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police scanner
scanner police
ham radio operators
police scanners
vhf uhf
different shapes
shapes and sizes
Do I Really Need A Police Scanner
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Do I Really Need A Police Scanner

What is a police scanner

Police scanners are radio receivers that monitor the VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) radio bands. They are capable of scanning through 2 or more channels at a time, allowing you to program in multiple services, one on each channel, and stop on a channel when a signal is heard. Depending on what you need, police scanners come in different shapes and sizes. The most popular are the small portable hand-held scanners and the fixed base Mobile/ home scanner. They also include a desktop version that you can plug into the wall outlet.

OK, so what can I hear on a police scanner

There are many public service agencies that you can listen to including Police, fire and rescue, ambulance, two way radio FRS,GMRS and land mobile. You can listen in on the Marine channels and coast guard transmissions if you live close to the water . Ham radio operators also have frequencies that are allocated to them in the 144 to 148 MHZ and 430 to 450 MHZ range.

So you may be asking yourself if you really need to be able to hear all of these different services at all. Many hobbyists will scan ranges of frequencies looking for services that aren't known to the public. There are many unpublished frequencies that are used by different government agencies and finding them can be very exciting.

Is it legal to listen to a police scanner

It is not illegal to intercept public service and government frequencies that are unencrypted as long as you are not using the information to engage in criminal activities or for personal profit. If you were to stream the information online to a website for the sole purpose of making money then that could be considered illegal, and possibly land you in jail or with big fines. It is also illegal to interfere with a police investigation by passing information heard on the scanner to other parties, including those involved in the illegal activity.

As you can see, there are a lot of services listed in the VHF/UHF ranges, and it is not possible to cover all of them in this article. Some of the other fun frequencies to listen to are local and state police, taxi services, water and power, Maritime, motor carrier, railroad and mobile telephones.

When you decide on what type of scanner may suit your needs, be sure to do a Google search for frequencies that may be in use in your area. You can find some great web sites that will list the most common frequencies in use by your zip code. If you don't want to go through the hassle of looking all of this information up, many newer scanners now have the ability to enter the most commonly used frequencies into the scanner for you. All you have to do is enter your zip code.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you will need an outdoor antenna. If you live within the city limits and only want to hear police and fire then the antenna that comes with the scanner will be more than adequate. If you live farther out of town or want to scan groups of frequencies to find new services, then you will want an outdoor external antenna that you can mount on a short pole or on the roof.

So don't be afraid to go out and get that first police scanner, hook up an antenna and start tuning in.


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