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Resources for Scanning or Amateur Radio in the NorthWest

A commonquestion I get is resources for the HAM hobby in the area. So here is alist of sites that I have found for Seattleand the pacnw.

RadioReference – possibly the singlegreatest Internet database of law enforcement, and Public Frequency’s if youwonder what the light bar out side your house is talking about this is the locationto get data. Also make sure to check out the forums thereis a great location for learning and gathering data about how to scan or use radios.

NorthwestRadio (Intercept Northwest) –Same Idea as the Radio Reference but specifically for the northwest, they have a lotmore of the nitty gritty freq’ allocations like W hotel security, or McDonald'sin Fife. forms totalk about local information

NWHam –here is a new kid on the block, this site is very slick. Has a repeater lookup databasethat is seemingly bad ass. Normally you must buy a book or do a lot of research forthis data. This is a community fed database like to keep the data living. Againforms for HAM radio talk in the area.

I leave forlast because as its ‘the’ lookup database for amateur call signs. Theforms are full of angry, know it all-Old farts that think that vista is cool becauseits new. Or google browser is great because its from ‘a real good company’(translated to I wish my retirement was wrapped up in the google stock)

Other realms are the FCCULS search which is the databasefor anything FCC (or everything).

HRO whichis a suppler of radio equipment, the prices are not as good as they once were.but free shipping on over 100 bucks from Portlandis normally good. Compare them to AES forbest prices. Vetco is in Bellevueand has things if you need them now, but I very much dislike the staff there. (theyalso turned into the largest seller of HDTV crap ever)

Local Groups, Or Clubs are good if you’reinto the group thing. TheMike and Key Club and the PugetSound Repeater groups are goodplaces to look into. There is a thousand groups in the area, from emergency to Boeingand Microsoft. Just Google search ‘Puget Sound Amateur Radio Club/Group’ to find more.

If you have uniden scanners check out the freetool bctool or freescan.Don’t buy the Butel Arc software its buggy and crappy for the price.

What to buy? Pages such as eham or RadioReferenceWiki can help. The sites Ihave listed at the top all have Classifieds go there before you go to ebay. Craig’slist also always has mountains of crap. I find the local swap meets to be a wasteof time for the most part. (Other then looking at other nerds) also check out

Antenna’s …long topic, outis better then in. Big isn’t always the best. If it’s noisy get a tuned.Anything will work as good as the most expensive if you tinker. Noise blockers andRFI eliminators should be last resort.

Magazines, I find that the ARRL officialmag is possibly the best. I am not an advocate of dumping money into ARRL but thesubscription and online stuff you get is worth the cash. PopularCommunications is also a great oneto get. I have nothing good to say about MonitoringTimes they don’thave good stuff on radios or the hobby IMO a lot of crap that PCMagazine alsohas. Sorry I don’t need a monthly grove catalog.

Books– the NorthwestFrequency Database I carry with meeverywhere I go. Official ARRL Repeater directory books are handy but sometimes aredated, However they are good to have. The ArtSci booksare good, but also wrong or dated but you cant always have internet and they havesometimes better data then the ARRL.

Other things I would check out, is HamRadioDeluxe hasa application for decoding digital modes, so far its the best I have found (includingvery $$$ apps) it will do most things that are still around.  MixW is a nicetool for some comparative analysis on digital modes as one solution won’t alwayswork. It’s a pay for app with no development but you can use it with out paying. FlDigi isan open source app that you want on your tool belt as well expanding again some ofthe things you can do with digi-modes is another analyzer to use. If you want to trysome fun the DigiPup bootableLinux distro will throw a lot of apps at you for testing.

Other applications that might be handy for toolingaround the RF is TrueRTA forsound card digital analysis.  And unitrunker fortrunk decoding,  PDW fordecoding other commercial digital modes. GoogleEarth is also a good application tohave handy, just don’t install the Google updater to keep the NSA from keepingits link to you updated.

You need to take a Radio Test? Look around,most people will do it for the cost of the license work (15 bucks or so) don’tpay a lot unless you want to support the cause. Email me and I can get you in touchwith free study groups w/ test.

If you don’t have a radio or have no placefor antennas check out EchoLink thiswill allow you to link your computer to a repeater to talk to stations all over theworld, something you cant do as easy or reliably even with the most expensive radio.

And don’t tell people you have aGRMS license they will only snicker.

Hope this little blurb of informationfinds your Google search and that I can help.

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