• handheld antenna help

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

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by nep84
 
please.

I'm new to scanners and I'm not well informed on the features. I have a radio shack pro-97 scanner.

I'm looking for an antenna that I can buy that will expand my range.

I use the scanner at trackside primarily. I keep hearing that a better antenna will increase my scanner's range. However I'm a little ignorant on the subject. I've tried to read some of the posts here, and I've been to a couple of the sites listed. But I keep running into the wall of what I don't know. I don't know if the antenna will plug into my scanner, and I'm afraid to spend money on an antenna that won't increase the range.

Would someone please give me the model number and manufacturer of a good antenna that will fit into my scanner and give me better range.

I need to send it to Santa :)

Thanks for the help in advance folks.

  by clearblock
 
Don't expect great range from a handheld scanner. It is true that some stock scanner antennas do not perform well on the RR frequencies. In this case, a better quality antenna such as the Austin Condor may give some improvement:

http://www.grove-ent.com/ANT14.html

I don't know about the Pro97, but my experience with most Radio Shack scanners is the stock antenna works reasonably well so don't expect a dramatic improvement.

Avoid the idea of using any kind of long rigid antenna or any antenna that requires an adaptor to connect to your scanner. I have seen way too many scanners and portable 2way radios with broken antenna connectors from the stress on the conector caused by an oversized or rigid antenna.

Keeping the scanner up high and away from your body will do the most for coverage when you are trackside. If the scanner is on your belt wth the antenna pressed against your body coverage will be very limited.

  by Conrail4evr
 
You could also get a roof-mount, magnetic base antenna. They are quite common at Radio Shack and such, and will stick right to the top of your car. For best reception at a decent price, I would suggest the following:

1) Purchase the following antenna from Radio Shack:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index ... age=search
2) Remove all but the top shaft from the antenna - this will cause the antenna to roughly be tuned to the railroad frequencies as a 1/4 wave antenna (simply put, you'll pick up more this way). Instructions can be found here:
http://www.alabamarailfan.com/scanner.php

If you're willing to spend a little more, however, the best bet in your case would most likely be the Railcom antenna:
http://railcom.radio-dealers.com/aservd ... 4&cat_id=3

The Railcom antenna is a tuned 5/8 wave antenna, which will have better reception than the Radio Shack antenna mentioned above (5/8 wave antennas will pick up more than a 1/4 wave antenna).

One thing to thing about, however - if you plan on driving and listening at the same time, the Railcom antenna may not be the best idea. A 1/4 wave antenna, such as the Radio Shack one mentioned earlier, is rigid and thus will usually get better reception on the move than a 5/8 wave antenna.

To push that issue a bit further, however, this is generally only true with scanners...I have a Kenwood mobile radio hooked up in my car, and I no longer have problems with signals cutting in and out while on the go, though this is due to the fact that radios not only have better reception, but also filter out all the intermod (static).

Sorry if I went over your head a bit there...to put it simply, if you plan on driving and listening, or want to spend less money, go with the Radio Shack antenna. If you want to have the best reception, usually sit in one place, and money isn't a huge issue, go with the Railcom antenna.

And, one last final tip: for the best reception, these antennas require a large ground plane (IE the roof of your car - it's big, flat, and metal). Try to place it towards the center of the roof for the best reception. The truck could work too, but reception won't be as good.

Hope this helps!

  by clearblock
 
Forget about an antenna on the vehicle if you are in NY State.

Section 397 of the NY Vehicle and Traffic law prohibits scanners in a motor vehicle. A scanner sitting on the seat not connected to anything is a gray area but there still have been some convictions. Once you hook it to an antenna on the vehicle or plug it in to vehicle power they clearly have "got" you if you come to the attention of the police.

This is a misdemeanor with a possible six months in jail. It is not worth it. The only exception is for a licensed amateur where the receiver is associated with a licensed amateur transmitter.

  by danco
 
clearblock wrote:The only exception is for a licensed amateur where the receiver is associated with a licensed amateur transmitter.
Time to get your Amateur Radio license! The Technician license isn't all that hard to get, and then you'll be "legal"--and even able to talk to other hams!

73,
Dan, KE7HLR

  by Conrail4evr
 
It doesn't seem like it's very strictly enforced. My friends and myself have had various scanners/radios and antennas in/on our vehicles, and I know my friends have been pulled over before. Thus far, nothing except a ticket for their excessive speed (which even that isn't very readily enforced anymore).

  by clearblock
 
Conrail4evr wrote:It doesn't seem like it's very strictly enforced.
Usually, it is not strictly enforced. Most police officers have other priorities. But it is the law, it can be enforced if a police officer chooses to do so and it could mean a misdemeanor arrest on your record.

With certain police officers believing it is their sworn duty to harass railfans in the name of homeland security, it is best to be discreet.

If you are legally on public property with a scanner in your hand watching or photographing trains, you are doing nothing illegal. Once you put a vehicle "equipped" with a scanner into the situation, the police have probable cause for an arrest and things can get ugly.

If you are stupid enough to trespass on RR property in a way that raises the suspicion you are looking for something to steal, you should be aware of NY Penal Law section 140.40. This prohibts use of a scanner or 2-way radio with intent to use it in the commission of a robbery, burglary, larceny and certain other crimes. This could make a simple trespass situation much worse.

  by StevieC48
 
I understan abut the laws in certian states with rules of no scanners. Some state depending what they catch you doing can be charged with possesion of burglarous tools. But the antenna that came with you r PRO should work fine. If you want go to a dealer and ask for an antenna tuned for the freq range of 150 - 170 mhz. If the antenna is tuned to the range you are listening to yo uwill hear them good. But the stock antenna should work fine. Beside If you hold a ham licence PD usualy wont give you * about the scanner along with the other radios in the car.
  by duramaxdiesel
 
Clearblock wrote:

Usually, it is not strictly enforced. Most police officers have other priorities


On two different occasions I have had two different friends of mine harassed over having a scanner. One was due to a traffic stop the other was parked near the tracks on town property in Mechanicville. On both occasions the officer was vary close to taking the scanner away. Bottom Line is your taking a chance. Some get caught some don't.
  by Ken W2KB
 
duramaxdiesel wrote:Clearblock wrote:

Usually, it is not strictly enforced. Most police officers have other priorities


On two different occasions I have had two different friends of mine harassed over having a scanner. One was due to a traffic stop the other was parked near the tracks on town property in Mechanicville. On both occasions the officer was vary close to taking the scanner away. Bottom Line is your taking a chance. Some get caught some don't.
One would be entitled to have the scanner returned if it were confiscated. It's not like possession of a controlled dangerous substance which is contraband.