Do you have a Radio Scanner?

View Latest Activity

Home Forums Radio & Communication Do you have a Radio Scanner?

Viewing 41 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #97330
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      I hear a lot of discussion about squad radios etc… however if you don’t have a scanner you are really tying your hands regarding easily accessed information.

      With a scanner you will have priceless intell available about what is happening in your AO. Monitoring comms is of far greater use than transmitting, of course theres no reason not to have both. The priority though should be a scanner.

      What type of scanner you need for your AO is easily determined with a a quick trip to the Radio Reference to find what is in use in your AO.

      I have my scanner programed by County for my AO to include the surrounding Counties then I have State and Federal bands programmed.

      Emergency services and Utilities as well larger businesses. Standard radio services such as CB/FRS/GRMS/MURS Local HAM to include repeaters. WX alerts for my specific AO by FIPS codes.

      In previous Events I have known areas to avoid, road conditions, status of infrastructure repair, and various local chatter.

      Every LEO, FD, Ambulance etc… that goes by my location I know what they are responding for.

      A really important aspect to this is knowing what is normal traffic and what is something worth monitoring, this is only gained through experience in your AO.

      I’ve been at this for a really longtime, if you have any questions please ask, but don’t put this off.

    • #97331
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      One problem though is that many departments are moving dispatch and other comms over to digital encrypted radios.

    • #97332
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      Dang auto correct. (Fixed it. GWNS) :-)

    • #97333
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      That is something Radio Reference can tell you.

      The more rural you get the less that is a factor for the most part.

      There is also some speculation that in many “Events” that with out adequate reliable power many will be forced back to their older systems, so flip a coin. Much of the digital encryption will still provide some audio clue that depending on squelch antenna combo will at least give you a proximity alert, particularly if they start loosing repeaters due to unsupported infrastructure.

      Additionally there is a lot of other worthwhile traffic still available. Various cross talk on the civilian bands will be providing much information.

    • #97334
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      I’m new to all things radio. I’ve reviewed radio reference but don’t understand it. For my county it shows: Summit County Regional 800 Radio Motorola Type II SmartZone. Type: BM.
      Can you help me understand if this is analog or digital? Trunked or non?

    • #97335
      SeanT
      Keymaster

      Motorola Type II

      that is a digital trunked system. To monitor, you would need a scanner in this neighborhood:

      http://www.scannermaster.com/Digital_Police_Scanner_Radios_s/269.htm

      there are less expensive but much more complicated ways as well.

    • #97336
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      Can you help me understand if this is analog or digital? Trunked or non?

      If we are talking about Summit County Ohio the Motorola Type II SmartZone is a trunked system.

      This can be run Analog and/or digital voice, but it appears to currently be running analog, however much of Ohio is using digital (some of it encrypted). So you may want to go ahead and get a digital capable scanner (unfortunately they do cost more).

      The potential good thing; if you can afford a digital capable scanner, is many of them are self programing by simply entering in your zip code.

      If price is a concern you could easily start out with a trunk capable analog scanner (possibly used) and get a feel for it.

      If you need more information just ask.

    • #97337
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      Sfc1 the disconnect between my answer and SeanT’s maybe that he didn’t look at the Summit County Ohio Radio Reference page. The Motorola Type II SmartZone is normally run digital, but is analog capable.

      Maybe SeanT will chime in again so we can confirm it.

      …there are less expensive but much more complicated ways as well.

      This is very true.

    • #97338
      jane
      Participant

      Got great scanners for dirt cheap when all those Radio Shacks were going out of business! Yes, some agencies are going to encrypted comms, but I have heard that terrain can really wreak havoc on them… Not nearly as reliable as the old systems. The other thing is that they often have to use interop frequencies to communicate with air assets or other agencies. Sparks discussed this in his class…

    • #97339
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      Try not to forget that listening to Police is a very small part of a scanners usefulness.

      Something else to check is the applicable laws for scanners in your area. Some areas using a scanner in a mobile use is illegal, others it’s fine if your a licensed Ham, others don’t care.

    • #97340
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      Yes, Summit County. Oh. Thanks, that clears things up for me.

    • #97341
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      while the police will encrypt their ‘tactical’ communications (at least locally), don’t forget there’s a lot of support activities that don’t, such as the Fire Police and Public works “Hey Charlie how do I get around this thing on Juju street, the police say I can’t go through” or “FP21 shutdown north bound vicinity of Juju and Railroad, Medic 12 stage in the area in support of police”. Once you have a good grounding on what is ‘normal’ the abnormal (like encrypted bursts) stick out like sore thumbs.

      Second on the lower priced scanners when R.S. did their closing clearance sales thing. Although you can build your own digital trunking scanner at a lower price point, if you’re technically savvy. https://sites.google.com/site/policescannerhowto/

    • #97342
      trailman
      Participant

      I have a radio shack pro-651 that I got during the sale. I bought the cable for it last month and need to work through that. . I’ll say this you need to be a physicist to program the thing. I do tech for a living but holy crap.

    • #97343
      Former Sapper
      Participant

      Old school wise I have a Pro-2042, UBC-72XLT with close call (when a radio broadcasts it automatically locks on) that has a busted sound potentiometer and a UBC248CLT. Mostly moved over to SDR related stuff but the appeal of the older scanners is that they don’t require a computer to operate and even the biggest of luddites can pick it up easy enough.

      Our emergency services moved over to a TETRA based system called Airwave years ago, I’m talking 2005ish which doesn’t have a hardware decoder available for as you guys in the US do (an SDR solution exists) but it also comes with a reasonably strong encryption scheme with an unpublished keygen sequence (if I recall correctly) so you can decode until you’re blue in the face but good luck decrypting :yes:

      Most of whats left in the clear such as taxis, industrial sites and so on are all slowly moving to various trunked modes which once again need an SDR solution…

      I have a radio shack pro-651 that I got during the sale. I bought the cable for it last month and need to work through that. . I’ll say this you need to be a physicist to program the thing. I do tech for a living but holy crap.

      Nice rig that, with that frequency range you can listen to the military airbands and with the right antennas you can even listen in to the more exotic things…

    • #97344
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      Nice rig that, with that frequency range you can listen to the military airbands and with the right antennas you can even listen in to the more exotic things…

      That’s the Rig I own as well, something comforting knowing I can unplug it and run off batteries (yea I bought both the wall wart and the Cig adapter for the truck) he’s right about the computer programming, it’s really easy to overload the number of scanable objects when programming via computer. I did find the manual programming to be pretty easy, and intuitive, but would have taken me months to get everything in. I bought and programmed a total of three (one for me, one for our SAR team and one for the Deputy Chief, the later two were reimbursed). Being in Central PA, and close to MUR, I can often pick up the range for both fixed and rotary winged assets. If I can get my antenna high enough I may even be able to hit MDT, so many ELINT targets in this area. :) but hey, I’m just a dumb hick living in my unibomber shack (according to an idiot in Philly).

    • #97345
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      BTW, another thing to leverage while available (do not depend on it since it’s internet based) virtually ALL county EOCs/ dispatch have a web presence, similar to this one in Lancaster County PA http://www.lcwc911.us/lcwc/LiveStatus/LiveIncidentList.aspx, it’s neighbor, Lebanon has this https://lebanonema.org/pager/html/monitor.html plus, an app in the Google store that can be set to alert on stations, towns, etc being dispatched. Another tool in the tool belt for being situationaly aware.

    • #97346
      D Close
      Moderator

      Well, the cheap option is to get yourself a $30 SDR dongle (software defined radio) and some digital decoding software. I just attended a sparks31 commo class this past weekend and he echos exactly what GWNS says. The most common thing I observed was the need for people to spend time figuring out how their equipment works. Radio Ref is a valuable tool but I have observed several instances where information in an AO has changed and the database has not been updated. Information from web searches can help illuminate recent changes in public service frequency allocation. Mastering a sector search with your scanner, i.e. using it to scan a range of freqs from say 155-158 mhz to see what channels are active and comparing that to the FCC list might help uncover some unlisted stuff too. PL tones can help provide crucial information on the electronic order of battle, even if your local system is encrypted (PL tones generally are not). I travel frequently for work and the scanner and a triband HT with wideband receiver are part of my kit. (BCD436HP and Kenwood TH-F6).

    • #97347
      Former Sapper
      Participant

      Edited for brevity

      For me I’ve always found the Uniden to have a more intuitive interface if doing it manually, on my Uniden I can divide certain frequencies in to scannable banks so for example my first lot goes to maritime stuff, second lot air stuff, third lot civilian transport stuff such as taxis and road side recovery (much better version for finding out whats going on with road closures or traffic jams than anything the internet or broadcast FM can provide) and so on.

      I nearly always forget how to run the 2042 until I’ve used it again for a while. And that fucking idiot from Philly can mind his own fucking business :good:

      Edited for brevity

      Nice, Sparks is legit and some of his early work is great reading. I agree with the using and learning your equipment, as a rifleman would maybe go and work on their marksmanship or other skill at arms related stuff, the SIGINT auxiliaries should practice using their kit too. Nice set of rigs you got there too.

    • #97348
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      Well, the cheap option is to get yourself a $30 SDR dongle (software defined radio) and some digital decoding software.

      With the proper selection of hardware and you could set up an elaborate and effective Signals station. Some of the more basic applications could easily be done with Raspberry PI possibly networked together.

      PL tones can help provide crucial information on the electronic order of battle, even if your local system is encrypted (PL tones generally are not).

      This starts getting a little advanced, but the more you pay attention the more you’ll be able to discern.

      Ultimately you want a dedicated Radio guy with delegated specialties reporting to him/her, but everyone needs the basics covered and a scanner and a shortwave w/SSB radio are must have items.

      We have enough people here to help out with questions, so keep them coming.

    • #97349
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      Well, the cheap option is to get yourself a $30 SDR dongle (software defined radio) and some digital decoding software. I just attended a sparks31 commo class this past weekend and he echos exactly what GWNS says.

      I thought I posted this earlier in the thread but may have been another https://sites.google.com/site/policescannerhowto/ how to make a $19 Police scanner. They do come in handy. As was pointed out Radio Reference should 1) only be used as a reference, 2) be a starting point to begin monitoring from. The (SIGINT) environment is like any other, it’s always changing. Keep in mind the internet is great, but also engage in meat space, you may find out the local POPO don’t like using the assigned talk group because they think “It sucks” and like to use “Common 4”, you will hear some of that on the air, but having someone confirm that in conversation is a gold nugget.

    • #97350
      fabio
      Participant

      As Sparks31 mentioned in that commo class, listening is twice as important as talking.

    • #97351
      tango
      Participant

      Would somebody mind PM’ing me how to find Sparks schedule. My last favorite for his blog has been down for a couple months now and I’ve been in the dark. Would love to attend.

    • #97352
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator
    • #97353
      tango
      Participant

      Thank you much.

      I’ve seen him mention the Radioshack Pro 96 and 97 before for scanning. As a beginner, what am I getting myself into with that?

    • #97354
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      I have a PRO-97 and it does everything I need, triple trunking, Signal Stalker II, and 1000 channels. Service search for Police/Fire, Air, CB, Ham Radio, FRS, GMRS, and Marine. PC programing and scanner to scanner cloning.

      As long as you don’t need digital it’s good to go.

      PRO-96 has similar capabilities plus it does digital.

    • #97355
      First Sergeant
      Moderator

      G.W.N.S., can you give a price break down of what we are looking at? Or what the equivalent of that one is?

      A scanner is next on my list and I have read all kinds of stuff. A lot of it is confusing. At least to this knuckle draggin grunt.

      FILO
      Signal Out, Can You Identify
      Je ne regrette rien
      In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

    • #97356
      Former Sapper
      Participant

      First Sgt – Not what you’re asking but ebay is always a good source of cheap scanners, each of my scanners have been had from ebay usually for far beneath retail cost additionaly they have them brand new for retail as well on there in most cases if thats what you want.

    • #97357
      Max
      Keymaster

      Note: This is not Max’s response/content. Just a glitch from the transition to subscription.

      Not sure how other municipalities are moving with this, but all around us in the midwest the sheriff’s and local pd’s are switching to digital so they can squeeze more channels in. I would recommend anyone looking at a scanner they expect to own for a couple years to look for one that is digital capable.

    • #97358
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      G.W.N.S., can you give a price break down of what we are looking at?

      The first thing is whether you need digital or just analog. As pointed out digital is where things are heading, but in many areas, particularly rural ones analog still works fine.

      The next thing I consider a must is the function known as Close Call, Signal Sweeper, or Signal Stalker (these are proprietary names for the same function). Basically this is a frequency counter function with audio. Say you are conducting a recon of a target, you would monitor target area with say Close Call to identify target comms frequencies and routines.

      A brand new quality analog scanner could be found in the $100 range.

      It’s almost amusing that the discontinued PRO-97 that I use still goes for around $100 used on eBay since it has a large following due to its features and capabilities.

      Most of the digital scanners will start at around $250 and go up from there. You will get some real convenient features for that price such as all the Radio Reference frequencies for the entire US, you enter in the zip code and the size area and scanner pulls up all the frequencies that are applicable. They also come with sd cards that can record audio for later playback. It all depends on how much budget you have.

      Radio Reference has reviews of most scanners available and I would consult it prior to purchasing.

      Used scanners can be had at eBay, Craigslist, Flea markets, Hamfests, and pawn shops.

      I can offer more detailed advice if I know your requirements and budget.

    • #97359
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      Here are few thoughts on programing:

      Modern scanners can be programmed by using a computer interface cable and software. Programing using the scanners keypad is a patience building exercise. There are many radio clubs and radio enthusiasts out there that are all too happy to help out a new user, I have programed many peoples scanners within my AO for free. Many of these users go onto doing the same for others as they learn more through use. Some of the programing cables and software come with a short free period of time with down loadable access to Radio Reference.

      You can get 90, 180, and 360 day subscriptions for the databases, the 90 day is $7.50.

      Many; myself included, only use the free trial the comes with software or 90 day in order to get initial programing done. Then I fat finger any modifications and updates. Some prefer the always having access.

      I print out a hard copy of my memory banks that I can periodically check for changes in frequencies. Some parts of the country are more dynamic and frequent in changes than others.

      Some of the newer digital scanners come with cable and software to program with. Then you either pay for access to Radio Reference or paste clip/fat finger frequencies.

      My PRO-97 has a thousand channels which seems like a lot, but I only have something like 40 free channels available.

    • #97360
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      You are going to want some other antennas. You can get different antennas for better performance for different bands.

      Something I recommend learning is how to use a antenna for direction finding.

      These antennas can be bought or built DIY.

    • #97361
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      The Uniden BDC436HP is probably one of the best digital scanners available today.

      The BCD436HP is the first scanner to incorporate the HomePatrol-1’s ease of use in a traditional handheld scanner. Simply enter your zip code, and the BCD436HP will quickly select and scan channels in your local area. Here is a quick rundown of the BCD436HP’s major features.

      – 4 Gigabyte microSD card holds the entire USA and Canada database of radio systems, plus leaves room for hundreds of hours of audio recording. (will take up to a 32 gigabyte)

      – Programmable Alert LED lets you set a specific color to alert you when a channel becomes active.

      – TrunkTracker V with support for APCO Project 25 Phase I and Phase II, X2-TDMA, Motorola, EDACS, and LTR Trunked Radio Systems

      – Quick Key access to 100 Favorites Lists, 100 Systems per Favorites List, and 100 Departments per System.

      – Discovery Modes help you find new channels on trunked systems and frequency ranges.

      – Analysis Modes include Band Scope, RF Power Plot, Trunked System Analysis, and EDACS/LTR LCN Finder.

      – Flexible Easy Channel Selection using Zip Code or GPS and Service Types — just pick the kinds of channels you want to hear and tell the BCD436HP where you are and let it do the rest.

      – Easy Scan Control using the dedicated System, Department and Channel Hold buttons.

      – Complete Front-Panel Programmability — create custom Favorites Lists either using systems from the main database as a starting point or program your systems from scratch.

      – Temporary Avoid lets you quickly silence unwanted systems, departments, or channels while allowing you to restore them by cycling power.

      – Backlight-on-Squelch option allows the backlight to remain on during an entire transmission.

      – Date/Time indication on display with time stamping for recordings.

      – Trunked and Conventional Channel Priority with Priority Do-Not-Disturb

      – Close Call® RF Capture with Do-Not-Disturb automatically tunes the scanner to nearby transmissions without interrupting reception in progress.

      – NOAA Weather Alert with SAME

      – Two-Tone Paging with up to 32 tone slots

      – Flexible Scanning — scan from any combination of the main database and Favorites Lists

      – Included Sentinel Software makes database and firmware updates simple. Also allows you to create, edit, and manage your Favorites Lists.

      – USB PC Connectivity – Serial GPS input for location-based scanning using the Uniden GC-GPSK or other compatible GPS receiver.

      – 3 AA Battery Operation provides up to 8 hours of operation.

      – SMA-type antenna.

      – 192 x 160-Pixel Dot-Matrix Display

      – Select/Volume/Squelch multi-control

      – Side-actuated Function and Menu controls

      – Backlit Display and Keypad

      – Rotating Belt Clip

      – Rugged construction with Rubber Side and Bottom Impact areas to improve impact resistance.

      – Printed manual in the box with online updates.

      This video demonstrates how fast from putting batteries in to listening radio traffic.

      That’s the good news!

      The bad?

      The best price I found with a cursory check was $436.

    • #97362
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      So is there a best analog scanner?

      If you are talking about brand new, I would probably say the Uniden BC125AT and it is very compact.

      Best cursory price check is $126.

      If buying used isn’t a problem for you I would probably look for a PRO-97, you can find one in the $60 to $100 range.

    • #97363
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      If you need digital, but you are on a budget there are only two handheld options used and the WS1040 Digital Scanner by Whistler.

      The WS1040 can be found for as low as $264.85 on Amazon and $276.47 on Walmart’s online page.

      When compared to the Uniden BDC436HP you will not have built in database, no audio record, no SD disk, no phase two trunking, and four AA batteries vice three.

    • #97364
      First Sergeant
      Moderator

      Will the digital scanners still pick up analog transmissions?

      Thanks for the break down. Gave me just what I needed.

      FILO
      Signal Out, Can You Identify
      Je ne regrette rien
      In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

    • #97365
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      Will the digital scanners still pick up analog transmissions?

      Yes they will and with the higher end ones being really user friendly.

      Makes updating really easy, some guys keep a subscription to Radio Reference year round, I normally get a short term one when there are too many updates to fat finger in.

    • #97366
      First Sergeant
      Moderator

      Thanks.

      As much as we are talking back and forth, wouldn’t this be easier over text or on the phone? ;-)

      FILO
      Signal Out, Can You Identify
      Je ne regrette rien
      In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

    • #97367
      Joe (G.W.N.S.)
      Moderator

      Yearly bump for new members.

    • #97368
      trailman
      Participant

      anyone interested on a RAdio shack Pro 651 new in box witgh programming cable?

    • #97369
      childress_admin
      Keymaster

      The new Uniden SDS200 is an excellent scanner. Decodes trunked frequencies well and still employs the Close Call technology. I use a small Tram mag mount antenna in the truck and get clear reception.

    • #97370
      tango
      Participant

      BCD436HP is great, though the learning curve for utilizing all of the functionality is steep. The zip code function is great as a starting point as long as it’s understood that’s all it is. The GPS add-on to automatically update location would be a nice touch for traveling beyond a 50mi radius. The digital screen and menu function is one of the more user-friendly units I’ve seen as far as radios go. It’s not a touch-screen Android but it’s at least a bit more advanced than other radios resembling a $2 calculator.

      Lots of hands on time necessary, with the user manual close by, to make the most of that piece of equipment and understand all the information it’s providing.

      I also split the case and siliconed the seams for a little extra water resistance. For as much as it costs the damn thing should be at least IP65 rated.

      Upgraded antenna from https://www.smileyantenna.com/

    • #97371
      SeanT
      Keymaster

      ^^^^

      Smiley makes high quality, durable antennas. I use and can recommend their products.

Viewing 41 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.