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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.

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Old 08-20-2013, 2:27 PM
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Default Help scanning FRS and GMRS?

Hello all! First and foremost I am a rookie to RR so take it easy on me! Im trying to scan FRS and GMRS frequencies. I know there are only a hand full of requencies that are used. I'm gonna tell you the truth why I need to listen. I am in law enforcement and believe it or not criminals use FRS frequencies. We are begining to use scanners on a personal level to help give us a heads up on activity. The agency provides no equipment so all this is coming out of our own pocket. We look at is as just another tool to aid in the identification of criminal loations and activities. As of now I am running a Radio Shack Pro-95 and just got my hands on an old pro-404. Im currently using the RS 800mhz antenna. I hear that the antenna makes all the difference. A co worker of mine has the exact same setup only he is using a Pro-164. He can listen to 462.600 crystal clear and I cant hear at all on my pro-95. My question is can anymone inform me of a set up that I can get that will catch all the FRs frequencies with out any problems. I want to have a setup where I dont have to worry if this scanner or antenna will work. We work in rugged terrain alot of brush and hilly areas. If anyone can point me in the right direction it would make a world of difference. Thanks and I apologize for the long thread!
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Old 08-20-2013, 3:22 PM
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The antenna will make a difference. You'll find many threads about an ops personal preference. You may want to start with the popular Diamond RH77CA, which does well at UHF where your FRS and GMRS activity is. It will cover other bands, and there are more antenna threads here than you can shake a stick at, but the Diamond would be a great start.

Since much of FRS is narrowband, (but not gmrs for now in most cases), you may want to upgrade to a more modern scanner that will do that. In addition, modern scanners typically have search functions that have all the FRS and GMRS frequencies pre-programmed into a search bank, so you can use that instead of tieing up all your normal memories.

Believe it or not, many older RS / GRE scanners are not actually very sensitive in the UHF range - you may find under testing that a medium quality frs radio itself is actually more sensitive, like a Midland GXT 1000, although it is limited to narrowband, so wideband gmrs can sound restricted. Check out the GMRS subforum here for more info.

There are many combinations of radios that will fill your needs depending on your budget. A Uniden BC125AT along with the Diamond RH77CA would make an inexpensive start.

Since your primary interest is in FRS/GMRS, then be sure to visit that subforum for more detailed info.

Last edited by hertzian; 08-20-2013 at 3:25 PM..
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Old 08-20-2013, 3:36 PM
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Given that you are doing this as part of an official capacity, I would consider a real UHF radio. A Motorola P1225 for example (or insert your brand here) handheld programmed with all FRS and GMRS freqs will receive better than most anything else because it is setup for UHF specifically anyway. Some of the better FRS/GMRS combo radios will scan too, so a decent one of those would probably "out-listen" the cheaper FRS the crooks may be using. And, if you need something on the cheap, it would be easy to do just that.

Now, if you are going to scan other stuff too, I get it. Don't want to venture from the original questions, but thought I would add this.
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Old 08-20-2013, 5:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hertzian View Post

Since much of FRS is narrowband, (but not gmrs for now in most cases), you may want to upgrade to a more modern scanner that will do that.
The Pro 95 will handle those freqs just fine, FRS radios are 12.5 khz in bandwidth so there is no need to upgrade
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Diamond RH77CA would make an inexpensive start.
Agree with you there.
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Last edited by n4yek; 08-20-2013 at 5:20 PM..
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Old 08-20-2013, 6:18 PM
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I think you guys are missing out on an important piece of the story. "The agency provides no equipment so all this is coming out of our own pocket." I would stick with the 404, and use a cheep stock antenna. If no stock antenna is available, grab one off ebay. Mini Magnetic Mount Scanner Antenna Tuned 100 2000 MHZ Uniden Home Patrol | eBay My thinking is that if you'r going to use this to also locate said FRS user, having a radio that doesnt receive as well, means when you do pick up something, it will be close. Having an 800 MHz antenna is a little too "deaf" for FRS though.
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Old 08-20-2013, 6:41 PM
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Wow you all thank you for the many responses!! Trying to locate the fees users area is one thing we need to do, but we also need to keep our distance and listen. The closer we get the better reception of course, does anyone know of a mobile antenna Mount for a vehicle that will increase our range? Im currently looking to get the uniden BCT15X as my primary scanner, will this unit increase my range? A month ago the bad guys were using a non frs gmrs frequency 468.9875, in case they were to change to a non frs frequency will the close call work to pick up a frequency like that? Thanks again guys!
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Old 08-20-2013, 9:17 PM
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Default devils advocate

not trying to start trouble but what if "they" find murs radios?
some "kids" around me use them.
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Old 08-20-2013, 9:24 PM
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"Believe it or not, many older RS / GRE scanners are not actually very sensitive in the UHF range - you may find under testing that a medium quality FRS radio itself is actually more sensitive, like a Midland GXT 1000, although it is limited to narrowband, so wideband gmrs can sound restricted."

I know there are others who will hate me for saying this (screw 'em), but the highly affordable DSP-based Baofeng UV5R is very adept at working FRS, GMRS and MURS as a receive-only rig, and it does wide and narrowband receive. This is especially useful if "out-listening" the cheaper FRS the crooks may be using is a concern. But basically, it can pick stuff out of the ether that would otherwise be long-gone on my antique PRO-94, and with a suitable aerial, certainly blows any department store blister-pack F/GMRS rig to bytes. My biggest gripe with it is the scanning speed, or lack thereof, especially with a full memory--this shouldn't be a huge problem with only 22-27 channels to deal with. (Mine's full so it takes forever to scan, when I actually use that function.)

If the fact that it's a transceiver is a huge concern, it's not extraordinarily difficult to "declaw" a transceiver by opening it up and cutting the traces or wires leading to/from the push-to-talk switch or removing it outright. In fact, I actually plan on getting another 5R myself for specifically this purpose, because it's such a sensitive receiver.

Just my 0.02.

Last edited by Darth_vader; 08-20-2013 at 9:32 PM.. Reason: clarification
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Old 08-20-2013, 9:55 PM
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I remember a thread awhile back about people using marine radios also. So I would suppose you would want to be able to cover those areas also.

Marine VHF radio: 156.0500 - 157.4250
MURS: 151.8200 - 151.9400, 154.5700 - 154.6000
FRS: 462.5625 - 462.7250, 467.5625 - 467.7250

The diamond rh77ca would probably be the best performing antenna, but it is kind of long to be running around the woods with it. 14 7/8" long.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:46 PM
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But since range of FRS, GMRS and other radios are so limited, ie: 2 or less miles, or 2 or less blocks, one might try to find some scanner listeners who can be trusted in various parts of the area to listen for you. In listening to FRS/GMRS for over 15 years have never heard any criminal activities. Although I am sure any scanner listener that is above board would be the first to let their local police force know of criminal activities in their area. And as with police forces going encrypted, so will the knowledgeable criminal.
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Old 08-21-2013, 12:51 AM
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Wow thanks for all the replys you all, helps a ton! Sorry for not replying sooner but because the area I work in is very remote and cell signal is terrible. Today's counter Intel was some sort of a success, I needed to get some what closer to listen but went well. At times we can't get to closer as not to spook what every the target is. I'm thinking I might just go with the top of the line uniden hoping that will increase the range and clarity. To answer the question of why would the criminals user frs? Well is cheap and if the lose them its easy to replace. Yes they do use encryption at times but I do use a Ramsey decoder when they do. The normal person listening in might not recognize what they are talking about they often use code words and a diff language. To give you a hint I work near the river. I'm thinking of springing the extra loot for the bearcat 996. The way I think, the they do switch to a diff freq via analog and non frs id be able to find it. On the other hand lets say they do switch to digital encoded then I'm out of luck don't there's equipment I can buy to help me there. In the event that happens then i could always sell it via ebay! Now can anyone point me to a good mobile antenna? Any other thoughts amd opinions would be awesome. Again thanks for all the help!

Last edited by spook46; 08-21-2013 at 2:28 AM..
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spook46 View Post
Wow thanks for all the replys you all, helps a ton! Sorry for not replying sooner but because the area I work in is very remote and cell signal is terrible. Today's counter Intel was some sort of a success, I needed to get some what closer to listen but went well. At times we can't get to closer as not to spook what every the target is. I'm thinking I might just go with the top of the line uniden hoping that will increase the range and clarity. To answer the question of why would the criminals user frs? Well is cheap and if the lose them its easy to replace. Yes they do use encryption at times but I do use a Ramsey decoder when they do. The normal person listening in might not recognize what they are talking about they often use code words and a diff language. To give you a hint I work near the river. I'm thinking of springing the extra loot for the bearcat 996. The way I think, the they do switch to a diff freq via analog and non frs id be able to find it. On the other hand lets say they do switch to digital encoded then I'm out of luck don't there's equipment I can buy to help me there. In the event that happens then i could always sell it via ebay! Now can anyone point me to a good mobile antenna? Any other thoughts amd opinions would be awesome. Again thanks for all the help!
There are two types of tone access to "make the channel private" (which by the way is not true). The two types are CTCSS and DCS. The DCS maybe what you are believing is digital encoding. Simple FRS/GMRS radios don't have any feature that allows any other type of "Private Codes". It allows the users to talk to each other without anyone else being on the same frequency to interfere with their conversation. Even using CTCSS/DCS doesn't mean you need to plug in those tone frequencies. You can still listen without entering those into the radio. This is one of those marketing tools the manufacturers use to sell the radios.
An inexpensive dual band ham radio antenna will increase your reception. Even Radio Shack's mag mount scanner antenna will work great also. By the way, the 15X will great for what you want. You may also want to use the FRS/GMRS search function on the radio. It will go through the FRS/GMRS/MURS frequencies. If they do use the marine radios, there is a search area for that band also.

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Last edited by N8IAA; 08-21-2013 at 11:03 AM..
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:32 AM
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This is all fine, unless your perps become somewhat educated by reading then they'll just start using their burner phones.
Then what?

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Old 08-21-2013, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
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I think you guys are missing out on an important piece of the story.
I don't think I missed anything, he said he already had a Pro 95 and had just got his hands on a pro 404. One thing he did say, like you stated he was doing was using an 800 Mhz antenna to monitor UHF freqs, thats not going to work very well.
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Old 08-21-2013, 1:58 PM
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Quote:
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This is all fine, unless your perps become somewhat educated by reading then they'll just start using their burner phones.
Then what?

73,
n9zas
To answer that question, they use frs and gmrs to only call us out and to advise when the target package is on the way. Once it passes a certain point they will use "burner phone's". The scanning of the frs/gmrs gives us a heads up on possible traffic and allows us to tactically insert someone to get eyes in an area. I came across a radio shack mobile magnet mount antenna for scanners will this help with range? Now my last question is and I think this will ultimately help, will a better scanner increase the range of scanning? Or does it all depend on the antenna? Thanks again!
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Old 08-21-2013, 7:19 PM
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The perfect antenna would be one that is tuned to the frequency you want to hear. Location of your antenna is another important point. Since you say you are wanting a portable antenna to tote around in the woods, then there is not much you can do about location except maybe post on the high ground and set your scanner antenna in line of site of the signal. Another option one "could" consider is a directional antenna, but Ive never seen a directional portable antenna. So you are pretty much stuck with choosing the right antenna.

A telescoping antenna would be a good choice if you knew how to adjust the length to the desired frequency, but its stiff design would make a poor choice for trudging around the brush. I know I already mentioned the diamond rc77ca antenna, but I think you should give it a try because that is about the best all band antenna your going to find. It is also tuned to the RR bands which is close to what you want to monitor.

I think you may want to try that before you spend hundreds of bucks on a new scanner your going to beat up or loose.

Whatever choice of antenna you decide to go with you can test the difference between them with the weather channel frequencies (162.xxxx Mhz). Since the WX is close to what you mainly want to monitor and it is always broadcasting, it makes a good test frequency for VHF. Just make sure you use the same frequency and it doesnt scan to the next one without you noticing it. You could also compare scanners that way if you so choose.
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Old 08-21-2013, 9:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N8IAA View Post
There are two types of tone access to "make the channel private" (which by the way is not true). The two types are CTCSS and DCS. The DCS maybe what you are believing is digital encoding. Simple FRS/GMRS radios don't have any feature that allows any other type of "Private Codes". It allows the users to talk to each other without anyone else being on the same frequency to interfere with their conversation.
I have an old Talkabout T6220 laying around that has a "privacy" feature in addition to CTCSS. Its been a really long time since I played with it. But when enabled it basically distorts the voice audio so anyone listening with an incompatible FRS radio or scanner hears a very garbled transmission. (You can still tell its a voice tx but that's about it) Cant remember if its simple voice inversion or something proprietary from Motorola. Im guessing this is what spook is referring to as "encryption."
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:14 PM
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years ago i ran into a detective from fort lee nj,they had modified the am stick for 155 mhz transmission.
so maybe a refit of an old stick and cut down?
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