Old 04-18-2011, 05:52 PM   #1
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Default Anybody use a HAM Radio as a scanner?

For railfanning?

Are they anymore powerful than a scanner? I have a Uniden BCT-15 in my truck, just seems like its not really all that sensitive.

I was looking at these two models.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ICOM-IC-V8000-75...#ht_500wt_1156

http://cgi.ebay.com/YAESU-FT-2900R-V...#ht_2224wt_905
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Old 04-19-2011, 03:50 AM   #2
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I have a Yaesu FT-2800M hooked up to a tuned 5/8-wavelength whip that's screwed to a permanent NMO mount on my Jeep's roof. Spectacular reception. A few years ago I was up on CP's Windermere Sub in BC and listened to the crew of a local chatting with the dispatcher for well over an hour as they ran north toward Golden; without moving, I was easily picking up the train from over 50 miles out. Yeah, it's an extreme example, but Joe Average Scanner wouldn't have been able to do it.
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:15 AM   #3
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Thats awesome, does it scan or can it only be locked onto one channel? Say for instance CSX and NS both run in my area. I also have a Magnet mount antenna on the roof of my truck that was cut specifically for the railroad band. Is their any kind of adapter you need for the antenna?
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Old 04-19-2011, 02:18 PM   #4
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Yep, it scans. The FT-2900R you linked to succeeded the 2800M in Yaesu's lineup; you can read the manual, which includes power and connector info, at their website:
http://yaesu.com/indexVS.cfm?cmd=Dis...5&isArchived=0
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:17 PM   #5
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They work great.
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I personally have had a problem with those trying to tell us to turn railroad photography into an "art form." It's fine for them to do so, I welcome it in fact, but what I do have a problem with is that the practitioners of the more "arty" shots, I have found, tend to look down their nose's at others who are shooting more "mundane" shots.
Railroad photography is what you make of it, but one way is not "better" than another, IMHO. Unless you have a pole right thought the nose of the engine! -SG
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:44 AM   #6
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Cool, thanks for the info Dave.
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:01 AM   #7
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The difference is definitely night and day. I'd recommend a Kenwood TM-271A if you're looking for one to mount in a vehicle - great reception, solid radio, and it's the only amateur radio that'll do the new AAR channels when narrowband kicks in (as in above 097, although many will do the current AAR channels in narrowband [up to 097]). I took it a step further and went with a commercial radio, a Kenwood TK-7180 - a lot more radio than most people would ever need, but you do get what you pay for...
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:25 AM   #8
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I concur with what everyone has said with radio vs. scanner. But I would like to add: If you do go the radio route, DO NOT program it to transmit on RR channels.
1. There will be no question if there are issues with abuse, and your radio is disabled
2. You won't have the temptation to talk to your "Rail" buddies when they are working. Just because they may not have a problem conversing with you, Big Brother listening may, and you may find yourself in a suit of unlicensed radio usage, and your buddies may at least lose their jobs if not worse.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:03 AM   #9
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I've been an amateur radio operator since 1994 and one lesson I learned from almost day one is that regardless of how great the radio is, it is only as great as the antenna it is connected to. Do your research and don't skimp on the antenna, connectors and coax.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:51 AM   #10
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10X better than scanners, but as J.E. pointed out, invest in a nice antenna.

Chase
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAMR159 View Post
The difference is definitely night and day. I'd recommend a Kenwood TM-271A if you're looking for one to mount in a vehicle - great reception, solid radio, and it's the only amateur radio that'll do the new AAR channels when narrowband kicks in (as in above 097, although many will do the current AAR channels in narrowband [up to 097]). I took it a step further and went with a commercial radio, a Kenwood TK-7180 - a lot more radio than most people would ever need, but you do get what you pay for...
Thanks I will look into the Kenwood as well, and yeah I was hoping to mount it on my dashboard where my scanner is now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMTRailfan View Post
I concur with what everyone has said with radio vs. scanner. But I would like to add: If you do go the radio route, DO NOT program it to transmit on RR channels.
1. There will be no question if there are issues with abuse, and your radio is disabled
2. You won't have the temptation to talk to your "Rail" buddies when they are working. Just because they may not have a problem conversing with you, Big Brother listening may, and you may find yourself in a suit of unlicensed radio usage, and your buddies may at least lose their jobs if not worse.
I hadn't planned on doing that, I don't have any ''friends on the inside'' anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J. E. Landrum View Post
I've been an amateur radio operator since 1994 and one lesson I learned from almost day one is that regardless of how great the radio is, it is only as great as the antenna it is connected to. Do your research and don't skimp on the antenna, connectors and coax.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chase55671 View Post
10X better than scanners, but as J.E. pointed out, invest in a nice antenna.

Chase
Any recommended antennas?

This is the antenna I currently use it was cut for the railroad band. I've owned it for almost 3 years now and haven't had a problem with it.

http://www.railcom.net/railscan.htm


Oh and since I will more than likely get one for the truck anyone know a good handheld model for walking around?
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Old 04-22-2011, 02:07 PM   #12
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The Railcom antenna is good - it's a high (3 db) gain antenna cut for the rail band. A bit pricey for what it is, but you already own it, so... Most amateur radios, including the Kenwood TM-271A I mentioned, have PL-259 connectors as opposed to the BNC connectors found on most scanners. An adapter like the following one is exactly what you would need:

http://cgi.ebay.com/PL259-UHF-Male-B...ht_1664wt_1139

Alternatively, you could get a new magnetic base with the proper connector (PL-259) on the end. If you choose to go that route, look for one with RG-8X coaxial cable - it's a bit hard to find and slightly more expensive, but it'll help your reception.

As for a handheld radio, I do not know of any that will do the newer AAR splinter channels like the Kenwood TM-271A will; I went so far as to purchase a late-model Motorola HT1000 for that reason. That being said, a lot of my buddies are using various Icom portables, such as the V80 or V82 in conjunction with a Diamond RH77CA antenna, and they are having fantastic results. These will do the current channels in narrowband mode, just not the new ones...but in all likelihood, the road channels will stay the same as they are currently, so this will probably be a moot point.
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:47 PM   #13
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Nick,

Can you provide a source for the new channels? I think my TK-272 will hit them since it cuts to 12.5 spacing and narrowband, but not sure of the freq. range. "It should", but...
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EMTRailfan View Post
Nick,

Can you provide a source for the new channels? I think my TK-272 will hit them since it cuts to 12.5 spacing and narrowband, but not sure of the freq. range. "It should", but...
A TK-272 should work, as it's a commercial radio...most of them that say 12.5 KHz will do splinter channels as well. Try 160.8075...it just splits all of those 15 KHz-spaced channels in half to 7.5 KHz.
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Old 04-23-2011, 03:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAMR159 View Post
A TK-272 should work, as it's a commercial radio...most of them that say 12.5 KHz will do splinter channels as well. Try 160.8075...it just splits all of those 15 KHz-spaced channels in half to 7.5 KHz.
Ah, I see. I haven't seen anything on what the new freqs. would be. Didn't know if they were splitting the current spectrum like you stated, or going higher or lower in the band.

***P.S.***
I have the UHF sister TK 372 (programmed as a TK370 for more channels 32 vs. 128 ) for work, and one of our neighboring counties redid their system. Everything that I use is in the 450-470 range except this other county decided to utilize the 470-490 range. My 372 can be programmed for one or the other range, but not both at the same time. I can however monitor the higher range, but am unable to talk on it, and when monitoring I had to disable the error tone so I can hear it.
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Old 04-26-2011, 06:24 AM   #16
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Well I ordered the Kenwood radio that was suggested, and a BNC connector. I can't wait to get it. Now I just need to fix my laptop so I can have ATCS with me when I'm out..
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