• Scanners-what do you use when railfanning?

  • 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 Aa3rt
Just thought I'd throw out this query to see what type of scanner you folks are taking trackside. 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.

So what are you using? What are the good and bad points? If you had it to do over, would you: A. Purchase the same model? or, B. pick up a (Make and model here) and why?
  by 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, and I'm planning on getting my Ham licence at some point. With the stock antenna it does well, but I have a 'tuned' antenna on the roof of my truck, and it works great. Also have the PC programing cables, which are nice, but they didn't work when I first got it (bad batch of cables, sent it back and got a news one.. no problem), so I hand programmed all the AAR's in since I was going on a trip the next day, and it wasn't that bad to hand program. Also, it has an 8 character alpha display for labeling the channels.

There are a few drawbacks though, it's a slow scanner. Only 8 channels a second. Not a big deal since I block out all of the 200 channels execpt the ones that I want to listen to at that time. Some people seem to mind the SMA antenna connection and would rather have a BNC connection. To me.. the SMA is fine, though you need to be careful about the antenna you buy. I don't see peoples objections as it's just a couple of turns, and I change the antenna all the time. I've never been in the need to change it in 1/2 a second as opposed to 2 seconds.

I love it, and it was worth the money. It beats a scanner on the same band hands down for respection, it's strong, not to heavy, and a good size.


  by TAMR213
I use a BC60xlt-1. My first, and so far, only scanner. Hope to upgrade though. I find that its very sturdy, but could be more sensitive and also have more of a range and more channels. I also use an MHB5800 mag mount antenna that I got through Railcom.

  by tp49
I use a PRO-95 which I picked up on sale a little over a year ago. It's nice because it has pretty good battery life and with it's 1000 channel capacity I was able to load all of the AAR frequencies into one bank and keep them in their same channel spots as if on a RR radio. Since I also scan public saftey frequencies it is nice as well because it has trunking capabilities which is nice because most of the PS radio systems out here are trunked.

  by TAMR213
I was thinking of getting a Pro-95. Seems like a nice scanner. And the trunking capability would be usuful here too, as many in the area are going trunked, some even digital. Also, is there a PL and talkgroups feature on the Pro-95?

  by tp49
There are those features on the PRO-95. Only problem with it is the lack of digital capability which is on the PRO-96 but is cost prohibitive at almost $600 vs the $100 I paid for the 95.

  by SeldenJrFireman
I have the Radio Shack PRO 79. Works good. It works better when hooked up to a larger antenna. I have mine hooked up to an old CB antenna. It even picks up the Highband Radios for the Fire Department.

  by railohio
I've got a Yaesu VX-5RS handheld and a Comet SMA-24 whip when I need to be portable. For in-car scanning I've got a Yaesu FT-2800M mobile and a Diamond NR770HA with a Diamond K702M mag mount. The range is exceptional compared to a consumer scanner. I would like to pick up a second handheld, probably a used VX-1R, for dedicated scanning and use as a short-range radio. It can be troublesome to use the VX-5 for scanning and ham when I'm away from the car.
  by sandpvrr
Hello All,
I echo the PRO-79 Vote above - mine works great, especially when hooked up to a CB antenna. 200 channels, but I usually scan less than 20.
RadioShack though just replaced it, not sure what the new model is, but its hitting the same price point that the 79 did when it was on clearance.
Have fun all!
cya, Joey

  by typesix
The PRO-95 does not have PL capability.

  by charlie6017
I have a BearCat, the same kind as Erik. It has worked well so far, but I made the mistake of purchasing a more powerful antenna that is heavier. Because the antenna is heavier, it weakened the "plug thing" that holds the antenna on. Do yourself a favor.....if you wish to upgrade from the rubber whip, spend a few extra and get a removable roof-mount.

  by kc2bhx
I use a Bearcat 250 for general scanning. It has decent sensitivity, and doesn't beat up the batteries too badly. It has tone squelch and is digital capable. I also use a Yaesu VX-7R as a backup receiver/transmitter. It makes for a painfully slow scanner, but it beats carrying half a dozen radios on my belt! :D

Chuck Smith


Seneca County NY EC

  by videobruce
I swear by my Regency HX-1000 that is almost 20 years old.
Doesn't have all the bells and whistles that new ones have (nor the problems), but it will blow away any other scanner around because it is more narrow band that all these dc to light toys Uniden (and others) has dumped upon us.

I have tried scanners that you couldn't use because of the 'intermod' problem where the HX-1000 shined. Not to say it is immune, but very little gets through compared to most!

Too bad Bearcat and Regency had to sucumb to Uniden!
Last edited by videobruce on Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by OldAndInTheWay
I use a Bearcat 250D as well as a Yaesu VX5R. The $$$ 250D was necessary since I listen to local police that broadcast with digital encryption. I like using it over the 5R since it's much faster at scanning, but it's sort of bulky to carry back and forth to work. For that, I usually take the 5R stuck into my backpack.

I ride a SEPTA train 35 miles each way every day in and out of Philly and I can't tell you how having a scanner breaks up the monotony. It's great hearing what's going on and it's been an eye opener a couple of times when we weren't going anywhere. For instance, once we were stuck at Suburban Station waiting for a conductor to show up. Now, I know we were waiting for the conductor since I heard it through the scanner, but nobody else knew. I finally heard someone say on air that someone should make an announcement to the passengers sitting on the train as to what the problem was. A few seconds later a voice on the train's PA system announced that there was a switch problem and as soon as it was fixed, we'd be on our way! Why they chose to announce that, rather than tell the truth about waiting for a conductor to show up is beyond me. Better to blame equipment and save a guy from getting looks or something I guess.

Anyway, I'm satisfied with both radios and use both probably equally time-wise.

  by Ken W2KB
I usually have a ham handheld with me on my daily commute on NJ Transit's Raritan Valley line (ex-CNJ). I turn it one if it looks like something out of ordianary has happened, like you do. NJT recently issued Nextel cellphones (with walkie-talkie like feature) and if they use them, no way to hear it. But the radio is still mostly used.
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