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Do I really want to get into radios at all?


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Guest Ditch

My father-in-law recently passed away and I helped sell ALL of his Ham radio equipment.  Unfortunately, I did not glean too much info from him when he was alive, but I started looking into handheld units.  The Wouxun KG-UV9GX got my attention.  I don't offroad, hike, or have any friends that I know of to talk to, but growing up in the 80's, I had cheap walkie talkies and watched movies where all the kids talked on them.  I would like the SHTF and local scanner capabilities.  My dumb question is, do I really want to get into this?  What all will I be able to do with this radio?  I live 25 miles from Tampa.  Thank you in advance for serious replies.

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I can't say what the community is like in Tampa; some areas you'll find the hobbyists, sometimes dual licensed hams, willing to chat with whoever. Other areas people stick to their group more, and just use the radio as a tool. I see a few open repeaters around Tampa that may be usable.

On the possibility as a scanner...at least the public safety stuff for Hillsborough county looks to be all 800mhz, so probably outside the capability of the radio you're looking at. A dedicated scanner may work better if that's what you're after. That said, there's a fair bit of ham stuff around Tampa on repeaterbook, and the radio you have your eye on will be able to pick up some of that. If you went the ham route too, you'll usually find more people to just shoot the breeze with (aka ragchewing) than on gmrs.

I'm in the same boat with no inbuilt group to talk to...the family has basically ZERO interest in radio....my area has a few hobbyists and a couple repeaters, but I made the jump to ham as well.

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All else, set yourself up with an emergency coms radio. Basic know how of use for emergency/shtf/power outages etc.    For me, I started with wanting something I could get a hold of my family who is across town about 30 min away on a good day drive.  I also off road a fair amount and the radio are a must.  So I have gone down the rabbit hole on radios. 

Also living in Southern California with wide fires, radios came in very handy for those directly effected in the recent wildfire; as their power, cell towers, internet lines all went down (the main run in burned).  The amateur side was relaying messages from people in the dead zone, down to people with power, cell service etc; and where relaying messages to family members.   

And then add earthquakes, we haven't seen a GOOD one in some years to REALLY put the infrastructure to a test for rigidity. 

 

I also have the benefit of several GMRS and Amateur repeaters in my area. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, wayoverthere said:

On the possibility as a scanner...at least the public safety stuff for Hillsborough county looks to be all 800mhz, so probably outside the capability of the radio you're looking at. A dedicated scanner may work better if that's what you're after. That said, there's a fair bit of ham stuff around Tampa on

These days, one may not be that fortunate.

For example, as of last summer, pretty much ALL Michigan public safety departments converted over to a statewide trunked system. While my old GRE scanner is trunking capable -- the state put all law enforcement talk groups into encrypted mode... Animal control and the city zoo might be in-the-clear, but who cares about them?

The only thing still appearing on non-trunked frequencies is some fire dispatch... I suspect because they are relying upon volunteers who had to provide their own "alert scanners", and the departments don't want to issue them trunked/encrypted hand-helds.

Basically my expensive scanner (GRE PS-500 as I recall, $480 in 2010, GRE is defunct but the competition was the Uniden HomePatrol-2) has turned into a $30 weather alert box (Midland WR120), waiting for NOAA alert signals...

 

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Yes, with police, sheriff, fire, etc moving to P25 Phase II, the good scanners of old became mostly useless. Where I live it is only jail still on analog FM, and it is going to join the rest of the agencies on P25 real soon. California Highway Patrol, however, is still on their 40MHz FM system statewide, and likely will stay like that for foreseeable future.

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Since I am not a "Ham Radio Operator" in the classic sense, I keep 2 meter, GMRS/FRS, and scanner capabilities. Good enough for the emergency communications aspect. Nice and simple and relatively cheap compared to going down the HF rabbit hole where you have to sell a few organs in exchange for radio equipment.🤑

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13 hours ago, KAF6045 said:

These days, one may not be that fortunate.

For example, as of last summer, pretty much ALL Michigan public safety departments converted over to a statewide trunked system. While my old GRE scanner is trunking capable -- the state put all law enforcement talk groups into encrypted mode... Animal control and the city zoo might be in-the-clear, but who cares about them?

The only thing still appearing on non-trunked frequencies is some fire dispatch... I suspect because they are relying upon volunteers who had to provide their own "alert scanners", and the departments don't want to issue them trunked/encrypted hand-helds.

Basically my expensive scanner (GRE PS-500 as I recall, $480 in 2010, GRE is defunct but the competition was the Uniden HomePatrol-2) has turned into a $30 weather alert box (Midland WR120), waiting for NOAA alert signals...

 

ALL is not lost. Conventional scanners are still pretty useful, in that they can iterate through scanned frequencies at lightning speed. Scanning with a typical GMRS radio is very slow by comparison. So even if you're not picking up law enforcement, you can still put them to practical use.

 

Even without digital trunking, scanners are pretty useful for:

  • Normal GMRS scanning at very high speed
  • Repeater input scanning
  • High-speed acquisition of CTCSS or DCS tones/codes
  • HAM bands
  • MURS
  • Marine VHF
  • Air traffic / control
  • Event scanning (race scanning, for example, if that's your thing).

It's maybe not as fun as listening to the police operating, but still pretty useful.

 

Do you happen to know... did all Michigan encrypt such that even current P25 scanners aren't able to listen? Just curious. I've been considering upgrading from my really old scanner to a newer digital scanner, but I'm holding off because Salt Lake City / County are going to be transitioning to Digital P25 Phase2 trunking sometime in the next 12 months, and I kind of want to wait and see before spending the money to upgrade.

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7 hours ago, WRQW589 said:

Do you happen to know... did all Michigan encrypt such that even current P25 scanners aren't able to listen? Just curious. I've been considering upgrading from my really old scanner to a newer digital scanner, but I'm holding off because Salt Lake City / County are going to be transitioning to Digital P25 Phase2 trunking sometime in the next 12 months, and I kind of want to wait and see before spending the money to upgrade.

According to the listing I'd found, ALL law enforcement talk groups are encrypted. The statewide system is used by State Police, county Sheriff, and municipal Police departments. APCO P25 phase I

Air Ambulance, Red Cross, bomb squads, and similar are not encrypted... but anything interesting is out of reach.

Dumping the Michigan listing from https://www.radioreference.com/db/ took 120 pages (booklet, double-sided -- 30 sheets) last July.

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