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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm relatively new to the communications side of prepping and just recently started looking at radio/police scanners. From what I've gathered most major metropolitan areas are moving to digital which seems too expensive for me right now. I'm looking for something basic to keep in my truck and maybe take camping with me to get weather alerts. So far I have looked at the Uniden BC72XLT which seems pretty affordable but I may be willing to pay over $100 for something better. I'm not looking for a new hobby, I just want to hear basic police, fire, weather, and ems transmissions.

Thanks for your time,
 

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What you need to get the most out of a scanner in your area is definitely dependant on the specifics of your area. Check out www.radioreference.com (go up to the databse link at the top and punch down into your state/city/county.) That should give you a good idea of exactly what public safety agencies are using in your area. You might be lucky and still have non-trunked analog signals to work with. If that's the case, the Uniden you found looks like it would actually be a great unit to get started.

If not, you may end up with a glorified weather radio. (Hint: most FRS/GMRS bubble pack radios you can get at Walmart/Costco can tune into the weather bands, although a dedicated unit would server better than either one.)

Considering cities as big as Tucson still use analog/non-trunking systems pretty heavily, it's certainly possible you'll luck out. Otherwise I'd personally hold off and save up a bit more to get something that will actually cover what my town is using. (I've held off on a scanner for that exact reason. Phoenix is heavy into digital trunked super mega w00t w00t systems these days.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick reply thoreau, and very informative.

Here's what it says for my area:

All Police, Fire and EMS agencies are now using a true P-25 digital system. You now need a digital capable scanner to monitor it.

Some agencies have retained their conventional VHF frequencies for backup use. Several fire departments are still simulcasting traffic or paging dispatches on their old conventional channels.


So basically, I would need an expensive digital scanner.
Is there a decent quality affordable one on the market?

I did notice one at the local Radio Shack though that was broadcasting
all kinds of chatter and it wasn't too outrageously priced. Probably rent-a-cop chit chat. I'd really just like to get my feet wet in the scanner game without diving into something $300 that I might not enjoy.
 

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I'll have to defer to someone with more scanner experience than I've got. I've never really looked at them beyond basic analog models since the sticker shock pretty well scared me away too. I've just gotten used to listening to the online streaming scanner feeds on radiorefernce in the meantime =)
 

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Why not try ham radio?

With that, you get the best of both worlds. For 175, you can get an impressive handheld ham radio (FT-60 made by yaesu) and be able to receive most the channels you want. My area has not gone digital yet.

Now, if you want even cheaper, there are some good chinese made handhelds for around 100 bucks...again the best of both worlds.
 

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how does this stack up against the uniden brand?

how does this stack up against the uniden brand?
if you were going to get a handheld scanner which one do you prefer?
 

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The VX-6R is a great ham radio, but it's an entirely different ballgame from a scanner. While it CAN scan just about anything that's analog, non-trunked, and across a HUGE spectrum, it's SLOW at VFO scanning. MUCH slower than even the more basic scanner units.

It's also a TWO way radio, not just a scanner/receiver, and infinitely more complicated than the typical analog scanner to boot. Certainly not rocket science, but if the goal doesn't include getting a ham license, it's overkill and more headache than needed.

Same thing goes for the FT-60r, but to a lesser extent.

As for MARS mods, that's a modification that opens up transmitting to additional frequency ranges. Again, if you're not familiar with what you're doing, it's REAL easy to get yourself into trouble here.

All that said, I have to agree. Everyone should get their ham license =) The understanding you get of basic radio theory makes everything easier, including understanding just what kind of scanner you want/need.
 

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I'm relatively new to the communications side of prepping and just recently started looking at radio/police scanners. From what I've gathered most major metropolitan areas are moving to digital which seems too expensive for me right now. I'm looking for something basic to keep in my truck and maybe take camping with me to get weather alerts. So far I have looked at the Uniden BC72XLT which seems pretty affordable but I may be willing to pay over $100 for something better. I'm not looking for a new hobby, I just want to hear basic police, fire, weather, and ems transmissions.

Thanks for your time,
You need to figure out what communications you want to monitor. A $100 scanner might be great but if everything you want to monitor is digital then its junk. Once you figure out what you want to listen to then find a scanner that meets those needs. YOu have 3 basic choices, analog scanner, trunking scanner and a digital scanner. Prices go from $50 to $500
 

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I took another look at the link thoreau posted and found that in another area I frequent I may not need a fancy scanner.

http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?ctid=1087

Any idea what RM, M, B, and BM types are?
I'm wondering if I can get away with the Uniden I was looking at.
R = Repeaters
M = Mobiles/Hand Helds
B = Base
F = Fixed

What each of those means is what the license specifies is allowed to transmit on that frequency. RM means Repeater and Mobiles are allowed to transmit on that frequency under that license.

As for a scanner, just about anything made since the early 90's will be able to receive communications in that county. If you are wanting to get started, you may be able to find a scanner at a flea market or similar place that will work as a basic entry level scanner.
 

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Is there a basic book on radio communication that you would recommend to a newbie? I live in a rural county but we are right nexted to a very highly populated county so I need to learn about both types of scanners and radios.
 
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