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Railfan Technology > BCT15X questions

Date: 03/20/21 09:03
BCT15X questions
Author: Jettrainfan

I'm looking at getting a BCT15X scanner for the car and had a couple questions.

1. What is a good power supply? I would like to use something that isn't hooked straight to the car but can be rechargable. There's several portable AC supply units available, but I don't know which one I should go with.

2. Scanner master offers a railfan package, which includes a "SpectrumForce Wideband Antenna" . Looking at the specs, it covers 25-1300 MHz. I'm only covering railroad channels, so I was wondering if anyone would recommend this or a different antenna that's in the 160-162MHz range. I would like something that's Magnet mount and at or under 2 feet/24 inches. (Cutting a hole in the roof of my car is not an option.)

Thanks for the help!

Posted from Android

Date: 03/20/21 09:54
Re: BCT15X questions
Author: RFandPFan

Wideband antennae are terrible especially in urban areas with a lot of radio traffic.  Look at the Larsen antenna, they come in different mounting options.  You measure the whip and cut to the specific range.  The best option, but more costly is a professionaly installed antenna for the best ground plane.  I use a Stico 1/4 wave flex-antenna so I don't have to remove it when parking in my garage.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/20/21 09:55 by RFandPFan.

Date: 03/20/21 20:15
Re: BCT15X questions
Author: WW

RFandPFan Wrote:
  The best option, but more costly
> is a professionally installed antenna for the best
> ground plane.  I use a Stico 1/4 wave
> flex-antenna so I don't have to remove it when
> parking in my garage.

Yes, by all means, get an antenna specifically cut to tune the 160-162mHz band if you plan to use the radio specifically for railfanning. Yes, it's usually best to have a permanent antenna professionally installed by a radio shop, especially on newer vehicles.  Routing cable incorrectly can compromise air bags and other features on late model vehicles.  As to power supply, typically the "cleanest" power to get to the radio is directly from the battery (with a fuse in the line, of course).  Pulling power from other locations (ignition, accessory outlets, etc.) can introduce electronic noise into the radio more readily than a direct battery connection.  Even at that, it may be necessary to install in a inline noise filter to help control electronic noise.  Scanners, with their wide frequency reception range, are particularly vulnerable to electronic noise, often to the point of being nearly unusable.  That is why I don't generally recommend scanners for mobile radio applications.

As noted above, the Stico Flexi-whip antenna is an excellent antenna to use if you regularly have to park in low clearance garages, etc.  I've used them for years and I've never had one break or fail.  They aren't cheap (around $50) and they can be hard to find except at commercial two-way radio shops, but they sure do work well (and long).

Date: 03/25/21 06:50
Re: BCT15X questions
Author: Arved

You might want to try a mag-mount antenna designed for 2m HAM band and trim it down for use at RR frequencies.

Quarter wave of 2m band is about 19". Quarter wave of the RR frequencies is about 17-1/2". So if you clip 1-1/2" from a 1/4 wave 2m antenna, you'll be very close to perfect tuning for the band.

MFJ has several options for 2m antennas at very competitive prices. Quality is iffy - they're the Harbor Freight of the HAM world, but their stuff works (just like the Harbor Freight tools I own!).

Arved Grass
Fleming Island, FL
Arved Grass

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