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New User / Getting Started Forum - The place for new users to discuss how to get started, and generally feel safe from the rest of the rabid technical community. If you just got your first scanner, this forum is for you. Please note: Posts are only moved from this forum by OP's request only.

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Old 01-27-2012, 11:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Greensboro, NC Guilford County
Posts: 6
Default Newbie Looking to get into exciting world of Scanning

I'm looking into getting me a scanner but am unsure of which one would be best for someone just starting out. I looked online for my area and they say that my State Troopers are going to VIPER communications but everything else looks like its just basic if i'm reading it correctly. So I'm guessing I need to go with one that has the trunking ability? I live in Greensboro, NC and i'm aiming to get a handheld. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:37 PM
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Hi gmc and welcome to RR

Before we go any further, please be sure to put your city/county/state into your profile. This insures that folks in your neck of the woods answers your questions and helps get you started. Having local folks help you as you get started makes all the difference.

While I'm not in NC, I can recommend that you can get started by reading the following article(s) from our wiki. Note that anything in blue is a link which takes you to something external, or another link within our wiki...

Scanning 101 - The RadioReference Wiki

At the very bottom is a link that should send you to your user profile so you can add the pertinent information.

In addition we have a very busy NC forum - if no one from there answers this (I'd be shocked if that were to happen), you will without doubt get an answer here...

North Carolina Radio Discussion Forum - The Forums

best regards...Mike
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:51 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Central NC, USA
Posts: 77

Welcome neighbor -

You've already gotten the best advice for getting started with the links to the Wiki and the NC board. There's a lot of good info on Viper on that board and Marshall is particularly helpful. There's a lot of it too so don't let yourself get overwhelmed.

I can tell you from my limited experience that an analog trunking scanner will get some of Viper while a more expensive digital scanner will get (almost) all of it. As you get closer to making a decision check the VIPER database to help you decide.

Have fun.
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Old 01-27-2012, 1:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Greensboro, NC Guilford County
Posts: 6

Thanks Zag and ka. Yeah there is a lot to learn about scanners . Yall have a preference on handheld scanners? Or does it just depend whats all in my area?
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Old 01-27-2012, 1:12 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 101

I've looked at some of the frequencies in your area, and it looks like you're right. I'm not seeing many trunked systems. Something to think about though. Of course, you do want to read the wiki, because there are some scanners that I don't know much about, because I personally don't use them.

There's the preprogrammed scanners. They are easy for a beginner to use. You turn it on and listen. You may have to enter your zipcode once, but after that, you're all set. I don't know if they come preprogrammed with only public safety frequencies, but some of them even have a gps feature, so you can travel with them and never have to program your scanner.

Some people seem to think however, that the preprogrammed models don't have frequent updates, so they aren't always accurate. Also, like I said above, I'm not sure if they only have public safety frequencies or other thngs. If that's all you want, these scanners would be great for you, but I think part of the fun of the hobby is learning all about it. If you don't have a preprogrammed scanner, you get to look-up frequencies, program them in, program trunked systems. It really only takes a few minutes if you have your scanner and the correct info sitting right in front of you. There's just so much to learn, especially if you don't limit yourself to public safety monitoring.

I could give you a long list of the different aspects of the hobby, because I'm in to all of them. Ever tried tracking a cable leak? You can find a list of frequencies, if not in the wiki or the database somewhere, I'm sure someone will be kind enough to post a link, or you can always Google it, these frequencies are used by cable tv companies to sniff out leaks. Leaks occur when there's a problem with the cable line, and the signal leaks out in to the air. You can tune these in and triangulate them.

Range finding equipment can make this easier, but even with a handheld scanner, you can do it. You just tip the scanner on to it's side and spin in a circle, slowly and only once of course, and try to find the direction the signal is coming from. If you hear anything, it will be very short range, so the source won't be far away. Some of these frequencies carry a distinct worbling sound. When you hear it, it will possibly sound familiar. Back when tv was all analog, and your tv's squelch was open, going to either channel 98 or 99 would generate this noise.

Either way, I digress, the point is, there's so much you can do with this hobby. That's what makes it so much fun. If you limit yourself, your enjoyment of the hobby is dependant on the activity level. If you only listen to public safety, there may not be much going on at one particular moment, but if you also like listening to trains, aircraft, cabs, tow trucks, whatever, you can look for activity on those frequencies.

One thing I do that I'm not sure many others do is go to a location and look for simplex traffic. Simplex means there is no repeater, it's just simple, hence the name, communication from one radio to another. Some folks think going to the mall and listening to the workers at the Gap talking about where to put the new murchandise and asking if they can have tomorrow off is boring, but it gets interesting, and it's interesting to findout who is using a frequency. There are also companies who rent radios to people from out of town. If you know their frequencies, they can be interesting as well.

Not to long ago, we're talking maybe a month ago at the most, I'm just cruising the 450-470 band, and I come across a couple guys talking, so I stop and listen. The guy talks about how he used to work for the department of justice, but apparently, acording to the shoptalk, they were working on a reposession. He at one point said, "Hold on, I need to pick up this boat." I'm guessing these guys were repossessors from out of town. That's the only thing that makes sense to me.

Just stay open and have fun, because there's loads of it to have.
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Old 01-27-2012, 1:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Greensboro, NC Guilford County
Posts: 6

See all these things interest me. . As I look and realize the more and more things that a scanner can do it makes me more and more interested. Yeah i'm not really interested in the preprogrammed. I want like you said the excitment of doing it myself.
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Old 01-27-2012, 2:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Greensboro, NC Guilford County
Posts: 6

Yeah i'm looking to explore my options with a scanner. What type of scanner would you suggest for my area? Need be digital, trunked? Your advice would be greatly appreciated
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Old 01-27-2012, 6:42 PM
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Originally Posted by gmcpickup66 View Post
Yeah i'm looking to explore my options with a scanner. What type of scanner would you suggest for my area? Need be digital, trunked? Your advice would be greatly appreciated
Being the NC & VIPER expert I guess I better chime in

You have your location listen as Greensboro. A few things to think about:
1) The Greensboro/Guilford County system is your "home" system.
Some things to notice about it in the database:
a) Look at the 3rd column listed named "Mode". A is analog voice and D is digital voice.
There is still a good bit of analog voice activity if you notice. HOWEVER, Greensboro
PD is all digital and most GSO/Guilford users are being migrated over to digital voice talkgroups. That means that if you decide on an analog only voice scanner you can listen to most EMS & FIRE activity but you would not be able to monitor Greensboro PD and as more users migrate over to digital voice talkgroups you would find your monitoring options more and more limited until you are completely unable to monitor anyone.
2) VIPER is the statewide mutual aid radio system administered by the NC Highway Patrol. GSO/Guilford only have a few channels/talkgroups on VIPER for Mutual Aid purposes.VIPER users are also in the process of being migrated over from analog voice talkgroups to digital voice talkgroups. This is happening as I type this. So an analog voice only scanner is a unwise choice for VIPER as well.

I am always asked what type of scanner do I recommend for someone in one of the NC Metro Areas (Char/Meck, GSO/Guild, Wake/Ral, Wilmington/NewHanvover) wanting to be part of the hobby and listen to public safety these days. My answer is always the same: You have to have a digital voice capable scanner. Better to "bite the bullet" and get more "bang for your buck" and pay more now and be able to listen to more activity in your area. Heck, you can't listen to ANY public safety comms in Wake County unless you have a digital voice capable scanner.

Email me directly if you have further questions but the above should sum it up.
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Marshall KE4ZNR
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Old 02-03-2012, 4:14 PM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 44

Leave me a private message and I'll try to help you out. I'll even let you see some of the products that work well here.
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