Author Topic: Radios for railfanning  (Read 1847 times)

Bill

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Radios for railfanning
« on: May 10, 2011, 08:50:09 PM »
What radio does anyone recommend for railfanning to catch radio traffic?  I am trying to decide if I want to go ahead and try to get a set of the mcp and bcp radios for a mobile atcs station when I have my laptop with me, or if I want to get a vhf type radio.  Any thoughts or ideas?
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CIOR

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2011, 08:55:17 PM »
I use a GRE 400, its a scanner, I really like it.
I didn't want a ham radio, for various reasons.

The 400 is set up so its ready for the narrow banding and its not a digital scanner, so it doesn't have the issues associated with those in the railroad band (intermod).
I can get a nice distance out of this radio, the squelch is nice and what I call tight.

I recommend it to anyone that is looking for just a railroad radio type scanner. 

http://www.scannermaster.com/GRE_PSR_400_Police_Scanner_p/30-501184.htm

shane_man15

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2011, 10:09:19 PM »
I use a GRE 400, its a scanner, I really like it.
I didn't want a ham radio, for various reasons.

The 400 is set up so its ready for the narrow banding and its not a digital scanner, so it doesn't have the issues associated with those in the railroad band (intermod).
I can get a nice distance out of this radio, the squelch is nice and what I call tight.

I recommend it to anyone that is looking for just a railroad radio type scanner. 

http://www.scannermaster.com/GRE_PSR_400_Police_Scanner_p/30-501184.htm
I second that!
Just to give you a good taste at how good it is, if you get this antenna
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102469
with this radio, you will pick up quite far. Matt can pick up NS New Castle Dispatcher talking to a train between Walnut Level and HOS Richmond. It's nice. ;D
Shane Smiley (shane_man15)

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Train horns are also my thing.

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Rick

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2011, 09:11:59 AM »
I use a handheld portable scanner.  Crystal clear and I can pick up from 5-10 miles out.  Not too far but good enough for me.  Someone elso on here has the same one as I do.  I saw it on a video recently posted picking something up out of Avon.  Uniden ??? not sure of the model but it works well for me.  Easy to carry and keep in the glove box or console.

Nick Norman

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2011, 10:46:23 AM »
I use a handheld portable scanner.  Crystal clear and I can pick up from 5-10 miles out.  Not too far but good enough for me.  Someone elso on here has the same one as I do.  I saw it on a video recently posted picking something up out of Avon.  Uniden ??? not sure of the model but it works well for me.  Easy to carry and keep in the glove box or console.

I think you're talking about mine. It's nothing fancy, but it works for me. I think it's the Uniden BX72XLT, but don't quote me on that.

Rick

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2011, 11:08:42 AM »
I think you're talking about mine. It's nothing fancy, but it works for me. I think it's the Uniden BX72XLT, but don't quote me on that.

Yes, I think it was your video of the scanner recording.  I have had it for years and works great.  I can carry it around the NNYCRR museum or when looking around the Amtrak station.  Fits nice up on the dash while sitting and watching as well. 

indyspy

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2011, 11:24:01 AM »
I prefer Ham Radios or Commercial type radios.

I would give you what I use, but as they are all wideband only radios. They won't be usefull for too much longer for RR listening.

I am currenly looking to move up to the Kenwood TK-7150 commerical radio.

I wish I could afford the NX-700 radio. As it has narrowband AND NXDN. NXDN is the digital format the railroads seemed to have settled on. I don't have 700 bucks though.
If in doubt, Notch it out!

Bill

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2011, 11:55:53 AM »
Would you vbuy a handheld or mobile 2 meter?
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CIOR

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2011, 12:25:53 PM »
Would you vbuy a handheld or mobile 2 meter?

You first have to ask yourself what you want out of the scanner/radio.

If you want to grab distance then obviously a base-mobile unit is the choice, if you want something you can carry on your hip and be really mobile with, then the handheld is the best option.

I've just heard more people complain about getting into HAM rigs for railfanning applications than good things.  You can easily google up this and read up.  I highly suggest you do so.  Most railfans that have HAM rigs are already HAMS thus the logical choice for it. 

Eham is a good forum and so is radioreference.  I'd highly suggest googling and doing your own research on the matter.

shane_man15

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2011, 02:11:29 PM »
Worst case: You could buy both types of radios for railfanning. The only downfall is the money you put into it.
Shane Smiley (shane_man15)

Modeler of the Muncie, Richmond, and Fernald Railway.
Train horns are also my thing.

GIMME A CORVETTE ALREADY!

indyspy

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2011, 04:28:21 PM »
Honestly, I could not get along with out both a mobile and a portable.
If in doubt, Notch it out!

INprinter

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2011, 04:45:09 PM »
I don't have any of those issues. I have an internal scanner(inside joke).  ::)

Inprinter
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HoosierVirg

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2011, 04:46:32 PM »
.  I'd highly suggest googling and doing your own research on the matter.


That is what I have done over the years and IMHO is very good advice.
Have a good and safe day!

Go Reds!

CIOR

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2011, 04:59:57 PM »
I don't have any of those issues. I have an internal scanner(inside joke).  ::)

Inprinter

Today while standing there waiting for the Q263 I had to chuckle when thinking about that very thing.

Bill

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2011, 06:35:55 PM »
I have been doing some research, that is were I am wondering about getting a 2m radio.  Hopefully I will get a pair of the atcs radios sometime, but want the 2 meter in the same vehicle and I have read that this can cause problems transmitting with the 2 meter.  Has anyone got personal experience in this matter?
For more area railroad info, check out:
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/Tri_State_Area_Railroads_IN_IL_Ky
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bosworthj

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Re: Radios for railfanning
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2011, 05:54:07 PM »
I like Kenwood, the TK-7180 series mobile or TK-2180 handheld will be good for a few years yet, and they are commonly available on the used market as commercial users go to new digital radios.  Another common source of them is fire and police departments that are moving off the lo VHF band into the high frequencies.

It's the last most recent non-digital generation of Kenwoods, and easier to get programmed than Motorola, which is highly proprietary and almost forces you to go to a Motorola dealer to get them set up.  You got to stay away from abused ones, but since they weren't on the market for very many years, most of them are still in decent shape.  And dealers don't like to see you coming, since they aren't goint to be making a big killing off of a small customer like they do when they sell 100's at a time to a government agency.  Don't expect any support from a radio shop unless you plan to pay through the nose.  Their minimum service fees are usually more than what a used radio is worth.  The cost on the used market of a good used unit, with charger for the handheld version, has come down to under $300 in the last year, and probably will get lower than that.   

Downside is, of course, having to use a computer and software to program them.  They are a true pain in the butt to try to add or subtract or modify a channel in the field.  Totally useless for 2 meters where you have to put in all the oft-changing repeater tones, frequency offsets, and such.  But railroad band almost never changes, and you have plenty of channel capacity, so just program all of them in and leave it at that.

I like being able to scan all channels, or just a few, or none at all, by quickly programming a front panel key to add or subtract a channel from the scan.

I have never had any trouble with intermod or strong adjacent channel interference, which will just about render most scanners unusable in metropolitan areas like downtown Indy or Chicago.
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