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Old 06-15-2018, 9:55 AM
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Default SDS-100 in Colorado

Just wondering if anyone in Colorado has the SDS-100 and how well its working here in our simulcast area of Denver? Just saw on the HRO website that Denver has received them in stock. I would like to get one but wondering also if the patch feature is working yet.

https://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-016159
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Old 06-15-2018, 10:16 AM
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Patching was fixed several months ago.
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Old 06-15-2018, 10:57 AM
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First, I assume most know the Uniden line of scanners (ex: BCD436HP) work better on the FRCC simulcast system than does the PSR-500/600.

Near strong RF environments (cellphone towers/radio towers), the SDS100 works better than the BCD436HP (in its ability to regain the RF signal from the control channel when the signal is lost due to strong RF interference). In the same location, the GRE series of scanners (both a PSR500 and PSR600) stop working pretty much altogether.

I'm still in the process of testing simulcast distortion. I have not noticed too much difference between the SDS100 and the BCD436HP however let me do a little more testing. The last day I tested was a good day wherein most signals were not distorted on any of the scanners. I need one of those bad days when it is hard to understand almost everything due to simulcast distortion.

Features that I love: The lithium-ion battery that allows topping off the battery as you would your cellphone. The colored screen is nice however I'm more about reception.

Features that could use some work: The audio still suffers from large differences in volume between different people speaking on the same talkgroup which was not an issue at all with the GRE line of scanners.

Shawn

Last edited by ScannerSK; 06-15-2018 at 11:10 AM..
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Old 06-15-2018, 12:36 PM
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I drove around at various speeds (mostly 20-30 mph) for about 1 hour on the county roads surrounding Gilcrest while monitoring a BCD436HP in one ear and a SDS100 in the other ear both tuned to the Weld simulcast control channel on FRCC.

Both scanners work very well and rarely cut out at all. Overall, the SDS100 cut out just a little more frequently than the BCD436. When the SDS100 cut out it was extremely brief covering only the space of a syllable or two in a word.

I swapped antennas, held the scanners in different hands, drove in different directions and the results were the same. So, that is the story for the Weld simulcast system. I'm sure each simulcast system will have slightly different results.

Shawn
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Old 06-15-2018, 6:10 PM
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Which simulcast system were you using at the time? The 800 in the Greeley area (853.3125 CC) or the S.W. 700 (773.41875 CC)?

The 800 simulcast has a strong signal in the Gilcrest area and was never an issue on the 436. There are some minor breakups near the cell tower on the North end of Gilcrest at Highway 85. The S.W. simulcast would be a good test in the Gilcrest area.

The toughest areas for signal issues is the area of S.H. 66 between roads 13 to road 21 where there is some overlap from the tower at the S.W. substation and the Fort Lupton tower. Breakup was extensive with the 436 in that stretch.

The ultimate test is how well the SDS copes with the cellular antenna farm at the S.W. corner of I-25 and S.H. 52 which overloads every digital scanner I have used. Even in sight of the S.W. sub tower in that area the reception was zero.
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Old 06-15-2018, 10:41 PM
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I'll preface my reply with a few disclaimers.
  • I do not own the SDS100.
  • Observations were made while stationary during a short 3 hour hands on experience.
  • The testing location was near I-25 and Arapahoe Rd.
  • The SDS100 was tested side-by-side with a BCD436HP, Pro-106, and Unication G4.
  • The SDS100, BCD436HP, and G4 were identically programmed. The Pro-106 was not, but had those same systems programmed. The systems tested were DTRS (Douglas County North Simulcast), Aurora, FRCC, and DIA.
  • All radios present were using the widely used 800 MHz antenna. The SDS100's stock antenna was also around and briefly used.

Pros:
  • The physical scanner feels very nice and solid. The keypad is not squishy and has a tactile feedback, which I like over the squishy rubber keys of other scanners.
  • The display is very nice to look at.

Con:
  • What appears to be very bad 800 MHz overloading (maybe cellular or overpowering DTRS site). All other radios present did not show signs of overload.

Unfortunately due to the con, there wasn't much that could be tested on the SDS100. The RSSI was constantly at -45 to -50 dBm regardless of the system selected, Uniden's Noise figure was constantly at 10000+, the Data/LNK icon would flash in and out, and the detailed trunking information would struggle to populate on the 800 MHz sites. System and site holds did not help, however channel hold did appear to help it lock on to the sites marginally better. Unfortunately, this meant that it did not act much like a scanner. We tried to attenuate the signal, which dropped it to below -100 dBm, but unfortunately that also wipes out the weaker signals.

I suspect that this either due to Chevron or a known cell site near Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre, both of which are about half a mile from the testing location. None of the other radios present had overload issues and could lock onto the sites being tested. This includes the Pro-106, which is known for its overload issues.

The only system that could be reliably tested was FRCC's 700 MHz North Metro Simulcast, which happens to be the system that all scanners could receive that pretty reliably as well. With that, it meant we couldn't really test for improvements in simulcast performance. There were isolated cases in maybe one out of in every 20 transmissions where the SDS100 failed to follow the talkgroup that it had successfully stopped on before. All other radios successfully stopped on the same talkgroup. The talkgroup would be used for upwards of 10 seconds while the SDS100 would sit there "scanning" the system.

Before someone comes in and tries to claim improper usage and all that, I had several others with me who were much more familiar with Uniden's DMA scanners that were there to keep me in check. We also eventually loaded someone's Favorites List into the scanner, although admittedly by that point I wasn't too focused on testing the SDS100.

I don't doubt the ability of the SDS100 to receive simulcast better, but unfortunately it just couldn't be tested in our location. I do hope that others will be able to more thoroughly test out the 800 MHz/cellular overload in other locations, but my isolated and very limited instance of testing it was not very promising.

On a note unrelated to the SDS100, the G4 was able to pull in DIA's system out of the gutter. I could barely hear the control channel over the noise floor with the squelch turned all the way down on the Pro-106. The G4 showed 0 to 1 bar of signal, but it somehow was able to decode the CC and voice. It did drop out a few times, but overall it was more impressive than the SDS100.
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Old 06-16-2018, 6:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spitfire8520 View Post
I'll preface my reply with a few disclaimers.
  • I do not own the SDS100.
  • Observations were made while stationary during a short 3 hour hands on experience.
  • The testing location was near I-25 and Arapahoe Rd.
  • The SDS100 was tested side-by-side with a BCD436HP, Pro-106, and Unication G4.
  • The SDS100, BCD436HP, and G4 were identically programmed. The Pro-106 was not, but had those same systems programmed. The systems tested were DTRS (Douglas County North Simulcast), Aurora, FRCC, and DIA.
  • All radios present were using the widely used 800 MHz antenna. The SDS100's stock antenna was also around and briefly used.

Pros:
  • The physical scanner feels very nice and solid. The keypad is not squishy and has a tactile feedback, which I like over the squishy rubber keys of other scanners.
  • The display is very nice to look at.

Con:
  • What appears to be very bad 800 MHz overloading (maybe cellular or overpowering DTRS site). All other radios present did not show signs of overload.

Unfortunately due to the con, there wasn't much that could be tested on the SDS100. The RSSI was constantly at -45 to -50 dBm regardless of the system selected, Uniden's Noise figure was constantly at 10000+, the Data/LNK icon would flash in and out, and the detailed trunking information would struggle to populate on the 800 MHz sites. System and site holds did not help, however channel hold did appear to help it lock on to the sites marginally better. Unfortunately, this meant that it did not act much like a scanner. We tried to attenuate the signal, which dropped it to below -100 dBm, but unfortunately that also wipes out the weaker signals.

I suspect that this either due to Chevron or a known cell site near Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre, both of which are about half a mile from the testing location. None of the other radios present had overload issues and could lock onto the sites being tested. This includes the Pro-106, which is known for its overload issues.

The only system that could be reliably tested was FRCC's 700 MHz North Metro Simulcast, which happens to be the system that all scanners could receive that pretty reliably as well. With that, it meant we couldn't really test for improvements in simulcast performance. There were isolated cases in maybe one out of in every 20 transmissions where the SDS100 failed to follow the talkgroup that it had successfully stopped on before. All other radios successfully stopped on the same talkgroup. The talkgroup would be used for upwards of 10 seconds while the SDS100 would sit there "scanning" the system.

Before someone comes in and tries to claim improper usage and all that, I had several others with me who were much more familiar with Uniden's DMA scanners that were there to keep me in check. We also eventually loaded someone's Favorites List into the scanner, although admittedly by that point I wasn't too focused on testing the SDS100.

I don't doubt the ability of the SDS100 to receive simulcast better, but unfortunately it just couldn't be tested in our location. I do hope that others will be able to more thoroughly test out the 800 MHz/cellular overload in other locations, but my isolated and very limited instance of testing it was not very promising.

On a note unrelated to the SDS100, the G4 was able to pull in DIA's system out of the gutter. I could barely hear the control channel over the noise floor with the squelch turned all the way down on the Pro-106. The G4 showed 0 to 1 bar of signal, but it somehow was able to decode the CC and voice. It did drop out a few times, but overall it was more impressive than the SDS100.
Was the new beta firmware installed?
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Old 06-16-2018, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mule1075 View Post
Was the new beta firmware installed?
It was not available at the time. I believe the firmware was the latest available, which was 1.02.02M / 1.01.03S.
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Old 06-16-2018, 10:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scanlist View Post
Which simulcast system were you using at the time? The 800 in the Greeley area (853.3125 CC) or the S.W. 700 (773.41875 CC)?

The 800 simulcast has a strong signal in the Gilcrest area and was never an issue on the 436. There are some minor breakups near the cell tower on the North end of Gilcrest at Highway 85. The S.W. simulcast would be a good test in the Gilcrest area.

The toughest areas for signal issues is the area of S.H. 66 between roads 13 to road 21 where there is some overlap from the tower at the S.W. substation and the Fort Lupton tower. Breakup was extensive with the 436 in that stretch.

The ultimate test is how well the SDS copes with the cellular antenna farm at the S.W. corner of I-25 and S.H. 52 which overloads every digital scanner I have used. Even in sight of the S.W. sub tower in that area the reception was zero.
I was using the 853.3125 simulcast set of towers. I may do some additional testing in Gilcrest and along SH 66 using the SW simulcast system. If I get over to I-25, I may take a pass by SH 52 as well.

I had the latest available firmware installed from Sentinel in the SDS100 scanner at the time of the test.

Near the cellphone tower I tested at, the SDS100 performed best out of the PSR-600, BCD436HP and SDS100 line up. The SDS100 does become a little erratic when the signal strength falls below three bars (even outside of strong RF interference prone areas) and reception of a control channel can be lost in RF prone areas however I found a simple repositioning of the scanner immediately resumes reception of the control channel. The BCD436HP in the same RF prone area would lose the 853.3125 control channel and it was very difficult to get the 436 to lock onto the control channel once again. It would just act like there was no signal present at all.

I'll report back if/when I have a chance to do further testing.

Shawn
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Old 06-17-2018, 10:03 AM
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Once the new firmware comes out, if someone wants to meet up in the metro area and play with the SDS100, let me know.
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Old 06-17-2018, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abqscan View Post
Once the new firmware comes out, if someone wants to meet up in the metro area and play with the SDS100, let me know.
A beta update is available now. Look in the tech support forum for the link.
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Old 06-17-2018, 10:38 AM
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My apologies, I should have clarified that once the firmware is out of beta. =)
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Old 06-17-2018, 11:20 AM
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I had a chance to do additional testing of the SDS100 this morning using the 773.41875 (SW Sub. Simulcast) tower on the FRCC system from Gilcrest to I-25 (traveling West on SH 66) and from I-25 to the Berthoud exit and on into Berthoud itself and a return trip East down SH 60 from I-25 through Johnstown and Milliken.

Overall, in non-RF prone areas, I would say it is really close to a toss-up; they both decode very well. The SDS100 is more prone to the very brief (a syllable or two) cut outs than the BCD436HP.

However, in RF prone areas, the main issue seems to be the BCD436HP has a difficult time reaquiring the control channel once lost while the SDS100 does this with relative ease. This issue alone causes of lot of traffic to be missed on the 436 in specific areas when compared to the SDS100. Example: The 436 and SDS100 may both have a signal strength of 3-4 bars and be decoding fine and then suddenly there are no bars on the 436 and it has a very difficult time resynching/reacquiring the control channel (at times taking 30 seconds to several minutes while driving) while the SDS100 keeps decoding away or at worst may drop the control channel however immediately reacquires the signal once again.

The issue with the 436 not being able to quickly reacquire the simulcast control channel in RF prone areas is the predominant and persistant issue I ran across while testing today in numerous areas (some of which did not appear to be RF prone at all). This issue with the 436 may or may not affect non-simulcast control channels in RF prone areas as well.

The SDS100 firmware I had installed during this test was 1.02.03 (main) and 1.01.03 (sub). The 436 shows an installed firmware of 1.23.00.

I assume the beta firmware mentioned above is the following which I did not install as my SDS100 appears to be working as expected:
V1_02_05a.bin

For the simple reason the SDS100 can reacquire the control channel in difficult RF prone areas MUCH quicker than the 436 makes me tend toward the SDS100 as the better scanner. I'm not sure what the issue with the 436 is (overload, data decode issues on simulcast signals, intermod/IF mixing?) or whether it can be fixed with a firmware update?

It will be interesting to read the feedback of what others discover during their testing with other systems and other areas.

Shawn
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Old 06-19-2018, 3:12 AM
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I've been testing the SDS-100 on the Aurora system, especially in the troublesome Aurora Mall area and I-225. With the 436, about half of the transmissions had dropouts or garbling. It was bad enough that sometimes I would just give up and listen to something else. The SDS-100 almost never had any problem. It was difficult to find anywhere that wasn't 100% solid.

At home (56th/Chambers), the Adams Co Simulcast site(s) were difficult to receive on my 436, even with imaginative tweaking and repositioning. Fairly good signal, but lots of dropouts. I could count on spotty, unreliable reception. With the SDS-100, it was solid with no problems.

And no one on the forums has mentioned the Great Audio! The guys at HRO were even impressed!
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Old 06-22-2018, 11:39 PM
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Has anyone been in El Paso County and/or Colorado Springs who can report on SDS 100 performance here?
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Old 06-23-2018, 8:50 PM
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I am heading to downtown Denver with my SDS-100 in a few weeks. I have Denver and West Metro on my FL. Any suggestions for other FD/PD listening?
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Old 06-25-2018, 2:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hosehead88 View Post
I am heading to downtown Denver with my SDS-100 in a few weeks. I have Denver and West Metro on my FL. Any suggestions for other FD/PD listening?
It depends on what you want to monitor while you are around.

If you are just interested in the things in the immediate vicinity, then just monitoring Denver by itself might be appropriate with how much activity there is in the city. You can get an idea of the size of Denver with this Police Station & Districts map and this Fire Stations & Districts map.

If you are interested in doing an extensive test of your SDS100, or just want to monitor everything that can be monitored, then you might considering adding a number of systems that surround Denver.
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Old 06-28-2018, 7:36 PM
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Thanks for the info! I will be in the city most of the time. I will have to see if my travel will take me out of town so I can add areas for the trip.
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