View Full Version : I need a scanner, please help

05-29-2005, 06:40 PM
I'm looking into buying a scanner or some sort of radio so I can get a better idea of when trains are coming. I don't know what kind of scanner or radio I should get. I need one that will pick up from about 20 miles and be reasonably clear. Please help. Thanks 8-)

05-29-2005, 06:56 PM
Uniden makes a good product. Radio Shack is so-so. I may be mistaken but most railroads operate on the 160.000 MHZ range. So unless you want to listen to the 800MHZ police and fire stuff, you should be able to find one for a relatively cheap price.

Make sure it can pick up the right frequencies that you plan on listening to.

05-29-2005, 07:01 PM

05-29-2005, 07:51 PM
Thanks for the help. I knew to get a Uniden if I go the way of a scanner. I have read that some people use radios that will pick up the same frequencies and they are said to be clearer. Anyone know anything about this? Otherwise I'll get the Uniden scanner. thanks

05-29-2005, 07:54 PM
It really depends on a lot of factors other than your recieving radio, but I think you can't go wrong with a Uniden. The handhelds generally do not recieve as well as base models but those are really impractical for railfanning.

05-29-2005, 07:57 PM
Handhelds are or are not practical for railfanning?

05-29-2005, 07:59 PM
Base models.

05-29-2005, 08:05 PM
so go with a base model over a handheld?

05-29-2005, 08:07 PM
I am sorry. I have been up since 11 lastnight. A handheld would be more pratical for railfanning than a base model that is designed for the home.

05-29-2005, 08:08 PM
There we go. Thanks for the help. Get yourself some sleep.

Pat Lorenz
05-29-2005, 09:16 PM
I would only go with a handheld over a base, its not pratical to carry base unit around, plus you have to stay in the car to listen. Defanetly get the handheld. Here is my scanner set up, i really like it and it works really good. I get very good reception.

Scanner Body:




I also have a MFJ car top antenna which works well. Remember that the antenna is just as important as the scanner body and the MFJ ones work very well. Too bad i had to learn about scanners the hard way (with no reception). I also had a Radio Shack Pro-70 scanner with the same antenna which worked just as well but this Uniden only takes 2 AA's vs 6 AA's batteries. I also like the display.

I would also pick up a Timetable so you can understand all the Mile Posts and such. These are very useful and they help to pin-point exactly where a train is and how far away it is.


Hope this makes things easyer.

05-29-2005, 11:33 PM
It's funny that you have the Uniden BC92XLT scanner because that's one of the ones i was looking at but I have decided to get the Uniden BC72XLT instead. What kind of information can I expect to get from this scanner? Where can I get a timetable? How far away will I be able to get reception (i know it depends on the terrain)? Thanks.

05-30-2005, 12:39 AM
I just got my permit for a mobile scanner (non-law enforcement channels) on Friday!

I started a similar thread over a year ago. I opted for the Radio Shack Pro-95. It has 10 banks, which can scan 100 frequencies each. A 1000 channels is over kill for just railfanning.

Now that I can freely roam the state, a co-worker Hammie, gave me a magnetic car top antenna. I also picked up a car lighter adapter for long days out and about.

Remaining stationary at a spot, or travelling less than 30mph, the stock antenna on the Pro-95 works fine.

Scanner Body:


I shelled out $179. for mine. Oh well.

05-30-2005, 12:48 AM
Remaining stationary at a spot, or travelling less than 30mph, the stock antenna on the Pro-95 works fine.

I had a Pro-92 model but I had a really bad problem with reception. If I wasnt with in about 5 miles of the main tower, it was real scratchy and could not lock on trunking ID's. Even going from the larger to the smaller antenna did not even help. Next scanner I purchase will be a Uniden.

Pat Lorenz
05-30-2005, 01:25 AM
Well i am no expert on scanners, but to answer your question about how far of reception you get. I get reception from long distances easy. The copper Basin Shortline RR in Winkelman, AZ is about 50 miles from my house in Oro Valley, AZ. There are mountains blocking the signal but it still comes through ok. When i am down by the sunset route, say in Benson, AZ (about 60 miles) from Tucson Yard i can hear trains just fine. I pick up all kinds of detectors and hear crew's and everything. It really helps to get information about whats going on.

Now about the Timetable if you dont have one i suggest you should get one for your area (state). They are about $20 but its worth it. Timetables give all kinds of info. They give every scanner radio frequency for each railroad in your state, even shortlines. You get all the miles post indicators. Where all the talking and non talking detecors are and there names. All crossovers. In the back of it you get a list of all the locomotive numbers each railroad (even shortlines) own, what the engine number is and what type of locomotive it is. So when you hear over the radio that say for example UP 4054 is highball west. Then you can look up the loco number and find out that a SD70M probably with a flag is headed your way. There is so much info its awesome. You can buy one from here. I got mine from here too.


05-30-2005, 03:14 AM
Hi, thanks for the info so far. I didn't find the timetable I would need for my area unless the one with Kansas City covers southeast missouri. Do you know anywhere else I may be able to purchase one?

Pat Lorenz
05-30-2005, 05:18 AM
I really dont know anywhere else for timetables, you may want to e-mail or call the web site and ask them which one, if any covers your area. Or see if they can point you in the right direction. I am all out of ideas.

05-30-2005, 08:57 PM
I can't find a timetable for my area so I guess i'll have to do without one.

05-31-2005, 04:39 AM
Another good thing to look into is buying an actual two way radio. It will receive much better than a scanner since it will be tuned to a narrower band (ex. 137-174 MHz) than a scanner is. While I do own a scanner, I hardly ever use it anymore for railfanning since I bought a GE PCS radio in 2003. In my car, I have a Yaesu FT-2800 mounted on the console. Both of these receive better than my scanner. You can pick up a mobile radio for your car for less than $200. You may also be able to pick up a handheld for around the same price range.

Pat Lorenz
05-31-2005, 05:55 AM
i thought about getting one of those but i was told there illegal unless you get a permit.

05-31-2005, 10:35 AM
If you have a HAM radio, you will need a HAM license. I am not sure if what Caleb owns are HAMS or not.