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#1 Sn0w

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:00 PM

I was wondering if anyone had any experience with some of the cheaper frequency counters:
http://www.dealextre...ls.dx/sku.41619 <<this one is looking probable candidate
http://www.dealextre...ls.dx/sku.16580
http://www.dealextre...ls.dx/sku.18758

Versus the Optoelectronics Scout:
http://www.optoelect...s.com/scout.htm

I'm wondering how badly build quality suffers with the cheaper ones, and what the advantages of one of the other is?
I probably won't be dropping 400$ for the Digital Scout anytime soon, but it'd be nice lol.

I'm sure someone will advocate using a scanner with Close Call or Signal stalker but I'm concerned about if it's in a freq that ends up being in a blocked section, I guess I most likely wouldn't be able to listen to it then - but at least I'd know what freq it was on?

I have a couple strange unmarked/fenced off buildings nearby with some interesting antenna topping them. Also becoming more interested in signals monitoring/SIGINT/COMINT would like to check antennae out and future use in hunting out frequencies.

Edited by Sn0w, 26 October 2010 - 07:11 PM.


#2 lostbaka

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 10:14 PM

I'd say ebay is your friend. i have an elenco but it's seen better days.

#3 johnnymanson

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 11:13 AM

I suggest you do an eBay search on the term "service monitor". I used to have one of these when I was in the Two-Way Radio business. They tell you a lot more than a freq counter. Newer ones are pretty expensive for the hobby budget but I did see one for $400. Its going to be hard to beat the price of the one on deal extreme, but you will probably find the service monitor auctions are interesting reading anyway.

#4 phaedrus

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 11:51 AM

The difference. Drift over time, lack of proper temperature stabilization, reliability long term. It depends on what your real intended purpose is, for getting a idea of what channel is being swamped in a area you probably don't need this level of accuracy. For setting the signal generator to tune up some narrow bandpass filters it might matter more.

Why not get a all frequency scanner instead? Import it if you cannot buy one that isnt crippled locally.
Something like a uk model VR500 yaesu is nice, last time I used one they had no reserved blocks on their scanning bands.

#5 Sn0w

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 08:28 PM

Thanks for the info guys, will look into some service monitors.

Why not get a all frequency scanner instead? Import it if you cannot buy one that isnt crippled locally.
Something like a uk model VR500 yaesu is nice, last time I used one they had no reserved blocks on their scanning bands.


I would love a non-blocked scanner, the problem for me is finding one lol. I just looked for a VR-500 since it looked easily modifiable to all freq on the older models, and I've looked previously for one (other models) - desktop or handheld, although I can't say I really know where to look other than ebay, craigslist, other online classifieds? Anyway suggestions much appreciated.

Edited by Sn0w, 23 December 2010 - 09:13 PM.


#6 ticom

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 11:55 AM

Depending on the frequency, modulation, TX power output, and purpose of the systems those antennas are attached to, you might not get any frequency indication on a counter. Similarly, unless you are dealing with standard VHF/UHF land mobile radio systems, a Signal Stalker/Close Call scanner will also be of little help.

I would suggest you purchase a decent wideband communications receiver, such as an Icom, Yaesu, or AOR brand, and spend some time tuning around the spectrum with it. This is going to cost some $$$, but it's a one-time purchase and is going to give you years of service if you stick with the hobby. Later on, you can start looking at test equipment such as service monitors, frequency counters, and spectrum analyzers when you get a little more experience behind you.

I would also suggest getting a recent (within the past 10 years) copy of the ARRL Handbook, and downloading copies of the US Navy's NEETS course, which you can find at http://www.tscm.com/reference.html - You might also want to read the late Steve Uhrig's "Beginner's Advice" from my old zine Cybertech - http://blockyourid.c...bertek_V3N3.pdf

Finally unless you were planning on getting into servicing radios, you would be better off purchasing a nice portable spectrum analyzer such as an Avcom before investing in a service monitor, for the type of sleuthing you appear to be interested in, when you decide to invest the $$$ into test equipment.

#7 Sn0w

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 03:49 PM

I would suggest you purchase a decent wideband communications receiver, such as an Icom, Yaesu, or AOR brand, and spend some time tuning around the spectrum with it.


Could you give me a couple wide-band communications receiver models that you would suggest?

I have a couple scanners (BC8500XLT, PRO-2040, GRE-300) and a VX-7R (Was going to get my tech, but haven't got to it yet) that's about the extent of my knowledge thus far, picking up more as I go.

I have the ARRL Handbook (A year or two old), read the beginners advice, and I'll look into the NEETS.
:biggrin:

Edited by Sn0w, 28 June 2011 - 04:53 PM.


#8 ticom

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 05:04 PM

Could you give me a couple suggested wide-band communications receiver models?
I have a couple scanners (BC8500XLT, PRO-2040, GRE-300) and a VX-7R (Was going to get my tech, but haven't got to it yet)

I have the ARRL Handbook (A year or two old), read the beginners advice, and I'll look into the NEETS.
:biggrin:


Anything from Icom, AOR, or Winradio is good. Prices on used gear is pretty high, but you get what you pay for. I presently use a late 1960s/early 1970s vintage CEI/WJ VHF (30-300 MHZ.) receiver for a lot of search work in that frequency range. If you find a working older CEI/WJ at a reasonable (under $350) price, I'd suggest getting it. There are other high end surveillance/SIGINT receiver brands such as Racal, Rhodes & Schwartz, Reggco (R.H. Grimm), et. al. that are worth looking at. On the more modern side, I run a Yaesu VR-5000. They work well, but have some selectivity issues with strong signals and are helped significantly with external filters. Info on filter building should be in the ARRL Handbook.

As far as SDRs are concerned, many experimenters have picked up a Funcube Dongle and have had good experiences with them. I've found the Funcube to be very sensitive, but in need of external filtering in order to bring out its full performance. With that said, I've found that most wide-band receivers with the exception of the really high-end models could use a little extra filtering on their front-ends. This isn't really an issue however. The price is right and it lends itself to experimentation really well. For HF and VHF-low band (to 54 MHz.), I've been having a lot of fun with a Flexradio Flex-1500. It's an HF-6m transceiver, but has a really good receiver in it.

#9 Sn0w

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 10:45 PM

Wow, that website linking to the NEET has a TON of awesome information on it, much appreciated!

I've been looking around the local classifieds for a wideband since good stuff pops up occasionally, but all I've found is a whole lot of nothing.

Any suggestions on places to look? I checked the Universal Radio used section but nothing really popped out at me - a lot of handhelds, RR classifieds has a lot of RS and Uniden but not a whole lot of widebands.

I like the VR-5000 other than it lacks the ability to be computer controlled, also the Icom R-75 (just missed one on used Universal Radio for $379.95) but I'll keep on looking.

Would it be better to attempt to find one from Canada for the additional frequencies? I think it'd be worth it just to have them.. but then again they could be all but worthless.

Edited by Sn0w, 29 June 2011 - 07:26 AM.


#10 Sn0w

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 07:12 AM

Also found this interesting while hunting about: ELINT Tracking Tuner SMR-1660-MT 0.5 - 18 GHz with a breakdown here.

#11 ticom

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 10:07 AM

Any suggestions on places to look? I checked the Universal Radio used section but nothing really popped out at me - a lot of handhelds, RR classifieds has a lot of RS and Uniden but not a whole lot of widebands.

I like the VR-5000 other than it lacks the ability to be computer controlled, also the Icom R-75 (just missed one on used Universal Radio for $379.95) but I'll keep on looking.

Would it be better to attempt to find one from Canada for the additional frequencies? I think it'd be worth it just to have them.. but then again they could be all but worthless.


The VR-5000 is computer controlled. It has a RS-232 interface and runs the Yaesu CAT command set. The Icom R-75 is a good general-purpose HF receiver.

I've found good used receivers occasionally at local hamfests (YMMV) and at the two local ham dealers that are within driving distance of me. There's also Ebay. Local classifieds usually bring used police scanners, but you seem to have enough of those already.

#12 ticom

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 10:12 AM

Also found this interesting while hunting about: ELINT Tracking Tuner SMR-1660-MT 0.5 - 18 GHz with a breakdown here.


Run the 1 GHz. IF output of that tuner into any decent communications receiver and you'll have a nice microwave intercept setup. Frequency converters (transverters) are how VHF/UHF/microwave "weak signal" hams get on the air above 1 GHz. They typically down-convert the ham microwave band of interest down to 144 or 28 MHz.

Order the 2010 back issues of CQ VHF Magazine. There is a four-part article series by Rick Campbell KK7B that is very informative and beginner-oriented.

#13 Sn0w

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 03:00 PM

Run the 1 GHz. IF output of that tuner into any decent communications receiver and you'll have a nice microwave intercept setup. Frequency converters (transverters) are how VHF/UHF/microwave "weak signal" hams get on the air above 1 GHz. They typically down-convert the ham microwave band of interest down to 144 or 28 MHz.

Order the 2010 back issues of CQ VHF Magazine. There is a four-part article series by Rick Campbell KK7B that is very informative and beginner-oriented.


Looks huge!
Way cool, I'll look into that for sure.

So you wouldn't recommend the R75 over the VR-5000? I think because it's less of a wideband more of HF?
Too many models, no idea what to look for used haha.


I've found good used receivers occasionally at local hamfests (YMMV) and at the two local ham dealers that are within driving distance of me. There's also Ebay.

Looked on the ARRL Website and no 'fests or 'ventions in the near future in my state.

Edited by Sn0w, 29 June 2011 - 03:31 PM.


#14 ticom

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 09:24 PM

So you wouldn't recommend the R75 over the VR-5000? I think because it's less of a wideband more of HF?
Too many models, no idea what to look for used haha.


Definitely way too many models out there. After a few years (if you have gainful employment that provides disposal income), you'll probabloy have a small collection of them.

If I were given a choice for a shortwave (HF - upto 30 MHz.) receiver, I'd take the Icom R75 over the Yaesu VR-5000. For HF reception, the R75 will blow a VR-5000 out of the water. Not that the VR-5000 is terrible mind you, just that the R75 is a dedicated HF receiver as opposed to a wideband HF-UHF receiver. For that matter, a Milsurp R-390A will take the Icom R75 to the cleaners, but a R-390A weighs about 50 pounds and doesn't have the best ergonomics for tuning around the HF bands. A Stoddart "Radio Research" receiver will hear a fly fart two counties away, but is more a piece of test equipment than a receiver.




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