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Quick Review of the TRX-2

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N9JIG

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Being mostly a Uniden guy I kept a TRX-2 around mostly for helping others work thru issues. It is a lot easier to do when you have one of the radios around! I recently decided to force myself to learn more about it and installed it in my truck. I have had the TRX-2 since it was introduced but rarely did much with it.

Let me digress a little… In my truck I have a couple RH-96’s attached to 996XT’s. As my county is in the process of installing a Phase 2 digital system I need to have a Phase 2 radio. It is a lot better for me to have a remote head radio and since the RH-96 will not work with any of the Uniden Phase 2 radios this was my alternative.

Let’s look at the physical installation first. The TRX-2 remote head has a couple fairly strong magnets to hold it onto a magnetic surface, including a magnetic bracket that comes with it. Since I seem to have lost that bracket I had to do something else. I mounted a metal strip to a couple small angle brackets slung under my existing RH-96 and that seems to be working fine. I ran the cable back to the rear of the truck where my radios are and found that it was too short. Since it is basically a piece of Ethernet cable I used a coupler and a piece of Ethernet cable and extended it to reach the rack where the radios are mounted. Worked great!

Since there is no speaker in the head I then ran an external speaker up to the front of the truck. I connected the radio part to the power supply and the multicoupler and we were ready to go.

Now that the radio is installed it was time to operate. I turned it on by pressing and holding the power button for what seemed to be 5 or 6 seconds, eventually it powered up and told me to let go of the button. After almost an entire minute of loading it finally was at the point where I could select a function, like Scan.

After a bit of experimentation I found that the radio will retain its last status when powered down politely (by use of the power button) but not if you do so rudely (by turning off the ignition and cutting power). Regardless, it will not turn on with the ignition as it is “soft” power button, not a hard switch. As in all SD-Card based radios it is recommended that you politely turn off the radio before removing power to avoid corruption of the SD-Card. There are ways to reduce the possibility of corruption, even when rudely cutting off the power. If you reduce the amount of data transfers by turning off any recording features then the chances of corruption are lessened. Also I keep a formatted and programmed SD card in the truck just in case, this seems to prevent the need to have it…

As a Uniden guy I am very well versed in the operation of the BCD536 and 996 type scanners that the TRX-2 competes with. This has left me a bit prejudiced as the TRX-2 works differently so I am outside my comfort zone when using and setting it up. I took some time and tried a few things out. First I just set a ZIP Code and let it load all the stuff. That seemed to work well but it took me a couple attempts to figure out how to select the different service types rather than the defaults. It would have been easier if I had actually read the manual…

I then tried setting up a custom Scan List with specific service types, in this case Railroad and Aircraft. This was a little more straightforward but kind of time consuming as I had to select all the various Groups (airports, railroad subdivisions etc.). There didn’t seem to be a way to just select all channels and groups of a particular Service within the state.

I have not tried to build a custom Scanlist on the radio itself but I did via the EZ-Scan software. That was easy enough but again, being used to other radios it took a little figuring out.

As far as using the radio once it is set up I found it to be pretty much on par with the Uniden’s when it came to sensitivity but it didn’t seem to be as selective. I was getting some adjacent channel interference on it that I was not on other radios connected to the same antenna via the multicoupler.

I was not able to compare this with my Unidens as far as simulcast issues with P25 as the systems in my rural location are either not simulcast or the simulcast sites are so far apart that they may as well be independent. I will try to drive into town this coming weekend and compare it then.

The audio on both FM and AM signals was great, it had a great sound, better in my opinion that the Uniden, especially on AM aircraft. I was listening to some pretty extensive MilAir training exercises in the bombing range I was driving by and the AM audio was crystal clear. The Uniden’s on the same freqs tended to be a little mushy.

So far I am more impressed with the TRX-2 now than I was in the past. People tend not to like what they are not familiar with and that has been the case with me and Whistler scanners. I plan on spending more time to learn this radio and it’s companion TRX-1 and perhaps will revisit this review.

One thing for sure is that if you have had Unidens and are used to them you will feel out of place with the TRX. If you have nit had either it is a lot easier to learn since you don’t have to unlearn all the Uniden methods.

Pros:

· Good audio, especially on AM Aircraft.
· Sensitivity
· Remote Head operation
· DMR and NXDN operation (although it doesn’t really track them right)
· MultiColor LED (requires channel by channel programming though)

Cons:
· Programming seems to be more cumbersome than the Uniden’s
· Less than optimal Selectivity and adjacent channel rejection
· Takes multiple operations to complete all updates in EZ-Scan
· No direct mounting holes on the head unit.
· Control cable sticks out the side on head, it would be better to put the jack on the rear.
· Extra long boot time
 
Joined
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#2
Hi Rich, Ron in Joliet, great article and very interesting....I miss the old meetings you were always helpful and did a great job....Wish you were still here , good luck on the radio....
 

lou9155

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Premium Subscriber
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Sep 10, 2007
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shamong nj
#3
when i bought my trx2 i was so annoyed at how complicated it was to do simple things like a search very small buttons and no interface when it scans other than the arrows left to right( vs bcd436 you can see all the channels being scanned) programming with the sd card in was impossible and to take it out and insert in the pc then back in the scanner was torturous...i really hated it lol...back it went.....rich love your shack
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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#4
Coming off of actual subscribers, doing things with a scanner is way different. The biggest things I find frustrating about the TRX-2 are the lack of a control channel scan (for system discovery) and lack of actual logging (have to rely on pulling it off recordings).

Otherwise, I think the audio is pretty good but I don’t think the bit error recovery is as good as a typical subscriber.

I’d really like to see if Whistler has a test mode for the scanner to really test it and see things like BER…but I’m guessing that’s probably wishful thinking. Could get the analog info without too much issue but I really care about digital performance.


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