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Rail fan help for a newbie in Gilbert, Arizona

Started by Captaincrasher, September 04, 2020, 10:54:54 pm

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Captaincrasher

Hello, I am new to the forum and I am looking for advice.

I have always enjoyed the the roar and rattle of a freight train passing nearby and I love to share that exciting experience with my grandchildren.  I live one mile east of Gilbert, Arizona and I can hear one or two Union Pacific trains passing through town daily.  The problem is, they don't seem to come through on any predictable schedule - at least not that I can identify.  I have searched the Internet, and have considered purchasing a scanner.  That leads me to a couple of questions:

1. Is there any way to know when a train will be coming with enough advance warning (5-10 minutes) to load up the kids and run into town to watch it?

2. If I had a scanner, what exactly am I listening for that would indicated that a train is heading my way?

Thanks in advance.

Christi

September 05, 2020, 01:40:08 am #1 Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 01:41:52 am by Christi
Hello There,
Welcome to the forum!  One thing that you can do is sign up for the UP Phoenix Sub train alerts via email.  You will get a notice when a train enters/leaves the Phoenix Sub and when it gets to Coolidge.  To join, apply for a free membership here and we will approve you: https://aztrainalerts.groups.io/g/UPPhoenixSub

Alerts are like this (Automatically):
Train Enters the Sub at Picacho.  (Westbound) - Best time to tune into the AudioFeed to see if you can hear dispatch give a warrant all the way through or stopping at Queen Creek at a siding named "Germann".  We have our scanner going 24/7 and you can listen to it here: https://www.railfanaz.com/index.php/topic,5517.0.html and it is on the ScannerRadio App listed as "Union Pacific - Queen Creek / East Mesa".


For Inbound trains
1st Email
Signal/Track Indication Sent on: 9/4/2020 3:45:05 PM.
Control Point: Picacho Wye
Subdivision: Phoenix
Milepost: PX979
Train Information: Entering Phoenix Subdivision


The next alert would be Train at Coolidge.
2nd Email
Signal/Track Indication Sent on: 9/4/2020 4:09:06 PM.
Control Point: Coolidge
Milepost: PX962
Train Information: Union Pacific at Coolidge


This would be the last alert, usually from here if they are going straight through or they will stop at Queen Creek in the Germann Siding.  Usually get to Queen Creek within 15 minutes.




For Outbound trains - Listening to the Scanner is best to hear when a train is leaving Phoenix as they need a track warrant.
Emails Alerts for this work like this.

1st Email Not 100% of the time
Signal Control Sent on: 9/4/2020 8:12:43 PM.
Control Point: Coolidge
Milepost: PX962
Signal Information: S/B Signal Control Sent, Signal is set to Clear Indication for S/B Train Movement.


This means the Dispatcher has authorize the Eastbound (Outbound) train to head South passed Coolidge.  Sometimes they set it right after they leave Phoenix and other times it is right when the train is already North of Coolidge (which means it already passed Gilbert, Mesa and Queen Creek).  The Scanner Feed is key if you don't have one.  (Also, there is not much chatter any more since they use iPADs and PTC for Warrants).  But as noted, we will always have the feed online and eventually we will buy a new higher gain antenna when we get enough money to do so.

2nd Email
Signal/Track Indication Sent on: 9/4/2020 10:44:39 PM.
Control Point: Coolidge
Milepost: PX962
Train Information: Union Pacific at Coolidge


This just means the train is at Coolidge and has passed us here in town.

3rd and Final email
Signal/Track Indication Sent on: 9/4/2020 11:38:55 PM.
Control Point: Picacho Wye
Subdivision: Phoenix
Milepost: PX979
Train Information: Leaving Phoenix Subdivision


The train has entered the main line and left the Phoenix Sub.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Hope this helps.  Also there are other members on our site that live in the Gibert Area that may offer additional advice.

Have a great weekend!
Christi Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

ArizonaRails

Hello, Captaincrasher! To answer your question about scanners, the one I use is a Uniden BC125AT, which you can find on Amazon for about $120. It's not a bad scanner, and works really well when you are near the tracks. If you do get a scanner, here's something I used to input the frequencies that are used most in the state of Arizona: https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?aid=9286

As Christi mentioned above, you can sign up to get alerts on your phone for trains coming inbound or outbound on UP's Phoenix Sub by joining those 2 groups above. They really help for when there's a train about to go through.

I hope this helped!
-AZRails
Railfanning the UP and BNSF Mainlines Of Arizona Since 2013

Captaincrasher

Excellent!  This is just the sort of info I was hoping for.  I will definitely sign up for the email alerts, and if I go forward with a scanner purchase the Uniden BC125AT is the one I was looking at.  Thanks also for the link to the frequency programming.

Any other expertise, and particularly from the Gilbert locals, is still very much welcomed.

Thanks much!

Jeff

September 05, 2020, 11:25:58 am #4 Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 11:27:12 am by Jeff
Also, Replace the original antenna with a Diamond RH77CA (make sure you get the correct connector (BNC)), an excellent replacement antenna. For about $25 on Amazon.  It will improve the Scanners performance. 
Jeff Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Christi

Quote from: Captaincrasher on September 05, 2020, 10:21:44 amExcellent!  This is just the sort of info I was hoping for.  I will definitely sign up for the email alerts, and if I go forward with a scanner purchase the Uniden BC125AT is the one I was looking at.  Thanks also for the link to the frequency programming.

Any other expertise, and particularly from the Gilbert locals, is still very much welcomed.

Thanks much!


Approved your request.  :)
Christi Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Captaincrasher

Ok, so I've been receiving the UP Phoenix Sub email alerts (thanks very much), but so far I've been unable to hear anything (not even a hiss) on the "Union Pacific - Queen Creek/East Mesa" audio feed either from the RailFanAZ audio feed or from a police scanner app I have on my iPhone.  I am able to hear scanner audio feeds from other states and locations and I can always hear at least a low hiss when there are no active transmissions.  Is there something wrong with particular audio feed?

Jeff

Quote from: Captaincrasher on September 06, 2020, 01:14:28 pmOk, so I've been receiving the UP Phoenix Sub email alerts (thanks very much), but so far I've been unable to hear anything (not even a hiss) on the "Union Pacific - Queen Creek/East Mesa" audio feed either from the RailFanAZ audio feed or from a police scanner app I have on my iPhone.  I am able to hear scanner audio feeds from other states and locations and I can always hear at least a low hiss when there are no active transmissions.  Is there something wrong with particular audio feed?

We are checking the server now to make sure it is connected.  Will post here in a few.
Jeff Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Jeff

Listening during the night, heard the outbound and 2 inbounds.  IKCPX and MTUPX came in and the MPXTU left all between midnight and 2 am.  We swapped an antenna today from our site in Yuma.  I will see if that will get better reception for the feed here.
Jeff Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Jeff

Jeff Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Christi

Quote from: Captaincrasher on September 06, 2020, 01:14:28 pmOk, so I've been receiving the UP Phoenix Sub email alerts (thanks very much), but so far I've been unable to hear anything (not even a hiss) on the "Union Pacific - Queen Creek/East Mesa" audio feed either from the RailFanAZ audio feed or from a police scanner app I have on my iPhone.  I am able to hear scanner audio feeds from other states and locations and I can always hear at least a low hiss when there are no active transmissions.  Is there something wrong with particular audio feed?

Glad the alerts are working for you.  :)  As Jeff mentioned, we will see if we can swap the antenna tonight to see if that helps.
Christi Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Jeff

Jeff Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Captaincrasher

Hey, thanks guys, I'm hearing all sorts of activity this morning.  Still unusual (high quality?) compared to the other feeds I listen to as it still seems absolutely silent until an actual transmission comes across.  I appreciate you checking.

Christi

September 07, 2020, 08:33:42 pm #13 Last Edit: September 08, 2020, 08:53:40 pm by Christi
Quote from: Captaincrasher on September 07, 2020, 05:20:29 amHey, thanks guys, I'm hearing all sorts of activity this morning.  Still unusual (high quality?) compared to the other feeds I listen to as it still seems absolutely silent until an actual transmission comes across.  I appreciate you checking.


Sounds Good and you are welcome.  Attached is our antenna, this shows how high we have to go.  :)

Christi Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Captaincrasher

Christi,

I don't know what the cause is, but since your last reply (with the photo of the antenna) I have been getting a continuous stream of email alerts notifying me of the same message.  148 so far!  They come across every 5 minutes or so.  Unless you have some idea of the cause, I'm going to have to turn off the email alerts.  Any ideas?

Jeff

Checking on the alerts, can you tell me which ones you are getting?
Jeff Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Jeff

We found it, the system got stuck in a loop.  We will continue to monitor it.  Sorry about that.
Jeff Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

Captaincrasher

Thanks Jeff.  Whatever you did seems to have worked.  I ceased receiving the repetitious email alerts about 12:21 MST. 

Forgive me, I am still trying to figure out how to use the forum properly.  I would be happy to coordinate my tech issues through private messages if I could figure out how to use it.  Also, I would send a screen shot of the email that I was receiving if I knew how.  I realize that you found the problem already but if it helps here is the text of the email that I kept receiving:

"You have been quoted in the post: Re: Rail fan help for a newbie in Gilbert, Arizona
Today at 12:21

Hello Captaincrasher,

You have been quoted in the post titled "Re: Rail fan help for a newbie in Gilbert, Arizona" by crossi, you can see the post here:
https://www.railfanaz.com/index.php?msg=10346

Regards,
The RailFanAZ.com Team."

Christi

We are testing the database.  Hope we don't run into the email loops.
Christi Rossi
RailFanAZ.com Webmaster
ATCS Server Manager for RailFanAZ.com Sites:
- BNSF: Goffs, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Walapai, Crozier, Williams, Parks, West Flagstaff, East Flagstaff, Winslow and Joseph City.
- UP: Yuma, Fortuna, Tacna, Casa Grande, Mesa and South Tucson.
- BNSF/UP: Daggett, Phelan.

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