The R-5 is a great little radio, but it is a little strange to configure. I notice you are from Buffalo, which is my home town.
...moved to Orlando about 20 years ago
This forum and site is an incredible resource for info, but after Googling around, I found someone else struggling with the radio and a response that may help:
Getting started with the ICOM IC_R5 - FixYa
I'm NOT affiliated with them in any way, but this guy makes some great spiral bound, laminated guides:
Nifty HF/VHF/UHF Bands Operating Guide
The other great thing is that you live in Buffalo! What a scanner friendly area compared to many other parts of the country.
As you know, Buffalo Police are on a single frequency. As I remember Niagara Falls and Niagara County Sheriff are also on a single (possibly 2 frequencies.) Buffalo and Niagara Police are in the UHF part of the band, while Niagara County Sheriff is in the VHF part of the band. Search around this site and the net for VHF/UHF frequencies and get used to where things are. If you have time and patience, knowing where different bands are in the whole spectrum will be a big help. AM broadcast is near the bottom, while aircraft, television, business and public service frequencies are further up.
On the radio...
Get used to the V/M and BAND keys. Remember:
= short for VFO. Just know that this 'mode' allows you to tune up and down in frequency. Press the 'func' button while tuning with the top knob and you'll move much faster. Just like tuning up and down the AM/FM bands.
= short for MEMORY mode. In memory mode, you're 'tuning' knob now moves up and down in memories that YOU store. As I remember, there were pre-programmed memories in my R-5. You can overwrite these memories, just like the pushbutton presets in your car radio.
= this is where it really comes in handy to have a general guide of frequency ranges. You'll learn a lot about where to find things.
= short for 'tuning step'. When you go up and down in frequency, you move in steps, or chunks of frequency. The tuning step allows you to change the increment you move in frequency. Give it a try. Try setting TS to 5.0 and then to 12.5. Notice the difference. Again, knowing your bands will help here. Some bands use 5.0kHz steps, while others, like Buffalo and Niagara Police use 12.5.
Understand kHz and mHz. On your FM radio, WJYE is at 96.9mHz. mHz is to the left of the decimal point and kHz to the right. In this case, the frequency is 96(mHz) and 900(kHz). On AM radio, way down below, you haven't even reached 1mHz yet! In this case, WGR-AM is at 0mHz and 550kHz, or about half of 1mHz.
Living near the Great Lakes and Niagara River, you'll have a lot of fun with Marine frequencies. The Marine call channel is 156.800mHz. This site lists all of the other Marine frequencies.
When it comes to antennas, lower frequencies need longer antennas, while high frequencies use smaller ones. Since you are not transmitting, the specific size isn't critical, but it can make a big difference of just how well you hear something. Again, knowing frequency ranges in general is a big help here. For example, Buffalo Police at 460mHz, only need an antenna about 6" high. WGR-AM, would need about 425'. On the lower frequencies, we cheat a bit and wrap small diameter magnet wire around a small magnetic bar. Larger loop antennas work great for AM by wrapping hundreds of feet of wire into a loop. VHF and UHF antennas are sometimes small enough that they can stand on their own. There are 2 very simple formulas to calculate antenna size. I won't bog you down with them now, but they are all over the web.
And remember; nothing says you need to be methodical about it. Push buttons and combinations of buttons at will! You won't break anything. You will likely end up in a strange mode and then have to figure your way out. That's part of the fun and how you'll learn to operate your radio.
Lastly, try going into 'V' mode, so you can tune the Buffalo Police frequency.
* Press and hold the V/M key. [Notice that below V/M is 'MW' which means 'memory write'.] You should see 3 small numbers on the side flashing. Let go once they flash.
* Turn the 'tuning' knob to 001 with the numbers still flashing.
* Push V/M and hold for about a half second, or until the numbers stop flashing.
You now should have Buffalo Police programmed in 'memory' number 001.
Remember that tapping the V/M (not holding it in) will take you between 'memory' and 'vfo' (tuning) modes. Find a frequency you want to store using the V
fo (V/M) and 'write' them to a preset (M
emory). Move quickly across bands using the band button.
I hope that helps a little. There is much more, but maybe the manual will start making sense. Don't give up. Keep pushing buttons!
As time goes on, you can translate a lot of the terminology to other scanners and receivers.
Enjoy the little R-5. It's a great receiver for the money.
Oh - after working with a lot of different programming software, I can't recommend the Icom software. It is probably better than programming by hand, but it's not great. That's only my opinion - especially since you are only working with single frequencies at a time (vs. trunking and digital).
Most other radios - especially todays scanners, I wouldn't think of programming without software.
...and, enjoy the beautiful Summer and Fall up there (until the snow comes) while we bake down here in Florida
PS: I wrote that from memory and didn't check it for grammar. It's all accurate, as I remember. It's probably as good as the manual at least
Mark - KB2EGB