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Introduction to Scanning

  Last changed: June 29, 1996.                                 |
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                   Introduction to Scanning
                     by Bob Parnass, AJ9S
   [NOTES: This article may not be reproduced in whole or  in
  part   on   CDROMS,   in   bulletin  boards,  networks,  or
  publications which charge for service without permission of
  the  author.   It  is  posted  twice  monthly on the USENET
  groups,,     and   It  is also available electronically from
  the ftp archive on  the  official  USENET
  FAQ        library
  This  introduction  is  intended  for  people  new  to  the
  scanning  hobby and is oriented to scanning in the USA.  It
  tells where you can buy your first scanner,  what  features
  it  should  have, where to get it repaired if required, how
  to get frequency information, and mentions  a  few  scanner
  clubs worth joining.
  The author writes a monthly "Scanner Equipment" column  for
  Monitoring  Times magazine, published by Grove Enterprises,
  but views expressed in this article are his own.
                         Why Scanning?
  Every day and night, scanner hobbyists are  entertained  by
  what  they  overhear  on  their  radios.  Police cars, fire
  engines,  ambulances,  airplanes,  armored  cars,   trains,
  taxis,  and  buses are all equipped with radios and you can
  listen to them.  You can monitor the local sheriff and fire
  departments  to  hear about events "as they happen," before
  the news reporters hear about them.  Hostage  dramas,  bank
  robberies,  car  crashes,  chemical  spills,  neighbor  and
  domestic disputes, tornado sightings are all fair game.  In
  a single afternoon, you can hear a high speed police chase,
  Drug  Enforcement  agents  on  a   sting   operation,   and
  undercover FBI agents as they stakeout a suspect.
  How about listening to  a  presidential  candidate  discuss
  strategy  with his advisor from a 415 MHz radiophone in Air
  Force 1, or a team of G-men protect him while  transmitting
  in the 167 MHz range?
  Baby monitor intercoms are actually  transmitters  and  you
  can hear them between 49.67 and 49.99 MHz.
  Stay ahead of road conditions by listening to highway  road
  crews,  snow  plows,  and  traffic helicopter pilots.  Many
  midwesterners monitor  the  state  police  and  and  county
  sheriff  to  learn  of  approaching  tornados  long  before
  warnings are broadcast on TV and  commercial  radio.   Take
  your  scanner  to  sporting  events  and listen to race car
  drivers, football coaches, etc., in the 151, 154,  and  468
  MHz ranges.
  Monitor the everyday hustle and bustle of businesses,  from
  cable  TV  repair  crews  tracking  down pirate descrambler
  boxes, to security guards at your nuclear  power  plant  or
  mall security guards chasing a shoplifter.
                      Is Scanning Legal?
  In the United States, scanning from your home or at work is
  perfectly   legal   in  most  situations.   The  Electronic
  Communications Privacy Act  of  1986  made  it  illegal  to
  listen  to  mobile phones, common carrier paging, and a few
  other types of communication.  Public law  103-414,  signed