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A Novice's Guide to Railscanning

Introduction

First of all, I should re-iterate that I am by no means an expert or an authority on the topic. My suggestions areRailfans examining a parked SD75 in Georgetown, Ontario merely that - suggestions. If you have anything that you want to add to what I have here, then by all means e-mail me and I'll do my best to add to/change what I have here to better serve the people who read the site. The best way to learn is to get out and do it - theres nothing that I could write here that would help you more than experiencing it for yourself. Most (if not all) of hobbyists are friendly and helpful, and can answer most of the questions you may have. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone trackside, and don't be afraid to ask questions!

And remember, the internet is always a VALUABLE source for information!


Step one - Getting a Scanner 

Railway operations generally occur in the 160 MHz band of the radio frequency spectrum, so getting a scanner shouldn't prove difficult. Any scanner from any era should be able to pick up all of the frequencies that you might need.

Also, if you already have a scanner, its probably best to skip this part.

First, you need to assess your financial situation: basically, what can you afford? New or used? How many channels? What about coverage? Antenna? Other uses? No matter what you choose, expect to spend over $100. Used scanners start at around that - New ones will run you over $200-250, sometimes even as high as a few thousand! Typically, the best bet for new users are Radio Shack scanners. I started out with a 10-memory Pro-42 I found at Cash Converters. It fit my needs quite well, and eventually moved up in price range and complexity. Say what you will about Radio Shack, their scanners are pertty decent, and are easy to use. 

Scanners usually come in four flavors: 

Handheld Mobile (car based Base (tabletop) Computer Based

More details on these on the next page . . . 

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