Home Open Account Help 239 users online

Railfan Technology > Need advice on hand-held scanner


Date: 12/28/22 11:41
Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: 2839Canadian

Seems like whenever I am in a group of other railfans with hand-held scanners everyone picks up lots of transmissions, but I receive very few.  I ask what frequencies they have on their scanners, and they are all loaded onto my scanner. I bought a sensitive 15 inch antenna two years ago, but it did not help.

My scanner is a Uniden Nascar BC95XLT.

I have decided to buy a new scanner. Does anyone have any suggestions for a quality hand-held scanner that will pick up most transmissions?

Thanks in advance.
 



Date: 12/28/22 12:47
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: TCnR

fwiw the Uniden Nascar BC95XLT. I have has the worst reception of anything I've used. A number of folks have much better reception with the BC125 model, although it has a number of issues, or lack of features, of it's own.

Yeasu HAM radios have been workiing out well for me, great reception, not too much more in price, good decision for the moment. There's a number of limitations but both models have great reception and are very rugged, replacement batteries are available, lots of antenna choices. They do work better with a third party software package, but that also serves as a place to list frequencies and use.

After that there's a lot of technical decisions to make for the buck. There are sites like scannermaster for comparison, places like Gigaparts, etc. There was a HAM radio chain but not sure where they went to.

+ the obvious spec that you're comparing is called Sensitivity.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/22 12:51 by TCnR.



Date: 12/29/22 06:26
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: WW

Without beating a dead horse with repitition of years of my posts, please do a search of the Railfan Technology forum under my handle.  I've probably posted close to a thousand times on this subject in the last 10-15 years.



Date: 12/30/22 07:20
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: 2839Canadian

Thanks.  
Is the Uniden 125AT a high quality, sensitive scanner which picks up most transmissions while trackside?



Date: 12/30/22 08:26
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: TCnR

Yes except for the high quality part. It sells for a hundred bucks or so, probably less. There are complaints posted here about them but not very many, it is a very common scanner, easy to operate.



Date: 12/30/22 08:29
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: goneon66

if it is easy to operate, i'll get one..........

66



Date: 12/30/22 09:46
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: 2839Canadian

How about it's sensitivity?



Date: 12/30/22 10:47
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: chessie7602

In the railroad band, the sensitivity of the BC125AT is 0.2 uV.  I don't know if that is good or not or how it compares to scanners or HAM radios that are known to be good.

I have had mine for about 9 months and have liked it so far.  It is easy to program with the free software. 

 



Date: 12/30/22 16:12
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: K3HX

I have used the Yaesu FT-250-270 series for many years.  They have provided me with
good service.  I use the MFJ-1717s antenna which I have found to be measurably better in the RR band
than the supplied "ham" radio band antenna.

I'd recommend the RT systems programming disc software. Easy to use and the folks at RT are
accustomed to dealing with railroad enthusiasts.

Be Well,

Tim Colbert  K3HX

30+ years in 2-way radio, 58+ years in amateur radio



Date: 12/30/22 22:32
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: SpringedSwitch

WW Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Without beating a dead horse with repitition of
> years of my posts, please do a search of the
> Railfan Technology forum under my handle.  I've
> probably posted close to a thousand times on this
> subject in the last 10-15 years.


Does scanner technology change in 10-15 years?



Date: 01/01/23 08:23
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: WW

SpringedSwitch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> WW Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Without beating a dead horse with repitition of
> > years of my posts, please do a search of the
> > Railfan Technology forum under my handle. 
> I've
> > probably posted close to a thousand times on
> this
> > subject in the last 10-15 years.
>
>
> Does scanner technology change in 10-15 years?

With the exception of digital scanners, not really that much.  The analog scanners from Uniden are using technology that is close to 10 years old or more.  Most all of the "progress" in portable radios, in general, has been on the digital technology side--and making the radios physically smaller.  Uniden's "latest and greatest" digital portable scanner, the SDS-100, actually performs worse on the analog channels than the approximately decade-old BC-125AT.  I own both, and have tested both in real world conditions extensively.  On the commercial two-way radio side, for railfan use, my decade-old Icom and Kenwood portable and mobile NXDN/analog radios perform as well as any of the newer models.  Also, with increasing "sophistication" and more "bells and whistles," radios also become more complicated to operate and program.  For example, I've been programming radios via PC software for going on 20 years now, and it took me many hours to figure out all  the programming nuances of the Uniden SDS-100.

Finally, the harsh reality is that PTC is eliminating more and more conventional two-way railroad radio communication all the time.  Here's an example:

Just a couple of years ago, a train crew would "tone-up" a Dispatcher to get a Track Warrant.  The Dispatcher would then read the Warrant to the crew, and the crew would repeat it back.  This gave a raifan monitoring the channel two opportunities to hear the whole Warrant.  Only after a correct readback would the Dispatcher OK the Warrant.  Fast forward to today.  The Dispactcher calls the train crew, "I have  Warrant  X-1234 for you.  Do you want it on your portable or on  PTC?"  The Conductor might reply, "On the PTC."  Dispatcher, "Here it comes."  Crew, "We got it and have read it."  Dispatcher, "Warrant X-1234 is good and valid.  Dispatcher out."  Along the mainline where I live, seldom does one hear Warrants read over and back on the radio system unless the PTC is having issues.   Even MOW people are getting more and more of their Warrants electronically.  So, back in the "old days," a railfan hearing a Warrant being issued could potentially know the direction of the train, its current location, the limits of its authority, where and when it might be meeting other trains. As one can see from my example, today a radio voice communication may contain NONE of that information.



Date: 01/01/23 11:47
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: ATSF160

I inadvertently, and unknowingly, deleted all my programmed channels in my-several-years old BC125AT, and was scannerless for about a month. Could not figure out what was wrong, so I bought another one. Then, with the help of some folks here and on radio reference forums, I got it working.

Now I have two scanners, programmed alike, and Diamond RH77CA antennas for both. Yesterday I took both scanners, one with the Diamond and one using my car-roof-mounted antenna. The car antenna makes a WORLD of difference! I would estimate the radio with the Diamond antenna was missing 40% of chatter. And the stock stubby antenna misses even more. So, no matter what you decide, be sure to mount an antenna on your vehicle.



Date: 01/01/23 18:51
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: march_hare

Current version of the 125 AT ( not sure of the model number) allows you to scan the entire RR band without programming ANY frequencies at all. If traveling, that is a huge big deal. If you're a lazy slug, it is also a big deal.

I often fall into one category or the other, so I love it. 

It's not the most sensitive scanner I've ever had, but with a rooftop antenna it does pretty well. And it's dirt cheap. 



Date: 01/06/23 07:02
Re: Need advice on hand-held scanner
Author: kjmk

If you get the BC125AT, after you have it programmed use the free Uniden software to make a backup.



[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.0898 seconds