Background of "Bearcat"

Status
Not open for further replies.

Jake68111

Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2010
Messages
406
Location
Morris, IL. (Grundy County)
Besides my HP-1 that I recently sold not long ago, the 536 is my first ever Uniden "Bearcat" scanner. I have mostly owned Radio Shack scanners and a few years back bought my first GRE scanner.

Picked up the 536 at the end of January and am wondering what the word "Bearcat" has to do with the scanner or with Uniden. Whats the significance of it? Why is it on the scanner?

Looked online and the Wiki here and haven't really found much.

Jake
 

W9BU

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
5,961
Location
Brownsburg, Indiana
Bearcat was a trade name used by an electronics company known as Electra who started building crystal-controlled scanners back int the 1970's. Uniden either bought Electra or bought Electra's scanner-related intellectual property (i.e. patents) and has continued to use the trade name.
 

W8RMH

Feed Provider Since 2012
Joined
Jan 4, 2009
Messages
7,993
Being a former Bearcat myself, I believe the name was more related to "Bear" as in (smokey the bear), a.e. listening to the police.
 

fxdscon

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
Messages
4,051
Besides my HP-1 that I recently sold not long ago, the 536 is my first ever Uniden "Bearcat" scanner. I have mostly owned Radio Shack scanners and a few years back bought my first GRE scanner.

Jake

Just as an FYI note, Uniden has made many of the Radio Shack branded scanner models over the years.

.
 

greggk

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 5, 2006
Messages
849
Location
York,PA
I just opened my recently acquired Regency (Bearcat) scanner like I had back in 1972. It was a rare find today in such excellent shape. Took the crystals out and will replace them, hopefully, with some new crystals to use here. It only scanned 8 channels, but back then that is all you really needed. FWIW :cool:


 

mrkelso

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 4, 2008
Messages
1,445
Location
NNJ
I just opened my recently acquired Regency (Bearcat) scanner like I had back in 1972. It was a rare find today in such excellent shape. Took the crystals out and will replace them, hopefully, with some new crystals to use here. It only scanned 8 channels, but back then that is all you really needed. FWIW :cool:



Nice find. Ebay?
 

greggk

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 5, 2006
Messages
849
Location
York,PA
Yes Sir. I went to Ebay one day to look for one, and I think only 2 came up. One was in terrible condition, where this one looked almost new. It had 5 crystals in it, but not picking up anything except an occasional airplane.

Who knows the history? Would be interesting to find out where it once lived.

Greg
 

Jake68111

Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2010
Messages
406
Location
Morris, IL. (Grundy County)
Good stuff here guys! Thanks for the knowledge.

GREGGK, you say Regency "Bearcat" scanner while W9BU says Electra held the "Bearcat" name now Uniden has it and FXDSCON says Uniden made some Radio Shack branded scanners. If that isn't enough to confuse someone, I don't know what is. :)

I just figured that if I'm going to be staring a that name for hours on end, for years to come, I might as well try to understand what's behind the name.
 

signal500

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 9, 2004
Messages
512
Location
Florida Panhandle
Besides my HP-1 that I recently sold not long ago, the 536 is my first ever Uniden "Bearcat" scanner. I have mostly owned Radio Shack scanners and a few years back bought my first GRE scanner.

Picked up the 536 at the end of January and am wondering what the word "Bearcat" has to do with the scanner or with Uniden. Whats the significance of it? Why is it on the scanner?

Looked online and the Wiki here and haven't really found much.

Jake
Electra Corporation; Cumberland, Indiana 46229, known as manufacturer of scanners and converters in the 1960's to 1980's. Later a division of Masco Corp. of Ind. Cumberland, Ind.

In 1983 Electra closed their facilities in Indiana and went to Mexico.

How did they came up with the name Bearcat? Just look at the 60's. The term 'Bear' comes from what law enforcement was called in the 60's and still is today on the CB radio. The term 'Cat' comes from the informal use of a man. (particularly among jazz enthusiasts). For example, "Hey, he is one cool cat".

So, if you want to hear the police (bear) and be cool (cat). You would buy a Bearcat.
 

fxdscon

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
Messages
4,051
Good stuff here guys! Thanks for the knowledge.

FXDSCON says Uniden made some Radio Shack branded scanners. If that isn't enough to confuse someone, I don't know what is. :)
GRE also made many Radio Shack scanners.


There is a section in the WIKI that lists the Radio Shack scanners made by Uniden, and those made by GRE.

check here:

Radio Shack Scanners - The RadioReference Wiki

.
 

W9BU

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
5,961
Location
Brownsburg, Indiana
So, if you want to hear the police (bear) and be cool (cat). You would buy a Bearcat.
This explanation and the one linking the company to the University of Cincinnati both make sense. Another remote possibility is that there may be some linkage to the Stutz Bearcat automobile from the 1920's. Stutz's were built in Indianapolis, which, of course, is just down the road from Cumberland, where Electra was located.

The Regency connection I'm not sure about. Regency was also located in the Indianapolis area. I wonder if they licensed the Bearcat design and trade name so they could also get into the scanner business.
 

fxdscon

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
Messages
4,051
The Regency connection I'm not sure about. Regency was also located in the Indianapolis area. I wonder if they licensed the Bearcat design and trade name so they could also get into the scanner business.
I believe Regency made the "Monitoradio" scanners, and was a competitor to Electra back then.

I seem to recall reading in an old publication by Bob Parnass that Uniden purchased the scanner lines from both Electra and Regency.

Not sure if Uniden ever produced a "Regency" branded scanner after that, and I don't believe there was ever a "Regency" manufactured scanner with the "Bearcat" name on it.



.
 
Last edited:

oracavon

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2010
Messages
393
Location
Orange County, CA
I believe Regency made the "Monitoradio" scanners, and was a competitor to Electra back then.

I seem to recall reading in an old publication by Bob Parnass that Uniden purchased the scanner lines from both Electra and Regency.

Not sure if Uniden ever produced a "Regency" branded scanner after that, and I don't believe there was ever a "Regency" manufactured scanner with the "Bearcat" name on it.

.
You are correct on most points. Regency was located at 7707 Records Street in Indianapolis. They were a competitor to Electra. Regency had the Monitoradio line, and Electra had the Bearcat line. Regency never used the name Bearcat.

Uniden eventually acquired both product lines. Shortly after acquiring Regency, Uniden did produce the Regency R1600 radio. I still have mine, with the "manufactured by Uniden" sticker on the back. The R1600 is the same radio as the BC760XLT, just in different a case with a different front panel.
 

scanchs

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 6, 2008
Messages
293
Location
SC Lowcountry
Memories...

Another difference between the early Electra Bearcat and Regency MonitoRadio brands was their superheterodyne design. They were based on two different intermediate frequencies. The crystals for Bearcat scanners were based on a 10.8 MHz intermediate frequency (IF) design. Regency, along with most other scanner manufacturers of the time (i.e., Fanon-Courier, Robyn, and Radio Shack, etc.) used a 10.7 MHz IF design. This meant that if you owned multiple brands, you had to keep your scanner crystals straight between the two IF designs, because one wouldn't work in the other.

Back in those days, the Bearcat scanners were slightly more expensive than their Regency counterparts, so Bearcats were considered the premium product. Where I lived at the time (just South of Indianapolis), Regency scanners were more common in police and fire departments, while Bearcat scanners were usually found in folks homes. I owned both brands, along with others, and found them all to be very similar in terms of sensitivity and selectivity. The old crystal controlled circuitry was a lot simpler to design and manufacture, so there were a lot more scanner brands to choose from.

History lesson concluded... :wink:

ScanCHS
 

K8LEA

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
113
Location
Youngstown, OH
I don't recall Regency putting "Bearcat" on anything, but who knows. I was "around" in the 70's :D....

(K8LEA is an "original" call, since the "N" fell off in about 1960.)

I had a Regency 8-channel hi-band only scanner (the mobile version) in the car for a while. Loved it. It was stolen, along with a 2M Heathkit with a GLB synthesizer on it. Somewhere around here is another 8-channel mobile only dual-bander. I'm not sure it works.

Back in the era when Regency was making a scanner like the one greggk posted,
,
I really wanted to get my hands on the variant of that which included a small hi-band (actually, 2M Ham use only from a legal standpoint) transmitter. The "TransScan" was nearly $400. Couldn't afford it then.

Somewhere between 1977 and 1984 (can't recall), I found one at a Hamfest. ("Flea Market" for Hams.) $25! The wife and I were at a very low point in our finances, and my budget for the day was about $50, so I didn't tell her that I needed about $50 worth of crystals to actually use the thing. (I also won a Bird Wattmeter, which was great - they were about $125 at the time, but they didn't include the Channel Element - another $40-ish component of the Bird - because they felt that whatever one they supplied would be "wrong".... (The Channel Element is specifically made for a particular frequency band and power level. The Regency, for example, was 144mhz and about 25 watts, so an Element that would be useful with that radio needed to be made for the hi-band and up to about 50 watts. You often bought a low-power version of the Element, too. VERY precise gadget for determining an SWR, and probably overkill for most Hams....)

Naturally, I didn't mention the $40 Element, either :D....

Anyway, I got the TransScan home and fired it up. The Bird wasn't "ready" yet, but a cheapie told me that the thing was only putting out a watt or two v.s. the 25 watts "advertised". Ten or 15 watts? I forget.

Turned out that somebody had screwdrivered the transmitter tuning for some reason. Five minutes and that was fine - nearly fried my dummy load.

One of the crystals in the thing covered a local repeater. Nothing.... I used a hand-held to see if the repeater was there, and it was. The Regency barely noticed it. OK, now I knew why it was so cheap. Receiver sensitivity was a precursor to Uniden's "Close Call" :D....

Since it was working at all, it seemed like a good idea to try to fix it. I called Regency and ordered up a couple manuals (less than $10). Something made me decide to look again, and I noticed a transistor on the receiver board with one lead sticking out away from it's body. This was not too nuts - transistors had hit the "nearly free" status level, and it was sometimes cheaper to just use one as a diode so that automatic insertion machines could install them too.

But they usually cut off the extra lead.... Looked some more, and there was definitely a solder pad there that the extra lead could be connected to. Ham Spirit being what it is, I had to try.... Right up to spec!

Crystalled it up, and used it for several years, until it started acting strangely. Regency used little push-in connectors (similar to a tube socket pin connector) to connect jumper wires all over the thing, and they eventually corrode a bit, and lose contact. Never did fix that - another radio took over....

The Regency had both 12VDC and 110VAC power capability. Kinda big for a car, but handy. Somebody'd hooked the 12V up wrong and blew out the protective circuitry. I never bothered to fix it - the 110V supply was fine.

Someday I might fix it :D.... It's still "here", two houses and at least 20 years later.... The Bird's here, too - overkill, but once you get used to one, very handy. The Bird gives you the actual wattage going "out", and lets you look at what's coming back.

I wonder if you can still get crystals.... :D

Regards,
 

AZScanner

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
3,352
Location
Somewhere in this room. Right now, you're very col
Interesting theories behind where the name comes from.

If you ask me, I'd say that the "Bearcat" in Uniden's scanner line refers to an animal, as evidenced by the paw print on the box. Here's a picture of a baby "Bearcat", which today goes by the name Binturong:



They actually get pretty big. I was surprised to see that this is an actual animal and not just some made up myth like the Jackalope.

Maybe Paul can chime in with the "official" story of where the name came from. ;)

-AZ
 

captncarp

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 25, 2005
Messages
371
Location
North River, NY. USA
BEARCAT

The owner of Electra was a big collector of STUTZ BEARCAT cars and picked the name BEARCAT I for the first scanner in the line.
My first scanner was a Bearcat II.

DMC
 

greggk

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 5, 2006
Messages
849
Location
York,PA
I don't recall Regency putting "Bearcat" on anything, but who knows. I was "around" in the 70's :D....

(K8LEA is an "original" call, since the "N" fell off in about 1960.)

I had a Regency 8-channel hi-band only scanner (the mobile version) in the car for a while. Loved it. It was stolen, along with a 2M Heathkit with a GLB synthesizer on it. Somewhere around here is another 8-channel mobile only dual-bander. I'm not sure it works.

Back in the era when Regency was making a scanner like the one greggk posted,
,
I really wanted to get my hands on the variant of that which included a small hi-band (actually, 2M Ham use only from a legal standpoint) transmitter. The "TransScan" was nearly $400. Couldn't afford it then.

Somewhere between 1977 and 1984 (can't recall), I found one at a Hamfest. ("Flea Market" for Hams.) $25! The wife and I were at a very low point in our finances, and my budget for the day was about $50, so I didn't tell her that I needed about $50 worth of crystals to actually use the thing. (I also won a Bird Wattmeter, which was great - they were about $125 at the time, but they didn't include the Channel Element - another $40-ish component of the Bird - because they felt that whatever one they supplied would be "wrong".... (The Channel Element is specifically made for a particular frequency band and power level. The Regency, for example, was 144mhz and about 25 watts, so an Element that would be useful with that radio needed to be made for the hi-band and up to about 50 watts. You often bought a low-power version of the Element, too. VERY precise gadget for determining an SWR, and probably overkill for most Hams....)

Naturally, I didn't mention the $40 Element, either :D....

Anyway, I got the TransScan home and fired it up. The Bird wasn't "ready" yet, but a cheapie told me that the thing was only putting out a watt or two v.s. the 25 watts "advertised". Ten or 15 watts? I forget.

Turned out that somebody had screwdrivered the transmitter tuning for some reason. Five minutes and that was fine - nearly fried my dummy load.

One of the crystals in the thing covered a local repeater. Nothing.... I used a hand-held to see if the repeater was there, and it was. The Regency barely noticed it. OK, now I knew why it was so cheap. Receiver sensitivity was a precursor to Uniden's "Close Call" :D....

Since it was working at all, it seemed like a good idea to try to fix it. I called Regency and ordered up a couple manuals (less than $10). Something made me decide to look again, and I noticed a transistor on the receiver board with one lead sticking out away from it's body. This was not too nuts - transistors had hit the "nearly free" status level, and it was sometimes cheaper to just use one as a diode so that automatic insertion machines could install them too.

But they usually cut off the extra lead.... Looked some more, and there was definitely a solder pad there that the extra lead could be connected to. Ham Spirit being what it is, I had to try.... Right up to spec!

Crystalled it up, and used it for several years, until it started acting strangely. Regency used little push-in connectors (similar to a tube socket pin connector) to connect jumper wires all over the thing, and they eventually corrode a bit, and lose contact. Never did fix that - another radio took over....

The Regency had both 12VDC and 110VAC power capability. Kinda big for a car, but handy. Somebody'd hooked the 12V up wrong and blew out the protective circuitry. I never bothered to fix it - the 110V supply was fine.

Someday I might fix it :D.... It's still "here", two houses and at least 20 years later.... The Bird's here, too - overkill, but once you get used to one, very handy. The Bird gives you the actual wattage going "out", and lets you look at what's coming back.

I wonder if you can still get crystals.... :D

Regards,
Actually, I just looked at mine closely. Its been sitting in a secure closet in 3 pieces while I order some crystals.

Mine does NOT say "bearcat" on it. It is a Regency, and the bottom panel says "Monitoradio / Executive Scanner"

Sorry about the confusion. I thought it had Bearcat on it somewhere. :confused: However, it looks exactly like my first scanner in 1972, and I remember it saying "Monitoradiio / Executive Scanner" as well.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top