• I am about to buy my first scanner. Then what?

  • 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 Denver Dude
I am tired of driving from Denver, CO to Fort Morgan in the eastern plains (over 80 miles each way), and then hang out for hours and not see a train. I think I will pick up a Uniden BC75XLT. My questions involve what do I do to get the most out of it?

I know I have to program the UP and BNSF frequencies, but is it intuitive to use and figure out when a train is coming, and from what direction?

Any tips would be appreciated.

  by amtrakhogger
One tip is program all 99 AAR channels into your scanner and that should cover all or most RR's in the country (from shortline's to class 1's.) Some class 1's use two different channels for road ops, one is for dispatch to train, while the other is train only road channel. Sometimes if you just use the road channel, you may not hear dispatcher info to indicate movement. Also find out the EOT frequency for UP or BNSF, it may seem inconsequential, but the audible "chirp" they make on the radio can also indicate a train is in the area, even if there are no radio transmissions coming from or to the train. Another tip is if you don't have one, maybe get a rooftop antenna (magnetic mount.) They can get better reception that just the small whip antenna that comes with the scanner. My 2 cents.
  by Backshophoss
Pick up a DC power adapter,to save the scanner's onboard batteries while in the vehicle. a roof top magnet mount or a bolted mount on a truck
mirror mount.(western style rear view mirror) Be aware of any laws about scanners in the state you're in.
if you listen to any Police Channels at home,Bypass them(aka Lockout)when in the vehicle,or when the scanner is hanging on the pants belt.

There're some sources of freq #'s on the web,not quite sure of the web address, "City Freq "is the most up to date .
Scanner Master use to publish a regional series of books with the freq's for each area.
  by Denver Dude
Thanks, guys. I guess my question is how they work once they are programmed. Is the radio traffic easy to figure out? The goal, of course, is to determine when trains will be arriving. I just don't know how it all works.

Thanks again.
  by Backshophoss
Ft Morgan is an unstaffed station stop for the Daily California Zephyr. A train heading to Denver is considered to be Westbound,
a train headed away from Denver is considered Eastbound.
Ft Morgan is in the middle of a CTC controlled Single track mainline and has a passing siding to allow meets with other trains.
There should be some chatter on the scanner as the DS talks to both trains when setting up a meet at a passing siding.
  by Denver Dude
I picked up a Uniden BC125AT and programmed in the BNSF frequencies for Denver, CO. For what it's worth, I live in central Denver, about a mile east of the BNSF Joint Line.

Well, I took the scanner out tonight and biked to the 8th Avenue bridge, which crosses over the tracks. I had my scanner on the whole time. All I heard was occasional static and rare voice traffic , most of it unintelligible.

There was very little going on. Anyway, I'm on the bridge, waiting... I'm up pretty high, over the tracks, near downtown, so I would imagine that I would have a good signal.

After about 10 minutes a loaded coal drag passes under the bridge. There was nothing on the radio that suggested that would be happening.

Obviously I am doing something wrong. Any suggestions? Many thanks.