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Is it worth it to get a digital scanner in greater Boston?

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raisindot

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Hi, folks!

I live in the western suburbs of Boston. I have a Pro-95, which works fine with trunking, but I've been seeing ads for the GRE PSR 500 and I'm considering mortgaging the house for it. Before I do, I just want to know whether there are really any systems in the Boston area that are "going digital" that would make the investment worth it? I'm not very experienced with the whole trunking thing or the kinds of systems or how to tell which frequencies are digital and which aren't, so it would be much more helpful if one of you who has a digital scanner has had added a whole new dimension to their scanning here in the Bay State.

Thanks in advance!

Suzie
 

RobKB1FJR

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Boston University Police are digital. The Federal Building Police are digital (not missing much there), Lexington Police are digital. For day to day operations in Boston, and the boston area, you should be able to get away with a PRO-95. Some other posters who live in the boston area will be able to answer the question better.
 

Junior08

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My 2 cents?

Hold off on a digital scanner for now. Take a look at a GRE PSR 300 or a Uniden BC246T. Both have several features that beat the Pro 95, and are a LOT cheaper. I own a 246T and will probably use it till it dies a long, hard death. The PSR 300 has gotten great reviews as it has only recently been on the market. If you have your heart set on a digital scanner, or if you do a lot of travelling to areas that have digital communications then by all means go for it, but I think you may want to try one of the above mentioned scanners first.
 

SCPD

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I would go with the 246T. The 300 is a nice radio also but programming the Alpha tags is a little bit more button pushing than the 246T. i have taken my 246T to Boston MANY times and it works fine for the State Police and Boston Fire & EMS. Also Boston Med-Flight.

Mark
 

garys

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If you can get one, the BR330T is nice too. I agree with everyone else here, unless you need to listen to one of the few digital agencies wait a while.

Gary
 

mrsvensven

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I'm going to agree with everyone else here, and also suggest that if you do decide to upgrade your scanner, you should get some programming software and do the programming by computer. There have also been rumors that the State Police may switch to digital, so if they are important to you, you may want to wait and see what happens.

You don't say how far west you are, but you might like to know that Rhode Island is constructing a statewide digital trunked system. Some PDs/FDs are using this system for their primary communications, and it is not entirely clear how this system is going to be used once it is completed. The city of Providence will be switching to a digital trunking system in the near future. I am waiting to see how Providence moves, but I think I will be upgrading to a digital scanner so I can still hear them.

New Hampshire as a lot of digital, if you travel that way often.

short summary: Nobody knows. Wait and see what happens. If you are happy with the pro-95, stick with that for now.
 
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raisindot

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mrsvensven said:
I'm going to agree with everyone else here, and also suggest that if you do decide to upgrade your scanner, you should get some programming software and do the programming by computer. There have also been rumors that the State Police may switch to digital, so if they are important to you, you may want to wait and see what happens.

You don't say how far west you are, but you might like to know that Rhode Island is constructing a statewide digital trunked system. Some PDs/FDs are using this system for their primary communications, and it is not entirely clear how this system is going to be used once it is completed. The city of Providence will be switching to a digital trunking system in the near future. I am waiting to see how Providence moves, but I think I will be upgrading to a digital scanner so I can still hear them.

New Hampshire as a lot of digital, if you travel that way often.

short summary: Nobody knows. Wait and see what happens. If you are happy with the pro-95, stick with that for now.
Thank you all for the helpful responses. I do agree that software is the best way to go, and I use the Win95 program for my Pro-95. It's been a godsend for when I travel, since I can always find a file with frequences for the places where I'm traveling.

I think I may just hold on the Pro-95 for awhile until I see more evidence of a move to digital around here. Thanks!

Suzie
 

ka8scp

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I would agree with the others in saying hold off until more agencies you will to listen to move to digital. I live near the NH border and travel in both states... and having a digital scanner is a must. I love the PSR-600 because you can assign channels with both the NAC code as well as using the traditional PL/DPL tones. The audio quality is great.

Outside of MA, there are lots of states and counties who are all digital now. I was recently in Ohio and Michigan and all the things you want to hear are digital.

Waiting until your "locals" force the move is probably the best way for you to go. I think that the PSR-series is the best on the market right now for flexibility and audio quality. I've been extrememly disapointed with the audio quality of the 396. The 996 is marginally better in the mobile. IMHO
 

raisindot

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ka8scp said:
I would agree with the others in saying hold off until more agencies you will to listen to move to digital. I live near the NH border and travel in both states... and having a digital scanner is a must. I love the PSR-600 because you can assign channels with both the NAC code as well as using the traditional PL/DPL tones. The audio quality is great.
Well, I should have listened to you all, but I didn't, and in a giant spasm of GAS coughed it up and bought a PSR500. Even if there isn't a lot of digital near where I am, it's still an amazing box, especially when you let PC software drive everything.

I programmed all the trunking systems I could find into it. From my location (west of Boston) I could only pick up the state police Motoral trunk. But, as an experiment, I took it on the commuter train from my suburb to Boston and, lo and behold, as I approached Route 128 I began to pick up an LTR system based in Waltham, and when I reached Newton the Cambridge police trunk began to light up. So, obviously, I'm located too far away from the "good stuff" to get it all now. There's no way I can put up an outdoor antenna, so unless there's a better indoor solution, the PSR500 is going to become my li'l commuting buddy...

Suzie
 

N1BHH

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Well you did fine. Don't let anyone say you did wrong. I haven't got any GRE's but they make a nice product. Lexington Police are running P-25 and some colleges are also doing it. Try this link to find more P-25 in the area: http://www.scancapecod.us/wiki/index.php/APCO-25_Stations_In_Our_Listening_Area
There are also some MSP digital talk groups popping up on the various zones. Here is where to go to find out all the MSP and other trunking system information, Steve's got a great site:
http://users.adelphia.net/~kc1ho/ematrunk/index.html
And don't forget the rest of the Scan Cape Cod family of websites including:
http://www.scancapecod.us/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
 

raisindot

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N1BHH said:
Well you did fine. Don't let anyone say you did wrong. I haven't got any GRE's but they make a nice product. Lexington Police are running P-25 and some colleges are also doing it. Try this link to find more P-25 in the area: http://www.scancapecod.us/wiki/index.php/APCO-25_Stations_In_Our_Listening_Area
There are also some MSP digital talk groups popping up on the various zones. Here is where to go to find out all the MSP and other trunking system information, Steve's got a great site:
http://users.adelphia.net/~kc1ho/ematrunk/index.html
And don't forget the rest of the Scan Cape Cod family of websites including:
http://www.scancapecod.us/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
Thanks for the tips. What is the usual range for P-25s if using the standard rubber duck antenna? I've found I can't pick up any trunking systems other than the MA state police from my home about 15 miles west of Boston. All my truly "fun" scanning is taking place on the commuter line when I head into town.

Suzie
 

ecps92

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What town ?

You should be able to hear some C-troop on MSP Zone 5 and most likely you should hear Zone 8 if west of Boston, unless right on-top of a Nextel site.

raisindot said:
Thanks for the tips. What is the usual range for P-25s if using the standard rubber duck antenna? I've found I can't pick up any trunking systems other than the MA state police from my home about 15 miles west of Boston. All my truly "fun" scanning is taking place on the commuter line when I head into town.

Suzie
 

mrsvensven

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raisindot said:
Thanks for the tips. What is the usual range for P-25s if using the standard rubber duck antenna? I've found I can't pick up any trunking systems other than the MA state police from my home about 15 miles west of Boston. All my truly "fun" scanning is taking place on the commuter line when I head into town.

Suzie
Are you aware that most stuff isn't on trunked radio systems? I know Boston, Cambridge, the Airport, and Worcester have trunking systems, but that's about it. The one state Police site you can receive should allow you to hear the MSP from Worcester to all of Eastern MA.

raisindot said:
Well, I should have listened to you all, but I didn't, and in a giant spasm of GAS coughed it up and bought a PSR500.
I just did the same thing. It's still a great scanner even if there isn't a lot of digital.
 
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800crazy1

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at least you guys are now set for depts that start to become digital in the funture. happy scanning !
 

raisindot

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mrsvensven said:
Are you aware that most stuff isn't on trunked radio systems? I know Boston, Cambridge, the Airport, and Worcester have trunking systems, but that's about it. The one state Police site you can receive should allow you to hear the MSP from Worcester to all of Eastern MA.
Yeah, I know. So far, I've picked up the MA state police and Cambridge on Motorola and an LTR system for a transportation company in Waltham. Nothing from Boston or the airport so far, but my programming may be off here.

My next challenge is to pick up some P25s. I've got every single eastern MA frequency on the list programmed into it. So far, the only thing I picked up was one tiny little blip from the Boston postal inspectors. I hope I get some more when I'm in town tomorrow.

Suzie
 

ecps92

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How far west of Boston, ie: What Town.

Depending on Hills and terrain your monitoring with a rubber-duckie antenna will vary.

Natick Labs has some good frequency listening in the 406-420 Band
Hanscom AFRB has some stuff and then of course Worcester with the
Federal Court House etc

Also, you might be able to go for a different Zone on the MSP instead of Zone 5.

Again ,, all varies on location and outside antenna etc

raisindot said:
Yeah, I know. So far, I've picked up the MA state police and Cambridge on Motorola and an LTR system for a transportation company in Waltham. Nothing from Boston or the airport so far, but my programming may be off here.

My next challenge is to pick up some P25s. I've got every single eastern MA frequency on the list programmed into it. So far, the only thing I picked up was one tiny little blip from the Boston postal inspectors. I hope I get some more when I'm in town tomorrow.

Suzie
 

raisindot

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raisindot said:
Yeah, I know. So far, I've picked up the MA state police and Cambridge on Motorola and an LTR system for a transportation company in Waltham. Nothing from Boston or the airport so far, but my programming may be off here.

My next challenge is to pick up some P25s. I've got every single eastern MA frequency on the list programmed into it. So far, the only thing I picked up was one tiny little blip from the Boston postal inspectors. I hope I get some more when I'm in town tomorrow.

Suzie
Wow, what a difference location makes. At my work location on the 15th floor of a skyscraper in the financial district, the thing is coming alive like a bear out of hibernation. I've picked up P25s for Boston University, the Jamaica Plain VA, the US Post office and Logan Airport. And when I reprogrammed the Boston police trunk with the frequences from Radioreference, that went crazy too. Just shows you what you miss living outside of town.

Suzie
 

ecps92

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Boston has a trunk for Municipal Services, but don't confuse this with any reference to Boston Police being on a trunked system.

Boston PD are UHF [460 Mhz] conventional.



raisindot said:
Wow, what a difference location makes. At my work location on the 15th floor of a skyscraper in the financial district, the thing is coming alive like a bear out of hibernation. I've picked up P25s for Boston University, the Jamaica Plain VA, the US Post office and Logan Airport. And when I reprogrammed the Boston police trunk with the frequences from Radioreference, that went crazy too. Just shows you what you miss living outside of town.

Suzie
 
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