• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

    We've noticed a huge increase in rants and negative posts that revolve around agencies going to encryption due to the broadcasting of scanner audio on the internet. It's now worn out and continues to be the same recycled rants. These rants hijack the threads and derail the conversation. They no longer have a place anywhere on this forum other than in the designated threads in the Rants forum in the Tavern.

    If you violate these guidelines your post will be deleted without notice and an infraction will be issued. We are not against discussion of this issue. You just need to do it in the right place. For example:
    https://forums.radioreference.com/rants/224104-official-thread-live-audio-feeds-scanners-wait-encryption.html

ICOM 3161 for Railfan

Status
Not open for further replies.

kerrbear17

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 17, 2011
Messages
3
#1
It's time to upgrade, and I'm looking for a scanner that will work for both VHF and NXDN.

I am considering an IC-F3161DT.

Does it scan through both the VHF and NXDN at once, or only one or the other?

How well does the battery hold up?

Any other input on this model?
 

Nasby

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 4, 2004
Messages
2,315
Location
Ohio
#2
Save your cash. For around a hundred bucks you can get a new Vertex VX-150 or an Icom IC V8 and a Diamond RH77CA antenna.
They will run loops around any scanner.
Plus, it will be years (if even then) before the railroads go digital or NXDN.
 

kerrbear17

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 17, 2011
Messages
3
#3
t will be years (if even then) before the railroads go digital or NXDN.


This I know, but it's happening in some areas now even though it hasn't been mandated.

I'll be taking advantage of the holiday--the cost will be split three ways as a gift--so it's a good time to make the bigger purchase.
 

jeatock

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 9, 2003
Messages
577
Location
090-45-50 W, 39-43-22 N
#4
F3161

The F3161D will do what you want.

The "DT" models have the additional DTMF keys, Sorry, but you can't use the front panel keys to program in frequencies. They're software-only radios.

The "DS" Models are the exact same radio, without the extra buttons. Save your $20.

The F3061 is the older version that is no longer in production. They wil do both but are very picky about it and not particullarly forgiving. I'd stay clear of the 3061's.

The F3161D can be programmed analog only, both mode receive and analog transmit, both mode receive and digital transmit, and digital only. Each of the four modes is indivually selected BY CHANNEL, and any channels in any combinations of groups/zones can be scanned.

All Icom products tend to scan a little slowly for my taste. With the BP232 battery it will last all day, especially with power save enabled.
 

kerrbear17

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 17, 2011
Messages
3
#5
Thank you for the information--much appreciated.

All Icom products tend to scan a little slowly for my taste.
That's a bit concerning. Are there any other options you would recommend in the same price range?

The Kenwood NX-200 looks interesting, but the price is twice as high.
 

jeatock

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 9, 2003
Messages
577
Location
090-45-50 W, 39-43-22 N
#6
If you're used to scanners that scream through hundreds of channels a second, Icom's 20~40/second will seem slow. The Home Company engineers are very conservative; they feel (and I agree) that if the 2-way radio is being used for critical life and safety communications you shouldn't be scanning more than a handful anyway, and an erroneous scan stop followed by a 2-second (software defined) scan restart could cause you to miss something really important.

Therefore, their scan routines give up speed for bulletproof accuracy. It's a turtle vs. hare scenario.

If you're only scanning 10~20 channels, you'll be happy.
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
359
#7
I only use my F3161ds to scan about 10 channels and its fine for me. The battery lasts all day, scanning with a little transmitting. I have the 3 hour rapid charger, and if I throw the radio on it a few times a day when I have some down time, it will last for a few days.

The software is super easy for my to understand, but then again I only use Icom LMR products, so Im partial.

Despite the opinion of some of the other posters who do not have the professional knowledge about what the railroads are planning, you can listen to me when I say that the railroad switch to Conventional NXDN 6.25 mode will be sooner than they think.

If you have the opportunity to get the F3161d, F3101d, or F5061 NXDN VHF radios now, I would go ahead and get it.
GMRS Outlet one online dealer that I can vouch for.

Steven
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2007
Messages
733
Location
Northeast Nebraska
#8
I use an Icom 3161dt for the Shortline I work for. In my opinion, it is not a bad radio, but the older Moto bricks far outpace reception and transmission performance.

Real sticklers are:

Seems 3161 doesn't hear very far, I have been lucky to get reception 3 miles around me, in open area, this is not in a railyard, where, of course, the metal of the railcars diminish reception and transmission. However the performance may be better with a better antenna on the radio. I have NOAA wx channels programmed in my 3161. My Pro 106 hears the distant wx stations where I live, doesn't break squelch with the 3161.

Scan is slow as mentioned in the posts.

Good points:
Audio is clear and loud. Battery life is excellent, radio functions are easy to use.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
511
Location
Connecticut
#9
Hey Guys,

Are the units you are talking about scanners or actual 2 way radios? I currently have a Uniden Bear Cat 796D in my truck. I am in Emergency Services as a dispatcher/firefighter/emt and due to that I no longer have interest in scanning such. I hear it all day and sometime enough is enough. Plus I have a Vertex Standard mobile in my truck as well for the FD. Anyway, am a railfan and enjoy listening to the trains in my area. I have been tossing the idea of selling the 796D in place of a hand held unit that I can use in my truck (with the proper external antenna) and also as a handheld outside the truck. However reading these forums has my head spinnig. I have not a clue when it comes to digital sytems and programming. I want something that I can hear railroads with no and in the futre once the digital age hits. Thanks, Kevin
 

K4SVT

Completely Banned for the Greater Good
Banned
Joined
Nov 21, 2003
Messages
1,141
#11
Nx210

i have a nx-210 one fine radio...still wonder when the Railroad will be switching to NXDN.....
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
359
#12
Kevin, we are talking about actual commercial 2-way radios.
The railroads are migrating thier radio system over to a digital standard known as NXDN. If you google NXDN, you should find some info about the details. It is NOT compatible with any "scanner" currently on the market. However, there are several people who have use computer software and a properly modified and interfaced with the computer, to allow the computer to de-modulate the NXDN signal.
If you are familiar with Public Safety radios systems, you have probably heard of P-25 or APCO-25.
It is kind of like that, but they arent the same, so they dont work together either.
The railroads are currently upgrading their mobile, portable, and base station equipment with NXDN radios made by Kenwood, Icom, and Ritron.
All 3 brands work together in the Conventional Very Narrow Band 6.25 NXDN mode.
Most railroads have already upgraded their FCC licenses, so once all the radios have been upgraded, the railroads will start switching one subdivion at a time.
Some people on here like the Kenwood line of "NEXEDGE" radios, but I am partial to Icom's "iDAS" line.

Steven
 

W9BU

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
5,727
Location
Brownsburg, Indiana
#13
Note that while the railroads are in the process of switching to narrowband (7.5 kHz channel spacing), the switch to very narrowband digital is probably several years off. Except in very congested yards and terminals (Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.), the railroads are not in desperate need of additional frequencies or trunking. Out on the road, I think railroad communications will be narrowband analog for quite a while.
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2008
Messages
2,739
Location
New York North Carolina and all points in between
#14
Don't count on the RR's staying 12.5 much past 2020. (I know in the past I said it won't happen, but the AAR is kinda forcing everyone now) Any frequency requests from the AAR now mandate 6.25 NXDN, and trunking is optional.True the rail yards are going first,(we now have 18 pairs of 6.25 frequencies for trunking) but the info I have been hearing is NXDN on or before 2020 on the RTC channels too.
A little background on the NXDN protocol, for those trying to decode them with software we have been playing with the window timing, to make even a NXDN radio properly programmed not capable of reception, unless those window timings match our settings, and that's on top of the 40 bit encryption. I myself have been a avid scanner for over 40 years,(my first P.S. radio was a Laffayett), but the powers to be upstairs want some security for their radios comparable to Nexthell. We are building out a new multi-cast system for MOW operations for when Nexthell shuts down. (the previous choice for comms)
The radio of choice is now the 3161, but we have thousands of HT-1250's and MRK's still out there. I have noticed some differences between the 3161 and the HT-1250, but overall pretty much comparable. If someone is having RX issues, I would look at the antenna, as Icom came out with a new one made by Laird for them, that supposedly has some gain over the stock antenna.
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
359
#15
I just dont see any of the class 1 railroads using trunking though, only because the Icom and Kenwood radios cannot work together trunked. And since railroads have been buying an equal number of kenwood and icoms, it would be hard to say that the railroads would only have "x" number of locomotives and portable radios issued out that would be of the same brand of trunking in use in that yard. In the big yards that I explore, there is never the same yard switcher in use from one week to the other. I guess if in the yard office, they had a handful of HTs just for use by the crew that would be working the yard that day, and then they would just be using the HTs while they were switching, not the locomotive radios.
Sounds like too much complication for me.
Steven
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2008
Messages
2,739
Location
New York North Carolina and all points in between
#16
I don't believe that trunking is going to used with the exception of support services, maintainers etc, and not on RTC or train movements as there is too much a possibility of a transmission being missed. In our system we have RTC and train movement channels, which are simplex C.S., maintainence and support, ie: fire brigade, EMS, radio repair, telephone services, car cleaners etc will be using the trunked system. Which will have a wide area channel for yard to yard operations.
So much for the AAR having a common radio system other than simplex C.S. I wasn't aware that Kenwoods and Icoms cannot use the same trunking controller. Will have to remember that when we go to bid for more radios.
 
Last edited:

burner50

The Third Variable
Moderator
Joined
Dec 24, 2004
Messages
2,096
Location
NW Iowa
#17
Note that while the railroads are in the process of switching to narrowband (7.5 kHz channel spacing), the switch to very narrowband digital is probably several years off. Except in very congested yards and terminals (Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.), the railroads are not in desperate need of additional frequencies or trunking. Out on the road, I think railroad communications will be narrowband analog for quite a while.
V Narrowband ≠ Digital
Digital ≠ V Narrowband

NXDN works just fine without switching to Very Narrowband.

Railroads wouldn't be deploying large amounts of NXDN equipment and obtaining the licenses with no intention of using them.

As it stands, we're not required to have NXDN radios, but any that need replaced are being replaced with NXDN radios. New radios are coming out programmed for digital.

I think we may start seeing NXDN sooner than you think
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
359
#18
When the railroads go digital, it will only be in the Very Narrow 6.25 mode, because that is all that Icom offers. The kenwoods can do 12.5 and 6.25, but Icom can just do 6.25 NXDN
Steven
 

burner50

The Third Variable
Moderator
Joined
Dec 24, 2004
Messages
2,096
Location
NW Iowa
#19
They can start testing without icom radios. I havent found an icom on property yet.

I anticipate to start hearing NXDN in the next couple years.

Sent from my DROID X2 using Tapatalk
 

Nasby

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 4, 2004
Messages
2,315
Location
Ohio
#20
Ha. If the timetable for the railroads going digital, 6.25 khz is 2 years, you can bet your month's salary it will be at least double that time before its even close to happening! By then, there will be a much better, cheaper radio than the IC 3161.
Again, save your money!!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top