Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

A place to talk about everything Radio and Scanning

Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby StandingWave » Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:33 pm

I have recently been looking at purchasing a scanner, but I am a bit confused about the current scene. Some 4-5 years ago I had an AOR AR-8000 with dated programming software. It worked well and was fine on the HF bands but I could pick up very little on VHF/UHF except various beeps and warbles. There was no 8.33 airband spacing, no CTCSS or trunking. At some point I was given to understand that things were going digital and thinking there was nothing worth listening to, I ended up selling it.

I am in a rural area which may limit what I can receive considerably. I am interested in air traffic (lots of it comes overhead to land at East Midlands airport some 17 miles north) but also in discovering what else there may be out there to listen to.

One of the big questions seems to be analog vs digital. Various analog radios can still be purchased, but a new breed of digital radios is coming in. A used AOR8200 might be just affordable to me, but not having digital (or even CTCSS and trunking except for the more recent and still expensive D model) makes me wonder how long before this becomes obsolete - if not already? Digital seems VERY expensive at the moment and the AOR DV-10 seems to have some serious frequency stability issues. Other receivers like the ICOM seem to omit DMR, D-Star or one of the other digital services. Someone suggested a Uniden 3600XLR, and the more expensive version adds NXDN, but also has significant gaps in the frequency bands when compared to an ICOM or an AOR. Also, is NXDN used in the UK? Is it worth the extra premium?

The result is I'm not sure what to buy. If I'm going to spend a lot of money on a radio and a discone, I want to be able to make sure that I will be able to make some good use of it. If there is nothing or little in the UK to scan for and listen to, then there would seem to be no point in spending a lot of money.

So I would like to know, is there, in fact, anything worth listening to in the UK? If so, what types of digital and analog signals are being used here in the UK? If I can better understand that, then I might be able to determine what equipment best serves to receive those bands and signal types. Are analog receivers like the AOR8200 or the ICOM R20 or R30 now obsolete? Is digital the way forward? Or do these older analog scanners still have a place?
StandingWave
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:12 pm

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby Scan125 » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:38 pm

I'm not an expert but have picked up a lot form this forum/site (and others).

First of all I'll state that my personal experience if SW/HF communications receivers and Analogue scanner (UBC125XLT). Have never owned a digital scanner.

First of all if you aye based in the country/less well populated area then as VHF is pretty much line of sight reception then analogue and digital scanners in the VHF and above range are probably going to be fairly "quiet". One big exception will be airband because line of can potentially go from horizon to horizon. This is only true though for the air to ground signal. Ground to air will be potentially depending on your actual location relative to airports/airfields.

Regarding analogue vs digital then I think that analogue is slowly dieing out so a scanner that can do both is no bad thing. However use of encryption is rapidly increasing. It is my understanding that a lot of user of digital are either not knowledgeable enough or just plain to lazy to take the extra steps to go encrypted. Never done this myself but there are some posts on this site where someone actually supplies / organises digital kit and he was staggered at how complacent some companies are about securing their kit.

If you are in a town centre or other busy retail etc. area then there will be activity on both analogue and digital.

With all this said there are however quite a few discussions on site around the web regarding the death of scanning as a hobby due to the slow but steady movement to digital encrypted usage.

So long term here is basically the main types of analogue transmissions that will be around for a long time to come:

Amateur Radio, CB, Airband, Mil Airband, Marine, PMR (read/note "personal" - so household, walkers, campers, bikers, etc.)

Someone will hopefully give us their views on the Digital side far better than I'm able to.
User avatar
Scan125
 
Posts: 282
Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 5:02 pm
Location: Southampton, UK

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby StandingWave » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:38 pm

Thank you for your helpful comments. Is the 11m band still a thing in the UK? I did pick up something on one of our PMR walkie talkies one day, quite a long time ago. I am in the Countryside which probably explains why the AR8000 was very quiet here. I took it into the city one day and couldn't really find anything there either. To be fair, I didn't really know what I was looking for.

From my location, I have as follows:

Kirby Mallory racetrack - about 2.6 miles
Leicester - about 10 miles
Hinckley - about 10 miles
Coalville - about 10 miles
Markfield Ham repeater - on a hill, about 10 miles
Stoughton Airport - about 15 miles (other side of the city)
East Midlands Airport - about 17 miles

How far is the 'line of sight' distance considered to be? Am I likely to pick up anything from any of these from my location if I put a discone on the roof or in the attic?
StandingWave
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:12 pm

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby Minus1 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:28 am

There's no such thing as "how far the line of site is considered to be".
It's either line of site, or it isn't.
This site will plot the topography between your location and the transmitters location.
http://www.heywhatsthat.com/profiler.html
You can even add the height of the transmitter if you know it, and the height of your antenna.
I reserve the right to ignore people who have made no attempt to the read the manual, and expect others to do it for them.
User avatar
Minus1
 
Posts: 918
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:17 am
Location: West Midlands

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby m0lsx » Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:35 am

Line of sight is something of a misleading statement, although also helpful.
What happens is that signals are attenuated as they travel & the level of attenuation is dependent upon what it is passing.
Water is good, it gives a very low attenuation, but trees,especially trees in leaf are bad. And any land that rises sufficiently to stop a path between antennas normally totally kills a signal.
Buildings not only stop signals they also cause signals to bounce, so you may hear a signal from strange direction or directions.
When my daughter was first licenced as a radio amateur aged 11, I use to sometimes talk to her as she walked to or from school, if my wife walked her there or back. I live on an estate below the surrounding area, with trees & also obviously houses around me. But I could chat to my daughter through the trees etc no problem at half a mile, but 50 yards away when she was among the houses, I could not.
At an event on the clifftop my wife & I lost contact with each other across two fields, using UHF handhelds. Yet we could see each others locations. But there were hedges in the way. Yet at over a mile using the same handhelds we had easy comms, despite not being able to see the location of each other due to houses.
Sometimes nothing can be heard, but simply lifting your handheld radio above your head is all that is required to get that contact. Another time moving a few feet, or even inches left, right, back or forward is all that is required.
Nothing but fresh air between your antenna & the transmitters antenna certainly helps. But you do not need to be able to see it, not even using binoculars. But it certainly helps to reduce the attenuation.
Buy a database from Kimmy JS19 via http://ukscanningdirectory.co.uk/
Or do Google search of this forum via http://www.google.com/cse/home?cx=partner-pub-6291336405621919:2662881632
73 De Alan (M0LSX.)
http://www.qrz.com/db/M0LSX"
User avatar
m0lsx
 
Posts: 6140
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:14 pm
Location: Norwich. TG21.

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby mickydt » Wed Feb 20, 2019 1:34 pm

believe you me there is plenty out there to find it is just a matter of finding it.

without beating around the bush you could go the sdr route with a dongle but if you are in to air matters then avoid the funcube as for some reason they don't cover military air bands.

for around 80 to 90 pounds you could invest in a sdrplay device and download the software from the main website so that way once up and running you can see chunks of frequencies one sure way to find stuff out there, if there isn't much then you haven't wasted a heap lot of money.

if there is plenty to find then the undien 3600 can be bought now with both dmr and nxdn enabled and yes there are people around the country using nxdn., the advantage with using an sdr dongle or plug and play device like sdrplay is that you can then copy any active frequencies in to the undiden 3600 or whatever you buy saves on having to do endless searches (could of done doing that years ago :smiles: )

hope you get something sorted soon and enjoy the hobby if you get back in to it,

mike 26 tm 441
User avatar
mickydt
 
Posts: 201
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:15 am

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby G4RMT » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:09 pm

I think I'm giving up radio - not decided yet, but from the hobby and the business perspective, nothing much is left. My small customer base for my UHF repeater is now down to one client who hasn't used it for a month as far as I can tell, and the others have moved away to digital on network radios. There's no ham activity I can access and my stock of analogue and digital hire radios is getting less and less use. None of the clever digital radios have had any real use for over a year, so I'm thinking probably best to package them up and 8put them on Ebay, and see what happens. Lots will now be difficult to see for anywhere near what I paid for them. Now is the time to cut and run I think. I'm going to keep the ancient Icoms and a few Kenwoods - and a few marine and air band, but the rest are tying up money I could use elsewhere. The Whistler scanner will go too. I'll keep a network radio in the van, but activity of interest locally is just dead. Business and ham is very quiet, and even marine now is not too exciting. The wind farm boats are on digital but even their traffic is really dull. Probably sell the Icom HF all bander too, as that's not been used for two years now. I'm in no hurry and have little time, but the bottom has dropped out of radio.Feeling rather negative about it as you can perhaps tell.
G4RMT
 
Posts: 1416
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:45 pm

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby m0lsx » Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:24 pm

G4RMT wrote:I think I'm giving up radio - not decided yet, but from the hobby and the business perspective, nothing much is left........Feeling rather negative about it as you can perhaps tell.


I think we all go through these phases.
Personally I have not even listened to local amateur radio activity for a lot of years. The behaviour of some on the repeaters was so irritating & life was easier without them. So I stopped even listening.
But 2 meter SSB mobile keeps popping up as a, I want to try it, idea.
Between weekend SW free radio stations & VHF/UHF analogue scanning. Together with occasional Medium Wave & Short Wave trawls which can produce some interesting finds such as yesterdays relay of Caroline Flashback on 927khz. I find radio currently has sufficient interest for me.
I do very little on amateur radio now, but I do have an occasional QSO on 17 meters, 10 Meters or 6 meters. And I am always interested in doing an SES for the Scouts etc. But other than a current, I would really like to put another TX on 48 meters, anything that involves transmitting holds little appeal at the moment.
Buy a database from Kimmy JS19 via http://ukscanningdirectory.co.uk/
Or do Google search of this forum via http://www.google.com/cse/home?cx=partner-pub-6291336405621919:2662881632
73 De Alan (M0LSX.)
http://www.qrz.com/db/M0LSX"
User avatar
m0lsx
 
Posts: 6140
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:14 pm
Location: Norwich. TG21.

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby StandingWave » Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:35 pm

m0lsx wrote:When my daughter was first licenced as a radio amateur aged 11, I use to sometimes talk to her as she walked to or from school, if my wife walked her there or back. I live on an estate below the surrounding area, with trees & also obviously houses around me. But I could chat to my daughter through the trees etc no problem at half a mile, but 50 yards away when she was among the houses, I could not.


Your daughter had an amateur radio licence at age 11! Wow! I am 58 and still do not have one!

Thanks both for the information regarding line of sight. I didn't think it would be that simple. Obviously buildings and trees get in the way but I wondered whether there was a rule of thumb. From what you say, perhaps not.

mickydt wrote:believe you me there is plenty out there to find it is just a matter of finding it.

without beating around the bush you could go the sdr route with a dongle but if you are in to air matters then avoid the funcube as for some reason they don't cover military air bands.

for around 80 to 90 pounds you could invest in a sdrplay device and download the software from the main website so that way once up and running you can see chunks of frequencies one sure way to find stuff out there, if there isn't much then you haven't wasted a heap lot of money.


Any advice on where to look to find would be very much appreciated.

Funnily enough, I just purchased an SDRplay radio for exactly that reason. I tried it on HF last night and it works quite well. Nothing much on VHF/UHF, although I can get a few FM broadcast stations quite nicely on the little antenna that came with the RTLSDR provided I position it horizontally rather than vertically (must be the signal polarisation). I do need a proper antenna though, maybe a discone. Leicester Radio club meet on a Monday night I think so perhaps listening in then will yield better results. One of these days I might even go down there!

mickydt wrote:if there is plenty to find then the undien 3600 can be bought now with both dmr and nxdn enabled and yes there are people around the country using nxdn., the advantage with using an sdr dongle or plug and play device like sdrplay is that you can then copy any active frequencies in to the undiden 3600 or whatever you buy saves on having to do endless searches (could of done doing that years ago :smiles: )

hope you get something sorted soon and enjoy the hobby if you get back in to it,


The guy at Nevada radio suggested the Uniden 3600 XLT. I'm just reading a book about air band and the author suggests buying a band specific radio rather than a multiband scanner. Says they provide much better reception? That does sound reasonable as a multiband must involve some compromises.

What I now need to find is some scanner software for the SDR...
Last edited by StandingWave on Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
StandingWave
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:12 pm

Re: Is there anything worth scanning in the UK?

Postby StandingWave » Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:58 pm

G4RMT wrote:I'll keep a network radio in the van, but activity of interest locally is just dead.


I have never heard of a network radio before. What are they?
StandingWave
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:12 pm

Next

Return to Radio and Scanning Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests