radio scanners : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I have been considering buying a scanner,but don't know very much about them.I was wondering if anyone could give me some input,such as handheld vs base , 10-50-or100 channel, 500 or 900 mhz.Does the base units rely on electric or can they be batery opperated? What is the best on the market? I want to stay in a range of $75 to $150.

-- mcheny (, July 11, 1999


I own over a half dozen of these things, maybe I can give some pointers.

Two are 200-channel base units which require either 110 wall-outlet power or an adapter for your car's cigarette lighter. For Y2K I'm setting up mine to run off of a car battery I'll keep recharged with solar battery chargers from the local boat & marine store. My shortwave radios will operate the same way.

My other scanners are all handhelds. Two currently live with my camera gear and are tools of the trade for free-lance photography. (Not that I'm very active since we started prepping for Y2K.) The rest are kept in our vehicles. All are at least one hundred channel units and use lots of AA batteries. I'm switching to NiCads and a solar powered charger for Y2K.

For the $75-$150 price-range your best start would be a used radio. Look in the local papers, in "Penny Saver" type publications and in pawn shops. You can find some real good deals when people who got these things tire of their "new toy" and decide to get rid of them.

If you have to buy new, Radio Shack's models are low-priced and offer decent performance. In fact all of my radios are Radio Shack, just because they're the most common dealers. But Wal*Mart and other chains sell scanners also, so don't overlook them.

Frequency coverage is going to depend on what you're trying to listen to at your location. Spending extra bucks to cover 900 MHz police bands when your local law enforcement is still using 33MHz is wasted money. Same thing for military aircraft frequencies (UHF aero), unless you're specifically in need of monitoring military activity in your area, eg: you live near an Air Force base.

At the same time, if you live in a location where the police, fire and other emergency services have switched to the new trunked, 800 & 900 MHz radio systems, then be prepared to spend extra money to get the additional frequency coverage and the "Trunk Tracker" feature.

This will let you follow the frequency changes the system makes with each radio transmission. Otherwise, trying to follow a conversation on a trunked system might get you every third or fourth sentence, if you're lucky. If the trunked system is very busy, you might only every hear one sentence of any particular conversation and then hear one sentence of fifty other conversations before you catch-up to the original conversation.

(Of course things could be worse. You could be trying to follow a military radio that changes frequencies one hundred times a second and goes through a process of tens of thousands of frequencies before starting over on the frequency list.)

For a base unit, the very best thing to do is to add a good outdoor antenna to your set-up. Actually "outdoor" is a misnomer, I've found most antennas work really well in the attic and thus, don't attract any unwanted attention from nosey people. I think it also helps with lightning, since the antenna isn't the highest thing around.

To hook-up your antenna, use good-quality cable and don't use too much. Looping excess cable will reduce your radio's capabilities, so get the parts needed to shorten a pre-made cable to the minimum length you need. Putting on a cable end for a scanner isn't a very hard job, if you follow the instructions.

If all else fails, measure the cable, mark where the new end needs to be and take it to a radio-tv repair shop and pay them to install the new end connector for you.


-- Wildweasel (, July 11, 1999.

I don't have alot of technical data to offer, but here's what I did: read the C. Crane catalog ( to get an overview of what to look for in scanners,and then went to our local pawn shop and picked out a hand-held scanner for $119.00 (I had seen it in K-Mart for $169). Before purchasing it, I had them tune it into police, weather etc. so that I could listen to the quality (and to make sure our community hadn't switched to the trunk system mentioned above.

The base units are not necessarily more powerful than the hand-held ones, but are a different style to remain more stable on a tabletop.

-- Jill (, July 11, 1999.

I just picked up my scanner today. Radio shack has some handhelds on closeout red tag sale right now. I picked up the 149 dollar Pro-70 for 49.99 today! This model has 50 channel programmable.

I just dialed in my local electric company and nuclear accident channels as well as FEMA and the Nat Guard channels for a happy new year!

-- Watching their six (, July 11, 1999.

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