I'm looking at acquiring a nice communications receiver, and I've heard that AOR is hands down the best, so I've been scouring ebay and keeping my eye on things. #I'd just like some opinions on what a good choice would be--budget is about $400 or less. #As much as I'd like an AR-ONE, and I'd snatch one up if I had 6 grand laying around, it's just not in the cards right now , so I'm looking at getting an 8000, 8200mkI/II (the mkIIIs are a bit over budget for me), or maybe a 3000A at some point. #
I'd prefer a base station, but I'll take what I can get. #Also, what should one look for in a receiver? #I really don't know what makes one good and another one not. #What would, say, an AR5000 or AR-ONE have over a 3000A or 8600 that makes them worth so much more (other than a slightly higher upper frequency limit)? #What would a 8200 or 3000A have, in terms of limitations, that the higher end ones wouldn't? #What makes these better than a bearcat or icom r-5?
I would like to be able to monitor local emergency services communication, and I do believe NOPD has gone to a digital trunking system--which receivers can work with that and which ones can't? #Can a computer be connected to one and software used to do the trunking or, if not the trunking, then at least decoding the digital signal if the radio can handle trunked but not digital signals?
You say a communications receiver. That generally refers to a general coverage shortwave receiver - one that covers at least down to 540 KHz (bottom of the AM broadcast band) and up to at least 30 MHz. Many such receivers extend down to 100KHz or even lower. Many suffer from poor sensitivity down that low though.
Then you mention local public safety stuff. That's all above 30 MHz, and is increasingly found on 800MHz as you said with trunking systems. This is the forte of scanners.
I don't know the specifics about NOPD but I believe the entire city uses the same trunking system. That's becoming more and more common. So far though LA and NYC have resisted this path.
Trunked systems can be copied with great difficulty and missing a lot of transmissions with a conventional scanner. For what they cost nowadays though, trunk-tracker scanners are worth having if you want to listen to trunking systems.
Problem is now many systems are going digital, and those scanners are more expensive but are a mature technology just the same. So you need to know what you're going to be listening to before deciding what to buy. And if the system you want to listen to is encrypted, as many are, you're totally out of luck. Nothing will help you with that.
So you need to do some research first then you can decide what you neeed. As for software, I'm not aware of any that will control a scanner to copy trunked systems and as for AOR, I don't believe they market any trunk trackers. Uniden and Radio Shack seem to have that market pretty well sewn up.
Oh and for shortwave, the best bet is probably a ham transceiver with all band receive.
Good luck, I hope I've been able to help some.