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BCD-396t one year old. Report

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yaesumofo

Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2003
Messages
314
Location
los Angeles
Ok Guys It has been about a year give or take a bit since the 396 fell into our hands.
How is yours working for you?
How full is it?
Does it meet your needs?
What is missing?
Are you experiencing any problems?
How would you improve it?

For me the radio is working great. I an convinced that this is the best radio out there at the moment.
I use mind daily in Los Angeles. The situation here is pretty fluid. frequencies change often and the 396 with a decent software package is easy to adopt to these changes.
My radio is 65% full. The dynamic memory system is great. I have several cities that I travel to programmed in as well.
The 396 does meet my scanning needs. So did my pro 43 for a while. (On a side note I am sure bill cheek would have loved the 396, it really does contain many of the features he worked so hard to implement via various hacks into the pro 2006 radio and a whole bunch more.) MY RADIO PERFORMES well. I think the audio circuits could be better. this is very noticeable when ear phones are used. generally the radio has plenty of sensitivity and works great. I never hear intermod and the close call feature has really changes the way I monitor when I am close in to an event or action.

What would I change it? For the most part i am thrilled with the 396. In a next gen radio I would add a second receiver. I would make the audio circuit better. I would add a scope feature which shows channel activity or activity within an upper and lower frequency. I would add a mini or micro sd memory chip slot. GPS? Don't need it unless it is completely integrated into the radio. There are trunking improvements which i know some people want.
I suspect that we may see more "software defined radio" type features in the next generations of scanners. I am all for that since many RF filters can be applied and audio may be improved.

All In all I have been very happy with the 396. It is very rugged. It has held up to the rigors of the abuse I have given it about as well as any of my amateur radio Ht's. Much to my surprise.

I give the BCD396T good marks after one year. We have had a couple of software revisions which were major improvements. I suspect that will stop now. I doubt that Uniden will be willing to pay for continued development of the 396 platform.
Development into the next hand held must be moving along at a good pace by now. I hope they read this thread and others like which mention the features we need in a next generation TrunkTracker V.
Good luck and happy scanning.
Yaesumofo
 

kg4pbd

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
791
I've had mine for nine months now and I still love it. The steep learning curve has the unexpected benefit of it not getting boring to play with. I can still find things out I didn't realize I could do with it, mainly search functions.

It works great overall. I've had limited exposure to digital systems, mainly when traveling so I can't say a whole lot about that. The single greatest thing for me is the integration between the radio, Arc396, and the database here. As a result every system I've so easily added for traveling has stayed in the radio and I'm about 75% full. So the memory capacity is plenty for my use. The system/group setup is great now that I'm past the banks block in my mind. I'll probably never go back to RS scanners just because of that.

I'd love an internal recorder, kind of a tivo like device where I can pause and backup. That would be more useful to me than the ability to record lengthy periods.

Not much I can complain about. Barring any unforseen event this radio should continue working well for another few years.
 

RoninJoliet

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2003
Messages
2,825
Location
ILL
Using 396 for one week

Thanks for printing your thoughts of a year of use. Been in scanning 35 years and using the 245,246,898,Pro96,2096 and now the 396. My thoughts: audio is loud but has a funny raspy static in the backround that does effect the trunking systems (analog) at times. Does not seem as sensative as others mentioned using stock,RS stock antenna, RD9 ham antenna comparing to other models. Very easy to program even by hand . Analog AGC does not change audio.I received 1.09.00ver, will installing 1.11.03 make any audio difference...Will i loose what i have programmed in if i install new firmware? Its a great radio as is the 246 with the NEW WAY of programming but i still like the audio and great digital on the PRO96....Ron in Joliet IL
 

wrngnmbr6

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2005
Messages
0
Location
Ocala, Florida
RoninJoliet said:
Thanks for printing your thoughts of a year of use. Been in scanning 35 years and using the 245,246,898,Pro96,2096 and now the 396. My thoughts: audio is loud but has a funny raspy static in the backround that does effect the trunking systems (analog) at times. Does not seem as sensative as others mentioned using stock,RS stock antenna, RD9 ham antenna comparing to other models. Very easy to program even by hand . Analog AGC does not change audio.I received 1.09.00ver, will installing 1.11.03 make any audio difference...Will i loose what i have programmed in if i install new firmware? Its a great radio as is the 246 with the NEW WAY of programming but i still like the audio and great digital on the PRO96....Ron in Joliet IL

I was starting to think that raspy static with the audio was in my head. I agree with your post 100% as I mainly monitor a analog system at this time. I do seem to favor my Pro-96 over the 396T mainly because of the audio. And no the other firmwares won't make any difference with audio as I tried all 3.You won't loose anything you have programmed.
 

MysticalOS

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Messages
79
Location
Collins, GA
I enjoy mine for most part, i own 2 but one is currently at uniden repair for a broken antenna connector from a years use of connecting and unconnecting external antenna's. (The two metal leads inside the pine hole on top of connector get lose over time i noticed and eventually on mine they started sliding out and reduced the contact and signal strength.)

Better APCO audio decoding and less motorboating.

Would like to see the end result of the digital end code feature (beta of it is in current firmware)

An option to quick save a freq to a specific system. IE I have closecall on, Find a freq but when i quick save have it ask "choose a system" or something, instead of just creating a new system called quick saves...

Couple 996 features i definately want to see:

Multi site trunking. With many multi site smartzones now, a lot of my systems have to be programed as seperate systems because although they work programed together, with a smart zone you need to choose what tower you want on the fly if you want to hear particular traffic...

Close Call DND. Like the feature, hate the interuptions..
 

loumaag

Silent Key - Aug 2014
Joined
Oct 20, 2002
Messages
12,911
Location
Katy, TX
Well I have had mine for a little over 13 months now and it is my favorite "pick up and go" scanner. The reason; it is easier to switch from system to system and pick and choose what I want to hear at a particular time than any other scanner I own. Yes, I know it takes two hands but since I have two so that works. I have really no complaints about the radio in general (of course the stock antenna is crap). I also find it easier to program (by hand) than any other radio I own. I do wish that there was a way quickly capture a CTCSS or DCS when a conventional frequency is programmed in the search mode, but I survive with having to set it by hand.
 

nyscan

Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2004
Messages
264
I notice a few complaints about the stock antenna. Is there another multi-band, rubber duck type antenna that is better?
 

WayneH

Forums Veteran
Super Moderator
Joined
Dec 16, 2000
Messages
7,464
Location
Sitting in an airport somewhere
396: Jack of all trades, master of NONE

Time to break free from the pack...

Mine is collecting dust. I rarely use mine anymore. When I first got it I eventually got over the "learning curve" and programmed it up with everything. That's the thing, I wanted to listen to more since I had more space and with that I missed out on more because of more channels and all the little delays the scanner has. There are tons of little things that bother me about the 396 so it only comes out when I really need it. Thankfully I don't listen to a lot of digital either as the performance still doesn't satisfy me. My GREs do it right, and I won't accept anything less, anytime for any agency.

I enjoy the simplicity of the 2096, the 96 or the 97's SSII. Remembering what's in 10 banks is easy, remembering 80+ system keys isn't.

-Wayne
 

GTO_04

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 10, 2004
Messages
1,778
One Year Review

Overall I'm happy with mine. I like the dynamic memory, the small size and the blue backlight. It has plenty of audio for my needs. And the audio quality is very good, even on digital systems.

I didn't use it much for the first nine or so months because the AGC didn't work and I got the EDACS beeps after P25 transmissions in another system. The firmware upgrade made both problems much less prominent and changed the performance from unacceptable to pretty good. I do get the EDACS beeps sometimes, but much less frequently, so it is not a big issue. The AGC works much better now after the latest firmware upgrade.

There are a few things I would like to see changed. There is still some machine gunning and that needs to be reduced/ eliminated. Some days I get enough it is annoying. Other days I don't get much at all. But it does not keep me from using it. The welcome screen stays on too long! That is very annoying and I wish I could disable it! I know what scanner I am using and don't need a reminder LOL!

I also own a Pro-96. It is very good, and a little better at digital decoding than the 396. But the difference is not significant after the 396 firmware upgrade. The 396 is easier to program without an owners manual than the 96 or any other scanner I have. If I am in an area with very heavy radio traffic and want to stop on a TG to listen to something important, it is much easier to do with the 396 than the Pro 96.

Everything I listen to is 800 MHz and IMHO the Pro 96 is only slightly more sensitive than the 396. There are no EDACS beeps on the Pro 96 though in fringe areas like there are with the 396.

Overall I am glad I got the 396. And Uniden's product support has been excellent, thanks to UPman.

GTO_04
 

wjf

Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Messages
483
Location
Witness Protection Program
nyscan said:
I notice a few complaints about the stock antenna. Is there another multi-band, rubber duck type antenna that is better?

Not that I've found. The stock antenna does well for anything below 800 mhz. For serious 800 mhz listening, I've found success with the RS 800 antenna ($17.00).
 

joetnymedic

Member
Joined
May 30, 2003
Messages
746
Location
West Haven, CT
I've had mine for a few months now and I love it. I also have several other scanners pro 89, bc296, bct 7, bc278clt, and a pro 2067. I got used to the 296, but find myself taking the 396 more often now. I still like the 296 and take it with me quite often. I'd add a way to search for fire tones and maybe a way that if the scanner is in scan mode, the tones would kick in-almost like a priority channel thing. but other than that. I think this scanner is awesome. As for the GPS thing. I personally think thats more bad than good. but thats just me. We'll see how I like it a few more months down the road.

Joe
 

MysticalOS

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Messages
79
Location
Collins, GA
Another thing i noticed is I do think it's still kind of bad at receiving transmissions from adjacent bands too easily. Like today i was programming in a bunch of freqs that a uniden walkie (22 channels) use into scanner for the convience since we use that at work too. And i was very disapointed that the 396T does too bad of a job with it to be useable. The channels are seperated only by 0.0250 steps, now the uniden walkie isn't very powerful, but the 396T still was very often locking onto the wrong channel with 1-2 bar strength when it should be locking onto the right channel with full strength...IE the walkie would be on channel 12, and occation the scanner would pick up 11 or 13 with weak signals because those programed freqs were so close to the desired band....Since the walkie is a uniden product too, if you guys read this thread, find one in your stock and do some testing you'll see what i mean ;)
 

b52hbuff

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
1,585
Location
Los Altos, CA
I still love mine. It's my daily carry. As others have said the flexibility and size of memory means that I can program it for a special event (e.g. airshow) and still have my home systems setup.

I still have some minor gripes about the unit (e.g. multi-site trunking, close call dnd, display modes) that are all addressed in the 996.

I keep wondering how Uniden will make a compelling followup that will motivate me to part with ~$550....
 

WX4JCW

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 26, 2006
Messages
2,398
Location
All Over USA
How is yours working for you?
Works Extremely Well, bit of a learning curve but thats half the fun

How full is it?
Depends on where i am traveling

Does it meet your needs?
Yes

What is missing?
Multi Site Trunking, Fire Tones on Talkgroups

Are you experiencing any problems?
none

How would you improve it?
see whats missing, display options (Screen Color, Reverse Display)
 

SCPD

Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
I am amazed no one has included the 996 feature of the temporary lockout should be put into the 396. This is one handy feature, specially when you are out there nutting out systems, and you need to get rid of some of the stuff you may normally listen to. Locking it out till the next time you turn the unit on is a great idea if you ask me..
 

KC1UA

Scan New England Guru
Database Admin
Joined
Oct 27, 2002
Messages
1,586
Location
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
I griped about the audio "problem" since day one, and actually wound up returning the first one I bought because of it. I find the "raspy" sound to be more prevalent at low volumes, and semi-unpleasant to listen to. Quite a few people here thought I was hearing things when I made the observation, but I've heard the same thing on at least 3 others as well, to include the one I now own. I tend to use an external speaker whenever possible, which reduces portability of course but eliminates the problem. I wondered why the 246T sounded very good yet the 396T did not. No answers.

That aside, I love the 396T and it pretty much goes where I do. I'd love to see it incorporate some of the 996T's features but it's my understanding that this might not be able to be possible due to the capacity of the EPROM (or something similar, please correct me if I'm wrong). The one feature I'd like to have in the 396T is the 996T's display feature that allows the viewing of both frequency and either talkgroup or subaudible tone. The temp lockout is a big winner also and would be a nice addition.

It's been a while since a firmware upgrade has come along for this radio. Any updates UPMan?
 

DaveIN

Founders Curmudgen
Database Admin
Joined
Jan 5, 2003
Messages
6,508
Location
West Michigan
I enjoy using my 396 every day. The size of this radio and features makes it the best grab and run of any in my collection, and battery life has been fantastic. I also like the BC246T for many of the same reasons, but the search and scan and digital audio (not to mention the encryption noise bypass) is excellent on the MPSCS MI statewide system. There are many options to optimize the digital and analog audio including AGC. The speaker may be too small for some but it does the job for me. An amplified external speaker is always an option for handheld's used far a base or mobile operation.

For those who want simplicity or have trouble programming a VCR or DVD recorder, the newer Uniden dynamic memory scanners may not be the best choice, but once you learn how to use the dynamic memory and menu/scroll control functions, the benefits can't be beat.

I agree that the supplied antenna is not the greatest, but if your going to spend ~$500 on a radio you should look into an antenna that is optimized for the band your interested in monitoring.

Signal Stalker II on the latest Radio Shack scanners works similar to the Optoelectronics Scout, but the Close Call features are so much better and can be used at the same time with scanning.

If you want to just listen for your local fire calls and not be disturbed by chatter the Fire tone out function works great in place of a home monitor or Motorola Minitor pager.

I don't think the 396 is perfect , it has some trunking issues and quirks that still need to be addressed, but it is a lot closer than the competition is for my everyday use, one year and counting.
 

TDHG4U61

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Joined
Sep 19, 2003
Messages
136
Location
Denver, Colorado
Every radio has a story to tell, so here is mine.
Got mine around 9 months ago about the same time others did and taken it for a test drive using four handheld antennas. As for the stock beltclip I dont like it. I make my own leather cases with a stainless steel clip, dont need the radio that far from my belt. I assume most people want to listen to trunked systems, hey, (a trunk in your pocket). Not to get off the subject but I am the type of person who dont like radios on the belt advertising, so what the heck, its a 396T. I live in metro Denver, picked up a dozen AA cells and headed to a shopping center but somehow press a button and no systems were scanning, worried, thought I'd deleted all the data (nothing-to-scan). Got it going again so I had lunch at Arbys and conducted a audio & signal test and the results were super great, but the audio was not that good on the streets. In a metro area, Denver comes in with static, but the surrounding major cities is better including DTRS & Aurora. The Uniden stock antenna I used was so so, the Comet tri-band 7inch whip was 50%, I had a 2m/440 (bullet) stubby antenna it was poor. For years I have a small (pencil-type) 1inch stubby antenna that a good friend let me have and been using, the BEST on 800mhz but as for Denver, its the Uniden radio that makes the signal poor. Batteries - regardless of NiMi cells my favorates are alkalines and they last longer. In a nutshell, I think that the 396T should be improved. Small is not always the best way to go, just to be the first in a little scanner in size. 1) The biggest complaint - I would like to see a radio with a 4-cell battery and maybe they will last longer. 2) Signal strenght should be improved on 800mhz. 3) Audio should be better but some places I go to it does me fine but remember, you get what you paid for and to expect that in a small radio so I'm 50/50. I got the radio because a friend of mine loved it . Its a nice radio DEPENDING on what you are going to use it for so I got one, but if the next future model that comes out will be the same size I will not buy another one until the above are fixed. Amos
 
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oritpro

Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
72
Location
Portland, OR
Love it! The best radio I have ever purchased and I listen to it daily.

My only complaint is the 200 TGID limit, I hit this just the other day and had to re-organize. Our local public transit system uses the same trunking system as public safety, and it was taking up a lot of slots just so I could lock them out.

For the most part, I monitor conventional and Motorola Type II so I am not sure how well APCO or LTR works on this radio.

An expensive radio but worth every penny.
 
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