I've got a nearly ancient Uniden Sportcat, and I've never had a problem picking up any of the rally traffic. I know you can get one of those (refurbished) for $150. I'm sure that nearly any of the radio shack ones would work, too. My expeirence with the radio shack scanners is that they cover nearly all of the same freequencies as the Unidens, except for the stuff up in the 900's... which rally folks don't use anyway.
I have an I-COM Q-7A, which is an extremely small handheld ham transciever. You can pick one up for about $115.00. You don't need a ham license to use it as a scanner. The ham license is only $10 and a quick test away to use all its abilities.
You can set a scan to scan just the rally frequencies. It worked like a charm at CT. I-COM makes the same thing in a scanner only model, but it is more expensive. Whatever you get, you want a scanner that will scan 2 meter (140-148 mhz), as well as 440-450 mhz. Most rallies use 2 meter band.
If being handheld isn't an issue, why not just get a two-way radio with scanning ability? I use the Kenwood 261-A 2 meter HAM radio. You can set it to scan from freq A to freq B. It scans pretty fast and works well. With a well tuned antenna, reception/transmission can be several dozen miles (I've talked with HAMs 180 miles away.)
This unit is about $150 from Ham Radio Outlet.
BTW: You will need to snip one wire to be able to xmt on non-ham freq's.
My programmable Radio Shack 10-channel scanner is over 10 years old and I have found it to be one of the most useful pieces of rally equipment that I own. I can easily find out if a stage is running late ... or is cancelled; find out who is out and where, and sometimes why.
I paid just under $100 at that time. Newer units have more features such as 200+ channels, and can search for available frequencies automatically. Get onto a Radio Shack mailing list as scanners go on sale frequently.
The 10-channel scanner is sufficient to program in all of the channels used on any U.S. ProRally (though I still haven't figured out why there is a different channel for each stage at Rim). With some teams beginning to use radio to contact their service crews (we used to do it with C.B. radio back in the 1970s) a few more channels would be nice.
A WARNING ... Portable scanners in cars are illegal in some states, including Minnesota and Michigan, because they can be programmed to listen in on police frequencies. Possession may get the scanner confiscated as well as a fine. Holders of Ham radio licenses are exempt from the law.
Most rally communication nets are run in what's called the 2-meter band or VHF...roughly 145-148 MHz. Cherokee Trails also had part of its net on 70-cm or UHF(~ 442-445 Mhz) but that's rare. Business band VHF (near 2 meter) and UHF (near 70 cm) are also used sometimes, but not usually for the main safety net.
Any scanner will pick up these frequencies. Radio Shack has one that goes on sale occasionally for $60-70. You can find one on eBay cheap. If you're just doing rallies, you won't need more than a ten-channel. Don't lose the directions, you'll need to reprogram it for each rally.
I'll echo Tim on the legality of these things in a car. In most states, they are illegal in a car, and an officer won't hesitate to issue a ticket in a lot of places. Hams are exempt...get a license...we can use the help.
A mag mount antenna will help pull in a weaker signal when the small antenna on the hand held is just not enough. I found one at Radio Shack on clearance for $10, it makes all the difference.
If you really want to get into it you can make your own with a connector some tape and wire. Check with a local Ham on that one.
You raise a very good point with the legality of scanners in some states. I do have several & live in New York and have no idea if it's legal or not but I work for a police dept and have badge & ID, so I could probably talk my way out of citations or confiscation.
The idea of having a scanning portable that has 2 way capabilities also may be worth my looking into and certainly couldn't hurt the cause if they aren't too expensive & liscensing isn't terribly difficult. Thanks for the info
>A WARNING ... Portable scanners in cars are illegal in some
>states, including Minnesota and Michigan, because they can
>be programmed to listen in on police frequencies.
>Possession may get the scanner confiscated as well as a
>fine. Holders of Ham radio licenses are exempt from the
From what I've seen on that link, I think am in violation of the laws of New York State! I did notice that Tommy appeared to be in radio contact with you at CT and I never got to ask what you guys were using. Is it HAM or business band or what.
Since me & my son will be crewing for Lesley, we would like to find an economical way to keep in touch & maybe get a jump on veh problems as they develope. 2 meter HAM might work, but I don't know if I'm ready to make that jump yet, or weather there is another option.
Anyway, I guess I'll have to hide my scanner in the meantime. }>
Now how about some details? The name of the book, where one can get it, who does the testing what does it cost where is it done and what does passing the test allow you to do radiowise? At this point I'm still in the woods as far as what I'm going to do, but some of this info would be of great help. Thanks.
The book most newcomers to Ham Radio pick up is "Now You're Talking" You can get it from any Radio Shack. Very easy to learn all the stuff you need to know, and it makes a good reference book later on. The Gordon West series of books are very good too.
Good luck on getting your licenses.
The one I used was the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) book Now You're Talking, which was less than 20$ and I got from the shelves of the local Barnes & Noble. The ARRL web site (www.arrl.org) has links for exam sites and times, and for local clubs you can contact for any questions. And, of course, check out HRO (www.hamradio.com) for the equipment to lust for.
I used the Gordon West book more than "Now You're Talking", but I do have them both.. (Wahl, I need to send those back to you!!)
The week before I took the test, I was doing the practice test up to 5 times a day. Then when I took the real thing, I was so familiar with the questions, that I was able to blast through it, and then go back double check every question.
When I walked into the testing room, a couple of people were just sitting down to take the test. I signed in, paid my money, and took the test before they finished.