The location and range setting for the department should reflect the actual service area of the department as accurately as possible. The scanner Range setting specifies how far outside of an entity's service area you can be and still want to monitor it. So if it is set to 0, you turn off Podunk Fire as soon as you leave Podunk County. If you set it to 5, the scanner will turn off Podunk Fire when you are 5 miles outside Podunk County.
50 miles is a ridiculous scanner Range setting unless you live on top of a mountain and want to monitor 3 counties away. 0 or 5 are the most common scanner Range settings.
Essentially the scanner's Range setting "extends" the range setting for Departments. So if you set a scanner Range of 50.0 miles and a Department has 20.0, then your scanner will attempt to receive the Department when you are 70.0 miles away from the center of the jurisdiction.
For trunked systems, this is no issue. That's because the given Department probably won't be affiliating with sites 70 miles away. With trunked scanning being different than conventional scanning, your scanner will not be slowed.
However if this is a conventional system, you will be adversely affected. That's because the scanner is attempting to receive a frequency that is too far to receive.
When I'm traveling I set a Range of 10.0 miles. That way if I'm about to run into an issue, I'll get a little advance notice to be thinking about detours.
When I'm at home on an outside antenna and can receive agencies well beyond service areas, I'll bump up the Department range value on the Favorites List.
So if I'm in Raleigh and I want to monitor Johnston Co.( which has range of 21 according to database), what should I set it up for.....and vice versa if I'm at home in JoCo and want to monitor Raleigh?
The range settings in the database reflect how far a site can be received, or the service area of an agency, and shouldn't be changed by novices. If you mess with those settings, you're going to screw things up.
If using a handheld or indoor antenna, the scanner Range setting (in the location menu) should be set to 0, or no more than 5. In a mobile, the max scanner Range setting should be 10-15. If you have a base station outdoor antenna on a high tower with good coax, you can set the scanner Range setting up to 30. But the higher you set the scanner Range, the more stuff the scanner will try to monitor, and you are more likely to miss traffic. Unless you live in an extremely rural area and have a huge antenna tower, you should never use a range setting of 50.
Thank you for your easy to understand explanation. I have had my 436 for about a year and really like it. Also bought the optional GPS, really neat on a long trip as I hear one system drop out and another picks up. Admittedly I am not fully up on the radio. Not stupid but sometimes I just need a simple step by step, but now in the digital age, that ain't gonna happen.
Amazing how far the hobby has come. I still have a new in box Realistic 8 channel handie scanner which also covers civ vhf air.