RF Scanner 101 for 2016 – It’s Like Yesterday – Just More Complex

Most everyone has heard of RF radio scanners but probably through different terms like police scanner, fire radio, airplane pilot monitors, and even the newer terminology like digital trunk-trackers.  Maybe you came here looking to buy a new scanner and are confused since 1990 was the last time you touched a megaHertz receiving scanner.  I’m here to de-confuse the situation with RF Scanner 101.

…the fundamentals of scanning have not changed since 1990

pic credit: ebay.com
pic credit: ebay.com

First, find comfort knowing the fundamentals of scanning have not changed since 1990.  You’ll probably think I’m crazy if you’re sitting there trying to program a modern day scanner like the Uniden BCD-996-P2.  But it’s true.  Every RF radio system broadcasting today still uses a frequency (eg: 155.700 MHz) to transmit and receive.  Where it gets more complex is the introduction of software that drives these modern day transmitters.

I’ll take the next 5 blog posts to break down each element of scanning in 2016 so we can make sense of the last few decades of changes in scanning technology.  Here is what I’ll cover:

  1. Scanning in 1990
  2. Where 1990 scanning is exactly the same in 2016
  3. The control channel plays air traffic controller
  4. Full life-cycle approach to RF radio software implementations
  5. Digital encryption stops you from having fun
  6. Bonus: Enjoy scanning today since it won’t exist in the future

I agree – number 6 is a buzz kill. But we’ll learn how to use the technology while possible.  See you in the next post.