Anyone else enjoy monitoring radio chatter?

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  • Member since
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Posted by Big Bill on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 12:11 PM

I used to be a pretty rabid scanner listener, before damn near everyone went to trunking.

I had several desktop scanners (including an Icom R7000, pre-ban), a couple of Radio Shacks, and a few handhelds. Roof-top discone and long-line antennae brought in the signals.

Here in Phoenix, the vast majority of RR chatter was the ordinary, mundane type, and not much worth listening to, unless I wanted to go out and watch the trains.

The real action was police & fire (as is to be expected).

Several times, I'd listen to a police action, then read about it in the paper, and wonder if they were talking about the same incident. (yep, newspaper; it was that long ago.)

I was so active in the scanner community that a local TV station did a short piece on scanning with me. it took under 5 minutes on screen, but they spent several hours listening to just some of what was available, including Marine landing exercises in CA, and USAF refueling chatter from over Utah.

But, when they went to trunking, I had several other hobbies that precluded spending the money on new scanners.

[Edited because I can't type.]

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Posted by BOODA3D on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 1:14 PM

I bought a Radioshack portable scanner while living in Fresno in the mid 1970s.  Used it for years while chasing trains.  After moving to Colorado could not get much train chatter at home since too far away from most railroad transmitters, but used it when going to Moffat Tunnel, Palmer Lake, Sherman Hill area of Wyoming, and many other places. 

Scanner quit working a few years ago, and decided at my age not to buy a new one since police departments and fire departments have gone to different form of transmitters and can not listen to with usual scanners as I used to.  No longer try to monitor train chatter, because I do not chase trains much anymore. 

  • Member since
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  • From: Northern New York
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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 4:46 PM

Big Bill
But, when they went to trunking, I had several other hobbies that precluded spending the money on new scanners.

The technology of public service radio was stable for many years - a radio purchased fifty years ago could still communicate with a radio bought today.

Trunking (and other forms of digital communications) has changed all of that.  There are numerous flavors of digital - P25 (Phase 1 and Phase 2), DMR (MOTOTRBO), NXDN, Open Sky - and that's just the commercial stuff.  Amateur radio has several other modes in use.

Most of the older technologies are scannable, given the appropriate receiver.  I have two scanners (one's in the truck) that will handle our P25 system when it goes active.  It will also do DMR.  I think with a software upgrade, it will do NXDN, which will be the digital mode of choice for the railroads.

What it won't do (and no scanner out there right now will) is Open Sky, which technology hasn't been released to the scanner manufacturers (and may never be).  At least one law enforcement agency likes it for that very reason.  One of these days maybe someone will reverse engineer it.

On the fire side - many trunked systems having a volunteer base are using their old analog frequency (or obtaining a new one) for paging.  Not many pagers available that will decode the signal directly from trunked.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
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Posted by 2010Challenger on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 10:53 PM

In the Toledo area, there is chatter on CSX and NS pretty much 24/7. I used to live a lot closer to the yards than I do now, and I used to be able to hear the handheld units carried by the yard workers. The best days of rail scanning were back when Conrail was still around and the arguments that train crews had with dispatchers were pretty amusing.

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  • From: Lebanon Co., Pennsylvania
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Posted by steve-in-kville on Thursday, August 15, 2019 8:07 AM
I remember when our county, and those surrounding us, went to digital paging and a trunked radio system. Gone are the days of knowing every fire/ems station's tones! I think I can livestream radio traffic if I really wanted to.

Regards - Steve

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  • From: Northern New York
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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:24 PM

steve-in-kville
I remember when our county, and those surrounding us, went to digital paging and a trunked radio system. Gone are the days of knowing every fire/ems station's tones!

We're maintaining the analog paging here, so knowing the tones will still be a thing (I had a dog that knew our tones....).

One of the counties across the river (Canada) went to digital repeated (not trunked) and POCSAG paging.  I'm working on a decoder for that, but haven't got it built yet.

While not everyone has a scanner, there is something to be said for the public knowing what's going on - they understand that their first responders are out there doing what they do best.  

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

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