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recommended scanner

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posted on May, 13 2010 @ 08:54 AM
can anyone recommend a mobile scanner for me? I will be visiting area 51 again this year but i wanted to suppliment my trip this year by listening to chatter. Also i do alot of sluthing around other unofficial lets say hotspots and i need a scanner than can also pickup cellular frequencies.... also being able to pickup police frequencies is VITAL.. any recommendations. Sorry i'm cheap and realize i might not be able to have it all so looking for $100-200 range on ebay used... i just dont know where to start.


[edit on 13-5-2010 by hiii_98]

posted on May, 13 2010 @ 08:33 PM
so not one adventerous area 51 explorer or hell techno geek can recommend a single portable scanner?

posted on May, 13 2010 @ 08:48 PM
What are the penalties if they caught you listening to them? I'm pretty sure they are severe.
I think the communications will be encrypted. And they will be digital. I could be wrong

This link has some information on scanners.

posted on May, 13 2010 @ 09:50 PM
Here is a link to's information for the Nevada Test and Training Range.

Possible Area 51 Frequencies

Surprisingly, it looks like most of the area is analog. However, if there's any chance you want to make scanning a hobby, digital is definitely the way to go. Be weary of what you might find used as well because the FCC has been 'rebanding' frequencies across the US and some older scanners (2005 and prior) might not pick up the new frequencies.

Here are a couple of recommendations:
PRO-164 - This unit will pick up all non-digital frequencies permitted...including trunked systems. Knowledge of scanner programming is required.

PRO-107 - This will do the same as the PRO-164, but you download frequencies to a SD card directly from and create playlists, almost like an MP3 player. Scanner programming knowledge is minimum here.

PRO-106 - If you want to receive digital frequencies, this is the way to go, but it comes at a hefty price. Knowledge of scanner programming is required here too.

I hope this helps!

posted on May, 14 2010 @ 12:13 AM
I explained much of this in that poorly titled "getting your feet wet" thread.

Here is my list of military airband scanner. It may be missing a few new models, but I don't get interested in digital scanners that include military air. You really need multiple scanners if you expect to hear anything, that is one scanner on airband, and the other on the trunk system.

military airband scanners

Don't put too much faith in that radio reference Groom Lake frequencies page. I've been tracking the trunk system for years. That list has a few bugs. Some of the locations are wrong. If I had a perfect list, I'd probably post it, but I have 90% of a perfect list. I've used direction finding gear to locate some of the sites, but a few are so buried in the range that it is hard to make a conclusive estimate of their location. In the other thread I explain that they are encrypted and can't be monitored. I don't know why the other poster believes they are analog.

Regarding cellular frequencies, good luck. Most sites are now digital. There was some analog cellular around the range a year or two after the analog was supposed to be shut down, but I think the analog is all gone at this point. It was very annoying since one of my scanners was only double conversion and would get analog cellphone images when scanning the federal band. Along route 95, there is CDMA and GSM. Along route 6, there is some GSM near Tonopah, but otherwise CDMA. When cellular there is along Route 93 and the ET Highway is CDMA.

For my money, I use the old Pro-2042 for military airband scanning. They are about $100 used. It does a good job on mil air due to the first IF being out of the mil air band, up close to 700MHz. This is a feature only found on scanners at 4x to 6x the price, like a used Icom R-7100. The drawback to the Pro-2042 is you have to program it by hand rather than bu computer. The pro-2042 has a recording output on the back. It is nice and airy inside if you want to hack it. It is not handheld though. I think a Pro-97 does a fair job for mil air handheld, though the Yupi MVT7100 is better. The Pro-97 can be programed via computer, but not the mvt7100.

Since Radio Reference will have bugs in it, I see no values in direct loading from it. The deal with Radio Reference is anyone can submit "fixes" to the database, and wrong information gets posted. I'm sure the people submitting wrong data are well intentioned, but they make it impossible to maintain a correct database.

posted on May, 14 2010 @ 11:01 AM
so would the pro 107 be a good starter scanner for me while sitting atop tikaboo listening to traffic? Isnt it just analog and wont that be a problem?

also any recommendations on the pro 95 and pro 96 and 97 scanners?

i want to listen to air traffic above tikaboo, listen to police communications, and possibly accidently (as it would be illegal) recieve cellular signals

[edit on 14-5-2010 by hiii_98]

[edit on 14-5-2010 by hiii_98]

posted on May, 14 2010 @ 05:39 PM
reply to post by hiii_98

Forget the pro-95. They did three revs of that scanner and never really got it right. If you want to get into the nitty gritty, the Pro-95 attempted to trunk track via subaudible tones and there is some ambiguity in using that scheme. Trust me, avoid it.

I have a Pro-96 and Pro-97. The pro-97 predates the 800 MHZ "refarming" and won't work in some cities. If you just want to scan the base, it is fine, but it sells for more money used than new most of the time. It's baffling. RS blew them out at $100 with free shipping. The Pro-96 will handle the refarmed 800MHz, but it does not have "native" military air. the Win96 software from
Don Starr
will restore the mil air, but the performance is not very good. The Pro-96 will do the NTS trunking. Nothing will do Groom trunking. [The only way the LCN of the system is know is from using software that decodes the control channel via a demod tapped scanner.]

I haven't used the Pro-107, but it has some advantages due to the SD card storage. First, assume Radio Reference is worthless. They don't have 10% of the mil air frequencies used at the range, so their database won't be of any use. I would suggest getting Win500 from Don Starr and loading the scanner yourself. The Pro-107 will not decode the NTS.

The NTS has a few talk groups related to secruity and air traffic. I submitted the talk groups to Radio Reference since that is something they can't screw up easily. "Gumby Control" I believe is the NTS air traffic scheduler, something like Blackjack is for Nellis. Anyway, there is some stuff on the NTS, but I assure you if you load a scanner full of all the mil air frequencies used at the base, you can not trunk track the NTS very well. These scanners work only so fast.

The Pro-107 has an interesting step size in the mil air band. Most of the band is 25kHz, which at the moment is the mil air channel spacing. There is talk of 12.5KHz for years and years. [That lead to the Pro-2035 using 25KHz and the Pro-2042 using 12.5KHZ spacing.] The new fed/military trunk systems in the 380 to 400MHZ band use 12.5KHz spacing. If you look at the Pro-107, it used 25kHz spacing from 225 to 380, the goes to 12.5KHz spacing from 380 to 400.

I haven't even seen the Pro-107 in the flesh, so I have no idea how well it works. On paper, all seems well. It also has signal stalker II like the Pro-97. Signal stalker works well if close to the signal. However, if you are stalking, you can't be scanning. You can see how multiple scaners are really required for sigint.

I haven't read the manual on the Pro-107, but it seems you are not limited in the number of banks. If you wanted to scan the Nevada Shared System, you need a lot of EDACS banks. This can be done with the Pro-96 using the virtual folders, but it sounds like the Pro-107 will do this better.

Forget cellular. Nothing from the base will go over analong cellular since these people are well aware of comsec.

I still like the Pro-2042, but it is mobile, not handheld. It is a hell of a lot better "radio" in the sense of receiving hard to get signals. You could only do better with an Icom R-7100 or Icom R-8500 at substantially more cost. The Pro-2042 is the OLD GRE product, pre-Chinese as they say.

For Tikaboo, you don't need very good reception, so the Pro-96 wil mil air mod might work. What I do for Tikaboo is set up one old scanner (pro-42 I was given) for the known base frequecies. Then I go signal stalking with the Pro-97. From Tikaboo, you will hear planes at China Lake and en-route to Edwards.

posted on May, 14 2010 @ 06:13 PM
thank you for the extremely informative explination! if it were you would you buy the 107 over the 97? I've narrowed it down to these two models for my needs. Thanks everyone for your advice!

posted on May, 14 2010 @ 08:27 PM
reply to post by hiii_98

Oh, I don't know. If I found a pro-97 on craigslist for $40 or so, I'd sure get another. When you signal stalk, it is divided into bands. Mil air is two bands due to the size. Civil air is another. [The signal stalker is how I found the frequency for the CIA plane at Base Camp.]

Anyway, you could stalk better if you had several signal stalkers covering different bands.

I suppose if I were to buy new, I'd get the Pro-107. It has it's fans and detractors. The frequencies it covers are what you need, so that is half the battle. You should really get an old mil air scanner like the pro-43 and just program the Groom Lake tower, approach/departure, and ground, plus the Groom UHF frequencies. [Probably the Pro-60 will work as well. I never used one.] The Pro-43 takes 6 cells and is not very efficient, but it is a good scanner. Again, if you put a pile of frequencies in the Pro-107, you will probably miss base ops. They speak very little as part of their comsec.

That said, I pick up Pro-2042s and Pro-2035s when the deal is right. [Up to $100 for the Pro-2042, and $50 t $60 for the Pro-2035). Both are really good radios, with the Pro-2042 being the desired product. The ground recordings at Groom Lake (yet another exclusive of mine) were sniffed from a hill top well away from the base using the Pro-2042 and home brew antennas, plus some LNAs I had built for me. The reality is you are not going to be on Tikaboo all the time, so a good radio will make better recordings.

I haul some surplus data center gel cells with me to the range and run the mobile units from a gel cell. You can run a few pro-2042s for 2 to 3 days on one 50AHr 12V gel cell. Data centers toss these yearly, so they are either free with connections or $20 to $30 at Ham swap meets.

Sigint is a bit of an art. You need to keep logs. You need to learn where they can hide frequencies. The NTIA Red Book is on line. It is the bible for allocations. It does not contain military/federal frequencies, but it tells you where to search:
NTIA Red Book

posted on May, 15 2010 @ 12:29 AM
Which ever one you get, buy the software to program it!! Makes it a lot easier. Go to to get their software. I have a BCD 396 I carry and a 996 in my truck. A digi scanner will cost you about $499 or cheaper depending on where you buy it or if you get a used one. Just do not buy from "scannermaster" online also as they way overpriced!! I'd reccomend staying away from radioreference as well as they have no policy regarding getting ripped off from buyers as many have. But I'd suggest using or subscribing to RR's database as you can download channels, freqs and talkgroups directly to your scanner using the usb cable that comes with many newer scanners. It makes programming faster and you can go back in using Butel software and then label them to your liking or leave them as is. Many of the online dealers offer digi scanners for around $460 or less which is a good price. I have the following in my shack:

3 GRE 600's
Pro 2055
2 Pro 895XLT's
2 GRE 500's

My HAM gear is:
Yaesu FT 2000
Icom 7700
Yaesu FT8900

Digital is a good way to go because if you travel thru an area where they use digi ops then a conventional scanner is useless. Also a digital scanner will still pick up non digi communications.

The Pro 107 is a nice scanner, it allows you listen to PL's which are private radio to radio communcations used by law enforcement and other users of Motorolas. The 396 and the older 246 does it also. Its a nice option to have.

The Pro 96 is a good digi scanner that comes up often on Ebay for reasonable prices.

Most Military Bases use a trunked system that may or may not be digital or, it can kick to digital if something warrants. The trunk system can be either VHF, UHF or 800. With a trunk system there are control channels and voice channels (freqs) that must be programmed in numerical order to function so that the scanner can follow it. The newer scanners allow for just input of the control freqs/channels so you don;t have to program in all 16 frequencies to get the scanner to work. It makes programming easier if you do it by hand. But I really suggest buying the software.

I've been an extra class (advanced in earlier years) in amateur radio since 1979 and will be happy to help you in any way I can. Just ask via U2U.

[edit on 5/15/2010 by mikelee]

posted on May, 15 2010 @ 12:48 AM
reply to post by defiler

Listening via a scanner depends on local laws. Encrypted radio is against the law to listen to besides the fact that finding the correct de-encrypt key in order to hear would be impossible not to forget to mention that the equipment to do so is beyond the price range of the average scanner fan.

Most of the time no one is going to get in trouble, just check with local city or county or even state laws regarding scanners. In some states if your licensed in amateur radio then you can have a scanner in your vehicle, if not it will be confiscated! Usually if there is a Radio Shack or other store that sells scanners then its probably OK.

posted on May, 15 2010 @ 12:53 AM
I would be very suprised if you pick up anything juicy from such a secret base. I imagine all the interesting stuff would be broadcast at very high frequencies, beyond that of most scanners, especially in your price range.

You could pick up police no problem with a cheap scanner, but its not that interesting after you've heard it for days on end.

Cellphones, i'm not sure, they used to be up around 1000mhz, but that was years ago.

[edit on 15-5-2010 by grantbeed]

posted on May, 15 2010 @ 12:56 AM
reply to post by grantbeed

Maybe pick up maintenance or aircraft (air field) operations but for all the "good stuff" its gonna be on encrypted HF communications or encrypted VHF, UHF frequencys. I would believe by now they have figured out that people who come and visit may have a scanner or three with them and have taken measures to secure their communications.

[edit on 5/15/2010 by mikelee]

posted on May, 15 2010 @ 12:57 AM
reply to post by mikelee


I haven't had one for a few years now. I found them to be a real buzz to begin with, but it gets boring after a while.

Saying that you can get a good laugh listening to the Police on a Saturday night.

posted on May, 15 2010 @ 01:00 AM
reply to post by grantbeed

I know, I'm listening to mine now...Some biker in Myrtle Beach just tried to drive his bike into a Scotchman (conveinance store)

posted on May, 15 2010 @ 01:08 PM
reply to post by mikelee

Groom Lake talks in the clear all the time on aviation frequencies. They don't encrypt as easily as NFM. [Yes, there is Have Quick.] If you talk in a cryptic manner, it is as good as encryption.

With aircraft, you don't want encryption to get in the way of safety. Better to let some person with a scanner hear snippets like "starting track" rather than miss an emergency message.

The test data goes over telemetry that is both digital and much to wide in bandwidth to even be received by a scanner. You can find some telem licenses at the TTR. I forget if they are from Boeing or Lockheed.

I'm not sure what you mean by PL messages. Do you mean convention NFM using tone coded squelch, perhaps as a talk around (simplex)?

The trunk systems can have I-calls, which are phones calls over the trunk system. The older scanners used to ignore I-Calls because it gets dicey if you allow someone to hear a phone conversation since phone users have an expectation of privacy (even if they have none). Some of the newer scanners let the I-Calls be monitored.

I have some Red Flag recordings here:
Red Flag audio

Janet audio

My Groom Lake audio isn't very organized (not all on one page), but here is the thread for the Balmy Breeze recording:
Balmy Breeze

I use a Zoom H2 to do the recordings because it is less power than a notebook. You can remove the gaps in speech with Audacity. I record in PCM for best clarity, then encode to OGG or MP3. You want to avoid going through compression twice.

posted on May, 17 2010 @ 04:13 AM
reply to post by gariac

Maybe I needed to clarify and thanks for prompting me to do so, general aviation is not encrypted as you stated. I was referring to what many deem "secret communications" or, things you REALLY want to hear rather than "heavy 35 push to 25" or "clear for 35,000 ft" and so on.
The PL's are trademarked by Motorola (PL= Private Line) and displays on a scanner as - 701564. The last three is the officer's badge or radio number and the first three denote if he is on his handheld or in the car. 701 = vehicle and 702 = handheld and thats how it displays where I live. Other areas would be different. The PL's are ONLY heard if you have a Pro 107, the old Uniden 246T or the new BCD 246 / 396. To the best of my knowledge those are the only radios can track PL's.

Lots of folks confuse PL (Private Line) by saying "do you have a pl tone on your frequency?" when it is actually a CT (connect tone) or CTCSS / DCS which is digital tone.

posted on May, 19 2010 @ 09:07 PM
Interesting audio on N196D with regard to the jumpers. The fact they mention a tandem jump in particular. Either someone who isn't certified is having some fun, or they are practicing insertions of non jump certified personnel, military or civilian.

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 11:55 PM
I just got back from a trip to the "Range", unfortunately I wasn't able to spend as much time there as I would like, plus I totally missed Red Flag or any other exercises. Note to self... no longer will I bring children and/or women on these trips... they just don't seem to get it....

This trip I went down with a Radio Shack PRO-163 base scanner, mounted on the dash of my truck. Works beautifully, but I still haven't figured out the Trunking part of it. No activity on the Range, but sat and watched/listened at my favorite Nellis viewing spot. I picked this scanner up off eBay, in minty condition for far less than $100. Looks like RS still sells them new for $199, and it has a PC/IF port for programming from your PC, which I haven't tried as yet, you require a special adapter for this.

Previous to this I had/have a RS PRO-60 portable, non-trunking scanner (my backup now). The base scanner has far better reception, I tested both with my homebrew roofmount scanner antenna.

posted on May, 31 2010 @ 11:32 PM
reply to post by FosterVS

Fight Weapons School is in session, so unless you were scanning on a weekend, there should have been plenty to hear.

Trunking won't be very useful with that scanner around the range. Groom Lake is encrypted and the NTS is digital. You could program the police trunk systems, but I rarely scan the cops when I'm in the Nellis range. You can scan cops just about anywhere.

I got the new Janet frequencies (via bandscanning and locking out non-groom frequencies). The callsign of the month was Rambo, which made things a bit confusing since Rambo is also a military callsign.

To signal stalk well on the range, you need a low noise preamp. The signal stalker circuits need significant signal to cut in (500uV at least based on some measurements). With large antennas and a preamp, the signal stalker is runs like you have it on programmed memories.

I will be uploading scanner audio from the range later in the week. I got the WB-57 in a test over Groom.

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