Would Appreciate Advice

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Txhunter67

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Good afternoon: I would appreciate the board’s advice on a new scanner that my son and I could enjoy listening to. I also want to teach him awareness and preparedness. I had an old radio shack analog scanner years ago that I would stay up all night sometimes listening to.

That being said- I am needing some advice on where to start for scanners. (before I go any further, I have read these forums off and on for several weeks now to try to learn) I live in Austin; our local PD uses frequencies in the 850 range, and a, I believe, P25 trunking system.
What are some suggestions for a good scanner to start with? It seems like a lot of folks have success with a SDS200. That is great, but I’m looking to spend less initially (though I will still consider the 200).

Thank you in advance. And please post questions if you need more info ( but I’m still kind of a newbie).
 

sfb88

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You may want to check out the audio streams to see if there are any from your area offered. If there are, you can listen for awhile and determine if there is enough interest to warrant the investment in the cost of a scanner and the learning curve involved in setting one up.
 
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hiegtx

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Good afternoon: I would appreciate the board’s advice on a new scanner that my son and I could enjoy listening to. I also want to teach him awareness and preparedness. I had an old radio shack analog scanner years ago that I would stay up all night sometimes listening to.

That being said- I am needing some advice on where to start for scanners. (before I go any further, I have read these forums off and on for several weeks now to try to learn) I live in Austin; our local PD uses frequencies in the 850 range, and a, I believe, P25 trunking system.
What are some suggestions for a good scanner to start with? It seems like a lot of folks have success with a SDS200. That is great, but I’m looking to spend less initially (though I will still consider the 200).

Thank you in advance. And please post questions if you need more info ( but I’m still kind of a newbie).
Welcome to RadioReference, Txhunter.

Austin, and Travis County are on on the GATRRS system. So are a number of other counties in the Central Texas area, in the Rio Grande Valley area, and some counties in west Texas.

Your biggest determining factor, in which scanner to get, is whether simulcast affects you at your location. For GATRRS, in the Austin/Travis County area, you have two Simulcast systems. System 1 is primarily public safety agencies (PDs, the S.O., as other first responders such as Fire and EMS). Simulcast 2 is largely various city & county agencies other than public safety. That would include public works, utilities (such as water and sewer, and Austin Power, among others). See this Wiki page for some additional details.

In a simulcast system, you have a number of transmit sites, all broadcasting the exact same conversations on the same frequency at the same time. That's to ensure coverage in the area, as well as inside buildings. The 'professional' radios carried by users of the system are designed to work with that. Most scanners are not.

Whether that affects you, or not, is very closely related to your location. At your location (whatever that is, in the Austin area), the transmissions from the various transmit sites arrive there, carrying the same conversation, on the same frequency. But, depending on your specific area, they arrive at varying times, Yes, we are talking about very slight time differentials between thes in range for you. But that can be enough that either you can't receive the system at all, with many scanner models. or it tends to be garbled, and missiong some transmisions. If you are very close to one tower, auch as wiithin a quarter mile, that very strong signal can, at times, can be enough that the scanner is not affected by weaker signals, from more distant sites. Or, if you are lucky enough to be where surrounding hills, or maybe a cluster of buildings, blocks enough of the out of synch transmissions that the scanner can handle the system. It can be so location specific that even moving your scanner a few feet in one direction or another, inside your house, can make a difference between not getting the system, to receiving it with few problems. For a more detailed description on Simulcast Distortion, see this page in the Wiki.
Simulcast digital distortion - The RadioReference Wiki

Here is a map of the sites used for Simulcast 1 on GATRRS in Austin & Travis County:
85418
The SDS100 (handheld) and the SDS200 (base/mobile) are the only scanners designed to handle simulcast issues. If you are extremely lucky to be located at a spot, within the city or county, then one of the older, less expensive, models might work. I can't answer that for you, since I am in Dallas. What you might want to do is have your thread moved down to the Texas forum, where someone in your area is more likely to see it. They could then share with you what does, or does not, work for them. To do that, do not create a new thread. Instead, click on the Report in the lower left corner of one of your posts, and request that a moderator move your thread to the state forum.

You may want to check out the audio streams to see if there are any from your area offered. If there are, you can listen for awhile and determine if there is enough interest to warrant the investment in the cost of a scanner and the learning curve involved in setting one up.
There would be plenty to listen to in Austin & Travis County. Very few channels are encrypted. But in Williamson County, just north of you, just about all law enforcement talkgroups are encrypted. No scanner can receive encrypted talkgroups.
 

hiegtx

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Dallas, TX
Greetings.

Here is a listing of scanners for you:


I recommend the 325P2 base model and 325P2 handheld.

They are both current models and will receive Phase II systems.

They're reasonably priced and easy to program using a program like Freescan.

Good luck!
The OPs county definitely has simulcast issues. Unless he has won the 'location lottery', where simulcast is not as much of an issue, neither the 325P2 nor 996P2 would be a good choice.
 

darkness975

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Nov 4, 2016
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816
You may want to check out the audio streams to see if there are any from your area offered. If there are, you can listen for awhile and determine if there is enough interest to warrant the investment in the cost of a scanner and the learning curve involved in setting one up.
I disagree. Audio streams, without getting into all of the other negatives that are recycled on here daily, do not have anywhere near the control or scope of what every individual wants. It is much better to have a real unit that can be programmed the way the user wishes.
 

Txhunter67

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May 24, 2020
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Thank you all very much for your assistance! A wealth of great information in this thread. Sorry for the late reply—I got called into a special project at work searching for funding for extra Covid tests for veterans nursing homes run by my agency. Took a lot of my time.
Wow you guys know a lot! So much information to look up it can be a bit daunting. Thanks again.
 
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