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You can easily get much better signal reception on your USB dongle by replacing the stock antenna with a better antenna, or one better matched to the frequency range you are tuning to. Many of the USB dongles use a PAL or MCX connectors. You can purchase adapters that conver to BNC or SMA adapters for less than $4 on eBay. Once you have an adapter, you can easily connect another antenna. You can purchase telescopic CB or scanner radio antennas with BNC connectors for under $10 online. If you do by an antenna, wideband antennas like TV antennas or discone antennas work well (contrast this with most ham radio antennas which are typically tuned to a narrow range of frequencies).
Making your own antenna is fairly easy, too. See the projects page for instructions on making some antennas.
You can also check the giant list of frequencies.
|144.390 MHz||NFM||APRS Calling Frequency|
|147.060 MHz||NFM||W4LEE Repeater|
|147.240 MHz||NFM||K4RY 2m Repeater|
|15x.xxx MHz||NFM||Auburn Fire Dispatch|
|155.610 MHz||NFM||Auburn Police Dispatch|
|162.525 MHz||NFM||NOAA Weather Radio Station WWF54|
|444.800 MHz||NFM||K4RY 70cm Repeater|