A 9VAC plug-pack supply to run the unit. This connects via a plug/socket arrangement, so you can actually power the unit via a 9V battery for mobile/portable use.

  • An audio linking lead. To run from your scanner to the unit, bear in mind you will be needing a 2-way adaptor and an external speaker to hear any audio output from the scanner.

  • A serial port lead. This interfaces the unit to a computer (Win 95, 98, XP, Win7). It will also run through a serial-USB adaptor, if your computer does not have a serial port.

  • A 3.5" Mini-Disc containing the Seldec+ software (Note that this will only run on a 32-bit system), as well as all the appliance radio codes needed.

  • A very well thought out and useful (really!!) user manual.


Setting It Up:

Out of the box, if you read the 2nd page of the manual, the setup is very straight-forward. You install the software by merely copying it from the disc, into a folder in your "Program Files" part of your HDD and you're done, no annoying "Install New Hardware" rubbish to muck around with.

From there, you run the software, flick the power switch on the unit on and you're away. The unit now decodes any Sel-Call tones it receives. I can have my unit swapped over from mobile to base use, in just under 5 minutes, most of which is waiting for the computer to start up.

The best thing about this system is that it only requires an audio output from your scanner to drive the decoder, you don't have to muck around with discriminator taps, that some other decoders require. Another reason for the clear case, is that there are 2 LED's inside the case, that show "audio level" (ie, it needs to be fully lit, when there is audio present, to ensure the decoder is getting a good enough signal level) The other LED shows "data decode" (this LED comes on when the unit has decoded a set of tones). The unit also has a piezo transducer inside it, that gives a short beep when a decoded set tones are sent to the computer. This can be turned off via a switch on the side of the unit, should the beeping become annoying.


The Interface:

As sets of tones are decoded they are sent to the computer and are outputted to the on-screen interface. Being able to interface this thing with a computer makes things a lot easier and it is fun to be able to watch things happen in "real-time" , There are 2 "screens" that the interface provides, so that you can see what is going on.

First up, is the "Live Status" window, this gives the most amount of information at a glance, it updates instantly as you hear the tones on your scanner. It will also show the actual Sel-Call code of the radio that sent the code set, so if there is a difference between what the software says (because of an appliance or radio change, these things do break down you know), it can be altered easily enough.


Image

Secondly, there is the "Status-Board" window, this shows, as a broader picture, "where" any given appliance or commander is, ie: at their normal station, en-route somewhere or at an incident. You can put your mouse pointer on any given appliance field within the grid and a small tool-tip list will appear, giving a time-stamped list of the last 10 movements of that appliance/commander and their status at each received code set. If you have to, you can also change any of the appliance/commanders status' by left clicking on the field and a pop-up list will appear, from there you can change the status. There is also the facility to reset all the status-board to zero, as in, you start again with all fields "Unknown".


Image


One other thing the software does, is it logs all the Sel-Call tones/messages it receives and saves them in a .txt file, with a time-stamped list of when the codes came through. I've found this very handy as a Fire Officer when filling out fire reporting sheets as in time sent to the call, when assistance was called and time of return, etc.

Round-up:

At NZ$420 it might sound like a LOT of money for something that really only does one thing, mind you, you only have to buy it once.

What needs to be said, is, this unit only decodes Sel-Call tones, it will NOT decode pagers or anything of that nature. But IMO, what it does it does very well. Most of the cost of this unit, is no doubt in the cost of the micro-controller that is the heart of the system.

You may still be reeling from the price-tag, myself I cannot put a price on the amount of fun I've had with this gear. It's added a totally new dimension to my enjoyment of scanning. Making changes to the software is as easy as editing .txt files in Notepad or Wordpad. It is very easily customised to your own liking, most of the program files use plain English and the user manual is written with customisation in mind.

All in all, I've found this decoder well worth the money spent, after a hard day at work, I like nothing more than sitting in this workshop with a cold beer and listening to and watching what is happening around the Canterbury area.

However, the ANZAC Comms Seldec-4 Decoder has now unfortunately been discontinued.

Forum Robot

Locked