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Using a Walkie as a Scanner

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WuLabsWuTecH

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So I have heard of other people trying to use walkies as a scanner and a receive only mode. I was kind of wondering what the merits of this is. I know that a walkie is much more expensive than a scanner, so why would anyone want to buy a walkie to use it as a scanner? The only benefit I see is the ability to choose a talkgroup which cannot be done on the scanners that I've seen.

I'm curious because we have a lot of unused digital walkies sitting around and it would be cheaper to use these to listen in than to buy everyone a scanner. (Yes, I know I should probably just give everyone a walkie to talk on as well, but around here people are reluctant to do so since sometimes people use them for non-professional purposes so to conform to those around us, we will either issue them scanners or walkies with transmitting abilities turned off.)

I am wondering what the advantages and disadvantages of using a walkie as a scanner is and anyone who can help me in that regard would be greatly appreciated!

-Wu
 

BoxAlarm187

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Generally speaking, "walkies" are tougher than scanners, and have far better sensitivity. However, their scan rates are generally slower than a scanner, and some of them require special software for programming that may or may not be very user friendly. Also, scanners can usually hold far more channels/talkgroups/frequencies than a walkie.

Talkgroups can be directly accessed on some scanners, whereas it can be a little more cumbersome on others.

Sometimes it simply comes down to what some users prefer.
 

jaspence

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Walkie as scanner

The biggest thing is lack of coverage, both in frequencies and digital signals. Very few handheld radios cover more than two bands with good sensitivity, even when the are advertised as covering more bands.
 

Skypilot007

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So I have heard of other people trying to use walkies as a scanner and a receive only mode. I was kind of wondering what the merits of this is. I know that a walkie is much more expensive than a scanner, so why would anyone want to buy a walkie to use it as a scanner? The only benefit I see is the ability to choose a talkgroup which cannot be done on the scanners that I've seen.

I'm curious because we have a lot of unused digital walkies sitting around and it would be cheaper to use these to listen in than to buy everyone a scanner. (Yes, I know I should probably just give everyone a walkie to talk on as well, but around here people are reluctant to do so since sometimes people use them for non-professional purposes so to conform to those around us, we will either issue them scanners or walkies with transmitting abilities turned off.)

I am wondering what the advantages and disadvantages of using a walkie as a scanner is and anyone who can help me in that regard would be greatly appreciated!

-Wu
You advantage is you have a bunch of digital partables. Your disadvantage is you seem to not know the cababilities of the digital portables. No biggie I'm assuming you have motorola portables so what you could do is post up all information you can find on the radio. Model number from the front case and all information from the radio lables which are under the battery usually. Then someone can tell you what you can and cannot do with your digital walkies. If these are motorola frs/gmrs kiddie radios they are unprogrammable, you get what you get and they are generally low quality.
 

WuLabsWuTecH

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We do have a bunch of digital portables, although because these will be hand-me-downs from the police department, they are pretty well bastardized and I'd be surprised if we have more than 3 of the same model for any given model. I can look up some of their numbers, but just to give you a range of their difference, some have a digital screen that shows Zone and TG, while other just have a knob on top. The only reason I know they are all digital is because they were used at some point in time in our digital system.

I'm only familiar with the XTS 2500 which is what I'm used to using. I think we only have two of these. I know on that we can scan a few TGs pretty reliably and that's all we would need to do with these.

An aside: I'm glad you guys understand what I'm talking about. I was flamed out of another forum for asking this question. While some people took my side, the majority of them seemed to think it was illegal to do so and that I would be stealing and endangering the lives of others... I'm pretty sure if that were the case, the police wouldn't have offered them to us. I guess we're just of a higher breed of species around here! :)
 

WuLabsWuTecH

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Addendum: One of the partners working on this project just emailed me. Apparently they are ALL XTS 2500. They just look different. I'm guessing different models or different years of production.
 

dljosephson

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Addendum: One of the partners working on this project just emailed me. Apparently they are ALL XTS 2500. They just look different. I'm guessing different models or different years of production.
There are four models of XTS2500 now -- M1 has a knob on top for channel select, M1.5 adds an LCD screen and a few more channels, M2 adds some buttons so you can access more features, and M3 has a full keypad. There are also XTS1500, MT1500 and PR1500 which are basically the same identical radio internally with different feature/firmware sets. All of these radios are digital capable, but many have been sold with only analog capabilities enabled -- turning on digital costs hundreds of dollars to have Motorola "flash" the radio to enable. You will need to learn about the Motorola flashcode description numbers, that will tell you what your radios are capable of. Motorola programming software has become so complex that many radio shops just don't take the time to understand what can be done with it. If you describe what you have and what you want to do with it I expect there are lots of people here who can help.

Oh, and the main reason you use a high-tier Motorola radio instead of a scanner is that the audio quality is better, letting you understand calls that might otherwise be garbled or noisy.
 

WuLabsWuTecH

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couple of questions:

1) Can the radio guys not flash the walkies? I was under the impression they could update the TGs and such to the new radio map?

2) If the radios have already been used on a digital system before, and all we have done since was the 2009 TG update where TGs were reassigned and renamed, would we have to reflash the radios?
 

Warthog1

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Last year I had a Motorola Saber that i was using in addition to my scanners. Other than the slower scan speed, the sensitivity was outstanding.
 

KE4RWS

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South Florida
Walkie as a scanner

I used to use my old Motorola HT1000's to scan the local law enforcement and EMS stuff in my area until they changed to a trunking system. If you can use the XTS2500's to monitor what you want to listen to then why not use them?

God I miss the good ol' conventional days . . . :(
 

WuLabsWuTecH

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While I have everyone's attention, does anyone know the difference between the 2500s and the 5000s? We apparently also have a couple of those in storage... I'm assuming the number doesn't indicate that they are twice as good at everything! ;)
 

FFPM571

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Really.. If you have to ask these kind of questions. You should stick to a scanner. When you say the police handed them down to you .. You must be affiliated someohow with them. How is that? Are you an exploer post, EMA CERT? If they were programed with select talkgroups for you to use then obviously they were set up that way for a reason.
 

KJ6HCB

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x2. I asked above and never got a response. I say explorer.

Stick to letting the authorized users use the radios and pick up a scanner off of CraigsList.
 

Skypilot007

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couple of questions:

1) Can the radio guys not flash the walkies? I was under the impression they could update the TGs and such to the new radio map?

2) If the radios have already been used on a digital system before, and all we have done since was the 2009 TG update where TGs were reassigned and renamed, would we have to reflash the radios?
You should just take all the radios you have available to you and take them to your radio guys, tell them what it is you wish to do with the walkies. They will either take your radios and program them up for you as needed or they will take your radios and kindly tell you to take a hike. Really thats about all the options you have unless they are programmed already for the system with the channels you need. But remember the system admins will know you're there as soon as you turn one of the walkies on.
 

exkalibur

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From your perspective there's not too much different between the 2500 and the 5000. They use the same firmware and are capable of pretty much the same things (Note, I said capable. What options you have installed/purchased could be vastly different). They're both capable of Analog, Digital, Conventional and Trunked. At least 512 channels depending on the model etc...

The biggest difference from your perspective would be the form factor and batteries. Personally I love the size of the 2500 over the 5000 (put the slim Li-Ion battery and it's like an FRS almost), but the looks of the 5000 (Mostly the side button arrangement) far better to the 2500.

But in terms of monitoring a few talkgroups/frequencies, they're the same.

Motorola gear has far better specs than any scanner out there. The audio is fantasic, no "motor-boating", very sensitive and rarely (if ever) does intermod or cellphones cause any issue.
 

krokus

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Unless I missed it, you didn't specify if your radios are on a trunking system, or conventional. Which, as long as you are an authorized user, wouldn't make any difference to you.

Motorola has very limited scan list capabilities in their radios. If you want to listen to many things, then stick with the scanners.
 
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