what to look for in a scanner

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what to look for in a scanner

Postby frikentrainnerd » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:50 pm

I am an avid railfan and am hoping with my summer job i will be able to buy a really good scanner although i do know that most scanners really arnt perfect. The only question though is what should i look for in a scanner.
How far should the range be?
How many frequencies can it hold?
Whats a bank?
What brand is the best?
Thats all the questions i have ill post more as thay come up.
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Re: what to look for in a scanner

Postby frikentrainnerd » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:04 pm

............... :(
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Re: what to look for in a scanner

Postby Aa3rt » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:31 pm

Did you happen to read the stickied thread at the top of this forum titled "Buying your first scanner? Read me first!" http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=15906

There's also another stickied thread at the top of this forum titled "Scanners-What do you use when railfanning?" that will give you an idea of what other Railroad.Net forum members are using.

To briefly answer your questions (not in order):

What brand is the best? A subjective question-Everyone has their own opinion. Your best bet is to read and make up your own mind which scanner will work best for your purposes. Are you going to be monitoring other activities (local police, fire, EMS, marine band, aircraft, amateur radio frequencies) or are you strictly interested in railroad radio?

Whats a bank? Short for memory bank. My first handheld scanner, now 25 years old, held 10 frequencies-period. Newer scanners can store hundreds (some thousands) of frequencies. Scanning through all of these frequencies can take some time. If you specifically want to listen to a particular activity you can "lock out" certain banks and focus on the activity you're interested in.

How many frequencies can it hold? As mentioned above, different scanners have different available memory. Bottom line (usually): More frequencies=more money.

How far should the range be? Most (if not all) railroad communications are FM and are limited by "line of sight", meaning that transmissions will only reach about 50 miles at best depending on the terrain you're located in. Hills, heavily urbanized areas (large buildings) and even trees can limit the range of transmission. Additionally the output power of the transmission will limit the range of reception.

I'd suggest you read the threads I've mentioned above-all of your questions have already been answered along with some general guidelines on purchasing a scanner.

BTW-A couple of other things to consider-if you plan on carrying your scanner trackside on railfanning forays in addition to memory, you'll want to think about battery life, portability and durability.

Batteries do run down, usually at the most inopportune time. Additionally when carrying a scanner trackside they tend to be dropped with an alarming frequency. If you're considering purchasing a portable (hand held) scanner find one that can attach to a belt or fit in a protective carrying case.
Art Audley, AA3RT
Moderator: Railroad Radio & Communications, Railroads in Books, Magazines, Music, TV and other Media, General Discussion: Fallen Trolley & Interurban Lines, General Discussion: Shortline, Industrial & Military Railroads,
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Re: what to look for in a scanner

Postby frikentrainnerd » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:57 pm

Wow thanks alot! i will read the threads you mentioned right now. Agean thanks alot! :-)
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