Scanners for fun and for work

Ever been told something is on a “need to know basis?” That makes you want to know it even more. People like that crave a bigger, better look at the world, and there’s a perfect tool for them: the scanner

A radio on steroids

A scanner is a radio that lets you listen and monitor all the ham radio and public service bands. You can find out what your local police and fire are up to, get weather broadcasts, and build that really complete picture you crave.

A scanner looks at frequencies far beyond the basic AM and FM. Like an AM or FM radio, it’s receive-only. Some of those frequencies have restrictions. Only the police and military can broadcast on them. Other frequencies work with ham radio equipment, and if you want to open yourself up to a whole new world, check out ham radio.

A scanner for work

For first responders or their families, it makes sense to have a scanner at home.  You will know everything, all the time. Some scanners are even robust enough to be used by first responders at work. A scanner listens to multiple frequencies, though, and often times a city or town will only need a few. That’s where municipal base stations come in, and only first responders can buy those.

A scanner for fun

It may seem hopelessly quaint in the era of smartphones, but listening to a scanner is just a lot of fun. I had one as a kid and it was really neat to imagine I was riding along with the cops and firemen. Today’s kids deserve that same experience, and a scanner gives it to them.

What should you look for in a scanner?

When shopping for a scanner, you need to first decide if you need a handheld unit. Handheld units are more rugged and include batteries, and so they’re going to be more expensive. If you know what frequencies you’re monitoring, buy one that covers those frequencies. If not, most scanners will cover pretty much any frequency you’re looking for.

Some scanners have a lot of extra features like channel memories and quick scans. These are important if you’re depending on the scanner to give you lifesaving information but not if you’re using it for fun.

The best selection of scanners

No matter what you’re looking for in a scanner, you’ll find a great selection at Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.