Beartracker 885's Charlie Brown audio

KiloWhiskey

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Sep 3, 2020
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3
I recently purchased a new BT 885 and installed in a 2019 F350 and so far I cannot get any quality audio from the scanner. I currently do not have the CB antenna/mic installed as I am waiting on that part to come in. So far in trying to use the scanner and the weather radio all I can get is Charlie Brown's teacher coming through. I can occasionally pick up a word or two but otherwise it is garbage.

To walk through my install
Unit is mounted on the dash.
I have the power hot running to my #6 upfitter switch which is a 40 amp circuit and the negative direct to the battery.
The scanner antenna is the wire/suction cup that came with the unit and is placed on the low front windshield horizontally.

I have a weather radio that I can get great reception on on the same channel I have the 885 on but cannot make anything out on the 885. I took a drive through a major city tonight and got hits on the scanner on all police/fire/ambulance/dot but could not again understand any of it. I was also regularly changing the scanner squelch levels and could get no noticeable difference.

Just wondering if anyone has ideas on what I could look at to fix this.
 

slowmover

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Fort Worth
1). Neg power should be AS SHORT as possible. Bolt under dash, etc. NEVER to BATT.

2). Try antenna vertically on windshield. Several inches inward from any edge.

3). An exterior antenna IS superior (not a little; A LOT).

4). The built-in speaker isn’t too great. It’s typical. The QUALITY of audio response (voice-tailored) is important.

— when I use a West Mountain Radio ClearSpeech DSP Speaker ALL audio is better on the 885, but non-CB TX received does not have the same “sound”.

— I am not saying it is unintelligible, or distorted.

5). I am currently running the little bc355 Uniden Scanner set exclusively to scan CB (except 19) along with the Big Radio installation, and it distinctly needs an amplified speaker of high quality.

The West Mountain Radio PwrSpeech is my likely choice as it’s much more affordable than the DSP version (of which I have had one for years and have ordered more).

Where the radio provides suitable amplification, the non-powered Uniden BC-15 external speaker has better sound than the comparable Cobra series. (Motorola or Kenwood KES would be better yet).

6). Disconnect the coax and try to discern how much (if any) “noise” is coming into the radio otherwise. (This is big).

The Uniden 885 Hybrid CB/Scanner is a little unusual. I’d have liked for it to have had SSB capabilities to make it have hit a triple. It has the VERY desirable Uniden attributes otherwise.

That said,

— Some places one doesn’t receive much (antenna design, mount design and installation).

— Local agencies may not be decipherable by this Scanner (number available to hear).

— Audio Reproduction is the least expensive upgrade and will make ANY reception more intelligible.

Where the speaker is placed is crucial. Above the left ear is best (given one must avoid airbags, etc; AND possibly fabricate a bracket to suit). Experiment with location. At speed, a great deal of loss can occur which Volume can’t make up. (Use a headset to also test).

The 885 (like all electronic gear) is prone to malfunction. I’d want to hear a series of public agencies, AND have done so with several audio reproduction efforts (Speaker, Headset & Placement) before I consider returning the unit.

I’m not advocating you buy the speaker(s) I’ve mentioned (though the DSP one is a game-changer), but you WILL want better reproduction, and you NEED a better antenna system (any scanner or radio, not just the 885).

I’m also using an MFJ-310 on the passenger window to get the coax past that point. I use a jumper to an antenna on a mount.

A scanner antenna on a hood mount would be easy, but not nearly as desirable as an NMO-mount for performance & quality.

Good luck!

P.S: You’ve not mentioned what CB antenna or mount. Again, a permanent mount (roof) is highest performance with fewest problems.

An RM ITALY KL-203 baby amp will (with radio) draw 15A or so at max and get you HEARD.

To HEAR there’s no substitute for the WM DSP Speaker.

.
 
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rgchristy

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Messages
448
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Delco, PA
Since you just purchased the radio, I would take the truck out of the equation to make sure that you don't have a defective radio. If you get the same results with that radio on a bench, the the problem is most likely with the radio. If you put the radio on a bench and the problems go away, then you need to see why the truck is causing it.
 

KiloWhiskey

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Joined
Sep 3, 2020
Messages
3
Slowmover and rgchristy thanks so much for the responses. This is my first install and I appreciate all of the help I can get. As far as an external antenna, I do want to install on I am just struggling to find one. The main reason for this is that fact that the aluminum body of the truck which knocks out all of the magnet mounts. I am thinking of mounting 2 of these Ford F250, F350, F450 and F550 CB Antenna Hood Mount (2017+) next to each other in order to attach a 4' Firestik to one and a scanner antenna to another but I didn't know if that would cause any problems if they are right next to each other. I do not have the CB Coax or the Antenna installed as I am waiting on the hood mount and Cb Coax to come in to come in. I had initial plans to run a 18' cable and a stake hole mount but I could not get the stake hole mount to fit properly so I am going with plan B of the hood mount.

I plan on working to ground the negative as close as possible to the radio as possible. I certainly hope this will help. I have gone ahead an ordered a Uniden BC-15 in order to at least be louder.

rgchristy any chance you have any cheap suggestions on how to power the radio outside of the truck. This is all new to me so I have nothing.
 

slowmover

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Aug 4, 2020
Messages
184
Location
Fort Worth
Since you just purchased the radio, I would take the truck out of the equation to make sure that you don't have a defective radio. If you get the same results with that radio on a bench, the the problem is most likely with the radio. If you put the radio on a bench and the problems go away, then you need to see why the truck is causing it.
Agreed. I was going sideways in my post above (every component adds branches to a diagnostic tree), so I’d like to also emphasize eliminating or identifying competing problems.

Solving them may not be THE answer, but getting radio-specific problems made clear, is the thing.

.
 

rgchristy

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Mar 10, 2005
Messages
448
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Delco, PA
This power supply is similar to what I use:


From what the manual says, it should do the trick.

Power Input: 13.8VDC Current Drain No Modulation: 1300 mA Nom. Max. Modulation: 1900 mA Nom.

Hope this helps,

Rich
 

slowmover

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
184
Location
Fort Worth
Slowmover and rgchristy thanks so much for the responses. This is my first install and I appreciate all of the help I can get. As far as an external antenna, I do want to install on I am just struggling to find one. The main reason for this is that fact that the aluminum body of the truck which knocks out all of the magnet mounts. I am thinking of mounting 2 of these Ford F250, F350, F450 and F550 CB Antenna Hood Mount (2017+) next to each other in order to attach a 4' Firestik to one and a scanner antenna to another but I didn't know if that would cause any problems if they are right next to each other. I do not have the CB Coax or the Antenna installed as I am waiting on the hood mount and Cb Coax to come in to come in. I had initial plans to run a 18' cable and a stake hole mount but I could not get the stake hole mount to fit properly so I am going with plan B of the hood mount.

I plan on working to ground the negative as close as possible to the radio as possible. I certainly hope this will help. I have gone ahead an ordered a Uniden BC-15 in order to at least be louder.

rgchristy any chance you have any cheap suggestions on how to power the radio outside of the truck. This is all new to me so I have nothing.

That hood mount will let you talk directly across the highway. But not much more.

The roof is the place to go on a pickup. Permanent mount. BREEDLOVE MACHINE SHOP. NMO or Puck.

See

K0BG

for discussion of permanent mount. Right tools and zero leaks. An upgrade to the vehicle.

(See also about how to install power cables of right size and type. The details).

A SIRIO 5000 antenna. Mount on a quick release. CMC choke at feedpoint.

Scanner antenna not as important unless you want to upgrade to a more sophisticated model someday.

The receive-only is second to the transceiver.

(If this is a big truck — not a pickup — specify which one.)

RM ITALY KL-203 baby amp. Amp + Radio is an approx 15-18A draw at maximum. 50W+ all day. Will get you heard. (88Radio).

West Mountain Radio ClearSpeech DSP Speaker. A HAM radio-marketed product. Cleans up noise like you wouldn’t believe. (DX Engineering).

Now you can Hear, and be Heard.

As to home power supply I’ve bought the Alinco 30A model that sells approx $120. (Nissei or MFJ similar). (DX-E, again).

MEGAWATT is a popular supplier also.

“Where” to mount it all in a pickup is harder these days. There are consoles & stands from HAVIS or JOTTO. Seems expensive, but isn’t. Damaging gear is TOO easy.

(Harbor Freight Apache 3800 for CB + Speaker. PVC tubing for antennas).

I use a TAC-COMM TRC-2 for my pickup. Have it secured on passenger seat. That’s not permanent, but it’s easy to carry it inside and use from kitchen table. Or in RV.

How you use your pickup is crucial. Softball Daddy and Soccer Mommy live in a bubble compared to guys who earn a living with a truck.

So if hitched to a gooseneck or tall van-type trailer, radio performance has to account for those.

Highway-only I set my Pete’s antenna to 14’. My pickup I have antennas of several lengths. It doesn’t go off-road, so 11’ to 15’ is my range.

The receiver in the 885 seems slightly better than my 880. Might be wishful thinking. But it won’t overcome a bad antenna mount AND location.

Center of Mass of Metal. (Roof).

.
 
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