Anyone know how to get longer range on my scanner... Im talking like into Mexico

Station 3

Forum Guru
I patrol the Southern Border here in South Texas im usually around 1 mile or a few yards from the Mexican border and I installed a ( Uniden TrunkTracker III BCT15 Bearcat scanner) "not digital" on my patrol car to listen in on the Mexican smugglers. Well I have been kinda hit or miss and can listen some times to them. I want to know how can i get more range i have currently a 3 foot antenna on my patrol car and they seam to operate on the 400 MHz range some encrypted and surprisingly the same guys also non encrypted on a another channel.

Also for some reason the encrypted channel works a good 20 miles into the US side and is very strong i can understand some of what they are saying but its hard due to the encrypted "robot voice"

The Non encrypted channels only work when im litterally within taco throwing range of the Rio Grande River on the Mexican border and when your in a fully marked police car thats not a good idea since these guys have guns.

So radio nerds how do i get more range.


Senior Member
From my experience, scanners have poor reception. What they're good for is finding frequencies you want to listen to.

Once you've identified those frequencies, pickup a mobile radio... Motorola Astro spectra for example with a antenna made for that band range. Program those in as receive only channels in a scan group and as long as the radio is tuned and aligned you should have better reception. A mobile radio is much more sensitive and thus will do a better job of picking up comms.

If you've found they're only using 400 get a 400 dedicated antenna vs a all band. That can also help for the scanner in the interm.

Finally if you need a mobile radio depending upon where in the 400 range they are I maybe able to help you out with a mobile radio for el cheapo.

Hope that helps

Jarred J.

Archive Expert
Silver Supporter
A "3 foot antenna" if for 150 450 and whatever other freq coverage is going to be a gain of almost 1.5 which should be plenty for 20 miles. I'm assuming these guys are not using repeaters?

450 is a line of sight frequency without aid

Just google higain 450mhz mobile antenna lots of options


Site Regular
Also have the antenna mounted thru the roof and not a mag mount or glass mount antenna.

Once you get the frequencies pinned down, and assuming they don't change them often, as posted above, get a good mobile radio programmed and installed.


Are they in the 462-467mhz range? If so, they're likely using FRS radios, which usually only have a half-watt transmitter, unless they're using GMRS which will have more power, but still very short range if it's a hand-held radio. Height is key for hearing those... you need the best chance at line-of-sight that you can, so an antenna tuned for that frequency range and as high as you can get it. I'd actually say that a magnet mount antenna will be ok for just listening, unless you're able to do a permanent mount.

Check to see if there is a local amateur radio club, they might be able to identify the digital signal you're hearing... there's a good chance that it's just a modified ham radio using a digital format like D-Star and not actually encrypted. If they're near the border, they might already even know what you're talking about... some hams are worse whackers and scanner buffs than volunteer firemen. (I'm a licensed ham, Extra class license)
Station 3

Station 3

Forum Guru
The frequency is 453.1250 MHz and i have a Magnetic mount antenna on my scanner. What kind of cheap 2 way would i need to get better signal and monitor these guys.

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