Okay So I Picked A First Scanner

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Okay So I Picked A First Scanner

Postby davidns8560 » Sat May 03, 2014 3:46 pm

Okay, so I just bought a brand new Uniden BC75XLT Portable Scanner for $76 on eBay, with free shipping. I expect it to arrive next week. It will be my first scanner. And I have some questions, if anyone will kindly help. Nobody has responded to this post in the Radio Forum.

1. Any advice for programming it? Many reviewers say it's a big headache!
2. Will I be able to use it trackside in upstate New York to monitor the CSX Mohawk and Rochester Subdivisions? The NS Southern Tier Mainline? The CP's D&H Line? I am concerned that these railroads will soon or already use digital communications, making this a mistaken purchase.
3. What sort of range can I expect to get?
4. Where do I find the right NY State frequencies to monitor?
5. Does Amtrak use its own frequencies, or the host railroad's?
6. Any recommendations on accessories I might need?
7. Will it also pick up airport activity?
8. Any issues I might have overlooked?
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Re: Okay So I Picked A First Scanner

Postby Ken W2KB » Sat May 03, 2014 8:40 pm

3. What sort of range can I expect to get? This will depend largely on terrain and the height at which you and the transmitter are located - can vary from a mile to 30 or more miles.

5. Does Amtrak use its own frequencies, or the host railroad's? The host for operations - engineer and conductor and railroad dispatchers.

6. Any recommendations on accessories I might need? For a handheld, none if trackside other than rechargeable batteries and charger, for home or mobile use the power adapter/battery charger and external antenna and external speaker if desired.

7. Will it also pick up airport activity? Yes, aircraft use AM in the 108MHz and up range.
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 :: Cessna 177B Cardinal N16019
Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: My Personal Site
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Re: Okay So I Picked A First Scanner

Postby FarmallBob » Sat May 03, 2014 10:24 pm

Expanding on the previous post:

1 - While not as straightforward and intuitive as the venerable 10 channel Bearcat 210, programming reasonably well covered in the owner's manual.

2 - Works fine on both Mohawk and Rochester sub's. I listen both at home in Rochester and when visiting kids in Canastota - same frequencies are used across the state. I also occasionally pick up NS Southern Tier transmissions from the Warsaw/Attica area (about 25 miles distant from home) on the same frequencies.

AFIK, unlike police, etc. railroads are not switching to digital voice communication. They ARE however transitioning to narrowband FM, which your scanner will receive.

3 - Range depends on your location and antenna. I find the supplied rubber duck antenna is generally good for 5 miles or so - sometimes a little more. A magnet mount external antenna stuck to the car roof can extend this range 5 - 10 miles.

4 - 160.800, 161.070, and 161.980 will cover virtually all CSX voice communication - dispatcher, train signal calls, MOW activity, defect detectors, etc. And 457.9375 picks up end of train device telemetry. You'll hear only intermittent random squawks, but activity on this channel means there's a train within a mile or two.

...FB
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Re: Okay So I Picked A First Scanner

Postby Aji-tater » Sun May 04, 2014 8:13 am

You might find more answers on the Radio forum: viewforum.php?f=43
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Re: Okay So I Picked A First Scanner

Postby davidns8560 » Mon May 05, 2014 5:30 pm

Thanks to those who have so far provided meaningful responses!

I have noted the CSX frequencies you gave me. If anyone can provide the NS and CP/D&H NYS scanner frequencies, I'd be very grateful. Or at least give me an idea where I might find them! Would the old, used railfan scanner frequency guidebooks I've seen on ebay still be of any use?

By the way, my new scanner arrived today. It sure is much smaller than I expected! Unfortunately there was a problem. It is missing the USB programming cable. The cable costs $25, which basically negates the $25 I saved on this ebay purchase. However, my Canon camera USB cable appears to have an identical jack. I think it might get the job done.

I appreciate your help, guys! They still aren't responding in the main radio forum. I'm really only going to be scanning in NYS though. For starters!
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