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Teach me everything there is to know about race-day scanners.

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  • Teach me everything there is to know about race-day scanners.

    Hi there!

    So I'm going to CotA this year (turn 1 GA, fwiw) and this will be my first non-oval race I've gone to. Since I won't be able to see the cars for the whole lap, I think getting a scanner is what I need to do to follow along. But I've got no idea on this one. Do you rent these somewhere? Buy them? My budget isn't great. What's a good brand? What tricks and tips should I know about?

    Anything you've got on how to acquire and operate them would be awesome.

    Also, I'll have a couple friends along with me. Is there some sort of package deal on scanners? Can I use a headphone splitter and we all listen to the scanner?

    Thanks!
    "I want to be a race car passenger: just a guy who bugs the driver. Say man, can I turn on the radio? You should slow down. Why do we gotta keep going in circles? Can I put my feet out the window? Man, you really like Tide..."

  • #2
    Cheapest option is just us a FM/am radio and pick up the radio broadcast. Usually aired locally or at some tracks on a low powered transmitter, not sure about COTA.

    2nd cheapest option is a baofeng radio, you can easily dial in the radio broadcast and with some work scan the teams. You do need a small converter for headphones. Total cost of about $40. You can also buy a headphone jack splitter for a few more dollars.

    Lastly you can rent a scanner, usually is around the $30-40 for the weekend, depending on the company they may have splitters and extra head sets available.

    Invest in good noise canceling head phones or in ears. I have a set of $30 lost headphones that are good for everything but a Corvette passing 15 feet away.

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    • #3
      For previous F1 races, COTA broadcast track announcer type stuff on 104.9 or 105.3 FM. Do not know if they will do that for IndyCars. Note the FM does not include any driver/team radio communication.
      For a scanner, usually TV announcers can be found at 454.000 MHz.
      BAN SHREDDED CHEESE! MAKE AMERICA GRATE AGAIN!

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      • #4
        I’ve used a scanner for my whole life. You can rent them through Racing Electronics. RE currently doesn’t have COTA listed as a race where they will be renting, but that may not be correct. I can’t recall a race I’ve been to in the last 10 years that RE hasn’t had a truck set up for rentals.

        https://racingelectronics.com/collections/rentals

        if you don’t want to rent, you could always purchase a Uniden Bearcat.

        Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Handheld Scanner, 500 Alpha-Tagged channels, Public Safety, Police, Fire, Emergency, Marine, Military Aircraft, and Auto Racing Scanner, Lightweight Portable Design https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00772MR0K..._2s8BCbNJVFW4C

        ive used a uniden BearCat for 6 years now and have never had an issue.

        When it comes to how how to get it from your scanner, to your ears is a matter of opinion, you can buy the big over the ear headsets that are common with scanners. Me personally, I wear Bose SoundTrue in ear headphones. The technology is much greater, clarity is unreal, and are considerably less cumbersome. When I go to Road Courses though, more times than not I end up running a 3.5mm cord to a portable speaker, so whoever I am with, can listen to the scanner as well, considering there are often times where they are not cars on track in front of you, so you don’t have to worry about cars overpowering the sound of the speaker.

        For each race, the entry list that Indycar provides, will have every scanner frequency entered for every car entered in that race, along with officials, race control, TV broadcast and Radio Broadcast. So it’s free information, usually available online around Thursday.

        Let me know if that helps or if you have any additional questions!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Fletnj01 View Post
          Me personally, I wear Bose SoundTrue in ear headphones.
          Fletnj01 - Are these stereo or mono headphones? Better question - do you get audio on both ears or just one. I have found that most stereo headphones and earbuds only output audio to one channel; therefore one ear. (I have a SC230 scanner).

          I found this set of mono headphones that are cheap and work well:

          http://raceradiosdirect.com/viewpart.asp?idpart=56000CH

          What I do is buy some silicone earplugs from Walgreens (or most any other pharmacy type place). Or Amazon:

          https://www.amazon.com/Macks-Pillow-...-1-spons&psc=1

          They are just a disc of pliable silicone. Then I mold them around the back of the plug on each ear. I find that the car noise doesn't go around the earbud as much as it goes through by vibrating the plastic on the back. This method gives you almost an airtight seal and does a great job of blocking background noise. I got this tip a few years back from someone here on TF, so hat tip to you if you are still here.

          As far as the scanner goes, I like my SC230 but there is a steep learning curve to program it. It has dynamic memory rather than a set block of channels to program. What's nice is you can put in the driver's name as well as car #. The other side of that coin is that I don't often look at the scanner to see who's talking. When I do there's sometimes glare and my eyesight isn't what it used to be, blah blah. A lot of guys voices you get to know anyway. It's just nice to listen in the background as you watch the race. Picking up the radio broadcast is nice too, but to me that's a totally different experience. Listening to the drivers and crew makes you feel more immersed in the race IMO.

          One other point to add... I have NEVER been able to pick up every driver in a race - even though I program all of them. Some races it seems like I only get 7-8 and other races more. At Indy it seems like I get 15-20. (I'd be curious what other people's experience is on that.) Part of it is that no one talks much during green flag and EVERYONE talks during a yellow, and you can only listen to one conversation at a time.
          "They say you can't win them all. But I don't know why not." - Levi Jones

          www.Indy500Database.com

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          • #6
            I will teach every valubla information. Fisrt you must go to nearest Wal mart and purchase two $100 prepaid...
            "Factually Unfounded Opinion" Rep. Elijah Cummings
            "Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world — and never will." Mark Twain

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            • #7
              Maybe what you want will be available on the new Indycar app.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by isaacdo View Post
                Maybe what you want will be available on the new Indycar app.
                Maybe...but I wouldnt want to rely on cell phone data for race scanning. Depending on the size of the crowd it can limit or take down cell connections.

                Its typical I lose most data at Road America around 10am of raceday...Indy 500 around 9-10 am. We'd even struggle to keep up the live timing at the Milwaukee Mile.

                It does seem to get a little better every year, but any time you throw 30,000 to 50,000 cell phones in an area not used to them, they can start to struggle.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Fletnj01 View Post
                  I’ve used a scanner for my whole life. You can rent them through Racing Electronics. RE currently doesn’t have COTA listed as a race where they will be renting, but that may not be correct. I can’t recall a race I’ve been to in the last 10 years that RE hasn’t had a truck set up for rentals.
                  There were also no scanner rentals at Portland last year. Since it was my first road course event, I just assumed they didn't do rentals at RCs.

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                  • #10
                    My race bag has an old Uniden in it along with the headset. I program it with the cars and a priority for race control. I also carry a small AM/FM radio and single ear bud. Pick up the broadcast with it. Earbud goes under the headset. Always worked for me.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mke View Post
                      Maybe...but I wouldnt want to rely on cell phone data for race scanning. Depending on the size of the crowd it can limit or take down cell connections.

                      Its typical I lose most data at Road America around 10am of raceday...Indy 500 around 9-10 am. We'd even struggle to keep up the live timing at the Milwaukee Mile.

                      It does seem to get a little better every year, but any time you throw 30,000 to 50,000 cell phones in an area not used to them, they can start to struggle.
                      I had full T&S and Streaming for the GP of Indy last year (AT&T), so it's at least getting better there.

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                      • #12
                        I don’t like scanners
                        "I wasn't going to finish 2nd today...2nd was not in the cards...I was either going to win or i was not going to finish at all..." Eddie Cheever-Victory Lane,Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1998

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by slompappy View Post
                          I don’t like scanners
                          I don’t like attending a race without one.
                          RIP Justin! WWJCD

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                          • #14
                            I've got the RE 1000 ($150-ish) that I use with some Koss QZ-99 noise reducing headphones I got on Amazon for $40 or so. Takes a minute to program but isn't hard. Headphones are kind of cumbersome but they block out noise decently and have a stereo/mono switch so you can get audio in both ears. I put in the drivers for each race I go to and then I have the TV broadcast, radio broadcast, race control, track PA, and something else I'm forgetting programmed in as well. I tend to listen to the broadcast more than anything. On the ovals I mostly just hear "outside, outside, outside, clear" a bunch of times from the teams. Heard Danica drop an F bomb at Iowa one year, though, which was pretty funny.

                            Also, I feel like I'm in the same boat where many cars I hear talking a lot and some I don't hear at all, which I don't know if that's due to them not talking or using a frequency not published or something.

                            You can plug a headphone splitter into the scanner jack and have two people listening at once, which i do frequently. I imagine RE would have rentals at CotA but I don't know how much that costs.

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                            • #15
                              One year at Fontana I think it was 2001, I was staying in the infield and shortly before morning warmup I had the normal network feed on the scanner running . This time though they were missing Tommy Kendall and after some hemming and hawing someone needed his home phone number and they gave it out admitting there were going to be some new callers. I admit I did write it down but never called it.
                              RIP Justin! WWJCD

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