Trying to buy a radio scanner is easier than ever, with both real and online stores selling them. Before you buy one, it’s important you know exactly what the device can do.
What is a Radio Scanner?
A radio scanner (or scanner) allows you to tune in to frequencies used by police, firemen, constables etc. A radio scanner lets you listen in to cops question criminal suspects or handle / disperse rallying crowds.
Other land mobile scanners let you tune in to paramedics try and revive victims. You can also tune in to jetliners, private planes and other aircraft.
If you buy a radio scanner, you’ll be able to hear military jets and race car drivers. Other scanner frequencies let you tune in to taxis, trains, parks, CB radio, and shopping malls. In other words, a scanner will let you listen to anyone using a two-way radio system.
Legal Status of Scanners
It should be stated that a scanner is legal to use in the United States. Other countries also allow the use of these devices. Just to be sure, check the laws in your area. In most cases though, the use of the scanners at home will not violate any existing laws.
What Buyers Should Look For
The first is coverage. This refers to the frequencies the scanner can tune in to. If you’re going to buy a radio scanner, it will most likely include commercial aviation and other public service announcements.
If you want to hear military aviation, TV or CB radio, check the scanner specifications. Not all scanners are capable of tuning in to these frequencies.
The scanner modes include FMN (frequency modulation narrow); this for commercial and 2-way public safety. AM mode is for CB, aviation and broadcast radio. CW (continuous wave) is for amateur and HF frequencies. SSB (single side band) is for upper or lower sideband CB and amateur radio. The FMW (frequency modulation wide) is for TV and broadcast.
Selectivity and Sensitivity
These two aspects have to be considered by anyone who wants to buy a radio scanner. Selectivity refers to the capacity of the scanner to tune in to a particular frequency and blocking out the others. Sensitivity on the other hand, refers to how well the scanner receives weak signals.
Selectivity and sensitivity are also dependent on your location. It also depends on the distance of the transmitter.
The memory capacity of the scanner also determines how many channels you can scan. If the memory is limited, the scanner will have to be reprogrammed. Modern scanners use dynamic memory.
Most scanners group the channels so you can enable only the ones you’re interested in. Some scanners can also be joined to GPS. You can also program the memory from a computer. There are several websites that allow you to do this.
When you buy a radio scanner, don’t forget to look for bargain prices. A lot of low cost scanners can perform the same task the pricey ones do.