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Are you in need of a guide about radio scanners or how to program a radio shack scanner?

If yes, this guide is for you.

We’ll be discussing the fundamental facts you need to know about radio shack scanners.

This guide will also consider how the scanner operates, its benefits, and the regulations guiding its use.

Let’s get straight to it!

What is a Radio Shack Scanner?

A radio shack scanner is a receiver that can automatically scan or search through a wavelength of discrete frequencies while storing signals found as it continues to check for other transmission frequencies within the same search range.

Contrary to the early scanners considered heavy, expensive, and even slow, modern scanner models like the radio shack scanner can monitor and store thousands of signal channels in just seconds.

Initial scanner uses were centered around searching for only VHF and UHF signals for land mobile radio channels.

However, recent uses include tuning for additional modulation signals like AM and FM.

Their range of application is now vast, and radio shack scanners are available as mobile handheld devices that can be carried about easily.

How Does it Work?

Regardless of the purposed use, the mode of operation of the radio shack scanner is easy to understand.

Storing signal channels can be done manually by entering the frequency range using the radio’s keypad.

You can also automatically scan for active frequencies via the search function of the radio scanner.

For a vast signal range, the use of an external antenna is recommended. Scanned frequencies are stored on the radio’s memory banks.

Depending on the use, memory banks can be assigned to air traffic control purposes or local police communication purposes.

Who & Where to Use

As mentioned above, there is a variety of applications for the radio shack scanner. It can serve as a means of communication within a local area network.

An example is the police scanner used by law enforcement on a field mission who might require a unique transmission frequency just for themselves.

All you need to do is scan and connect to the same frequency, and everything is set.

Fire departments also make use of radio scanners to broadcast updates to people around in case of emergencies.

The application is not limited to them alone, as journalists, emergency medical units, and other services that might require updating a general audience can make use of the radio shack scanners too.

What do You need to Program Radio Shack Scanner?

Before looking for how to program a radio shack scanner, it is important to know what you will need to program one.

The following are the items required before programming a radio scanner.

  • The Radio Shack Scanner
  • The service manual
  • Radio Antenna

The radio antenna is not compulsory but can help amplify the range of received signals.

You will also need a service manual or quick start guide to set up the radio scanner.

How to Program a Radio Shack Scanner

Step 1: Locate the “squelch” knob placed beside the volume control and turn it until the static stops.

Step 2: To program a channel, let’s say “channel 1”, select the manual option and pick the channel number you want.

In this case, that’s “1”. Then, you click on manual again, and that takes you to channel 1.

Step 3: Now, to program the channel, select the “program” option and note how the display changes to PGM.

The next step is to enter the frequency using the keypad and hit enter. You can then decide to select the program option again if you want to continue.

Step 4: For step, it is possible to set the search manually. To do this, select the “limit” option to determine the lowest frequency. “LO” will appear for the lowest frequency.

To set up the highest frequency, press the “WX/E” button, and you would see “HI” displayed on the screen, signifying the highest frequency limit.

Select the “(\ /)” button to begin the search between the set frequency limits.

Step 5: To lock out channels that do not interest you, select the “L/O” button after the scanner stops. You can also press “L/O” later again when it’s time to add the channel.

Step 6: Let’s assume you need to forecast what the weather looks like, then you press the WX option, and it scans for weather radio channels.

In case you are still not completely clear on how to program a radio shack scanner, the video below would help you out.

Cost of Radio Shack Scanner

If you plan on getting a radio shack scanner, you should know that the cost depends on the intended use and functionalities that you seek.

For radio scanners with few functions, pricing starts from as low as about $10 and can be as high as over $150.

To purchase one, make sure you check only trusted sites like Amazon, eBay, and so on.

An excellent online store should provide a detailed picture and description of the radio scanner.

Customer reviews of verified purchases should also be available to help you determine which is best for you.

Benefits of Using Radio Shack Scanner

If you know how to program a radio shack scanner, you will agree that its use is beyond just scanning and storing digital signals for communications.

With proper knowledge of its different applications, there are many other specific benefits to derive from radio scanners.

Some of the benefits of the radio shack scanner include:

  • Weather Reports: the majority of the radio scanners have radio bands to tune into weather radio broadcasts.
  • Amateur Broadcasting Radio Services: the scanners can also be used for personal purposes, such as searching for amateur operators’ radio signals around your residence.
  • Private Radio Frequencies: asides from the public broadcasting services, you can decide to use the radio scanners to communicate within your group on a field job.

Problems of Radio Shack Scanner

  • Dim Backlight: with consistent use, the backlight that operates using an electroluminescent panel tends to grow dimmer.
  • When such happens, a replacement is needed, but care must be taken while doing so. Except you are a professional, the best way to go about it is to consult the service manual for the radio scanner.
  • Worn-Out Radio Keypads: another problem users experience with their radio scanners after some use is worn out keypads.
  • Again, the best solution is to replace the keypad rather than trying to manage it. You can check your local radio shack store for one.
  • No Audio Output: after some use, it is normal for the speaker coils to start opening and fail to give an output of the audio from the earphone port.
  • Memory Bank Freeze: happens when someone tries locking out all the stored channels on the memory bank to scan only the bank. The solution is to perform a full reset from the catatonic state of the radio. However, all previously stored memory channels would be lost.

Alternative of Radio Shack Scanner

Whistler Analog Handheld Scanners

This Whistler handheld scanner serves as an alternative to people who want a more portable scanner type different from the radio-shaped shack scanners.

It performs almost the same functions as the radio shack scanner and even provides some extra functions like the ability to backup/update databases or scan for programs directly from a PC.

Besides, one of the top features you would enjoy about this scanner is the scan delay function.

With the scan delay, the scanner can delay scanning for about two seconds before skipping to the next channel to enable you to hear replies audibly.

Also, getting used to this Whistler scanner is easy as it comes with a start-up guide. It also has its own antenna, rechargeable battery shell, and an AC adapter.

How To Program A Radio Shack Scanner

Photo Credit By Flickr; CC

FAQ’s of How to Program Radio Shack Scanner

Can Aluminium Foil Increase the Antenna Signals for my Radio?

Yes, they can. The aim of the aluminium foil would be to increase the surface area and conducting power of the antenna to amplify the received signals.

This helps to pick up the analog signals that are constantly bouncing around.

To use the aluminium foil, wrap it around the antenna and tune into the channel that’s always difficult to pick up.

Keep adjusting the antenna by changing the location slowly till you get the best spot for better signal reception.

Can Your Cell Phone Conversations be heard on Scanner?

The answer is NO! Calls via cell phones are over-the-air calls that are encrypted and cannot be intercepted with a regular radio scanner.

Besides, modern calls are 3G/4G/5G and LTE services which are basically data calls.

Therefore, the calls you make from your cell phone are like data traveling through the air and would need very sophisticated equipment explicitly designed for that purpose, not just random radio scanners.

Would a TV Antenna work for my Radio Scanner?

Yeah, it will work. Most of the TV antennas are designed to cover about 54 to 220MHz for the VHF band and 470 to 7900 MHz for UHF band signals.

So, they are definitely going to work for radio scanners as well.

The only problem is that you might lose some of the higher frequency signals because the TV antennas have a vertical polarization instead of horizontal.

Vertically mounting the TV antennas would mean you have to re-drill the center holes connected to the mast.

However, placing the antenna high enough should cover up the possibility of signal losses.

What is the Maximum Range of Signals that a Radio Shack Scanner Will Pick Up?

Depending on the type of scanner, radio shack scanners can pick up signals over distances ranging from a few feet to several miles.

On average, a good radio scanner would pick up signals within a 25 to a 50-mile radius from where you are.

Are There Laws Against the Use of Radio Scanners?

No law outrightly prohibits individuals from using radio scanners, but there are laws guiding the mode of use for different places.

For example, countries like Canada and Australia allow the use of radio scanners but do stand against sharing of information obtained via the scanners.

The same applies to the majority of countries, while some countries like Italy are more specific and serve punishments to persons in possession of scanners that are capable of intercepting the communication of law enforcement agencies.

Is it Illegal to own a Police Scanner, and what type of channels are available on it?

No, it is absolutely legal to own a police scanner if you want to. The only exception is some states that do not support the use of one while driving.

Asides from that, you are free to use one and even listen to what is being broadcasted.

Contrary to what some people think, the channels available are more than just police communication channels.

With a good scanner and proximity to other agency types, you can also tune into air traffic broadcasts, weather updates, emergency fire department news, and so on.

What is the purpose of the Squelch Knob on a Radio Scanner?

The purpose of the squelch knob is to lower the background noise from the receiver when there is no signal or the input signal is weak.

The background noise is the audio or video output from the receiver but is called noise because the signal is weak and transmits undesired signals.

So, by turning the squelch knob to eliminate the noise, the scanner can search through the channels that have been programmed in.

Applications of squelch are seen in 2-way radios and different UHF/VHF radio shack scanners.


From the details covered in this guide, we expect you to know how to program a radio shack scanner and how it is used.

The different benefits of having one have been outlined, and questions on issues you might experience have been answered.

In case you happen to encounter any other issue different from the ones we discussed, kindly let us know in the comment section.

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