What have I got myself into?

jgiercyk

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Sep 7, 2006
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Greenville, SC
I was a scanner enthusiast back in the early 90s. I had a BC895XLT and used remote control software....I had it going on. Then, life happened and I wound up moving several times, and I got pulled away from the hobby. However, I never parted with my equipment. I've always been an aviation monitor, and a few weeks ago Air Force 2 was flying into an airport a few miles from my house. I dug out my Sony Air-8 and programmed in the local freqs. I followed AF2 from approach to tower to ground, and was even able to tell the neighbors when it was coming and where to look. For the first time in 30 years I followed a flight!! :)

So, I got bit by the monitoring bug again. The local airport has a few commercial flights, but it is the home of the national guard heavy lift helicopters, it serves as a training facility for new pilots, and the new F-16 is going to be built on-site by Lockheed Martin.....long story short, I want in on that! I set up the old BC895XLT, brought up Flightaware and started listening. There are 3 pretty busy airports within 10 miles, and the traffic is only going to increase.

So, here's the deal. I recognize the shortfall of 20 year old technology. I decided to look into getting a new scanner, and the Uniden SDS200 was the cream of the crop....I've worked all these years, I deserve it, right?? (back me up on this). I've read the reviews, I've read the manual, I've watched the YouTube videos, and I pulled the trigger. There's a quantum leap between the BC895XLT and the SDS200, and I'm looking for some advice to help bridge the gap for me. I know radio...I have an amateur license, N2SUB...but I have not been in the monitoring game for 20 years. I see the SDS200 pairs well with ProScan software, and I'll probably go in that direction. I want to get back in the game, monitoring police/fire/EMS/public safety....AND aviation. With the new gear, what are the gotchas? Where is the sharpest learning curve? I kind of like the idea of starting over, but I also have a lot of radio knowledge that could wind up being counter-productive/obsolete. Help an old guy get back in the game...any words of wisdom?? Thank you all!
 

trap5858

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Feb 22, 2003
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Doylestown PA
Hi and welcome back! Take a few deep breaths, you can do this. There is a learning curve but using programming software like ProScan you can't go wrong. If you look through the various topics about each radio and their capabilities you will get a pretty good idea of what is going on. Many report the SDS series is not the best for air band monitoring. Your 895xlt might actually be better but as with any radio set up a decent antenna goes a long way. You will find the most knowledgeable people in the hobby on this site so don't be afraid to ask a question. You will get lots of replies and you just have to try out the suggestions and see what works best for you.

73
 

tvengr

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Feb 10, 2019
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Baltimore County, MD
Welcome back! It would make it a lot easier for us to help if we knew your city, county, and state. It sounds like you could possibly be in Baltimore County near Martin State Airport. I have 2 895's, one of my own and one formerly used by our news department.
 
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trentbob

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Feb 22, 2007
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Bristol, Pa.
Already you're getting some Sage advice. You might actually want to use the 895 for Aviation, I monitor Aviation with my SDS 200 and it does work surprisingly well but if I don't apply ifx to every Aviation frequency it's deaf. That won't be the case for you because it depends on your RF environment, you will end up tweaking the filters on the radio itself while listening to real time results. Check the Uniden Tech forum, I participated in a thread on the proper use of the filters last month, check it out but pace yourself.

I still have my 895 in the Boneyard in the garage, it also does well in aviation and will free up your SDS for fire, police. As has been mentioned a good antenna, preferably a rooftop antenna with good low lost coax is going to make all the difference. I use a 150 450 800 ground plane with lmr400 and it works terrific on aviation I listen to which is basically the 2 News Chopper coordination frequencies and the chopper multicom frequency for my city.

What is your state, county and hometown?
 

marksmith

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Anne Arundel County, MD
As already mentioned, don't get rid of your 895 if you are into vhf air. Its not one of the specialties of the SDS radios, to say the least. For vhf air and about all other vhf, to the extent it is still in use, your 895 is the better radio.

However, for the newer systems, such as digital trunking, and particularly those new systems employing simulcast, only the SDS radios really do the job.

If you are licensed, and have sufficient computer skills to be posting on this site, you will have no problems catching up those 20 years. Take it from someone who used crystals at one point.

Before getting into other software, make sure you master the software used with the radio to update the master frequency list that is from Uniden. Regardless how you proceed after that, you will still need to use that software to update the nationwide frequency database used by the radio periodically.

Its also actually a very powerful choice for creating your favorites lists.

In any case, welcome back, and if you run into questions, the forums on this site are better than any user manual.
 

jgiercyk

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Sep 7, 2006
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24
Location
Greenville, SC
Welcome back! It would make it a lot easier for us to help if we knew your city, county, and state. It sounds like you could possibly be in Baltimore County near Martin State Airport. I have 2 895's, one of my own and one formerly used by our news department.
What is your state, county and hometown?
Thank you all for your detailed responses. I'm pretty good with programming software. I use DMR and DSTAR amateur modes, and if you've ever gotten into that sort of thing, you know there's really no reliable guidance on setting up a system. :) I'm glad to have found this forum.

For now, the antenna I'm using is a hack, but it's working better than expected. It is a mag mount 2m/440 that I put on my rooftop. The scanner is on the second floor, and the feedline that came with the antenna is only 9 feet, and makes it to the back of the scanner with room to spare. I've still got several ground plane antennas and a spool of RG-8 in the garage.....you can tell I never throw anything away. :)

I live in Greenville, SC. I can see the tower of KGHY and KGMU is only a few miles away. KGSP is the international airport, and I can hear the tower there as well, although it's probably closer to 10 miles away. The terrain is flat which helps a great deal. My house is where the red X is. They fly C-130s into KGHY for repair, and they are quite a sight to see when they turn the base leg over my back yard. :) The bulk of the traffic is pilots-in-training, and you can hear the nervousness in their voices.

1605908087744.png

Most emergency services around here use Palmetto 800 system. I'm going to take a crack at programming some of it into the 895, but presumably the SDS200 will make it a breeze. I've already got plans for locating a large discone antenna high and away from houses which will be dedicated to the 200. I'll keep that in my radio shack and use the LAN connectivity to monitor from my office where the 895 is. It's so crazy it just might work. :) Thanks again.
 

trentbob

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Feb 22, 2007
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Bristol, Pa.
PSX_20201120_174223.jpg

As you can see Aviation listening is plentiful for me, I'm at the blue dot. Just south of Trenton New Jersey, I live on the Delaware river that separates Pennsylvania and New Jersey and I mostly listen to all the Choppers. We have three active news Choppers, four active medevacs, Philly and New Jersey state police Choppers and a lot of private carriers. 4 airports at least and Willow Grove air base and McGuire Air Base nearby.

Yeah that VHF UHF mag Mount mobile antenna with its RG58 can't be all that good especially on the 700-800 megahertz LOL, see if you can put the mag mount on a metal cookie sheet or pie dish. Sounds like you have plans to put up something very decent. You might want to rethink the rg8 depending on how long your run is.

There's so much to read here on this site, you have the archives and you have Wiki, if you have any questions you can always search for it on RR or even just Google it and it'll take you to the available threads on that subject. You're actually going to love this website and there are lots of people here to help you. Just use this thread.... Bob.
 

jgiercyk

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Greenville, SC
View attachment 94334

As you can see Aviation listening is plentiful for me, I'm at the blue dot. Just south of Trenton New Jersey, I live on the Delaware river that separates Pennsylvania and New Jersey and I mostly listen to all the Choppers. We have three active news Choppers, four active medevacs, Philly and New Jersey state police Choppers and a lot of private carriers. 4 airports at least and Willow Grove air base and McGuire Air Base nearby.

Yeah that VHF UHF mag Mount mobile antenna with its RG58 can't be all that good especially on the 700-800 megahertz LOL, see if you can put the mag mount on a metal cookie sheet or pie dish. Sounds like you have plans to put up something very decent. You might want to rethink the rg8 depending on how long your run is.

There's so much to read here on this site, you have the archives and you have Wiki, if you have any questions you can always search for it on RR or even just Google it and it'll take you to the available threads on that subject. You're actually going to love this website and there are lots of people here to help you. Just use this thread.... Bob.
I grew up in Parsippany NJ, and that's where the aviation interest began. From my house I could easily pick up EWR, LGA, and sometimes JFK, but also Teeterboro, Caldwell and Morristown. Plus all of the helicopter traffic around Manhatten and North Jersey! There was HF center traffic as well! The scanner never stopped, and I actually had a line-level mixer that fed 4 radios into 1 pair of headphones. :) Just 3 little airports is kind of a vacation from that, but things move a little slower in the south, and we like it that way. Where did you get that map from? Is that a flight tracker?
 

trentbob

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Oh so you're like a city boy and you're familiar with Trenton, the capital of New Jersey. I'm a retired newspaper man from The Trentonian. I'm sure it is a lot nicer where you are now.

Yes this is flight tracker 24 and as you can see it's a lot busier than it was before, you can see all those planes lined up to land at Philadelphia International Airport. I have a chopper in the air but most of the news Choppers are down now. That's a Medevac. I'm under the impression you're using FlightAware which also shows helicopters but I find it to be about 5 minutes behind flight tracker 24 which is right on real time.20201120_194009.jpg

It's pretty cool to follow the police helicopters from hearing the call, hearing them take off from Northeast Philadelphia Airport and then respond to the scene. Lately of course it's been all of the riots and looting. The police and news Choppers coordinate on a specific Aviation frequency and we have a Unicom or multicom umbrella frequency for all helicopters in the Philadelphia metropolitan area who announced their intentions and location, sort of a collision avoidance system. I have a hospital down the street from me with an active Helo pad and the flight path is right over my house so I follow them the whole route. They usually are taking people out for the short ride to all of the Center City Philly hospital rooftop pads. Needless to say I listen to 4 different radios with different types of antennas.

On RR you will often see people's equipment listed in their signature at the bottom of the page. If you're using a cellphone rotate horizontally. I have many many many radios other than what I've listed but... I've been doing this a long long time.

Since this is off topic for this particular thread if I might suggest go to the aviation forum and there is a thread on flight tracking and milcom tracking. You will find it fascinating! As I say, this is a very very cool website for someone like yourself.
 

TailGator911

KF4ANC
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Feb 12, 2005
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2,400
Location
Fairborn, OH
Welcome back to the scanning hobby, and you couldn't have picked a better scanner to do it with. Yes, indeedy, the scanner hobby has changed a LOT in 10 years. But if an old fart like me can learn new tricks, so can you. Not as hard as you think. Repetition, coffee, and lots of patience, you'll get it. Have fun with it and don't be shy about asking questions. We are all here to help because we've all been there.
 

N4DJC

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Apr 24, 2019
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473
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Upstate
There’s plenty of activity, I have an SDS290 and SDS100. I think you’ll find them very easy to program initially with ability to be as complex as you want.

Sentinel and ProScan are a great combo. Get a RR Premium membership, worth every cent.
 

empireco

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Apr 20, 2009
Messages
133
Location
Central Ky
SC is a great place for .Mil monitoring, just make sure you have a scanner that will catch most of where the real .Mil action is,
225-400 in AM Mode and 30 to 88 in NFM Mode.

There's not a bunch of good .Mil air monitoring for your area on this site for your area that I've seen but a guy from Summerville SC I think it is and Stanly Co. NC that post great stuff on the Millradiocomms site all the time that you should have no problem hearing with the right radios and antenas. In my opinion the radio you want is the Uniden BCT15X for .Milair monitoring, I've got 3 of them and they are awesome! Also at around $150 a pop, they are MUCH cheaper than the SDS series.
Check out these pages.

and


I also submit catches on that site from my Central KY. area, welcome back and have fun!
 
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