Ah yes, those scanning extras that are made to enhance your
scanning experience. When it comes to scanner accessories, there is
an extensive assortment of products to choose from.
This page is divided
accessories into the following categories:
Indoor, Outdoor, & Mobile
Earphones & Headsets
Alkaline & Rechargeable Batteries
AC/DC Adapters & Mobile
Protective Carrying Cases
Note: This is the last part of six-parts in the Police
& Accessories section.
When you purchase a handheld scanner, it comes with a standard
"rubber ducky" antenna. Rubber ducky antennas usually
work fine, but if you want to increase distance and improve
reception then you will need an additional antenna other the
standard antenna that comes with your scanner.
When you purchase a
base/mobile scanner, it comes with a telescoping antenna (mobile
scanners come with a mobile antenna). The following are a
few types to choose from:
This type of antenna is the basic
antenna that comes with every scanner buy on the market.
This type of antenna is made
for portable use and comes in three stages allowing you to adjust
the high for specific bands.
Omnidirectional This type of antenna is made
to maximize your scannerís range and reception. They can be
either mounted on a roof or on a pole. The higher the antenna is
placed, the farther the reception.
This type of antenna is made to maximize
your scannerís range and reception. They can be either mounted
on a roof or on a pole. The higher the antenna is placed, the
farther the reception.
This type of antenna is made for
mobile use, allowing you to mount the antenna on any metal surface
such as the roof or trunk of a vehicle. They come in three stages
allowing you to adjust the high for specific bands.
This type of antenna is also made
for mobile use, allowing you to mount the antenna onto the window
I recommend the following: For Handheld Scanners, the telescoping antenna
from Radio Shack at $10.00, it's an
excellent buy. For Base Scanners, a discone (roof-mounted) antenna
is recommended. Check out Scannermaster.com for
the largest selection of police
scanner accessories online and great deals on police
An external speaker comes in handy in noisy
places or for in-vehicle use. External speakers can be set on top of a desk or mounted in a
Scannermaster's Selection of External Speakers
- Earphones are also great for unobtrusive monitoring. Put the
radio in a jacket pocket and feed the cord up your back. From
there itís a short jump to your ear making it very hard to
detect what youíre doing.
- While great for private listening, they allow the other ear to
hear whatís going on around you that is important in some cases
where headphones might be a hindrance or danger.
- Some are better designed and contoured to fit the ear, which
helps with comfort during extended listening sessions.
- You should also consider cord length, color and whether or not
an ear clip is necessary.
Scannermaster's Selection of Scanner Headsets and Ear Phones
- Batteries come in all shapes and sizes. With regard to
handhelds, they usually take AA size cells of the alkaline, NiCd,
NiMH, Lithium or Lithium-Ion variety.
- Alkalines deliver a lot of power and are best known by the most
common name brands; Duracell, Energizer, and Panasonic. All have
very long shelf lives.
- One semi-recent innovation is the rechargeable alkaline cells,
which need a special charger, and have much shorter recharge
cycles compared to other rechargeable technologies (NiCd and NiMH).
- NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium) are older technology rechargeable types.
Most are rated around 700mAh but can go as high as 1100mAh these
days. The have short shelf lives but most chargers are designed to
handle this type. Properly cared for, they can be recharged 300
times or more. Improper care can reduce this to 100 or less. NiCds
are affected by voltage depression phenomenon that happens when
they are not fully discharged and recharged on a regular basis.
NiCds are also toxic to the environment.
- NiMH (Nickel-Metal-Hydride) are newer technology rechargeable
types. Most are rated around 1000mAh and go as high as 1500mAh
these days. They have longer shelf lives and no voltage depression
effect but are more costly, require a special charger and can only
be recharged 200 or so times. No problems with environmental
- Lithium cells are one of the newest and most costly
technologies. They have extremely long shelf lives, are very
expensive but deliver more power than alkalines. They are also
Scannermaster's Selection of Alkaline & Rechargeable Batteries
- Designed to charge rechargeable batteries, they come in a
billion different sizes and configurations. Most are designed to
recharge NiCd cells. The basic difference is the number and type
of cells that can be accommodated as well as the charging current
- Keep in mind that the charging current is of greatest concern.
Cells are usually designed to be recharged at only one or two
rates (typically a slow charge/low current or a fast charge/high
current). If the current is too high, it will generate excessive
heat that will damage the cell contents thereby shortening its
- Most of the cheaper chargers have either a constant charging
period, which is only good for the cell when it nearly exhausted.
Some chargers have no timer at all; they continually charge and itís
up to you to determine when the cell(s) should be removed.
- When thinking of NiMH cells, itís VERY important to use the
proper charger. A NiCd charger CANíT be used, as it will
overcharge the cells. A good NiMH charger will have a voltage
detector to monitor the progress and the better units have
temperature sensors to make sure the cellís thermal limits are
not exceeded. These features work on NiCd cells just as well.
- Other handy features to look for are "conditioning"
and trickle charging. Conditioning is used to discharge the cell(s)
before they are recharged thus helping to prevent the dreaded
memory effect (voltage depression). Trickle charging simply
supplies a very small current to the cell after it is done
charging to help insure its charge does not degrade; you can leave
the cells in for long periods of time without worrying about
overcharging and the cells are fully charged when you need them.
- Expect to pay more for such chargers but when you compare it to
the investment made in the batteries themselves, it easily pays
for itself quickly; especially if you have several sets of such
- Special alkalines available these days can be recharged but
only by using the supplied/recommend charger, which use very small
currents and/or special charging techniques. Do not try to use a
NiCd or NiMH charge on these, to do so is just asking for a
- As usual, Radio Shack carries a large line of chargers.
Scannermaster's Selection of Alkaline & Rechargeable Batteries
- The purpose of the AC adapter is to convert your household AC
voltage/current to DC voltage/current usable by your receiver.
Some receivers come with an AC adapter since they are designed to
run off of 12 volts DC (which allows them to be used in the home
or a vehicle).
- A must have if you use your handheld at home. It can also be
used to power a base or mobile unit with a DC power jack.
- The best one to buy is the "universal" type because
they are so flexible. They typically allow multiple voltage
settings, multiple plug sizes and positive/negative tip voltage
(be sure to set this properly or you could have a bad day).
- Most radios with a DC jack have a small wiring diagram printed
nearby. It usually consists of a dot surrounded by a semi-circle.
The dot represents the tip of the adapter. Follow the line from
the dot to the + or - symbol and youíll know what to set the tip
- Be advised that some radios are not designed to use this form
of external power if batteries are installed. READ THE OPERATING
MANUAL BEFORE PROCEEDING! If your radio is capable of recharging
the internal cells and you use alkalines, connecting up external
power could lead to the batteries exploding!
- In some manufacturer literature, youíll see references to a
"mains charger" which should be taken to mean the AC
DC adapters are used to supply power to your radio while used
in a vehicle of some sort, usually your car/truck/boat. Of course
the radio in question must have been built with a DC jack or you
have to have the skills necessary to add one.
Most base/mobile units are designed to accept the vehicle
voltage, which is usually in the 12 - 14 volt range. Handhelds
usually range from 3 -9 volts so some form of voltage division is
needed to reduce the vehicle supply accordingly.
Base/mobile units usually need about 500 milliamps or more of
power, while handhelds need 200 - 400 milliamps. Be sure the
adapter you pick can source the current drain your radio will
Many radio dealers sell universal adapters that are VERY handy.
Not only do they have a switch that allows the output voltage to
be selected, but also they come with an assortment of plugs to fit
most radio DC jacks. These plugs can usually be inserted in two
ways allowing the tip polarity to be selected as negative or
positive (be sure to use the proper polarity or your radio could
become a hi-tech paperweight).
Most units have a fuse built into the adapter plug to prevent
excessive current flow that could damage your car and/or radio.
Some may even come with a spare fuse to replace on the fly. Be
sure you investigate any problem before simply plugging in a new
one. And itís always good to carry spares. Just be sure to use
ones with the same rating as recommended by the manufacturer.
Scannermaster's Selection of AC/DC Chargers & Adapters
- Designed to protect a handheld from abuse encountered during
- Older manufacturer cases were made of hard, thick leather
designed for maximum protection but an eyesore.
- Newer designs are made of softer, thinner leather and usually
fit like a glove over the various contours.
- Most new OEM cases are made of cordura.
- If you travel with your handheld a lot, a case can protect your
investment and assure a longer life if not a higher resale value.
- Be aware that some cases force the belt clip to be removed in
order to be used. Some allow the stock clip to be uses as is.
Others have a belt loop that is not as flexible but is more
- Take into consideration whether or not you can use the radio
while itís in the case. Can you see the display? Can you use the
keypad? How good does the audio sound? Can you get to the power
jack without removing?
Scannermaster's Selection of Protective Cases
- Anyone familiar with computer and office equipment will tell
you how important surge protectors are. Random spikes of energy in
the power lines (caused by your power company working on the lines
or repairing damage) can mean nasty results to your AC power
supply that feeds your radio equipment as well!
- Good protectors are designed to filter the input to help
maintain a semi-constant voltage and current supply while
filtering out nasty power spikes that can be many thousands of
- Not all surge protectors are created equally either! Donít
expect the $10 variety to match the protection of the $30 models.
Be sure to read all the packages carefully as well as the fine
print, and note the differences between them.
- Some models come with notification lights or alarm buzzers to
alert you to a warning condition. Be sure to pick a model that
will suit your needs and operating environment.
- And follow the guidelines given with the device purchased!
Certain conditions can render the deviceís protection nearly
worthless so heed all warnings and cautions!
- If you find your equipment canít power up one day, check to
see if the protector has been "tripped" due to a spike.
Try resetting the deviceís circuit breaker and you should be
back in business.
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thanks to Rich Wells, N2MCA, owner of StrongSignals for contributing some of the above information on
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