BCT-15 vs. 996

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Tiny5

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Hello all,

I am new to scanning and hope to attain some advice. I don't have much to spend so I am looking at a
BCT-15. I would like to scan a wide variety of frequencies, but I am mainly interested in Toronto Police and other such frequencies used by emergency and safety groups. What is the deal with APCO-25? Should I buy the 996 instead or perhaps something else altogether. My basic questions are:

Will an analog scanner be outdated or useless soon?
What are the benefits of going digital, especially for someone new to the hobby?
What is the difference between a WideBand Reciever like the AR-8200 Mark 3 and the above Unidens?
Is anything worth listening to found in the "gaps" not covered by the Unidens?
What can be heard in the higher frequencies covered by the AOR (1.5 - 3 GHz range)?

Thanks all
 

kellykeeton

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well to start off you only have transit in your area using P25 so you can buy a bct15 and listen to all your local police

analog is not "outdated" it still has a very important role but a lot of new systems are going to digital

the benefits of going to digital are if your local stations use P25 you can listen to them

the difference from the AOR etc are they have better selectivity normally meaning they can tune into a frequency better, however they normally dont trunk so they are mostly useless for the beginning scanner in a trunk metro area.

there is nothing that you are likely to find in the "gaps" you need to have a transmitter to transmit there and very Very very few very few people have or have a reason to transmit there, normally its gap for UHF TV which is a mess anyway.

in 1.3-5ghz you have nothing special you have Amature radio, point to point uplinks etc, people don't typically talk in ghz as its poor reception in metro mostly digital
 

Tiny5

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Thanks kellykeeton for the quick and VERY informative response! Usually when you ask a bunch of "noob" questions on a forum you get rude quips or incomplete/irrelevant answers. Thank you very much for your insights. It looks like I'll go for the BCT-15 in that case. It seems to be the best fit for me to start with, and the price is about where I want to be right now. I suppose by the time there is a lot of digital traffic in Toronto I'll be in the market for a new scanner anyway, and I'll have a lot more experience by that time. Now that I'm set to buy the BCT-15, however, one more question comes to mind... is there any other make or model in that price range (mobile or handheld) that I should even consider, or should my search end with the BCT-15?

Thanks again for your guidance, sincerely,

Tiny5
 

kellykeeton

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Usually when you ask a bunch of "noob" questions on a forum you get rude quips or incomplete/irrelevant answers.

Tiny5
dont worry even if you ask real questions you get shot down, just be glad this isnt qrz.com otherwise you would have been told to read the manufacture page and figure out what you want before posting.

I assume GRE has a radio that compares to the BCT15 but I am a uniden boy so someone else will chime in there. But IMO your not wasting 250 (or 170 if you get lucky on ebay) by buying this radio specially since 90% of your local traffic is Moto2-Analog.

When you do get the radio go get a copy of the free programmer BCtool and read how the DynamicMemoryAllocation (DMA) scanners work on the RR.wiki dont pay for software. the ARC15 software makes group programming nice but personally I really hate butel software as its slow to update and has bugs all the time. bctool is fast and free and mostly simple to figure out.

Also get a 15USD$ subscription to RR here, it will make bctool work so much better for your up and running you can directly import ****.
 

Tiny5

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Can anyone provide a comprehensive list of what types of communications CANNOT be received with an analog scanner in the TORONTO area, ie: ETF, Air Traffic etc.? Put another way, what groups have switched to digital in the TORONTO area that might justify the purchase of a digital trunk tracker? I'd rather not spend the extra money on the BCT-996, but I would consider it if I knew exactly what I could receive with a digital scanner that I could not receive with an analog scanner. I just don't want to save a few bucks and then regret not having gone with the digital scanner.

Thanks in advance.
 

VE3RADIO

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Can anyone provide a comprehensive list of what types of communications CANNOT be received with an analog scanner in the TORONTO area, ie: ETF, Air Traffic etc.? Put another way, what groups have switched to digital in the TORONTO area that might justify the purchase of a digital trunk tracker? I'd rather not spend the extra money on the BCT-996, but I would consider it if I knew exactly what I could receive with a digital scanner that I could not receive with an analog scanner. I just don't want to save a few bucks and then regret not having gone with the digital scanner.

Thanks in advance.

I live in Mississauga and work downtown Toronto, i would go for a 996 or 396 scanner. I have pretty much all scanners out from uniden and the 15 gets the least use in this area..

OPP are digital, GO Transit is digital and Toronto police have already started to move to the new digital system. Peel region police is also starting to go digital albeit at a slower pace. All the detectives in Toronto are already using digital and there is a digital control channel up now as well. I dont know what you want to listen too, but the OPP are very entertaining. If you just want Toronto, York, Halton, and Peel police.. the 15 should be ok.. but dont expect to get more than another year or so out of it from TPS.
 

mkrubsack

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I have a slightly different question for this topic...

On my BCD996T, the display shows the system key on one line, and immediately below it, on another line, are the group keys for that system.

My BCT15 only shows the system keys, not the group keys.

Why? Can I configure the BCT15 to show the same info as the 996 does?
 

kellykeeton

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not in a default view, thats a firmware difference. I hope they come out with a firmware to update the GUI to the 996 some time. if you press function(the big knob) you will see a similar display for 2 seconds or so.
 

mkrubsack

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not in a default view, thats a firmware difference. I hope they come out with a firmware to update the GUI to the 996 some time. if you press function(the big knob) you will see a similar display for 2 seconds or so.
Thanks. Yep, pressing the function is the display I was looking for...too bad it won't "stick".
 

Tiny5

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I live in Mississauga and work downtown Toronto, i would go for a 996 or 396 scanner. I have pretty much all scanners out from uniden and the 15 gets the least use in this area..

OPP are digital, GO Transit is digital and Toronto police have already started to move to the new digital system. Peel region police is also starting to go digital albeit at a slower pace. All the detectives in Toronto are already using digital and there is a digital control channel up now as well. I dont know what you want to listen too, but the OPP are very entertaining. If you just want Toronto, York, Halton, and Peel police.. the 15 should be ok.. but dont expect to get more than another year or so out of it from TPS.
Thanks for the reply. First of my questions... how long will we be able to listen to Toronto Police if they've started to go digital, and in what order are they digitizing their system (ie: how long will dispatch be available, ETF, etc.) Even those that have gone digital like detectives, can we even listen to them or are they encrypted?
 

Pyr8

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Thanks for the reply. First of my questions... how long will we be able to listen to Toronto Police if they've started to go digital, and in what order are they digitizing their system (ie: how long will dispatch be available, ETF, etc.) Even those that have gone digital like detectives, can we even listen to them or are they encrypted?
There is no way to honestly answer your question in terms of how long...what...etc (i have heard the change over wont happen till 2012!). I would say that if you are on a budget...don't bother with the 996/396 unless you plan on traveling outside of Toronto with your scanner. Most if not all the OPP stuff you will be able to listen too with a digital in Toronto is traffic stops on the 400 series highways (BORING...IMO!)

Once you start taking a digital up north...that's when listening to the OPP gets interesting as the OPP are the local police force in most small towns in Ontario...so your not just listening to them running DL's all day.

Other than what i just outlined...there is ZERO benefit to having a digital in Toronto for listening to Fire/EMS/TPS...or anything else worth listening to in the city!


My $0.02
 

zuzu

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I am new to scanning and hope to attain some advice. I don't have much to spend so I am looking at a BCT-15. I would like to scan a wide variety of frequencies, but I am mainly interested in Toronto Police and other such frequencies used by emergency and safety groups.
I'm also a total n00b. I've been interested in amateur radio since I started listening to shortwave as a kid, but didn't have the money or opportunity until about half a year ago to finally act on it. I bought the BCT-15 because the price is right... caught a deal on eBay for about US$150 + shipping, and it would do most of what I wanted to begin experimenting with listening to. (At $500+ for the 996T, I start thinking about wanting a USRP for GNUradio instead.)

A friend of mine (also longtime enthusiastic to get into amateur radio -- doubly so after listening to the Conet Project numbers stations) bought a Pro-162 at RadioShack and ended up returning it two weeks later -- feeling frustrated by the steepness of of the learning curve for using the equipment.

By comparison, I found the BCT-15 to have a gentle learning curve. It's a little bit much at first, but as you read through the manual, try out things, and get a solid sense of the menu, you'll be surprised at how simple / "user friendly" Uniden made this radio.

First, you select the state/province that you're in, and that'll automatically configure all of the scanning frequencies for Police, DOT, Highway Patrol, and BearTracker. Then you just press those buttons to toggle them on and off. The POL/DOT button, press once and it's just Police, press again and it's just DOT, press again and it's both, press again and it's neither, repeat. Same for HP/BT.

For everything else... CB, HAM, Marine, Air Traffic, Rail Road, Military, TV Audio, and FM Broadcast, use the "Search for..." feature in the menu, and it'll handle scanning the appropriate frequencies for you. This is also a great way to learn which genres of user are on which frequencies. The RR wiki is also a great supplement to this.

The menu also has option for NOAA weather (WX), and that menu includes turning on "WX Alerts", which is like BearTracker except instead of "police radio nearby" it's more like "NOAA alert that there's a tornado that touched down near you".

There's also a "Close Call" feature, where the scanner gets a sense of the "background noise floor" of the radio environment your in, and if anything spikes up out of that background nearby, it automatically tunes into it. Mostly I just pick up people driving by with those low power FM broadcasters for their iPods or whatever with this, though.

The other important thing to learn is "lockout" (L/O), which is when you hear "garbage" (e.g. there's alot of digital on 800MHz where I am that I can't pick up with this, that sounds like when you play a CD-ROM in a CD audio player), you just hit the L/O button and it'll skip that frequency for the rest of your session. Hit it twice to lock it out permanently.

With just that, you can get started enjoying your BCT-15. I recommend it.
 

Tiny5

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Just a quick thank you to all who offered their advice, it was much appreciated.

Cheers,

Tiny
 

kellykeeton

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(At $500+ for the 996T, I tart thinking about wanting a USRP for GNUradio instead.)
I would say that is a very different hobby, the GNU Radio isnt really great at all for listening to trunking systems or to P25 at all. As all of the software would need to be 1) created 2) very expensive radio

with the 700$ mainboard you must also buy the 2-3 Rx boards at 2-300 a pop, they are much more for development then hobby radio. as they are just circuit boards they arnt conducive to portable use

very cool toy for sure, but the IC-R20 or ICR8500 would be a better choice IMO if you want the capability of the GNU radio but with the CAT interface and usability of a hobby radio. (you can D-Tap each one so you get the same functionality as GNU)

You can them punch that data into the free decoding software and scopes for analysis, but if your going that far you have a lot of cash to burn and likely the GNU is best.

(hope that was helpful)
 
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