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And miles to go before I sleep... (Short BCD996T review)

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STiMULi

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Nov 14, 2004
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1,581
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Saturday morning I started the near 900 mile journey from Tucson, Arizona to Denver, Colorado.

Since I own a drivers car I decided (as usual) not to take the easy way. I wanted the sites, sounds, smells, altitudes and attitudes of good old fashioned boonie driving. There is nothing better than zooming on an road you have never been on before and rounding the next bend to see there is a deer standing in the middle of the road. She was probably thinking to herself "Well there is that bright light they have all been talking about , I guess it's my time to go".

Meanwhile I am deciding whether to go left, right, no left, no right and quickly mashing the brakes because neither of us could figure out what to do next while I was having everything from the back of the vehicle ending up on the floor of the passeenger side. Lucky for me. The best part about it was nothing hit the scanner.

I ordered my scanner from CEI in May and recieved it with 3 days to program it, learn it, mount it and remember how to use it. I did the best I could under the circumstanses to get as much material in my scanner, vehicle and brain as I could in that short amount of time.

The first thing I found out was that the console surround on my Subaru STi is not a true DIN size. This meant that I would have to modify the surround and I was not going to have time to do that, nor would I. I will be buying a new surround first to replace this one and when I get the new one I will mod the old one. You just never know. :) $62 is not too much money and if I ever do sell the car, I will probably never sell the radio, so the new owner would appreciate a stock surround one day. This meant that I would have to mount the radio on my RAMPOD. It was cool enough but I was realy looking forward to having it in the stock location.

I have been studying the manual since the PreLim came out and learning the operation as much as possible. I am under a real learning curve since I have never owned a 396 and had little to draw from. I ran into many roadblocks trying to program the scanner,most of my own. The first one was trying to find an easy way to import RR to a usable format for this radio and at the same time learning the contents of the .usd file for progamming as much as possible in Excel. It turned out my import problem was that Excel was unhappy and it needed to be reloaded. Then I was attempting to place the imported data in a .xls file so that it would be properly understood by UASD. That was not too tough once I brushed up on my Excel a little bit. I did find out that if you do not have text in quotes it will be ignored if it has a space in it. I learned to save time just remove the spaces in the data and then add them back once UASD 996 was happy.

My next roadblock was the UASD itself. Now you will read on this site that it is a feature that the LAT/LON of the sites or systems being input only in DMS is the way it is supposed to be. To me it is a BUG, I feel that someone forgot to add the capablility for other coordinate modes in that area of the software because they were nice enough to include it in the Locations programming section of UASD. It wouldn't be too tough to add in the next revision. BTW the locations programming area is a nice converter :)

Once I learned that I needed my GPS coodinates in DMS the I started looking for a simple way to convert them from the GPS coordinates I already had access to. There are bunches of ways but none of them are simple if you are going to do a ton of them. So I decided instead to look for a mapping program that did it for you.

MapPoint=No
Streets and Trips=No
DeLorme Street Atlas=Yes (but with effort)

You will need to export the drawn objects to a file and the 1st set of coordinates on each line is in the correct format. Then copy and paste this info into UASD or if you want to paste it into the .usd file you will need to manipulate the data just a little as the .usd uses no decimal and requires the N or W (at least for this Continent)

Finally!

After all that work just before the trip I forgot to add the locations into the "Scanner Configuration" in UASD. :( The locations in the sites and systems made it though!!! :)

So now I have as much programmed as I have time to work on, some of which was scrounged from other sites, some I created from scratch and some I just manipulated 396 files to include the location info.

Time for a quick dry run.

GPS - Check
Laptop running SA - Check
Scanner powered up and ready - Check
Antennae hooked up and perfoming well - Check
TMD700A working - Check
TMD700A GPS working - Check

(I created a cable that would take a single GPS and connect it to the BCD996T and Laptop. It uses Phoneline cords a phone line splitter and RJ11 to M/F DB9 connectors. I will be modifying it to include the TMD700A but more on that (later) in another thread)

Lets go and see how much I have to play with this thing while I am driving!

Everything works. I could hear it fine, I could reach the controls easy enough. I locked out 144.390 and all of the other deviant freqs from the APRS and the scanner was happy and I was happy.


Time to hit the road

The scanner reciever is very sensitive. It does a good job of picking up close and distant stations. One wish I had was that the attenuate function could operate as a temporary feature in the same manner as the L/O does. I found that the reciever would sometimes overload and when attenuated would sound fine and them I would forget to turn off the attenuation and loose the reception later on. Please Uniden

Now I used the same cable and antenna as I have before on the same trip and found that the reception of the 996 was significantly better in the boonies than the PRO96 was. I loved the sensitivity of the Close Call feature. THAT BLEW MY MIND!!! Since the only previous opportunity I had with close call was the PRO-83 and the 83 sucks unless you are right on top of the action!

I like the fact that when a close call freq is stored it will automatically save it with the name of the GPS coordinates of the first reception. This will make finding new stuff so easy!!!

The coolest part of the whole trip was moving into and out of areas and having the scanner just start scanning those freqs just like it was supposed to :) The only aggrivation I had with that when the sites or systems would be locked out or unlocked it had the same "beedupe" sound that the TMD700A has when it reports "MY POSITION" signal recieved. Being in the boonies of Colorado I rarely heard from the TMD700A. (Arizona has great APRS coverage).

The biggest dummy thing I did was to program the coordinates in some of the sites and systems and forget to turm on the GPS enable. (Don't do that :))

My trip was about 16 hours including short break around 2am south of Fairplay CO. I was starting to see stuff that wasn't on the road and given the amount of wildlife on the roads of the boonies that would not be a good thing. I had 3 real close calls with the wildlife and that one near miss (inches) with a doe. I started using my horn when coming around blind turns or in areas I would spot wildlife near the road incase of any stragglers.

The near miss location became a fatality for a fawn. Just after making through that area I overheard of a Sheriff deputy coming up on a fawn that had been hit at that same spot. Shortly before my near miss I zoomed passed a Jetta and he was trying to keep up with me. I bet it was him that hit it :(

With the Ham chatter, the BCD996T and Sirius I had alot of company in the vehicle with me and it made time fly.

If you need a scanner, buy this one. If you want a scanner, buy this one. If you want to keep your brain in gear, buy this scanner.

Now I want another one!

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


(from a poem by Robert Frost "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening")
 

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blake23

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Joined
Mar 9, 2004
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Seattle, WA
I must say that was well written and thoughtful and just made me want a BCD996 sooner. Nothing like a long road trip, and a scanner to go along with you.:wink:

Richard
 

Dubbin

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
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Location
Findlay Ohio
Next time don't make us wait so long to know if you hit the deer or not ;) Although that just kept the suspense up until the end :)
 

garys

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 13, 2002
Messages
4,601
Location
Eastern MA
If you want to use your GPS signal for both the scanner and the laptop, try this product.
http://franson.com/gpsgate/

I got a license for it as part of a GPS "mouse" purchase. It will indeed allow you to output the signal to an external device.

Gary
 
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