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Police Scanners - Tips for a noob?

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posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 02:05 PM
ATS! I can't believe I hadn't thought of it before, but this is probably a fantastic resource for finding out what I may be doing wrong.

I bought a Uniden 800 MHz 300-channel Base Mobile Scanner (Bearcat 355N) off of Amazon just last month, and I've been able to tune into the construction crew doing roadwork by my house (some hilarious conversations I've picked up on that one, lol)... and a few times I've tuned into local Police but it is as if the local police frequencies keep changing or I can't get a good lock on any.

Does anybody here have any tips for me?

I also have no idea what the "SQ" dial/knob is for on this thing.

I bought it because my grandfather was in the Coast Guard and we always used to listen to the scanner in the background. Well I hope to be able to find and save some local frequencies, but so far I'm spending most of my time "scanning" and listening to weird dial-up tones.

I know you can look up frequencies for the area where you live - any resources for this would also be greatly appreciated.

Do I have the wrong scanner? Am I doing something wrong? I'd love any input from my ATS friends. Even if that means "you bought the wrong kind of scanner bud, you're not going to find anything with that thing". At least I will get some answers

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 02:17 PM
i have a two scanners because my original uniden was an analog scanner and my local police/fire are on digital now. that could be your problem. a good site to find channels by state or city is

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 02:46 PM
Your going to struggle to listen to police frequency unless you go to a website that is being managed by Police,

in the UK, they use Tetra radios, these change there encryption and frequency every few minutes, i'm surprised if others don't follow suite,

can your system pick up encrypted??????

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 03:08 PM
I never got into police scanners. Even though I had a neighbor that always had hers on. One day I was trying to ignore it like I always do and heard that the gas station up the street from our townhouses was in the process of being robbed. So, of course we took our drinks outside and almost fell off our patios to enjoy the show.

I'm certain this is exactly why most places have or are switching to something the general public can't hear. It was still better than television though!

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 03:10 PM
a reply to: Phatdamage

Unfortunately it can't pick up encrypted - that's probably why I'm hearing so many weird "dial-up" noises as I described. I bet you're spot on about the encryption + changing frequencies

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 03:12 PM
a reply to: blondegiraffe

awesome! what make/model did you purchase for the digital scanner you are using now?

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 03:22 PM
a reply to: FamCore

yes, the dial up noises, are actually the open frequency to network sound, you should't here actual talk, (if you do, there is something wrong with there setup!!)

I recently installed a 130 radios DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) radio system (not the full Tetra, but cheaper) at my work,

do me a favour scroll through this SITE and let me know what you heard

edit on 16/7/15 by Phatdamage because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 03:33 PM
a reply to: FamCore

The SQ knob should be your squelch. You can fine tune the signal with that. Also if you look up your local area there should be a listing for the police, EMS, Fire, and non emergency bands that you can listen in on. Once you have the frequency entered you can use the squelch to fine tune it. Hope this helps.

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 03:34 PM
It could be possible that your local police have switched from analog to digital equipment. You'll still be able to get a few transmissions from agencies who haven't switched. Back when my scanner worked, you could get a list of local frequencies at Radio Shack to program in.

You could also try Keep refining your search until you find your local area and see what it available to listen to. In my case, the city police band isn't available but the county public safety channel is-at least I can hear EMS, fire department and the occasional police call.

If you do Facebook, search for a page from your city or county that transcribes the police calls. The comments from people posting responses are sometimes live and on scene and very informative.

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 04:08 PM
hey i do think this is one thread that i can help on. i program radios for law enforcement in colorado. maybe PM me and we can talk about your particular area and ill see if i could help.

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 05:53 PM
I've thought about getting one. For now I use an app. It's cool because I can listen all over the country.

Will the scanners do that? Or are they limited in range?

Last weekend I hooked up a CB radio I got at a flea market. That was quite entertaining as well.

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 06:41 PM
+1 on
awesome site for anything scanner related.

a lot depends on your area. some agencies still use analog, some trunked, more and more digital, some encrypted. if they're encrypted you won't hear anything. Mototrbo and Edacs Provoice are encrypted, boo.
some simulcast on old and new systems.
remember, you will have local (county/town) and state stuff, and in some places federal.
you might get stuff form your local airport, or at least the flights going in/out. military air is great.
121.5 is air emergency. 156.8 is Coast Guard SOS. they are two starter frequencies.
edit on 16-7-2015 by works4dhs because: fix linque

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 07:22 PM
a reply to: FamCore

the uniden bcd436hp. its a good middle price range. its a little bit tricky to get programmed but i think that was mainly since i was a complete noob to digital scanners.

posted on Jul, 16 2015 @ 08:15 PM
As others may have mentioned, SQ stands for squelch. It lets you determine the signal strength you can receive. If it is turned down, you will pick up the slightest signals from any channel. This will mean you will also pick up a lot of static. If it turned up, you will only pick up the strongest signals that are clear and crisp.

With my ham radio, my squelch is set to 3/10. Maybe 4/10.

I'm not sure if their channels would be encrypted. It may be that their radios automatically jump frequencies so it's harder for people to listen in. If that's the case you will not be able to listen in.

And radioreference is an awesome resource

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