• 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

Scanner or Ham Radio? Was: Most reliable Ham Radio?

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#1
Hello to you all,

I hope Im in the proper area for this. Im looking for opinions & advice on the difference between listening to a ham radio and a police scanner. Soon all law enforcement will encrypt their digital signals leaving digital scanners silent. So my head went to ham radios, I do not want to transmit, (maybe when I retire I will revisit that thought). I want to listen to activity in my small town around the world?. Instead of spending $650 on a police scanner that will be silent in a year, would a ham radio be a better option?

Im an amateur when it comes to evan police scanners so much so I still don’t understand it which is why I had my old scanner pre-programmed for me. Whilst reading up on hams I got a headache trying to soak some of it up, it was greek to me. Im more of a hands on woman, I like pictures when I build book shelves. LOL.

I know I would need a transreceiver and I know Its illegal to transmit with out a license, but I can listen and be legal. So if a ham radio would be better at this point, which one would be reliable if you will? How do I even find traffic? I understand I would need a larger outside antenna, but one step at a time.

Im so confused I don’t even know the right questions to ask you. Like what is the range in comparison to scanners?

I did read on your forum that the gov’t is thinking about letting hams go digital. Good for you guys and gals!

Or should I just forget the whole thing and just go silent. Frustration is not a good thing on me. LOL.

I truly appreciate any advice- opinions anyone has, even if you tell me to go silent. HA!

Thanks so much and have a great day. Sunny
 
Joined
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Messages
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#2
T all places are going or can afford to go encrypted full time, ham radios do scan but such at a much slower rate than a dedicated scanner, if your area is going encryption you are out of luck if they are just going APCO 25 ( p25) your best bet is a scanner, on p25 they will use multiple channels plus a control channel on analog radios the cop talks to dispatch and dispatch talks to the officer the same "chsnnel" either digital that same conversation can be routed onto 5 different channels well it's happening, it's the job of the control channels ( which is always busy and will lock up your scanner from hearing the stuff you want) to "hop" that conversation around correctly, your scanner will decode this control channels d80ooata and let you correctly follow the conversation

Sent from my SM-T810 using Tapatalk
 

jwt873

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#3
Most VHF/UHF ham radios have wide receive coverage, but their primary function is talking and not scanning. The reason ham radios have become somewhat popular for scanning is because there are so many cheap Chinese models that cover the VHF and UHF bands.

For scanning I would get a receiver that is specifically designed for the job, that has GPS and has the ability to be programed from the web. https://www.radioreference.com/apps/content/?cid=3

I would also get one that can be upgraded to the various digital modes. That will give you the most scanning bang for the buck.
 

SteveC0625

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#4
Part of the problem here is that you don't even know what you need now. You've got to take a close look at your area and determine what's in place at the moment. If they are already P25, DMR, trunked, etc., you need a scanner capable of properly receiving those signals. While some of the amateur transceivers on the market will handle P25 or DMR, their cost is up there with the scanners so there's no advantage there.

I happen to live in an area where everything is pretty much VHF analog, especially in my home county and the one the north. I have my choice of pretty much anything for listening from the cheap imports to commercial grade analog equipment. That means that I don't need to spend $500 to $1,000 on a scanner. The older scanners that I do still have are all in a box somewhere.

But most areas are moving or have moved into some form of digital radio systems. That essentially means that the typical amateur analog transceiver is useless.

Encryption adds another layer of decision making, of course, but until you know what's in play now where you are, you can't begin to make any meaningful choices. And while you're investigating that, make sure you find out what is in the forseeable future for your area. They might be all analog today, but have a complex P25 system on a different frequency band in the planning or purchase stages.

Find some local scanner folk where you are and learn the lay of land first. Then plan your purchase.
 
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#5
If you tell us where you are located we can offer better advice. I am both a ham and scanner enthusiast. Just because your area may get a new radio system doesn't mean they will automatically go encrypted. Just because someone tells you that you can't monitor there system doesn't mean its true, most of the officers I know think their new digital system is not able to be scanned but it is with off the shelf scanners and is perfectly legal as its NOT encrypted. Scanners are much more versatile and the price of the scanner will greatly depend on the system you want to listen to but can range from $75-$500. If you want to get into ham radio I strongly suggest locating a HAM club in your area to mentor you in the process and radio gear. Let us know if we can assist with locating a club.
 
Joined
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#6
Want my honest opinion.

In the long term view of things.
Anything spent on VHF/UHF receiving (or transmitting) equipment is basically totally wasted.
You may as well take you six $100 bills and light a match to them.

I have spent thousands on VHF and UHF equipment, and countless years of my time. All i got in return for it is a table full of boat anchors.

If you want a good long term investment for your money and time then go HF.(below 30Mhz) That is where you will find long term stability, and reliable activity in the radio hobby. It doesn't mater of want to talk, or just want to listen. There will always be something going on in the HF bands. You will be able to hear people from all across the country on a daily basis.

You can get a good new HF transceiver with general coverage receive for under $600. You can get good used ones for under $300.

If not that, then a good general coverage communications receiver(AM,CW,USB,LSB). Some of the lower end ones can be had for $500 on down..

It would be the best money you have ever spent. You will be using that same piece of equipment 20 years from now.

I purchased a radioshack DX-394 about 20 years ago for approximately $170 I have used that radio almost every day of my life for the last 20 years. All the numbers and labels on the keypad wore off years ago, but I don't need them. I know what every key on it is by heart.

If that unit stopped working, I honestly wouldn't know what to do. I would literally be in a state of crises. Yes, I have better ones, but that radio has became a key facet of my daily life.

Considering you already have a scanner of some sort, You have no real need to spend anything else on VHF/UHF receiving equipment. The best use of your time of VHF/UHF is learning how to better use your existing scanner to receive what little is still left to receive.

As time goes by the amount will be able to hear on VHF/UHF will constantly go down. With the limited exception of the FRS, and MURS operators. And the bootleggers.

The maximum I would spend on VHF/UHF is a $20 Baofeng to keep around in case you ever need to talk to someone else on vhf. Or maybe a 25W mobile which can be had for about $60 those two will also allow you to monitor basic FM communications on the normal VHF and UHF two way bands.
 

gewecke

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#7
Hello to you all,

I hope Im in the proper area for this. Im looking for opinions & advice on the difference between listening to a ham radio and a police scanner. Soon all law enforcement will encrypt their digital signals leaving digital scanners silent. So my head went to ham radios, I do not want to transmit, (maybe when I retire I will revisit that thought). I want to listen to activity in my small town around the world?. Instead of spending $650 on a police scanner that will be silent in a year, would a ham radio be a better option?

Im an amateur when it comes to evan police scanners so much so I still don’t understand it which is why I had my old scanner pre-programmed for me. Whilst reading up on hams I got a headache trying to soak some of it up, it was greek to me. Im more of a hands on woman, I like pictures when I build book shelves. LOL.

I know I would need a transreceiver and I know Its illegal to transmit with out a license, but I can listen and be legal. So if a ham radio would be better at this point, which one would be reliable if you will? How do I even find traffic? I understand I would need a larger outside antenna, but one step at a time.

Im so confused I don’t even know the right questions to ask you. Like what is the range in comparison to scanners?

I did read on your forum that the gov’t is thinking about letting hams go digital. Good for you guys and gals!

Or should I just forget the whole thing and just go silent. Frustration is not a good thing on me. LOL.

I truly appreciate any advice- opinions anyone has, even if you tell me to go silent. HA!

Thanks so much and have a great day. Sunny
. Stick with a scanner, it will do what you want, much more efficiently than a ham radio. Most ham transcievers do not scan fast enough, or cover a wide enough range for most scanning. A digital scanner would cover your needs even better, in case your area goes to P25, Dmr, Nxdn or any of the other digital formats. You didn't state where you are so we're not able to look at what's in your area. Btw, scanners will Never go completely silent regardless of what you were told, so no worries there. 73, n9zas
 
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#8
WOW- thanks everyone for all your informative replies. I live in New Castle, PA Lawrence County. I did talk to a Shanango TWP Fire Fighter yesterday and he told me they had all of their equipment and were going p25- phase II, flipping the on button at the end of this month with encryption to follow.

Gewecke- what do you think about the Whistler TRX2? Thats what I was looking at in scanning.

Jwt873 - I also like your idea on getting just a receiver, I will need to research that more.

Again thanks very much for all your time and help. I so appreciate it. Sunny
 

gewecke

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#9
I don't have a Trx , but many have bought them here on RR. I still use GRE & Uniden scanners since my area is only P25 phase 1. 73, n9zas
 
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#14
Buying a ham radio transceiver if you are not going to transmit on it is a waste of money.

If you just want to listen, you want a "general coverage" aka "shortwave" receiver. And those are readily available, in a wide price range, and will receive all of the same frequencies. Also a very wide range of prices, take your choice. With all radios that work "globally", you will also find that your antenna(s) should cost more than your radio, if you really want to listen to anything. Invest more time and effort in an effective antenna system, and you'll hear more stations.
 
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#16
With all radios that work "globally", you will also find that your antenna(s) should cost more than your radio, if you really want to listen to anything. Invest more time and effort in an effective antenna system, and you'll hear more stations.
While I do agree that a proper antenna is needed if you really want an effective system, I disagree that it should cost more than the radio itself. With HF, a proper dipole antenna will work wonders and can built for <$20 in common parts that you can pickup at the big box store. I have more worldwide contacts than I care to count using a 100 watt radio and a OCF dipole @ 30'.
 
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#17
I have used my ham radios as "scanners" outside the ham bands, but only for Marine VHF (Channel 16) and railroads. When I'm listening to the railroads, I usually have the radio set on a specific channel rather than scanning with it.
 
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#18
W8RMH- thanks for your reply. I talked to a fireman from my local area, he stated they had all the equipment for the digital stuff and will starting using it at the end of this month, and that encryption was forthcoming. So if the fire guys are all geared up I figured our local boys in blue were steps away.

Again thank you everyone for such wonderful information and a lot of thought for me to do.

Have a great Sunday night. Sunny
 
Joined
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Messages
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#19
The total cost for all the equipment you need to make plenty of HF, or long wire antennas should be about 50 to 60 dollars.

500F roll of 14G solid wire at the hardware store. $40

Pack of 10 ceramic electric fence strain insulators. $10
Pack of solid ceramic knob insulators. $10

You can put up a couple of 50F to 100F long wire antennas orientated NS and EW.
If attached to sturdy objects on each end, the antennas will last you for years without any maintenance. Save an occasional tree branch or an ice storm.
And you will have plenty of wire and materials left over to experiment with other antenna designs.

If you want to use coax cable for your feedline, then add another $20 for a roll of RG6U at your local store.

Just make sure you solder the connections and use some sort of weather proofing compound on the ends of your coax that are outside. Silicone sealant or works to an acceptable degree.
 

gewecke

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#20
40- 50' of wire spiraled on a cheap broom handle works great for listening on hf too. Even a slinky stretched out. It doesn't take a lot of hardware just to Listen! :) 73, n9zas
 
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