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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. Please note: Posts are only moved from this forum by OP's request only.

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Old 07-11-2018, 4:18 PM
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Default Question about radio scanner in a basement

I live in a basement apartment of a Single family home. The foundation is cinder block and underground I live in an urban area fwiw. I rent so an outdoor antenna is not possible due to landlord. Even a hacked something would be difficult as I cant just drill through cinder block without owner knowing. So my question is will a scanner work at all? I would need a fairly high end one as most of the frequencies used here require the more expensive scanners. Would a replacement indoor antenna be enough to be able to use it or would I just be wasting my money while living in this location?
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Old 07-12-2018, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hail2dcskins View Post
I live in a basement apartment of a Single family home. The foundation is cinder block and underground I live in an urban area fwiw. I rent so an outdoor antenna is not possible due to landlord. Even a hacked something would be difficult as I cant just drill through cinder block without owner knowing. So my question is will a scanner work at all? I would need a fairly high end one as most of the frequencies used here require the more expensive scanners. Would a replacement indoor antenna be enough to be able to use it or would I just be wasting my money while living in this location?
If you put an antenna at a window, or along the outside wall, it should do ok. (Partly dependent on side of the building that the antenna is placed, approaching signal direction, and the exterior wall constructuon.)

Is there an external TV antenna, or small satellite dish?

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Old 07-12-2018, 4:42 AM
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Originally Posted by krokus View Post
If you put an antenna at a window, or along the outside wall, it should do ok. (Partly dependent on side of the building that the antenna is placed, approaching signal direction, and the exterior wall constructuon.)

Is there an external TV antenna, or small satellite dish?

Rich

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Just to be clear, I meant along an external wall that is above ground.

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Old 07-12-2018, 5:51 AM
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You're right that a basement is not an ideal location for an antenna.

But Howard and Baltimore counties use 800MHz simulcast systems, and 800MHz is better than lower frequencies for passing through window openings without attenuation. So if you got a 800MHz antenna and put it in a window, you've got a pretty good chance of being able to hear at least the Howard County system. You're not going to be able to hear much more than that without getting out of the basement, but urban public safety systems are generally designed to provide handheld coverage even in basements, so your odds of finding a usable signal somewhere in your apartment are fairly good.

I would try something like this in a window, stuck to a cookie sheet or pie plate or something like that:
https://www.amazon.com/1089-BNC-Mini.../dp/B01DY8FOK0

If you haven't bought a scanner yet, get this SDR dongle and download SDR# to see of you can see a signal with your basement antenna:
https://www.amazon.com/RTL-SDR-Blog-...dp/B0129EBDS2/

It won't work like a scanner, but you will at least be able to see if signal is getting to your antenna without spending a bunch of money.

If you can see the signals from the Howard County simulcast site with the SDR dongle, then go ahead and order a SDS100.
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Old 07-12-2018, 6:27 AM
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For your antenna location, try to use a window that is not obstructed by exterior vegetation, if possible. Plantings can have an attenuating effect on the signals you will be monitoring. Here's a handy mounting solution for window glass: Duckie Suction Mount with BNC | Scanner Master. The cable is 4 feet in length, so you may have to consider an extension to your scanner. Just keep the overall length as short as possible to avoid any loss of signal strength common at 800 MHz frequencies.
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Old 07-12-2018, 7:14 AM
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My shack is in a basement. When I go downstairs into my shack when holding a handheld, I lose a lot of signal and some signals I can't even pick up, but I'm sure you already expect this. However, you can hang a yagi on the wall and that will help. I have a handheld yagi that I tried once in my basement and it seemed to increase signal almost as much as my omni on the roof, of course it's directional however. A handheld yagi is not very expensive and will make a difference. Just take it down before a date comes over

So as has always been said, get the best antenna you can afford
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Old 07-12-2018, 8:15 AM
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Default Basement

Thank you all for the reply's. My only window is still underground, while I imagine it would help as going through glass and plexi glass is better then concrete, I would guess its diminishing returns.I like the idea of trying the usb device, I'd hate to spend 300+ to find I can only get the same stuff I can listen to online.
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Old 07-12-2018, 9:36 AM
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If you are monitoring a simulcast system, a basement might actually be a good place - at least for that one. With simulcast, "less signal strength is more" because just one transmitter may penetrate the basement.


For those other "regular" (non-simulcast) systems, I agree with the above.
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Old 07-12-2018, 9:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ofd8001 View Post
If you are monitoring a simulcast system, a basement might actually be a good place - at least for that one. With simulcast, "less signal strength is more" because just one transmitter may penetrate the basement.


For those other "regular" (non-simulcast) systems, I agree with the above.

I agree 100%
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Old 07-12-2018, 9:46 AM
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"Less signal strength is more" doesn't apply to the SDS100, only scanners with conventional receivers that have difficulty decoding simulcast.
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Old 07-12-2018, 9:55 AM
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Default Basement

Well I live less then a mile from hospital, and college, like 2 miles from a huge mall, so like to be able to listen to those as well. I can listen to police and fire online, for free. So that would be a huge waste to just get public service, which is what im trying to figure out before I purchase something.Thanks for the responses.
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Old 07-12-2018, 9:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonwienke View Post
"Less signal strength is more" doesn't apply to the SDS100, only scanners with conventional receivers that have difficulty decoding simulcast.

The OP doesn't have a SDS100. However, we're not talking about 'less signal strength', but rather less signals from numerous other sites on the same frequency at the same time. That would help any scanner/receiver including the SDS100.
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:11 AM
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At this point I dont have anything because im scared I will buy something no matter how nice that really doesnt do what I want it to. I know I need a wifi repeater in the "cave" just to be able to have good signal from my landlords cable modem a floor up. So I can only imagine the radio signals will be greatly diminished if even see-able down here. But I also assume emergency responder's and such have to go in similar spaces and assume 99% of the time their radio doesnt stop working hence my questions.
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Old 07-12-2018, 4:17 PM
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I'm in a basement (finished)..under the basement steps too... I have a 536 and an HP1 on my desk..both work but had to move my antennas many times because of simulcast...Many times means an inch at a time..SDS100 works flawlessly...436 I have to move..396T and 396xt not very good. Every location is different and what you want to listen to and how close you are to a transmitter
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Old 07-12-2018, 4:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hail2dcskins View Post
I live in a basement apartment of a Single family home. The foundation is cinder block and underground I live in an urban area fwiw. I rent so an outdoor antenna is not possible due to landlord. Even a hacked something would be difficult as I cant just drill through cinder block without owner knowing. So my question is will a scanner work at all? I would need a fairly high end one as most of the frequencies used here require the more expensive scanners. Would a replacement indoor antenna be enough to be able to use it or would I just be wasting my money while living in this location?

I would think there would be a smack crack, hole, or gap you could snake a small wire though? Look where the water main, gas line, dryer vent, telephone wire comes into the basement. Have you considered talking to the landlord? If you're a good reliable paying tenant I'd think they'd be willing to try and accommodate you.
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Old 07-12-2018, 4:34 PM
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Originally Posted by iMONITOR View Post
The OP doesn't have a SDS100.
I'm aware of that. He doesn't have any scanner, which is why I suggested the OP buy a cheap SDR dongle to see if any kind of reception is possible in his location before spending a bunch of money on a scanner.

Quote:
However, we're not talking about 'less signal strength', but rather less signals from numerous other sites on the same frequency at the same time. That would help any scanner/receiver including the SDS100.
Actually no. The whole point of the SDS100 is that it doesn't care about simulcast "interference"--it doesn't see simulcast as interference, it sees it as additional signal. That's why it does so much better on simulcast systems than other scanners. There's no need for directional antennas or attenuators or voodoo incantations to isolate the signal from one transmitter.
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Old 07-12-2018, 4:41 PM
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Sometimes I've had more simulcast problems upstairs than downstairs...Less is sometimes more...YMMV
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Old 07-12-2018, 4:55 PM
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Sometimes I've had more simulcast problems upstairs than downstairs...Less is sometimes more...YMMV
With the SDS100, or some other scanner?
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Old 07-12-2018, 5:04 PM
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536 and HP1 never get moved...436 is new this past Nov. and was a great improvement inside and out..a 9 out of 10....SDS100 was a God send
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Old 07-13-2018, 6:40 PM
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While the SDS100 looks amazing, its significantly more then I was planning on spending. So my question is would the Uniden Home Patrol be an true equivalent?
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