Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

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Jamesey1981
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Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by Jamesey1981 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 3:30 pm

Ok, I'm considering doing my foundation course, it might turn out to be useful one day, I do have a lot of hobbies though so I'm not sure I would ever put any time in actually using a ham radio.
While I'm thinking about it though, it would be handy if I had a small cheap radio in my kit that I could use just to listen rather than transmit (don't want to break any laws, although if the apocalypse were to happen I think I'd probably be safe to use it for communication) that would receive police, fire or other emergency services broadcasts for an emergency situation where the usual news sources are not functioning.
I do use marine radio, and am qualified to do so, but I imagine there would be more scope for finding out what was going on in a crisis if I could pick up the frequencies that the emergency services are using.
So my question is, would one of the little baofeng handhelds do the job or would I be better off looking for some kind of scanner? If I were to do my license then it would be handy to have the basic radio already, but if it won't pick anything useful up then I'm obviously better off waiting until I've done the courses and am actually able to use the radio before buying it.
Do the police use any encryption? If they do I would imagine that I'd be a bit stuck there, that's if it's even legal to listen in, I have a feeling it isn't.
If I can't pick up police or emergency services transmissions then is there any other reason that it might be handy to have one of those radios in your kit that I don't know about, or are they literally only useful for licensed communication purposes? I know in the states they have the weather radio service but I don't know of any uk equivalent apart from the weather reports that the coast guard put out, and I can already get those on my marine radio.
Would I be better off getting a CB instead?

Apologies for the noob question, I don't know a great deal about ham radio, although I did used to use a CB a fair bit many years ago and obviously you need a marine radio on a boat.
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Yorkshire Andy
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Re: Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by Yorkshire Andy » Wed Jul 20, 2016 5:46 pm

All the services use encrypted from memory...

Where I live I did hear a ch16 ship to coastguard mayday and have occasionally picked up the SAR dealings


Mountain rescue also use "normal," frequencys during rescues for person to person communication
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Lack of planning on your part doesn't make it an emergency on mine

Hamradioop
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Re: Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by Hamradioop » Wed Jul 20, 2016 5:53 pm

Most of the Blue Light services in the UK are on Airwaves which is digital and encrypted soon to be replaced with a gen 2 encrypted system. Ham Radio will give you the means to communicate world wide when you want to (radio Gods allowing).
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keithb
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Re: Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by keithb » Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:13 pm

As Hamradioop says, the "Blue Light" organIzations currently use the TETRA system on UHF (400MHz) which cannot be monitored with normal scanners. However, just to make life more interesting they will shortly be migrating to use the commercial 4G network - the same as your mobile phone -which will make it even more difficult to listen to their communications.

It is also possible that other organisations such as Coastguard, RLNI and Red Cross may ultimately move to 4G and join in what is known as the Emergency Services Network so monitoring any kind of emergency communications may become difficult over the years.

Don't want to be too negative, but I'd hate you to spend money on a scanner or similar radio, only to be disappointed with the results.

keithb
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Re: Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by keithb » Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:17 pm

Sorry - that should have been RNLI of course - the lifeboats. That would be for confidential traffic near to shore and in range of land-based mobile phone towers.

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Jamesey1981
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Re: Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by Jamesey1981 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:23 pm

Thanks everyone, sounds like it won't be much use to me unless I do the courses and get a license then.
Fair enough, something to think about for the future then.
That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.

Safety1st
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Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by Safety1st » Thu Jul 21, 2016 5:03 pm

I agree with all the comments. They're right about emergency services.


Good subject though - so worth discussing.

Wulfshead
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Re: Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by Wulfshead » Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:21 pm

Basically a radio is better than no radio.
A scanner will leave you well short if in a SHTF scenario you need to call and you only have a scanner.

Don't know about where you are but here in Essex CB is all but dead, don't know how many neglected and dusty CB's would be pulled out the bottom of cupboards when the mobile phone cells have gone off-line, a few no doubt.
PMR is not worth the effort.

Here's a thing about the Baofeng though,
I took mine to a bushcraft/survivalist camp just 7.5 miles from the GB3PI repeater and had a job getting into it with the terrain I was at. From my home, which is very high up, I can use the baofeng and get into a repeater 38 miles away.

Ham radio WILL be a help as there is already an emergency network of Hams (RAYNET) working along-side the established blue light services.
There is also the bonus that amateur radio becomes much fun and is always developing.

With Ham radio you may wish to go for a 'shack in a box' approach so you have all the bands and most modes covered.
Obviously HF will give you world-wide ears on what's going on while VHF and UHF will give you a range from 5 ish miles to 50 ish miles depending on terrain, power and the conditions on the day.

At foundation level you are only permitted 10 watts but I have heard M6 stations getting into America and Australia.

There is also antenna understanding that must be factored into radio. My 20 meter dipole is run slightly off the North-South axis and that suits my needs. I get good coverage of all of Europe and a fair shout into America, all the places I watch for news of possible trouble brewing, I don't have much coming from Africa other than Egypt.

I'd say do your foundation because a radio may make the difference and you may just fall in love with the radio hobby.

Wulfshead
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preppergb
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Re: Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by preppergb » Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:10 pm

I keep a UV5RC in my kit with an NA-771 antenna, it covers the 70 cm and 2 m ham bands, plus the PMR 446 channels, it also has a built in 88/108 FM reciever

Wulfshead
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Re: Radio for listening in to emergency services etc

Post by Wulfshead » Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:50 pm

Yes, that Nagoya 771 antenna does make a whole lot of difference, It's what I use on my main UV-5R

Wulfshead
Area 4 Coordinator

For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack

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