Truth.

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."

Ariel Durant

Saturday, July 30, 2016

This is why you need multiple scanners.


I'm sure most people know this, but on the off chance someone doesn't, a "scanner" is a vhf/uhf radio that runs through programmed frequencies.
When it detects a transmission, it stops and lets you listen in.

I use scanners to keep up to speed with what's going on in this county.  I listen to the forest service, the sheriffs department, fire and rescue, and several others.

I always have a dedicated scanner for law enforcement, and another for fire and rescue. Usually, the other frequencies are pretty quiet so I have one scanner that does roll through those for me.

 

All of my scanner equipment is quite old.  Some of it dates back to the mid eighties. But it works beautifully.  If you live in a city, this equipment would not be of much use to you. Most government agencies now used "trunked" systems , which are much more complex. In urban areas, the police transmissions are often encrypted as well.  Out here, with terrain masking and repeaters, encryption isn't really a viable option, so the transmissions are "in the clear."

One of my scanners is so old, it uses crystals.  That means, you have to buy a little crystal plug in for each channel you want to listen to. I don't know if you can even get the crystals anymore. But the old scanner that uses them is my most reliable. It will pull the signals in when the others are being broken up by static.




It may seem common sense that if you  have a scanner that will cover 200 frequencies, you would not need any others. However, I had an example today of why you need dedicated radios.

I was sitting in my easy chair in the living room. The cats were asleep. The ferrets were asleep. I had the curtains open on one window, the one that looks out into the mountains over the forest. The others were all drawn, and I was half asleep.

Then I heard the county emergency dispatch come on the air, and they were talking about the dirt county road I use to get to my jeep trail.  I had never had that happen before.  Dispatch was sending two Sheriff's deputies, a fire and rescue truck and an ambulance out there. Listening to her give directions over the air, I realized they were going right to the curve where I turn off the forest service road.

Nobody lives down there. But, the road makes a steep turn, and if you drive too far to the left (it's one lane) you'll go over the cliff and down into a ravine with a big creek in it.  I put those reflectors on poles along that turn because it's so dangerous. People would, from time to time, steal them and I would replace them.

Turns out, some fellow out "exploring" went too far onto the shoulder, over the cliff, and got hung up on some trees. Couldn't get out of the car. He called 911, and how he got a signal from down in that hole is beyond me. He must live right.

So, I listened to all the traffic to and from the fire and rescue, sheriff's department, and dispatch. Sometimes they were all talking at once, but if you have done some flying in your life, especially military flying, you get used to picking out what you want to hear from radio pandemonium. If I had had only one scanner, I could only have listened to one transmission at a time. While the scanner locked on the fire and rescue, I couldn't have heard the Sheriff's deputies. This way, I could listen to all of them at once.

I hope the wrecker didn't back into my gate and smash it up when he tried to pull the guy out. I quit listening once I knew they had him out of the vehicle. Just because you have a new jeep does not mean you ought to be out driving on old broken down back roads you know nothing about.  If he hadn't gotten a cell signal, he'd probably not have been found until I went out to check the mail on Monday. Would have made for a long wait.

Must have been nice in the old times!



Thought for the Day:





36 comments:

  1. All that excitement right in front of your driveway and you didn't go down to check out the carnage? Sheesh! and there I was hoping for some photos of the wreck. LOL

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    1. I don't intentionally interact with the county Sheriff's Department, ever. Over the years, from time to time, I've had small issues with them. Like getting stopped for driving too slow. Or getting pulled over for my NRA bumper sticker and being asked if I had a gun, and if I did, did I have a concealed carry license. Or being threatened with being arrested because I didn't have a paper proof of insurance in the truck, after the state went to electronic verification and you didn't have to carry paper anymore. Or being asked if they could search my truck, and I told them no, not without a warrant, so I had to sit in the sun for hours by the road while they got one. Some of them are ok, some of them are ignorant, poorly educated one time high school jocks that think they are God's gift to mankind. It's just way better for me to avoid those guys.

      When I heard the name of that road, the first thing I did was go out and make sure both my dogs were home. It would be just like our Sheriff's department to shoot the dogs if they went wandering down to the wreck.

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    2. I once got pulled over for speeding, right past where the limit dropped. Couldn't have been too fast, I got a warning as I recall. Anyway as the cop brought the warning to me he asked if he could search my truck. I said no and expected some consternation but just got "Have a nice day." The truck had a small back seat with the windows sort of mirror glazed. That seat had several rifles and lots of ammo. I've always wondered about him asking, did he see the stuff? If he did, why did he give up so easy?
      I couldn't be a cop. I'd be very tempted to beat the tar out of some people and shoot some others. Then on a good shoot or beating the cops suddenly the criminal. Then, conversely, I don't think you can be a "Modern LEO" and follow the Constitution. I think there is a very big difference between today's LAW ENFORCEMENT officers and the police officers of years ago.
      Your talking about scanners is a further admonition to me to get off my tail and acquire more radio assets.
      Years ago I got my Technician ham license. I got a couple of 2 meter ht's and a mobile 2m. I had a handheld scanner left over from when I used to go to stock car races. Over the years I lost interest and let those radios go.
      I've been trying to study up for getting my General ham license but have not been disciplined about it at all. I need to buckle down and get it done and learn CW too. And along with study I need to quit putting all my spare money into G&A and buy some radios.
      A prepper type fella I've been reading on the internet, brushbeater, recommends 3 mobile scanners for the coming hunger games for about the same reasons you have 3 Harry. He's just thinking of a different kind of firefighting.
      Stay cool, we were at the beach last week and it was too hot to really enjoy it. The temp in our camper was never below 85 during the day with the AC running 24/7. The apparent temperature outside was 105+ every day.

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    3. Well, I sure envy you. I want to go to the beach. I'm waiting for my wife to come back from her visit with the kids and then surely we can go for a couple of days. I miss it.

      I don't see why anyone would be a police officer. Like you, the first time somebody spit in my face I'd kill them and that would be the end of me. My brother was greatly changed by his career as a police officer. He has temper issues and is more opinionated than I am about some issues related to law enforcement, if you get my drift.

      I always plan on getting a ham license but there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to do it. Several people have been kind enough to offer to help me work my way through it. Strange, but since I retired I don't seem to have any more free time than I did when I was working.

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  2. the excitement is in youngstown today. billary arrives.
    you just think how itchy the policemen's trigger fingers must be.

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    1. It would be hard to provide protection for someone who denigrates you to the mob, and incites black thugs to attack you. I could never be a policeman.

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  3. A lady in a church we used to attend had a scanner, but it was just so she'd have more to gossip about!

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    1. Well, there's that,too. Usually the dispatcher tries to say "the subject" instead of a person's name. But if they pull you over, the Sheriff's deputies will read your name, drivers license number and tag over the radio. Then the dispatcher comes back , says your name and address, and tells if there are any warrants out on you.

      This afternoon there was a house fire in a valley about six miles from here. It's a really beautiful place. They had to give the address to the fire guys, and I looked it up on Google Earth to see whose house was burning down.

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    2. Personally, I'd like to have one, but there's too many other things I need worse.

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    3. Life is all about prioritization and we all have to do it. I understand completely. In my case, I'd like to take some vacation time and stay at a really nice place on the beach, but I sure do hate to spend the money. When the vacation is over, the money is gone and you have nothing to show but memories. That's a bad attitude and I'm trying to get over it before I'm too old to go to the beach anymore.

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    4. Well, Harry, maybe you could just split the difference and only stay half as long as you want. lol

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  4. I don't have scanners. I use www.broadcastify.com on my computer. Not all counties in MN are covered, but mine has one listening setup for law enforcement for my town and the main surrounding towns and another for the county sheriff and fire. I can listen to any one of several for Minneapolis and St. Paul where most of the action is.

    It proved interesting the last time the bank on the corner was robbed. From my living room window I watched several police cars arrive and watched the cops approach the bank with guns drawn. I can't see the front door of the bank from here, but I watched the cops search my neighborhood for the bad guy until they found him and had him face down in the parking lot right across the street.

    My town is usually fairly quiet. I listen to either Minneapolis or St. Paul often just to keep tabs on what is going on in the cities, for I know that sooner or later the crime there will spill over to even the outlying suburbs where I live. I have to say that crimes in the city like assault and citizens being robbed of purses and cell phones and home invasions have dramatically increased with the influx of "refugees" in the past couple of years. I never, ever go into either of those cities. Never. And I am completely baffled as to why so many in this area are for gun control. Common sense would indicate that even though the police here are quick to respond, they usually arrive in time to take reports and photograph the bodies. But then, very little about the politics of this Democrat run state make any sense at all to me.

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    1. I had not heard of boradcastify. Do you leave your computer on all the time? I leave my scanners on, even at night.

      Things have deteriorated here, as well. The two main causes were a huge influx of Hispanics, starting in 1988. North Georgia went from virtually zero Hispanics in 1986, to over 150,000 by 1996. Not all of them are bad people but they brought a lot of bad people in with them.

      The other thing was a four lane road built from Atlanta and leading directly into North Georgia. That has been a real curse, since it was hard to get here before and now it's easy. So the little towns along the road are always having drug stores and convenience stores robbed by car loads of "bruddas" from Atlanta. The very first weekend the four lane was opened, our sole drug store was robbed of drugs by black bandits.

      I think it's that way all over the country, although your state is particularly cursed by the Somalis. We have them in Atlanta, now.

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    2. I leave my computer on Friday and Saturday nights. That's about the only time there is any excitement here. If I can't sleep, which is most of the time, I might listen to Minneapolis or St. Paul to see what is going on there. Gives me an idea of what the city rabble is up to. Or if the local BLM crowd is out trying to annoy as many people as possible, I will listen to that. They had been camped out on the lawn of the governor's mansion since the last police involved shooting and it was kind of fun to listen to that when 47 of them (I think) were arrested when they refused to leave.

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    3. Well, you certainly have more exciting things to listen to than I do. Most of the time here, it's all about cows or horses being out on the road. It's so common that the dispatcher will say "the black cow is out again near Ephesus church." And the deputy will respond "I'm familiar." Pretty routine stuff. I count on my scanners to give me warning if there is a fire in the woods anywhere around me. That's the main thing.

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  5. It is getting to be scary to watch the news and I keep thinking Martin Luther King Jr. Would not be impressed with these BLM people. His protests had dignity and class...no, not without violence or perfect but certainly morally strong and wanting a better place for both races.

    As to the Presidential race....my stomach churns at the very thought of Hillary. Have you watched the Clinton Cash Video yet?

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    1. Fiona, after subjecting myself to some of the DNC, I have intentionally not watched any political news this weekend. I haven't had an opportunity to watch that video but I will as soon as I have recovered from watching Babu Khan lecture Trump on stage, and seeing the democrats turn their backs on the medal of honor winner. Even a hardened political fanatic like me can only stand so much of that kind of thing. ;-)

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  6. Hubby is entertained by the scanner. Grandson is a fireman so he also listens for that because the pager he has will not pick up down here.

    The governor spoke today at a new gun training center/range facility. Grandson's band played music for them. They gave away ammo, a gun and free membership etc. Didn't win a thing. A man was at the gate asking people to leave concealed weapons in their car.

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    1. Gail, it's always good to know what's going on in the neighborhood, and scanners are the best way. Comes in doubly handy in your case, with the grandson.

      Sounds like your governor is like ours. Not a bad guy for a politician. I would have carried mine on in. I never leave a gun in the car. Too much chance it won't be there when I get back.

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  7. Yep, I have multiple scanners, too, and for the same reason.

    While it might seem nice that new scanners have "1000 channels!!!", if you have them all programmed, it...will...slow...the...scanner...down, usually to the point where you'll miss a response or a new call.

    Three of my scanners are trunked system and APCO25 (digital), and three others are just old analog-only scanners that you can get really cheep these days, at least in the major metro areas.

    International Crystal Manufacturing Company in Oklahoma still manufatures crystal. Their database has all they need to know for thousands of "obsolete" scanners, CB radios, and other radio gear that uses crystals for the "cahnnel elements".

    Good people, and I've been buying crystals from them since the middle 1960's.

    http://www.icmfg.com/index.html

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    1. I appreciate that tip about the crystals. I need 154.90, I think it is. I'll touch base with them and see if they can fit my old Realistic scanner.

      I don't have any equipment for trunked systems as there are none here, so I am spared having to deal with that.

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    2. If they don't have one in stock, they can easily make one.

      Most scanners use "overtone" crystals, which means they multiply the actual crystal frequency up to what's needed.

      The crystal supplies the Local Oscillator frequency, which when mixed with the incoming signal frequency, produces an Intermediate Frequency (the "IF"), which is then filtered, amplified, and demodulated.

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    3. As long as I can plug it into the slot and pick up the frequency, it works for me! ;-)

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  8. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    For the second week in a row I took a rifle to the range and sighted it in. I also have been working on some other projects and tomorrow I will change the oil in the generator and the lawn mower.

    I would like to have scanners but its the money and time involved. Is it really worth it for me? I gotta figure out my priorities.

    Next week I will taking out the CZ 452 .22 rifle. That ones a joy to shoot. I have the American model with the 18 inch barrel.
    I would like too the model with the M-1 Garand sights and 28 inch barrel (that's right, a .22 with a 28 inch barrel) that one is really unique.

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    1. I think you could buy an older scanner for thirty bucks or so on line. Living where you do, you might just need the police frequency.

      Are you having any trouble getting .22LR for your CZ 452? It's available here now but at such outrageous prices I haven't bought any.

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  9. Wow, my husband would love for me to serve him a cold frosty one while he was on his ham radios! Maybe I shouldn't let him look at your post today! Hope the gate is ok and glad they got the guy out.

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    1. I went down to check the gate this morning. They didn't back into it, but they backed up to it with the heavy trucks, and the road there is all messed up. It looked like somebody tried to fill in the worst ruts before they left, but it's all clay mud now , been all churned up by too many tires. I am going to go to the county road office tomorrow and ask them to put some gravel down, at least. But I doubt they will.

      I'm sure your husband would appreciate your bringing him a nice drink. I always am thankful when I am working outside and my wife brings me cold tea. Not so much because I need the tea, of course, but because it's an expression of affection. We are both of Scotch Irish extraction, so we are not really demonstrative people.

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  10. If you don't belong someplace then you have no business going there.....

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    1. these mountains are criss crossed with old abandoned fire service roads and fire breaks. Back in the 1960's, the policy was to build roads and fire breaks where they thought they were likely to have trouble getting in. But after the mid seventies, I'm told that the forest service figured out more people were starting fires in those trouble spots because they could get in there. So they put berms over most of them, and quit maintaining them. Still, they are huge draws for the off the road crowd. Not so bad if you know what you are doing, but the really dangerous ones are people from the city, who buy a new four wheel drive, and think that they can just drive it in the woods like they drive their passenger sedan. Many a one has come to grief out in the deep forest through that kind of foolishness, and that's what happened to this guy.

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  11. When I first got in the Fire Service I had the hardest time sorting out the conversations on the radio. Could not figure out how the other guys did it. After a while it just started to make sense. I find the skill still comes in handy with marine radios.

    I no longer have a scanner since I moved to the woods. There is so little radio traffic here it's not worth it. Doesn't help that I'm snug up against the mountain.

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    1. We have repeaters here on the mountain tops, and I get a good signal from one about six miles away, but direct line of sight.

      It's an acquired skill. Radio discipline always goes to hell when the fewmets hit the windmill, and that's when you need the radio most. So you just learn to screen out the background and hear what you need to hear. I'm sure police and fire department people acquire the ability the same way military people do, through necessity and experience.

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  12. I don't have a scanner and really wouldn't know how to use one. I wish my grandfather was still around because he was into all that stuff and could have taught me. He did a lot of ham radio. Some of the equipment is still sitting around his house.

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    1. Lisa, you should get that old equipment and sell it. Lots of people would be interested in it, I am sure.

      Scanners are easy and the old ones are cheap. You just buy the crystal if it's a crystal set, or punch in the frequency you want to listen to if it is digital. Then you listen like you would to an ordinary radio. If for instance, there's an escaped convict running around your area, you can keep tabs on where the Sheriff's men are looking. Or if there's a fire in your neighborhood, you can listen to the fire department and stay aware of whether or not it is approaching you. The frequencies for any given area are listed on the internet, or you can just ask the local fire department and police for their freqs.

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  13. That's not at all what I think of when I hear the word, "Scanner". I think of one that is hooked up to the computer to scan an image. I learned something new today.

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    1. You know, Alissa, I never even thought of that. But you're right, I bet everybody today would think of a computer scanner.

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