I was thumbing through my latest Car & Driver magazine last night when I saw a gadget that's probably worth buying. On page 123 of the November issue, under "Baubles and Bolt-Ons", they have a police scanner that scans police transmissions up to three miles away. If they are on their radios, and we're within 3 miles of them, we'll hear them and know that they're close.
The unit is a Uniden Bear Tracker 800 BCT7 police scanner. The guys from Car & Driver bought theirs at www.scannermaster.com for $189. After you go onto the site, go to the far right where there is a quick navigation bar. Scroll down the menu to the Bear Tracker BCT-7 and you will see the specs on the unit.
Not a bad price and probably worth it. I think I'll be buying one soon!
I had one of these about two years ago. Travelled to TN and back, found the thing to be next to worthless; frankly it was so irritating I turned it off for the return journey, and then sent it back. The newer models may be better, but I would only buy from somewhere that will allow returns without cost/hassle.
I'm just a firm believer in the Valentine One and paying attention. Luckily the police do not seem to use Vascar or airplanes/helicopters in my area.
not sure if it is really worth it.... I bought one of those things a few years back, and brought it back to Hong Kong to try out. Turns out that somehow the police there jumps from channel to channel, and the bear tracker can never lock on to them... I don't know about the US, but then I would imagine it to be pretty useless.... You would need to know the police frequencies of the area you're travelling through, and if you're driving from state to state, it would be major PITA to find all the frequencies.
Oh yeah, and you might even pick out cops who are just sitting around at a donut store two miles off the highway.....
I've had one of each of the iterations of BearTracker, from back in the days when they were sold by Gray Electronics in NV, and were basically hopped-up Uniden models. With their increasing popularity, Uniden brought them in-house, and they're now branded as Uniden models.
The early models required YOU to program in the unique frequencies for each state, based on a list provided by the manufacturer. The more recent models (BCT-7 and BCT-12 included) are pre-programmed with the unique frequencies that Highway Patrols use to re-broadcast (repeat) through their vehicle-mounted units.
[The proprietary circuit detects any police radio traffic on the unique frequencies. B/C troopers' handie-talkies are low-powered units, the signal is re-broadcast ("repeated") through another transceiver in the patrol car. Hence, the three-mile radius of most BearTracker alerts.]
I still use a BCT-12 to this day--it's miniaturized to the size of a radar-detector--but only for interstate road trips. Its utility in urban areas is near worthless, unless you like listening to "COPS" audio tracks.
On interstate travel, I would say 25% of my alerts come from the BearTracker (Smokey's either using instant-on, not actively shooting, or using laser; mine's an old V1!), while 75% of my alerts come from the old trusty V1. And yes, my eagle eyes provide the primary line of defense!
While there are emerging technologies that make police radio traffic more difficult to monitor, MOST states are still using the same old technology. Those FCC frequencies are still a matter of public record, so it remains possible for the folks at Uniden to continue to pre-program their units.
For $150, I think it's a worthwhile added layer of protection from the "revenuers!"