The Newbie’s Guide to Buying Radio Scanners

If you’re gong to buy a radio scanner, familiarity with its basic features is necessary. You also have to be aware of its legal status, when it can be used and its limitations.

What Can a Radio Scanner Do?

It depends on the type of radio you get. But most scanners let you tune in to authorities as they interrogate suspects and try to control hostile crowds. You can also tune in to paramedics and firefighters as they go about their tasks.

You can listen in to commercial aircraft and choppers as they fly. You can also hear military aircraft and race car drivers. Other services you can hear when you buy a radio include the National Weather Service, amateur radio operators and CB radio.

Are Radio Scanners Legal?

All the chatter you hear on scanners is legal. However, the law forbids using a radio scanner to listen in to cell phone conversations or encrypted communications. Most scanners cannot unscramble encoded communication messages.

Even if the scanner can pick them up, it is illegal to listen in. Some states also impose some limitations on using scanners while in the car. There are no legal restrictions when listening to radio scanners at home.

Before you buy a radio scanner, it’s a good idea to know something of the various accessories these scanners come with.

Flexible Antennas

Flexible antennas (also known as rubber ducks) are fitted on most radio. These are made of wire covered in rubber plastic. While commonplace, the reception can be weak at times. You need to look at different brands to find one that works for you.

Telescoping Whip Antenna

These are metal antennas constructed of short tubes. They are superior to rubber ducks in terms of performance.

Car Antennas

Also called mobile antennas, these are available in two types: magnetic mount and glass mount. When you buy a radio magnetic mount antenna, it will use the car’s plane to facilitate reception. The glass mounted antennas require an adhesive and must be attached to the window. The magnetic antennas provide a better signal.

Outdoor Antennas

The Actron CP9135 AutoScanner features a large, easy-to-read LCD screen that displays the definition of the trouble code.  acsifsenegal  For ODB II compliant (1996 and later) vehicles, the Actron CP9135 AutoScanner provides trouble code data, then erases trouble code and turns the Check Engine light off. Although you may still have to fix the problem, the scanner turns off the “Check Engine” warning light on your vehicle’s dash so you will not be distracted while you resume your drive.

The Actron CP9135 AutoScanner is simple and easy even for a non-professional to use. The attached cable with OBD II 16-pin connector provides connections for both power and data, while the eight-foot cars-scanner  cable and the rugged housing are both oil-resistant and grease-resistant for added durability. The long cord that connects to the computer facilitates ease of use in tight spaces. Once connected, just press the “READ” key and the very user friendly menu displays a variety of information in a snap. Use the Monitor Status and Inspection / Maintenance (I/M) Readiness function to ascertain your vehicle’s chances of passing an emissions inspection. The I/M Readiness is a pragmatic function to use just before having your vehicle tested for compliance to the standards of a state emissions program.

One very important thing to take note of is cars-scanner   that all emission testing facilities will not pass any vehicle that has an illuminated “Check Engine” light at the time of the inspection – even if the light is only lit to remind you of an over-due oil change or a 60,000-mile tune-up. Using the Actron CP9135 AutoScanner, you can turn off the check engine light and clear  getsugarbalance the emissions test without any unnecessary hassle. The menu also reminds you of any pending DTCs and reads the status of the Malfunction Indicator Lamp. By reading the Malfunction Indicator Lamp status the scanner gives some insight into what might cause your Check Engine light to turn on in the near future. In this way, the Actron CP9135 scanner is also able to provide some preventive measures to help a non-professional user to monitor a vehicle’s on board systems.

These antennas are mounted on the roof like outdoor TV antennas. The higher the antenna is, the better the reception.

Coaxial Cables

These will be used to connect the antenna to the radio scanner. Avoid cables with high signal loss as this will result in poor performance.

Cables with tolerable loss are the following: G-59, RG-6, 9913, RG-213, Belden 8214 and RG-8. Do not use RG-174 and RG-58. Hardline cables provide excellent quality but are very expensive. They can also be quite difficult to set up. Get cables with connectors to reduce the use of adaptors.

Note: bands at the 450-470 and 800/900 MHz frequencies need cables with as low signal loss as possible.

It’s easy enough to buy a radio scanner these days. But unless you know the accessories available you won’t be able to maximize its use, so a little research will go a long way.

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