Digital Handheld Scanner

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Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by emclean » Thu Oct 29, 2020 12:56 pm

I am looking for a new Digital Handheld Scanner, and wanted to check in with the hive mind about their recommendations.
I am looking at the Uniden SDS100, but wanted to see if there are any alternatives that you would recommend before dropping that much money on a scanner.
my area is just starting to move to digital, and with everything so out of kilter currently, it feels like a good time to upgrade.
I like the location based scanning, and pulling the date base from Radio Reference. just not sure if other companies do the same.

I searched the forums for this topic, but the threads I found all had radio shack mentioned in them. so it was time to start a new one.

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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by tony d tiger » Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:34 pm

I've heard good things about "Bearcat" Uniden scanners, but have no experience with this...
Aren't police channels digitized, encrypted and inaccessible to the public?
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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by NT2C » Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:42 pm

The Uniden Home Patrol series will probably be your best bang for your bucks, but they can be pricey. As to what you'll be able to receive, a lot will be dependent on how well equipped the agency you want to hear is.
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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by PistolPete » Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:45 pm

Yeah, most of the police channels near me are encrypted now, when they went digital they also went encrypted. I have a scanner and it doesn't offer very much utility anymore.
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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by tony d tiger » Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:55 pm

NT2C wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:42 pm
The Uniden Home Patrol series will probably be your best bang for your bucks, but they can be pricey. As to what you'll be able to receive, a lot will be dependent on how well equipped the agency you want to hear is.
Good intel, thanks. Is there anything comparable to a cell phone package? That's what got me looking at the bearcat mobile units versus a base station. My main concern is for "flash mobs" - of which a neighbor was caught up in once; blocked traffic and started roaming amongst the stopped cars... I think I've spoken of that elsewhere - right now I use a local Facebook scanner group. It's ok, but not immediate nor does it address all things. I mean, they filter what they post too.
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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by tony d tiger » Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:57 pm

PistolPete wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:45 pm
Yeah, most of the police channels near me are encrypted now, when they went digital they also went encrypted. I have a scanner and it doesn't offer very much utility anymore.
Yeah that coincides with what I've heard. Police encrypt; EMS/Fire not so much. :? Dunno.
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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by woodsghost » Sun Dec 27, 2020 9:08 pm

tony d tiger wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:34 pm
I've heard good things about "Bearcat" Uniden scanners, but have no experience with this...
Aren't police channels digitized, encrypted and inaccessible to the public?
As NT2C said, it depends on the department. You have digital, encryption, and "trunking." All of which make it more difficult to follow police conversations. You also have many police frequencies in the 800 or 900 MHz, as well as 50 MHz and maybe some rural or poorer police still on 400(ish) MHz. So if you actually want to listen to the police, make sure the scanner catches all those. Prison, fire department, ambulance, and others in my area use the 150MHz and ...470MHz(?). None of those are encrypted or trunked or anything. So those might be worth your time scanning.

Are you really wanting to scan for signals in your area? Or are you looking to monitor police? Because if you just want to monitor police in a grid up situation I would look for a phone app. If you are wanting to scan all the signals in your area during a grid down situation, I think a scanner would be useful. And you would want to know what bands it scanned and what bands you are looking for activity on.

I'm hoping this either answers your questions or helps you ask more targeted questions.
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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by tony d tiger » Mon Dec 28, 2020 12:20 am

woodsghost wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 9:08 pm
tony d tiger wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:34 pm
I've heard good things about "Bearcat" Uniden scanners, but have no experience with this...
Aren't police channels digitized, encrypted and inaccessible to the public?
As NT2C said, it depends on the department. You have digital, encryption, and "trunking." All of which make it more difficult to follow police conversations. You also have many police frequencies in the 800 or 900 MHz, as well as 50 MHz and maybe some rural or poorer police still on 400(ish) MHz. So if you actually want to listen to the police, make sure the scanner catches all those. Prison, fire department, ambulance, and others in my area use the 150MHz and ...470MHz(?). None of those are encrypted or trunked or anything. So those might be worth your time scanning.

Are you really wanting to scan for signals in your area? Or are you looking to monitor police? Because if you just want to monitor police in a grid up situation I would look for a phone app. If you are wanting to scan all the signals in your area during a grid down situation, I think a scanner would be useful. And you would want to know what bands it scanned and what bands you are looking for activity on.

I'm hoping this either answers your questions or helps you ask more targeted questions.
Thanks, it does help me focus on a couple things.
How do I find what my local police / sheriff bands are?
Phone app - I've tried this in the past and found it so/so. The Fb scanner group also uses a phone app in addition to actual scanners.
Signals in the area: I don't care what the neighbors are talking about on their wireless house phones; I'm interested in knowing what police/first responders are doing in my area if I'm on the road - or when we're at home if something is going on nearby.

This is all driven by a desire to avoid trouble when possible, or to prevent becoming drawn into a situation unawares. There's probably a good cliche for that. Best I can think of right now is my old TAC officer saying "I believe in taking care of Soldiers... one way or the other." :mrgreen: :twisted:
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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by CrossCut » Mon Dec 28, 2020 6:14 am

tony d tiger wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 12:20 am
woodsghost wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 9:08 pm
tony d tiger wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:34 pm
I've heard good things about "Bearcat" Uniden scanners, but have no experience with this...
Aren't police channels digitized, encrypted and inaccessible to the public?
As NT2C said, it depends on the department. You have digital, encryption, and "trunking." All of which make it more difficult to follow police conversations. You also have many police frequencies in the 800 or 900 MHz, as well as 50 MHz and maybe some rural or poorer police still on 400(ish) MHz. So if you actually want to listen to the police, make sure the scanner catches all those. Prison, fire department, ambulance, and others in my area use the 150MHz and ...470MHz(?). None of those are encrypted or trunked or anything. So those might be worth your time scanning.

Are you really wanting to scan for signals in your area? Or are you looking to monitor police? Because if you just want to monitor police in a grid up situation I would look for a phone app. If you are wanting to scan all the signals in your area during a grid down situation, I think a scanner would be useful. And you would want to know what bands it scanned and what bands you are looking for activity on.

I'm hoping this either answers your questions or helps you ask more targeted questions.
Thanks, it does help me focus on a couple things.
How do I find what my local police / sheriff bands are?
Phone app - I've tried this in the past and found it so/so. The Fb scanner group also uses a phone app in addition to actual scanners.
Signals in the area: I don't care what the neighbors are talking about on their wireless house phones; I'm interested in knowing what police/first responders are doing in my area if I'm on the road - or when we're at home if something is going on nearby.

This is all driven by a desire to avoid trouble when possible, or to prevent becoming drawn into a situation unawares. There's probably a good cliche for that. Best I can think of right now is my old TAC officer saying "I believe in taking care of Soldiers... one way or the other." :mrgreen: :twisted:
Try the Radio Reference DB to find out what the state/county/city police are using in your area, it lists the frequency, mode, and if encrypted among other things. That should help you decide on what scanner capabilities you'll need/want. https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/

My state went to P-25 (but mostly not using encryption) for all state level agencies so I can't hear them with my current analog scanner, but my county and nearby counties still use analog FM in the 150-160 MHz range. At home I'll scan them sometimes with a cheap Uniden bearcat scanner bought back in the 90's. For HT/mobile, I just added the county police/fire frequencies to the primary scan group on the radios so no separate scanner is needed there, for scanning just a few analog FM frequencies most any ham radio that can receive in the desired band will work fine.

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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by tony d tiger » Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:44 am

CrossCut wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 6:14 am
tony d tiger wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 12:20 am
woodsghost wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 9:08 pm
tony d tiger wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:34 pm
I've heard good things about "Bearcat" Uniden scanners, but have no experience with this...
Aren't police channels digitized, encrypted and inaccessible to the public?
As NT2C said, it depends on the department. You have digital, encryption, and "trunking." All of which make it more difficult to follow police conversations. You also have many police frequencies in the 800 or 900 MHz, as well as 50 MHz and maybe some rural or poorer police still on 400(ish) MHz. So if you actually want to listen to the police, make sure the scanner catches all those. Prison, fire department, ambulance, and others in my area use the 150MHz and ...470MHz(?). None of those are encrypted or trunked or anything. So those might be worth your time scanning.

Are you really wanting to scan for signals in your area? Or are you looking to monitor police? Because if you just want to monitor police in a grid up situation I would look for a phone app. If you are wanting to scan all the signals in your area during a grid down situation, I think a scanner would be useful. And you would want to know what bands it scanned and what bands you are looking for activity on.

I'm hoping this either answers your questions or helps you ask more targeted questions.
Thanks, it does help me focus on a couple things.
How do I find what my local police / sheriff bands are?
Phone app - I've tried this in the past and found it so/so. The Fb scanner group also uses a phone app in addition to actual scanners.
Signals in the area: I don't care what the neighbors are talking about on their wireless house phones; I'm interested in knowing what police/first responders are doing in my area if I'm on the road - or when we're at home if something is going on nearby.

This is all driven by a desire to avoid trouble when possible, or to prevent becoming drawn into a situation unawares. There's probably a good cliche for that. Best I can think of right now is my old TAC officer saying "I believe in taking care of Soldiers... one way or the other." :mrgreen: :twisted:
Try the Radio Reference DB to find out what the state/county/city police are using in your area, it lists the frequency, mode, and if encrypted among other things. That should help you decide on what scanner capabilities you'll need/want. https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/

My state went to P-25 (but mostly not using encryption) for all state level agencies so I can't hear them with my current analog scanner, but my county and nearby counties still use analog FM in the 150-160 MHz range. At home I'll scan them sometimes with a cheap Uniden bearcat scanner bought back in the 90's. For HT/mobile, I just added the county police/fire frequencies to the primary scan group on the radios so no separate scanner is needed there, for scanning just a few analog FM frequencies most any ham radio that can receive in the desired band will work fine.
Outstanding! Thanks.
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Re: Digital Handheld Scanner

Post by RadioShooter » Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:20 am

Just remember that scanner phone apps are based on someone monitoring the actual RF channels with a scanner or radio and sending audio to the web. During unrest situations, the apps servers can only monitor dispatchers. No real time tactical operations are permitted, although most of these would be encrypted anyway. Having a properly setup portable scanner may or may not help one avoid complicated outdoor social events.

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