BCD396T: BCD396T not decoding P25

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David_Buzzard

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I'm a newspaper photographer in a pretty small town, an I just picked up a older Uniden BCD396T (the generation before the current BCD396XT). While I have a lot of experience programming the older radios, this is my first go at a P25 scanner.

I'm only scanning two systems, fire and police, with a total of five channels, two for fire and three for police. It's picking up the correct frequencies. I can hear the fire dispatcher, but not the responses from the fire fighter, which is the same thing I was getting on my older scanner. The P25 system doesn't seem to be engaging, as not getting the ENC icon on the screen.

I read this P25 audio decode level adjustment - The RadioReference Wiki which got me into the P25 screen, but that's as far as I've gotten.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

David_Buzzard

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Thanks for the quick response, that's great

I couldn't tell you what the fire and police are using, but they're not large operations, so I suspect it's a basic P25. The fire department just went to digital, which is the only reason I bought the scanner at all. Up until last month, the little Nascar scanner worked great.

The first thing I did with the scanner when I bought it was reset it to the factory defaults, mainly to get rid of the previous owner's programming. The unit's firmware seems to have reset itself to the original version, v1.09, and I'm thinking that might be the problem.

The unit didn't come with a PC connection cable, so I was wondering if that was a Uniden specific item, or some sort of common computer cable?
 

ofd8001

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I think Upman was asking for which specific system you are attempting to monitor as in the RR database link to that system. At the very least the state and city/county.

When you do a factory reset, the scanner replaces all of the systems with the pre-programmed systems stored deep within the scanner memory. The problem is these factory default systems are most likely outdated. A lot of radio systems underwent re-banding (a changing of the control channel frequencies and perhaps bandplans) over the past 9 years.

So if the system you are attempting to monitor is based on the factory programmed system, that could be a reason for your issue. Not a certainty, just a possibility.

If you don't have the manual that came with the scanner, here are a couple of links. The first is to the actual Uniden manual, the other is from "Mark's easier to read manuals".

http://www.uniden.com/pdf/BCD396Tom.pdf

Easier to Read BCD396T/UBCD396T Digital Scanner Manual

In the absence of a cable, you can attempt to hand-program your scanner, but it isn't a fun experience. Computer programming is best and easier.

The cable that you don't have is a Uniden specific cable. Your best bet is to get a USB-1 cable which has a USB end and the correct end to connect to your scanner. (The original cables had serial ends which few computers have).

Here are links to these cables:

USB Cable for all Uniden DMA Scanners

Uniden USB Cable

If your computer is Windows 8.x, I'd suggest ordering the cable from Uniden. Windows 8.x requires a certain type of chipset in the programming cable and those shipped by Uniden have that chipset. Scannermaster's may or may not have that newest chipset depending on how old their stock is. For older versions of Windows, that cable's chipset isn't as critical.
 

David_Buzzard

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I actually reset the defaults without re-loading the preprogrammed frequencies. I was never going to need them, and I was finding it really confusing to cycle through all the preprogrammed frequencies to get to the ones I loaded up, so I just wiped the whole thing.

If it's a USB 1 cable, I bet I've got one around here somewhere.

Maybe it's years of programming digital cameras, but I found it quite intuitive to do it manually. I'll have to find someone with a PC, I run a totally Mac shop.
 

sound_efex

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There are just too many variables involved with the limited informatiom given so far. I'm sure it was just an oversight but, posting the city, state, and county of the agencies you are trying to monitor will go a long way toward helping to resolve your issue. More than likely, you will get help from someone in your area more familiar with the agencies you are trying to monitor.

Your agencies my be something other than P25. If they are using NXDN or TRBO, your scanner will not decode these signals. The fire fighters may be responding on a tactical (or ground) frequency or the department could be using a trunked system. Check the RR or FCC database for details of your targets.

And you do not want to see "ENC" on your display. This indicates an encrypted P25 transmission. It is a extra layer of secure communication for the agency using it.

You will find a large community here eager to help. Just help them to help you by being as detailed as possible.
 

David_Buzzard

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I'm in Whistler, British Columbia, and here's the RR data base page with the police frequencies, Squamish-Lillooet County, British Columbia (BC) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference For some reason, the fire department frequencies aren't on it, but I have those on file.

I sent an e-mail to the fire department asking them what their system is, so hopefully they'll get back to me on that. I make them look good, so they like me:

Emerald and Alpine House Fires - Whistler - David Buzzard Photography

Whistler Blackcomb Fire - David Buzzard Photography
 

JamesO

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Resetting the scanner will not reset to the original factory shipped firmware.

Getting the latest firmware is not too difficult, but will require a Windows PC and a programming cable. Suggest the programming cable that is a USB programming cable.

The scanner firmware is WAY outdated, looks like it was NEVER updated.

See this link - BCD396TFirmwareUpdate < UnidenMan4 < TWiki

Then the next issue is understanding how trunking works and getting it properly programmed.

Also certain types of Encryption do not cause the scanner to display ENC and mute the audio.

If your local system has gone to Phase 2 P25, this scanner will not support Phase 2 P25.

Again, City/County/State and Agency you are trying to monitor is very helpful as the RR Database will hopefully give the details of the system and how it is configured.

You WILL want and need software to program the radio. There are many different software packages, some offer a free 30 day trail as well so you can configure the scanner with the software.

See this link, lots of good referenced linked inside the Wiki for software and other things - BCD396T - The RadioReference Wiki

Welcome to the world of Digital DMA scanners, VERY different from what you have been used to. Will take you a while to absorb all the details and get things configured, but be patient, it will work out.
 

UPMan

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Nothing on the database linked page you provided is P25. So, still too many unknowns. You might also try asking in the BC forum to see if someone knows what system(s) are being used.
 

David_Buzzard

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Reading through the Firmware notes, there seem to be a lot of updates to the P25 system, so hopefully that's the issue. The fire department got back to me, "hey, we just talk on the radios, we don't know how they work".
 

bearcatrp

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Apr 11, 2005
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Central Mn
Dave, I have the 396T. Still pretty good radio. You need to update to the latest firmware version. If you still have the stock antenna, throw it in the trash. Its worthless. Go pick up the radio shack 800 mhz antenna. Allot better. There is a hidden menu on the 396T. The auto settings are lacking so read the easy to read manual to get to it. Might want to restore everything, then make a favorites to just listen to what you want. What digital system are your agencies using? Looks analog from what I looked at.
 

David_Buzzard

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Still investigating the Whistler frequencies, and trying to track down a USB patch cord. Both tasks a lot harder than you would think.
 

princo

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Frequencies

David,

On the page for the area frequencies, there is a drop down menu for input frequencies. Change that from hidden to shown. That will reveal the input frequencies to each repeater. Add those to your scanner and see if you can hear the other end of the conversation.
 
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