Scanner: Should I buy or not? Newbie to scanning

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fleef

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Hi all- although I love radio and own many different types of receivers and transmitters, the ONE item I do not own is a digital scanner! I have been putting it off for a long time- one reason was lack of funds, another was the idea I would be investing in an expensive toy.

I know with a digital scanner I can receive police, fire, etc- I am in Arizona, so I'd need an APCO 25 capable (who doesn't these days)

I have enough $$$ right now to get one, but I am so afraid of plunking down more than 4 hundred dollars for such a seemingly novelty item. Are they really worth it? What ELSE will I hear, aside from Police and Fire? Is there a website one can lead me to that has say, a listing of what a person can receive on a scanner? I see database frequency listings here, but what is usually heard listening to a scanner? (As I said, I am in Arizona) I do get a kick out of listening to just about anything, so I don't have any particular preferences. I was thinking of getting my own scanner to hear local PD as opposed to having to use the web to listen to broadcastify.

You scanner owners, do you use it all the time, or did you buy one on a whim and barely use it now? Gosh- I am so scared I will regret spending all this money that I only get once in a while to spend. Thoughts?

also- if there is a website with say, logs of scanners that would be great, I can't find any.

PS I did post this same question on reddit.com/r/amateurradio, that was me. Thanks.
 

w2xq

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I can tell you what prompted me to get back into scanning. A coastal storm took out power for days, and the area media outlets (radio, TV) did not have any information for us in our area of southern NJ. Nadda. More annoyingly, the county ARES-RACES net control and participants couldn't provide any information on power restoration work, roads open or what areas had power. During the summer I also pay attention to the state forest fire service, something of import to us in the woods of the Pine Barrens. The county road department chatter let's me know where road work or plowing is going on. Just food for thought. YMMV.

By the way, the scanner runs at low volume 24/7. My ears perk up when something unusual is happening; excited voices, sirens. Otherwise I ignore the routine traffic.

HTH.
 
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ab8sn

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Digital Scanners

Hi all- although I love radio and own many different types of receivers and transmitters, the ONE item I do not own is a digital scanner! I have been putting it off for a long time- one reason was lack of funds, another was the idea I would be investing in an expensive toy.

I know with a digital scanner I can receive police, fire, etc- I am in Arizona, so I'd need an APCO 25 capable (who doesn't these days)

I have enough $$$ right now to get one, but I am so afraid of plunking down more than 4 hundred dollars for such a seemingly novelty item. Are they really worth it? What ELSE will I hear, aside from Police and Fire? Is there a website one can lead me to that has say, a listing of what a person can receive on a scanner? I see database frequency listings here, but what is usually heard listening to a scanner? (As I said, I am in Arizona) I do get a kick out of listening to just about anything, so I don't have any particular preferences. I was thinking of getting my own scanner to hear local PD as opposed to having to use the web to listen to broadcastify.

You scanner owners, do you use it all the time, or did you buy one on a whim and barely use it now? Gosh- I am so scared I will regret spending all this money that I only get once in a while to spend. Thoughts?

also- if there is a website with say, logs of scanners that would be great, I can't find any.

PS I did post this same question on reddit.com/r/amateurradio, that was me. Thanks.
Hello Fleef

I totally understand how you feel since that is a lot of money to spend! The most important deciding factor is do the agencies you wish to monitor use P25 digital? I believe you mentioned they do so in order for you to get the most out of monitoring you will need one. I have several digital scanners both in the house and the vehicle and use mine all the time. If you are an avid scanner listener you won't regret the purchase. Do make sure before you make the purchase that the agencies you wish to monitor are not encrypted, use MOTOTRBO, NEXEDGE, or OPENSKY since these systems CANNOT be monitored.

Do I think these scanners are worth the price? Not really (especially the handhelds) in my opinion. The handhelds are just not built with the quality they should be. The cases are very fragile and the plastic has a very cheap feel. The mobile/desktop units are built a whole lot better! Also these scanners are complex to program. To cut down on time programming software and a cable is a must!

73s and hope this helps you some

Chad
 

awattam

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Maybe try this...

To the OP,

I am not sure what county you are in but there might be an online scanner you can listen to. Check out Broadcastify which is a sister site to this one or download the scanner radio app for your smartphone. That way you can listen to the local police & fire and see if its interesting to you before you buy.

There is a lot more a scanner can pick up such as taxis, drive thru restaurants, local mall security, etc. When I first spent over $400 on a digital scanner, I had a lot of buyers remorse but then you hear those police, fire and ambulance sirens and you just have to switch it on. I have owned three of them since.

Also, they hold their value well so if you buy one and don't like it, list it one here and I guarantee you'll get a whole chunk of money back. I bought a handheld for $420 and sold it on here pretty quickly a year later for $320.

As has been said before, get the scanner, programming cable and a subscription to this site and youll get to download the frequencies you want. Also if you have problems, youll get all the help you need from the good folks on this site. Some will even send you the files for your county to get your scanner up and running in no time.

One last thing, there's a sale on digital scanners at Ham Radio Outlet until tomorrow.

Good luck
 

awattam

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I agree

Do I think these scanners are worth the price? Not really (especially the handhelds) in my opinion. The handhelds are just not built with the quality they should be. The cases are very fragile and the plastic has a very cheap feel. The mobile/desktop units are built a whole lot better!
I just got a new BCD996xt and its built so well that I have no doubt its going to last me a long time. The BCD396xt I used to have broke in less than 2 weeks at one of the cover screw locations.
 

DJ11DLN

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I have had scanners since the early '80s and my parents had one for years before I grew up & moved out...but I only recently got a digital trunker. And I only did that because of the Radio Shack "fire sale" where they were getting rid of their remaining GRE-built inventory. I had lost the ability to hear most of the law enforcement and much of the other emergency services traffic years back as they moved first to analog trunked systems and then to digital. Money is tight for everyone, and even the $200 it cost me to join the big leagues worried me. That was for absolutely the last Pro-18 I could find within a hundred miles of here. But I have to say that now I wouldn't part with it for twice that amount. After 3 months of hearing the traffic that I'd been missing for all those years, and because of hearing nothing really interesting during that time, having been a lukewarm scannist at best, I'm hooked again, and it's a great feeling to rediscover that enthusiasm. You just have to put yourself into those shoes and decide whether or not it will be worth the investment.

And as awattam pointed out, these digital trunkers do hold their value, so if you discover that it ain't all that much fun after all, you can always recoup most of your investment. Good luck.
 

N8IAA

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Fortunately, GA
Hi all- although I love radio and own many different types of receivers and transmitters, the ONE item I do not own is a digital scanner! I have been putting it off for a long time- one reason was lack of funds, another was the idea I would be investing in an expensive toy.

I know with a digital scanner I can receive police, fire, etc- I am in Arizona, so I'd need an APCO 25 capable (who doesn't these days)

I have enough $$$ right now to get one, but I am so afraid of plunking down more than 4 hundred dollars for such a seemingly novelty item. Are they really worth it? What ELSE will I hear, aside from Police and Fire? Is there a website one can lead me to that has say, a listing of what a person can receive on a scanner? I see database frequency listings here, but what is usually heard listening to a scanner? (As I said, I am in Arizona) I do get a kick out of listening to just about anything, so I don't have any particular preferences. I was thinking of getting my own scanner to hear local PD as opposed to having to use the web to listen to broadcastify.

You scanner owners, do you use it all the time, or did you buy one on a whim and barely use it now? Gosh- I am so scared I will regret spending all this money that I only get once in a while to spend. Thoughts?

also- if there is a website with say, logs of scanners that would be great, I can't find any.

PS I did post this same question on reddit.com/r/amateurradio, that was me. Thanks.
Try asking your question in the AZ state forum, further down the forums page. You can see what has been posted and make your own decisions. Make sure as someone else posted that there is no Phase II, TRBO, and NXDN coming to your immediate area.
I don't think that you will regret spending the money. I have 5 digital scanners, plus a few analog.
If you look here on RR, there is a For Sale forum where you can buy digital scanners rather inexpensive.
HTH,
Larry
 

fleef

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I can tell you what prompted me to get back into scanning. A coastal storm took out power for days, and the area media outlets (radio, TV) did not have any information for us in our area of southern NJ. Nadda. More annoyingly, the county ARES-RACES net control and participants couldn't provide any information on power restoration work, roads open or what areas had power. During the summer I also pay attention to the state forest fire service, something of import to us in the woods of the Pine Barrens. The county road department chatter let's me know where road work or plowing is going on. Just food for thought. YMMV.

By the way, the scanner runs at low volume 24/7. My ears perk up when something unusual is happening; excited voices, sirens. Otherwise I ignore the routine traffic.

HTH.
This is the best answer! That helps me a lot. Also, I notice the resale value on these holds up very well. used go for only like a 100 dollars cheaper than new!

Awesome answer, thanks a lot guys. Yes, I DO know about Broadcastify, I use it often (I am now!) one day we had a big deal, a shooting, and RR cut the feed. Darn, I felt left out.

Appreciate the advice to post to the Arizona forum- I'll post a question there later when I'm not so busy.

Thanks a lot guys, you really helped a lot with the answers. I am going to get one. When (and if I really do decide to after all) I will post which one I got. I promise NOT to get on here demanding "OK I GOT A scanner what do I do NOW HELP I PUSHED A BUTTON HOW DO I GET THIS TO WORK I'M GONNA TAKE IT BACK TO THE STORE WHY DON'T THEY PROGRAM IT FOR THE PRICE I PAY" lolol.

I told my husband, the programmer IT guy of the house that will be his job, to get it programmed and figured out, ha ha. He is not happy hearing that after I showed him how much these things cost.

Anyway a scanner sounds like a fun toy to have around.
 

w2xq

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Good for you. Just make sure you research modes so your scanner of choice can hear the services you want. If I were buying just one scanner, it would be a handheld. Without power, a desk scanner doesn't play nice. :)

Assuming you are getting a digital scanner that can be programmed, do yourself a favor and get (if necessary) the cable and software. Manually programming one of these things is, IMHO, is akin to doing a root canal on yourself. HTH.

Glad my earlier reply helped. HNY.
 

fleef

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Ohh ok, well I did not now the desktops didnt have batt backup (I think the newer one coming out may? whatever I can look it up)

Yes definitely I would want batt power for sure. I've been perusing these scanner forums a while now, a lot of the talk is pure Greek with all the "talkgroups" and so on.

Yes I will for sure do the programming using Windows computer and will buy all the stuff to make it work.

Oh well, hope I don't regret spending that money that doesn't come very often, but if I don't well, I may regret not getting one when i had the chance to either! it's a tough decision, just like any other purchase that is not necessary. Thanks guys I think I got enough advice this totally helps.
 

w2xq

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Re batteries and memory backup, if I understood what you wrote, these are two different things. The latter is a circuit in the radio that retains the programmed scanner memories in the scanner whether powered on or off.

Base/mobile scanners run on AC or 12v DC if installed in a vehicle. If your house loses electric power, you need an alternate power source.

A portable handheld scanner will operate on AA batteries when the house goes out. I normally run my scanner off a wall-wart, or rechargeable AA batteries when carrying the scanner around the house or in the car.

I keep a supply of regular AA batteries in the house to power the scanner, portable radio and flashlights when the electric goes out.

HTH.
 
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