Entry level scanner

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I'm shopping for an entry level scanner for my son for Christmas. He's primarily interested in rail fanning. We live in Atlanta and occasionally rail fan here, but whenever we travel, he wants to look and listen for trains. I know the lower end scanners are only analog, but my understanding is the railroads signals are still analog. I'm sure he woudl be interested in whatever scanner traffic he can pick up as well.

I've looked at a couple Uniden scanners (BD-72XLT and BC-95 XLT) which are both under $100. These seem to be good products, although difficult to program. It also appears that NiMh batteries woudl be a good investment due to their short battery life. It appears the difference between these 2 models are that the 95XLT has a 200 channel storage capacity and can pick up 800 MHz signals. I've also looked at some Radio Shack models, but these seem to get mixed reviews.

Does anyone have a good recommendation for an entry level scanner in the $100 range?
 

Nasby

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I have been scanning for over 20 yrs to primarily monitor the railroads. The two scanners you mentioned are decent. But I would suggest the Radio Shack PRO-164. It has alot more featurs, good sensitivity (listening range) and can be programmed by computer. It goes on sale often for around $130.00 or so.
The main thing about scanning the railroads is to remember that the railroads do not have very strong transmitters. Thus, a good antenna is critical. The stock antenna that comes with scanners do not give very good performance.
The best antenna I've found for railroad monitoring is the Diamond RH77CA. You will have to order it online from a ham radio dealer (google search). It costs around twenty bucks and is worth every penny!
 

Nasby

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Also, if you are buying the scanner only to monitor the railroads, then 800 mhz coverage won't be needed. Railroads are in the VHF-Hi, 160 mhz range. Rechargeable NIMH batteries are an excellent idea.
 

N8IAA

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I'm shopping for an entry level scanner for my son for Christmas. He's primarily interested in rail fanning. We live in Atlanta and occasionally rail fan here, but whenever we travel, he wants to look and listen for trains. I know the lower end scanners are only analog, but my understanding is the railroads signals are still analog. I'm sure he woudl be interested in whatever scanner traffic he can pick up as well.

I've looked at a couple Uniden scanners (BD-72XLT and BC-95 XLT) which are both under $100. These seem to be good products, although difficult to program. It also appears that NiMh batteries woudl be a good investment due to their short battery life. It appears the difference between these 2 models are that the 95XLT has a 200 channel storage capacity and can pick up 800 MHz signals. I've also looked at some Radio Shack models, but these seem to get mixed reviews.

Does anyone have a good recommendation for an entry level scanner in the $100 range?
Are you presuming short battery life because they use only 2 batteries? Not so. I owned a 92XLT and it ran for months on 2 alkalines. They are really not hard to program either. I use all sorts of analog radios for listening to the railroad. I sold that 92 a few years ago and wish I still had it. If you think that the 95 is too much with the 800MHz, the Pro-164 does analog trunktracking. Since you only need 100 channels for railfaning, the 72 would be a better buy:) I live in the metro ATL area. There are a bunch of us down in the Georgia state forum further down the page. Come on down and join us.
HTH,
Larry
 
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Thanks for the information. While the PRO-164 does seem to have more functionality, it costs twice as much as the BC-72XLT. Would trunk tracking be necessary in the Atlanta area? I'm not really sure what this is and if it's worth the extra investment.

I'll be sure to check out the Georgia state forum once we're up and running.

Mike
 

W2PMX

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I'm not from the area, but it looks as if listening to the Atlanta police and fire departments would require a digital trunk tracker Atlanta Public Safety P25 System Trunking System, Atlanta, Georgia - Scanner Frequencies You might think about buying one now so that you don't have to upgrade in the near future, when your son decides he wants to hear them (or the Braves, his school buses or any of the other .services that are on trunked systems).
 

captncarp

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Speaking from a life time of raifanning a BC-72XLT is all you need for railfanning. It comes with a AC adapter for listening at home and not using the battrys. Go to Walmart, Target ,any store that sells electronics and pick up a battry charger with four rechargeale battrys. Duracell, Energizer both have them for around twenty dollars. That would give you enough battry power for all day with two in the radio and two on charge.
See how things go with the stock antenna before you decide on another twenty bucks for a better antenna.
 
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