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Switching from Conventional to Trunking

bjlasota

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2019
Messages
6
Location
Bridgman, MI
Good afternoon. I'm newer to the scanner ownership and have a few questions. I've been listening to Broadcastify using multiple phone apps for about 3 or 4 years and decided it was time to bite the bullet and invest into a scanner. Before I actually understood anything about my state, I had put on a wish list and received a Uniden Bearcat BC125AT for Christmas this past year. One of my favorite channels to listen to while on the computer was my local city and county police dispatch. The scanner was a breeze to setup with the PC software and I use it quite a lot for my local fire and EMS dispatch. However, after receiving this scanner, I found that Michigan has switched over to Project 25, Phase 1 and that I would missing out on what I originally wanted this scanner for. Below are my questions. For reference, I am located in the very Southwest County of Michigan, Berrien.

1. Can you recommend a good, entry level scanner for being able to listen to Project 25, Phase 1? I was surprised to find that the scanner I have costs around $90 while scanners capable of this new system go up to $1000. I'm hoping that I don't have to break the bank, because I can get by with just using my phone, but like I said, would much rather not tie the phone up all the time. One thing I was able to find from Broadcastify, is that the receiver used for the station I normally listen to is Radio Shack PRO-96, which doesn't appear to be available for sale anymore, unless of course I were to buy one used on ebay.
2. Is there anything that indicates that Michigan will move away from Phase 1 to where if I were to invest in a capable scanner today, 2-3 years from now, I'd have to buy a different one?
3. Would a new scanner capable of trunked stations still allow me to listen to conventional stations that I listen to now with my BC125AT? The idea here would be to sell it used and put that money towards the more capable scanner. If not, I would likely keep it for fire/ems.
4. Is there any reason that purchasing used is frowned upon. Ebay and such?

Thank you in advance for your suggestions and answers.
 

sparklehorse

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
1,110
Location
Portland, Oregon
1. So many options here, and I'm sure other folks will chime in with their favorites. You could go with a Uniden BCD396XT used. You can find those on eBay for a reasonable price. The Pro-96 you mentioned would work. I don't know where you got the $1000 dollar figure from, as the latest & greatest SDS models from Uniden are in the $650 range. Other fairly new models like the Whistler TRX-1 and Uniden BCD436HP will run quite a lot cheaper than that and perform considerably better on P25 than the Pro-96 you mentioned. Basically what you will get for more money is a newer model that performs better than the older ones, so it is up to you to make the decision. Many folks go the cheaper route and wind up upgrading to something better down the road. Nothing wrong with that.

2. I don't know anything about Michigan State's plans for their communication systems.

3. Yes.

4. No. But like most anything on eBay it will be used and its condition won't be known until you begin to use it.

.
 

hiegtx

Mentor
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 8, 2004
Messages
6,128
Location
Dallas, TX
Good afternoon. I'm newer to the scanner ownership and have a few questions. I've been listening to Broadcastify using multiple phone apps for about 3 or 4 years and decided it was time to bite the bullet and invest into a scanner. Before I actually understood anything about my state, I had put on a wish list and received a Uniden Bearcat BC125AT for Christmas this past year. One of my favorite channels to listen to while on the computer was my local city and county police dispatch. The scanner was a breeze to setup with the PC software and I use it quite a lot for my local fire and EMS dispatch. However, after receiving this scanner, I found that Michigan has switched over to Project 25, Phase 1 and that I would missing out on what I originally wanted this scanner for. Below are my questions. For reference, I am located in the very Southwest County of Michigan, Berrien.

1. Can you recommend a good, entry level scanner for being able to listen to Project 25, Phase 1? I was surprised to find that the scanner I have costs around $90 while scanners capable of this new system go up to $1000. I'm hoping that I don't have to break the bank, because I can get by with just using my phone, but like I said, would much rather not tie the phone up all the time. One thing I was able to find from Broadcastify, is that the receiver used for the station I normally listen to is Radio Shack PRO-96, which doesn't appear to be available for sale anymore, unless of course I were to buy one used on ebay.
In addition to what sparklehorse has mentioned, one possible scanner would be Whistler's WS1040. Whistler shows a cost on their website as $155.00 for a refurbed unit or $140.00 in their scratch and dent section. A refurb is one sent back to Whistler that has been repaired by them and should be in full working order. The scratch and dent units are ones with minor cosmetic defects, but they still operate correctly.
2. Is there anything that indicates that Michigan will move away from Phase 1 to where if I were to invest in a capable scanner today, 2-3 years from now, I'd have to buy a different one?
Like sparklehorse, I don't know any details of changes (if any) planned for Michigan's system. You would get a better answer to that specific question if you have your thread moved to the Michigan forum. Someone there might have information of any upgrades or changes planned for this system. To do that, do not create a new thread. Instead, click on the Report in the lower left corner of one of your posts, and request that a moderator move your thread to the state forum. Someone in the area would be more likely to see it there.
3. Would a new scanner capable of trunked stations still allow me to listen to conventional stations that I listen to now with my BC125AT? The idea here would be to sell it used and put that money towards the more capable scanner. If not, I would likely keep it for fire/ems.
As already noted, a newer digital scanner would still be capable of monitoring conventional transmissions. Your 125AT could still be useful if one or more of the fire departments in your area use conventional channels for tone out or fireground. It could also be used to monitor aircraft and other services that are not trunked or digital.
4. Is there any reason that purchasing used is frowned upon. Ebay and such?
Whether you look at eBay, previously owned scanners in the Classifieds on RadioReference, or elsewhere, you just need to be sure you get an accurate description of the condition of the scanner you are looking at, and what accessories, if any, will be included. Don't overlook garage sales, pawn shops, and other sources for a good used scanner. Look at this long-running thread about where others found an unexpected bargain.
 

bjlasota

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2019
Messages
6
Location
Bridgman, MI
Thank you both. I will certainly take your answers into consideration when selecting a new scanner. I'm leaning towards the Uniden's just because I'm comfortable with my BC125. I do like the looks and reviews of the SDS100, but my checkbook doesn't. I'm very familiar with the scratch and dents and it's always funny how a manufacturer will kill the price because of a blemish. It is phase 1 capable, but not phase 2, which could turn me away, but I guess I could just upgrade again if Michigan ever moves to phase 2. May just get that whistler because like I said, I already use my phone which is more than adequate, I'd just rather not tie it up all the time.
 

bjlasota

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2019
Messages
6
Location
Bridgman, MI
I had this moved over to this forum because of Steve's comments above. I'm leaning towards the Whistler he recommended, but does anyone from Michigan know if we're moving to Phase 2 in the recent coming years? The whistler would be obsolete in my wants/needs if that were to happen.
 

Ronaldski

MI DB Admin
Database Admin
Joined
Aug 23, 2005
Messages
2,145
Location
Bay City MI
1. Least expensive are WS1040/WS1065(both are phase I) would work since Berrien is not a simulcast county- Multiple towers on same frequencies. It has five towers, but all are on different frequencies. Uniden side 325P2/996P2 these are phase II capable as well. All these you would have to program, where as all the higher end models of both manufacturers you put in a zipcode and they program themselves but it would be wise to have the capability to hookup to a pc and keep the database in the units up to date as changes happen. Sds models would be overkill for you since they are designed to work best in simulcast counties.
https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?sid=100

2. Rumor has it for several years MI would go to Phase II, I expect MI to do so, when unknown. Currently several counties are going to digital and maybe tying up the radio techs? Will it be entire state or certain areas, unknown. If I was you, I would get a Phase II capable radio. All currently sold scanners are phase II capable short of the two whistlers above.

3. Good plan, but there are sooooo many used analog scanners already available most ones seen on resale sites seem to have been for sale for weeks and/or months since so many areas went digital and everyone wants-needs a digital, will be tough to sell. Though your "mileage may vary"

4. Sure all the reasons mentioned by others, but also some are ridiculously priced so many times you'll find them, but prices are the same and many times absurdly high priced for used vs. brand new with a warranty. Facebook marketplace has them too, but again many are over priced.
 

bjlasota

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2019
Messages
6
Location
Bridgman, MI
That's one thing I really like about my BC125, is I have it backed up to my PC. My dad has the BC75 and I have his backed up to my PC too. If I can't make any money off mine over time, it's no big deal, It'll continue to be used for certain. Thanks for the suggestions!!
 

bjlasota

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2019
Messages
6
Location
Bridgman, MI
Have you used the Uniden BCD436HP? This one allows you to simply enter the zip code, where the 325P2 doesn't. I can get the 436 for the same price in an open box via amazon as a brand new 325p2.
 

sparklehorse

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
1,110
Location
Portland, Oregon
Have you used the Uniden BCD436HP? This one allows you to simply enter the zip code, where the 325P2 doesn't. I can get the 436 for the same price in an open box via amazon as a brand new 325p2.
They’re both OK radios. In my opinion the Zip Code feature is more marketing gimmick than anything. Yes you can type in your Zip Code and go, but you’re letting a computer chip decide what you’ll be scanning. You might as well let ‘Alexa’ pick for you! Often the radio loads lots of stuff you’ll have no interest in, which slows your scan cycle way down because it’s constantly checking all those unwanted things. And it is completely dependent on the accuracy of data in the Radioreference database, including location data, which can be VERY inaccurate. You do have some degree of control by picking and choosing Service Types and Avoiding unwanted things that pop up, but it’s still not nearly as good as simply doing the work of creating your own custom scan lists, which isn’t that hard. That’s the only way to be sure you’re scanning everything you want to hear, and nothing you don’t. But the Zip Code feature is kinda nice for travel, so if I had to pick one of the two options, 436 vs 325, I’d probably pick the 436. If you want something more compact go with the 325.
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bjlasota

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2019
Messages
6
Location
Bridgman, MI
Awesome, thank you! I have my BC125 programming down, whether if it's on a PC using the software or manually on the go. The travel using the zip code would be nice, but I do my research on other things when I visit areas, so I'd have no problem programming it all myself before I left. Thanks again for all the help and advice. It's certainly helped me narrow down something that I'll hopefully stick with for awhile, at least until someone changes what program or type of signal they use to broadcast.
 

Ronaldski

MI DB Admin
Database Admin
Joined
Aug 23, 2005
Messages
2,145
Location
Bay City MI
I have updated several 436's never fully used or owned one. Be very wary of amazons open boxes been awhile, but some have reported what they get are actually non digital radios. Maybe they have done better since when Amazon gets these radios back now but they at least before weren't up on what radios are what and as in the past they at least may have relied on what they were told the radios were. Be sure to look over the return policy!

I agree what sparklehorse said, granted you can reduce the mile range(uniden) and select what types of agencies you want, then throw in the sd cards being used can fail, granted you can just get a new one, but your back to hooking up to a pc and loading the data on it. Not necessarily promoting a co. to program them in, but shows the differences.

325P2/996P2 have more flexibility into what you want to put in, but granted its up to you to get them in or find someone who can, software for it is freescan. https://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/FreeScan_User_Guide#Getting_Started Able to put in frequencies, talkgroups that we may not have in the database for Berrien. If you subscribe to radioreference and with freescan you'll be able to download the info into freescan and then to your radio.

I'll say that we overall dont get that many for the s.w. MI area for database updates from locals.
 

sparklehorse

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
1,110
Location
Portland, Oregon
<snip> 325P2/996P2 have more flexibility into what you want to put in, but granted its up to you to get them in or find someone who can, software for it is freescan. <snip>
Not sure exactly what Ronaldski meant by the 325P2/996P2 having “more flexibility”, but they definitely do not have more flexibility than the 436/536 models. You use different software (the x36 models use Sentinel) but you can create custom scan lists for either line that are virtually identical. I agree that Freescan is a good program for the 325/996 line, in fact I like it better than Sentinel, but they are just different tools for different radios that do the same job. I can’t think of anything the 325/996 radios can do that the x36 radios can’t do, but the reverse is certainly true. The 325/996 can’t store the entire US/Canada Radioreference database on board, or zip code scan, or hold as much data in Favorites Lists as the x36 radios, and there’s probably a bunch more stuff I’m not thinking of to boot. The SD cards are a weak link as they can fail, but I’ve had my 436 and 536 for three years now and have not had any card issues, plus they store a boat load of data. So you give up some reliability for additional functionality. It’s a trade off like many other things in life and technology.
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