BCD-396T vs PSR=500

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Code20Photog

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I know this topic has probably come up many times before, but I'm looking to buy one or the other, and features aside, wanted some help on what would best suit me.

I'm a TV news photographer, and I'll be using it for work, and at home.(I do a lot of aviation monitoring) My biggest question and issue is, how user friendly are these units? What I'm looking for is the ability to be able to quickly find and activate or deactivate certain channels depending on where we may be working for the day or a specific incident we're headed to, or be able to directly enter frequencies that we may need only once. Also, we have a scanner plan here at work where all the scanners are set up the same so we can call out a channel number over our two ways and our competition doesn't get wind of what we're listening to. Do these scanners have channel numbers or are they "objects" instead.

I understand that these two scanners are a bit different when it comes to "Banks" and "Channels" in regards to traditional scanners.How different are they, and how much of a learning curve is there?

I also understand that these will scan trunked and conventional at the same time, which shouldn't be a problem as the only trunked system we listen to is Orange County Fire, and I rarely get that far south.

On features alone, I'm leaving towards the 396T. mainly due to size and what appears to be a more traditional user interface.

Just thought I'd get some opinions before I sink $500 in to a radio.
 

ampulman

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First, let me say that I own a 'T', but not 500.

If you are currently using any scanner, it obviously works with 'banks'. The change to 'systems' can be done easily, once the concept that each system stands alone, is understood.

So let's say that if you are concerned with covering 15 systems, each is assigned a quick key (1 - 15). So, you can easily 'enable' or 'disable' any system by punching in the appropriate number.

Within each system are groups (you assign), such as police, fire, ems, etc. Each group is assigned a quick key.

Within each group are 1 or more channels, so as an example, under police, you might have dispatch (general), tactical, etc.

Since the channels have no quick keys, they can be 'labeled' with numbers. So, your local police dispatch channel could be labeled: 1 (name) Police Disp.

You can select a group (police) which would allow you to listen to all channels within that group, or you can hold on a specific channel.

Example: Over the radio, you hear, 'go to 2-1-2'. 2 = your city; 1 = police; 2 = tactical.

Your display might look something like this for a trunked system:

2 (name) city (system name)
1 Police (group name)
2 Tactical (Talk Group) trunked systems only.

Non-trunked systems are just a collection of related frequencies (channels). So a typical system might resemble:

1 Federal Agencies (system name)
3 FBI (group name)
2 Channel 6 (channel name - in this case a frequency)

The trick is to learn (by pressing buttons and rotary) how to quickly enable and disable systems/groups/channels-talk groups. You want to mix up your system (assigned quick keys), so that the competition doesn't recognize a pattern. They can also be changed (swapped) rather easily.

Once your scanner is set up, the rest can be clonned.

Hope I haven't confused or scared you.

Amp
 
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RadioDaze

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Code20, I'm guessing you are referring to OC Fire in CA, not FL. When you say "that far south", I assume you are in the Los Angeles area. If you are going to be listening to LAPD, the PSR-500 has the edge over the Uniden for quality of decoded P25 signals. It's also a bit louder (someone will correct me if I'm wrong, no doubt) so it could be better in noisy environments, such as mobile. I recently got the 500, and I'm impressed with its LAPD performance, and I am actually in OC.

Either scanner will probably equally confusing initially, if you are used to earlier scanners.
 

N8IAA

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Realize the 'T" version is the old model. The "XT" is the new version. It is closer in audio to the 500/106. If you are paying $500 for a 396T, you are overpaying:(
Larry
 

Code20Photog

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Hope I haven't confused or scared you.
Amp
Oh yeah, I'm confused. It's the system/objects vs channels and banks that has me confused.

Let me explain how I have my current scanner set up and how I utilize it. I have a Pro-94 Trunktracker that is my primary scanner.

Bank 1 Ventura County Ch's1-20 mirror the VCFD plan, and Ch's 21-28 Mirror sherrif 1-8 and the rest are the local PDs throughout the county and some other junk.

Bank 2. LACoFD mirroring their plan

Bank 3 LAFD mirrors their plan

Bank 4 Los Angeles County local FDs

Bank 5 Los Angeles County Local PDs

Bank 6 Aviation LAX, LA Center, etc

Bank 7 CHP

Bank 8 Los Angeles County Sheriff (All stations and Tacs)

Bank 9 Open for temporary assignments

Bank 0 South Bay PDs and FD (Where I live, so I have them at hand in their own bank)

And in mode B, OCFA trunked.

Now obviously, I don't scan everything all the time. If I'm in a LACoFD area or LAFD area, I will have those banks scanning, Within Ventura County,I have VCFD, Oxnard FD, and East and West Sheriff on all the time, and listen to other cities as needed. I don't get down to Orange County often, so I rarely listen to them, and actually of late, haven't heard anything with what I have programmed in. (Used to work like a charm)

My main problem with my 94, and my main reason for upgrading outside the ability to listen to LAPD and other digital systems, is trying to find some of the lesser used frequencies without alphanumeric tags.

When it comes to these "systems", this is where I'm confused. I'd like to have it set up very similar to the above, especially when it comes to things like Ventura County, LACoFD and LAFD where I can quickly select or deselect their entire frequency plan.

I don't want to have to have all my police frequencies(for instance) in one "system" and I'm not sure how that all works, so I guess this is where most of my confusion lays.
 

ampulman

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"I don't want to have to have all my police frequencies(for instance) in one "system" and I'm not sure how that all works, so I guess this is where most of my confusion lays."

Re-read my post.

Amp
 

a29zuk

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Oh yeah, I'm confused. It's the system/objects vs channels and banks that has me confused.

Let me explain how I have my current scanner set up and how I utilize it. I have a Pro-94 Trunktracker that is my primary scanner.

Bank 1 Ventura County Ch's1-20 mirror the VCFD plan, and Ch's 21-28 Mirror sherrif 1-8 and the rest are the local PDs throughout the county and some other junk.

Bank 2. LACoFD mirroring their plan

Bank 3 LAFD mirrors their plan

Bank 4 Los Angeles County local FDs

Bank 5 Los Angeles County Local PDs

Bank 6 Aviation LAX, LA Center, etc

Bank 7 CHP

Bank 8 Los Angeles County Sheriff (All stations and Tacs)

Bank 9 Open for temporary assignments

Bank 0 South Bay PDs and FD (Where I live, so I have them at hand in their own bank)

And in mode B, OCFA trunked.

Now obviously, I don't scan everything all the time. If I'm in a LACoFD area or LAFD area, I will have those banks scanning, Within Ventura County,I have VCFD, Oxnard FD, and East and West Sheriff on all the time, and listen to other cities as needed. I don't get down to Orange County often, so I rarely listen to them, and actually of late, haven't heard anything with what I have programmed in. (Used to work like a charm)

My main problem with my 94, and my main reason for upgrading outside the ability to listen to LAPD and other digital systems, is trying to find some of the lesser used frequencies without alphanumeric tags.

When it comes to these "systems", this is where I'm confused. I'd like to have it set up very similar to the above, especially when it comes to things like Ventura County, LACoFD and LAFD where I can quickly select or deselect their entire frequency plan.

I don't want to have to have all my police frequencies(for instance) in one "system" and I'm not sure how that all works, so I guess this is where most of my confusion lays.


I have a 396t model but not a PSR.
A "system" on the Unidens is like a bank in the old conventional scanner except it can be divided up into multiple sub-banks. Uniden calls these sub-banks "groups". Think of your computer having directories and sub-directories.

For example your bank 1 could be divided up like this:
System 1 = Ventura County
Group 1 = VCFD
Group 2 = Sheriff
Group 3 = Local PD & Junk
Each system can be assigned a quick key. If you assign your Ventura Co. System quick key #1 it can be turned on and shut just by pressing the "1" key while scanning. This follows the same concept of the older Uniden conventional scanner so it is easy to shut off and turn on a system. The only exception is when getting into a double digit system you have to press the "." key before pressing the system quick key(i.e. system 12 you would press ".","1"."2" keys). You can also assign quick keys for each group.

I have never owned a GRE or Radio Shack Pro scanner so I cannot explain how their "objects" programming works.

I hope this clears things up a little.

Jim
 

N2MWE

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Actually, there's one little quirk on the Uniden models I don't like...New York State Police uses Base/Mobile set up, so delay should be turned off. I also have car to car and alerts in the same system, but they also have to have the delay turned off. Uniden needs to fix that...why can't an individual object have delay on or off?
 

Code20Photog

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After all of this, I'm leaning back towards the GRE PSR-500, The reviews I've read seem to give it the edge over the 396 especially when ity comes to LAPD digital.

That said, the problem that I'm running into, is that most of the material I've found for both the 396 and the 500 is heavy into "talkgroups" and other trunking issues, and little about conventional scanning. Outside of Orange County (CA) and San Bernardino, there's little trunking scanning I'll be doing, and those two systems I listen to rarely.
 

N8IAA

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After all of this, I'm leaning back towards the GRE PSR-500, The reviews I've read seem to give it the edge over the 396 especially when ity comes to LAPD digital.

That said, the problem that I'm running into, is that most of the material I've found for both the 396 and the 500 is heavy into "talkgroups" and other trunking issues, and little about conventional scanning. Outside of Orange County (CA) and San Bernardino, there's little trunking scanning I'll be doing, and those two systems I listen to rarely.
It also works well as a conventional scanner. I have 20 scan lists loaded with a variety of analog and digital trunked systems, as well as, conventional frequencies. Very versatile scanner.
Larry
 

RadioDaze

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I think either scanner is flexible enough to be set up the way you want it. The GRE has the equivalent of 20 banks, probably more than you need.

I was in LA on Saturday, in the Pico/Robertson area, as well as the TRW swapmeet in Redondo. The LAPD performance was very good, in my opinion.

Conventional scanning should be a breeze for you with the GRE, provided that you are using a software solution to set up your freqs and alpha tags. Win500 is working fine for me. I'd be glad to send you my data file to get you started.

What you might find to be really useful on the GRE is the "temporary lockout" which will eliminate a channel from the scan list, but restore it the next time you turn the scanner off and back on. So if you're getting interference or too much traffic on a channel, just hit L/OUT when it stops on that channel. Then you don't have to worry about forgetting to re-enable it next time you start up. Or you can lock it out permanently by pressing function first. You can also reverse the routine in the settings... i.e., set it up to perform the temp lockout when you press function first.

I have mine set up pretty much to act like a "bank" scanner. LAPD on one of the "banks", LAFD on another, LACoFD on another, etc.

I know the Uniden is capable of implementing these functions too... I'm just speaking from the POV of the scanner I have. One thing the Uniden does nicely, at least on my BR330T, is provide for "sub-banks" (or "groups" as they call it) which is handy if you want, say, LA Sheriff's dispatch, with the crappy patch tones, on one sub-bank, tac freqs on another, and investigations on still another. It would use up a bank for each separation like that on the GRE, and then you could run out of banks. For OC Fire, I use five "banks" now on the GRE to do what is done with one "bank" and 5 "sub-banks" on my Uniden.

(Larry stuck in some relevant comments while I was still typing... beat me to it.)
 

Dirge

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Speaking as a fellow photog...

  1. Get the 396XT.
  2. Get the Garmin GPS receiver, gender changer, and null modem.
  3. Download FreeSCAN from Assaf's site.
  4. Throw a few bucks his way.
  5. Get a paid subscription to RR.
  6. Import the frequencies, TGs GPS info, etc from RR into the 396XT.
  7. Follow Amp's advice.
Trust me, you'll be lovin' life.
 

Dirge

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Almost forgot:


8. Magnetic mount scanner antenna for your regular news ride—mounted dead center on the roof. Don't worry about moving it over to a live truck since the roof rack is most likely aluminum. Use the rubber ducky for the live trucks (kills range but whatever).
 
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