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Looking for new portable scanner for Portland area.

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#1
So, my trusty uniden 246t finally bit the dust. It no longer can receive. I've used and abused that scanner for over 12 years of near daily use, all the numbers on the key pads are worn off, scratched and generally bashed up case.

So, I want another no frills, compact, portable trunk capable scanner. I suppose might as well do the digital capable, since Portland is now fully migrated over. What do you guys think of the current uniden or whistler offerings? Or should I just save my pennies for a Unication?

I'll preface this with that I still have several other scanners (HP2, and a BCT-15X and several commercial radios for analog stuff) which are fine, but not portable.

So what do you guys think? Does Uniden or whistler have anything in their line ups that are similar in size and function like my old 246? I've looked online, but honestly, I can't tell from the online pictures.

.
 

KE7JFF

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#2
I'm looking at getting the top of the line Whistler myself at some point.


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#3
I'm looking at getting the top of the line Whistler myself at some point.


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I checked out my buddies uniden 436... it felt like a cheesy flimsy hollow radio. I was not impressed with its "feel". I'm not going to spend that kind of money for a radio that feels like a toy when you hold it in your hand. I wonder if Whistler radios are any better?
 

KE7JFF

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#4
The Whistler is better built in my experience at least borrowing their high end model while I was in Albany a few months back


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pinballwiz86

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#5
RIP 246T. lol. Onwards and upwards I say!


The BCD436HP is getting long in the tooth. That is why I did not buy one for Christmas this year. Hopefully Uniden will bring out a new model by next winter. If it's a good one, which I'm sure it will be. I WILL BE BUYING. lol.

But in your case with a dead scanner. Hmm. Tough choices.
 

SteveSimpkin

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#6
Hi Otto, You mention you have a HP2. I was considering getting one of them as a portable and a mobile scanner. I know the form factor of the HP2 is more horizontal but you don't think of it as a as a portable scanner?
 

OregonScanner

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#7
The BCD325P2 is very similar in size to the 246T. Its basically a 396XT with Phase II and paid upgrades for DMR/TRBO and ProVoice stuffed into the BC125AT shell.

The Portland P25 system suffers from bad simulcast distortion. It sounds bad on my Uniden 436HP, 536HP, 396XT, and my Whistler WS1080 monitoring from Sherwood. Others have said it sounds bad in Portland too. The Forest Heights and PCC fill sites sound perfect but the west simulcast which carries most of the traffic is horrible (I'm out of range of the east simulcast so I don't know if its bad or not). Since you have a HP-2 try listening to the P25 west simulcast, it sounds bad. If you are going to be monitoring at home a yagi antenna pointed at one of the simulcast transmitters may solve the distortion. If you are going to be using it as a mobile or portable outside the house, I can't recommend any scanner as they are all horrible on this system's simulcast P25 and I would save up for a Unication G4 or G5 since you already have an HP-2 for other scanning.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a Unication G4 from Ray's Pager Sales for $650 after the $200 off promotion and it should ship late this week or early next week (they are behind due to the popularity of the promotion). I plan on listening to 64 fire/police/EOC/ODOT IR talkgroups on the Unication and scanning the rest of the TGs on the scanner off the fill sites along with all the other systems I monitor. That way I will always get the most important TGs on the west simulcast on the G4 and if a less important TG comes across a fill site on the scanner, the more the merrier.
 
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#8
Hi Otto, You mention you have a HP2. I was considering getting one of them as a portable and a mobile scanner. I know the form factor of the HP2 is more horizontal but you don't think of it as a as a portable scanner?


The HP2 is a fine scanner. It's a bit bulky to be considered "portable". I am currently using it as a mobile.

e.
 
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#11
I agree with OregonScanner, the current crop of Unidens and Whistlers are not great on Portland P25. Actually, I can't say that for sure about the TRX-1 as I don't have one, but I do have its sibling the TRX-2. I've tried everything to get the TRX-2 to work well at home on P25, but haven't made any real progress. I think my older Whistler 1065 actually does better. I agree the 436 has a cheap, hollow feel to it. And I don't care for its screen layout, size, or form factor. But in use the 436 is a decent radio. Their last firmware update did help with P25, and after making the various tweaks I listed in the other Portland thread it has done better for me on P25 while mobile around town. It's still not exactly great, still gets crushed by cell towers and randomly misses or drops TXs, but overall it's much better than it was. And I'm just using an RS800 duck on it. Maybe you could borrow your friends 436 for a day and try it out. It is a far more versatile radio than the Unication, and cheaper too.

On the other hand the Unication G5 does handle P25 simulcast very well, and works great while mobile. The only drawbacks with it in my opinion are:

1) No headphone jack, and Bluetooth doesn't work properly, so you are stuck with its small speaker unless you are willing to install its optional charger stand in your vehicle, which has a better speaker. Even then, the sound quality of the G5 is not what I would call great. It decodes well, and is very copyable, but has a 'tinny' quality to it.
2) No ability to set a scan delay. When a TX ends it resumes scanning immediately
3) No ability to hold on a talkgroup (you can mitigate this to a degree with programming).
4) Can only ID-Scan 64 Talkgroups of ONE system at a time. OR you can scan I think up to 16 conventional channels. It's one or the other. You can have many P25 systems stored in the radio, and many conventional channels and scan lists stored, but you can only scan one ''thing' at a time.
5) Does not work with analalog trunk systems.
6) Expensive.

On the plus side the G5 is rugged, has good battery life, good sensitivity, and the screen is easy to read while driving. I like my G5 a lot. The 436 rarely leaves the house anymore, but I still use it quite often. It's still the best of my consumer scanners. Hope that helps.

.
 
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#12
The BCD325P2 is very similar in size to the 246T. Its basically a 396XT with Phase II and paid upgrades for DMR/TRBO and ProVoice stuffed into the BC125AT shell.
Ok, thats great info.I don't need DMR or Provoice options (there are no Provoice systems around here, and I have a DMR radio already for Ham stuff) , but the size seems similar to the 246.


The Portland P25 system suffers from bad simulcast distortion. It sounds bad on my Uniden 436HP, 536HP, 396XT, and my Whistler WS1080 monitoring from Sherwood. Others have said it sounds bad in Portland too. The Forest Heights and PCC fill sites sound perfect but the west simulcast which carries most of the traffic is horrible (I'm out of range of the east simulcast so I don't know if its bad or not). Since you have a HP-2 try listening to the P25 west simulcast, it sounds bad. If you are going to be monitoring at home a yagi antenna pointed at one of the simulcast transmitters may solve the distortion. If you are going to be using it as a mobile or portable outside the house, I can't recommend any scanner as they are all horrible on this system's simulcast P25 and I would save up for a Unication G4 or G5 since you already have an HP-2 for other scanning.
The P25 system sounds horrible in Portland as well. I use a Yagi pointed at Council Crest when I bring the HP2 into the shack, and it works OK, but still misses more transmissions than I like. Mobile, its horrific. misses a lot of traffic, unless I am close to one of the simulcast sites.You're right about the gap filler sites though. Those tend to not miss as much traffic, but they only broadcast traffic on talkgroups to affiliated radios, so you will not hear traffic for certain TGs off those sites. The simulcast sites transmit all Talkgroups regardless of affiliation.


A couple of weeks ago I ordered a Unication G4 from Ray's Pager Sales for $650 after the $200 off promotion and it should ship late this week or early next week (they are behind due to the popularity of the promotion). I plan on listening to 64 fire/police/EOC/ODOT IR talkgroups on the Unication and scanning the rest of the TGs on the scanner off the fill sites along with all the other systems I monitor. That way I will always get the most important TGs on the west simulcast on the G4 and if a less important TG comes across a fill site on the scanner, the more the merrier.
That sounds like a good plan. I looked at the Unication web site for more info. Looks like I would only need a G4. I don't think I need anything dual band. If I wanted to listen to WSP on VHF, (the only VHF P25 system in the area) it is patched to the CRESA system full time, so I could still listen there anyways.

But thanks for the good info.
 
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#13
I agree with OregonScanner, the current crop of Unidens and Whistlers are not great on Portland P25. Actually, I can't say that for sure about the TRX-1 as I don't have one, but I do have its sibling the TRX-2. I've tried everything to get the TRX-2 to work well at home on P25, but haven't made any real progress. I think my older Whistler 1065 actually does better.
That's really too bad. I wish the scanner manufacturers would finally figure this simulcast thing out.


I agree the 436 has a cheap, hollow feel to it. And I don't care for its screen layout, size, or form factor. But in use the 436 is a decent radio. Their last firmware update did help with P25, and after making the various tweaks I listed in the other Portland thread it has done better for me on P25 while mobile around town. It's still not exactly great, still gets crushed by cell towers and randomly misses or drops TXs, but overall it's much better than it was. And I'm just using an RS800 duck on it. Maybe you could borrow your friends 436 for a day and try it out. It is a far more versatile radio than the Unication, and cheaper too.
I wish I could borrow my friends 436 for a day, but he lives in California. So, that probably will not happen.
On the cell tower thing, I am still looking to buy some sort of RF filter for the scanner I use mobile to try and reduce the front end crush. There are options out there, just been too distracted by other things to actually implement my ideas.

On the other hand the Unication G5 does handle P25 simulcast very well, and works great while mobile. The only drawbacks with it in my opinion are:

1) No headphone jack, and Bluetooth doesn't work properly, so you are stuck with its small speaker unless you are willing to install its optional charger stand in your vehicle, which has a better speaker. Even then, the sound quality of the G5 is not what I would call great. It decodes well, and is very copyable, but has a 'tinny' quality to it.
2) No ability to set a scan delay. When a TX ends it resumes scanning immediately
3) No ability to hold on a talkgroup (you can mitigate this to a degree with programming).
4) Can only ID-Scan 64 Talkgroups of ONE system at a time. OR you can scan I think up to 16 conventional channels. It's one or the other. You can have many P25 systems stored in the radio, and many conventional channels and scan lists stored, but you can only scan one ''thing' at a time.
5) Does not work with analalog trunk systems.
6) Expensive.

On the plus side the G5 is rugged, has good battery life, good sensitivity, and the screen is easy to read while driving. I like my G5 a lot. The 436 rarely leaves the house anymore, but I still use it quite often. It's still the best of my consumer scanners. Hope that helps.

.
LOL, nothing out there is perfect, huh? I am leaning towards a G4 at the moment. Probably not going to happen until after the holidays, unless somehow one shows up in my stocking! Ha, ha..
So, with the G4/5 you cannot hold a talk group, can you just program a system in with just the desired talkgroup on it? Say for instance, I monitor PPB North mostly (my neighborhood), but other times I listen to other talkgroups, would I just program in North as its own system, and then do the same for each talkgroups I want to only monitor? Like, each PPB Precinct would be on its own "system" and then have another "system" with all Precincts on it etc?
Just thinking on how I would program it for my listening needs. But thanks for your help, It's helping me narrow down my search for a new portable.

Still open to the idea of a Commercial radio with its affiliate options turned off, but im not skilled enough to do that on my own. Haha...
 
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#14
So, with the G4/5 you cannot hold a talk group, can you just program a system in with just the desired talkgroup on it? Say for instance, I monitor PPB North mostly (my neighborhood), but other times I listen to other talkgroups, would I just program in North as its own system, and then do the same for each talkgroups I want to only monitor? Like, each PPB Precinct would be on its own "system" and then have another "system" with all Precincts on it etc?...
Yes, that's exactly how I've set mine up. You're limited though to eight 'easy access' single channels or scan lists. They're accessed by rotating a knob on the top of the radio, which only has 8 positions. Switching between the 8 is quick, and is easily done while driving. You can store a lot of stuff in the radio, but to access the next 8 channels you first have to dive into the menus to switch to a different 'Zone'. The Zone switching is not something you want to do while driving. I don't know what the limit is on the number of possible Zones, but it seems to be quite a lot.

Currently I have my Zone 1 setup like this:
1) Scan list of all public safety dispatch channels, plus some tacs, fire ops channels, etc.
2) Scan list more taylored to just North & Central Precinct, which are the areas I commute through.
3) Central Precinct dispatch & tacs
4) North Precinct dispatch & tacs
5) East Precinct dispatch & tacs
6) MCSO/GPD dispatch & tacs
7) All fire ops channels except Ops 1
8) Misc agencies

The next couple of Zones contain single talkgroups for most dispatch channels, tacs, ops, etc
Then some Zones for single conventional channels, and Scan Lists for conventional.

You're probably wise to save some money by getting a G4. My G5 does well on the VHF conventional stuff, but so does every other radio I have. I rarely use the G5 for VHF. For me its primary use is P25 monitoring while mobile.

.
 
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#16
I just wanted to check into this thread real quick, although very late. I just retired my 246T, so the photo caught my eye. Thought it was mine at first! Looks exactly like it, with those unmarked keys and RS-800.

I went with the BCD325P2 as a replacement, hoping to be ready for when CRESA switched over to digital. Sadly, all police are encrypted, so it's been very quiet. What I do hear on the 325P2, however, is not impressive at all. I'm actually looking for a second one to add to my collection. No bells or whistles. Just a simple scanner. If you all come to a stand-out winner for both Portland and CRESA, please post it. I'll check out all the ones listed. But whatever I get, I don't think I'll be too happy with this digital.

R.I.P 246T. You were the one friend I never told to shut up.
 

PaulNDaOC

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#17
I recently replaced my 396XT with the BCD325p2 and I'm not too impressed so far.


I can't believe that Uniden designed the radio to not charge while operating. This is a first for me. Providing just a USB cord for charging does not compare to having a AC charger.

And going to two AA batteries from three has resulted in a noticable difference, and it's compounded by not being able to charge except when turned off.

For others still yet to purchase, I hear the Whistler is a bit better.

Hopefully improvements towards correcting the Phase Distortion issue will be in future radios. I'd would pay several hundred dollars more.
 
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#18
For monitor P25 PII here in the Portland area, I have a Uniden BCD996P2, '325P2, and a Whistler TRX-1.

My opinion is that WRT simulcast issues, none of them seem to have an advance over the other. For operation at home, I use a yagi antenna to focus on one of the simulcast sites, and my reception seems perfect with no dropped transmissions. However mobile or handheld operation is hit or miss.
 

muskrat39

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#19
I recently replaced my 396XT with the BCD325p2 and I'm not too impressed so far.


I can't believe that Uniden designed the radio to not charge while operating. This is a first for me. Providing just a USB cord for charging does not compare to having a AC charger.

And going to two AA batteries from three has resulted in a noticable difference, and it's compounded by not being able to charge except when turned off.

For others still yet to purchase, I hear the Whistler is a bit better.

Hopefully improvements towards correcting the Phase Distortion issue will be in future radios. I'd would pay several hundred dollars more.
It is not Uniden's fault. Thank the state of California. It is the law
 
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