The Scanning Hobby Today

For any scanning or radio topic that does not fit into the other forums. Anything that simply doesn't fit anywhere else!

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Posts: 27
Joined: 01 Feb 2017 11:29
Location: Kennebunk, ME

The Scanning Hobby Today

#1 Post by K1IWN » 29 Mar 2018 08:50

Seeing the buzz for the new Uniden model, the latest addition of NXDN, and the resulting comedy show that is RR brings up a few thoughts.

I was enamored as a kid when I got my first Radio Shack scanner. I had to buy crystals for it. It only held four channels. I had my town PD & FD, and two other FD’s in neighboring towns. It was real simple. I lived in a quiet area, where there wasn’t a whole lot of action. It was alright though, I knew what was going on when it happened.

As I progressed into my teens, I got better equipment. Next up was a 16 channel programmable. After that was a 200 channel model. CTCSS was the thing on the analog side. Trunking wasn’t something I had interest in, because what was trunked didn’t offer me anything. I had to manually punch everything in. I kept a notebook. I used the search function. I used statewide books of frequencies, that some folks who are longer timers here helped author and print.

Then I went into a cave for 25 years.

I had to put the hobby on hold for financial, family raising and time reasons. I still used my analog scanner, but over time it got quieter. What I missed out on went digital. I had enough analog channels going of local interest to keep me going, but living in a rural area, I wasn’t getting much traffic.

I came out of the cave in early 2017. I bought a 536 to get modern with the times.

There was trunking. There was P25. I read chatter about the new technology of ProVoice, DMR and NXDN. The books were replaced by online databases. Scanners could be uploaded with frequencies. There were favorites lists. Quick keys. Systems. Departments. Service types. Firmware. Software.

My mind was blown.

I felt like I needed a computer programming degree with a radio engineering minor to figure it all out. I learned that this old dog had just enough knowledge, curiosity, and stubbornness to get it all set up. Not to mention I showed myself that the old dog could still learn a few tricks... by using a search button. Whether that search button came on the unit, or through Google or YouTube, I figured it out.

With the complication in format of various evolving radio technology, I can see why this would be a daunting hobby to get into, and why it has turned into a niche. You have to want to do the work to get what you want out of it.

That is the key.

The world has changed. We're a plug-and-play society now. The scanner hobby has gone that way also. Turn on the unit, punch in a zip code, tweak some preferred service types, and let 'er rip. Some people are more than satisfied with that kind of set up. Then there are others like me want to dig deeper once in awhile, sniff around, tweak, dabble, and discover.

I won't be a hypocrite, after I picked up a 536 followed by a 436, I got an HP2. I wanted something for the office that was simple. Of all three models, that was by far the easiest to set up. A quick favorites list of the locals I wanted, a simple upload, and let it go. I think I have tinkered with it twice in the past year I've had it. Granted, I am at work and have little to no time to fuss with it. I just wanted something low maintenance, get the freqs I wanted, but yet still had a search button.

I know I am not alone when I read posts where something new comes out, and people are mad because they can't upload something and have it work right away. In this recent case, it's NXDN, but it doesn't matter what it is. There is something fundamentally wrong when there isn't the drive and pursuit to troubleshoot, explore, and figure out a challenge that is something new.

What has happened to our character as a society?

Back in the 90s I was buidling PC's for myself and family members. I toasted more machines with Windows 98 Second Edition by fooling around with the registry and corrupting exe files. The operating system was horrific, but knowing that, I wanted to get it to work as best as it could, even if I made mistakes and blew the whole thing up. Yeah the 10 to 16 hours of reformatting a hard drive, using dial-up internet to upload the excrutiating numbers of updates on that old donkey was a nightmare. But I learned. My wife still tells me after 20 years that Windows 2000 likely saved our marriage, and she's right.

Maybe I am just some wrinkled up old raisin, but I understand that through failure brings success. Some folks complain that items aren't "plug-and-play ready" when they come out. I struggle with that because I grew up in the generation of "some assembly required". I had to use my head for something besides a hat rack and work to get my two brain cells to align to get projects accomplished.

I fell in love with scanners because it made me think. It fed my need to dare to be curious, not only with what was going on with the world around me, but with the technology itself. If something doesn't work, find ways to fix it.

With all of the research power in the world at our fingertips, I struggle to find the excuse. NXDN just hit the Uniden receivers. The freqs aren't yet on Sentinel. Have some fun and figure it out! Get out of your comfort zone. Not sure where to start? Use the SEARCH button. Fool around. Play around. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Once figured out, you can feel good about yourself because you figured it out.

Imagine that.
- Mike
Kennebunk, ME

Posts: 257
Joined: 12 Oct 2005 11:24
Location: Gardner

Re: The Scanning Hobby Today

#2 Post by jbella » 05 Apr 2018 10:38

That's a fairly accurate summation of American culture as a whole.

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