396XT with decode errors

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W6KRU

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I have a 396XT that has a P25 error rate over 50 on a regular basis. When the error rate is this high, the resulting audio is unintelligible garbage. I bought the scanner new the first week after the 396XTs release. It has had this problem since new.

I have tried all of the available P25 adjustments on multiple occasions. I have also tried the attenuator setting. None of the setting changes have helped with the problem.

I have excellent signal strength and can receive the problem system without an antenna using only the SMA-BNC adapter. Although I bought a portable so I could carry it with me when leaving the house, I have tried 3 different outside antennas. Two were omni-directional and one was a yagi. I pointed the yagi in various directions. None of these antennas have provided any relief from this problem.

The problem system is a Moto II SmartZone system and is simulcast. There is a P25 system in the area that I receive much better. This leads me to believe that the 396XT does not have a hardware issue that can be fixed.

My 396T has the same problem when the automatic P25 threshold setting is used. If I use the manual P25 threshold setting and set it to a level of 11 the 396T is much better. The automatic P25 threshold setting on the 396XT self adjusts from an initial setting of 8 to 12, the error rate starts going up, and the audio starts to suffer. When the 396XTs threshold auto adjusts to 13 the audio is completely unintelligible garbage.

Does anyone have any idea how I can remedy this very frustrating problem that prevents me from enjoyable use of my 396XT. At the moment I use the 396XT as a very overpriced analog scanner and use my 396T as my everyday digital scanner.
 

W6KRU

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Here is some additional info that was not provided in the first post. If I set the 396T to Auto P25 threshold adjustment, it behaves in the exact same way as the 396XT. Then return it to Manual P25 adjustment and a level of 11 and it starts behaving better again.
 

Danny6569

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396 xt

To adjust the P25 settings on the 396xt, hold the "HOLD" key while powering up the scanner. The screen will flash all of the colors twice. Now there will be two (2) new options in the settings menu:

1. P25 adjust mode
2. P25 adjust level You will find these settings by going into the menu part on the scanner, try changing the numbers in the adjust level to 200 and that will make the threshold stay at 8 all the time, or if you have to make it 100 ? try playing around with that and see which numbers work for you and that will change the adjust level permanetly unless you change the numbers again, i wouldnt mess with the adjust mode one because i didnt have to on my 396 xt and mine is fine now! it will still act up once in a while but not as much at all after you change the adjust level threshold, try that and see what happens!
 

W6KRU

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To adjust the P25 settings on the 396xt, hold the "HOLD" key while powering up the scanner. The screen will flash all of the colors twice. Now there will be two (2) new options in the settings menu:

1. P25 adjust mode
2. P25 adjust level You will find these settings by going into the menu part on the scanner, try changing the numbers in the adjust level to 200 and that will make the threshold stay at 8 all the time, or if you have to make it 100 ? try playing around with that and see which numbers work for you and that will change the adjust level permanetly unless you change the numbers again, i wouldnt mess with the adjust mode one because i didnt have to on my 396 xt and mine is fine now! it will still act up once in a while but not as much at all after you change the adjust level threshold, try that and see what happens!
Thanks for the tip Daniel! I have tried changing the mode. I can't set anything above 3. If I set it to 2 the scanner changes back to 3 by itself.

I have went round and round with the level setting. A setting of 200 works as advertised and the threshold stays at 8 but a setting of 8 doesn't work well at all. I have danced all around the 100 setting and can't find a setting allows the auto adjustment to go to 11 and then stay there. The level always wants to go to 12 and then occasionally to 13 The settings of 12 and.especially 13 causes P25 error rates of 50 or more and the resulting garbage audio causing much cursing and frustration on my part.
 

kruser

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The problem with this is that this setting is "radio wide". Set the manual adjustments on an XT model and it is going to affect all systems including those that do not need any adjustments. I've also never been able to find anything close to the same as the performance of the T models when trying the two manual settings in the XT's hidden options. The "T" models offered the manual P25 threshold adjust per system which is much better as each system can be tuned different. Ideally, the auto mode is great on paper but it needs to work before it can be considered great.
It does work here on some systems that are not simulcast and have no signal problems such as reflections off nearby buildings.
I also have the same problem on systems here that are on the fringe of the reception area regardless if they are simulcast or not, the T radio will decode them fairly well but the XT will jump all over the place and not decode them at all or very poorly if it does.
I have the same problem here as DDan with a simulcast P25 system which is my main system I like to monitor.
In my case, I need a setting of 5 for the best P25 decode rates on this system.
My 396 and 996 XT models are virtually useless while my lone 996T I own works fantastic because I can set a manual setting of 5 on this system.
I can overcome this with the use of a Yagi beam so I can capture just one tower but then I loose the stations off the back of the beam that I also monitor. I do not need to use the Yagi with the 996T. I just need to set the decode rate to 5 and I'm all set.
I do like the Unidens WAY better than the GRE's due to the GRE's crappy front ends in the VHF band. In my case though, both are a must here. The GRE's for the better P25 decoding on 800 systems and the Unidens for the superior handling of overload from local paging systems and FM radio stations.
The T model 996 I own is the exception and it does work fine on 800 P25 systems here thanks to the manual P25 adjust setting per system plus it deals with the local paging signals very well just like its younger brother the 996XT model.
Why Uniden removed this feature in the XT models is a mystery but I wish it would be brought back.

The GRE's act like they have a pre-amp running at all times but if I turn the attenuator on, I loose the ability to receive low to weak signals. Without the attenuator, most local signals are gone due to desense in the VHF bands both high and low. I don't monitor a whole lot in the 450 UHF bands but I think the Unidens and the newest GRE (500 and 600 and 800) radios work equally well there. I do not have any P25 trunked systems other than a 700 and 800 system and the XT scanners suffer on both from the lack of a manual P25 setting per system.
I suspect the Uniden 996XT will kick butt when the new VHF statewide system comes online here as the GRE will be deafened by desense.
The older GRE made PRO-2004, 2006 work fantastic here. Why GRE could not stay with that front end design is also a mystery.
 

ilgrant

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You state in your post that you can receive the system with the SMA-BNC adapter. Did you try the adapter with the attenuation settings? It doesn't sound like you need more antenna.
 

W6KRU

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You state in your post that you can receive the system with the SMA-BNC adapter. Did you try the adapter with the attenuation settings? It doesn't sound like you need more antenna.
I have a stubby antenna (1 1/2") and I tried it with the attenuator. There wasn't enough signal with that combo for reliable decoding.
 

Tryton

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DDan, don't know if this is possible, but maybe you can borrow someone else XT and see if it exhibits the same behavior. that would without a doubt show you if it's your radio, or the XT line. If its the latter, sell it.
 

kruser

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DDan, don't know if this is possible, but maybe you can borrow someone else XT and see if it exhibits the same behavior. that would without a doubt show you if it's your radio, or the XT line. If its the latter, sell it.
FWIW, I own 3 XT models. Two 396 and one 996. They all exhibit the same behavior here. One thing I failed to mention is I also own an HP-1 and it does work better than the XT models but not as good as the T model or the GREs.
With that, I would never consider selling the XT models as they do work fine on the VHF bands in analog mode and on 800 MHz conventional trunked systems.

I've also complained of this issue with the XT models since they were released.
Unlike DDan, I can get halfway decent performance from my XT's as long as I use a Yagi aimed at just one of the towers. This kind of tells me the XT series cannot handle multipath distortion near as well as the 996T or the GRE's can. Why the manual P25 setting helps is also beyond me but it does help and it helps by a great amount.
Just minutes ago, an aircraft declared an emergency so I scrambled to get the GRE and 996T running on the P25 system. I'd parked the 996XT on the airports talkgroup but it remained silent with occasional broken audio. Once I got the GRE running, the same talkgroup was full of activity. The same when I got the 996T on the system. I'd say the 996XT only captured 10% of the communications clearly.
The GRE is awful as well as this system has some encrypted radios mixed in with in the clear radios on the same talkgroups. The GRE passes the encrypted audio out the speaker which is almost as bad sounding as the 996XT sounds when it cannot decode the datastream.
Oh, the aircraft that declared an in flight emergency landed safely. It had some type of tail problem that I missed.
 

W6KRU

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DDan, don't know if this is possible, but maybe you can borrow someone else XT and see if it exhibits the same behavior. that would without a doubt show you if it's your radio, or the XT line. If its the latter, sell it.
I guess you missed this information in my second post: Here is some additional info that was not provided in the first post. If I set the 396T to Auto P25 threshold adjustment, it behaves in the exact same way as the 396XT. Then return it to Manual P25 adjustment and a level of 11 and it starts behaving better again.

As far as selling it goes. I am not sure how I could advertise the 396XT in good conscience. Warning: this scanner may not/ does not function correctly on simulcast systems? This scanner has intermittent lousy audio? I would already be taking a substantial monetary loss and that wouldn't help. Also, I like 396XT other than the annoyingly lousy digital operation and I would really prefer that it was fixed and working properly.
 

Tryton

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Kruser, from what you are saying is that monitoring a full p25 simulcast system, the multipath is so bad the XT cannot decode it properly. I know DDan has said in many posts that if uniden brought back Manual P25 adjustments, it would almost fix his issue. Is that the same for you?
 

kruser

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Kruser, from what you are saying is that monitoring a full p25 simulcast system, the multipath is so bad the XT cannot decode it properly. I know DDan has said in many posts that if uniden brought back Manual P25 adjustments, it would almost fix his issue. Is that the same for you?
Exactly, I'm in the same boat as DDan. I also own the older 996T and can put it in Auto and my decode rate on the P25 system goes to heck. Put the T back to manual and I get near perfect reception again.
 

W6KRU

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Exactly, I'm in the same boat as DDan. I also own the older 996T and can put it in Auto and my decode rate on the P25 system goes to heck. Put the T back to manual and I get near perfect reception again.
Yeah, the XTs are actually very nice scanners but they are completely crippled by the beyond stupid Auto P25 threshold setting. Set it to Auto for Automatic garbage generator.
 

Tryton

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Has Uniden addressed this issue ever? is it possible to add the manual P25 settings back to th XT line?
 

W6KRU

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Has Uniden addressed this issue ever? is it possible to add the manual P25 settings back to th XT line?
No. For some reason Uniden has refused to even acknowledge this issue. I don't know for a fact that it is possible to return the manual P25 settings to the XTs but I sure hope so.
 

kbehning

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I have spent Christmas at a relative's house in Will Co Illinois, and the simulcast P25 Starcom sites are barely working hardly at all on my new 396XT. Decode is even worse on the simulcast P25 system in Johnson Co Iowa near where I live.

I would certainly like to add my request to the list for UPMan to acknowledge this issue and offer a firmware update to fully fix this limitation/defect. In the meantime, a firmware update that returns the option of full manual P25 decode adjustment PER SITE, the same way as the 396T version was implemented, would be the next best thing. This should be minimal SW work because a working code has already been developed on the 396T.

I have purchased a 996XT, 396XT and T15X in the past month for base/portable use, and have been considering 2 more 996XTs for my mobile use. Had I known the XT digitals wouldn't work with the Johnson Co Iowa system, I would have held off until uniden fixed the problem. I won't be buying anymore Unidens until this problem is fixed, because the same simulcast system that is barely trackable in Johnson Co Iowa is slated to spread to my county to the north and eventually the rest of Iowa. I've just recently returned to scanning after several years away and my circle of contacts have been asking which scanners they should get. I'm telling them to hold off until we find out if Uniden will provide an update that will work with the future simulcast P25 systems that are going to be the future of Iowa.

Please, UPMan, provide either the full or the band-aid fix - band-aid fix is better than nothing, doing nothing is unacceptable.

kbehning
KC0QWO
 

RoninJoliet

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Wonder where abouts your staying in Will Co, IL, i live here also and use T101,T102 and T113 for Starcom and they work and decode fine on my 396Xt-996XT and RS197 base....My 996XT was perfect on T101-Dupage Co till they just added 4 more sites now up to seven and that screwed up the decoding....So i now feel the pain of DDan, my RS 197 digitals still decode T101 very well....I think Uniden scanners and GRE/RS digitals work different on different systems around the country...I had a GRE500 and sold it, it would not decode any tower, it was real bad....???
 
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