• 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

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  by gp40marc69
 
charlie6017 wrote:Do you have to be a licensed ham to purchase this FT270R radio?

Thanks,
Charlie
Not really. I'm only going to use it for railroad and weather for now until I get my ham license. I'm still trying to know the ins and outs of it. It makes for a perfect radio. The Diamond antenna I have works great and picks up alot of activity even when I'm indoors (mainly at night or if I'm close to a repeater).
  by charlie6017
 
Thank you for the info! I'm looking into possibly getting the same type of set-up to use instead of my regular scanner.

Charlie
  by Gadfly
 
charlie6017 wrote:Do you have to be a licensed ham to purchase this FT270R radio?

Thanks,
Charlie
No. Just use it for receiving only until you decide to go for the license.


GF
  by StrayWolf716
 
Purchased the Yaesu FT270R about 2 months ago. Worst radio/scanner I've ever used while railfanning. It struggles to pick up a detector that is less than a quarter mile away, and often times does not pick up trains calling signals that are within a mile or two.
Not to mention, it's unGodly difficult to do anything on it. Just adjusting the squelch requires a sequence of keys. Programming channels into it isn't an easy chore either.
My 9-year old Radio Shack cheapy is way better than this thing is. When I contacted Yaesu about these reception issues, they said "This radio was never meant to be used as a scanner." And I asked why the scan feature is included then. More run around answers and rhetoric.
Totally unimpressed. I see many others on here have had some good luck with it, but I would say don't waste your time buying the Yaesu FT270.
  by cbehr91
 
I've now made the switch from a scanner to a ham radio and I'm wondering why I didn't do it sooner. I got an Icom IC-V80 for Christmas. I did purchase some extras like a DC charger and a different antenna (Pryme RD-98). I already have a Maxrad MHB5000 on the roof of my car to pull in those far-off signals but now I pick up stuff that I never would have dreamed of in the past with a scanner. Clearly ham radios are better than scanners in that respect. In the near future I plan to purchase a mobile, probably a Kenwood TM-271A, since it can handle the 7.5 kHz step size.
  by indie1361
 
Hi,

I have gone through two scanners already, and none of them seem to be able to pick up the large railroads, such as NS, CSX, Amtrak, or even the Reading and Northern. Both scanners that I have used have picked up tourist railroads (i.e Strasburg Railroad, Black River and Western Railroad, etc) just fine, I can hear literally every word they say over their comms. Both scanners were Radio Shack, one of them was about 20 years old so I could understand that not working, but I then purchased a new RadioShack Pro-404. I then went out to the Northeast Corridor at Perryville, MD and tried it out, and I caught nothing on the scanner. All of the frequencies for that section of the corridor were plugged in. Could anyone tell me what I was doing wrong, or where I could find a scanner that can pick this stuff up?
  by scharnhorst
 
indie1361 wrote:Hi,

I have gone through two scanners already, and none of them seem to be able to pick up the large railroads, such as NS, CSX, Amtrak, or even the Reading and Northern. Both scanners that I have used have picked up tourist railroads (i.e Strasburg Railroad, Black River and Western Railroad, etc) just fine, I can hear literally every word they say over their comms. Both scanners were Radio Shack, one of them was about 20 years old so I could understand that not working, but I then purchased a new RadioShack Pro-404. I then went out to the Northeast Corridor at Perryville, MD and tried it out, and I caught nothing on the scanner. All of the frequencies for that section of the corridor were plugged in. Could anyone tell me what I was doing wrong, or where I could find a scanner that can pick this stuff up?
It dose not sound like a scanner issue to me it could be something as simple as the antenna are you using the stock antenna that came with the scanner or do you have an antenna with a cable running off it to on roof of your car? Also note that the leaves on the trees will also affect radio resection. if you want to test your scanner out try 160.260 if I remember correctly that is the NYS&W if you can pick them up vary load and clear just about anywhere in the State of NY and parts of PA with out any issues. If you want to here CSX they use 160.800 for there Road Channel 1 and 160.260 for channel 2, 161.130 is the MOW channel last I knew there Ex Conrail channels.
  by indie1361
 
scharnhorst wrote:
indie1361 wrote:Hi,

I have gone through two scanners already, and none of them seem to be able to pick up the large railroads, such as NS, CSX, Amtrak, or even the Reading and Northern. Both scanners that I have used have picked up tourist railroads (i.e Strasburg Railroad, Black River and Western Railroad, etc) just fine, I can hear literally every word they say over their comms. Both scanners were Radio Shack, one of them was about 20 years old so I could understand that not working, but I then purchased a new RadioShack Pro-404. I then went out to the Northeast Corridor at Perryville, MD and tried it out, and I caught nothing on the scanner. All of the frequencies for that section of the corridor were plugged in. Could anyone tell me what I was doing wrong, or where I could find a scanner that can pick this stuff up?
It dose not sound like a scanner issue to me it could be something as simple as the antenna are you using the stock antenna that came with the scanner or do you have an antenna with a cable running off it to on roof of your car? Also note that the leaves on the trees will also affect radio resection. if you want to test your scanner out try 160.260 if I remember correctly that is the NYS&W if you can pick them up vary load and clear just about anywhere in the State of NY and parts of PA with out any issues. If you want to here CSX they use 160.800 for there Road Channel 1 and 160.260 for channel 2, 161.130 is the MOW channel last I knew there Ex Conrail channels.
Hi,

I tried what you said but still no luck with either, so I returned it. I have heard that I might have to purchase a digital scanner with narrowband to pick up anything, and I'm thinking that if the railroads are going to be using more and more digital I might as well update now. I'm looking at the RadioShack Pro-106, which has narrowband and digital, but I had a question. Can it still pick up analog?
  by scharnhorst
 
to be honest I Don't know I have not gone track side with a scanner in little over 5 or 6 years now. I still have the old bearcat 800mhz scanner which is is good enough for picking up the Railroads along with police and fire departments. sorry that I can't be of anymore help to your question.
  by JWright
 
StrayWolf716 wrote:Purchased the Yaesu FT270R about 2 months ago. Worst radio/scanner I've ever used while railfanning. It struggles to pick up a detector that is less than a quarter mile away, and often times does not pick up trains calling signals that are within a mile or two.
Not to mention, it's unGodly difficult to do anything on it. Just adjusting the squelch requires a sequence of keys. Programming channels into it isn't an easy chore either.
My 9-year old Radio Shack cheapy is way better than this thing is. When I contacted Yaesu about these reception issues, they said "This radio was never meant to be used as a scanner." And I asked why the scan feature is included then. More run around answers and rhetoric.
Totally unimpressed. I see many others on here have had some good luck with it, but I would say don't waste your time buying the Yaesu FT270.
Really?

I used my FT-270R as a scanner on a trip on Amtrak's Coast Starlight last year and I could hear all the detectors and communications between the head end and dispatcher in addition to talk between the rest of the crew members.

I originally started out with a Pro-135 scanner I purchased for airshow scanning, but also used it for railfanning until I bought the FT-270R. Now I also have a Yaesu FT-60R and two Yaesu FT-7900 mobiles. These have a few RR frequencies programmed in them, but I use them mostly for the amateur bands.

As a volunteer at a RR museum, I also have a commercial radio programmed for the frequencies we use...
  by Gadfly
 
StrayWolf716 wrote:Purchased the Yaesu FT270R about 2 months ago. Worst radio/scanner I've ever used while railfanning. It struggles to pick up a detector that is less than a quarter mile away, and often times does not pick up trains calling signals that are within a mile or two.
Not to mention, it's unGodly difficult to do anything on it. Just adjusting the squelch requires a sequence of keys. Programming channels into it isn't an easy chore either.
My 9-year old Radio Shack cheapy is way better than this thing is. When I contacted Yaesu about these reception issues, they said "This radio was never meant to be used as a scanner." And I asked why the scan feature is included then. More run around answers and rhetoric.
Totally unimpressed. I see many others on here have had some good luck with it, but I would say don't waste your time buying the Yaesu FT270.
Bear in mind that the yaesu is a dedicated AMATEUR transceiver tuned for optimum performance at 144-148 MHZ, not 160 MHZ. The people at Yaesu are correct: it was NOT meant to be a "scanner", but the scan feature was to be used to scan ham frequencies. Getting good performance from ANY transceiver not designed for the purpose is just a side benefit. It may or may not work. Its not the radio's fault. Also your antenna *may* be detuned or improperly installed. Did you install the connectors yourself? Are you knowledgeble in radio installation? Not to be critical since I don't know these things from afar, but everybody else seems to like the FT270. On the surface, it seems like an antenna issue to me.

GF
  by fl9m2004
 
I have a
Radio Shack Pro-79
Which is pretty good picking up Metro North, CSX, and Amtrak
  by CPSK
 
I'm currently using a Yaesu/Vertex VX-150, and sometimes a Yaesu Ft-530. The VX-150 is better for sensitivity and selectivity, and seems to perform better when connected to my outdoor Ringo Ranger ARX-2B (tuned for 160Mhz). I still do get interference from the pagers, and my local police station. I live in northern NJ, about 6 miles away from NYC, so there are thousands of radio transmitters within a 5mi range.
The FT-530 is nice because it allows me to talk to other hams on the UHF (70cm) band while monitoring RR's on the VHF band at the same time. The radio has two transceivers, and can even be used as a cross-band repeater between 2m and 70cm.

When I'm mobile, I use a Larsen 5/8 wave mag mount, and a 25W amplifier (for hamming), and when pedestrian mobile I use either a Comet SMA-24 on the VX-150 or a Diamond RH-C77A on the FT-530.
I recently performed a mod to the VX-150 to improve audio output on receive. The mod helps me to hear the intelligence on weak, and/or undermodulated signals. I do not recommend this mod to anyone except professionals who have worked with tiny SMT components. As it was, I did not have the correct soldering equipment, but I managed to do it without damaging the radio.
The mod brings up the high end of the audio spectrum, which can improve intelligibility on poorly modulated signals, but it also boosts the hissing sound you get when the squelch is open. The better option would be to use a headset or earbuds to listen. If you do this though, you need a couple of adapters. For one, the Yaesu CT-44 microphone adapter, and a 1/8" mono male to 1/8" female stereo phone plug adapter so that you can hear the audio in both ears.

I am now considering purchasing the Yaesu FT-60R - another dual band 2m/70cm radio that has gotten great reviews in the hamming community. The main advantage to the FT-60R over the FT-530 is that it has 1,000 memories compared to the FT-530's 88 (total between VHF and UHF), and has 10 banks for memories so you can easily enable/disable any number of frequencies at once.
If anyone is using the FT-60R for railroad scanning, I would like to know your opinion.

CP
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