Recommend Simplest to Use Scanner

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NeedtoKnow2

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I am looking for my first scanner. My criteria include

* The easiest to use/program monitor available
* To monitor local public safety services in a suburban area in Central Florida, Sumter County.

I am computer literate.
 

captclint

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* The easiest to use/program monitor available. I am computer literate.
Need to know whether you want a portable, or a base unit. From what I can see, there are no trunking systems or digital in Sumpter , so a basic scanner is all you need. I consider Bank scanners easier to program than DMA or Object Oriented Scanning . Uniden has announced a full featured bank portable, BC125AT, but it is not available yet. I will wait til you decide which type of unit(Portable or base) you want. The other thing we need to know is whether you are in a rural area, or near any Cell, TV, or Paging towers, or are you in an urban area. Some radios overload with strong signals present.
 
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kg4ojj

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RadioShack has a handful of direct-entry scanners for $100 +/- Digital Scanners & Police Scanners: Radios | RadioShack.com

Since Sumter County has only VHF & UHF frequencies, you'll be able to use nearly any scanner, including a used one. Ham radios make fine scanners and help filter out some of the intermodulation and overloading that Clint described.

However, if you travel much, like to Ocala, you'll need a digital scanner ($300+) to listen in. If that's not your concern, look through the classifieds here for a used VHF-UHF scanner.

For the easiest, that's a Ford/Chevy/Honda discussion....depends on your ease with programming software. Some scanners come with it, some as an option, others not at all. I loved my (antique) 200-channel scanner that I bought 20+ years ago, but it was hand programmable. A pain when I moved to a different town....However, there are various models, including bedside alarm clocks, that are easy to program. Most object-oriented (or DMA) scanners can be difficult to hand program, but it's because they have a number of options, etc. for each "object." See Clint's links for more information.

Bottomline....what's your budget? My GRE PSR-800 is easy to program because it's pre-loaded with the RadioReference database (so is the Home Patrol scanner but I don't own one). However, I've complicated it with custom programming, funky LED light choices, bells/whistles/chimes.....but I did it with the (included) software.
 

NeedtoKnow2

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The scanner should provide the dual purpose of serving as a base station, staying home most of the time, but also be able to take with me if I need to bug out. I would like the capability for it to work at whatever location I happen to be in. And I don't know if Sumter county will go digital/trunking next month or in 5 years. But I do bet they don't stay with older technology for long.

So, I guess my other criteria right after simplicity is flexiblity/adaptability: The ability to home in on whatever signals are in the area.

I was looking at Home Patrol on Amazon. What is that unit's best competition in terms of ease of use and flexiblity/adpatability?

I am going to my first basic ham licensing class tonight. While I want to be able to communicate with others particularly in an emergency situation, I don't want this to become a time consuming hobby. I want it to be a functional hobby that doesn't consume much time but which enables me to monitor what's going on if I need to. I'm assuming my best bet would be a separate scanner and a separate 2-meter transceiver eventually after I get my licnese.
 

NeedtoKnow2

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kg4ojj; Since Sumter County has only VHF & UHF frequencies said:
Just got back from my Technician license class and I was told that The Villages Public Safety/Fire Rescue Dept. recently upgraded to a trunked system. I'm not sure what type of "simple to program" scanners this fact will eliminate.

The Home Patrol is the only one I've seen (based on very little research) that is both simple and adaptable. Is there any competition for this unit based on simplicity and adaptability?
 

hiegtx

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The scanner should provide the dual purpose of serving as a base station, staying home most of the time, but also be able to take with me if I need to bug out. I would like the capability for it to work at whatever location I happen to be in. And I don't know if Sumter county will go digital/trunking next month or in 5 years. But I do bet they don't stay with older technology for long.

So, I guess my other criteria right after simplicity is flexiblity/adaptability: The ability to home in on whatever signals are in the area.

I was looking at Home Patrol on Amazon. What is that unit's best competition in terms of ease of use and flexiblity/adpatability?

I am going to my first basic ham licensing class tonight. While I want to be able to communicate with others particularly in an emergency situation, I don't want this to become a time consuming hobby. I want it to be a functional hobby that doesn't consume much time but which enables me to monitor what's going on if I need to. I'm assuming my best bet would be a separate scanner and a separate 2-meter transceiver eventually after I get my licnese.
The Home Patrol would be one of the easiest to use, and is a digital scanner, capable of handling trunked systems. You simply enter your zip code, or city name, along with your listening preferences, and the scanner will load systems and frequencies in your area. It has the database from this site (RadioReference) loaded in the scanner itself, updated weekly. See the demo here.

A similar 'easy to use' scanner would be GRE's PSR-800. While the method of selecting your location is different than with the Home Patrol (it's menu driven, I believe; I don't have the PSR-800, but do have the Home Patrol), the end result is still getting the systems and frequencies in your area, drawn from the database stored in the scanner. (Both models use memory cars for this, with weekly updates.)

These two would be the easiest, digital capable, trunking scanners, if you're convinced your area will upgrade in the near future. Either would allow for coverage in neighboring areas, or areas you travel to, that had trunked systems. Both run on batteries. The Uniden HP-1 comes with rechargeable batteries, as well as ac & dc adapters. The PSR-800 does not come with batteries or an adapter (it charges from the USB port of the pc, or you can get a separate USB AC adapter (DC ones are available as well).

However, the simpler, non-trunking, scanners that have already been suggested would work in your county for now, at a lower cost, and would let you 'get your feet wet' in scanning, while you wait to see whether your county moves to a more sophisticated system in the next year or two. kg4ojj suggested that you also consider the used scanner market, which I agree is a consideration. (He also has the PSR-800.)
 

N8IAA

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The scanner should provide the dual purpose of serving as a base station, staying home most of the time, but also be able to take with me if I need to bug out. I would like the capability for it to work at whatever location I happen to be in. And I don't know if Sumter county will go digital/trunking next month or in 5 years. But I do bet they don't stay with older technology for long.

So, I guess my other criteria right after simplicity is flexiblity/adaptability: The ability to home in on whatever signals are in the area.

I was looking at Home Patrol on Amazon. What is that unit's best competition in terms of ease of use and flexiblity/adpatability?

I am going to my first basic ham licensing class tonight. While I want to be able to communicate with others particularly in an emergency situation, I don't want this to become a time consuming hobby. I want it to be a functional hobby that doesn't consume much time but which enables me to monitor what's going on if I need to. I'm assuming my best bet would be a separate scanner and a separate 2-meter transceiver eventually after I get my licnese.
Maybe post this question in the Florida state forum further down the forums page? You might get some different answers from those in your area and home state on what you might need for a scanner and to communicate on the ham bands:)
What works in Texas, Georgia, and other states may not be what you need.

HTH,
Larry
 

N8IAA

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The scanner should provide the dual purpose of serving as a base station, staying home most of the time, but also be able to take with me if I need to bug out. I would like the capability for it to work at whatever location I happen to be in. And I don't know if Sumter county will go digital/trunking next month or in 5 years. But I do bet they don't stay with older technology for long.

So, I guess my other criteria right after simplicity is flexiblity/adaptability: The ability to home in on whatever signals are in the area.

I was looking at Home Patrol on Amazon. What is that unit's best competition in terms of ease of use and flexiblity/adpatability?

I am going to my first basic ham licensing class tonight. While I want to be able to communicate with others particularly in an emergency situation, I don't want this to become a time consuming hobby. I want it to be a functional hobby that doesn't consume much time but which enables me to monitor what's going on if I need to. I'm assuming my best bet would be a separate scanner and a separate 2-meter transceiver eventually after I get my licnese.
For your county, you would need a basic dualband 145/440MHz handheld for monitoring public service, along with a basic ham mobile. Then you have portability when out of your vehicle. Best of both worlds:)
I believe the HP-1 to be overload for basic scanning. It was supposedly marketed for the novice scanner newbs. But, with expensive upgrades for the more serious scannerheads. The PSR-800 is the GRE version of the HP-1. Sort of. I have one and it is limited to being dependent, as is the HP-1, on updates in Radio Reference. Make your decision on what will be best for you and your budget.

Larry
 
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Rt169Radio

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captclint

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Just got back from my Technician license class and I was told that The Villages Public Safety/Fire Rescue Dept. recently upgraded to a trunked system. I'm not sure what type of "simple to program" scanners this fact will eliminate.
It would be wise to find out if this system is digital. As stated, check on FL forum, and also FCC licenses for your area. If you need or decide on digital, then HP-1 and PSR-800 are fairly equal except for the 800 overloading with any nearby Cell, TV, page towers. However, it has more of a "portable" footprint. If the new system is not digital, I would not necessarily get a digital for the future. Digital scanners are always improving every other year, and it would take several years for funding and implementation. Get a better digital scanner then.
 

JokeInsurance

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Yes there are good scanners that can be used for base and portable between $70 and $230.The main scanner brands are Radio Shack,GRE,and Uniden.

https://www.scannermaster.com/GRE_Scanners_s/284.htm

https://www.scannermaster.com/RadioShack_Scanners_s/244.htm

https://www.scannermaster.com/Uniden_Scanners_s/267.htm

Thank you for those links. My budget is tight right now which is why I made that unusual price range. And you're saying that I can use them both for base and portable?
 

Rt169Radio

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Thank you for those links. My budget is tight right now which is why I made that unusual price range. And you're saying that I can use them both for base and portable?
Yes most of the scanners from those brands can do used for base (like your place of residence) mobile (in a vehicle) and portable (on your person).
 
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NeedtoKnow2

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Status update...

Well, 2 years later, here is what I ended up with to do double-duty with scanning:

Kenwood TH-F6, programmed to scan the PS agencies in a 3-county area (Sumter, Marion, and Lake) in Florida.

I was surprised that as the propane gas canisters were firing off in Taveres of Lake County, I heard next to nothing from the Lake County FD about an hour after the event began. Maybe the department was just in a "monitoring" mode at that point. Did anyone tune in to that event?

I'm also using the Kenwood TM-D710 as my base unit scanning the same frequencies.

Still considering the Home Patrol for a later addition as interests and technology require.

Thank you for all your helpful comments.
 

SCPD

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In the past several month's there has been changes here in Lake, Sumter and the Viilages. You will need a digital scanner, Lake county fire is clear, all law is encrypted, The Villages Fire switched from Lake County and all Fire and Sheriff is encrypted. See the Florida database for more info, and the Florida forums section, much has been posted to the recent changes over the last several months. As to the propane plant explosion, Lake County fire was very active on my 996xt.
 

robertmac

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"While I want to be able to communicate with others particularly in an emergency situation, I don't want this to become a time consuming hobby". This is not the best use of getting into ham radio. There are too many doing this today. They get their ham license, then never get on the air. Then in an emergency, they do not kow what to do and interfere with others that do and are trying to help in an emergency. The saying, "use it or lose it" applies as well to getting a ham license. If not prepared to do this, stick with a scanner so you can "bug out" [what ever that is]. HP or GRE-800 should be the only ones to look at in these days of narrow band and digital [where encryption has not taken over].
 

lep

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"While I want to be able to communicate with others particularly in an emergency situation, I don't want this to become a time consuming hobby". This is not the best use of getting into ham radio. There are too many doing this today. They get their ham license, then never get on the air. Then in an emergency, they do not kow what to do and interfere with others that do and are trying to help in an emergency. The saying, "use it or lose it" applies as well to getting a ham license. If not prepared to do this, stick with a scanner so you can "bug out" [what ever that is]. HP or GRE-800 should be the only ones to look at in these days of narrow band and digital [where encryption has not taken over].
Amateur radio is not defined by the FCC as an emergency service. Sure, in an emergency amateur radio is often used for communications but it is NOT a real reason for becoming a licensed amateur. I learned how to handle radio communications in the US Army signal corps and then as a MARS operator, I really don't need to practice message handling with my local ARES group. My "thing" is working DX, I have been a licensed amateur for a LONG time, my desire to use radio has nothing at all to do with emergency situations. It is, IMHOP, simply wrong to equate amateur radio with helping in a communication emergency. Some do, fine, good job. I am not personally interested in that aspect of amateur radio, I don't feel Bad about that nor do I consider myself a second class ham. (Actually my Extra class license is from the days when everyone had to prove he could send/receive 20 wpm before a Federal employee, not a volunteer).
 

NeedtoKnow2

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"While I want to be able to communicate with others particularly in an emergency situation, I don't want this to become a time consuming hobby". This is not the best use of getting into ham radio. There are too many doing this today. They get their ham license, then never get on the air. Then in an emergency, they do not kow what to do and interfere with others that do and are trying to help in an emergency. The saying, "use it or lose it" applies as well to getting a ham license. If not prepared to do this, stick with a scanner so you can "bug out" [what ever that is]. HP or GRE-800 should be the only ones to look at in these days of narrow band and digital [where encryption has not taken over].
While it may not be the "best use" or reason for getting into ham radio, it is certainly one of the very good reasons. Too many doing this today? Is there a problem with being equipped and licensed to communicate with other prepared ham friends in your community if there is a disaster in your area? Are you proposing annual proficiency exams to assure that licensed hams have the appropriate skill levels to not be a public nuisance? By not wanting ham radio to be a "time-consuming hobby", I mean that it is not my primary pastime in life, not my primary use of time, and I don't intend to go beyond Technician Class any time soon. It does not need to be "time-consuming" to check in on a couple of nets and make a contact here and there. Ham radio and scanning radio are synergistic hobbies that can add greatly to a family's situational awarwness and provide for alternate means of communications in the LIKELY event phone service craps out during an event. Don't worry, there are enough frequencies out there that we won't clog up the handful used for emergency communications at any particular location.
 
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