A Few Scanner Questions..

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Twistabister

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Hello, I'm a long time amateur radio operator and scanner enthusiast.. I had a Radio Shack digital trunking scanner back in 2003 that I managed to program with win96.. It wasn't fun. I returned the scanner within the 30 day period out of frustration and haven't had anything since then..

I would like to purchase a BCD396xt or a PSR-500... Is either one easier to program or is one any better than the other for the $47 difference? Does anyone recommend paying the 70 bucks for programming or would it be just as easy or cheaper to get a premium membership and the software and do it myself?

I am in Bucks County \ Levittown PA area and need a digital trunking scanner..

Any advice would be appreciated as I would like to order sometime today..

Thanks!
 

captclint

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I would like to purchase a BCD396xt or a PSR-500... Is either one easier to program or is one any better than the other for the $47 difference?
FreeSCAN is FREE for Uniden, and highly recommended.
Does anyone recommend paying the 70 bucks for programming or would it be just as easy or cheaper to get a premium membership and the software and do it myself?
Definitely better to do your own programming. especially since you can select exactly what you want to download from this site. GRE programs are not free, but well worth the money. I like Butel ARC. Software such as these not only make programming easier, but they help you learn about all the features of the radio. I wouldn't leave home without it :)
As far as Uniden vs GRE, the general consensus is Uniden has more features, but GRE has better sensitivity for reception. However, that comes with a price if you live in the city, or near radio or cell towers. GRE easily overloads in the presence of strong signals.
 
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Twistabister

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CaptClint.. Thanks for the reply...

After much reading, I'm leaning towards the PSR 500.. The Uniden has a few more features but I don't think its anything I would even use or know how to use..

The sensitivity thing has me a little concerned but I don't live in the city and I don't think anyone can say they don't live near a cell tower so hopefully this wont be an issue...

I agree with you about the programming.. This will be a good way to get to know the scanner when I get it, plus it will save me $70..

Thanks again...
 

gmclam

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Hello, I'm a long time amateur radio operator and scanner enthusiast.. I had a Radio Shack digital trunking scanner back in 2003 that I managed to program with win96.. It wasn't fun. I returned the scanner within the 30 day period out of frustration and haven't had anything since then..
Welcome to the modern world of scanning and RadioReference.com. Hopefully you've been doing some homework since back then.

I would like to purchase a BCD396xt or a PSR-500... Is either one easier to program or is one any better than the other for the $47 difference?
I'd go with the PSR-500 hands down. The software I'd use to program it is WIN500 (www.starrsoft.com). As you've pointed out in a later post, Unidens have features, GREs have performance. Some people complain about overloading GREs, but that's a mixed bag and there is usually some reason for it (an outdoor antenna, close to a transmitter, an inline amplifier, etc).

Does anyone recommend paying the 70 bucks for programming or would it be just as easy or cheaper to get a premium membership and the software and do it myself?
What is your goal? To get the scanner programmed so you can listen? To spend as little $ as possible? To totally take the plunge into this hobby? Or?

A lot about the decision of programming yourself depends on the specific stuff or system(s) you want to monitor. If they are a bunch of conventional frequencies, it can be "simple". If you have a trunked system or two, more complicated. Some digital stuff, even more complicated. If you don't need digital, the PSR-300 is much easier to program. But the Object-Oriented-Programming used by the PSR-500 is the way to go for monitoring many (complex) modern systems.

If I wanted to listen now, don't have the time to learn the scanner enough to program it, and money is not an issue; I'd spend the $70 to have ScannerMaster program it for you. That will cover one county. Then I'd ALSO get the programming cable (~$35 @ Radio Shack) and WIN500 ($30). Then I'd download from the scanner and see how it was programmed. From there you can edit and modify to your heart's content.

But by far, just like learning to drive a stick shift is more difficult than an automatic but more rewarding in the end, the BEST thing to do is LEARN the scanner, how to program it, and do it yourself. The RR subscription will enable you to "import" frequencies, talkgroups and alpha tags; but you'll still want to edit those to suit your own taste.
 
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jclarkr6

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Another vote for the BCD396XT and FreeScan!

I think my BCD396XT is a great scanner and I use FreeScan (which is FREE) to program it when I feel the need to use software. To be honest though, I usually just program my scanner by hand. I feel that programming a scanner by hand allows the user to become more familiar with the scanner and it also allows the user to make changes to the scanner programming when the software is unavailable.

If you haven't read it already, Scannermaster did a great comparison between the BCD396XT and the GRE PSR-500, check it out here: Uniden Bearcat BCD396XT Police Scanner Radio. Just scroll down the page to read the comparison. I should note that I would recommend purchasing a scanner from Scannermaster (free shipping during December). I have purchased my last two scanners and many of my scanner accessories from Scannermaster and I have been happy with their service.

I would caution you against having someone else program your scanner. I have spoken to several people who let Scannermaster or another company program their scanner and they were not happy with the results of the programming, especially since it is so expensive. When it comes to programming your scanner, it seems as though "If you want it done right, then you must do it yourself." Plus, taking the time to program your scanner will allow you to become more familiar with your new scanner.
 

rvictor

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My personal choice was a BCD396XT and then, in addition, a BC346XT. My preferences for software are FreeScan and ProScan.

Regardless of which scanner and which software, I'd urge you to learn to program it yourself to get full enjoyment out of whatever you decide to buy. Programming is a work in progress and you'll want to be able to make changes. May as well learn now. Besides programming helps one to understand how the scanner operates.

Dick
 

Twistabister

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Guys, Thanks again for all the responses.. I decided to go with the PSR-500 and I will program it myself... I'm still deciding on which software to use I need to think fast because the tracking info says I'll be getting it today.. Scannermaster ships free...and fast!
 

gmclam

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and scanner master is 70 per county....i live within hearing distance of 6 counties....saved myself $400
LOL - 6 x $70 = $420, not $400.

I am generally listening within a 100 mile radius. It is a lot more than 6 counties. Our local PBS station indicates they broadcast to 28 counties; which I find interesting since there are only 58 in the entire state. For 28 X $70 you can buy a LOT of scanners.
 

trap5858

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I'm not sure where you are in Bucks County but it isn't that big a place, I'd be happy to lend a hand. I live in Bucks also. I have a Pro-106 which is the same as the PSR-500. I use Win 500 software and after a little practice, it is easy to use.
 
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