Scanners, Radio and Other such tech inquiries

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joelkfla

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
957
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
I just ordered a Bearcat BC125AT scanner. It costs $110, but it includes the computer cable, and software that says it allows loading frequencies from a spreadsheet. I'm fluent in Excel, so that should be easy for me.

I looked at the current Baofeng kit, which is now $70, but the computer cable is an extra $22. I looked at both user manuals, and it seemed to me that the Baofeng is much more complicated, as I would expect since it's really a 2-way radio that also scans. There are only a few pages in the Baofeng manual covering scanning, but I did notice that it scans at only 3 steps/second, compared with 100/sec for the Bearcat. The Bearcat seems to have a lot of features which were not mentioned in the Baofeng manual. The Bearcat just seemed like it would be more straightforward to use for scanning, since that's it's only purpose in life.

The Bearcat uses rather obsolete NiMH batteries which are recharged thru the USB cable, which can be plugged into a phone charger. But it can also use regular alkaline AA's. It's not clear to me whether it can run directly off USB power.

I also ordered a Diamond RH77CA antenna, because Danny Hartman (Distant Signal vlog) said it works much better than the included "rubber ducky". (He also recommended the scanner.)

So, I'll see how it goes on my upcoming NYC trip.
 

AmtrakMaineiac

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
74
Location
Lubec, ME
It also let me operate in kilometres and kph rather than having to try to make sense of the bushels, or farenheit, or ounces, or whatever it is that you lot use to measure distance and speed.
My preferred speed measurement is furlongs per fortnight :) Haven't been able to program the speed app to use this though.
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Clearwater Fl.
Why I really like listen to My Scanner while traveling by train . The following ( Train Story / Sea Story ) this past Summer Coast Starlight Portland to Sacramento .. My Scanner lite up with Chatter about a Train Trestle in Southern Oregon that was on Fire. Followed by the Conductor informing the Train Crew of the Changing Situation. About what was going to happen next. It was funny to me how heavily edited was the messaging ( talking to the Passengers as if they were 3rd graders ) I had enough information to phone ahead for food delivery to the station we were standing by., knowing that we would be at a siding overnight, the pain of some passengers that were on a schedule, when and how the delay would be handled by Amtrak ( they did a great job considering the massive issues ) I was put up for two days in a great hotel given food vouchers and had a great time exploring Portland. Although I had planned on returning to Chicago via the Zephyr I returned on the Empire Builder. I was upgraded to the Handicap Compartment. Which was great because I had view on both sides of the train. I will never travel by train with out my Scanner.
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
301
Location
East San Diego County
Why I really like listen to My Scanner while traveling by train . The following ( Train Story / Sea Story ) this past Summer Coast Starlight Portland to Sacramento .. My Scanner lite up with Chatter about a Train Trestle in Southern Oregon that was on Fire. Followed by the Conductor informing the Train Crew of the Changing Situation. About what was going to happen next. It was funny to me how heavily edited was the messaging ( talking to the Passengers as if they were 3rd graders ) I had enough information to phone ahead for food delivery to the station we were standing by., knowing that we would be at a siding overnight, the pain of some passengers that were on a schedule, when and how the delay would be handled by Amtrak ( they did a great job considering the massive issues ) I was put up for two days in a great hotel given food vouchers and had a great time exploring Portland. Although I had planned on returning to Chicago via the Zephyr I returned on the Empire Builder. I was upgraded to the Handicap Compartment. Which was great because I had view on both sides of the train. I will never travel by train with out my Scanner.
This is one of the best endorsements yet for why train travelers should consider having a scanner with them. While we’ve never monitored AMTRAK radio traffic as dramatic as this example, we have been able to listen in on other conversations between crew members and messages from dispatchers that alerted us to events out of the ordinary, some of which did affected our trains’ operations. We would never consider traveling by train without our scanner.

Eric & Pat
 
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Devil's Advocate

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Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,738
Location
EOTL
I just ordered a Bearcat BC125AT scanner.
I purchased that same model six or seven years ago. There was a newer model back then but there was something it was missing (self-charging?) that pushed me to buy the older model instead. The digital trunking models made no difference for rail or air and could not decode metro PD so I left them alone.

The Bearcat uses rather obsolete NiMH batteries which are recharged thru the USB cable, which can be plugged into a phone charger.
Make sure you buy a quality brand like Panasonic eneloop from a legitimate distributor (plus a charger and backup pack) and you'll be good to go.

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I also ordered a Diamond RH77CA antenna, because Danny Hartman (Distant Signal vlog) said it works much better than the included "rubber ducky". (He also recommended the scanner.)
Let me know how Danny Harmon's advice works out. I'm pretty sure it will be better than the coiled version but not as good as his in-vehicle setup.
 

PVD

Engineer
AU Supporter
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Jul 8, 2015
Messages
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NYC/Queens
I wouldn't call NiMh obsolete in the context of a rechargeable AA or AAA since their cell voltage of around 1.2v is easier to deal with in that particular application than a Lithium ion cell which typically has a much higher cell voltage...
 

joelkfla

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
957
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Let me know how Danny Harmon's advice works out. I'm pretty sure it will be better than the coiled version but not as good as his in-vehicle setup.
Oops! I see I mangled his name. It was late.

I think I'll bring both antennas (or antennae) and try them out, but if there is a difference I might not be able to tell, since this is my 1st scanner and it's only 1 day on the train in each direction.

I'll admit, I might have gotten carried away in the excitement of buying a new toy.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,787
About antennas. Are any available that are fractal antennas ? Fractal antennas are the reason your cell phone does not need the extendable antenna that older cells and the shoe box phones.
 

FrensicPic

Engineer
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
3,314
Location
LAX
I use this suction cup mount antenna (originally from Radio Shack; Scannermaster carries the same) with a telescoping antenna that is about 19-20" long extended (original use was the Ham 2 meter band). I shorten it a couple of sections for 160 MHz.
The second and third images show it mounted in my sleeper window along with my GPS antenns.
The fourth shot shows it mounted in my cabin window on our Mississippi River cruise in August. Used for monitoring the maritime frequencies, especially when "locking through" the two dozen locks we passed.
The scanner and GPS both are powered by AA NiMH batteries and are chargeable via the USB port from a standard USB charger.
20190409_075736.jpg20170724_173531.jpg20170724_173102.jpg51577739697_31a928f4fa_k.jpg
 

WWW

Lead Service Attendant
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 18, 2018
Messages
285
Location
MSP
You are lightening quick then - most of my friends seem to use chains per Tuesday, so you'd be well ahead!
When Prince Charles becomes KING there will be a whole nother method of measuring things i.e. foot size and all that malarkey ! LOL !
 

mcropod

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
342
Location
Oz
When Prince Charles becomes KING there will be a whole nother method of measuring things i.e. foot size and all that malarkey ! LOL !
Not even with the poms/sassenachs (Oz/Scottish references) out of the EU is this a chance :)
 
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