Handheld Scanners

This is a discussion on Handheld Scanners within the Related Gear & Equipment forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; OK, thinking about purchasing a handheld scanner for the home/BOB. I know I would want one that is digital cabable, but after that I am ...

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Thread: Handheld Scanners

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array kapnketel's Avatar
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    Handheld Scanners

    OK, thinking about purchasing a handheld scanner for the home/BOB. I know I would want one that is digital cabable, but after that I am in the dark. I figured with all of you out there there must be a lot of opinions, especially from the LEO folks. As to budget, I am somewhat price concious but I really am open to anything as I learned long ago that cheaping out results in just buying again in the future.
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    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    Uniden BCD396XT Handheld TrunkTracker IV Digital Police Scanner about 450 bucks.

  4. #3
    Distinguished Member Array kapnketel's Avatar
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    Happened to be the one I was eyeing, but I cannot find any comparison reviews on the net that are not sales driven. Thanks.
    I'd rather be lucky than good any day

    There's nothing that will change someone's moral outlook quicker than cash in large sums.

    Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper.

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    Member Array Doubledown's Avatar
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    I recall hearing that the new radios are becoming pretty much scanner proof. Of course with budget cuts it may take 20 years to get rid of all the old ones.

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    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doubledown View Post
    I recall hearing that the new radios are becoming pretty much scanner proof. Of course with budget cuts it may take 20 years to get rid of all the old ones.
    Actually that is not true.
    I worked for a communications company that did almost all of public safety for the state. Depending what state you are in and how mych funding they got after 9/11 (9/11 demonstrated how it was hard for different agencies to talk to each other and money was had so states can get on the same sheet of music) the agencies have updated their radios. The agencies will still transmit pure analog, digital or both. A lotof agencies use trunking systems which new scanners are designed to intercept. If you do not have a radio that does trunking but has a computer interface and audio output, you can download programs to that will allow you to do it as well as breaking our certain data formats.
    What will make it scanner proof is if an agency is using encryption. FBI, SS etc..
    PL code for most police are published in ham radio websites as well as all the frequencies

    I forgot, programs that break out data formats just need and audio input to your sound card.

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    Our local LEOs switch over to their cell phones for all of the hot, juicy stuff.

  8. #7
    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    If you have been into ham radios for a while you would have a communications receiver without blocked freqs or modifiable. Illegal now and illegal to listen in.
    Even with the advent of CDMA, GSM et el, a lot is still heard analog.

    I will catch flack from LEO's about this, but working around dispatchers for awhile, I know police (not all) will use cell phones so their conversations are not recorded by dispatch.

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    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Based on my listening in SE VA there isn't much use for encryption. One small town went to it a few years ago. Their F&EMS still tones out on an open channel (I don't think the pagers exist that would be needed to accept encrypted tones) but all other comms are encrypted.

    Check with your local Radio Shack for a list of available frequencies. In the last few years the VA State Police have gone to the STARS system. I'm not scanner savvy like I used to be so I've given up trying to scan STARS, and I don't have anybody local to me using trunking like the big cities do. The scanner manuals explain how to set all this up. Some have 'trunk tracker' technology so that you can follow a conversation across frequencies. Check RadioReference.com - Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference for more general info. There are scanner forums out there that can help you too. Best bet might be to ask the Radio Shack people if they know who might be able to program your scanner for you. They might even be able to download their settings from their computer onto your scanner. They of course will try to sell you their big scanner freq book which gives you access to some online tools. I've never used one but it seems like a good resource.

    Last word: Listening to the scanner is fun and eye opening to what happens in your community. Most of it never gets to the newspaper. Certain procedures may be alarming, for instance your local EMS may be doing odd things like delaying mutual aid. But you have to listen ALL THE TIME! If you wait to hear sirens, it's too late. Many agencies have gone with the new recommended national standard of 'plain voice comms' but some may still be using 10 codes.
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    Senior Member Array Moga's Avatar
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    Do you need to decode digital trunked radio? You can get a scanner on the cheap if your local system is analog.

    If I were you, I'd get a mobile scanner instead of a handheld for its improved reception.

    Uniden, GRE, RS all make good equipment IMO. Those brands are arranged in decreasing order of price from left to right. I personally use a lot of GRE but I have Uniden and RS radios as well.
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  11. #10
    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramedic70002 View Post
    Check with your local Radio Shack for a list of available frequencies. ....... Best bet might be to ask the Radio Shack people if they know who might be able to program your scanner for you. They might even be able to download their settings from their computer onto your scanner. They of course will try to sell you their big scanner freq book which gives you access to some online tools. I've never used one but it seems like a good resource.
    You must have the only Radio Shack in existence that employees that actually know their job. I have yet to find one in 20 years. But if you want scanning as a hobby, you can get the database (codeplug) from forums and Radio Shack. But it is fun to learn how to do it on your own. That way you can customize your step list or scan list.
    Oh, about fire and EMS. From the folks I know, they have no desire for encryption.

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    Exactly what Moga said. If you are in rural area in Northern KY, your local PD, Sheriff, State Patrol, EMS, etc, may not be on a trunked system. Therefore any handheld scanner with say 100 programmable memory positions will do you just fine. If they are trunked, it's a whole different ball game.
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  13. #12
    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moga View Post
    Do you need to decode digital trunked radio? You can get a scanner on the cheap if your local system is analog.

    If I were you, I'd get a mobile scanner instead of a handheld for its improved reception.
    I will have to politely disagree a tad on the improved reception, if by reception you mean sensitivity. The sensitivity for a equally priced quality mobile vs handheld is about the same + or - .1 micro V. The mobile generally has better reception because the antenna used has higher gain (mag mount on vehicle compared to a rubber whip on a handheld). A handheld (assuming it has a removable antenna which they pretty much all do) can be used with higher gain antenna's. Now the question really is this: what do you want it for? Do you want it sitting at home, in the car, walking about, or the flexibility for all of the above?
    The 396XT has software for computer control also with recording software (you can buy it or get freeware for it). This is different than programming software. Progrmming software enables you to program your feq's, scan lists, etc... Radio control software allows you to use your computer to use your radio without touching the keyboard. Plus it is fun to log calls (record on your computer). If you go this route you can purchase a higher gain antenna and just disconnect it and put the rubber whip antenna on for walking or attach a mag mounted antenna to it when you put it in your vehicle.

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    Get a scanner easy to program. I have had my Uniden 246T for about 3 years and still can't figure it out. This was supposed to be the scanner to get a few years back($200.00). Just too darn complicated for me. Get one you can directly enter your desired channels into. Just a word to the wise from the not so wise.

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    RadioReference.com

    Check the database and forum for your area to find out what type of frequencies are used locally. If you don't need a fancy EDACS setup you might be able to save a bunch of money.

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