Should I upgrade scanner or be patient?

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ryradio

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Im just getting back into turning the scanner on at night. Nothing special for sure, I have a basic Radio Shack 2018 tabletop model with the radio shack telescopic antenna upgrade that replaced a similar model I had for many years. I can pull in my general area up to about 20 miles (estimate) in an analog untrunked area well I guess I am getting everything I could pull in without an external antenna.

I been thinking of upgrading equipment though. Short of buying a digital trunked scanner which is not pratical at the moment, how much improved reception/distance do you think I will see with a new analog scanner without an outdoor antenna??

Ive been thinking of buying a trunked analog hand held but I am concerned if that will be an upgrade or not or will become obsoulete (if? when?) my local municipalities go digital. If that occurs should I be looking into external antenna options before slapping down 400-500 on a decent scanner?

Any advice is much appreciated.
 

kfrankallied

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I think if your getting everything in your listening area with the scanner you have I would wait until you have to put down the big money for digital.
 

N8IAA

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Are you sure that your county hasn't gone digital on the Indiana Safe-T system? Lake has multiple Digital TG's on the state system, and no analog. I would suggest that you ask your question in the Indiana state forum further down the forums page for a more accurate answer:)
HTH,
Larry
 

ryradio

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I asked around over there too. As far as I can tell only two towns and the state police have gone digital, I pulling in the channels listed in the database but perhaps I am missing something.

I am kinda confused in the whole matter really so I appreciate any specific information on the change to trunked digital or my initial inquiry about upgrading.
 

pjtnascar

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Save your money. If want the handheld for mobile use then upgrade to an inexpensive analog handheld. They sell for less than $100. If you're getting everything you need on your existing one, it seems like a waste to buy a new one. Wait until the systems in your area go digital.
 

KD0LDK

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Don't fix it if it isn't broken ;). I agree with the guys above, stick it out with that one. If it works for you, hang onto it and await a new system to be installed before getting a new scanner.
 

N8IAA

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I asked around over there too. As far as I can tell only two towns and the state police have gone digital, I pulling in the channels listed in the database but perhaps I am missing something.

I am kinda confused in the whole matter really so I appreciate any specific information on the change to trunked digital or my initial inquiry about upgrading.
As other posters have said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you want to go portable, there are plenty of HH scanners that will work for you. If you want to hear only your county's frequencies, you can get a scanner that has CTCSS/DCS in it. These allow you to set the frequencies for your county using the tones listed in the RR database. But, I would also say, that saving up for the next generation of digital scanners might be prudent if you have no interest in the statewide system:)
HTH,
Larry
 

talkpair

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Right now, many agencies are changing and scrambling to meet the 2013 narrow band mandate.

After that, things will probably settle down to where they'll only make changes due to maintenance problems or to get rid of aging equipment before it becomes a problem.

I would agree with everyone else here and cross the digital bridge when you get to it....and only then if it's known that communication is 'in the clear'.
 

ryradio

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Thanks guys, if it aint broke is a good way of thinking about it....

So if this is FCC mandated, a new scanner WILL be by no later than 1/13. whether that means trunked analog scanner or digital depending on the decision of the local municipalities.
 

pjtnascar

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For what it's worth...My mom was looking to get a scanner to listen to her local police department. I told her when I found one cheap, I'd get it for her. She was willing to buy a new one at the shack, but I have a habit of finding cheap analogs at garage sales. I found a nice 200 channel analog Radio Shack tabletop model (forget the model number.) She was excited and searched the frequency for her local PD only to find out they had gone Digital and ENCRYPTED! At least she is having fun listening to the other departments in the area. My only guess is the town went encrypted to try to hide the rising criminal activity in the area. Not bad for five bucks investment, but too bad about the encryption.
 

ryradio

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Encryption! thats something I havent even considered.... so hobby scanners are actually getting shut out in this case? Is that common?
 

rwier

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....Should I upgrade scanner or be patient? .................Any advice is much appreciated.
Well, for some it may come down to "When is your appointment with the Undertaker?", lol. Personally, nearing 72 yrs, I want "The Scanner to End All Scanners", and I want it yesterday!
 

Ed_Seedhouse

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There was an article in Monitoring Times (or was it Popular Communications?) last month explaining just how dodgy P25 encryption is and how easy to jam and force the users to use unencrypted channels. My local service (CREST) uses p25 down around 150 mhz and the audio quality is lousy and lots of even the unencrypted channel transmissions get scrambled (the dispatchers even have a name for it, they call it getting "bonked" and are constantly asking for repetitions). Also it's easy enough to forget to flip the encryption switch and you often hear some pretty interesting stuff I don't imagine they really wanted to be public.

I suppose one day they'll all go to spread spectrum and we'll all be out in the cold. :-(
 

ryradio

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The possibility of encryption sure hampers my plans.

Analog/Digital aside.... I assume I am an only as good as my antenna setup. Is buying a 400 dollar digital receiver overkill when you dont have an outdoor antenna and would be limited to the rubber duck or a homebrew indoor antenna?
 

Ed_Seedhouse

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Analog/Digital aside.... I assume I am an only as good as my antenna setup. Is buying a 400 dollar digital receiver overkill when you dont have an outdoor antenna and would be limited to the rubber duck or a homebrew indoor antenna?
Well, modern scanners are pretty damn sensitive even with their built in antennae, my GRE800 with the standard 4" ducky gets five bars on a two meter ham repeater on a mountain 50 miles away, if I get it in the right spot. The local police system runs on about 5 antenna farms on various local thousand foot hills and makes five bars pretty well anywhere in town.

A better ducky gets better results, and you can get them mail order for fifteen or twenty extra bucks. I bought an 8" flexible one made by Watson and it is a nice cheap improvement over the bog standard 4" ducky the scanner came with. With a bit more you can get a longer one if you don't mind looking dorkish waking around town with a 16" antenna sticking up, and it will do even better.

If you don't need wide band you can make your own antennae on the cheap from parts available at local stores. I spent a hundred and fifty bucks on a wide band base antenna and I have it in my second floor bedroom with a 75 ohm co-ax running downstairs to where I normally sit my scanner when I'm home and I can get a nice full quieting signal from a mountain in Vancouver 75 miles from my home on southern Vancouver Island.

But before I had that I shortened a cheap twin lead fm folded dipole to 19" per side, connected it through a four to one TV type balun to some coax and stuck it vertically to the backyard fence and ran coax along the ground to my scanner inside. It involved a lot of black vinyl electricians tape and worked pretty darned well on two meters and only the coax cost any real money.

Even though the theoretical impedance of the scanner jack is 50 ohms a 75 ohm coax works just fine (though you'll need an adapter for the jack on the scanner) and they are easier to get hold of and actually have less loss for longer runs despite the theoretical impedance mismatch. If your neighbours don't complain about an 8 foot vertical on your roof you can get even more distance.

But the ducky that comes with any scanner you buy is going to be enough for anything reasonably local. It might even be better if your local services are up over 800 mhz. A quarter wavelength for resonance at 800 mhz is only four inches long.
 

N8IAA

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The possibility of encryption sure hampers my plans. Don't let it. I have multiple analog/digital systems in my immediate area. Only my county has encrypted the PD's and SO TGID's. All the rest are in the clear. Including any conventional analog and P-25.

Analog/Digital aside.... I assume I am an only as good as my antenna setup. Is buying a 400 dollar digital receiver overkill when you dont have an outdoor antenna and would be limited to the rubber duck or a homebrew indoor antenna?
I have no outdoor antennas for my scanners. I use magmount antennas on a 4 drawer file cabinet (the ground plane). Rubber ducks on two of my HH scanners for local trunked systems.

As I said in an earlier post, wait until the next generation of scanners come out, or until you find out that what you monitor locally goes digital. Then find out what you need to listen. If an inexpensive analog scanner works, get one:)
Larry

 

pjtnascar

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In my opinion, you would do much better upgrading your antenna rather than upgrading your antenna. I have had good luck with a magnet mount mobile antenna on a heater or cake pan, and I do very well with the Radio Shack 20-176 scanner antenna mounted outside. It is not that big or noticeable, but it works well and is relatively cheap ($30.00 or so). The homemade dipoles and such also work well if positioned properly in a window.
 
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