Got a bad antenna? How to figure it out.

You spent a ton of money on a new scanner and another small fortune on a fancy outside antenna and feedline. Everything worked great until one day the scanner sent silent. Now what?

Here are some steps to try and figure out what happened. Did your target move to a new frequency or radio system? Did the antenna fail? The feedline? Maybe the radio itself isn’t working. Do this stuff and you can figure out where the problem lies.

First let’s do the easy stuff. Program in the local NOAA Weather station into the scanner. These transmit continuously on 162.400 thru 162.550 MHz. This makes them a great way to test your radio setup for proper reception. It is also an easy way to compare antennas and feedlines. If your radio picks up the weather transmitter then at least the system is working properly. Compare your outside antenna to the back-of-set antenna, the outside one should work better. If it doesn’t then there is probably a problem with it.

If you cannot hear your local weather station (and you know that you could before) then you need to figure out if the problem is with the feedline, the antenna or the connectors. First do a visual inspection of the connectors on the radio and coax and look for obvious problems. If you see nothing wrong then check the other and (at the antenna). If possible use an ohmmeter and check for continuity between the two ends of the coax and that the coax is not shorted. Disconnect the antenna from the coax since some antennas show a DC short when connected.

If you can hear the weather channel then the problem is probably not the antenna. It is more likely a programming issue or perhaps your agency has change radio systems. These days it is very common for many agencies to be converting over to large area-wide digital radio systems. It is often less expensive to do that than to replace older infrastructure. Some states have built statewide systems open to all local and county agencies to use. These states include NC, SC, MI, IN, OH, IL, MN, MO and others. Check your local area at the RadioReference.com database and see if there is a new channel or system listed there. Also check at the very bottom of the county page at RadioReference. If there are regional or statewide trunking systems listed check that system for your local agency.

If you find out that your local agency has moved to a new system then it is time for either reprogramming your current radio (if it will work on the new system) or replacing it with one that is compatible. We can help you pick the right radio for your area, just call one of our scanner experts. Don’t throw away the old radio, you can still use it for other things like aircraft, railroads or whatever old channels your agency retained after moving.

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This entry was posted in Antennas, Base Antennas, Basic Police Scanners, Digital, Digital Scanner, Digital Trunking, Indoor Antenna, Police Scanner, Product Test, RadioReference.com, Scanner 101, Scanner Master, Scanner Tip, Scanner Tip of the Day, Uniden, Whistler by Rich Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rich Carlson

June 12, 2015 – Scanner Master is extremely proud to announce that Rich Carlson, past-president of the Chicago Area Radio Monitors Association (CARMA) and one of the nation’s leading scanner experts, is now part of our team. Rich recently retired as a Sergeant for the Winnetka, Illinois, Police Department and is now assisting Scanner Master customers in choosing the right scanner for their area, answering technical questions and helping us to develop new products and services. Rich is a highly respected member of the monitoring community who has decades of experience with all types of scanners and communications receivers, antennas, software and accessories. He has a great knowledge of the radio systems that we all monitor as he himself helped to institute and manage many in his time. We couldn’t be more excited to have Rich on board.

Rich Carlson, N9JIG, has been a railfan since the late 1970’s and a radio listener since the 1960’s. He has written several scanner guides, including the Scanner Master Illinois Communications Guides. He was a Director of the Chicago Area Radio Monitoring Association, the largest scanner club in the USA and edits the renown CARMA Profiles. He has written several articles for Monitoring Times and other publications. He also owns the Illinois Highways Page at www.n9jig.com. He has a collection of over 25 scanners and dozens of transceivers and specialized receivers. Professionally, he was a Sergeant with an Illinois police department, in was charge of 9-1-1, Communications and Records. He is happily married with a grown son.