Anyone up for a challenge? BCD536HP WiFi Dongle clone?

ICP963

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I would love to see someone come up with a clone of the BCD536HP WiFi dongle for other scanners like the 396 & 996 series. The idea would be to use something like the Raspberry Pi that would connect to the scanner for control and audio and then send those signals out to software like Proscan via either Ethernet or WiFi.

I am running 10 different scanners and it is nice to only have one IP address to contend with for the 536 compared to trying to figure out what com port and what USB sound card each of the other 9 radios are on, especially after a reboot of the system after a windows update.

Currently running 2 296D's, a 780XLT, a 396XT, a 996T, a 996XT, a 996P2, 2 436HP's and a 536HP. (aslo have a HP1 that could be used as well.)

Any ideas out there? I'm OK at setting things up and with the idea end of it, but I am no programmer. :)
 

jonwienke

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I'm working on something exactly along those lines--a Raspberry Pi-based device to connect to multiple scanners and control them all simultaneously.
 

ICP963

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Keep me in mind if you need a beta tester. I have access to a Raspberry Pi 3 as well as several different PC's
 

Ubbe

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Isn't there a problem with the Proscan program that you still have to deal with USB ports as the LAN option isn't available together with scanner types that use com ports? The trial period have timed out for me so I cannot check if that have changed since the last time I where able to run Proscan.

/Ubbe
 

jonwienke

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ProScan LAN connection works fine with models that have it, for both audio streaming and control.
 

Ubbe

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The OP wanted to use LAN conections to scanners that only have a serial cable connection and sound card interface for audio.

But what I see are that the Proscan program does not support a LAN connection configuration for those scanner types.

Even if Proscan where modifed to handle a LAN configuration the RPi computer have to have USB soundcards and support USB serial connections to those scanners and supply a LAN connection with one IP adress for each scanner.

/Ubbe
 

ICP963

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The OP wanted to use LAN conections to scanners that only have a serial cable connection and sound card interface for audio.

But what I see are that the Proscan program does not support a LAN connection configuration for those scanner types.

Even if Proscan where modifed to handle a LAN configuration the RPi computer have to have USB soundcards and support USB serial connections to those scanners and supply a LAN connection with one IP adress for each scanner.
Proscan handles the 536 via LAN or WiFi quite well. What I would like to see is a device, something like jonwienke is working on, that the non 536 scanner would connect to for both data and audio and present itself to the network in the same manner that the 536 does with the WiFi dongle. Depending on how well the device worked Bob, the author of Proscan, might be able to add support.

One can hope, and if no one puts the idea out there than it might never get done. ScannerMaster has the Rangecast system that is similar, but VERY expensive at Rangecast Online Scanners | Home
 

ProScan

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if jonwienke or anyone else makes an interface box that converts the scanner serial port data and audio to Ethernet or Wi-Fi, I could work with them on ProScan support.

Isn't there a problem with the Proscan program that you still have to deal with USB ports as the LAN option isn't available together with scanner types that use com ports? The trial period have timed out for me so I cannot check if that have changed since the last time I where able to run Proscan.

/Ubbe
The only two scanners that have a LAN connection are the BCD536HP Wi-Fi and SDS200 Ethernet as you know. There's wasn't ever a problem with what you are describing.
 

Ubbe

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There's wasn't ever a problem with what you are describing.
As I understand RPi doesn't have any sound input circuitry and has to use external soundcards. There are cheap $10 USB soundcards in a little plastic box that can be used. I suppose those have stereo inputs, so could handle two scanners and then a couple of USB-RS232 adapter cables for the scanners. Using a USB hub could increase the number of USB ports to support more scanners from one RPi.

I'm glad to hear that there haven't been any issues with this. Hopefully someone will be able to complete this project then, that would be more or less a copy of the RangeCast product if Proscan support where added.

I am a bit concerned about most USB-RS232 cables doesn't use any ID or serial number for its USB identification, or use the exact same ID, and Whistler scanners USB interface doesn't do ID as well. So the problem with keeping the relationsship between USB ports and a specific scanner could still be an issue if the RPi are rebooted. But hopefully it wouldn't be done as frequent than on a Windows PC but probably a lot more cumbersome to edit and rectify on a RPi to restore to a proper configuration. One solution would be to use one RPi for each scanner, then it's no problem and also more easy to code and only an added cost of $50 for each scanner.

/Ubbe
 

ICP963

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if @jonwienke or anyone else makes an interface box that converts the scanner serial port data and audio to Ethernet or Wi-Fi, I could work with them on ProScan support. The only two scanners that have a LAN connection are the BCD536HP Wi-Fi and SDS200 Ethernet as you know. There's wasn't ever a problem with what you are describing.
Thanks Bob, that is exactly the answer I wanted to hear, and your willingness to help is what you have always displayed. It is the main reason why I have used Proscan for many years. You always try and give straight and reasoned answers to questions and have offered great customer service whenever I have needed it.
 

ICP963

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As I understand RPi doesn't have any sound input circuitry and has to use external soundcards. There are cheap $10 USB soundcards in a little plastic box that can be used. I suppose those have stereo inputs, so could handle two scanners and then a couple of USB-RS232 adapter cables for the scanners. Using a USB hub could increase the number of USB ports to support more scanners from one RPi.

I'm glad to hear that there haven't been any issues with this. Hopefully someone will be able to complete this project then, that would be more or less a copy of the RangeCast product if Proscan support where added.

I am a bit concerned about most USB-RS232 cables doesn't use any ID or serial number for its USB identification, or use the exact same ID, and Whistler scanners USB interface doesn't do ID as well. So the problem with keeping the relationsship between USB ports and a specific scanner could still be an issue if the RPi are rebooted. But hopefully it wouldn't be done as frequent than on a Windows PC but probably a lot more cumbersome to edit and rectify on a RPi to restore to a proper configuration. One solution would be to use one RPi for each scanner, then it's no problem and also more easy to code and only an added cost of $50 for each scanner.

/Ubbe
Most inexpensive USB sound cards only have a mono sound input, so one for each scanner would be needed along with a USB to serial adapter for scanners that do not have a USB port already. The RPi is a very stable platform. I run two 24/7, one running Cumulus for a weather station and a second one running ADSB software from FlightRadar24. The few times I have had to reboot them it was a simple matter to get them going again. There are scripts that people have written to automate the startup, but I haven't needed them so far.

RangeCast is way overpriced for the hobby market I believe and it still requires a PC to run on the server end. I think it may even be possible to use a RPI Zero to help keep the cost per scanner down. But once you had a clone and Proscan running the software is inexpensive $50 for two computers. Lots less expensive than $450 per scanner for Rangecast even figuring in the cost of the RPi and adapters.

I am please that this has started a discussion into the project and I am looking forward to seeing what develops.

It looks like Jackson Marshall Strand was developing something similar back in 2016 at http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1095&context=cscsp
 

jonwienke

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if jonwienke or anyone else makes an interface box that converts the scanner serial port data and audio to Ethernet or Wi-Fi, I could work with them on ProScan support.


The only two scanners that have a LAN connection are the BCD536HP Wi-Fi and SDS200 Ethernet as you know. There's wasn't ever a problem with what you are describing.
One of my design goals is to be able to control multiple scanners with a single device. Have a row of icons across the top of the screen that represents each scanner, and then one display area that shows system, site, department, channel, and the other common stuff. When there is no active transmission, tapping a scanner icon switches the detail display to that scanner. When a transmission comes in, the display automatically switches to the active scanner, unless another scanner is actively receiving that frequency, in which case the controller tells the second scanner to move along to the next channel. ProScan support would probably require converting to some kind of common format, or else creating a new virtual scanner model for the controller device. The second option would probably be better.

I also want to do a real AGC on digital audio passing through the controller.
 
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