Journey Through My Scanning Triumphs

Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?hamradio/nigel01.ham

          A Journey Through My Scanning Triumphs And Disasters

          By  Nigel Ballard 28 Maxwell Road Winton Bournemouth
              Dorset BH9 1DL ENGLAND.  20 July 1990

teeth, and in need of spending some serious cash. As a licensed radio
amateur (G1HOI) I duly read all the obligatory monthly publications. My
eyes were drawn to the JIL-SX200N scanner. It is fair to say that before
this time I had no idea what a scanner was, or what possible use and
enjoyment one could gain from a radio WITHOUT A MICROPHONE!

Hopping into my TR-7 (and what a dog of a car that was!) I raced to the
Shop, safe in the knowledge that I would return several quid lighter. The
a scanner, but regardless of this I was drawn by all the lights and
buttons. I also purchased an eight element discone (yet another dog).

Upon arriving home I assembled the discone and placed it in the loft
(bad move), reasonably thick cable was routed through a ridiculously
large hole in my lounge ceiling down to where the JIL sat. Connections
button that looked like it had a purpose and waited to be amazed and
enthralled by what I was surely going to hear.  And what did I hear that

consolation to a chap ready to hoover in the world. Books, there
friend produced a list of marine frequencies. The first eighteen (It
only had 18 memories) locations were entered in, and within a minute
trouble. Laugh if you want, but in those days, anything heard not in the
amateur bands was purely luck, and not judgement.

Take two, the scanner had a search facility, so I entered a random pair
of lower and upper frequencies. Within an hour or so my notebook was
filling up with frequencies and cryptic notes, 165.4125 'sounds like a
bus' etc etc. The only way I thought to tackle this problem was to buy a
book and write in every frequency in 12.5KHz steps. This was done and
from that point on, every voice heard was logged. What started out as a
nightmare of a task, actually ended up as the best thing I ever did. As
trunking was years away, if you heard a taxi company on a certain
frequency on a monday, you could be damn sure the same taxi company

noise, could be extracted if I just improved my set-up. Firstly, the
best uhf rated stuff my wallet could afford. No difference was noted
on the vhf areas, but uhf was really starting to liven up. Traffic that

AOR-2001, Authority On Radio impressed the hell out of me. Twenty
memories (well 20 is better than 18) and NO GAPS. From my knowledge
quoted for 12DB Sinad just blew the JIL out of the ball park. Into the
car (a much better 3.0 Ford capri this time) down to the shop, and out with
the wallet.  I raced home and expected to be amazed.

And I was, brother what a front end, alright the tactile keys were rubbish
and the box looked like a Fisher Price reject (no insult intended), but
And like before, once illusive stations were logged in the now invaluable
book. Friends started to get hooked, two rushed out and bought the 2001,
and the league of scanner fanatics was duly formed. Just like swapping
football cards, we would trade interesting new discoveries.

A passer by spotted the discone (a dead giveaway) rang my door, said he was
a radio engineer and a scanner buff, could we compare notes? Well just you
try and stop me I said. After several coffee's and tall stories about the
one that got away he left, but not before imparting his vital knowledge in
the general direction of my log book. About this time I sold all my amateur
Woga-Woga on 10 milliwatts. I was now in touch with the real world, and
most definatly hooked. Why bother reading the local evening paper
telling me what happened yesterday, with a scanner I could get the whole

Yet another radio publication showed off a new sixteen element discone,
the sales blurb said why put up with all those nulls apparent on eight
element discones, this made sense so I bought one, and yes the monitoring
Japanese giant's Yaesu were soon to release their first scanner called the
FRG-9600, the picture looked mouth watering, a vfo (what a treat) all
modes including ACSB (later found to be worthless sales hype), a signal
meter, fluorescent display and to top it off a metal box. The next day
off I headed up the road to the approved dealers. That very day the
first batch had arrived, as I walked into the shop, the sales staff were
all huddled around the first one out of the box. Needless to say I
bought the second one. Back home I realised that all the features and
all the external build quality did not make up for a really deaf front
end, and the FRG-9600 really excelled in this area. The 2001 on a
of many modifications in an attempt to get the front end up to a
an inquisitive engineer in Tokyo wanted to see what could be gained from
modifying a television tuner front end. Yes you guessed it, an FRG-9600
s what can be gained. I was less than happy and it soon found a new
operate a better one.

AOR obviously heard my cries as the press were now muttering about an
mproved model with vfo (of sorts), signal meter  and coverage up to
to that high up? The answer came back that the fledgeling cellular
telephone network were at 905 MHz for a start. Enough said, I wanted
one, In fact I just had to have one. Mainly because I hated all those
n the other. It was a long wait, as AOR are well known for releasing
the birth weight long before the baby is born (ala 3000). We will all
kindly forget the fact that I too now have a car phone, so it's now
alright to pose about isn't it?

The day arrived when the AOR dealer said my long awaited 2002 had
arrived, was it worth the wait? Of course it was. What a great little
all manner of fancy tricks to be achieved.

Now enter another giant from the orient, ICOM. A picture appeared in the
memories etc. This time the cash was not readily available so interest
free credit was arranged, and as soon as they arrived I had one. Well
thing that has gone is the signal meter display bulb. It has been on for
but nothing else. If I am not hunting for really distant traffic then
the ICOM has my vote. It is really the ease with which the thing can be

Moving right along.
A friend with contacts in Japan started giving me scanning magazines
bought in Tokyo. Although the text was no use, the pictures however
USA saw them, and (B) they were much cheaper. A product caught my eye,
namely the STANDARD AX-700. Nothing unusual in it except it had a large
yellow LCD panadaptor built in, and with this one could visually see rf
activity at up to half a meg either side of the channel you were
currently sat on. Some weeks later it arrived, I was tempted to lift the
lid, oh no it had that same tv front end tuner in it. Damn, this is
much to compare. What the Yaesu loses in sensitivity, the Standard gains
n allowing every strong signal within about ten megs of where you are
to come howling through it's very wide front end. Try it on a log
This is a real shame as anyone with experience of professional
monitoring equipment, i.e. RACAL, WATKINS JOHNSON etc will tell you that
a panadaptor linked to a good receiver is absolutely invaluable.
Alright the ICOM does not have the hottest front end , but what comes
through it's generous speaker is crisp, clear and above all usually only
traffic transmitted on the currently monitored channel.

As to handheld scanners, I bought a selection mainly from the USA. The
first purchase was a Fairmate that boasted full coverage  of the 900 MHz
look at it. Yes it covered all the interesting areas, and unlike any
other scanner destined for the USA market, it had user selectable
mode's. Whereas in the USA everybody uses nfm except for aircraft. In
the UK however, there are a great many interesting users still chatting
on am. It did the job, but just like the squelch circuit on the AR-900
t had a mind of it's own. Birdies it had plenty, but regardless it
mpressed the hell out of everybody over here. I even took a bet with a
cellular dealer who insisted that their network was totally secure. He
lifted the phone and dialled a friend, within a few seconds the Fairmate
locked on to his channel, needless to say he lost the bet.

Next on the list of purchases was the Yupiteru MVT-5000. My contact in
Japan brought two straight from the factory. When he flew back, I rushed
over with the cash safe in the knowledge that I had the second unit in the
country. The MVT goes up to 1300 MHz and resolves NFM/AM, it's features
nclude a very high first i.f., battery saver, high scan rate and ten user
comms on 261 MHz. Needless to say I still own it, and apart from the new
t. UK dealers took nine months getting supplies, and in the process had it

After being told for almost two years that the AOR-3000 would be in the
t's great potential. I bought one three days ago, and as yet cannot
make a judgement. Already the processor has completely locked up twice,
memories. The coverage is super wide, 100KHz straight through to 2036.00
MHz, no gaps and all modes. It is still in that poxy little plastic box
mickey mouse voices or drift. With the 3000 connected to a uhf antenna I
can easily hear ANDY (Andrews airforce base in the USA).  When I have

As it stands now, I have seven antennas on the roof, a log periodic and
coax running all over the place. four scanners online. And most important
of all, a compendium of loggings for almost every user in my area. I
think that after eight years I have things pretty well covered. If any

What is my idea of a perfect scanner? Well it would have to be the circuitry
of the AOR-3000 in a box made by the Yaesu design team, and incorporating
the panadaptor of the AX-700. If this beast were ever to appear at the right
on this one imaginary unit.

As to the law in the UK, the funny thing is that scanning anything
outside the amateur, CB or broadcast bands is completely illegal. If
caught monitoring anything outside these areas then a hefty fine and full
confiscation of all your equipment is in order. Boy, you guys in the
mean you have criminal intent. Strange days indeed!

We are now at the present day. When time permits I will write another
article on ways the experts go about signal acquisition. Many of these
methods can be employed by YOU to great effect. I apologise in advance
f you found this article a bit rambling, but it is written at work and
time is pressing. In a future article I will also cover different antenna
types. If you have any comments regarding this article,please leave me a
message on this BBS, and I will be sure to respond.

Best Regards and in the words of the USAF RC-135 (flying recon aircraft)