Scanner vs. Ham Radio vs. Professional Radio

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fmulder13

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What do you all think the difference in terms of reception would be between a scanner, ham radio, and professional radio on the VHF band? My inclination is to say that a pro radio would receive best, followed by a ham, followed by a scanner, but how noticeable is the difference?
 

bassmkenk2508

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I would think it is all in the antenna used. A sorry antenna yields sorry reception -- first line of defense, one could say.

Of course how well the receiving end on the radio is built has to do with it too, but, I, as most people on here would agree ( I would guess), the antenna makes the key difference.
 

fmulder13

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And I would definitely agree there. Now what do you think about things like audio, scanning speed, etc.

I guess I'm having trouble figuring out what separates a pro radio from a ham radio in terms of performance...
 

n2mdk

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I think the biggest difference is the way they handle overload, spurious emissions, and things like intermod.
Most modern ham equipment especially HTs are made for a much wider range of receive making them more prone to picking up these types of things. Since commercial/pro radios are made for a select portion of the spectrum they can have better selectivity, sensitivity, and rejection of what you don't want.
 

W4KRR

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What do you all think the difference in terms of reception would be between a scanner, ham radio, and professional radio on the VHF band? My inclination is to say that a pro radio would receive best, followed by a ham, followed by a scanner, but how noticeable is the difference?
If you're talking about audio quality, I would say there's not much difference. In terms of rejection of interference and intermod, I would say professional equipment wins out there.

Now many people will tell you that professional equipment will receive better (sensitivity) than a scanner, but my mobile BCD996T regularly receives transmissions that my Motorola JT-1000 misses; the JT-1000 is mounted in a MTVA adapter with an external antenna.
 

zz0468

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There is a substantial difference between a scanner and both a professional radio and an amateur radio. The biggest difference between commercial and amateur gear today isn't performance so much as it is mechanical construction. The single biggest performance flaw in scanners is the poor phase noise performance of the synthesizer. Thats why even strong signals never quite fully quiet the receiver.
 

Grog

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But you can't be a motosnob without a /\/\ :roll:



























Be right back, have to switch batteries on my HT1000 :D
 

LEH

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Pro radios (after antenna) are probably the better of the radios. They are either designed for a very specific area of a band or may be tuned to receive best on the frequencies they use.

While I was in the Air Force, I had access to a signal generator in the radio shop. I took a crystal controled scanner that I was using to monitor our flight line maintenance. Our frequencies were 30.1 and 30.2 MHz. The scanner reception was about 3 microvolts. I ordered a maintenance sheet and tuned the scanner down to .6 microvolts. I could actually hear things, but still nowhere near what the pro radios could pick up.

Amatuer would be next. Again, though the broader the reception range, the lower the sensitivity and such might be, but still better than a scanner. Though newer scanners (the PSR 500) seem to be getting more sensitive (at least on the most commonly used areas).

This of course is just my two cents worth.
 

Highpockets

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Pro radios (after antenna) are probably the better of the radios. They are either designed for a very specific area of a band or may be tuned to receive best on the frequencies they use.

While I was in the Air Force, I had access to a signal generator in the radio shop. I took a crystal controled scanner that I was using to monitor our flight line maintenance. Our frequencies were 30.1 and 30.2 MHz. The scanner reception was about 3 microvolts. I ordered a maintenance sheet and tuned the scanner down to .6 microvolts. I could actually hear things, but still nowhere near what the pro radios could pick up.

Amatuer would be next. Again, though the broader the reception range, the lower the sensitivity and such might be, but still better than a scanner. Though newer scanners (the PSR 500) seem to be getting more sensitive (at least on the most commonly used areas).

This of course is just my two cents worth.
I throw you 2 more cents, keep going sounds interesting. :)
 

KC0QNB

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Think of it this way, you have a stereo in your house does, everything CD, cassette, AM/FM, all in one box, your neighbor has an amplifier, a cassette deck, a cd player and an AM/FM receiver all in separate boxes which system would you think would work better?
I agree that the pro radio would work better, followed by the ham rig, then the scanner.
I also agree you can have $500 scanner and a $10 antenna what do think would happen?
My guess is your $500 scanner would work no better than a $100 scanner, then you would be mad as hell.
A system is only as good as it's weakest part.
 

dkostrey

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Let's put it this way:

A $2000 pro radio, or a $200 ham rig. Which would work better?
 

Tommahawk

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Let's put it this way:

A $2000 pro radio, or a $200 ham rig. Which would work better?
What are you using as your common denominator?

IMHO

Depends....I have used Commercial gear that quite frankly wasn't anywhere near the quality of the Amateur Radio, especially in the construction. On the other half I have used Amateur Radio gear that was overloaded by Intermod while the commercial gear stayed quiet.

I prefer a VX-5 or VX-7 over Icom and Kenwood handheld models, but Motorola Gear tends to be a much higher quality in most cases.

However it also depends on the antenna. You could have a $3,000.00 Motorola XTS5000 that doesn't pick up anything, or a Amateur Radio that picks up everything. Yes it also depends on the quality of the antenna.

I have seen a low silhouette Maxrad antenna outperform a 5/8 gain antenna just because of the way it was grounded....

Anything is possible...
 

prcguy

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Using the Motorola Saber series as a reference, you will not find a scanner that will even come close to audio quality and outright volume without distorting. There are a few Yaesu's that come close in audio but the amateur radios can't come close to the Saber for operation in high RF environments. For example, I tried using FRS, then several amateur handhelds for tower work on a busy mountain top repeater site. The only radio that worked on the entire hill was the Saber. I could see the person I was talking to 60ft bellow me on the other radios but communication was absolutely impossible on anything but the Saber. How bad is that when you can't talk 60ft with a 4w radio?
prcguy
 

N9JIG

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Which receives better, a scanner, ham rig or pro radio?

All other things being equal (antenna, location etc.) the scanner is usually more sensitive but more prone to interference such as adjacent channel, overload and intermod than the others.

The pro radios (Motorola, Kenwood etc.) are usually the best at rejecting most interference sources but at the cost of some sensitivity and flexibility.

Ham rigs often are better receivers than scanners and give enough flexibility in programming to make them worthwhile as alternatives.

I have had a succession of each and while occasionally one stands out, you can usually bet on this.
 

jim202

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Maybe we need to put this conversation back into the shoes it belongs in. If you all recall the cellular
people are being blamed for the 800 MHz rebanding. Most of the blame has fallen onto the Nextel
cell sites. But wait, what has caused this?

Back in the good old days when Motorola, GE, RCA and others were making comercial (public
safety) mobiles and portables, the frequency spread these radios needed to cover was limited.
Along came the new non frequency controlled radios and they now covered a much broader
range of frequencies. Along with this came the new Motorola and others marketing trend to
cut the cost of building this new generation of radios.

Something had to give in these new radios and it was at the expense of receiver selectivity
and intermod rejection. This had the effect of the receivers not being able to reject the near
channel strong signals. What took place was to put the blame on the cellular companies.
Are the cellular companies totally to blame? Not really. The move to make the new radios
better actually made them worse.

To answer you original question is not easy. It depends on who made the radio and what
it is designed for. In general, most of the new radios in commercial service service today
really suck for intermod and adjacent signal rejection. Are the ham radios better? Again
it would probably be answered as to what they are and what they do.

In general, I would rather have a limited coverage radio made 10 or 15 years ago, than
most of the poorly designed radios we have today. It may mean using more radios to
cover the required channels, but you will end up with much better performance.

Jim
 

af5rn

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I would think it is all in the antenna used. A sorry antenna yields sorry reception -- first line of defense, one could say.

Of course how well the receiving end on the radio is built has to do with it too, but, I, as most people on here would agree ( I would guess), the antenna makes the key difference.
To a certain extent. I have run side-by-side tests with my BCD996T and a Motorola HT1550XLS handie-talkie. The 996 was hooked up to a high gain, single band antenna on a mag mount on the centre of the car roof. The signal from Dallas Police in my driveway (thirty miles away) was weak and staticy. Standing right beside that car with the HT, using only a short rubber duckie, the same channel was perfectly loud and clear. And that Motorola HT cost pretty close to the same as the scanner does brand new.

Don't let anybody BS you about a professional radio making no difference. A couple people here have a real chip on their shoulders about scannists using professional radios, and want to call you all sorts of names and make disparaging remarks about your masculinity for it. I don't know exactly what their psychological issues are, but the truth is that radio quality makes a significant difference, especially urban environment. And as cheaply as used radios are available, they're even cheaper than a new scanner, so if quality reception is important to you, it's absolutely worth it to use them.
 

kb2vxa

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Well Fox once again I seem to be the only one who knows there's another KISS besides loud guitars and grease paint. A simple answer to your simple question is;
1) Generally speaking you are correct in how well they receive signals and reject interference.
2) Three types of receivers worlds apart in terms of function so don't try comparing apples to oranges to tomatoes.
 

bassmkenk2508

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Besides my initial reply, all I can say is -- functionality. "What is it you are wanting to monitor and are there special/extra features you desire?" From there one can begin to get more specific in terms of noise, because we all know (from our own experience, mostly) if it doesn't have a certain feature or two, we won't bother considering it. (I know I am like that sometimes :D ).

But from the sound of it, you seem to maybe want to pull in some distant transmissions, given that you 'signal' (no pun intended, maybe) towards conventional frequency stations, so, special features leaning to scanning may not be an issue, just clarity on the audio side and sensitivity.

Sorry, its late and I'm brainstorming erratically.

73
 

zz0468

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...Three types of receivers worlds apart in terms of function so don't try comparing apples to oranges to tomatoes.
No, it's like comparing apples and bananas. They aren't even really the same shape.
 

zz0468

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All other things being equal (antenna, location etc.) the scanner is usually more sensitive...
This is quite a departure from what I've ever measured. Scanner sensitivity is HORRIBLE, especially when compared to a piece of commercial gear. I'm finding that current production amateur gear is on a par with commercial gear, at least as far as sensitivity is concerned. Some will even match it in terms of interference rejection.

But I've never seen a scanner that I would classify as 'more sensitive'.
 
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