Scanning Q&A

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Revision as of 15:01, 7 July 2008 by Ka3jjz (talk | contribs)

This article can be used to house questions about scanning in general - anything from antennas to laws to coax and more


On 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, see the excellent special topic Rebanding article.

Equipment Questions

  • ''Where can I find information on scanner antennas, filters, mobile mounts, ect.?''
    • Return to our main page via the navigation link to the left, go to the bottom and see the 'Antennas and Accessories' category.
  • ''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.
  • ''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 most Radio Shack scanners cannot perform this function - 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. The old Pro-2052 is the lone exception.

General Scanning Questions

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 the various services, such as Railroads, Aircraft, ect.?''
  • ''Where can I find frequencies for NASCAR, LPGA, NFL, ect.?''
    • See our Sports frequencies article
  • ''Im flying into an airport that the RRDB doesnt have. Where can I find frequencies for it?''
    • Go to the popular Airnav website
  • ''Im going on a cruise and would like to see if theres activity to be heard. Where can I find frequencies?''
    • See this popular website by Bill Dunn for cruise ship 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