What was your first scanner?

Greetings once again!

I’ve been into various parts of the communications hobby off and on for around 25 years now.

My first exposure to scanning hobby came in the way of a truck driver who had a Realistic Pro brand of scanner. I’ll never forget the moment I first heard VKC on what was then Channel 36 of the old UHF 64 Channel allocation. A press of the scan button and low and behold I was listening to the old City Patrol Group on Channel 26 and a message for ‘Constable Brown to contact the office ASAP’.

I was listening to units going ‘Code 5’, ‘Code 1’, asking for a ‘set of usuals’ and ‘IBR’ checks. It was a whole new world and I was hooked! That was it, I had to have one.

Given I was but a young teen I could only really afford a simple 10 Channel base station unit, a Realistic Pro 57. It was purchased from Tandy Electronics in Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds. Given this was in the days before the internet (yes I’m that old!) and BBS systems on getting home I raced next door to the local Fire Station to try and find out the frequencies required to listen to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. A quick call by the Station Officer to the Brigade’s technical services and I had what I needed.

A visit from a friend yielded my first frequency for the Police. As we sat there and listened to the MFB and airplanes he asked about listening to the Police. I couldn’t for the life of me recall what the mass of digits were that I’d seen on my first introduction to scanning by that truck driver. Then the visiting friend told me to ‘try 468.725MHz’ as he was ‘pretty sure that’s on my brother’s mate’s scanner in his tow truck’. Bingo! However imagine my horror to learn that there were another 63 frequencies and I only had 10 memory channels to play with on my unit.

Guess what that meant? Yup, another purchase was soon looming. A Realisitc Pro-2022 was soon sitting in place of the Pro-57. Then came the need of course to have the ability to be more portable and a Uniden Bearcat 100XLT was soon part of the family.

PRO-2022

The must have frequencies for me at that time was all 64 frequencies of the Victoria Police 64 Channel UHF allocation and the 10 UHF frequencies the Metropolitan Fire Brigade used.

Since that very first scanner the brands I’ve owned and the amount I’ve owned have been many, probably not that an unusual occurrence for those reading this.

Happy Listenng!

2 thoughts on “What was your first scanner?

  1. My interest in radio started some years ago by means of an old ‘shortwave’ radio. It was quite primitive but I remember listening to amateur radio worldwide, international aircraft, Victoria Police talking to stations all over rural Victoria and nationally along with fire reports from CFA brigades during the Dandenong Ranges bushfires during the mid 1960’s. This was fascinating and it wasn’t long before I had updated to better receiver.

    During this process at some point my father told me that you used to be able to receive the fire brigade on some normal household radios, right up the end past the radio stations. We had an old radio and one day out of curiosity I fired it up and slowly turned the dial right up to the very end and came across a very strong carrier wave on which a beep was heard 30 seconds. This was interesting… suddenly a voice boomed out “VKN8 to 1’s hose carriage and com ladder”.

    I listened to the MFB for years on this old radio. Back then one channel covered all of Metro area. VKN8 used to transmit on approx 1750 KHz and the appliances transmitted back on approx 84 MHz. Unfortunately you could not receive the appliances, although an uncle of mine, who worked in the avionics industry, told me you could get radios that received that sort of thing from the US. The MFB eventually moved to UHF, in the late 60’s, early 70’s from memory, so to receive them at that time was out of the question.

    As a result of radio I developed an interest in the fire brigade and subsequent joined in 1976. Not long after this, during a conversation with a shift colleague we discovered a common interest, radio. He showed me a small radio he had imported from the US that could receive the fire brigade. It received all four brigade UHF channels. My uncle had contacts in the US and I was able to order and import one.

    After what seemed like an eternity and probably was back then, my first scanner arrived. It was a ‘Bearcat’ SP-U, 4 channel, crystal locked handheld job manufactured by the Electra Corporation. Getting the frequencies I required was the easy bit but I had to get crystals ‘cut’. I found a place locally that did this, that was relatively easy; explaining why I wanted them wasn’t… However the job was done and I was up and running.

    As time went by I felt the need to listen to more and hunted around for a radio locally. After getting some good info I was able to purchase a ‘Bearcat 210’ desktop scanner. This unit had 10 channels and was programmable, no crystals… It was the size of a house brick and a bit deaf by today’s standards. This opened up a whole new world and was able to receive the firies on UHF and at that time Vicpol had 10 and the CFA had 7 VHF channels. Unfortunately the ambos worked on VHF low band and the scanner did not cover the Australian VHF low band. At a later stage I was able to get a ‘Bearcat 220 FB’. A 20 channel version of previous scanner and it covered that band.

    Since then I have owned a ‘Bearcat Thin Scan 4-6’ (four band, six channel, crystal locked handheld). An AOR 3000 and 2001, then two ‘Uniden Bearcat 9000XLTs and a BC3000XLT . We then get into the computer programmable era with an Alinco DJ-X10 handheld and two ‘UBC780XLTs’.

    Now the digital age… I currently have a ‘Bearcat 396XT’, two ‘996XTs’ and a ‘396T’ that is currently used as a dedicated mobile.

    In the early days of scanning frequencies and other information was not freely available, no internet and databases. It was all done by word of mouth or a bit of good luck or who you knew. At a later stage a magazine ‘CB Action’ appeared with a regular section dedicated to scanning where the author and readers contributed frequencies and other useful information and tips.

  2. I enjoy reading posts such as this because it ‘takes me back’ to when the hobby was fresh and new and there were endless possibilities back then. I used to love CB Action (and its later incarnations), it was a must have for scanner & CB users back then.

    Thanks for sharing FireScan.

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