Radio Scanning: What It’s All About
Radio scanning is the activity of scanning radio frequencies that are beyond the normal AM and FM frequencies that a normal radio captures. These frequencies are usually reserved for emergency services such as police, fire force, ambulance, aircrafts security and so on.
Radio scanning is primarily a leisure activity enjoyed by several people worldwide. Depending on where you are, the regulations that govern radio scanning may vary. In most places, it is legal provided the information that you hear is not used for malicious intents such as monetary gains or criminal activities. Radio scanning is also governed by local privacy laws and often listening to private phone conversations are prohibited. The normal radio scanner models do not have the capability to scan through GSM and CDMA frequencies which are typically used for phone conversations.
One of the advantages of using a radio scanner is that you are able to hear what happens in the world around you, before it reaches mainstream news.
The equipment needed for radio scanning is a scanner which is available in several sizes. You can get hand held models as well as portable models. The usual frequency range is between 25 and 1300 MHz though the models vary in terms of the memory channels available, support for trunked radio and set of received frequencies.
If you are an amateur who wants to get introduced to the hobby of radio scanning, then it is better to start off with an inexpensive and basic model. This would be easier to sue and would still provide enough entertainment. But make sure that the number of memory channels are at least more than thirty and that there is a clear frequency display panel. Also, once you have purchased your scanner make sure that you read the manual in detail so that you understand all the controls properly. There are more info about it in
Yet another important feature to consider while selecting a scanner is the antenna. The antenna determines the receiving frequency range as well as the signals captured. If the scanner is being used at home, then it is best to mount the antenna outdoors. The antenna cable also needs to be of superior quality, or else there can be significant signal loss, which can be as high as seventy five percent in certain cases.
The basic knowledge required to operate a scanner includes the ability to interpret the buttons, a basic understanding of radio frequencies as well as effective searching for frequencies.
There are certain basic controls that are common to all radio scanners. These include volume control, the squelch option which helps to keep the speaker muted while scanning, a numeric keypad which aids in frequency selection as well as to set limits for searching, a search button, a scan button and a manual button which allows the user to manually step through stored channels.
There are certain very useful accessories that can be used with radio scanners. These include frequency guide books, external speakers and cases for handheld devices.
If you do not want to invest in equipment, then you can get a taste of this hobby via the internet. All that you need is a PC equipped with a sound card. The reception quality may not be very good, but it is a good way to know whether you like this hobby before you actually go in for the equipment.
Once you start using your scanner, make sure to note down the frequencies that you enjoy the most. This would help repeat listening, without having to go through the whole process of searching for what to listen to. Ideally, you should start collecting frequencies in an organized manner – either using a spreadsheet or using index cards. Make sure that while collecting frequencies, you start searching within a narrow band and collate the frequencies under specific subject heads.
Once you have mastered the basics of radio scanning, you need to understand about trunking. Trunking is the process of centrally controlling frequencies of multiple users, thereby allowing the control frequency to listen to all the users without having to change frequencies. However, basic models do not support trunked radio and you do not really need a scanner which supports it, till you have completely enjoyed the other frequencies and are ready to move on.