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Old 12-05-2018, 10:04 AM
mjz mjz is offline
   
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Default New to 'scanning' in Houston

Hi everyone - My wife is a big fan of our police daprtment (Memorial Villages - Houston area) and I thought to buy her a "police" scanner like the one I use to use decades ago.

Wow ... things have changed. I am learning for sure.

Before I buy her a scanner that I will have to program - anyone have experience picking up the Memorial Villages police broadcasts? I understand they use the Houston Police trunk system (project 25 phase 2) - but I am not sure.

The scanner I am thinking of buying is this one:

Uniden BCD325P2 Handheld TrunkTracker V Scanner

I don't know if it will work in my area. Any guidance on how to get started properly will be a great help! I am computer savvy - and have downloaded ProScan and RadioFeed to prepare.

Thanks!
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Old 12-05-2018, 8:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mjz View Post
Hi everyone - My wife is a big fan of our police daprtment (Memorial Villages - Houston area) and I thought to buy her a "police" scanner like the one I use to use decades ago.

Wow ... things have changed. I am learning for sure.

Before I buy her a scanner that I will have to program - anyone have experience picking up the Memorial Villages police broadcasts? I understand they use the Houston Police trunk system (project 25 phase 2) - but I am not sure.

The scanner I am thinking of buying is this one:

Uniden BCD325P2 Handheld TrunkTracker V Scanner

I don't know if it will work in my area. Any guidance on how to get started properly will be a great help! I am computer savvy - and have downloaded ProScan and RadioFeed to prepare.

Thanks!
Welcome to RadioReference and the Texas Forum.

Memorial Village police and fire are on this system, along with Houston and most of the other public safety agencies in the Houston Metro area.

For your city, Police and Fire dispatch are using P25 Phase II talkgroups (that's what the letter T in the mode column signifies). So you would need a scanner such as the 325P2 to listen. There are multiple other models, from both Uniden and Whistler, that would work also. Police and fire also have a couple other talkgroups, but those are listed as being encrypted. If correct, there is no scanner that can listen to those, but at least dispatch does not show encryption.

There are multiple sites on the TxWARN system. Someone from the Houston/Harris County area will need to recommend which site would cover your city the best. Also unknown (to me) is whether simulcast distortion would be a problem in your specific area, and whether a different model might work better. Knowing the correct site to program is the key, but I'm not familiar enough with that system to suggest a specific one.

Hopefully, someone in your area will chime in before long.. If not, you might join the HoustonScan discussion group & inquire there.
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Old 12-06-2018, 10:51 AM
mjz mjz is offline
   
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Thanks Steve for your reply.

Your mention of 'simulcast' distortion leads me to think I may not be able to find a cost effective scanner that will capture my local police broadcasts. I inquired at the station and they told me they are part of the Houston trunk system (TxWARN) using P25 phase 2 and likely there are many talk groups. I suspect simulcast distortion is a real possibility. Without testing somehow, I would not want to buy a 325P2 only to have it not work well in our area due to phase distortion. The newer scanners supposedly eliminates this possibility, but at $800 is out of my range for what is just casual listening.
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Old 12-06-2018, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjz View Post
Thanks Steve for your reply.

Your mention of 'simulcast' distortion leads me to think I may not be able to find a cost effective scanner that will capture my local police broadcasts. I inquired at the station and they told me they are part of the Houston trunk system (TxWARN) using P25 phase 2 and likely there are many talk groups. I suspect simulcast distortion is a real possibility. Without testing somehow, I would not want to buy a 325P2 only to have it not work well in our area due to phase distortion. The newer scanners supposedly eliminates this possibility, but at $800 is out of my range for what is just casual listening.
If you are talking about a G5 Unication pager or the Uniden SDS 100, units that monitors TxWarn with very little linear simulcast distortion , then you may have a point. They are rather expensive.

I have monitored Houston PD and other agencies in that robust scanner environment. Depending on the antenna, location, and agency in question, you might re-consider the Uniden 436HP. I have not experienced significant problems there. As I indicated, this is a rich environment for scanning. Hence, you might need to be selective since you only have one speaker.

I am surprised that HPD was so accommodating to you.

It is possible to monitor most of TxWarn with a cheaper model such as old Pro-106 or Pro-197, but with these models, the linear simulcast distortion is a challenge for the most experienced listener.

I don't intend to buy a SDS 100 or G5. I will keep my two 435HP radios.
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Last edited by Ensnared; 12-06-2018 at 11:35 AM.. Reason: rewording
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:10 PM
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Looks like traffic would fall on either Houston NW Simulcast or Houston SW Simulcast sites (both are simulcast). At this time, the only scanner designed to receive simulcast is the SDS100 (which is significantly less than $800).
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UPMan View Post
Looks like traffic would fall on either Houston NW Simulcast or Houston SW Simulcast sites (both are simulcast). At this time, the only scanner designed to receive simulcast is the SDS100 (which is significantly less than $800).
I read some of the negative reviews on Amazon for the SDS100. Seems they have bugs which need to be worked out first - especially handling the 800Mhz system which Houston uses.
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Old 12-06-2018, 10:46 PM
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I read some of the negative reviews on Amazon for the SDS100. Seems they have bugs which need to be worked out first - especially handling the 800Mhz system which Houston uses.
Word of Caution:

Don't put much faith in Amazon reviews. Many of the purchasers are still wet behind the ears, without the skill set to correctly set up one of the newer scanners. Had they sought help on this website, their problems may have been solvable. Also, the way Amazon handles reviews, they tend to lump all of the reviews of Uniden scanners under every Uniden scanner. That's why you may see a review stating that a BCD325P2 or BCD436HP cannot receive digital signals, which is, of course, incorrect. In fact, that "reviewer" was commenting on, say the purchase of a BCT15X, or 125AT, neither of which is a digital scanner. I have requested, several times, that Amazon identify the model being reviewed, to eliminate confusion. They could easily do that for "verified purchasers", in that those people are clicking on the 'review' option embedded in their order or delivery confirmations. Amazon, at times, will also consolidate "answered questions" for multiple models into one, muddying the waters as to which comment applies to what scanner.

For illustration, I entered BCD325P2 into the search field on Amazon. That takes you to a page with multiple scanner models, not just the 325P2. Click on the 325P2, to bring up the page where you can see the details. Scroll down to where you see the 325P2 at the head of a column. Next to it are three other scanners. This is typical of Amazon, to 'compare' the model you are looking at to several other items. But in this case, it is comparing the 325P2 against three other Uniden scanners: BC125AT, BC75XLT, and BCT15X. The 125AT and 75XLT are small, handheld, scanners, often taken to NASCAR races. The 125 is, based on comments here on RadioReference, a good scanner for aircraft and railfans. Neither of these two are digital, nor or they capable of monitoring a trunked system. The third comparison item, 15X, is a trunking capable scanner, but analog only. So none of the three is a fair comparison to the 325P2. That's like saying that your basic, bare bones, compact car does not stack up well to a Lexus or Cadillac.

Simulcast distortion can indeed be hard to deal with. But without knowing your exact location, as well as which site your city's talkgroups are carried on, all I can do is tell you of a possible issue, not an absolute warning of storm clouds ahead. Simulcast can be very tricky. In some cases, moving a scanner only a few feet in a different direction eliminates the problem. Or, as in my case here in the DFW area, I'm far enough away from the problem sittes that I do not have a problem at home. Often, simulcast can be solved by using a directional antenna, aimed at a specific site, so that you receive that one tower strongly while the other sites are much more faint to your scanner. I've seen comments where a member has solved his or her problem by placing the scanner beside a metal object, like a file cabinet or a cookie sheet. The metal blocks signals from different directions, leaving only one tower with a good signal strength getting to the scanner.

All of this is why I suggested that you inquire over on the HoustonScan Yahoo group. (I subscribe to that group, among others, including the one local to me, DFWScan.) Someone on that group would be most likely to advise which is the best site for you to use, as well as whether simulcast is a significant issue or not in your area. I have a 325P2, among other scanners, and it works well for me. Whether it's a good choice for you or not is affected by conditions in your specific area.
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Old 12-07-2018, 10:46 AM
mjz mjz is offline
   
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Thanks Steve!

I just joined the Houston Yahoo group and will see who responds to my questions. I need to make a decision by Monday (or abandon this for another time) to arrive by Christmas.

My intent is to buy the scanner (assuming this one will work for my area) and program it. There is tremendous information on this forum on programming as well as videos and of course the manual. Should be straight forward.

(Amazon lumping reviews was a surprise to learn)
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Old Yesterday, 11:07 AM
mjz mjz is offline
   
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Default Thank you!

Thank you all for guiding me on my journey to buy a scanner for my wife. I joined the Yahoo Group in Houston and they were amazing (especially Bill) in reaching out to me to make sure I would be successful. The police department covering the area I live in uses project 25 phase 2 in a series of trunks associated with Houston Police. It is a 'congested' space and so I was sensitive to the cross talk that could happen. Only the high-end scanners are sophisticated enough to filter this out.

I will be acquiring the Unification G5 'pager'. It's new and should enable me (her) to hear local dispatch without problems. In theory.

Looking forward to learning more and playing with this thing. Assuming my wife lets me.
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