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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 11-11-2012, 11:06 AM
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Unhappy Manually programming my local PD in BCD396XT:Seems like it should be easier than this

After listening to the local police department for many years when they operated in the UHF band, I recently had to upgrade to a new scanner when the PD switched to a P25 system.

I chose the BCD396XT, because I have had good luck with Uniden scanners in the past (had 4 assorted Unidens in the past).

Before purchasing, I read many reviews which stated how complicated programming of this product could be, but I thought I'd be able to figure it out.

I know that the receiver can be programmed using a computer and software, but for the present time, I am interested in monitoring only the local PD, and figured that I could program that manually. But I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that, after following several well-written sets of instructions over the past week-and-a-half, I haven't succeeded.

Is there any source with step-by-step instructions which would guide me in setting up the scanner so I can turn it on with it going directly to that PD, even if it means removing all of the pre-programming?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:45 AM
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Default Easier To Read Guide for Uniden

I read your post & then searched for a similar guide. Mind you, I don't know one thing about Uniden digital scanners since I own and prefer GRE. Hopefully, this will help you better understand your radio. Here is something to review. Hopefully, someone with Uniden Digital knowledge will shed some light on your radio issue:

Easier to Read BCD396XT Digital Scanner Manual
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Old 11-11-2012, 1:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mee_Too View Post
After listening to the local police department for many years when they operated in the UHF band, I recently had to upgrade to a new scanner when the PD switched to a P25 system.

I chose the BCD396XT, because I have had good luck with Uniden scanners in the past (had 4 assorted Unidens in the past).

Before purchasing, I read many reviews which stated how complicated programming of this product could be, but I thought I'd be able to figure it out.

I know that the receiver can be programmed using a computer and software, but for the present time, I am interested in monitoring only the local PD, and figured that I could program that manually. But I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that, after following several well-written sets of instructions over the past week-and-a-half, I haven't succeeded.

Is there any source with step-by-step instructions which would guide me in setting up the scanner so I can turn it on with it going directly to that PD, even if it means removing all of the pre-programming?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
In addition to the "Easier to Read" manual, linked above by Ensnared, there are additional articles in the Wiki here on RadioReference that you might find helpful.

Programming Your Uniden Scanner - The RadioReference Wiki

Uniden DMA FAQ - The RadioReference Wiki

Besides the articles themselves, each have links to additional pages with more information.

This page (linked in the above), has step by step instructions on creating systems in a DMA scanner (that is the memory type that includes your 396XT).

For the 'Easier to Read' manual, the instructions for programming a Conventional system (one where the channels are not part of a trunked radio system) are here.

Just below that are instructions for programming the various types of Trunked systems.

The older scanners, whether Uniden (or Bearcat), Radio Shack, or GRE (which made many of Radio Shack's models) used banks & channels. You had a specific number of channels, divided among a certain # of banks. You had one trunked radio system in a bank (for the most part), and conventional channels, maybe divided up by area or departments. You either had the bank "on" or locked out, or maybe just a few channels disabled.

With the newer DMA scanners, such as your 396XT, you no longer have banks; you have systems, groups, and sites. You can have up to 500 systems, up to 25,000 channels, and up to 20 groups per system. You have 100 System/Site quick keys that can be used to easily toggle a specific System (Conventional frequencies), or Site (Trunked radio system), on or off.

When setting up & entering programming, consider how your text tags will look.

For Conventional Systems, your display would be:
System Name <<alternating with>> Group Name
Channel text tag

For a Trunked System, the display would be:
Site Name......<<alternating with>> Group Name
Talkgroup ID text tag

For more on what displays, and additional choices with Display Modes, see this.

Most of the pre-programmed systems are far outdated, and could be deleted. However, they can serve as some illustration as to how a programmed system looks, for those new to a DMA scanner.

I realize you want to program the scanner by hand, without software. However, software does have it's advantages, especially for those upgrading to a newer model. Besides being much faster to program, typing in frequencies and text tags, you also are seeing most, if not all, of the information at one time. This makes it much easier to spot and correct minor errors and omissions in data entry than stepping through multiple screens on the scanner itself. FreeSCAN does the job nicely. (Use the download link on that page.)

If, after reviewing the above, you are still stumped, I would suggest that you might ask, in the Illinois Forum, if someone has a FreeSCAN file that covers your area. Or, you can also shoot me a pm, with your email address. Specify what you'd like in a file, and I'll set you up a FreeSCAN file. The idea is to get you up & listening. Once that is done, then you can try your hand at adding additional agencies or systems. As you become more comfortable with the DMA system, you'll be able to do this without software if so desired.
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Old 11-11-2012, 1:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mee_Too View Post
After listening to the local police department for many years when they operated in the UHF band, I recently had to upgrade to a new scanner when the PD switched to a P25 system.

I chose the BCD396XT, because I have had good luck with Uniden scanners in the past (had 4 assorted Unidens in the past).

Before purchasing, I read many reviews which stated how complicated programming of this product could be, but I thought I'd be able to figure it out.

I know that the receiver can be programmed using a computer and software, but for the present time, I am interested in monitoring only the local PD, and figured that I could program that manually. But I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that, after following several well-written sets of instructions over the past week-and-a-half, I haven't succeeded.

Is there any source with step-by-step instructions which would guide me in setting up the scanner so I can turn it on with it going directly to that PD, even if it means removing all of the pre-programming?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
It looks as if your county is part of the STARCOM system, which is a pre-programmed system from the factory on that scanner. Refer to the Easier to Read Manual for instructions on setting up that system, as I don't belive any actual "Programming" is needed other than turning on that system.
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Old 11-11-2012, 2:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneck0410 View Post
It looks as if your county is part of the STARCOM system, which is a pre-programmed system from the factory on that scanner. Refer to the Easier to Read Manual for instructions on setting up that system, as I don't belive any actual "Programming" is needed other than turning on that system.
The pre-loaded systems are unchanged since creation back in 2009 or so. So, the data is likely well outdated. As the OP said, his local agency recently shifted to P25 (likely STARCOM, as you surmise) from Uhf, so their talkgroups would not be in a 3 year old file in the P25 system.
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Old 11-11-2012, 2:20 PM
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Default Programming by hand

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mee_Too View Post

I know that the receiver can be programmed using a computer and software, but for the present time, I am interested in monitoring only the local PD, and figured that I could program that manually.
I have both a 396XT and 996XT - great scanners. I just started to program your system manually, and after about 10 minutes, I'd say that it's not realistic to program this system manually unless you really know how to fly around the menu's. Still, it would take hours, assuming this is your area:

StarCom21 Statewide Illinois P25 Trunking System, Statewide, Illinois - Scanner Frequencies

It's HUGE, and Belleville is only a small piece. If you scroll down, you'll see the St Clair area talk groups:

7234 1c42 D Bv PD 7234 Belleville Police: Operations
7235 1c43 D Bv PD 7235 Belleville Police: Operations (Dispatcher, some encryption
7236 1c44 D Bellv Police Belleville Police: Dispatch (Patch) [Ch 1]
7237 1c45 D BellvileFire Belleville Fire: Tone-Outs/Dispatch (Patch) [Ch 2
7238 1c46 D Bv PD c2c F3 Belleville Police: Car-to-Car [Ch 3]
7239 1c47 D Bv Fire c2c4 Belleville Fire: Car-to-Car [Ch 4]
7240 1c48 E Bv PD Det*E Belleville Police: Encrypted (Supervisor?)
7241 1c49 D Bv PD 7241 Belleville Police: Operations
7244 1c4c D Bv Fire Sup5 Fire: Supervisor [Ch 5]
7252 1c54 D Medstar 7252 Medstar EMS (E Belleville/SAFB)
7253 1c55 D Bv/SwLaw7253 Belleville/Swansea: Law Ops
7256 1c58 D SWIC Police SouthWestern Illinois College Police: Dispatch (Belleville)
7259 1c5b D BvFireComn2? Belleville Area Fire Departments (Northwest FPD?)
7260 1c5c D BvFireComn3? Belleville Area Fire Departments (Signal Hill FPD?)
7261 1c5d D BvFireComn4? Belleville Area Fire Departments (Villa Hills FPD?)
7262 1c5e D Bv FireComn5 Belleville Area Fire Common 5 (East Side FPD ??) .

That said, even using Freescan - which is what I use and recommend, there will be a learning curve.

Downloads - Sixspot Software

The EZ-GRAB feature will allow you to copy and paste all of that info into a file, which looks visually like Windows Explorer. Pointing and clicking will be much easier than scrolling, pushing, twisting, hunting and pecking.

Maybe someone nearby already has a file all set up?

I think we can all empathize with the learning curve. I think it was 4 days before I got anything to come out of my scanner, and I still learn new things about it every day.

Likewise, I wish I had a dime for every time I saw this same question phrased differently. Even the Easy-to-Read is not for those with ADHD.

It took me about 30 minutes to get a rough draft of what your file might look like in Freescan, with the Fire Talkgroup expanded. In this scenario, you would activate the SYSTEM by hiiting " .45 " and toggle PD and FIRE on and off by hitting FUNC 1 and FUNC 2.
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Old 11-11-2012, 8:31 PM
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Thanks to each and every one of you for your thoughtful replies!

I have tried consulting some of the sources suggested in my attempt to program manually, without success. I believe that I will go the route of programming via software. Heck, once I get going, I'll probably want to monitor other police and fire departments, anyway.

This is definitely something new. I had been monitoring the Belleville PD on UHF since the late 1970s, using the following six models: Regency ACT-R106, Regency H-604, Bearcat BC 300, BC100XLT, BC 220XLT, and BC 140. In fact, until recently, I was back to monitoring them on the ol' crystal-controlled ACT-R106.

But now that they changed over, I've have to take the plunge to the BCD396XT. A little intimidating, but I think I'll enjoy learning about it.

doctordialtone, thanks for the screenshot -- it gives me a much better idea what the software looks like. I know that the scanner package includes a cable with a serial connector on the end. Fortunately, one of our computers is old enough to have serial ports.

Thanks once again, all -- I keep you apprised of my progress.
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Old 11-11-2012, 8:55 PM
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This article in our wiki has lots of links - specifically for folks that are newcomers...

Program your DMA Scanner - The RadioReference Wiki

At the bottom of the article are the links to all of the DMA based 'Easier to Read' manuals. Don't even think of trying to use the Uniden mess...HTH...Mike
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 11-12-2012, 10:35 AM
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There is a major learning curve. Two separate paradigms have to be mastered.

First there is the whole concept of trunking systems where control channels, talkgroup identification numbers and alpha tags are added instead of just frequencies alone. Then just one little setting or two can throw the whole thing off.

Then there is the concept of Dynamic Memory Allocation scanners and computer software.

It's kinda like doing your income taxes using a computer. You have to know the nuances of the tax code, then you have to fiddle with the actual computer software to enter the information.

So it is a double whammy.

Most of us have experienced the same frustrations, but eventually we got to the "Ah Ha" moment. Big thing is to hang tough and remember you are going through something that many others have too, and we got it, so you can too.

Hand programming scanners for these new radio systems is only for those with lots of time on their hands and twice as much patience. My suggestion is that mentioned above: get the software, have an RR premium membership and download the stuff you want to listen too. That's about as close to auto-pilot as it comes.
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Old 11-12-2012, 1:28 PM
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Really, once you learn the trunking paradigm, DMA is pretty easy, as it was designed to have essentially the same architecture as the real-world systems.

Here's another article:

http://info.uniden.com/twiki/pub/Uni...the_Police.pdf
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Old 11-12-2012, 1:49 PM
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St. Clair County always has something to monitor. I lived in O'Fallon (You can probably tell by my profile picture).

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Old 11-12-2012, 2:00 PM
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Hello Mee_Too. Welcome to RR.

As others have said, "it's a learning curve" and we've all been through it, so just hang in there and let the software do the work for you. It's not hard once you've done it and there are a lot of helpful members here that will guide you.

As you yourself said, you'll probably want to monitor other Police and Fire Departments too. Oh yeah, trust me on this, you will definitely be putting other systems into the scanner. It's an addiction, don't you know? Good luck!

Russell
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Old 11-12-2012, 2:48 PM
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As mentioned its very simple by hand once u get it..."PGM System, ur case its "P25"-Motorola, create a "Group" and then install the TG's...First of all u should consult the ILL-Starcom Database on this site and choose the tower closest to ur area...Program it in as mentioned in one of the SQK's....In the "search" mode u can receive most all TGs in the area when u see at least 4 bars on the Control Channel.....One of the TG's on the listing of towns that joined Starcom in ur area will show up....In my case my town is now on T113-Will Co but they chose all ENCRYPTION so im screwed.....
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Old 11-13-2012, 9:08 PM
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I don't really know your area so I can't say step by step what to do for what you want but I can say hang in there! It can be intimidating when you're 1st starting and learning how to program by hand but I still do all of my programming by hand. Once you learn what you're doing you can get it done very quickly. It doesn't take me much longer to do it by hand than it does to import it and tweak it with the programming software. I'd rather do it by hand to be honest. Good luck with it!
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Old 11-14-2012, 3:30 PM
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Mee too:

I regularly monitor Starcom/st. clair county with a BCD396xt. You will not accurately monitor St. Clair County TRS with the pre-programmed Starcom system that is in the BCD396XT. What's misleading about the Starcom system and what's listed on the database is it lists the St. Clair county simulcast system as part of Starcom. This is partially true. The county system is "linked" to starcom but programming this system will not allow you to hear everything that is on Starcom only what is linked to St. Clair county. By programming the St. Clair County simulcast you will ultimately be able to monitor District 11 ISP as well as many Madison County talkgroups.

First thing I would do is reset the scanner and erase all of the pre-programmed systems.

press 2 , 9, and hold while turning on scanner and when it asks to keep the pre-programmed list or whatever hit no.

Then hit the menu button on the side, select program system, then new system (name it st. clair county or whatever you wish), then edit site, go down to set frequencies, program EACH of the Red and blue control channels listed here:

StarCom21 Statewide Illinois P25 Trunking System, Statewide, Illinois - Scanner Frequencies

program the St. Clair county simulcast, nothing else, you can name the site if you wish but it doesn't matter what tower you are hitting cause they all use the same control channels.

Then back up to where you edit the system (not the site) and edit a group. If you're wanting to listen to belleville pd just name it Police or whatever you wish. Then edit channel and put in Belleville PDs TGs i think dispatch is 7236 FD is 7237. From there just scan and as long as you have a Talkgroup programmed it will ID scan. If you want to ID search, while scanning hit the func button on side and then scan. If it lands on a Talkgroup you want to store hit the E/Yes button then as long as you have a group made (ex fire, PD, ems) hit no when it asks to quick save and just place it in a group and name it.

Software will make it easier but I had most of the County TGs that appealed to me programmed in half an hour. The headache comes with quick keys and system keys etc.

Also if you're used to the older scanners and "banks" just forget about everything you knew. That's what I had to do in order to "organize" my TGs.

PM me if you have any other questions. I live in St. Clair County and would be glad to assist you.
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Last edited by nick1427d; 11-14-2012 at 4:01 PM..
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Old 11-14-2012, 6:48 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for all of your responses and the warm welcome. It's encouraging to know that I can come here with any questions.

Before I can program with my computer, I'll have to get a serial to USB adapter, since the cable Uniden provided with the scanner has a serial connector (I thought that I could use my old computer with a serial port, but the poor old thing just can't cut it).

I'm going to check with my nephew to see if he has an adapter. If not, do the $20 adapters from Radio Shack do the trick?

Meanwhile, I am going to tinker around with some manual programming, just to get some practice.

I'll be back with any questions as they arise....
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mee_Too View Post
Thanks, everyone, for all of your responses and the warm welcome. It's encouraging to know that I can come here with any questions.

Before I can program with my computer, I'll have to get a serial to USB adapter, since the cable Uniden provided with the scanner has a serial connector (I thought that I could use my old computer with a serial port, but the poor old thing just can't cut it).

I'm going to check with my nephew to see if he has an adapter. If not, do the $20 adapters from Radio Shack do the trick?

Meanwhile, I am going to tinker around with some manual programming, just to get some practice.

I'll be back with any questions as they arise....
See this Wiki page for some information on adapters:
Connecting scanners via USB - The RadioReference Wiki

Both of my desktop pc's have serial ports (I had to add the port on one, with a card I ordered from Newegg, the other had the port on the mother board; I built both pc's). For my laptop, I'm using the Monoprice adapter. Some people, as linked in the article above, have had a few problems, but I have had none. My laptop was previously on Vista, just upgraded to Windows 7 and no problems with either O/S and this adapter.
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