Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

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

Moderator: Aa3rt


Post by K9MEL » Tue Jan 01, 2008 6:13 pm

I know a great number of people are raving about the Yaesu VX-170. I think it's the best so far!


Railfanning Radio's.

Post by BNSFrailfan » Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:24 am

Currently. I use two Scanners when it come to Railfanning. I use my Radio Shack Pro-92 connected to my Maxrad-Railcom Antenna in my Truck when on the go. And I use my Radio Shack Pro-96 with my Motorola 7" Antenna connected to it. My Pro-96 is my Hand Held.

Posts: 739
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 2:55 am
Location: Hi Nella, NJ

Post by JJMDiMunno » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:29 pm

Currently using a PRO-528 for railroad purposes...somewhat overkill, but most market scanners are now. My older (now deceased) BC30XLT-1 did just fine for me. Attached to a Hustler trunk-lip mount all-band antenna on my car, works wonderfully.

My home base system is running off an old BC30XLT-1 (not deceased, but the second one I bought years ago)...this system broadcasts a radio stream on the internet and is connected to a radio shack mag mount antenna which I have outside my apartment, mounted on an air conditioner. Just moved to this location one week ago and signal strength down here is awful. An improvement to the stream will be an upcoming better antenna, and hopefully one of these days a HAM which should get us clearer signals, etc.

Mike DiMunno
~Mike DiMunno
CSAO Beesley Point Secondary - MP 8.69 (Magnolia, NJ)
Moderator: Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines :: Penn Central

Posts: 834
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 4:44 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by Finch » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:47 am

Well I guess I can add my input to this thread now.

I got a RS PRO-82 somewhat over a year ago, and it has been working great. It is my first scanner so I can't compare it to others in terms of performance. I have been satisfied, however. Out at the tracks I'm always able to hear "something." I use "precharged" NiMH AA's in it because they have a low self-discharge rate. This, combined with running the scanner off wall power (AC adapter sold separately) when at home, gives me many hours of trackside scanning. One thing I did notice is that the reception seems weird when charging the batteries with the AC adapter while they are in the scanner. So I charge them separately in a different charger I have, which is faster anyways.

One durability anecdote: My PRO-82 once survived a drop onto pavement that was forceful enough to propel the battery holder from the scanner and the batteries from the holder. I'll be careful next time, but good to know it can take a hit.

Steve W
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:10 pm

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by Steve W » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:43 am

My mobile equioment includes UHF & VHF Motorola spectras and a Radio Shack PRO2026 all mounted in a jotto desk console with antennas mounted on the roof, for handheld I have I use the trusty HX1500 Regency and also Vertex and Motorola handhelds.

Posts: 546
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 9:29 am

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by CPSK » Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:34 pm

I use a Yaesu/Vertex VX-150. It is the best railroad scanner I have ever owned. I'm also an amateur, KE2KB, and love having both 2m and RR scanning in one radio.
The receive specs are far better than any scanner I've owned (Heathkit, BC, and RS), and beats my Yaesu FT-530 dual bander as well.
I live near NYC, and have the radio connected to a Ringo Ranger ARX-2B and still don't have much IMD.
Handheld, I use the MFJ 17155 dual-band whip, and in the car I use a Larsen 5/8 mag mount.

Sure, the scanner is slow compared to BC or the RS, but as I believe it was VX-150 who said can't beat it for $119.


Plate F
Posts: 266
Joined: Mon May 21, 2007 9:25 pm
Location: Geneva, NY

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by Plate F » Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:19 pm

RS Pro-97. Probably overkill for the RR, but I can store all the AAR freqs, and more (lots more). Best part is the computer interface for fast programming. And the text. I will never own another scanner without a text display.

EDIT: Also wanted to mention that I swapped the stock antenna for the antenna on my old BC100XLT and it receives about 15% better. Doesn't look quite as smooth but it gets the job done.
Last edited by Plate F on Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 339
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 7:20 pm
Location: Horsethief Capitol Of The World

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by EMTRailfan » Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:05 am

Kenwood TK272. Transmit not programmed. 128 channel mod over the mfg. 32 channels :wink:
The trails are nice, but let's save the rails!!!
[url=]My RRPA[/url]
My NON RR pics

Posts: 57
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:27 pm
Location: Kearny, NJ

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by locomotiveman1225 » Sun Aug 02, 2009 7:12 pm

I use the Yaesu FT270 portable handheld. It covers the railroad band, and is the perfect scanner to use. Its very easy to use once you figure it out. Its recption is great! I recommend you buy one, you cant go wrong!!
When railfanning saftey should be your number one priority.

Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:32 am

Re: VX-150

Post by wa8lgm » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:24 am

[quote="roee"]I'm using a Yaesu VX-150 (also know as a Vertex). It's a ham radio, but it recieves 140-174, which well and covers the railroad band and well as the marine band (my two major hobbies now, trains and ships). There was a big discusion on another board I'm on and people swore by it. I love it, it's small, has a decent rechargabe battery standard, was only $119."

:-D I have one of those radios and it is a darned good ham rig. Makes a good scanner, but dump the rubber ducky that comes with it and get a good antenna like a Diamond SRH77CA. The only reason that I recommend this antenna is because it has an SMA connector at its base and screws onto the VX-150 directly. It also has a lot more gain than the stock antenna that comes with the VX-150. :-D

Highly recommend it!

Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:06 pm

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by wwhitby » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:32 pm

I use a Motorola MT2000 or 99 channel MT1000 for local railfanning. I'll also use a Relm HS200 and I have a PRO-83 with all the AAR channels programmed in to take with me when I travel.


Ham Radio
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:25 pm
Location: Orange County, California

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by Ham Radio » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:06 pm

When in "civilian" mode, I use a Bearcat BC 230XLT 200-channel programmable handheld scanner, with extras.

It is modified for high noise environment with the earphone jack volume tweaked for higher output. The higher volume is fed via a custom patch cable into a set of speaker full-wrap headphones that drop the noise environment -25 DB. This makes them perfect for NASCAR race monitoring as well as noisy rails. I had a cable splitter made so two seats of headphones can monitor, a feature the wife really likes.

The stock BNC antenna is a 6-inch rubber duck, and if the front end receive gets a little hot I can switch to a special short 1.5" antenna that attenuates the signal down dramatically. I also have a bandpass filter available to put inline if the local intermod gets really bad. When at home I patch the scanner into a home brewed antenna on the roof. I have an extra battery pack and charger. One battery pack lasts all day.

There is probably a lot better (and more expensive) scanner models out there, but few easier to use. Direct programming and channel banks make it easy to dedicate to your favorite line, like UPRR, BNSF, Amtrak. Fits in a coat pocket and with a single earphone the Amtrak conductor has no idea you have it.

When in "railroader" mode, I take my RR-issued Motorola HTX-1000 two-way radio, programmed for the local main line.
Orange County, CA USA

Posts: 2999
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 9:53 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK, Syracuse, NY - Kherson, Ukraine

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by scharnhorst » Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:51 am

simple radio shack portable bearcat 100 channel scanner nothing to special.
no matter the weather or the country I'll still be trackside!

Posts: 167
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 6:50 pm

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by gp40marc69 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:28 pm

locomotiveman1225 wrote:I use the Yaesu FT270 portable handheld. It covers the railroad band, and is the perfect scanner to use. Its very easy to use once you figure it out. Its recption is great! I recommend you buy one, you cant go wrong!!
I just received mine yesterday and I am in love with this radio. I ordered it with the SMA BNC adapter to work with my Diamond RH77CA. This antenna has new life now after being on my RS 162 scanner. I'm now hearing things I've never been able to hear before even with great skip from my RS last year. Although I've heard people say it was hard to program, once I got the hang of it, I got most of the frequencies programmed without a hitch. The audio is pretty clear even if its a weak signal. Was definitely worthwhile in purchasing.

User avatar
Posts: 3137
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 9:42 pm
Location: Rochester, New York

Re: Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

Post by charlie6017 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:20 pm

Do you have to be a licensed ham to purchase this FT270R radio?

~Charlie Ricker

Return to “Radio and Communications”