Radio > Receivers

a (slightly) contrarian take on scanners

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There are all kinds of cool scanners out there, particularly the Home Patrol II.  They’re mostly useless to me, and here’s why.

A quick look at the Radio Reference scanner frequency database ( came back with:
“The [redacted] County Sheriff's Office has moved to the State of [redacted] Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) and cannot be monitored by any scanner on the market.”

Alrighty then, no need for me to buy a high-zoot scanner.  That changes things to a new question: Is it worth it to get a relatively cheap (and maybe sorta obsolete) scanner?  I think so, read on.

OK, so scanning local law enforcement is out.  What else does Radio Reference show?  A short list of county medical and fire dispatch frequencies, and a longer list of Sheriff’s office backup frequencies.  There’re also a couple of local utilities frequencies.

What else is worth scanning?  FEMA’s NIFOG document lists a “when everything else is either incompatible or broken” interoperability frequency, 155.16 MHz.  In a regional disaster where help comes from many states – remember Katrina – that’s going to see some use, so it went on the scan list.  There are other interop frequencies given in NIFOG, but that’s the main one.  (Come to think of it, I need to put 155.16 on my FT-60 as a receive-only too.)

Last years’ rioters were reportedly using FRS/GMRS, so that’s worth listening in on.  Throw in MURS too, somebody *might* be using it.  If a civilian group is savy enough to use MURS, you’ll probably want to listen, be they friendly, hostile, or indifferent.  I found a list of the pre-programmed frequencies for the Baofeng 888 walkie-talkies.  It’s a mishmash of commercial and sometimes allocated frequencies.  Somebody *could* be using those, not knowing anything about programming them.

Throw in the 2m and 70cm ham calling and local repeater frequencies, and it totals up to quite a lot to listen in on.

So I bought a relatively cheap Uniden BC 355N scanner, just to hear what was out there.  They're around $95 lately, though I lucked into a sale for $78 a couple of years back.  So far I’m just using the little suction-cup-to-window wire antenna.  It works for nearby listening, and I don’t care about scanning anything else.  Might upgrade to a discone sometime though.

For a bonus, it’ll scan CB in AM as well.  Definitely worth having.  If the southeast US ever has a home-grown version of Lord Humungous, he and his army will be using CBs.  Probably will want to hear that one coming.

Since getting this bargain basement scanner, it’s been interesting.  Through last past winter I heard a trickle of ambulance dispatches with “difficulty breathing, possible covid case” tacked on.  Some nearby restaurants and RV parks are using GMRS, and the behind the scenes commentary is occasionally interesting.  Heard some kids playing with their new FRSs.  There is always some CB traffic around deer season, and I occasionally hear passing truck traffic on CB as well.

Is it worth it?  I think so.  It lets me know what’s going on nearby now, and in groovy times it’d be one more source of situational awareness data.  Scanners like the Home Patrol II are truly amazing, but give that even that can’t scan local law enforcement, it’s still worthwhile to jump on what’s easily scanned and what will most likely be used.

So what do y’all think?  Anybody else doing something like this?

[side note: Will new content help get the board rolling again?  I hope so.]

Interesting.  I like scanning my DB750 (same freqs as ChiComms) and it covers most of what you are reporting.

Pretty much give up on local gov channels.

And thanks for posting this


--- Quote from: AD on December 07, 2021, 05:47:10 PM ---Interesting.  I like scanning my DB750 (same freqs as ChiComms) and it covers most of what you are reporting.

--- End quote ---
You hearing anything worth noting?

Some of the GMRS traffic from the RV park is pretty funny.  A while back they were referring to the couple in one camper as "the botox people."  After that it's mostly just the daily maintenance blues.

--- Quote ---Pretty much give up on local gov channels.

--- End quote ---
Same here, other than the ambulance dispatch, which is loosely tied to the county emergency services.  That Federally-agreed-upon interoperability VHF channel might get interesting if there's outside assistance, say after a hurricane.  (Don't want to hear that one though.)

--- Quote ---And thanks for posting this

--- End quote ---
Thanks.  Maybe it's time for these real content forums to get active again.

Other folks are thinking along the "cheap scanner good" line.  Here's a recent three-parter:

Lots of the same ideas as here, with some interesting new twists.  I like his idea to use a Yagi and/or Moxon to DF signals.  It's cool that the author draws much the same conclusion, that if incoming people are using radios at all, they'll probably be using FRS.


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