Author Topic: Portable Scanner  (Read 2587 times)

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Offline WoodsWoman

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Portable Scanner
« on: July 03, 2012, 10:33:50 AM »
Hi guys,  do any of you have or use a portable scanner?    I've been searching for one at ScannerMaster.com.   I'm totally confused.     I dont know the termonology at all.

What I'm looking for is something to alert me to weather, fire, and I would guess police? for weather watchers that sit up on the roads watching the storm ? 

Where I live, a fire to the west of me could block me in here.  I cannot see to the west because of trees so I'd like to be up on weather too.   And for weather, I can only rely on DISH and when cloud cover happens we loose that too.     Our local tv station has just quit its local weather reports.  :(   

And if I have to evacuate this place I want to be able to take the scanner with me.   Or with me to the pit when I take cover.   

I did some searching..  and I'm going to put a link to one I 'think' I found that might fit.   Could you tell me if this is what I'm looking for for what I need/want?

https://www.scannermaster.com/GRE_PSR_120_Scanner_p/30-501795.htm

And if you have the time.. what does 'trunking' 'analog' and digital ?   Are these things something I need too?

WW.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2012, 11:15:03 AM »
Scanners are more complicated to program than they seem. I had a scanner. I spent probably 15 hours over the course of several days programming in channels. But unfortunately times are changing. Government agencies are going to more and more sophisticated radio systems that all but the latest and most expensive scanner technology can keep up with.

If you want to be alerted when there are weather emergencies in your area, a simple weather radio would be best, and for the other possible emergencies, a regular AM radio should get all of the emergency alert system warnings.

There are also a few websites that have live scanner feeds you can listen to for free, where someone else has set up and programmed the scanner saving you the time and expense. There are even some smart phone "scanner" apps that make use of these live feeds so you can listen to scanners on your phone.

Offline Sudz

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2012, 12:47:21 PM »
X2 what PW says. Scanner technology has changed a ton in the past 20 years, not to mention the ways the agencies are communicating on air. Having done a short stint in Emergency Services I still enjoy listening to scanner traffic locally and use an Ipod for such.

Offline greyhound352

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2012, 02:07:12 PM »
I used to use a scanner when I went to nascar races to hear the drivers and crew taking back and forth. The one problem with small handheld units is the antenna, which is not big enough or powerful enough to bring in the far away conversations.

I got into amateur radio a few years ago for this reason of being able to stay connected when the S.H.T.F. and also being a member of the local C.E.R.T. team.

The trunked system is the way most law enforcement / fire department  use there radio systems. The easiest way to describe trunk radio is more conversations going on through a private network that allotted channels. 

The radio you are looking at seems all right here is how I would break it down:

* No local police and fire department radio traffic with it.
* Yes for the local Skywarn operators - people how chase tornadoes and other bad weather.
* Yes to weather emergencies in your area.

But as others all ready mentioned the weather radios would probably be fine for you.

Here is a link http://www.midlandweatherradios.com/product_page.asp?mfgname=Midland+Weather+Radio&itmky=958598&mfgno=9
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Offline Gryphon

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2012, 02:20:24 PM »
You can get a lot of scanner freqs online.  Try http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/  At the bottom of the page, put in your zip code.
May be rough with dialup, but it's an option.

I used to just use a CB radio with weather alerts.  Also weather.com and weatherunderground. com will both give any local and wide-area weather alerts.

Ok: Trunked refers to a method of radio channel switching by computer to allow a lot of traffic from a number of agencies to use relatively few radio channels.  Dunno how you could determine if your area uses this technology.

Analog vs digital is just how the radio tunes the channels I would assume.  More expensive will be digital, cheapos analog.  Digital is better, but for your application analog is probably just fine.
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Offline WoodsWoman

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2012, 11:24:02 PM »
Gryphon I checked out that website.  My county isnt available.  :(         I have another page open looking at just Alert Radio's.     

I wish I knew more about ipods...  maybe thats what I should invest in?


WW.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Offline land cruiser

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2012, 11:34:56 PM »
I have a HAM license and a Yaesu VX8r. It pics up quite a few things;)

Offline acara

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2012, 04:33:05 AM »
As a suggestion ... does your local LEO (Law Enforcement Organization) have a "Crime Watch" or ride-along program? If so, thats probably a good way to research your need/purchase.

A) Can find out what type of scanner they use (suspect most are using digital trunking varieties)
B) Hear how much & what is the quality/content of what they are saying
C) Many communities will issue scanners to local citizens who participate in these programs
D) If your local communities don't provide them, ask when they are scheduled to replace their current units. In some cases, they will make the scanners that they are replacing available to neighborhood crime watch & auxilary civilian units first.
E) See if you have friends/neighbors who are also interested. You'll probably end up buying new (and pay accordingly) if you only need one, but used ones (with charger banks) are often available on Gov't aution sites, if you can buy a set (I've bought sets cheaper than a single unit & just keep the others for spare parts).

This can help you avoid buying "too much" or "too little" of a scanner.

As far as the weather reporting goes .... FRS/GMRS radios (Midland has very good price/features ratio ..IMHO) or a home unit (Grundig or Eton make good units...IMHO) may be a better choice, as you can set them to alert. The home units also have features like hand-cranks that run a light on the unit, or charge your cellphone.

« Last Edit: July 05, 2012, 04:54:49 AM by acara »
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2012, 09:56:56 AM »
I've been looking into base unit scanners myself. Here's what I've found in the current crop:

The better ones (~$200) don't require programming, although manually programming is the best route. They can be set on an actual "scan" mode just like your car stereo, so they will lock on a receivable transmission long enough for you to lock it into one of your channels on your scanner.

Analog vs. Digital: Most agencies are going (or have gone) to digital signaling. An 'analog' scanner is pretty worthless these days. This is exactly what was done recently with TV signals. Remember how you could get a conversion box free for your TV when digital went National? Old TVs that were tuned to analog signals couldn't pick up digital signals, so you needed a 'box' to convert the signal. I'm still a little fuzzy on the mechanics, but supposedly digital signals conserve bandwidth, and allow more traffic than analog signals.
Anyway, my advice is don't buy a used 'analog' scanner, because less and less is being transmitted that way.  It's one reason you can find too-good-to-be-true prices on even the newer units.

Law Enforcement agencies don't like people listening into their business, so most of them have encrypted transmissions that can't be picked up by civilian scanners (for the most part). They will broadcast initial calls, but then switch to a secure channel, so you can't follow exactly what's going on.  Fire and EMS aren't that concerned about eavesdropping, so it's not a problem hearing what your local fire teams are doing.

I have one of the hand-crank emergency radios mentioned earlier in this thread. AM/FM and Weather Service emergency channel. I found my problem is I'm so far "off the grid" than I can't receive the Weather Alert radio signals here, just like I can only pick up TWO AM commercial radio channels here.

FWIW....
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Offline Gryphon

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Re: Portable Scanner
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2012, 09:48:18 AM »

I have one of the hand-crank emergency radios mentioned earlier in this thread. AM/FM and Weather Service emergency channel. I found my problem is I'm so far "off the grid" than I can't receive the Weather Alert radio signals here, just like I can only pick up TWO AM commercial radio channels here.

FWIW....


Up there all yer missing is B98 radio...nope, yer not missing anything at all.

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