Afterwards, I doubled-back 10 miles down the single-track line to another point where the tracks split in two, or merge into one for northbound traffic. The entire Washington to Atlanta mainline was double-tracked until the s, when dispatchers and management found that they could make do with alternating mile sections of single track and double track fun fact: dispatchers were asked to give this technique a try by putting electrical tape over the tracks on their CTC boards.
When it was determined that alternating single and double track would work, the tracks were physically removed both from the board and in real life. This way, trains could meet each other without either train having to come to a complete stop. This principle was demonstrated to me at Rapidan, where I watched Amtraks northbound Crescent, running quite late, rip through on Main 2, followed closely by intermodal train on Main 1, which had been overtaken by the Amtrak and was now picking up speed again. I was hoping for a shot with both trains in the image, but thanks to the efficiency of mile double-track, did not have to wait at the stop signal at this interlocking point as I had hoped.
Usually, once I've bagged three trains on the Wash, I call it a day. However, as I was driving home, now on US 29, I caught a glimpse of 's tail through the trees, and my scanner which I hadn't bothered to turn off yet informed me that the train would be changing crews at Bristow. This would give me ample time to set up a second shot of the train at Gainesville.
So, I did! Once again, I was ready to head home at this point, but the scanner again informed me that perhaps I ought to wait; would be meeting just up the line. Admittedly the consist of wasn't terribly special, but it was still one more train in the books for the day:. Amtrak Crescent at Rapidan NS at Rapidan, VA 1 of 6.
Railfanning Altoona, PA – Train Aficionado
NS at Rapidan, VA 2 of 6. NS at Rapidan, VA 3 of 6. They can help you with some information, or ask for some help on the Eastern or Western discussions. If you have more specific questions, drop me a PM and I'll see what I can do to help. There's a lot that folks on here can help you with if we know exactly what you need to know and your location. As far as radio experience, I've been a ham for over 50 years. Try searching on the manufacturers name, Yeasu, Kenwood, Bearcat, Icom. There is quite a bit of confusion using the term 'scanner' as it includes a slide or photo scanner as well.
There's also retail outlets that will show up on a Google search, Ham Outlet, Scanner World, for example. Amazon also handles lots of HAM and scanning receivers. I've tried a number of Bearcats and also have two of the popular Yeasu receivers. Something that I found of interest when 'chasing' a train or waiting at a photo location is to monitor the End-Of-Train device on DPU's may also be using this frequency or something nearby, the data stream produces an audible 'chirp' when the transmitters are within a certain distance.
The Yeasu's are rugged and have good reception with the proper antenna but the keyboard commands and functions are a real pain to deal with. There is a software and connector package, but that's getting farther away from the chase and the photo. Another challenge is finding accurate frequencies, we all have our favorite sources.
Mine being the series of Altamont Press Timetables, but anything printed or posted could be out of date almost right away. Edited 2 time s. I second the advice above about keeping an eye on the upcoming NXDN digital implementation. That means eventually, the scanner you buy now might become obsolete sooner than you realize My suggestion is buy something reasonably priced ASAP and start listening, because that's the best way to learn.
You need to know the name of control points where you are railfanning, and that means you need to look for a timetable and start studying maps. If timetable is not available, many of the signal boxes at control points have names, so you can get started that way. Railroader lingo will remain meaningless unless you know where you are. I think I can boast here that my "kill ratio" for catching trains using that scanner is pretty good, based on many of the reports I've posted here. Some have called these Unidens garbage, but remember, you can buy cheap and get something better later.
I'm convinced Uniden has updated the internal circuitry since I bought mine, since I did a side-by-side performance test with jmf who has the same model, bought several years later , and even with the same Diamond RH77CA antenna, his reception is better than mine.
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Anyway, the expertise here on TO is quite impressive, so be patient and don't demand to have them respond in a certain way. I've learned quite a bit from their free advice, even if I'm still using the cheap, garbage Uniden. Do the research--don't expect people to spoon-feed you the answers. All of James' questions and a lot more have been answered numerous times on this forum. Getting a radio is just part of learning about how to use it to one's benefit for railfanning.
That also means researching the line where one plans to railfan. What are the station names? Where are the mileposts? What does the information transmitted by a Track Warrant or Track and Time mean? What do all the various abbreviations and slang mean? How does one piece together what is happening when one can only hear one side of a conversation, or when more than one conversation is happening concurrently?
What do talking defect detectors tell about train operations? All of this requires research and, then, experience. And, with the coming changes in communications technology, it is going to become more challenging than ever for railfans to ferret out the information that they want from what they hear. In short, it's not easy, but most things that are worthwhile aren't.
Ham radios are good for RR reception. Some scanners are pretty good. I still use some of the tried and true radio sets from those days. Here's my extra 2 cents for perhaps an unusual alternative radio. Accessories are easily available new and cheap if you shop carefully.
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Programming instructions are easy to find and programming very easy to do. Radio will scan and does priority watch. Antennas easy to find and rugged.
Telescoping antenna is expensive but works great out in the sticks. So far so good but I've been burned once or twice from other sellers. The push to talk switch is very weak, the rubber covers disintegrate quickly. But listening doesn't need transmit. No fancy bells or whistles. But they work quite well and that's what we want. They are the ones who told me.
I've owned the and I do not recommend them.
YouTube Railfan Channels: Online Train Videos
Not all 's are narrow-band capable, depending on the version. Newer ones are, older ones aren't. Buying one used is a gamble as to which version one gets. The older non-narrow band capable versions are flooding the used market because they are no longer legal for transmitting in the commercial bands.
Second, many of the older 's have a weakness in the circuit board that can cause intermittent or total failures in the radio. Again, caveat emptor if you are buying a used one. While the radio is physically tough, the way the battery mounts is a weak spot and can break if the radio is not protected in a sturdy case. A far better choice in the used market is the Kenwood TK The has excellent selectivity and sensitivity specs, good audio, and is a robust, tough radio.
The is the portable that many railroads preferred for the their crew use until they started replacing radios with NXDN digital-capable models. Beware if you see 's on E-bay that are advertised as being already railroad-programmed unless you trust the seller.
Some stolen railroad radios have shown up for sale on various websites. I've owned a TK for nearly 20 years and, other than replacing the battery, the radio has performed flawlessly. One notethe TK and most any other commercial band radio can not be field programmed with frequencies. The was one exception--built with limited field frequency programming capability because a major buyer of the radio demanded it--the US Forest Service.
All of the above radios are toast once the railroads actually go digital. Though I believe that this is still coming, the current economic downturn for the railroads may push it a little farther into the future. Also, I do not know of any portable amateur radio that will tune the analog "splinter frequencies" created by narrow-banding--a fact generally omitted from posts here and also from most of the advertising of those radios.
One of the few amateur mobiles that will is the Kenwood TM, a relatively inexpensive and excellent performing analog radio. Its receive specs are as good or better than many commercial radios at a fraction of the cost. Edited 1 time s. I believe this route sets up a too much too fast scenario. For entry level into the hobby I would look for a second hand hand held scanner from a pawnshop, online ebay etc , or yard sale.
A scanner removes the temptation to key up without a licence and offers ease of use for someone unfamiliar with radio. Maybe add a run of the mill all band mag mount antenna with a matching connector if you want better mobile reception from a vehicle. Check Radio Reference or another website there are others if you search for help in guiding you to specific frequencies in your area. I can second the comments of K3HX above.
I've been really pleased with them, very sensitive and clear pick-up, very robust and long battery life, pretty compact and easy to carry too.
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The MFJ aerial takes an already very good device and just makes the sensitivity that little bit better and the sound clearer at the railroad frequencies. A google search will pretty easily find the railroad frequencies for specific railroads at specific locations in a few minutes There's something quite exciting about sitting somewhere quiet by the tracks Edited 3 time s.