What is the Best Scanner to buy for a Newbie

pjmitch

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Jun 29, 2010
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7
Location
So. Cal
Hello, new to the forum. I had a scanner as a kid, and want to get back into it. I am a Ham so I'm not a total rookie but I just haven't used a scanner in a while and mine is old and tired.

Looking for advice on purchasing a home based (not portable) scanner. I don't mind spending some money but I don't want to overbuy for my needs either. So scanner nation, what is the best scanner on the market for the money? Thanks for your help.

Pete
 

trap5858

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What do you want to listen to? Many public safety frequencies are now on trunked systems and many are encrypted meaning you can't listen to them even if you wanted to. Air, railroad and marine are still pretty easy catches depending on your location. Check out the database for your state and city and see who and what is out there and if it is transmitted in the clear. If you don't mind spending the money get the Uniden SDS200- that would take care of your current and possibly future needs. It is the latest generation of programmable scanner on the market. A solid buy!
 
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CT
Looking for advice on purchasing a home based (not portable) scanner
Here is a list of Base scanners for your review:

I like the 996P2. It's reliable - has no bugs and receives great. It's reasonably priced.

The top-of-the-line SDS200 is the most recent scanner design and is recommended if you live in an area that has Simulcast Distortion issues.

Good luck!
 

Hit_Factor

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Saint Joseph, MI
I could give more detail, but So. Cal is a big place. With these examples I bet you can figure it out what you can monitor. This site has a lot to offer.

Here are Orange County DB Pages


If you see a E in the mode column, it's encrypted. DE=Digital Encrypted

Sheriff

Fire

For Public Safety you would need a digital mode P25 capable scanner.

Lot's of businesses use DMR and NXD digital modes. Medium to small business uses UHF analog a lot.

I have a couple Uniden SDS100, Unication G5 P25/DMR, and a Icom R30. Over the years I've had the Radio Shack, GRE, Whistler (Bought out GRE). Uniden SDS 100/200 is the only scanner for Simulcast. The Unication is a pager, it monitors just 1 system at a time, it is designed for Public Safety and it works very well, but it isn't a scanner.

73 K8HIT
 

jonwienke

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Looking for advice on purchasing a home based (not portable) scanner. I don't mind spending some money but I don't want to overbuy for my needs either. So scanner nation, what is the best scanner on the market for the money? Thanks for your help.
If money is a secondary concern, the SDS200 is the obvious choice. It's the most capable scanner on the market, and is the only base/mobile scanner that will handle simulcast. The 536 is also very good, except on simulcast systems, and uses the same programming software as the SDS200. If there are no simulcast systems in your area, the 536 is a great choice.
 

pjmitch

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Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
7
Location
So. Cal
What do you want to listen to? Many public safety frequencies are now on trunked systems and many are encrypted meaning you can't listen to them even if you wanted to. Air, railroad and marine are still pretty easy catches depending on your location. Check out the database for your state and city and see who and what is out there and if it is transmitted in the clear. If you don't mind spending the money get the Uniden SDS200- that would take care of your current and possibly future needs. It is the latest generation of programmable scanner on the market. A solid buy!
What do you want to listen to? Many public safety frequencies are now on trunked systems and many are encrypted meaning you can't listen to them even if you wanted to. Air, railroad and marine are still pretty easy catches depending on your location. Check out the database for your state and city and see who and what is out there and if it is transmitted in the clear. If you don't mind spending the money get the Uniden SDS200- that would take care of your current and possibly future needs. It is the latest generation of programmable scanner on the market. A solid buy!
Thanks for the reply. I gather from your response and some others that the days of listening to the Police and Fire have either disappeared or been greatly minimized. That may minimize my interest. I will do some dogging into what is available in my area (South Orange County, CA) and see if I can find some things that are available that would prompt me to make a purchase. Thanks
 

pjmitch

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
7
Location
So. Cal
Here is a list of Base scanners for your review:

I like the 996P2. It's reliable - has no bugs and receives great. It's reasonably priced.

The top-of-the-line SDS200 is the most recent scanner design and is recommended if you live in an area that has Simulcast Distortion issues.

Good luck!
Thank you so much. I will check both of those out
 

pjmitch

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
7
Location
So. Cal
I could give more detail, but So. Cal is a big place. With these examples I bet you can figure it out what you can monitor. This site has a lot to offer.

Here are Orange County DB Pages


If you see a E in the mode column, it's encrypted. DE=Digital Encrypted

Sheriff

Fire

For Public Safety you would need a digital mode P25 capable scanner.

Lot's of businesses use DMR and NXD digital modes. Medium to small business uses UHF analog a lot.

I have a couple Uniden SDS100, Unication G5 P25/DMR, and a Icom R30. Over the years I've had the Radio Shack, GRE, Whistler (Bought out GRE). Uniden SDS 100/200 is the only scanner for Simulcast. The Unication is a pager, it monitors just 1 system at a time, it is designed for Public Safety and it works very well, but it isn't a scanner.

73 K8HIT
Thanks for the info and you were spot on with Orange County as that is where I live.
 

pjmitch

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Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
7
Location
So. Cal
If money is a secondary concern, the SDS200 is the obvious choice. It's the most capable scanner on the market, and is the only base/mobile scanner that will handle simulcast. The 536 is also very good, except on simulcast systems, and uses the same programming software as the SDS200. If there are no simulcast systems in your area, the 536 is a great choice.
Thanks for your reply. It wasn't as much as a "money is no object" thing as it is a what is the best bang for the buck for a new beginner getting back into it. Thanks
 

jonwienke

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Thanks for your reply. It wasn't as much as a "money is no object" thing as it is a what is the best bang for the buck for a new beginner getting back into it. Thanks
Both the 536 and SDS200 both offer a simple basic mode of operation: turn it on, update the database and firmware, enter a zip code, tell the scanner the categories of stuff you're interested in, and listen.

But you can deep dive into the settings to refine what you listen to, as you get more comfortable with the radio.
 

pjmitch

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
7
Location
So. Cal
Both the 536 and SDS200 both offer a simple basic mode of operation: turn it on, update the database and firmware, enter a zip code, tell the scanner the categories of stuff you're interested in, and listen.

But you can deep dive into the settings to refine what you listen to, as you get more comfortable with the radio.
I like the sound of that, it sounds easy. I like easy!
 

wtp

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Apr 3, 2008
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Port Charlotte FL
you might want to check the exact stuff you want to hear, many talkgroups are encrypted and you won't hear them.
you could post the system you want to hear.
 

paulmohr

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Adrian MI
Like you said, there some issues with the scanning hobby in this age. For one a lot of areas are going encrypted, which I guess is cool for them, but not so much for us lol. The other issue I see in my area is they really don't use their radios a lot anymore. Most of the information they get is on their in car computer or via a cell phone. In my area they still use dispatch and radio to get sent to calls, like homes and accidents and stuff. And run the occosional plates and stuff. But most of the information they are getting is over the computer. The state police in my area pretty much just log in and out for shifts and that is about all you hear on the radio most of the time. Possibly if something serious goes down they use the radios to communicate. But where I live car chases and stuff don't happen very often.

Something else to consider since you live in California is just using a streaming service to monitor them. RR has its own streaming and many people stream feeds from popular areas. You could listen to that via your computer, stereo reciever or phone and it is pretty much free. Maybe join up as a premium member to help them offset the costs if you want to. I used to live in southern California and live in Michigan now. I often use the streaming service to listen to that area when I get bored or something. I used that for quite a while before actually buying a scanner. However for my rural area no one streams it so I had no choice but to buy a scanner if I wanted to listen locally. However in your area there a lot of choices in streaming options.

The down side is the streaming is on a slight delay and if something serious happens they cut the feed for legal and safety concerns. That being said the streaming option is a good way to listen for a while to see if it is something you want to invest the money into. A decent scanner isn't what I would call cheap, then again most hobbies aren't lol.
 

buddrousa

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NW Tenn
What all new people to the hobby need to learn and answer these questions.
1. What is it you want to hear? (Police, Fire, EMS, what is the range you expect (how far do you want to hear)?
2. Where are you located?
3. What is your budget?
4. Do your homework What Type Systems are in use in your area. (P25, DMR, NXDN, SIMULCAST, TRUNKING)?
5. How technological savvy are you?
6. Do you want a Base Mobile or Handheld?
7. Do you understand BASIC COMPUTER COMMANDS (DOS COMMANDS)?
8. If needed can you put up your own outside antenna?
9. If you require assistance PLEASE LIST
A. Where you are.
B. What type Scanner you have.
C. How you are trying to program it (by hand or Software and IF BY SOFTWARE WHAT BRAND AND VERSION.
D. What problem you are having.
Answering all the above questions will give you the best option to buy the scanner that best works in your requirements and get you the best assistance from the members here.
There is not 1 member here that can answer a question posted this way. MY SCANNER DOES NOT RECEIVE.
 
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