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Police Scanners

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  • Police Scanners

    About three weeks ago, I finally entered the realm of smartphones. One app I came across is an online scanner, and have been hooked ever since. It is a bit of a kick listening in to police dispatchers barking out orders and such. Just a simple reminder that there is a world that exists outside the bubble that is construction. Hell, it always leads me to ask, "What do these people do all day?"

    Still, for your enjoyment, here is the website that hosts such transmissions:

  • #2
    Re: Police Scanners

    Your lucky that you can listen to them as they are going away slowly.

    More and more of the radio channels are becoming digital and encrypted as the police, fire and even transit and public work's departments upgrade to new dispatch systems.


    • #3
      Re: Police Scanners

      I'm not sure how a Smart Phone app would work. As mentioned, most agencies are moving to digital modes of transmission which renders most of the traditional "scanners" obsolete as the signals are no longer easily de-coded. Same basic process as the old analog television broadcast and the new digital broadcast system... old equipment simply isn't going to work. So, not sure how a phone app works as whether it is actually finding any remaining analog communications or is actually getting the new digital signal.

      Scanners are mostly tuned to the public services bands, like fire and police and similar communications in the VHF and UHF bands which are all pretty much short-distancd local signals. I've been a short wave fan for most of my life, starting when I was just 12 or so. Back then, I had built a little galenium cystal set and found, with some fooling around that I could get some highly unusual signals... at least outside the local AM stations. That led me to get an old 30's-era radio my Great Aunt was throwing out. It didn't work and by some jiggling here and there, and touching this and that, I managed to get it to work.

      That radio opened up an entire new world for me. I could listen to all kinds of stuff including ships at sea and broadcasts from Europe, South America, and elsewhere. It was a real eye-opener too, hearing News and programming from other parts of the world. It was also a great adventure, as I actually heard first-hand the famous "Fish is red" broadcast from Swan Island (in the Carribean) that was the code for the Bay of Pigs invasion. That was when I was in my teens.

      I'm still a big fan of shortwave, though it too is changing and many of the old broadcasters like the BBC have gone to the internet. But still, there's some cool stuff that one might stumble across. Back during the first Gulf War, I was listening to KOL Israel (Tel Aviv) when they had a scud missle attack. You could hear the sirens wail in the background and the excitement and noise from the broadcast room as the evacuated the station and left the mike open. A few years ago I monitored a ship about 400 miles from Brazil. It had a seaman on board who was sick, had appendicitas and was communicating with a doctor. The ship was heading back toward Brazil, but didn't want to enter Brazilian waters as they were afraid the ship would be detained. The doctor was monitoring the patient's status as the medic on board took care of him. At the same time, arrangements were made to communicate every four hours or so. That went on for a couple of days, until the ship got close enough for a helicopter to pick the crewmember up.

      Scanners and shortwaves can still provide some good use for those who want to explore such adventures. But, I imagine technology will eventually make it all obsolete at some time.



      • #4
        Re: Police Scanners

        The cool thing about shortwave was/is hearing the different perspectives on news stories. Way before the internet was around, it opened my eyes to the fact that our media is biased.

        Police scanners are now trunked where you can only hear portions of conversations. You can still hear the full conversations if your willing to fork out about $600 for full digital trunking capabilities. Most people are just not that into it, to spend that kind of money.