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DIY: How to Program a Police Scanner

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@gfib12Gary Filbert

Programming a police scanner is easy-peasy if you’re someone who’s
comfortable with technology, which I assume you are because you’re on this page. While you can pay for expert police scanner programming, you can most certainly do it on your own. Below, we discuss the different ways you can program a police scanner – both manually and using software.

Programming a Base Police Scanner

Step 1: Find the frequencies you want.

Police scanners are all about frequencies, so the first thing you need
to do is find which ones you want to listen to. There are lots of sources
online that can provide you with a database of frequencies in your area.
Whether you want to listen to nationwide, statewide, or county systems, you can select a wider or a more specific coverage.

Mind you, this is the manual way of doing it. It’s great if you want to
listen to specific channels only and you don’t want a lot of clutter in your
memory. So, collect the frequency reference numbers you want and be prepared to input them in your base model.

Step 2: Power Up the Police Scanner

With frequency list in hand, turn on your police scanner to start. Of
course, once the scanner is on, you won’t hear anything yet because nothing’s programmed.

Step 3: Press the programming button.

It’s usually on the face of the base model along with the other buttons. It can display “Prog” or “PGM” depending on the police scanner model. Press it to activate programming mode. Watch out for the “CH” letters on the screen, indicating you’re ready to input a channel and frequency.

Step 4: Input the channel number.

This is where you store your frequencies. There are all sorts of ways you can organize them into channels, but the most common way is to assign one channel for fire, another for emergency services, another for police, and so on.

Step 5: Input the frequency number.

Right after you’ve pressed your desired channel number, go ahead and enter the frequency you want. Don’t forget to press the decimal point. So if you want to enter “483.0375” which is the frequency for the County Sheriff in Lancaster, Los Angeles, you press 4-8-3-decimal point-0-3-7-5.

Step 6: Press enter.

Step 7: Test using the “MAN, 110, MAN” sequence.

Press MAN, 110, MAN and your channel and frequency should appear. If
everything seems fine, go ahead and input another channel and frequency until you’ve finished everything on your list.

Step 8: Exit programming mode.

Simply press the Prog or PGM button again to exit programming mode and
start using your police scanner.

Programming a Handheld Police Scanner

Step 1: Make sure the batteries are charged.

Manual programming can take some time, so make sure the model has enough juice.

Step 2: Gather your frequencies.

You can list down frequencies you like, similar to how we started the process for base models. Alternatively, if you don’t have particular frequencies on hand, you can just press “SCAN” and let the scanner
gather frequencies nearby.

Step 3: Press the MAN or Manual button.

This puts your scanner in programming mode.

Step 4: Input the frequencies.

Enter the frequency number you want to program into your scanner. Don’t forget to press the decimal point in the needed place. After the frequency is set, press “E” or “Enter”. You can repeat the process to enter more frequencies as you like.

Using a Programming Software

This method is for those who are more comfortable with using software to easily program the scanner. I get that you don’t want to be pushing buttons all day with manual programming, so here’s an easy step-by-step on how to do it.

Step 1: Download the programming software on your

There are a number of options out there, with some depending on the brand of the model you have. For instance, recommended police scanners like Uniden and Whistler have Sentinel and EZ Scan, respectively. If your police scanner doesn’t have a software program included, you have other options like FreeSCAN, Butel, and ScanControl. Note that some of these are paid, though.

Step 2: Connect the police scanner to the PC using the programming cable.

Step 3: Create a new configuration.

This will be a bit different depending on the software, but for most, you just click File>New and enter a profile name.

Step 4: Explore the database and find the frequencies you
want to import.

You can find frequencies based on country, state, county or city. All the details for each frequency will be listed in the database. Choose your frequencies and add them to the list.

Step 5: Import frequencies.

Once you’ve gathered everything you want to put in, you can go ahead and import the frequencies into the police scanner. Wait a bit until it’s done importing, and you’re done!


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