BCDx36HP in Los Angeles basin

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LAflyer

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Hello all -
Since maybe several of you are considering the new line of Uniden scanners, I wanted to share my experience using the handheld 436 for a week now across many areas of LA.

Overall I'm satisfied. Here are some observations;

o Sensitivity is not as good as a PRO106/PRO96 to pull some weaker distant sites/frequencies. Even with outdoor antenna can note difference. I noted this quite a bit listening to more distant LASD/LACoFD stations and trying to picking various distant municipalities to test.
o Works fine on trunked systems such as ICIS(both P25 and Smartzone), LAWA, UCLA, several LTR systems
o Rather marginal hit or miss tracking on LA County CWIRS, but as we already know those sites unless if you are close are not that strong anyhow.
o Digital system audio output is quite a bit more digital'ish in sound than PRO106 for example. Its not end of the world, but certainly noticeable.
o Conventional P25 systems like LAPD reception is good mindful of comment about more digitalish audio output sound.
o Improved reception on LAFD 800Mhz system when driving compared to my PRO106 which could garble.
o Seems weakish on airband. CHP lowband seems similar to 106(some fading particularly when moving).
o Have not experienced overload or distortion from simulcast(yet).

On purpose I did not make any mention of the device build, form factor, ease of use etc. Those topics are adequately covered in the Uniden thread.
 

pepsima1

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I decided to not buy a mobile unit of the BCD436HP since I have a base mobile unit in my vehicle.

I did buy two BCD536HP radios and the units do have a really nice sensitivity level. CHP low band works really nice but I am using an ST-2 Antenna Craft antenna on the roof. Trunking seems to be working good too. I do love the larger display. Its a little to getting use to the Sentinel software from Uniden to program the radio. The headphone jack is jacked up. White noise and hissing noise. Its a hardware issue with the run of these units. Uniden is probably going to have to replace the unit or fix these radios. The 436 units do not have this problem. These radios need more firmware upgrades soon
 

Markb

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I have had mine for several days now and I actually like the P25 audio on the 536. Sounds warm instead of harsh and "thin". More like a Motorola radio, IMO. Uniden may be getting the message as far as volume. The unit is loud. Could be louder, but okay for mobile use.
I listen to the OC CCCS quite a bit and have noticed so far that the analog TG's sound good, but the digital ones sound like crap. May be overload from nearby cell sites or maybe some tweakage of the settings are in order. Either way, they will be switching to a full P25 system (and rebanding) soon, so this is likely a short-term problem
I was really nervous buying this one due to some negatuve reports, but overall I am happy with it.

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pepsima1

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HAHA. Get ready to ship it back to Uniden for a new one. Headphone issue now being addressed. OMG how did this radio pass QC. Not one person at Uniden or the factory tested this headphone jack except me when I was the first one to notice this issue in the World.

Throw me a bone by GOD
 

AA6IO

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I am in Cerritos. Using a couple of 536HPs and one 436HP. Antennas include RS 800 Mhz, numerous antennas for handhelds, my 2 meter/440 Mhz vertical for ham VHF, and two TerraWave 800 Mhz yagis only about 10 feet high. For reference, also have 396 T and XT, 996 T and XT, PSR-600, PRO-197 (know they are the same radio), PRO-106, HP1-extreme, etc.
Most comparisons been with my 996XT vs. 536HP. First of all, I love all the info that the 536HP and 436HP provide about who you are listening to. That's what I like about HP1, but I find the form factor of the HP1 clunky.
Analog on 536HP sounds pretty good. Maybe a bit more sensitive than 996XT, but a close call.
Trunking like LA Municip EDACS, LA CWIRS Edacs, JP Getty, UCLA, LA Metropolitan Trans, CAL Trans, etc ... all pretty good. However, scan speed seems slower than on 996XT.
Conventional like CHP, ZLA, LASD, marine/coast guard, all sound reasonably good. But better than my 996XT, not really. Again, however, I love all the info provided by 536HP.
Digital sounds pretty good on LAPD, ICIS/ICIS P25, and LA cities channels that have P25. Excellent decode quality. Sound may be a bit better than 996XT.
OCCS is my problem. I am in Cerritos, and OCCS is my closest large trunk. Analog on 536HP is great, But here too, OCCS digital leaves much to be desired. The PRO-197 and PRO-106 still decode and sound much better. Perhaps it is a simulcast thing, but I thought the 536HP might help. OCCS P25 never been all that good on my 396XT or 996XT.
FInally, for sensitivity, I think the 536HP is pretty good. With 800 Mhz yagi at about 70 degrees, SBDO 8 trunk (mountains) very loud, SBDO 9 (Aerojet) pretty good, and SBDO 6/7 pretty good. May be a bit better reception than on 996XT.

All in all, happy with new Unidens, but sure hope they get Wi-fi and advanced function firmware going. Hope that includes raw data output. I sure miss the control channel output for Unitrunker, etc.

Steve AA6IO (ham for 52 years)
 

LAflyer

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I will say one of the coolest things for me is ability to have virtually my entire SoCal listening library loaded up and ready to go inside the various favorite list, and not worry about running out space in banks or frequency memory as previous radios.
I used to have to often upload differing frequency list if I was travelling out of my immediate area.
 

pepsima1

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Well the 536HP is having some serious P25 decode issue in Orange County for sure. It gets really choppy and its not getting better. The 996XT is way better in comparison. I bought two of them and I am sending one back for return and the other one will go back to Uniden to fix the headphone issue that needs to be fixed.

Overall the GRE PSR 600 seems to be the best when it comes to digital decode.

I think the issue with Orange County is the Simulcast issue getting overload. The reason why I say this is that when I tune to ICIS Montebello site it is perfect and sounds awesome with no error rate at all. I get at least 60-80 on the error rate on the Uniden BCD536HP. LAPD is completely fine too. Go figure that Uniden said that it is fixed and it got worse and the newer radio cost more at 600 bucks.

Looking forward to seeing what Whistler is coming to the table with. Hopefully they are taking notes.
 

LAflyer

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I'd agree on the general GRE comment, to me the audio quality is the immediate big noticeable difference.

Regarding P25 decode now over the last couple of week I also have experienced some issues with ICIS and LAPD which you say you seem to receive OK.
Though I strongly suspect its a simulcast issue indeed as problem tends to happen when I know I am relatively close to transmission sites.
For example on ICIS when basically in downtown Beverly Hills, surprise surprise I had some issues decoding the BH ICIS cell. Also for LAPD I was over by eastern Culver City and likely got some overload from the LA City site up in Baldwin Hills.

So the issues you experiencing in OC might be as you are more inside that immediate geographic area while LAPD and ICIS are more distant transmissions for you so the radio has less issue discerning the signal.
 

AA6IO

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Similar issues here in Cerritos with 536HP. I also have two of them. LA Police and ICIS Glendale, Montebello, and ICIS 25 Pasadena all fairly good P25 decode. Also listen to Simi Valley P25 in Ventura and sounds OK.
OCCS digitial is still terrible. Now, if I use a paper clip as antenna for OCCS and put on attenuation, the P25 decode performance remarkably is better. Minute I put on RS-800 antenna or heaven forbid one of my TerraWave 800 yagis, decode on OCCS P25 goes to crap. Error rates in 50s 60s, terrible.
When I hear that pepsima1 wants to return one, it makes me think, maybe not a bad idea. But I think I will keep both. I also have PSR-600, PRO-197, and PRO-106, and Uniden XTs. As others have said, the GREs seem to still do better on P25 decode. To be honest, however, when the 536HP does decode well, I do like the P25 sound. But I sure do miss the CC output.
Glad that got the systems in Texas to work on new 536HP, and I see that some are experiencing good results in other parts of country, but likewise, there are many that seems to be experiencing similar issues as we are.
I will also be interested in what Whistler comes out with.
Steve AA6IO
 

AA6IO

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As a follow-up to above. Left the 536HP running on kitchen table with RS-800 antenna on back. All OCCS sites N, NW, CWide, S, and SW coming in fairly well. Analog, no problems at all.
Left only P25 sites on for several hours with record. Good news: I had over 700 recordings of different P25 sites. Good news: Scanner provides a lot of information about site as opposed to simply an alpha tag. Bad news: About 70% of the P25 audio was garbage.
I live 1 mile from La Palma and 1 mile from one of the site towers on Valley View. And even LA Palma public works was basically unintelligible.
Will do same tomorrow with the paper clip and compare findings.
Steve AA6IO
 

scottyhetzel

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Hi,

Has anyone tried to set the modulation to "FM" instead of "NFM" or "Auto" for digital P25 systems?. Also try setting the treshhold to "10". I am curious if this fixes the lag and corrects the audio. Give it a try and please report back. Thanks in advance !
 

pepsima1

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Orange County system on analog sounds great. Digital sounds pretty horrible. the 996XT rocks pretty much on the system. GRE PSR 600 has no digital issues at all.

I tried all of the setting and the treshhold and nothing. When I set the FM some of the digital talkgroups don't even come in. Pretty bummed about the radio a little bit.
 

pepsima1

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Now the kicker is that from Orange County listening to ICIS on the Montebello site this 536HP radio is a 10 out of a 10 for sure on the digital side. No problems and no error rate.

SPOT ON. Go figure. Its got to be simulcast or overload distortion. A lot of good features about the radio and the display is awesome and the sensitivity is great but the digital trunking is the main issue.
 

AA6IO

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I have been listening to OCCS digital with FM the last couple of days. Now using FM with P25 manual of 10 as scottyhetzel suggested. Actually getting quite good results on some talkgroups with very little or no lag and quite good audio. P25 error rate still kind of high at 25-30 when I can monitor while listening, but audio sounds OK with little chopping at this error rate.
I did some 8-hour recordings the last couple of days (while not listening) with 536HP set only to monitor OCCS depts with unencrypted P25. With paper clip and with TerraWave pointing east, North, Northwest, and Countywide sites sounded pretty good. On South site, a bit more choppy, but even then, some transmissions from JWA, Newport, Laguna, Mission Viejo not too bad.
I do a lot of my scanning through recordings, because cannot be listening much during daytime, and that is when most of the unencrypted P25 on OCSS is on. Therefore, I wish that the "error rate" indicator would appear during the recordings, but it doesn't. That would help my analysis.
Although not the 536HP, I did take my 436HP down to JW Airport tonight while going to pick up my daughter and son-in-law who flew in from Phoenix. My wife and I ate in a restaurant near there, so I let the 436HP run with the recorder on for about 2 hours. Had lots of JWA P25 hits that all sounded super.
In summary, I think FM P25 manual 10 does help.

Steve AA6IO
 

pepsima1

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Well I took some advice and followed the directions on setting the modulation to FM. Then setting the P25 Threshold Mode to MANUAL. Then setting the P25 Threshold Level to 10.

Once I made all of these manual changes I am getting GREAT results. I use to get an error rate of about 70 to 80 and now I get errors rates between 20-30 with no choppy transmissions at all.

Sounds Pretty Good. Some good old fashion manual settings makes the radio sound good.
 

JoeyC

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Well I took some advice and followed the directions on setting the modulation to FM. Then setting the P25 Threshold Mode to MANUAL. Then setting the P25 Threshold Level to 10.

Once I made all of these manual changes I am getting GREAT results. I use to get an error rate of about 70 to 80 and now I get errors rates between 20-30 with no choppy transmissions at all.

Sounds Pretty Good. Some good old fashion manual settings makes the radio sound good.
Great news. I've had similar results. Can I ask, did you make the change in the scanner as UPMan suggested, or have you done in only in the software? I have done it both ways, and I would say that in my situation, I think making the change in software only has a slightly better result. Without a second 536 its really hard to tell though. Mind trying both and reporting back?
 

Markb

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So what is the difference between hardware and software changes? I thought those settings were the same.
Either way, I would suspect that results will vary based upon location and antenna.

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pepsima1

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Great news. I've had similar results. Can I ask, did you make the change in the scanner as UPMan suggested, or have you done in only in the software? I have done it both ways, and I would say that in my situation, I think making the change in software only has a slightly better result. Without a second 536 its really hard to tell though. Mind trying both and reporting back?

I made the changes from the radio key pad of the radio. Making the changes from the software or on the key pad is the same. But these settings did make me have hope at this point to hear good P25 audio again on a 600 dollar radio
 

scottyhetzel

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I have been listening to OCCS digital with FM the last couple of days. Now using FM with P25 manual of 10 as scottyhetzel suggested. Actually getting quite good results on some talkgroups with very little or no lag and quite good audio. P25 error rate still kind of high at 25-30 when I can monitor while listening, but audio sounds OK with little chopping at this error rate.
I did some 8-hour recordings the last couple of days (while not listening) with 536HP set only to monitor OCCS depts with unencrypted P25. With paper clip and with TerraWave pointing east, North, Northwest, and Countywide sites sounded pretty good. On South site, a bit more choppy, but even then, some transmissions from JWA, Newport, Laguna, Mission Viejo not too bad.
I do a lot of my scanning through recordings, because cannot be listening much during daytime, and that is when most of the unencrypted P25 on OCSS is on. Therefore, I wish that the "error rate" indicator would appear during the recordings, but it doesn't. That would help my analysis.
Although not the 536HP, I did take my 436HP down to JW Airport tonight while going to pick up my daughter and son-in-law who flew in from Phoenix. My wife and I ate in a restaurant near there, so I let the 436HP run with the recorder on for about 2 hours. Had lots of JWA P25 hits that all sounded super.
In summary, I think FM P25 manual 10 does help.

Steve AA6IO
Great news Steve !
 
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