Complete Newbie - Need some advice on 1st scanner to buy.

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Chromatic

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Hi, how are you guys/ladies?

I am 100% new to Scanners. I've seen them, maybe held one back in the 90's.. but otherwise it's greek to me.

I've done a bit of reading today,.. reading about Looking at your systems in the database to see if they are Digital, Analog,.. trunked? (Still don't have that 100% understood).. etc.

Did a quick search of scanners to buy and looks like it's $500 to grab one.. Quite steep, maybe you guys can help me out for my needs and area(s).

Basically all I care about primarily is being able to hear the Police communications in my areas. The other systems I'd listen to occasionally, but if I couldn't pick them up for some reason it wouldn't be a big deal.

Also,.. This would be for 90% In Car use, and a little in home use. (No I'm no criminal,.. I just got an escort passport max,.. running escort live.. and now I'm getting bit by the "information" bug or something .. :) ).

So essentially I need your personal recommendations on what scanners I should be considering to listen to the areas below, and also , I suppose, not to be obsolete anytime soon.

I am in Alabama. Specifically according to my address Birmingham, Alabama -- Zipcode 35242

I live in Shelby County.

These are the Counties and Cities I would be needing "all the time".. As the way the area I live in is set up you can cross from Shelby county to the City of Hoover back to Shelby County every 2 miles depending on where you are so these two police forces are literally patrolling side by side in North Shelby county anyways.

I'll link the Database of the Areas to perhaps make it a little easier on you guys to tell me what I need:

Again, I just need the Police communications:

State: Alabama

County 1: Shelby
Shelby County, Alabama (AL) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

County 2: Jefferson
Jefferson County, Alabama (AL) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

I see the DB is listed purely by county and Cities are within them (Makes sense :) ).

So here are the cities I will need to hear:

Primarily the City of Hoover. (Is in Jefferson County)
Secondarily the City of Pelham
Tertiary the City of Birmingham

That pretty much covers where I travel 99% of the time. The other counties and cities in "The Greater Birmingham Area" would be useful.. but not hugely beneficial most of the time. Though you can look around the database for what's close to see if some other places are using higher tech systems and perhaps apply that to the Scanner I would need.

Here's a rough outline (perhaps a little large) of the area I'm in 90% of the time driving. If it helps great, if not.. disregard it.



I know nothing, but my guess is I'm going to still need to get a Digital (expensive to me) $400-$500 scanner.

I have tried an application on my Phone called 5.0 Radio -- And first you can't make out what they are saying due to the static 99% of the time.. and moreover all I hear most of the time is the Morse Code every so often (FCC ID? or something?) and the Dispatcher saying something, and 10-4.. Not much info comes from this.

So I'm wondering if this is all you get even with a good scanner? Or if perhaps with a scanner I can listen into other channels or cop to cop communications?

See, I don't really know how it works.. It would be great to be able to hear the Car to Car transmissions, and the Officer Mobile radio to dispatch, etc as well? But are these systems just closed off? Encrypted where you can't hear them?

My main interest is just curiosity of what's going on.. and secondarily to hear of accidents to maybe avoid, and perhaps speed traps or similar.

Given the State, I would think Scanners are likely legal, and not an issue. Though in the car, I doubt I'd be showing it off in plain view to the police... from what little I've read today they seem to frown upon it.

If I've posted in the wrong area, I'm really, really sorry. This looked appropriate for my lack of knowledge.

That about covers it.. I appreciate any and all recommendations, advice!
 

puzzleriddle

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I am in 35205. you will ned at a minimum a pro 96/ hand held to copy Bham/jeffco trunking system. Shelbyc ounty has a p25 TDMA system supposed to go live in July 2014 only 1's that will do p25/TDMA now are the new Unidens X436 for the hand held & 536 for the base/mobile will run ya $600 each. the older modles gre/RS are between 250 -400 or less now( used & with NO tech support or repair available).. the new whistler models are due out also soon will be cost ya $600 each
 
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Chromatic

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Wow.. so it's really a bad time to be getting into this with the tech change being pushed.. Hrmm. IE: No used units capable of the new p25 TDMA. Thanks for the info!
 

ofd8001

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Welcome to this forum and your question is exactly where it should be.

I've been into scanning for some 40 years. Changing radio systems and scanners to keep up with those changes has been constant over those years. In January 2013 the FCC mandated some changes in radio systems. A lot of new radio systems were put in place prior to that, with some still trickling in.

Given this more or less recent surge in radio system changes, it is unlikely a lot of additional significant changes will occur in the short term future (five years or thereabouts).

You mentioned encryption. There is a lot more of this being implemented for a variety of reasons, some I agree with, some I do not (I've got 39 years of first responder experience under my belt). If this is used, no scanners are capable of receiving encrypted transmissions. Hopefully there will be a sensible mix of "clear" and encrypted channels - dispatch and routine operations are clear with only the sensitive stuff being encrypted.

Unfortunately to get in the scanning hobby, a financial investment is necessary. But that's true for most any hobby - you could get into photography and find a really good camera is more expensive than a scanner.

For someone venturing into the hobby for the first time, or someone getting back into it after a hiatus, the two new Uniden scanners (BCD436HP - a portable, BCD536HP - a mobile) may be good choices. They can be fairly easy to use by simply entering a zip code and selecting the types of services one wishes to monitor. As time goes along and one becomes more familiar with how radios and systems work, the scannist can try their hands at programming systems and scanner options.

Hope this is helpful and good luck to you!
 

pinballwiz86

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Op, look at the Uniden BC125AT to get your feet wet in the hobby. If after owning the 125AT, you find that you love scanning, then save up for a digital scanner.

I have the 125AT and I love it.


 

Chromatic

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Welcome to this forum and your question is exactly where it should be.
Thank you and great!

Unfortunately to get in the scanning hobby, a financial investment is necessary. But that's true for most any hobby - you could get into photography and find a really good camera is more expensive than a scanner.
Well sure.. But, I have many hobbies :) -- I'm typically spending all my money on my car.. constantly working on it, whether it's wiring up a new stereo or putting in performance parts, etc. But I thought , perhaps, this would be more of a $100 (give or take) investment to get just a handheld and be able to listen.. If I really got into it,.. then I could get some "nicer" units..

But, it's a little different in something like this.. It's not just Cheap = lower quality.. it's Cheaper = Unable to work :) -- That's a problem.

From what I can TELL.. only one police dept. so far , within 15-20 miles of me is using Encryption and that is the Pelham police dept (Database has them on P25 for one section of their police.. ) -- I'm sure if they have it at all, it's likely used a great deal for obvious reasons.

The odd thing is Pelham is a VERY small city PD within Shelby county.. one of the smaller dept's in the area. Meanwhile Hoover Police dept. is quite large.. and are arguably the most active patrols in the area.. see them all over, always with the latest vehicles, etc.

But, the Database shows they are all Analog still (from what I can tell). (City of Hoover, in Jefferson County, in Alabama)

Shelby County is still showing all Analog as well (these are the two primary dept's I'd be interested in.)

But.. someone above said that Shelby County is to move to P25 in just a few months.. so, an analog scanner would really limit me out on that..

Now,.. if I had a year or two before these places were going to really swtich over to digital (maybe they drag their feet, etc..) -- Then it'd give me a good window to get one of the ones mentioned below:

Op, look at the Uniden BC125AT to get your feet wet in the hobby. If after owning the 125AT, you find that you love scanning, then save up for a digital scanner.

I have the 125AT and I love it.


That is up the "I feel comfortable paying that... even if I lose interest,.. I can resell for 60-70% value without issue.. "...

So $125 sounds good,.. but it's straight analog,.. So it really depends on how long these dept's are going to remain analog..
Hrmm..

Would hate to spend even $125 and then in July be "cut off" to the dept's that are relevant to me..

For someone venturing into the hobby for the first time, or someone getting back into it after a hiatus, the two new Uniden scanners (BCD436HP - a portable, BCD536HP - a mobile) may be good choices. They can be fairly easy to use by simply entering a zip code and selecting the types of services one wishes to monitor. As time goes along and one becomes more familiar with how radios and systems work, the scannist can try their hands at programming systems and scanner options.

Hope this is helpful and good luck to you!
Those are NICE units.. (But way out of what I feel comfortable spending starting.. unless I could just find a super deal on a used unit for half price out there.. )

I have to make it absolutely clear -- this may not be the common preference,.. but I WANT a handheld.. portable,.. something I may mount in the car (like you'd mount your cell phone, and pull out at will).. but light weight, etc.

I don't want anything permanent built in,.. or large and for your home/office primarily. But, knowing my luck handheld is likely more expensive ;)

Op, look at the Uniden BC125AT to get your feet wet in the hobby. If after owning the 125AT, you find that you love scanning, then save up for a digital scanner.

I have the 125AT and I love it.


This looks perfect! Again - My Dept. in my main jurisdiction here is going Digital said someone above.. In July (P25).. Be nice to see if maybe that is being delayed or something.

If you can get your hand on a used GRE PSR800, it decodes that also.
I checked these very briefly.. and found one for sale on ebay.. used? For $500.
 

Sportster77

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Occaisionally Overstock.com has been listing the Radio Shack Pro-18 ( a stripped down version of the PSR-800 ) for $79 and some of those are showing up on both Craigslist or Ebay starting from around $250. They will do the P25 that your locale is changing to in July.
 
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