Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Discussion related to railroad radio frequencies, railroad communication practices, equipment, and more.

Moderator: Aa3rt

starionwolf

Post by starionwolf » Sat Dec 18, 2004 12:42 am

Everyone is using some nice scanners. :)

I have a handheld Radio Shack Pro-64 to listen to the Washinton, D.C. MetroRail Trains. I use an AC adapter for my Pro-64. This scanner is connected to a simple Radio Shack ground plane antenna with 19 inch radials about 12 feet in the air.

I also use my Yaesu VX-2R to listen to the MetroRail system at home or when I'm traveling around Northern Virginia. I have two SMA antennas for the VX-2R.

My main rail scanner is my Icom IC-2100 with an MFJ 5/8 wave ground plane antenna in the attic and 25 feet of RG-58 cable.

I can program the IC-2100 to scan between 160.215 and 161.565. I am able to hear Metro Trains all the way in New Carrolton. I am south of the Dunn Loring Metro station. I haven't heard much on Amtrak's road channel 54 (160.920 MHz) though. I might be too far from the railroads. I'm about 8 miles from the Alexandria - King Street Station and 6 miles from the Springfield - Franconia station.

va3ori

Post by va3ori » Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:22 pm

I have been using a Yaesu FT-8100R for scanning for the past few years and have had very good results. It is handy to have the dual bander in any case and that fact that it has out-of-ham-band scanning capacity is first rate. For an antenna, I use a Larsen ¼wave. dual band mag mount on the car trunk (or roof when on the open road). I've had very satisfactory results with this arrangement.

Prior to this, I used a variety of hand-held and base units with a Larsen 5/8 wave 2 metre mag mount which gave exceptionally good results. The problem with that set up (and with the current antenna as well) is that hand-held units tend to overload the front end with the higher gain antennas. The Yaesu has worked like a charm in a variety of terrains.

cheers,
Ori
VA3ORI - VA3XW

The S.P. Caboose

Radio

Post by The S.P. Caboose » Sun Dec 19, 2004 6:37 pm

I use a PRO 76. What I like about it is that I can hear both ends of the conversation (engine crew-dispatcher-yard office) from about ten miles from my location. :-D

starionwolf

Re: Radio

Post by starionwolf » Mon Dec 20, 2004 6:17 pm

The S.P. Caboose wrote:I use a PRO 76. What I like about it is that I can hear both ends of the conversation (engine crew-dispatcher-yard office) from about ten miles from my location. :-D
Hey, The S.P. Caboose, that's cool! I can only hear the dispatchers and maintenance people. I can't hear the trains because I'm too far from Alexandria and Washington D.C.

The S.P. Caboose

Re: Radio

Post by The S.P. Caboose » Thu Dec 23, 2004 9:20 pm

starionwolf wrote:
The S.P. Caboose wrote:I use a PRO 76. What I like about it is that I can hear both ends of the conversation (engine crew-dispatcher-yard office) from about ten miles from my location. :-D
Hey, The S.P. Caboose, that's cool! I can only hear the dispatchers and maintenance people. I can't hear the trains because I'm too far from Alexandria and Washington D.C.
Yeah, I picked up the name for a couple of reasons. 1) I got started railfanning along the Southern Pacific Lines and 2) I was always looking out for the train crews (Amtrak and Southern Pacific) thus the caboose part.

CoastStarlight99

pro-50

Post by CoastStarlight99 » Sun Dec 26, 2004 1:58 pm

Right now I am using a Pro-50 with a normal "rubber duckie" antenna. It works great and I really only use it when I am onboard an Amtrak. I am thinking of getting another one that can program arond 50 frequencies and I think I am not sure if I want to stick with a Radio Shack PRO scanner, or pay a bit extra for a Uniden digital.

Any reccomendations?

starionwolf

Post by starionwolf » Mon Dec 27, 2004 12:45 am

A cheep scanner like the $72 PRO-82 has 200 memories. A digital trunked tracking scanner is useful if you want to monitor public saftey systems that use ACPO-25 systems.

Hope this helps.

n2qhvRMLI
Posts: 292
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:05 pm
Location: Southold NY

Post by n2qhvRMLI » Fri Dec 31, 2004 5:52 pm

Hello all,

At work I monitor the LIRR with an ancient Bearcat BC210, at home a digital Bearcat BC780XLT. In the truck (and in my ham shack) I have Kenwood TM-733's with the RR frequencies programed for receive. Portable, I have two ICOM 32AT bricks that have RR freqs programmed for receive. An old Bearcat SP-H/L is also in the inventory but seldom if ever used.

de Don, n2qhvRMLI

Redside20

Post by Redside20 » Thu Aug 25, 2005 11:58 am

i bought an icom icv8 from r&l electronics in Hamilton Ohio and i bought my hustler antenna from amateur electronic supply in Wickliffe Ohio

ANDY117
Posts: 1944
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:01 pm
Location: Forgotten in a siding

Post by ANDY117 » Fri Sep 23, 2005 1:16 pm

I have the BC92XLT.

Ejen34

Post by Ejen34 » Sat Oct 29, 2005 2:41 pm

I have both a Pro-82 and a Pro-94B so depending on which car I am using I use these handies as mobile units with outside mobile mount antennas...I actually prefer the 82 to the 94 :)

kr4bd
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2004 8:30 am
Location: Lexington, KY

Post by kr4bd » Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:00 pm

Just about any scanner will work OK for rail scanning. I have collected several scanners over the years and find the Radio Shack Pro-94 and Bearcat BC-200XLT (1990 vintage) are very good portable (handheld) units. For a desktop scanner, I have been very pleased with my Radio Shacks Pro-2004 (mid-1980's vintage) and more modern Pro-2050 and Pro-2052. There are many other basic scanners available for $100 or less that will work well for rail scanning. But beware, in the future, rail radio may move to more digital and trunked transmissions which will require more sophisticated and expensive radios. But for now, MOST rail radio traffic is still pretty confined to analog FM transmissions on frequencies around 160-161 mHz.
Tom, KR4BD
Lexington, KY

Aa3rt
Posts: 869
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:09 pm
Location: La Plata, MD, MP 38.8 on the Pope's Creek sub

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by Aa3rt » Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:35 am

Aa3rt wrote:I'm still using my trusty PRO-31 after 15+ years.

The scanner itself works fine but the programming buttons are sometimes balky and battery life, never great when new, has deteriorated somewhat.
Well, the old PRO-31 gave it up a few months ago, so my wife and stepson gave me a BC60XLT-1 (WalMart special) as a combined Father's Day/birthday gift this summer. It's working fine here in my little corner of the world.

In my vehicle, I have a BC350A utilizing a 2-meter mag mount antenna. Great performance for my purposes.
Art Audley, AA3RT
Moderator: Railroad Radio & Communications, Railroads in Books, Magazines, Music, TV and other Media, General Discussion: Fallen Trolley & Interurban Lines, General Discussion: Shortline, Industrial & Military Railroads,

Ejen34

Post by Ejen34 » Mon Oct 31, 2005 7:03 pm

Old is not bad....my trusty pro-2018 has served me well as a desktop :)

Devil 505
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 1:26 pm
Location: Landing NJ

Post by Devil 505 » Tue Nov 01, 2005 2:04 am

I use a pro 24 from Radio Shack. It only has a 16 channel memory but it works good enough.

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