Good scanner for a beginner?

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moocow111

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I'm new to this, I've never owned a scanner in my life. I'd like to get started. I'm looking for a good scanner that will pick up just about everything (FD, PD, EMS, military/commercial air). What would be a good scanner for a beginner so I can listen to all of those things I listed.
 

hoser147

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You are luck that there are a good group of people here from your area. Check out the Database and the Wiki, which are both great resources, for scanner information. Take your time and study so you get the one you need for your area...........Hoser
 

captclint

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I'm new to this, I've never owned a scanner in my life. I'd like to get started. I'm looking for a good scanner that will pick up just about everything (FD, PD, EMS, military/commercial air). What would be a good scanner for a beginner so I can listen to all of those things I listed.
Being new to scanning doesn't really have any bearing on the scanner that is right for you. It depends on what you want to listen to, and how much you are willing to pay for it. As you have already been advised in the MI forum, Michigan Public Safety Communications (MPSCS) is digital, and the county sheriff and county fire is on it as well. However, there may be some some Fire/EMS still on conventional(check with the MI forum about what is still conventional in your specific area..maybe 20-30 mile radius from your location), so If you can't swing $500, then the BC246T is a good trunking portable(like new is $210), but you didn't say whether you wanted a portable. The SC230 is a great little scanner for the money($150), but it will only do conventional, of which there appears to be quite a bit in your county.
I have only mentioned Uniden, but there is Radio Shack and GRE. Once you decide portable or not, digital or not, trunking or not, then someone can get down to better recommendations.
 
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moocow111

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Being new to scanning doesn't really have any bearing on the scanner that is right for you. It depends on what you want to listen to, and how much you are willing to pay for it. As you have already been advised in the MI forum, Michigan Public Safety Communications (MPSCS) is digital, and the county sheriff and county fire is on it as well. However, there may be some some Fire/EMS still on conventional(check with the MI forum about what is still conventional in your specific area..maybe 20-30 mile radius from your location), so If you can't swing $500, then the BC246T is a good trunking portable(like new is $210), but you didn't say whether you wanted a portable. The SC230 is a great little scanner for the money($150), but it will only do conventional, of which there appears to be quite a bit in your county.
I have only mentioned Uniden, but there is Radio Shack and GRE. Once you decide portable or not, digital or not, trunking or not, then someone can get down to better recommendations.
How can I tell whether or not the frequency is digital or conventional in the database?
 

reconrider8

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bct-15 is a good base scanner to start with just make sure you get a good antenna to tho thats whats going to make the most difference
 

RadioStart

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I have the same question. I'm COMPLETELY new to scanning. I have experience with radio communication but I have no experience in the technical aspect. What would be a good, cheaper, option I could use to listen to Police/Fire/EMS in San Diego county? North county? South county? I don't care about the other services, those interest me the most. I say cheaper because since I'm new, why would I want to dish out a bunch of cash if I don't even like it? I got into it by listening to someone else's Motorola MX3000, pretty interesting. Thanks.
 

Airdorn

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Uniden BCD996T is a great scanner for a beginner.
 

captclint

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Uniden BCD996T is a great scanner for a beginner.
You must have missed the part about not spending a lot of money:lol:
OK, San Diego county has a lot of trunked systems, but I don't see much digital yet. As a portable, the BC246T is a good but relatively in expensive trunking analog scanner. The 996T is a mobile/base, but it's main feature is digital. All digital radios cost around $500!

I would look over all the systems in your county and then go on the CA forum to verify that there is not a lot of digital...especially since you want to keep the cost down. There are several other choices for trunking scanners, and all of them are very good. Take a look at this comparison chart to see which ones are available: http://myweb.cableone.net/marksscanners/Comparison/comparison.html

You can find some good prices on RS & Uniden on Ebay. Since you have communication experience, you probably know about trunking systems. Since there are trunked systems, you might want to purchase software. Here is a list of software: http://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/BC246T#Supporting_Software My favorite is ARC246 by BuTel. It allows a automatic download of any or all frequencies in your county and state from this site, and sets up trunking TGID's & para's(this is a big help). It is $40, but well worth it. It has a neat virtual control panel that works your scanner from the keyboard., but the best part is that it logs all the information(freq & PL) and lets you see your scanner window in a much larger scale that you can actually see clearly. The logging is great when searching, but it is also handy for normal scanning. Often, I do not look up in time to see what agency was just talking, so I just look at the log. See the the examples on their web site http://www.butelsoftware.com/ You can download it on a free trial basis to see if you like it.

There are also free programs, such as FreeSCAN and BCtool, that do the same thing. Also, if you have a new PC or lap top, you will need a serial to USB converter from Uniden http://tinyurl.com/2cqyu4 or Radio Shack: http://tinyurl.com/2gpbsp . Another source is http://www.monoprice.com/products/p...=10311&cs_id=1031104&p_id=2276&seq=1&format=2, for quite a bit less. It is reported to work.


Note: You would need to become a paid subscriber to this site to get the automatic down loads, but this is also very reasonable($7.5 for 3 months). This can save you countless hours of programming and frustration.

PS. It is not good Etiquette to jump in on someone else's question. In your case, it involves a completely different part of the country, and answers are going to get confusing. You should start a new thread next time, so answers can be directed specifically to you.
 
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RadioStart

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Thanks Capt. Clint. Sorry about asking it in here. I often see on message boards that people would rather have us use the search function for an already-created thread than to start a new one. That was my premise behind asking it in here. Didn't mean to make things confusing or steal someone else's thread.
 
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Ok, I'll say it. Go buy a $500 digital scanner and take the plunge. Be prepared for a few weeks of frustration, but it will come to you. Re-read the instructions a few dozen times and be patient. Then you will have the right scanner for whatever comes up in the coming years.

If money is a big issue get a 2096 or 96 off ebay for $350 or so.
 

andrewccm

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If digital is not a need, I would highly recommend a Uniden BCT-15. Very good unit. I actually prefer it to my 396 which cost more than double (however the 396 is portable and digital). The 396 is basically the portable version of the 996. The BCT-15 is basically a 996 without the digital capability.

You should be able to pick up a BCT15 for around $215 or so...

OR.. just look here in buy and sell. You can get some decent non-trunking analog scanners for under $100. I actually started highend and moved the opposite direction. LOL I am now picking up $60 radios and enjoying them for MiAir etc...
 
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gcgrotz

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Ok, I'll say it. Go buy a $500 digital scanner and take the plunge. Be prepared for a few weeks of frustration, but it will come to you. Re-read the instructions a few dozen times and be patient. Then you will have the right scanner for whatever comes up in the coming years.

If money is a big issue get a 2096 or 96 off ebay for $350 or so.
I totally agree, especially the part about re-reading the instructions. Even experienced users can find new stuff a year later from re-reading. Don't get frustrated early, just start out simple.

If you do get a high end digital scanner, you will greatly increase your learning curve with good programming software. Trying to enter a big digital system like Michigan's (or San Diego even) will drive you crazy trying to enter it by hand.

Good Luck to both of you and Welcome to RR!
 

trixwagen

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If a $500 advanced scanner with dynamic memory and something of a learning curve is a great scanner for a beginner...well, which one wouldn't be a great scanner for a beginner?

Some people might find the 996 or the PSR-600 a little complicated, especially if they try to program it by hand. Just playing devil's avocate. I mean how many people were too intimidated to learn how to program the clock on their VCR?

The folks with "12:00" still flashing on their entertainment systems might need something a little simpler/affordable.


I don't think $500 for a 996T is a lot of money. Its a great scanner for a beginner.. so is that GRE one.
 

stevolene

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thats kinda like saying a shelby GT is a great car for a 16 yr old kid that just got his license...as far as monetary concerns go, I believe the pro 97 would be a great beginner scanner,they can be picked up used for under a hundred bucks, plus there are plenty of them out there to be had, also you could use at home or in the car, or outside for that matter, also relatively easy to program, search modes are very easy, and the signal stalker feature allows you to search and find all and any active frequencies out there.......dont think you could lose with one of these
 

Patch42

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Some people might find the 996 or the PSR-600 a little complicated, especially if they try to program it by hand. Just playing devil's avocate. I mean how many people were too intimidated to learn how to program the clock on their VCR?
I suspect most beginners would have an easier time with the PSR-600 than do many of the old timers. Much of the "complexity" of the PSR-500/600 seems to be due to preconceptions (and misconceptions) about how it should work (combined with an apparent aversion to reading instruction manuals). If you want to define complex according to how many adjustments are available, then they're complicated scanners. But I don't think they're especially hard to use for those willing to spend 20 minutes reading the quick start section of the manual.

I'm not saying I'd recommend one as a beginning scanner, but I don't think the complexity should keep a beginner from considering one.
 
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