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Since 1978 Scanner Master has been producing the
nation's most comprehensive communications guidebooks
including Scanner Master regional volumes and Monitor America.
Richard Barnett of Scanner Master also now edits POLICE CALL,
the 7-volume regional frequency guide and CD-ROM which is
revised and updated each year.
the past 15 years, Scanner Master has been a consultant to the
scanner-radio industry. We've participated
in the design and development of the industry's first
trunktracking scanner, the Bearcat 235, as well as the latest,
and most sophisticated scanner ever produced, the incredible
industry's leading scanner consultant, no dealer or
distributor is more knowledgeable about scanner functionality
and operation. No dealer is more qualified
to assist you with frequency
Top of the line!
FCC Frequency Search
TRUNKING RADIO SYSTEMS
Abc's of monitoring "live
action" Scanner radio!
A guide to selecting The Best
"Police" Radio Scanners
and a simple introduction to
scanner radios and how they work.
N4UJW Hamuniverse.com (A Ham Radio Web
Please read entire article, you
will be glad you did! Buying a scanner for your particular
area or needs could be complicated if you don't know the
If you have ever been on the scene
of an auto accident, fire, weather, plane crash or most any
other disaster of any type, chances are you have heard the chatter
of the police, emergency, rescue and fire crew radios as they go
about their daily job of saving lives, welfare, property and
enforcing the laws using their radio communication equipment to
coordinate and relay information at the speed of light via radio. Or
you may have wondered just how those transmissions from private,
commercial, and military aircraft sound and what goes on behind the
scenes in a disasters with fire departments, rescue vehicles,
state agencies, highway patrol, marine, local governments, utility
trucks, taxi cabs, ham radio operators and
Most of these agencies, departments, and
others transmit and receive on Federal Government assigned
frequencies in the Vhf and Uhf range of frequencies above standard
broadcast FM stations of the radio spectrum and cannot be heard on
your standard car or home radio but can be heard on "Police type
Here are some actual
audio samples of what you could hear with a
Actual Radio transmission from the International Space
Station Talking to school
"Police" type radio scanners
designed to receive these frequencies or bands can be purchased from
several sources, new and used with various bells and whistles and
are easy to operate. In this article, I suggest and highly recommend
one source over all the rest! Scanner Master!
and features of a
The standard "Police Scanner"
receiver has a Volume control, Squelch, Scan, Manual, Program and
other buttons, switches and knobs to control the receiver functions
and the bells and whistles. It comes from the manufacture designed
to receive one or more "bands" of frequencies and may have "banks"
for each band and may cover a wide range of frequencies authorized
for use by public service agencies and lots of other not so well
known users like Amateur Radio Operators, (Hams), Federal, State,
county offices, utilities, scientific and research, weather,
business, TV station live remote broadcast crews and hundreds more.
"Police" type scanners are usually designed to receive several VHF
and UHF bands and can be purchased with hundreds of programable
memory channels. They are available both in base (home setup) and
portable models and can operate on batteries and AC power. Most
can use rechargeable batteries for hours of use
or can be operated from a car cigarette ligther adapter. The
portable radios come with a small "Rubber Duckie" antenna and the
table model (base) radios usually come with a telescoping antenna
much like that on a portable AM/FM radios.
Most scanners, whether
they are base or portable, can have an external antenna added to
increase their range.
What Frequencies are Most
The most active frequencies on the
"Police" scanners are the Public Safety related departments
such as Police, ambulance and rescue crews along with highway
patrol, fire, ham radio and the aircraft frequencies. 24 hour
weather can be heard easily on scanners from the National
and is a must in bad weather. Modern scanners are designed to
receive a special "ALERT" WARNING from the National Weather Service
when bad weather approches. You get the warning first when others
without a scanner don't!
The Amateur radio frequencies in the 2 meter and 440
band are also
very popular and you may even hear your Ham neighbor's voice on one
of the frequencies!
There are two
general types of scanners, portable (handheld), and table
(desktop) models of which some can be used in your
(Check your state regulations on using any scanner
The portable scanners are battery
operated and most can be put in a shirt or pants pocket or carried
by attaching to a belt. They generally perform well but their range
is limited by the short "rubber ducky" antenna.
external scanner antenna can be added for more
The table top or desktop scanners usually are more powerful,
(sensitive). They come with a telescoping antenna and can be
attached to a rooftop or outdoor scanner antenna for more range
if needed and have larger physical size and better sound quality due
to larger speakers and are usually much easier to us than a handleld
scanner if you have small fingers.
All scanners are programable by
the user for the particular frequencies or "channels" you may wish
to hear and most even "scan" a band or bank of frequencies for
active channels and add them to the memory and have connectors to
add a recorder or your computer to record the activity while you are
away without missing anything!
can also attach earphones to them for private listening! The band
scanning and memory functions are extremly useful to the listener if
you don't know the frequencies in your
many years that I have been involved in Scanning, Shortwave
Listening, and Amateur Radio, I have learned that "you get what you
pay for", and sticking with well known name brands and popular
sellers from a company with a good
reputation is the way to go when you want to purchase an
Buying "Police scanners" by
checking around and using wise buying information is no different
than buying any product. You must consider all the pros and cons for
your particular use and consider sources of good
information wisely. Many companies that sell radio scanners are only
in the business of selling scanners as a sideline and that's
the end of it. Getting an answer to a question about your
scanner, either before or after you buy can be very difficult
using a company that just sells them at the lowest price. They are
going to try to sell you on the highest priced model with all of the
bells and whistles that you may not need in your particular area! So
how do you choose the right radio scanner for YOUR area. Read on if
you are interested so
Choosing the Right Type of Radio Scanner
The type of radio scanner you need, analog or
digital, to buy depends on what system your community or
city uses to communicate with their mobile units for police,
fire, rescue, and all of the other important services you may want
to monitor. An inexpensive basic scanner, usually on the low
price end of the list and is an older analog type, may work
well but will not have digital displays for alpha tags (display with
text description of the station), and won't pickup the newer
digital systems or transmissions or a pc port to program it
through your computer.
For your first scanner an
inexpensive model must be easy to program and should pick up local
police and fire transmissions unless your community uses an advanced
"digital" system that would require a more expensive scanner. Your
scanner must be programed to receive the transmissions you desire to
monitor. Your new scanner's owner’s manual should have instructions
on programing your scanner in easy to understand wording. From a
basic scanner to the newer digital models, the scanner that is best
for you depends on your location, the type of radio systems, analog
or digital and what you can afford or need. It is also best if you
do not live over about 20 to 40 miles depending on the
terrain from the radio systems you wish to monitor. Radio waves
at these scanner frequencies weaken severly the further they have to
be transmitted to your scanner. Or said another way, the farther you
live from them, the weaker the signals.
Scanners ~ Base /Mobile scanners may be
one of two types of scanner.
Desktop designed strictly for home
use or base/mobile.
Desktop models may be difficult to move or use in a
car or other vehicles due to their shape and controls layout.
Mobile type scanners on the other hand are smaller, and are
designed for use either at a base location (in your home) or in
a vehicle. Many base or mobile scanners are often designed to
fit into the areas of a vehicle dash where you normally would house
a CD player or stereo. They may also be mounted under the dash on
brackets. Some models come with an adapter allowing you to use it
directly from your vehicle's battery or even the cigarette lighter
and your home's AC power.
Portable Scanners ~ Often
called handhelds....While some desktop or mobile scanners may be
portable, there are not designed for real portability.
Portable handleld scanners are small, easy to use and can go
anywhere you want to carry them, even in your pocket or on your
belt. Most portable police-type scanners have AC adapters so you can
save batteries when you use them at home.
Scanners ~ Pre-programmed scanners are just
that. When you order them, they come already setup for your local
area by using the correct information needed for your local scanning
needs. You can purchase pre-programed scanners that are only analog
with trunking, but these will not be able to handle the newer
APCO-25 digital. Newer models may offer pre-programed analog as well
as digital trunking. A really great seller of scanners that offer
this pre-programmed service is ScannerMaster and they are highly
recommended! They have been in the business since 1978! They know
Scanners ~Trunking radio systems allow
communities or agencies to provide a large number of groups to share
a small number of radio frequencies in the very congested scanner
bands. A trunking scanner can monitor regular radio systems
but a scanner designed only for regular radio systems cannot
scan a trunking system. This is why either you or the
company you buy your scanner from must know what you need in advance
of the purchase!
Always be aware of the features and limitations of any
scanner you are considering.
scanners ~ While digital scanners can cost more
than a basic standard scanner, a digital scanner offers the most
versatility. With a digital scanner, you can monitor both analog and
digital radio systems as well as standard or trunking radio systems.
Just as an added bit of information, many citys and locals use both
analog and digital...you would be missing out if you do not have a
digital type scanner.
do I need to buy that will work where I
Give ScannerMaster a click or
Go to their "Choosing the Right Scanner"
page on their website and follow the directions.
good reading about scanners..don't go away!
"Crowding of the Public Service Bands
leads to Modern Technology
In the larger metro areas,
crowding of the frequencies has become a major problem and modern
technology came to the rescue with Trunk Tracking.
Since early in
the 1980s, when trunking radio systems were first built, public
safety scanning had taken a down turn. While trunking systems had
generally been a boon to its users, offering tremendous flexibility
with limited spectrum, the news media, off-duty police and fire
officers, hobbyists, and others were often left out with no
I won't put you to sleep with
how trunking works; but in a nutshell, trunked systems generally use
anywhere from three to 29 frequencies, computer controlled and are
controlled by a single data channel, can provide communications for
hundreds of groups of users, from the dog catcher, police, to the
fire department arson squad on a shared basis. Conversations on
trunked systems often jump to other frequencies between replies. It
becomes very difficult, if not impossible, on a standard scanner, to
follow a conversation when one second your listening to the dog
catcher and the next to the Chief of Police on the same frequency!
This is especially frustrating on busy urban metro systems with
the standard scanner. A trunk tracking type scanner is a must in
large metro areas like New York, Miami, San Franscio, Chicago,
Years ago when many of us first
began to scan, we knew that our local police operated on (as an
example) 460.100 MHz, the local hospital on 155.340 MHz, fire on
another frequency and the local highway department on 37.900 MHz.
With trunked systems, you can never tell on which frequency (again,
among a group of three to 29 frequencies) a particular agency will
use. Many people who monitored, as part of their work, such as the
news media reporters, off-duty public safety officials like fire or
police, and casual scanner hobbyists like you and I, simply gave up
monitoring (scanning) when their local departments went to trunked
It wasn't worth the hassle and effort. Those
news reporters and off-duty emergency personnel may have suffered,
and the scanning hobby, (you and I), suffered, as did the scanner
Up to this point in time I have
not mentioned any Brand Names or suppliers in this
was the first manufacture of scanners to
stay abreast of technology and changed all of the
Their new TrunkTracker scanners, allow
you to follow the communications of agencies which operate
analog trunked radio systems.
Simply put, these radios are amazing! They work
beautifully, they themselves are extremely flexible, and, perhaps
best of all,
TrunkTrackers are a
breeze to use and are not priced so only the rich and famous can
afford them! They do it all!
A trunked system capable "Police" type scanner
requires special technology to listen to or follow this type of
system plus as an added bonus, are still able to receive the older
systems you may have in your area. In short, they do it all and you can
bet your boots that Uniden will stay ahead of
technology to supply us with the best scanners for the money.
Uniden's popular "Bearcat" models outsell others due to the company
staying way out in front of the
You can't go wrong with
a "Bearcat" scanner by
SCANNERS - Background and Uses
and Some History
Communications monitoring has
been a hobby, business and a function of government ever since radio
was first developed. Scanners, also known as Police Scanners, which
were developed in the 1960s and quickly blossomed in the '70s, allow
multiple public safety communications channels to be rapidly
"scanned" or checked for activity (public safety transmissions are
not continuous - unlike AM-FM and TV broadcasts).
The timing of the invention of
the scanner could not have been better. Civil unrest in the U.S. at
the time, as well as a general interest in learning more about local
police and fire operations, helped grow the business.
Soon police departments were
using scanners to supplement their two-way radio systems; volunteer
firefighters began using scanners to monitor their department's
radio traffic; reporters were using scanners to get their stories;
and radio hobbyists were using scanners for the challenge and fun of
monitoring radio communications systems.
Today scanners serve the same
purpose law enforcement, the news media and radio buffs, and for
average Americans who, concerned for their personal and neighborhood
safety, for reasons of crime, or more importantly today, terrorism,
want to stay informed.
users and uses of scanners include:
Patrol cars and dispatch
centers use scanners to monitor, and cross-communicate with,
neighboring police and fire departments. In today’s world scanners
can provide critical communications "interoperability.”
reporters and assignment desk editors use scanners to learn of
breaking news stories the moment they happen.
Security & Personal Safety
Keep a scanner on your night
table, kitchen, living room or in your car, to stay abreast of all
police and fire activity in your community. Stay informed of weather
or civil emergencies.
For disaster planning and
operations there is no better way to stay informed of conditions
around your building/campus than to monitor the communications of
the local emergency services.
Buildings, Hospital and School Security
Whether it's for storm alerts
or any other local emergency situation, having a scanner can keep
your employees, clients and visitors safe and well
Learn of criminal activity in
your neighborhood and what you should be watching out
Scanning is not only
informative and fun, it can provide an education in the physics of
Gain an appreciation for the
job performed by police officers, firefighters, HAM RADIO OPERATORS, EMT's (scanning is a great way to learn about the
work our public servants perform). Learn about the operations of
railroads, airports, utilities and more. Challenge yourself by
seeking out distant stations or discover new frequencies to
Do all this while staying
informed to the happenings in your community.
Why Buy from
Scanner Master has served the scanner community since 1978. They focus
exclusively on scanners and understand the equipment second to
none. They also help develop and test many of the products we
Scanner Master editors also write the best-selling national frequency
guides. When you buy scanners from Scanner Master, not
only do you get the highest level of expertise behind the
sale, they can program these scanners for you as well. Other
dealers who don’t specialize in scanners, or who are just interested
in moving boxes out the door, can never provide the level of
expertise they offer. ScannerMaster will make sure you
have the right scanner for your area. They will make sure you
have the right frequencies and programming if necessary, and make
sure you have the support you need that comes from buying from
You will not go wrong with Scanner
are professionals in my opinion."
Hamuniverse.com (An Amateur Radio Web
I highly endorse
the Uniden scanners,
Master and their
Click any picture or link on this page to find
installation, possession, or use of scanning radios in a motor
vehicle may be prohibited, regulated, or require a permit in
certain states, cities, and/or local jurisdictions. Your local
law enforcement officials should be able to provide you with
information regarding the laws in your