Police scanner radio frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Where can I find the frequencies for my area?
There are several means to finding frequencies for your area. Your local amateur radio store or radio dealer sometimes carry photocopied local frequency lists. There no longer are any printed scanner directories published as all frequency information has moved to the web. One source of scanner frequencies and other information for listeners is RadioReference.
How do I program this scanner?
The owner's manual that came with your scanner has step-by-step instructions on how to program your receiver. Simply follow these steps along with frequencies for your area and you are set to go. If you are still having problems, call Whistler at 866.923.8719 or www.WhistlerGroup.com or Uniden at 800.297.1023 or www.uniden.com.
What can I hear on my scanner?
Originally called police scanners, today's scanner radios receive much more than just police and emergency calls. You can listen to taxicab companies, utility companies, aircraft, military, amateur radio, Family Radio Service, and sometimes even the space shuttle. Basically if a two-way radio is being used, then a scanner can pick up the signal.
What is a frequency?
A frequency is the number you program into your scanner to pick up who ever it is you want to listen to. It is their spot on the radio dial, just like 99.7 is the FM radio position of your favorite music station.
How far away will my scanner pick up?
Scanners can pick up signals from as short as a few feet to thousands of miles. Many of the scanner frequencies are "line of sight" so you would not expect the signals to cover beyond the horizon. Some signals actually bounce of the earth's atmosphere and can travel thousands of miles. Generally, expect the scanner to receive signals from a 25- to 50-mile radius from your location.
Do frequencies change often?
Frequencies do not change often, but they do change. A wise decision would be to regularly search on the web to keep up on any changes in your area.
What is a bank?
A bank is a grouping of channels. Generally, you will program one frequency on a channel. A bank may contain 10 channels, for example. In this way you can have a bank or two set aside for police, another for fire and yet another for railroads. Banks can be turned off and on (so you are turning on and off 10 channels at a time). In our example, you could listen to police, fire and railroads together or could turn off the fire and railroad banks so you would only scan the police frequencies.
Where can I get accessories?
Your local electronics store, amateur radio shop or favorite online radio vendor is the best location to find accessories for your scanner. Anything from antennas to external speakers can be found there.
What does the squelch do?
The squelch quiets the background radio noise when there is no signal present. Simply turn the squelch until the noise goes away. The background noise must be eliminated so the scanner will scan through the channels you have programmed in. Otherwise it will hang up on a channel and you will only hear the background noise.
What does it mean when they say “Go to Channel 2?”
This should be your first clue that whoever you are listening to uses more than one channel (frequency) in their operations. Online frequency listings will show additional frequencies for police, fire and other agencies. Program in all frequencies contained in the frequency lists and you should come up with Channel 2 and other channels pretty quickly.
Learn more about police scanners
Want to know more about police scanners? National Communications Magazine is the place for you to read articles posted every week! Click below and subscribe today.