Old 08-05-2008, 04:20 AM   #1
MTM9
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Default Buying a scanner

I'm looking into buying a scanner, what should I look for in one and can anyone give me a recommendation of one to get?

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Old 08-05-2008, 04:45 AM   #2
ottergoose
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I just ordered a scanner for myself. I've read conflicting advice regarding the scanners - some folks recommend a transceiver (e.g. mobile ham radio - which can transmit as well as receive), but I had read a few comments saying that they were ill-suited to scanning, especially on railroad frequencies. I wanted a scanner that allowed me to label or "alpha-tag" my frequencies and groups of frequencies (e.g. "CP Humpyard 1 in the Saint Paul group" as opposed to "Channel 26 in Group 2"). With that in mind....

I just ordered a Uniden SC230:
http://uniden.com/products/productde...?product=SC230

With one of these (tuned to 160, which covers the railroad bands) Smiley antennas:
http://www.smileyantenna.com/product...products_id=29

From what I've read, RadioShack also makes a fine scanner. Do a search on the forums here for "Scanner" and see what pops up.
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:00 AM   #3
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I use a mobile/base type scanner and I get good reception even in these mountains. I would like to invest in a better antenna though, I use both a Radio Shack scanner and a Radio Shack vehilce mount antenna.

Heres the scanner I have its a great scanner, It is a little expensive but its worth it.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...entPage=family



I would suggest getting an external speaker in your vehilce though, it can be hard to hear the on board in a moving vehicle.

Here is the antenna I use. Im thinking about buying another one just to extend the antenna I have now.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=2102469

It seems to be on sale too, it was $34.99 when I got mine. Its only $30 bucks now.
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Old 08-05-2008, 02:31 PM   #4
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Thanks for the information. I've always been curious about them and after missing a couple trains this weekend because I couldn't see/hear them before they showed up, I've really been considering getting a scanner.
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:32 PM   #5
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Yeah a good scanner makes all the difference in Railfanning. Just make sure that you can find signal aspects for your area. It makes things a lot easier because most of the time(at least here) the railroad goes by the names of the signals instead of towns or cities
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Old 08-06-2008, 03:34 AM   #6
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Thanks for the heads-up.
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Old 08-06-2008, 04:13 PM   #7
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This is the scanner I use:

http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...entPage=family

I've never invested in an extra antenna for it, but still get good reception. The clip on the back is the only thing unreliable; it broke apart with little use. So the top (remaining) part of that got removed and the screws were just tightened back into the base.

The scanner's sitting right here on my desk now. I can hear some yard crews and the two BNSF dispatchers here, as well as the local sheriff's department and the police department for the city on the MN side of the river here. Overall, I'm pleased. I'm sure I'll eventually get something bigger and better, but, for now, it suits my needs.

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Old 08-06-2008, 06:19 PM   #8
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I use for my jeep a Kenwood 2mm ham radio...has excellent reception...and for a handheld I use a Yaesu VX-150...both built super tough..Mil Specs etc...

Great for railfanning...

Now if your intention is to monitor other things like PD, FD etc..then probably a RS unit will suffice.

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Old 08-07-2008, 12:26 AM   #9
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Thanks, the more information I have now, the better chance I have of getting one that works for what I want to use it for. I just plan on using it for railfanning.
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Old 08-08-2008, 11:38 PM   #10
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I also use a Uniden SC230 for my railroad scanning. I have frequency banks segregated by railroad, and further divided into locations, as well as having a general purpose band for each railroad that has every known frequency that railroad uses in it for when I'm out of my normal railfanning areas. I also like the ability to store and program my scanning banks on my computer.

My antenna is a tuned rubber ducky for when I'm on foot, and a Radio Shack Center-Loaded Telescoping Whip Antenna (with only the top four sections extended as per the instructions for the railroad frequency band) mounted on my window with a BNC Window Mount Bracket while in my truck. I get pretty good coverage with this mobile setup, but probably not as good as a magnetic mounted antenna on my roof.
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Old 08-09-2008, 09:14 PM   #11
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Thanks, I'll look into those things that you mentioned. The bank of frequencies sounds like a great idea that I'll probably use.

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Old 08-09-2008, 09:26 PM   #12
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I've just spent a few days playing around with the new SC230 and Smiley Antenna. I haven't made it to the field yet, but, I can attest that it's fairly easy to program, and has done a good job of picking up local rail and marine traffic.

You can use the included serial cable and free software from http://scannow.org/ to program and operate the radio - it's pretty slick.
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Old 08-10-2008, 01:32 AM   #13
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I'll look into that one. Does anyone know if there is somewhere you can test scanners out before you buy them?
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