Noob looking for scanner suggestions, Harford County

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baadbobby

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Apr 5, 2012
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Bel Air, MD
I live in Bel Air, would like to have a handheld for car and home use. I would like to monitor HCSD, MSP (Barrack D, JFK, Aviation), Bel Air PD, Aberdeen PD, HdG PD, all Harford Co fire/EMS. What type of scanner do I need to accomplish all of this, entry level? I have not had a scanner since the late 1980's, please go easy on me, I'm smart but way out of the loop.

Thanks in advance.
 

ka3jjz

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Jul 22, 2002
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Bowie, Md.
The Harford county trunk will have most of this - except MSP JFK barracks and Aviation - here are our 2 links for the area, conventional first, then trunk (anything in blue is a link)

Harford County, Maryland (MD) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

Harford County Trunking System, Bel Air, Maryland - Scanner Frequencies

A digital scanner will be required to hear the Harford trunk - however note that anything with a mode of E is encrypted - no scanner will hear these.

There are 3 which are probably much easier to use for someone that's starting off after being away for so long - the Uniden Home Patrol, GRE PSR-800 and the RS PRO-18. Our wiki articles on these radios are below...

HomePatrol-1 - The RadioReference Wiki

PSR-800 - The RadioReference Wiki

Pro-18 - The RadioReference Wiki

The Home Patrol radio isn't really a handheld per se, but with the right mount it should work just fine in a car...

MSP operations are typically simplex in nature, which means the little stubby antenna that comes with these radios will be OK for the 800 mhz stuff, but little else (the exception MIGHT be the SHA repeater on 151.04, which rebroadcasts MSP JFK and is widely heard - but the audio isn't always very good...). So your next order of business is an antenna - both for the car and home. Can you put something up outdoors?

As for a mobile antenna, you'd need something that works on quite a wide range of freqs - that's not easy to do - most mobile antennas are a compromise on one or more bands. For example Larsen makes a VHF/UHF/800 mhz antenna that would work OK, but not great, on VHF Low. The Austin Spectra is expensive but does work on VHF low as well as 800 (it's much better on 800 - it's only 2 foot high, so VHF lo performance isn't really it's strong suit, but it does work..). Here's our wiki on scanner antennas...

Scanner Antennas - The RadioReference Wiki

We have separate forums for GRE, RS and Uniden scanners as well as for Scanner Antennas - be sure to do a bit of research and look around in our wiki...

HTH...Mike
 

baadbobby

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Apr 5, 2012
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Bel Air, MD
Awesome info, thanks!

I can put an antenna on my roof, don't really want to, but I can. I assume regular co-ax cable would work?
 

ka3jjz

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Bowie, Md.
Hardly. The problem is that as you go higher in frequency, the loss increases. At 800 mhz, any appreciable length will really attenuate the signal. There is a coax loss chart or two listed in our scanner antennas wiki (the link for which was given earlier). A good place to buy from is the RF Connection in Gaithersburg. I've bought coax assemblies from them in the past, and while they're a bit pricey, you get what you pay for.

Keep in mind that the higher the antenna (clear of obstructions such as trees and such), the better the antenna (and coax- always consider this a system, rather than individual parts) will perform. Be aware, though that if you buy the PSR-800, that GRE radios do have a tendency to overload - so don't go overboard with the antenna. Once again our scanner antennas wiki has a number of links to help you out. A ScanTenna will probably work quite well for you - it's not all that terrific on 800, but that actually might be an advantage, depending on whether you're near any cell sites (and these days, who isn't, hi)

Mike
 

baadbobby

Newbie
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Apr 5, 2012
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3
Location
Bel Air, MD
If I were to put an antenna up, it would be on my roof peak, aprox 25' above ground level, no obstructions. I live within 0.5 mi of 2 cell towers.
 

bmyos

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Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
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Location
Montgomery County MD
If you haven't already made your purchase or made up your mind, I'll chime in once.

I purchased my first set-up last October - having zero prior experience. Everything above is good advice.

For me, it was the antennas that made the difference.

I purchased a portable 800Mhz antenna ($30)

https://www.scannermaster.com/800_MHz_2_5db_Gain_Professional_Portable_Antenna_p/14-540714.htm

and I purchased a "tri-band" antenna with a magnetic base as a second option (~$50).

https://www.scannermaster.com/Scan_Force_Mobile_Antenna_p/25-541147.htm

I have the portable, frequency specific option, and the somewhat portable (stick on the car, in the back seat, set on a windowsill, magnet to the ceiling vent near the window, carry to your inlaw's house for Thanksgiving) wider range option. I can hear the difference depending on my listening choice. The lower frequencies are heard but not as clear on the 800 antenna; switch-a-roo, and viola!

As far as my scanner, I picked up the GRE PSR 800 - chosen because I don't need to know a thing about programming - just how to work the menus or the computer software. But this is not the cheapest option. You can purchase a less expensive scanner - but I would recommend the dual antennas.
 
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