Analog and APCO-25 mixed systems

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twhitson

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I'm mulling over the purchase of a new mobile scanner, and I see that most of the trunking systems I monitor are "mixed" analog and APCO-25 systems (Viper, Char/Meck, Forsyth). My question is this; will I need to get the BCD996 in order to hear the APCO-25 stuff, or can I save 300 bucks on the BCT-15 because the APCO-25 is currently broadcast analog? I realize in a few years this may be a moot point, but by then I'll have won either the Megamillions or Powerball and money won't be an object. I also almost never use "close call", or "search" features; I pretty much know what I wanna hear.

I might also mention that I already have a BCD396 portable; I just like having a mobile scanner in my car for convenience and not always dragging it in and out and constantly unplugging antenna/speaker/power/USB cables to get it in the house. The BCT-15x meets my feature-set requirement but doesn't do digital which I believe is the main feature of the 996.
 

ILMRadioMan

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Apco 25 is not analog. What you see in viper is some TGs transmit in analog, some in digital. But never both on the same TG. So if the TG on any system is apco 25 digital you will need a digital scanner. The 996 is one, there are others.
 

twhitson

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I guess what I meant with the "analog" reference was, that it might be rebroadcast in analog by the towers, otherwise unless I am incorrect, analog TGs couldn't cross communicate with digital (or APCO-25) talk groups. I thought perhaps it was a transition until the system goes all digital in a few years.
 

KE4ZNR

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I guess what I meant with the "analog" reference was, that it might be rebroadcast in analog by the towers, otherwise unless I am incorrect, analog TGs couldn't cross communicate with digital (or APCO-25) talk groups. I thought perhaps it was a transition until the system goes all digital in a few years.
Of course the finial decision is yours, but I would strongly advise against purchasing an "analog only" scanner for use in NC these days. Especially in areas in which VIPER has some presence. I know the radio budget only goes so far and times are tight but a digital capable scanner is a must for public safety monitoring. If it makes you feel any better, any digital capable scanner you purchase today should last you a few years (at least) thanks to upgradable firmware. :)
There are only a few times when I recommend an analog only scanner:
1) to compliment a digital capable scanner you already own (I still use my Uniden BC246T alongside my Uniden BCD396XT).
2) If you only want to monitor services outside of Public Safety (ie: Aircraft, Marine, Railroads)
Hope this helps!
Marshall KE4ZNR
 

twhitson

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Well I'm guessing the 996 is a must then, esp as more counties move to VIPER. Pretty soon, I'm guessing the system will eventually go encrypted for the "privacy" to keep "scanner chasers" away, esp with the whole terrorist/ post 9-11 thing as well as medical concerns with the HIPPA privacy act. Funny, in my 17 years as a paramedic, I dont remember encountering any problems with private citizens "chasing" scanner calls and I have only ever heard of a handful of criminals using scanners to watch for police. You'd have to be pretty sophisticated to do that.
 

KE4ZNR

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Well I'm guessing the 996 is a must then, esp as more counties move to VIPER. Pretty soon, I'm guessing the system will eventually go encrypted for the "privacy" to keep "scanner chasers" away, esp with the whole terrorist/ post 9-11 thing as well as medical concerns with the HIPPA privacy act. Funny, in my 17 years as a paramedic, I dont remember encountering any problems with private citizens "chasing" scanner calls and I have only ever heard of a handful of criminals using scanners to watch for police. You'd have to be pretty sophisticated to do that.
Just a couple of clarifications:
1) You want to consider a BCD996XT as the 996t is now a discontinued radio. :)
The BCD996XT has a ton of great additional features over the original 996t.
2) Hold off on the "Doom and gloom" of encryption. As of now, sure there are encrypted talkgroups here and there but the majority of communications on VIPER are unencrypted digital. So no need to stress about stuff like that. :)
Let us know when you get your BCD996XT and we will help you
get it up and running!
Happy (unencrypted) Monitoring!
Marshall KE4ZNR
 

KM4WLV

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I agree here, a digital is the way to go. I've been putting it off here in Salisbury (Rowan County) for a while but the way it looks we are moving to an all digital system also by 2013.

Best to make the investment now (IMO) rather than buying one scanner now knowing it will have to be replaced probably sooner than later.
 

twhitson

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any digital capable scanner you purchase today should last you a few years (at least) thanks to upgradable firmware.
why is that?
Most radios today (newer scanners included) are software defined; meaning most parameters (frequency range, certain modulation types, channel spacing etc) are "defined" by the firmware, which if upgradeable means newer standards can be readily adapted to pre-existing radios; as long as the hardware will run it. Not a panacea, but as primary users (public safety and others) of radio equipment are having to stretch hardware replacement times it is a big selling point for manufacturers that current hardware will be adaptable should some new FCC ruling or technology come out within a couple years.
 
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