What type of hand held should I get?

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helpisontheway

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Hello, I am a newbie so bear with me. I am looking to purchuse a radio as I am an EMT. Yes I should no exactly what my township is using but I do not. When I ask I get the HA HA from the guys. So I live in New Jersey, Middlesex county to be exact. When it comes to radios I'm as ignorant as someone who has never learned how to change a car headlight. That I can do. So I think we are running VHF or UHF And there has been talk about Digital. Again all of this is like DA! So maybe someone can help me. I am pretty sure that our police Departments are using trunked units. Does that help? All I want is a radio I can listen to whats going on and communicate when I need too. As of now I use the rigs radio all the time and it's not good when you have a patient who needs Paramedics on scene right away and the rig is over 1,000 feet away. A lot of calls are in places where we park and the call could be way down an apartment alleyway. So any help would be thankful and very much appreciated by myself and the people I try to help.
 

N8IAA

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I'm going to make the suggestion that you go to the NJ state forum. Lots of people there to answer the questions about your county.
It has EDACS with ProVoice and analog TGID's. The majority of the system has 'D'igital TGID's that can not be monitored with any scanner currently available.
Your city, if that is all you wish to monitor, will need a scanner that can handle P-25 and analog.
Again, go to your state forum for better info from people in your area.
Welcome to RR. Enjoy.
Larry
 

Tahoe1970

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..... All I want is a radio I can listen to whats going on and communicate when I need too. As of now I use the rigs radio all the time and it's not good when you have a patient who needs Paramedics on scene right away and the rig is over 1,000 feet away. A lot of calls are in places where we park and the call could be way down an apartment alleyway. So any help would be thankful and very much appreciated by myself and the people I try to help.
I'm not sure what you are looking for is actually a scanner which only receives signals but cannot transmit. It sounds more like you might be looking for a handheld radio to communicate with your dispatch. A scanner may allow you to hear what is going on with the PD. FD, & EMS, it will not allow you to communicate with them.
 

n5ims

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My advice would be this. If you're looking for a scanner (receive-only and won't be transmitting) then get a quality one based on what your area uses (conventional/trunking, analog/digital, etc.) - if you don't know then click the Database link on the menu above and click around the country, state, and county to find your agency. Then click the RR WIKI (Category:Radio Models - The RadioReference Wiki) to find a radio that will pick up your agency's signals. Be aware that there may not be a scanner that will if they use encryption or one of the modes that no scanner will pick up currently (like MotoTRBO, OpenSKY, etc.).

If you want to have a radio that will transmit then there's only one place to go, your local agency since you'll need written permission to allow your radio to use their license. Pay attention to that phrase "in writing" since it's important. Your chief may say it's OK, but that won't make it OK. Your mayor may say it's OK, but that won't make it OK. Your buddy in the radio shop may say it's OK, but that won't make it OK either. Written permission from someone that's authorized to grant that permission is what you need. No ifs, ands, or buts. Also you'll need to make sure that the radio you get is type certified by the FCC for the license you'll be using it under. Generally that'll mean Part-90 certification.

OK, the legal stuff is out of the way (the radio police can stand down) so now to the fun stuff, what kind of radio. Well, while you're getting that permission you should ask them what kind of radio since they'll be the ones that know for certain. We can guess (generally educated guesses, but guesses none the less) and may send you in one direction when you really need to go in another (the information our answers were based on may be wrong or may be changing in the next week so we say radio X is best when it will be obsolete for you by the time you get it in). Also, your agency (or more specifically their radio shop) is probably the best folks to program that radio correctly for your system. Talking to them first will allow you to buy a radio that they can program correctly for your system vs. one that will do 95% of what's needed but miss an all important feature that most folks don't use but your agency relies heavily on.
 

mmckenna

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All I want is a radio I can listen to whats going on and communicate when I need too.
So, a couple of things you need to consider before doing this:

1. You will require a license to transmit. Do not assume because you are an employee that gives you automatic authority to program a radio and use it on your employers radio system. It doesn't. You need to have written permission to transmit on their system. They hold the license (or the agency/jurisdiction) and the license holder is in control. Doing this incorrectly can be a career ender.

2. You need to know a number of technical details before you could even begin to do this. If it's digital, you need to know what digital mode they are using. You need to know the frequency band. If they are using trunking, you need to know exactly what type. You need to know all that before even beginning to think about purchasing a radio.

3. Knowing all the above, -before- you buy, you need to find out who is going to program it for you. If it's a trunked system, you will not be able to program it yourself. The trunked system requires a system key to properly program a radio. If you don't have that, or don't have access to someone who has it, STOP, do not proceed, you won't be able to make the radio transmit on the system.

4. If you have all the above taken care of, you need to find the right radio. If you have not purchased a commercial radio before, you really need some assistance here. Too many variables involved, and buying used can be a real gamble.

5. All the above checked off? Then get a radio, but get someone knowledgeable to program it for you. It's really easy to make a mistake. A mistake might mean your radio won't work, it can also mean that you would cause other radios on the system to not work, and that is a serious life safety risk. Again, career ender that can lead to legal trouble.

Best thing to do is to talk to your employer about your needs. Sounds like you have a legitimate need for a portable radio, and they should be providing it to you. They would know exactly what is needed. Doing this right can be really expensive, better to let them pay for it.

Other than all that, consider a scanner if you just need to listen. It'll be cheaper and easier in the long run, but you still need to know frequencies, digital mode (if used), trunking type, etc.
 
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