The best scanner radio that money can buy is worthless without an antenna.

But often the antenna that comes with the scanner (usually called a "rubber ducky") is hardly better than no antenna, particularly inside a steel vehicle or in an area of poor reception such as a city, valley, dense forest, and so on.

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If they tell you, for example, it shows 3666, then you know that they are transmitting on 160.650 (Chan 36)and receiving on frequency 161.100 (Chan 66) and can set your scanner accordingly.

Once you've used your scanner for a while, you'll think of other methods. It's much easier to hear your scanner with an earphone, and if you are traveling on a passenger train an earphone is required.

These are internal channels that the user can select and punch a frequency into, after which the frequency is permanently stored in that channel (until you change it).

The more channels the more expensive the scanner, of course.

The window on the railroad radio would show 5454 (transmit on AAR channel 54 and receive on AAR channel 54).

Railroads also use some frequencies to transmit end of train telemetry.

Thus, this strategy works best if your scanner makes it easy to change the channels that are scanned so that you can stop scanning 457.9375/452.9375 when you know a train is close.

If you have a scanner that is capable of storing 100 channels of frequencies, you could enter all of the AAR frequencies in their corresponding channels (the frequency for AAR channel 36 in scanner channel 36, for example).

Then you can use the channel lock-out facility of most scanners to only scan the desired frequencies.

This saves you from the need to reenter frequencies when you change railroads or locations -- simply change which channels are locked out.

Most official railroad radios that synthesize the frequencies have a window that shows the AAR channel number for transmitting and the AAR channel number for receiving.