Letter Re: New Scanner Technology — An Emerging Threat to Retreat COMSEC

I was not aware of this until last weekend. I visited a friend of mine who lives up in the hills. I brought with me a [older] handheld 2 Meter radio that I got for free when I bought a Kenwood 50 watt [2 Meter Band] mobile radio. Anyway, this handehld has crystals in it. It works excellent and can be used ether simplex or to bring up major repeaters. I did not know that or what frequencies it had.

Now for the story. My friend showed me a new type of handheld scanner from Radio Shack. It has a button called “Signal Stalker.” What this does is find a local strong transmission. It was able to identify all the frequencies in my 2 meter radio; I keyed up just briefly and it found them all. I mention this because hoodlums could use just such a scanner to find someone at their retreat property. Few [recently produced] scanners [in the US] cover 225-300 MHz and it would be difficult to modify one to do so. I like to operate on the 220 MHz ham band where just a few scanner models can listen–and of course other hams with 220 gear. Just thought you should know about this new type of scanner with the “Signal Stalker” feature. – Fred The Valmet-meister

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. I have long been an advocate of using field telephones and relatively low power handheld for most retreat communications. Why unnecessarily blast out 40 to 50 watts with a 2 meter rig, when a few watts with a MURS radio will suffice? Save the higher power transmitters for longer range communication, and then use them only when needed.