Line of sight is a individually subjective term and nearly always improved by height and putting the antenna in a good spot where it clears all obstructions around it.
This can be more of challenge for some radio scanner users than others as those blessed with dream locations that not only give great altitude but the room (and lack of neighbors) to install outrageous antenna systems, will always have an advantage.
But even little changes can make a difference to your setup and these can be easier than you’d think.
Thankfully your typical unidirectional radio scanner antenna doesn’t have much weight to it, making mounting options that much easier. This means lighter poles can be used and any attachment to the wall isn’t going to need the sort of strength to survive a meteor strike.
A few extra meters in height may not seem much but if it brings the antenna above surrounding buildings, the change can be dramatic. The higher in frequency you go the less it takes to block radio signals with something as everyday as trees having the ability to dampen signals easily once you hit the UHF part of the radio spectrum.
The Blame Game!
If your worried about the all too common complaint from neighbors when you hoist up a full size spindly discone, consider using one of the encased wide band scanner antennas instead.
These look less abnormal to the non radio minded, meaning if its sticking high above your rooftop it will be less of an eye sore (if that’s possible, to me there’s nothing more beautiful then a well put together antenna farm, no matter how much of the sky it eats up)
Personal experience has taught me that once your neighbors see a strange antenna on the side of your property you’ll normally get blamed for all manner of interference even if its for receiving only.
Forget the taxis, police cars and other EMS vehicles all pushing at least 25 watts in the UHF/VHF band, the prevalence of high powered CB radio setups or the random nature of propagation anywhere in the radio spectrum mostly driven by that big ball of fire that we orbit, it all going to be your fault you nerd 🙂
An explanation sometimes works, all depending how tech savvy said neighbor is to start with, but talking about it can also be a problem because radio scanners have had such bad press from the main stream media for many years now that most people don’t see a legitimate (or legal) use for them.
Getting the Boys in
TV antenna installers will happily come out and whack your scanner antenna up. My experience is that few truly understand what their attaching to the side of your house, but provided they get paid its never an issue.
It may also be a good idea to give a little more detail when ringing one of these companies up, if only so they know what it is they’re dealing with and my advice is if your not comfortable saying its for a radio scanner then just call it a ham radio antenna (this is always universally understand).
When Things are Bad
Stuck in a truly awful location is never fun when your into radio scanners and if moving isn’t an option it could be just a question of focusing on the few clear paths you have. Maybe backing away from a unidirectional antenna and employing some sort of beam (UHF/VHF ones can be small) to capitalize on the direction your most likely to receive signals from could make a difference.
This doesn’t mean that all local signals from any other direction will suddenly disappear as even close transmissions will be easily received on the back end of something like a Yagi antenna.
If all else fails there’s a growing collection of online SDR radio feeds where you can at least get a fix of radio action, even if its not strictly from your local area.