The Legacy of Bill Cheek

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This week we are talking about Bill Cheek, a huge pioneer in the scanner radio world

If he was still alive today and saw what is available in the scanner radio market, he would probably lose his mind

Maybe he would have realized his life goal and would have built a scanner that would completely turn the market on its head.




What you need to know:

  • If you were active in the scanner radio hobby in the 90’s, there is a good chance that you have heard the name Bill Cheek.
  • He authored several books like the Scanner Modification Handbook Volume One and Two, The Ultimate Scanner, and Scanners and Secret Frequencies.
  • He loved to modify radios, and he loved to write about what he was doing so that he could teach other people how to do what he was doing.
  • Bill used to run a bulletin board system to share information with users.
  • He published Full disclosure magazine
  • He also published “World Scanner Report”
  • The World Scanner Report can be found on the Internet Archive
  • Bill also COMMtronics Engineering.
  • Bill also wrote for Popular Communications Magazine and Monitoring Times
  • Bill was known for documenting discriminator taps in multiple different radios.
  • COMMtronics used to sells kits that would take the discriminated baseband audio from a scanner and feed it to a computer, allowing you to pass bits and bytes from your scanner radio receiving over the air and send them out to your computer.
  • Bill has the information for how to tap your scanner on his website, but he also had the plans on his website on how to build an interface that would take the audio from your scanner and interface it with your computer.
  • Bill’s hardware and the supplied software allowed users to see over the air unencrypted data traffic, such as MDT traffic.
  • Bill found himself in a lot of hot water because sold the devices that allowed people to monitor MDT.
  • The device was not made specifically to monitor MDT data and was up to the end users to use it responsibly and legally.
  • According to the complaint, a couple of New York City police officers ordered five kits off the internet from Bill.
  • They claim that the kits unscramble the encrypted messages passed between the mainframe computers at police and fire departments to those onboard computers or mobile data terminals in the cars.
  • Nassau County police had 93 pages of MDT data traffic posted on a public website by scanner radio user in Nassau County, New York.
  • At the age of 53, Bill found out he had lung cancer.
  • Fortunately for Cindy Cheek, all the charges against her were eventually dropped
  • In 2000, Bill passed away.

Are you looking for your first scanner radio?

Download our new e-guide, “5 Thinks You Need to Know Before Buying Your First Scanner”.   This free PDF is about 30 pages long and has 5 things you should look for, plus a few extra bonus items to make sure you make an educated purchase.

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Links and Sources from this session:

East Coast Pagers

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Bill’s Publications on the Internet Archive

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