996t / Firmware 2.2 Performance

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Jan 25, 2003
Fair Oaks, CA
Just a note to say many thanks to Uniden for fixing the 996t! I am an over-the-road truck driver and monitor public safety systems all over the USA. After owning many Uniden scanners over the last 25 years, I was deeply frustrated with the 996t after buying it. Quite frankly, it was a terrible radio and I hestitated to even monitor anything but conventional systems. I really felt that Uniden had let me down big time!

I updated the firmware immediately after its' release and have now used the radio across 38 different states. Incredibly the P25/EDACS performance has improved so greatly it is like getting an entirely new radio. The garbling and machine gun sound is nearly entirely gone and audio clarity is 1000% percent better. Decoding works with much lower signal strength. This level of performance is what I originally expected of this unit for its' price level when purchasing it. My alert lights even work now where they wouldn't before the update.

While I am no expert on any one radio system due to my roaming use of the scanner, I have only found two systems that appear to still have issues and those are Cincinnati, OH County Simulcast System and the Kentucky State PS System. The first being a simulcast system, it may have timing issues with dropped voice transmissions and the later system with Data/Voice being transmitted together. Lastly in regard to performance, it is hard for me to conclusively say, but I get the impression that the radio is not as sensitive to California Highway Patrol Low Band transmissions. During two different trips through the Los Angeles area, I was not picking up as many District Dispatch channels as I did before driving in the same areas. However, I was receiving some districts at a pretty good distance; just not as many. I am using the same truck mounted antenna as before the update. This could be a coincidence of slow radio traffic at the times I passed through, but usually the LA area is very active on all dispatch channels through-out the daytime hours. Perhaps another 996t user in the LA area could comment on their experience with reception before and after v2 update.

Finally I would like to add my wish list for the next version of hardware or software;

1) Being an OTR driver, I would really benefit from a being able to WX scan for any FIPS code without being in priority mode. A WX fips scan DND mode like Close Call DND mode has would be very nice. The 5 second band switch is really annoying and makes listening difficult on busy systems.

2) Double the memory! Currently I use ARC software with three profiles; "east coast", "west coast" and "muni" systems. The east / west coast profiles only contain the Public Safety systems for Highway Patrol using "control channel only" The Muni systems is for the local systems I program in when staying somewhere for the day or more.

Currently, I can only load one side of the Mississippi River at a time. Each time I cross back over the river, I delete the memory from the one side and reload the other side of the river. Since the 996t is aimed at serious mobile vehicle scanner users, it would be a compelling benefit to not have to clear and reprogram the scanner for coast-to-coast USA coverage.

3) Implement a new "User Control Display Screen" called "System Quick Key (QK) Menu" for user reference. Each of my Public Safety Systems has a unique QK regardless of which system profile it is kept in. While driving over state lines, I change from one system to another. Unfortunately, I can't always remember which "State" is which "QK #". It would be nice to be able to disable the current system using the present screen display and then call up a "look-up" screen to see the list of "QK #'s" with their associated System Names. Then enter the correct QK # and enable the desired system. NOTE: This would also be a great feature to look up Group Numbers with associated Group Names.

4) Add a 10db attentuation option. My experience with Digital System's Sites in a mobile environment is that the signals are very strong or very weak as I move down the highway. The effort to impement the GPS Location feature is time prohibitive for all the sites I scan across the USA. I toyed with the maximizing squelch and the site 20db attentuation feature and found that it is too strong for cutting out the distant weaker sites that dont decode well. The result is many missed desired closer in sites. Perhaps a 10db suppression would be a better solution for this need.

5) Implement "Data Skip" for non-conventional systems. Some systems send data bursts before voice; i.e., Kentucky State PS. Extremely annoying to listen to these bursts. I believe I still heard this in KY after V2 firmware update.

Hopefully Uniden will continue to provide updates to add scanning capabilities for new radio systems as they come along. So far, the only systems I have not been able to scan are those that are unscannable due to encryption, IP based systems or keyed based. Which add up to just 4 systems I have sought to scan.

With the latest version 2 update, I have gone from feeling "ripped-off" to extremely satisfied and thrilled with the 996t. Thanks again Uniden for backing this product, albiet slowly, but nevertheless you delivered in the end!
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