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  • Member since
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Posted by Stourbridge Lion on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 11:32 PM

Christy - Welcome to! Cowboy

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Posted by Engineer Christy on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 7:25 PM

As to what kind of radio to get,  Consider a Bearcat, or Radio Shack type radio handheld.  I believe that the handhelds are better because of their versatility.  You can use them at home with external power adapters and external antennas, or use them in the field to hear the action up close.

One of the most important issues for you is ascertaining the frequencies for your area.  The AAR lists about 90 railroad frequencies.  The timetable for your area should reflect which frequencies are in use at specific railroad territories.   Another poster was correct in mentioning Scanner Permit concerns for some states.  Radio frequency info is widey available on-line too.    Once you find your frequencies/channels for your area, actively listening for a couple of weeks should bring you up to speed on the lingo.  Just so you know, all railroad radio traffic (voice) is what they call Clear-Text, so you don't have to know codes to stay abreast on whats happening.

Good Luck

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Posted by pkielty on Monday, June 18, 2012 9:20 PM

Thank you for the information.  I will act on this and let you know how it goes

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Posted by pkielty on Monday, June 18, 2012 9:19 PM

Thank you---- good information to have.  Let me work on it and I will let you know how it goes

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Posted by SCHHEAT on Monday, June 18, 2012 11:57 AM

i used to work in two-way radio and may be looking for too much in a handheld scanner, but i tryed a 200 ch radio shack and it was at best ok. low earphone vol and alot of intermod noise in busier places. any recommendations on other brands or models. my only interst is trains and weather-160 to 163. thanks carl

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Posted by petitnj on Monday, June 11, 2012 4:40 PM

Any scanner that covers 160 Mhz (usually called 'VHF) will do. Scanners have an installed antenna and you can get better coverage with a magnetically mounted vertical antenna on your car roof. You can also build an 1/4 wave vertical antenna from a coat hanger or two that will do just fine. The higher the antenna, the further you will be able to hear.. (If it stays up all winter, it wasn't high enough!)

Here is an article that covers much of the information you need:

I highly recommend you consider an Amateur Radio License. The amateur 2 meter band is near the railroad frequencies and most 2 meter radios are wide band enough to listen to the railroad radios. You will have to find the radio frequencies of the local railroads, but that is easily available. You most likely will only hear 1/2 of the conversation as the base stations are very powerful with high antennas and easy to hear. The hand held radios and locomotive radios can only be heard a few miles from most base or car radio systems. 

If you are near a busy yard you can just put the scanner on "scan" and listen from about 160 Mhz to 162 Mhz to find where the action is. Be patient, most frequencies are very lightly used.

You will hear lots of advice about "narrow banding" and digital radios and such. Presently scanners can pick up most signals -- even if the railroad is using "narrow band". Digital systems are not in place for normal voice communication and may not be for a few years.

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Posted by pkielty on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 7:39 PM

Thanks for the heads up.  it is not exactly what I was looking for, but it's a start.

Are there monitors that I can buy around Chicago, or from the Trains Magazine that I can put in my car.

I would be able to listen, correct?

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, June 1, 2012 9:24 AM

If you're thinking of doing it at home,  you can listen to railroad radio transmissions online with your computer.

Using the online radio along with ATCS Monitor can be interesting, lets you see what you're hearing.

Be aware that some states may require you to get a license to own a scanner, particularly if you want to mount it in your car.

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Posted by pkielty on Thursday, May 31, 2012 9:40 PM

I was thinking of getting a radio to monitor rail traffic.  

Can I get some recommendations on what kind of radio to get?

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