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Ham Radio/police scanner


Hi Chris,
I would love to purchase a police scanner so I can listen to what the hell is going on around me.  Something that will pick up any weird events and what not.  I've heard of "trunking"  but is this necessary?  I'd like something that could run on batteries in case of emergency.  
Thanks in advance

Hi Amanda,

Big question with lots of possible answers.  Let me give you the basics.

If you live in the middle of a big city, like Cincinnati, that's where you will find most of the trunked radio systems.  Trunking is a way of using a few frequencies to handle a lot of traffic, but at a cost.  If you live in a less populated area, chances are that are many fewer trunked systems.

Even if there are a lot of trunked systems in your area, there's still going to be a lot of stuff to listen to that is single frequency.  In a not-so-congested radio area, non-trunked is a lot cheaper and simpler.

I think you ought to start with an inexpensive handheld scanner.  Bearcat has been making scanners for a long time and has a huge variety to choose from.  Can't go wrong with them.

There are online lists of frequencies used in all parts of the country.  Find a list for your area to give you a place to start listening to stuff you may be interested in.

Happy listening,

Chris Bushman
Colfax, California

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Chris Bushman


I have been an amateur radio operator for about 41 years.


In real life I managed a small motion picture film lab in Hollywood. I've been a fireman, a teacher of English in Okinawa, a personal computer tutor. I am an Advanced Class Ham radio operator using my originally issued callsign WB6EEQ. I have operated for extended periods of time from Okinawa (KR6FX & KR6OP), Texas (K5VXG), and Mississippi (K5TYP). While in the Air Force, I was a Manual Morse Radio Intercept Operator.

BS Zoology, UC Davis

Member, Society of Motion Picture/Television Engineers - Member, American Radio Relay League - Member, Quarter Century Wireless Assn. - President, Zen Nippon Airinkai, So Cal Chapter - Member, Maltose Falcons Homebrewing Society - Alumni, American Brewers' Guild

I have held Conditional, General, and Advanced Class Ham radio licenses. Attended UC Davis to study Zoology. Go figure!?

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