Could a cheaper scanner be all you need?

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SCPD

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Could a cheaper scanner be all you need?

Over the last 11 years while I have been involved in the scanning hobby I have used a number of different scanners. These have ranged from a simple 20 channel hand-held to multi-mode base units with 4 digit price tags, in all this time I have struggled to find what is the best unit for me that suits my needs.

Nobody can argue that we are lucky to have such a wide range of scanners to buy and some have a great range of features which I have myself made good use of in the past but the longer I am in the hobby and the more scanners I use the more I see that for me a simpler unit is better for a number of reasons.

Scanners like most things are always getting better and having new and different features added but really who could fill all the 6000 channels in one of the latest Uniden trunk trackers and given that most police communications are now unscannable is it really worth paying the extra for APCO25 digital and trunking when in most cases it will not get used much if at all.

In my cases I have found a simple 200 channel hand-held does everything I need and more, sure it might not have 1000 channels or trunking but for what I listen to day to day it suits me well.
I do have an expensive multi-mode wideband hand-held with 1000 channels and lots of features but more often than not I pick up my simple 200 channel hand-held to use as I get more enjoyment for it and spend less time changing settings and more time enjoying it.

Maybe something to think about?

Launceston Radio Scanner Guy
 

hoser147

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That was the case here for years, now everything is migrating over to digital here and that is where its at. If the conventional scanner is still working for you all the better.
 

K4DHR

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I owned a trunking scanner up until earlier this year, but I hadn't used the trunking feature in years. Frankly most public safety comms bore me, I listen to railroads and aircraft, which show no signs (despite some persistent rumors) of moving to digital modes anytime soon.

Right now I have a grand total of maybe $75-80 wrapped up in my two scanners. Both work just fine for what I listen to.
 

N8IAA

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I am glad somebody agrees with me :)
You've got another that agrees. I have found that simple is always the best way to go. Regardless of the the fact that most of the metro area systems I monitor are P-25 digital, using my ham ht's as scanners, gives me more scanning pleasure:) I refuse to buy another scanner until the manufacturers make it as solid and as affordable as a dual band ht or mobile. The only way this will happen, is for us to not go crazy over every new scanner that comes out with new tidbit to tantalize the scanning hobby. Uniden may have added more memory and brought the 396XT to the level of the GRE digital scanners. But, what did it do to make the hobby more fun? Did they make and sell it cheaper to get back a customer base? We can buy $350 ham mobiles with remote heads. Time to go back to the basics of scanning.
Just my rant.
Larry
 

hertzian

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Too bad Uniden doesn't make a simplified conventional handheld scanner built like their 396.

But wait - they DO!

Run, don't walk and pick up the Radio Shack Pro-137 Race Scanner.

Ok, for most conventional use, you won't use the "CAR" button. But otherwise, you get what is most important to me:

* 12-character alpha-tagging
* 1000 channels in a 10x100 matrix of the old-school bank/channel setup
* Triple-conversion
* Display is large and shows frequency as well as alpha-tags at the same time
* Audio is LOUD
* Has a real nice swivel belt-clip
* Backlit keypad
* Signal stalker 1
* Other usual ameneties such as Pre-programmed chain-search, custom search etc, weather alert, etc.
* Looks better in person as it is a powder-coat blue with silver, not any sort of red faceplate as shown in most marketing images.
* Built like a Uniden 396

NO PL
NO MIL-AIR

SMA ANTENNA JACK - most of us will probably want to upgrade the standard antennas included with the unit - the standard vhf duck and a rigid stubby-duck for the track. Put a nice wideband sma-type antenna on that thing and go to town.

Supply your own charger and adapter - although I normally charge out of unit.

Depending on what you listen to, this may not become obsolete as fast as one might think. And compared to some of the more capable Uniden handhelds, it is far easier to program, especially by hand. This could be a deal-maker for those that don't need dynamic programming.
 
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SCPD

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Too bad Uniden doesn't make a simplified conventional handheld scanner built like their 396.

But wait - they DO!

Run, don't walk and pick up the Radio Shack Pro-137 Race Scanner.

Ok, for most conventional use, you won't use the "CAR" button. But otherwise, you get what is most important to me:

* 12-character alpha-tagging
* 1000 channels in a 10x100 matrix of the old-school bank/channel setup
* Triple-conversion
* Display is large and shows frequency as well as alpha-tags at the same time
* Audio is LOUD
* Has a real nice swivel belt-clip
* Backlit keypad
* Signal stalker 1
* Other usual ameneties such as Pre-programmed chain-search, custom search etc, weather alert, etc.
* Looks better in person as it is a powder-coat blue with silver, not any sort of red faceplate as shown in most marketing images.
* Built like a Uniden 396

NO PL
NO MIL-AIR

SMA ANTENNA JACK - most of us will probably want to upgrade the standard antennas included with the unit - the standard vhf duck and a rigid stubby-duck for the track. Put a nice wideband sma-type antenna on that thing and go to town.

Supply your own charger and adapter - although I normally charge out of unit.

Depending on what you listen to, this may not become obsolete as fast as one might think. And compared to some of the more capable Uniden handhelds, it is far easier to program, especially by hand. This could be a deal-maker for those that don't need dynamic programming.
Sounds perfect but we don't have these in Australia :(
 

rdale

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given that most police communications are now unscannable
That's far from given. Actually I'll be more blunt - that's very wrong.

is it really worth paying the extra for APCO25 digital and trunking when in most cases it will not get used much if at all.
That's very wrong too... 90% of the police and fire comms around here are digital and/or trunked. And not encrypted.

Maybe something to think about?
Sure, but I don't think a lot of us spent $500 on a trunking digital scanner if we weren't planning on using trunking or digital. And to be honest, they look just about exactly the same as a non-trunking, non-digital scanner.

Does it matter if you listen to fire dispatches on a 200-channel radio or 2000-channel? Of course not. So if you need the advanced model to hear your stuff, does it make sense to say "I want to use a simple radio, so I'll give up the 2000-channel one and just stop listening to the comms I want to hear."

No.
 

SCPD

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That's far from given. Actually I'll be more blunt - that's very wrong.



That's very wrong too... 90% of the police and fire comms around here are digital and/or trunked. And not encrypted.



Sure, but I don't think a lot of us spent $500 on a trunking digital scanner if we weren't planning on using trunking or digital. And to be honest, they look just about exactly the same as a non-trunking, non-digital scanner.

Does it matter if you listen to fire dispatches on a 200-channel radio or 2000-channel? Of course not. So if you need the advanced model to hear your stuff, does it make sense to say "I want to use a simple radio, so I'll give up the 2000-channel one and just stop listening to the comms I want to hear."

No.
This post was based on where I am located (Tasmania Australia) and was posted to our forum but I thought it had some good points that could be useful for other people.

In Australia 95% of police communications in the city areas are using APCO25 with encryption and here in Tasmania almost the whole state will be using Provoice, this was the background on why I said the above things....
 

dracer777

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For location specific, I agree.

However, where I live, we have a statewide P25 system and 90+% are unencrypted. If you want to listen to public safety comms here, with very few exceptions, you need a digital scanner. But if you don't have to spend $500 on a scanner, that's great. Although, I have become accustomed to scanning digital and generally like it more than conventional, so I didn't mind sucking it up too much and paying the $500 to listen to our digital system. Although it sucks here if you want multiple scanners, as you are talking 4-500 $ per unit....
 

kb2vxa

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Fair dinkum there tanger, some of us Yanks haven't noticed Australia is a foreign country and you have the country code in your user name. (;->) Having several friends on the other end of the wire scattered about the continent I'm learning a lot about the differences in band assignments, polarization techniques, lots of things radio and TV related and little by little I'm learning your very colorful language among other bits of culture. (;->)

As an aside, these blokes would be surprised you have your very own brand of Country music I'm growing rather fond of, we have Slim Whitman, you have Slim Dusty who sang truckie songs long before they became so popular here. Convoy nothin', we do things the hard way, you have the road trains. OK, that's enough of that, now please 'scuse me while I play my didge, keeps the neighbors guessing mate!
 

FLRAILMAN

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Tony, be nice, even though we both live in the Twilight Zone & CB is still the big hit, at least our cops...OOOOPS, I mean: LEOs always have the latest & greatest radar units, what do they have now, laser right? You wanna hear overkill? I saw an FHP unit in O-Town with an installed K-band unit, A handheld speed gun & Vascar. Our tax dollars at work for redundancy.

Traffic Safety Systems, Inc. - VASCAR-plus® home page

Kustom Signals - Police Lidar & Radar, Video Surveillance, Speed Monitoring & Detection Devices

Decatur Electronics, Inc.: Police Radar, In-Car Video Systems and Message Trailers

FLRAILMAN
 

RadioDaze

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Ahhh, if only a simple scanner would do the trick for me. It sure used to, but now I can't even listen to Orange County LE with anything, and the closest I can get is the non-encrypted "Red Channel" where pursuits and high priority traffic stops can be heard. It's P25. The lifeguards are P25. Fire is trunked, analog. LAPD is non-trunked P25.

So a lot of us have no choice, and a few of us just buy the best and most we can afford for gadget's sake. I'm the former, and to me it's just an expensive PITA.
 

FLRAILMAN

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RadioDaze, I feel your pain, In this new communications world of digitalism, rolling code, have-quick, trunking, P25, 3600 baud, 9600 baud, DES, DVP, SLERS, Provoice, Opensky, spread spectrum, scrambling, encryption, etc. forget your tax funded PDs, FDs & EMS systems, you can't even listen to your local utility companies, security companies, taxi companies, bus companies, delivery companies & other "high risk" entities needing cloaked communications systems. (lurkers, please understand this cynical, sarcastic based tongue-in-cheek post for what it is, so hands off the keyboard) All we will be able to monitor without any Congress approved, communications conglomerate requested high tech hurdles are: CB, FRS, GMRS, "some" railroad & VHF civil aviation, even VHF marine radios come with scrambling as an option now. What's next? encrypted morse code on the ham bands?

Hardware:External - WPASCANNER

FLRAILMAN
 
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CanWoodsman

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I current use a basically simple scanner. Can I pick up all I'd like? No. I can get some police, some fire, some ambulance and some air traffic. With the systems in this area I plan on upgrading to a digital trunking scanner when I have the money. Then I will get far more generally only being restricted by encrypted signals and distance.
But the simple answer to the original question is it depends on what you want to listen to & the radio systems in place where you are.

Rick
 
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