Home Radio Scanners
Whether home or handheld all radio scanners are basically nothing more than radio receivers. The only fundamental difference between scanners and your kitchen radio is the channels they receive. While certain scanners do provide advanced features you won't find on a standard radio, these features don't change the principles behind them.Handheld or Base Station
One important question is whether you want a base station to leave at home, or a handheld unit that you can take anywhere. While advances in miniaturisation mean that handheld scanners can offer almost as much functionality as larger models, a smaller display, fewer controls and a smaller antenna still hamper them. Base models not only take power directly from the mains but also give you the ability to install a much larger and more effective antenna.Digital Scanners
Anyone who lives near a major city really should invest in a digital trunking radio scanner. Trunking is a frequency shifting technology used to enable large organisations to use less bandwidth. The key to trunking is that everyone listens to a master channel, and each conversation gets a frequency, which can change repeatedly during the conversation. A trunking scanner can access that data channel and follow along so you can hear the whole conversation.Scanner Bands
Whether you look for a standard UHF radio scanner or one of the more advanced digital ones, you're going to be listening to a lot of different radio bands. Whenever possible you should try and bank similar channels together in your radio's memory so that it's easier to organise your listening.What to Listen For
The first rule of scanning is don't listen to phone calls. Some scanners can pick up telephone signals, but do not listen to them. Beyond that, you can listen to anything from local emergency channels to aviation signals. Scanners are a great way to learn what's going on around you, although it's usually an extremely bad idea to use that information to head directly over to see what's happening.