Difference between revisions of "Scanning Q&A"

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(Lot's of work by the Apostrophe Police, and other cleanups. Heh.)
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* '''''''Where can I find information on scanner antennas, filters, mobile mounts, etc?'''''''
* '''''''Where can I find information on scanner antennas, filters, mobile mounts, etc?'''''''
** Check the [[scanner antennas]] article.
** Check the [[Scanner Antennas]] article.
* '''''''I want to hear more. Will an amplifier help?'''''''
* '''''''I want to hear more. Will an amplifier help?'''''''

Revision as of 19:03, 3 January 2011

On this page, you'll find a random sampling of questions and answers about scanning and radios. If you have a question, and find a good answer, please feel free to add both to this page. Only add questions, though, if you have the answers; if you need an answer to a question, and it's not on this page already, please try the Radio Reference forums.


In the Radio Reference Database, there are some terms used that may be unfamiliar to the new scanner user and some data that you don’t need. Most of the time, if you mouse over the column heading in the database, you will get the answer to your question. If this doesn't work, please see our Glossary article.

  • ''What is this rebanding I keep hearing about? Will my scanner still work after this happens?''
    • The answer to this is pretty involved, so Rebanding gets an entire article.

Equipment Questions

  • ''What is ERP? How is it calculated?''
    • See the ERP article for the answer to this question
  • ''I am trying to monitor a trunked system in my area. I have an (insert model) scanner, and all I hear is noise. What's wrong?''
    • You may be listening to the data on the Control channel as audio. The system must be programmed as a trunked system. Your scanner must support trunked system monitoring. See this category page to make sure you scanner can monitor trunked systems.
    • The system may be transmitting digitally-encoded audio.. Check the database for your area to be certain. The only scanners on the market that can receive non-encrypted digitally-encoded audio are those listed on this category page. No consumer scanners can receive encrypted digital audio, even if you have an encryption key.
  • ''Where can I find information on scanner antennas, filters, mobile mounts, etc?''
  • ''I want to hear more. Will an amplifier help?''
    • Before you go looking at amps, make sure that your antenna and feedline are at the best you can afford. A nice high antenna, with the right coax, will hear lots - maybe, at times, too much. In some cases, a good filter will be a huge asset. Not all scanners - particularly handhelds - work very well with big outdoor antennas and feedlines. They simply aren't designed to handle that much RF all at once. Also, amplifiers will amplify noise as well as signal, and can only amplify what they get to start with... so a good antenna is a must, and the best place to put an amp -- if you really need one -- is at the antenna end of the cable.
  • ''Is the coax that important?''
    • They can make the difference between hearing a signal (particularly if you are out in a fringe area) and not hearing well, or at all. The larger the loss, the less signal is received. The general rule is a 3db loss results in a loss of 1/2 the signal. In practical terms, if you are in a strong signal area, this won't mean much - but if you're a long way off, this kind of loss should concern you. These links explain this clearly:
    • Strong Signals Coax Cable
    • NASA Coax Cable loss chart
    • Coax Line Loss Calculator
  • ''How do I program my scanner from the PC? How do I find compatible software?''
  • ''Where can I find downloadable files/data for my scanner and area?''
  • ''How do I connect my line out/headphone/speaker to the soundcard on my PC? How do I find compatible software?''
  • ''I've connected my scanner to the soundcard on my PC. Why dont I hear any audio?''
  • ''I want to record and log audio from my scanner. What do I need to make this happen?''
    • See our Connecting Radios to Soundcards article. There are a series of links at the bottom of the article for various types of soundcard-driven software as well as scanner software that has the capability to log and record. Note that older Radio Shack scanners cannot perform this function (recording audio from separate channels to separate files) -- it's not possible since it's a function not provided for in the firmware. You can use a package such as RecAll or ScanCorder to record audio while sitting on a single channel. There are some exceptions, however; the Pro-2052, Pro-106 and Pro-197 can scan, log and record with the proper software.

General Scanning Questions

  • ''Is scanning legal? How about in my car?''
  • ''What is the best scanner for me?''
  • ''What are the codes and signals I hear public safety personnel using on the radio?''

Frequency Searches

If you are searching for specific frequencies in your area, the RR Database is the place to start - but sometimes there may be a better option....

  • ''Where can I find frequencies for NASCAR, LPGA, NFL, etc.?''
    • See our Sports frequencies article
  • ''I'm flying into an airport that the RRDB doesnt have. Where can I find frequencies for it?''
    • Go to the popular Airnav website
  • ''I'm going on a cruise and would like to see if there's activity to be heard. Where can I find frequencies?''
  • ''I need to look up a callsign I copied. Where can I find it?''
  • ''I need to look up a frequency that isnt in the database. Where might I find it?''
  • ''Where can I find out about military communications in my area?''
  • ''Where can I find out about frequencies used by the US Federal Government?''
    • Check out our Federal frequencies article