Advice On the Uniden BCD996XT

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RadioDitch

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Hey all.

I'm seriously considering getting a new Uniden BCD996XT this coming month. Admittedly though, the thing that is holding me back is that I have no experience with trunked systems, and it seems a bit daunting to program.

Any of you with experience have any words that might enlighten me as to how easy or difficult it is with this model?

Thanks...
 

sjlamb

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Given you're lack of experience with trunking, I would say it all depends on whether you possess the wisdom to follow the often given advice to:

(1) Download and learn how to use the "Free Scan" programming software at ScanNow.org - The Home of FreeSCAN!

(2) Get a premium membership to this site so that you can download from the RR database directly into the new scanner.

(3) READ and take advantage of the wealth of information available on this site; much of it geared to new users.

(4) Be willing to invest the time to understand how the new DMA scanners work and exercise some level of patience as you navigate along the learning curve.

Doing all of the above, you will quickly grow from virgin status to experienced user.
 
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frankcastle

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Given you're lack of experience with trunking, I would say it all depends on whether you possess the wisdom to follow the often given advice to:

(1) Download and learn how to use the "Free Scan" programming software at ScanNow.org - The Home of FreeSCAN!

(2) Get a premium membership to this site so that you can download from the RR database directly into the new scanner.

(3) READ and take advantage of the wealth of information available on this site; much of it geared to new users.

(4) Be willing to invest the time to understand how the new DMA scanners work and exercise some level of patience as you navigate along the learning curve.

Doing all of the above, you will quickly grow from virgin status to experienced user.
A BIG DITTO! That is exactly what I did.
 

ka3jjz

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Let's expand a bit on item 3...

Our wiki has quite a bit of information that will get you going. In addition, the Uniden TWiki has more scanner-specific information on the XT models, but learning the older T models first will ease your progression. It's a short logical jump from the older T models to the XT

To get to our wiki, go to the blue toolbar upper right under the Scanner Master ad and float your mouse over wiki then select wiki homepage. We have several articles that I would recommend you read (there will be a test on Tuesday - don't worry, it's open book, hi). Note that all links, both here in the forums and in the wiki, are blue;

* In the Links for Newcomers section, read the Trunking Basics and Common Trunking Programming Questions. This will get your feet wet in thinking about how trunking works; you won't need to understand all the technical stuff (channel grants, failsoft, etc.) but you will need to understand why you program a trunk system a certain way, not just how

* In the Popular Topics section, read the Uniden DMA FAQ. At the bottom of this article are links to the 'Easier to Read' manuals. There's one for the older BCD996T - download it. As mentioned before if you get comfortable with the T model, the XT model is a short jump away.

* In the Gateways area, select 'Equipment and Software'. The software section has a direct link to the user guide for FreeScan.

* Finally, in the Popular Topics area, select 'Digital Trunktrackers'. Select the BCD996XT from the list. In the related pages section, the first link is the Uniden TWiki link for the XT. I would bookmark both this and our wiki's pages for future reference.

That should be enough. Time to get your favorite beveridge and start reading. It's much cheaper than buying a scanner you don't yet understand....73 Mike
 

SteveEJ

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I too knew nothing about trunking and how to set it up. I invested in ProScan since I wanted to listen to my scanner remotely. I also bought a premium membership here. Like said before me, learn your radio but that will not slow you down as the RR database and the software mentioned will have you listening in no time.. Have fun, read a little and enjoy!

Steve
 

Nightjock

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A big +1 to all of the above. I dialed in my 396XT with the help of the database and good folks here.

If you are patient and willing to learn a bit through trial and error, you'll be all set. Some describe the jump into DMA programming as frustrating. It can be, unless you like a challenge and enjoy the rewards of figuring it all out. Personally, I like a good geeky challenge.

Setting up your quick keys and groups JUST the way you want them becomes a separate hobby all to itself.

I see you want a 996XT. If we were in the same room, I'd steer you towards the 396XT for the versatility of where and how you can use it. (ON THE COUCH!) But I don't know you personally, so I'll leave it at that!

Enjoy your new toy.
 

frankcastle

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A big +1 to all of the above. I dialed in my 396XT with the help of the database and good folks here.

If you are patient and willing to learn a bit through trial and error, you'll be all set. Some describe the jump into DMA programming as frustrating. It can be, unless you like a challenge and enjoy the rewards of figuring it all out. Personally, I like a good geeky challenge.

Setting up your quick keys and groups JUST the way you want them becomes a separate hobby all to itself.

I see you want a 996XT. If we were in the same room, I'd steer you towards the 396XT for the versatility of where and how you can use it. (ON THE COUCH!) But I don't know you personally, so I'll leave it at that!

Enjoy your new toy.
I agree with that. Setting up the scanner, and learning how to use it is half of the fun. Then sitting back and enjoying listening to it is the other half. I also agree with the 396 vs 996. I like being able to have the scanner with me regardless of where I am rather than being stuck in a single location with it. For me, I take it to work everyday then set it up on my live feed broadcast. Then at the end of the day it goes home with me so I can listen to it there.
 

Brebuck

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Follow sjlamb's advice but above all, be patient and try not to become frustrated; things will work themselves out.
 

rasputen246

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For me, I take it to work everyday then set it up on my live feed broadcast
frankcastle, can you elaborate on this statement.
I think you mean to scan the same freq as your feed, but is there something I am missing here??? I would love to grab my feeds with my scanner but know of no way to do this.

I suspect you mean just monitor the freqs.
 

frankcastle

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frankcastle, can you elaborate on this statement.
I think you mean to scan the same freq as your feed, but is there something I am missing here??? I would love to grab my feeds with my scanner but know of no way to do this.

I suspect you mean just monitor the freqs.
I physically take my scanner to work with me. I plug it into my old office desktop computer, then run scannercast from it while I listen. That is why my feed is usually only online during my working hours. I just unplug it and take it with me at night when I go home.
 

ArtU

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I would like to add one other thing to think about that got me.

Find some way to listen to any trunked system you are interested in listening to before you buy. You may find what you want to listen to is not there anymore due to the way modern logistics works. My local suburb PubSrv and FD say very little. All the traffic is moved via data over the air to their laptops.

All I get is the pre-data heads up call, data is sent over the air while the radio is silent and the "DAT" light on; and then the affirmative reply that they got the message on the laptop.

But I still have fun with my 996XT on trips and other services.
 

sjlamb

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Find some way to listen to any trunked system you are interested in listening to before you buy. You may find what you want to listen to is not there anymore due to the way modern logistics works. My local suburb PubSrv and FD say very little. All the traffic is moved via data over the air to their laptops.

All I get is the pre-data heads up call, data is sent over the air while the radio is silent and the "DAT" light on; and then the affirmative reply that they got the message on the laptop.
What about at Fireground? Kinda hard to run "on-scene" fire ops via laptop.
 

ArtU

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What about at Fireground? Kinda hard to run "on-scene" fire ops via laptop.
We have not had a fireground fire that I am aware of in my area since I've had the scanner for a month. I'm not monitoring the big city fire ops only my suburb and I've only heard the following senerios:

Numbers are made up, I don't remember them.

"Engine group 12 is active on the call going to channel 2" (now I hear outside the fire house 5 major blocks down the road fire up the engine siren) DAT....DAT...DAT.. 10-4 "Now on Channel 2 in-route" ...DAT..DAT..DAT..Wait...

I hear the engines honk-honk-BLAIR-HONK-Honk-honk 3 blocks down the main road as they pass though the major intersection. "EMS will meet you engine 12".... "10-4"... DAT...Wait... I hear the sirens and honks fade into the distance outside.

That will be the end of it. If I also open up the County EMS freqs "I will hear them radio the hospital that they have 85 over 55 pressure, giving IV now" Since they followed the FD group to the home someone was fainting at. But I don't want to listen to all that EMS all over the county. I was only interested in what and where the engines where going to simply for local situational awareness.

The issue or reason engine 12 was leaving the firehouse, and where they were going is never talked about "generally". Once in a while the folks say things buts its rare.

Even worse is the technicle voice issues I am having with this Lucas County TRA talk group and how my 996XT is decoding them.

The longer the folks talk on voice, the higher the P25 error bar graph climbs in the freescan Monitoring tool. Once the error rate climbs past 1/2 the voices are garbled and then about 3/4 error rate on the bar graph the voices are pure junk and cut out.

Ironically my burb's Dispach is the loudest like another thread mentions, and is the worst with error rate; she errors out in garbled speak in about 6 secs or less; but she generally is not on the air for more the 4 secs at at time.

PD is like "Unit 12 to dispatch" she responds "Unit 12" in an affirmative voice. Unit 12 says "I have the Lady she is ok outside the house"..DAT...DAT..DAT "10-4" she says.

Or the other way around she says "Unit 6".....DAT...DAT...DAT...DAT..DAT... she might say "Unit 6" a second time.. Unit six gets in his car at the speedway down the street,looks at his screen and says one of two things:

1) "Got it on my way" ..DAT...DAT..DAT.. and she says "10-4".
2) Can you pass on to unit 86, I'm [garble] up at the trailer court [garble] with" he un-keys then ..DAT...DAT..DAT...
and she says "[garble]K pass [garble] to [garble]6"... DAT DAT DAT..wait..wait.. she keys up "[garble]it 86?"

Again no idea what unit 6 was called on to do, or what he was tied up at the trailer court with ;)
Notice part of the word unit 86 suffered a P25 error cut out and only heard the 6 part in her reply.
Single strength is 5 bars at all times.

One weekend night I'm going to record a evenings activities into a mp3 file and post it.
 
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sjlamb

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"Fireground" refers to operations at the scene of the fire or emergency incident.

You're missing the point.... No matter whether Police, Fire or EMS units.... once "on scene" they get out of vehicles and need to communicate via handhelds. They don't walk around with a laptop strapped to their hips. In fact, a very large portion of emergency communications takes place via hand-held units once units arrive at a scene and you should be able to hear all of those comms.

If not.... someone needs to show your local responders how to get their azzes outta the vehicle. You can't very well manage many emergencies from behind the wheel.

I'm also thoroughly convinced that your scanner's settings are screwed up for the system you're trying to monitor based on your own description of the way its' behaving.... especially with respect to error rates. Where are you located and what is the name of the agency system that you are trying to monitor?
 
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ArtU

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"Fireground" refers to operations at the scene of the fire or emergency incident.

You're missing the point.... No matter whether Police, Fire or EMS units.... once "on scene" they get out of vehicles and need to communicate via handhelds. They don't walk around with a laptop strapped to their hips. In fact, a very large portion of emergency communications takes place via hand-held units once units arrive at a scene and you should be able to hear all of those comms.

If not.... someone needs to show your local responders how to get their azzes outta the vehicle. You can't very well manage many emergencies from behind the wheel.

I'm also thoroughly convinced that your scanner's settings are screwed up for the system you're trying to monitor based on your own description of the way its' behaving.... especially with respect to error rates. Where are you located and what is the name of the agency system that you are trying to monitor?
Thanks, you could be entirely correct. However I download the settings from the RR database several times and also had to upgrade my firmware since it said the update corrected a PR25 decoding problem; but it didn't fix it.

Each TG in the RR database is inside the scanner and I activate what I want to listen to based on it.

I have listened to "all", "parts" and "some"; but the activities with real situational awareness and information of any real value is very rare compared to when the Burbs where all UHF channelized and I listened to them.
 

sjlamb

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Thanks, you could be entirely correct. However I download the settings from the RR database several times and also had to upgrade my firmware since it said the update corrected a PR25 decoding problem; but it didn't fix it.

Each TG in the RR database is inside the scanner and I activate what I want to listen to based on it.

I have listened to "all", "parts" and "some"; but the activities with real situational awareness and information of any real value is very rare compared to when the Burbs where all UHF channelized and I listened to them.
As I have already asked; without knowing where are you located and the name of the agency/system that you are trying to monitor, we could speculate all day to no avail.

ps... the RR database doesn't send you the precise settings that your local situation might require to properly monitor a system. I'm referring to Settings such as these:

System-
Status Bit: Yes
End Code: Ignore
Audio AGC: Digital-“On” Analog “On”

Site-
Hold Time : 0
Wait Time: 400 ms

Global-
P25 Adjust Mode: 3
P25 Adjust Level: 100
 
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ArtU

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As I have already asked; without knowing where are you located and the name of the agency/system that you are trying to monitor, we could speculate all day to no avail.

ps... the RR database doesn't send you the precise settings that your local situation might require to properly monitor a system. I'm referring to Settings such as these:

System-
Status Bit: Yes
End Code: Ignore
Audio AGC: Digital-“On” Analog “On”

Site-
Hold Time : 0
Wait Time: 400 ms

Global-
P25 Adjust Mode: 3
P25 Adjust Level: 100
Very good points, I sent you a PM
 

RadioDitch

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Thanks guys for the solid guidance. I'm in the process of getting the mobile in order. After having it for two years, I'm finally making all the cosmetic and mechanical changes, in addition to the permanent radio and antenna installs. All the ham gear plus scanner (to also be used in the base) since I travel long distances so frequently, and am also a railfan.

The BCD996XT is going to be a fantastic (and needed) addition to the gear.

Also, one of the places I go frequently on the railroad is Perryville in Cecil County, MD. Their PD countywide is 155.527.50FM. None of my current radios which do 12.5kHz steps seem to want to let me enter this frequency. I'm assuming because it's probably considered a 6.25kHz step by my gear for some reason. I really don't know/ The BCD996XT would be able to be programmed for this correct?
 
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ka3jjz

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That would be 155.5275 (no decimal on that last digit), and yes, the 996xt will handle it. Be sure to program this as NFM. I have this in my 396 when I travel up that way (on my way to NJ or to visit friends in the Philly area) and it works just fine. And that's the fire dispatch - the police in Cecil are totally unmonitorable (there is, as I understand it, someone who has put up a live feed utilizing a real ProVoice radio....)

73 Mike
 

RadioDitch

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So Cecil County PD Dispatch is using a ProVoice encryption or protocol. That sucks. Thanks guys.
 
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