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Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by Witch Doctor 01, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    My MIL is wanting a scanner so she can listen to the fire, Sheriffs Dept and the EMS... any one have a suggestions? I' would like it to be low to mid price range... but I'm interested in any suggestions...

    Thanks in advance
    hitchcock4 likes this.
  2. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+ Founding Member

    Keep in mind the change in radios for public service.
    Scanners go silent: Columbia police use new digital frequency

    Scanners go silent: Columbia police use new digital frequency | Columbia Daily Herald
    Those who listen to emergency radio scanners might have noticed only static emanating from the Columbia police channel.

    The Columbia Police Department finalized a process to switch from an analog frequency to an encrypted digital frequency over a week ago, Chief Tim Potts said.
    The process began a year ago when the Federal Communications Commission told the CPD it would have to switch to a narrow band transmission. The FCC regulates and licenses individual radio frequencies for all entities seeking to broadcast using the public airwaves.
    There are a finite number of analog frequencies. By switching to a digital scanner system, there are more options available for transmitting.
    Potts said the encryption key the department is using is unbreakable. The new system is beneficial, Potts said, because criminals can no longer listen in on police chatter with scanners or even scanner apps on smart phones.
    “There’s not a scanner on the market that would pick up what we were transmitting,” he said. “We have the capability to encrypt it now, and the ease of technology to do it.
    “With the encryption we can protect our communications. In years past, a lot of criminals would keep scanners in their cars. We would run into them, and they had scanners. This makes our job easier for what we do and that’s catching bad guys.”
    Marck likes this.
  3. Legion489

    Legion489 Shining the Light of Truth

    “With the encryption we can protect our communications. In years past, a lot of criminals would keep scanners in their cars. We would run into them, and they had scanners. This makes our job easier for what we do and that’s catching bad guys.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, wait, that was suppose to be serious? What they do is is to make as much money for the local/county/state gov;t as they can. That is why they harass honest law abiding citizens instead of looking for criminals. Catching criminals doesn't make money for the state, CRIMINALIZING non-criminals does! If you want a few hundred examples all you need to do is do a google search or pick up any local propaganda rag (often mistakenly called a "news" paper) and read it, especially the police reports.
    Homer Simpson and Brokor like this.
  4. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

  5. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Nope, not all police are transitioning to encrypted digital comms. In fact, most are still complying with public law and not falling into the secret police mentality of Nazi Germany, thankfully. Well, as far as communications goes, anyway.

    I suggest a triple-trunking scanner, and nothing less. Radio Shack used to sell one called a PRO-528 handheld, I highly recommend something similar. The reason most folks can't listen in is because the communications are on trunked systems.

    Also take note (because I am sure it will be brought up if I do not mention it) -it is illegal in some States to be driving around with a scanner. Use common sense.
    Witch Doctor 01 likes this.
  6. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter

    Unbreakable encryption?? Sort of like True crypt was unbreakable??

    I know True Crypt is not radio, yet I can imagine some smart hacker can see a challenge there..
  7. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+

    Very few public safety departments are using encrypted or un-scannable systems because they cost a lot of money for not much benefit and they simply do not work very well.

    One of the most popular is the Harris Open Sky system. While it's technically not "encrypted," it operates through cell towers and cannot be listened to by any scanner. It's basically a glorified cellphone.

    Even if your area does use an encrypted system, it's worth having a scanner anyway. All agencies still maintain common radio systems as backup and there is a lot of information to be gleaned from them. And when the SHTF, the fancy digital/cell based/encrypted systems are going to go poof! and the cops will resort to their analog backup systems.

    As for scanners, there are a ton of good ones out there for under $200. I have a Bearcat BC15X and it's awesome, albeit a bit tedious to program.

    RadioReference.com - Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference is an outstanding resource that will list every frequency used in a given area. It will also indicate what encrypted systems are in use.
  8. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey

    I bought myself a Uniden BC125AT when I wanted to get into Ham radio a year ago. On eBay you can find one like this Uniden BC125AT | eBay for less than $70. [However the one shown there is badly scratched up, I would not personally buy that as a gift.] I was able to get mine for $62 shipped on eBay, but I consider myself lucky. You may need to spend $85 on a used one, over $120 on a new one.

    I still use it to scan 2meter, 70cm, and 6 Meter bands. Since it also scans weather, FRS, Civil air, and police bands you can get quite a bit out of it.

    I think it is easy to use once you learn the scan types (in certain modes, just turn on/off a band by pressing 1/2/3/4 -- therefore a single button to turn a certain type on/off.]

    As mentioned above, check local area for Trunking or encryption. This one does neither. But encryption is not used much in this area of the country.
    EDIT: This one is $99 new (so they say) but the box is damaged. New Uniden Bearcat 500 Channel Portable Compact Scanner BC125AT Alpha Tagging | eBay If interested ask to see a photo of the actual item. It is more likely new if it still has the "screen cover" on it from the manufacturer.
    EDIT #2: Didn't mean to imply above that the BC125AT can transmit -- it does only receive. But for me, it was good to learn frequencies by listening which aided me in getting my Ham license.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Much of what is "Called" encrypted, is really just Digital Modulation (P25, TDM, ect) and not really encrypted at all. Yea an Analog Receiver will just hear a Buzz, but the P25 MOD, is just that.... Many of the Depts got US.Gov Grants to switch to Digital Comms as the OEMs lobbied Congress, and the Administration for those Programs so they could SELL a bunch of Equipment. Once installed, many Outfits found that the NEW Stuff just didn't WORK as Advertised, and of course the OEMs were long gone, with their Money. I have consulted on a few of these Deals, for local Small Shop, Cop & Fire Outfits.... My advice has ALWAYS been, Put a Proof Of Performance Clause, in the contract, that states if the Outfit doesn't get the SAME or Better Coverage, the Installer must EAT the Whole Costs, of installation, and Equipment. Also I recommend that the Outfits, KEEP the old Analog Systems up and running, until the NEW Stuff has been Certified and Accepted, by passing the Terms of the Performance Clause, and then after a 6 Month Period, and ONLY then, the Installers, must come in and remove the Old System..... Many of the smaller OEMs run for the Hills when they Read those provisions, in the Contract.... Can you guess WHY? There have been a TON of Municipal Outfits that have gone Digital, and many got stuck with less than they had before, and No Way to go back. Plus spending an Extra Ton of Cash to enhance a System that is Marginal at best.... Newer is NOT necessarily Better, and in many cases is a LOT worse....
    Tevin likes this.
  10. techsar

    techsar Monkey++

    Not the least expensive around, but the Uniden Home patrol is simple to use and does trunking systems. It also provides for downloads from radio reference dot com. You can also use a GPS to get the frequencies as you travel.
    Brokor and Yard Dart like this.
  11. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Unsure if you need to buy anything. Many departments can be found on this site- Broadcastify - Live Police, Fire, EMS, Aircraft, and Rail Audio Feeds You can listen to local officials real time. During shootings & riots, people are able to listen here. Please note: because people were listening during San Bernardino, there were citizens that heard many LEO's regarding the third shooter.
    Homer Simpson and techsar like this.
  12. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    I do not recommend internet based communications for local communications monitoring in real time. The primary reason should be obvious: the internet isn't as reliable as your own trunking system powered by your own batteries.
  13. techsar

    techsar Monkey++

    A couple of drawbacks to the Internet based scanners are many areas are not covered, you are limited to what is available and it can be shut down when you need it most. It is better than nothing, though.
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