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::::Frequently Asked Questions::::

Race Scanning Basics

General Race Scanning Questions
Race Scanning Basics
Scanner Tips/Troubleshooting

What do I need to know about "race scanning"?
There are a lot of things you need to know about race scanning before you get involved too deep. There is no quick and easy answer to explain everything at once. Many people jump into it without knowing what scanner to purchase, what headset and what accessories you are really going to need. Our purpose for writing these pages is to educate you to the sport of race scanning, explain what is available, why you need certain things and how you do it. You can buy your way in slowly a piece at a time or you can jump right to the premium equipment in the beginning.

Please read everything that follows so you will fully understand where you can go and what you can expect at different levels of expense. You can spend as little or as much as you wish. The results are greatly different but everybody has a budget limit.

What do you want to hear at a race?
Some fans just want to listen to the radio broadcast or the television audio while sitting in the stands watching the race. Others want to hear all their favorite drivers, spotters, race officials and etc. while conversing with their race buddies that are sitting next to them or are in the infield. You can have it all!!! The late Banjo Matthews had a sign in his race shop: "Banjo's, where money buys speed - How fast do you want to go!!"

What equipment do I need to go "race scanning"?
Headsets protect your hearing - good noise reducing headsets are first and foremost if you want to hear what's going on in racing for very long. Extreme noise has many bad side effects on your life in addition to going deaf. You should never attend a race without sufficient hearing protection and it is cruel to subject children to racing noise without hearing protection that is sufficient to protect and preserve their hearing.

Purchase comfortable headsets. There is nothing more miserable than a headsets that hurts. Over-the-head type headsets are the most popular and usually the most comfortable. Behind-the-head style headsets like crew members once wore, "clamp" on your head and do not have any practical tension adjustment. Hats with full brims require headsets like the B-T-H style. O-T-H styles work great with caps.

Noise reduction ratings are measured in "dba" and the higher the number the quieter the headset. A one number increase is about 15% quieter. Weight is another critical factor in selecting headsets - lighter is better. Our complete line of Solution Headsets is the broadest in all of racing - from the Solution I in OTH and BTH to racing's only folding model - the Solution III. Highest quality headsets sold to race fans!

AM/FM Stereo Headsets
A new addition to our headset line is the noise reduction am/fm stereo headset. This headset is available as a radio headset or with our "scanner input" it turns into a dual purpose sports headset. Great to use at the races with your scanner so you can monitor the am/fm race broadcast and listen to your scanner. When the scanner is talking you don't hear the am/fm radio and the transition between the two is seamless. At other times just use them while mowing the yard or at a football game.

Intercom Systems
Intercom systems are now common in the stands. Race buddies and many couples like to talk during the race and it is nearly impossible to scream over the roar of race engines. Our "FAN-LINK" selection of intercoms is the largest selection in the industry. We offer the first "WIRELESS FAN-LINK" using low-cost family two-way radios so you can talk to your buddy but you don't have to be sitting together (up to a mile apart is not uncommon) and our latest entry is the "UNLIMITED" FAN-LINK where you can link 2 people together or up to an unlimited number of fans together (all must be linked together with cables) each headset can have its own scanner or share with the person linked to you. Just added to our "Unlimited" line is the G-T-B (Goes to Background) where the scanner volume is reduced when someone is talking on the intercom!

Scanning Equipment
Almost any scanner will work "ok" in racing but there are a few that will make the experience much, much easier and more enjoyable. We only recommend scanners with at least 200 channels, sub-audible tones (to eliminate bleedover & unwanted reception) and 800-900mhz coverage. Visit our website (www.racescanners.com) for current recommended scanners. Don't overlook demo and used equipment when making a selection if funds are tight.

Scanners that cover 29 to 956mhz are preferred since they cover all series of racing in the U.S. But those that only go up to 512mhz will handle all current NASCAR teams. However there are other considerations in choosing scanners that may be much more important. Please read the next section very carefully before making a selection.

Note: All UNIDEN scanners built after 8/90 have the audio reduced through the headphone jack and will not drive headsets used in racing with a sufficient amount of volume. They must be modified internally to increase the volume to a sufficient level. We sell volume modified scanners and offer the modifications to those that have unmodified scanners.

Basic Scanner Layout Planning
Before you start thinking about entering frequencies in a scanner, you should take a few moments to plan how you are going to layout your scanners frequencies. Most fans choose to use the channel numbers to correspond to the car numbers i.e. Use channel 3 for car #3 and etc. Now the problems begin.

Scanners under 100 Channels
Scanners with 10, 30 or 50 channels present a real challenge. You just have to mark up your list with where you put certain cars and officials. Some can correspond to channel numbers.

Scanners with 100 Channels
This is the first level of scanners that can give you channel numbers that equal car numbers. However you can only enter the primary channel of all cars in a race plus officials, TV, radio broadcast and the "alternate" frequency of some cars that shift between primary and alternates often (we mark them with a "b" on our frequency lists). This will normally fill up the 100 channels. If the unit has an "alphanumeric" display you can write in "alt car #18 or MRN" on any blank channel so you can identify who is talking.

Scanners with 200 Channels or More
Now you have the freedom to utilize primary, alternates, radio, TV and any other special frequencies that you desire. This is where you can program in two separate series of racecars or put the "primary" in the channel that matches the car number and the "alternate" on the same number in the next 100 channels i.e. Use channel 20 for the primary and channel 120 for the alternate frequency. Using alpha tags in alphanumeric display scanners make it very easy to understand exactly who you are monitoring.

Computer Programmable Scanners
PC programmable scanners with tone codes are the latest in high-tech scanning and the very best in reception for racing use. They are downloadable from our website with frequencies, driver names and tone codes. You can also setup your own programs and mix and match series to suit your racing schedules or other custom configurations. With alphanumeric displays you have great flexibility in identifying things, but remember in order to find anything in a scanner you must know it's channel number.

What else do I need to do it right?
The little accessories you could use - such things as a case for the scanner to keep it from getting scratched up and banged around. A leg strap to hold your scanner and prevent dropping it. The "race antenna" is the little 2" long antenna that you use in the stands to keep down the strength of the incoming signal so it will not bleedover on the next channel. Splitters are small cables that allow multiple headsets to be used on a scanner. Since scanners are equipped with one headphone jack (plug in) you have to use the splitter to add more headsets.

Keep your stuff together - above all, keep your scanning equipment together and protect it from damage (scratches and etc.). Bags for carrying items into tracks are in question at many tracks due to terrorism considerations. You should contact the track you are attending to get specifications for bags. We sell clear tote bags that are approved for all tracks.

Spare batteries and chargers - scanners that use "AA" batteries are the most versatile of all. They can use any "AA" batteries available - from cheap flashlight batteries to the exotic rechargeable NIMH and super high output alkalines. Dedicated rechargeable battery packs are more trouble since they have to be recharged before you leave home for a race and often during the weekend. The new NIMH units take longer to charge but they run twice as long and do not develop a "memory." You should keep a spare "charged" battery for every piece of equipment that you will need at a race.

Need more information on race scanning or products used in race scanning? Contact us today for answers. We are the pros!

"Serving the race fan is our only business since 1987"

Everything you ever wanted to know but didn't know who to ask?

©2014 FFC & Race Scanning Monthly

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