Breathe new life into that old 296D or 796D

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AZScanner

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Hi gang. Maybe the mods will smile on this thread and make it a sticky.

The idea here is to post tips and tricks to get the most out of your old BC296D and/or BC796D. Lots of us with no money to upgrade (yet... someday, dammit, either I will win the lottery or UPMan will finally let me beta a new scanner) still have these old scanners kicking around and as I found yesterday, they can actually be made to work reasonably well on these confounded P25 systems - if you get them dialed in right. I got the idea for this thread after spending some time yesterday tinkering with mine and found out how to get rid of (on my local DTRS anyway) the annoying habit the 796 has of jumping back to the control channel before the conversation has finished. I figured maybe we can all share some knowledge and get these old scanners running at their best.

Some general P25 info: As we all know, (well maybe not all of us, so I'll say it here) the best way to track 800MHz P25 systems is to program ONLY the control channels, NFM mode, and make sure you do NOT set a CC Only plan. Also, make sure you only scan/program control channels with a STRONG signal. Anything less than 3 bars on the display will be next to useless to monitor. These scanners need a clear signal to work properly. I also recommend a talkgroup delay setting of 1 second if you like to use the priority feature, instead of the default of 2 seconds. I also set the steps from Auto to 6.25khz, but I didn't notice much of a difference when doing so - but I wanted the scanner to perform at it's best for the system, so I did it anyway. I also use the scanner ONLY for digital scanning so I have the squelch set to FULL OPEN which seems to help decoding for some reason. If you turn it up too high, the scanner won't decode anything.

Anyway, as I was saying I noticed that during scanning the scanner kept jumping back to the control channel in the middle of a conversation, whereas on manual talkgroup hold, it didn't. I figured this had to be some sort of setting causing the issue, so into the programming menu I went. What you want to do is head into SCAN OPTION->TRUNK->(select the applicable bank)->then scroll down to STATUS BIT and END CODE. The default (and culprit) setting for these is ON - turn both of these OFF. Hit Scan or Resume to exit when done and voila - no more jumping back to the control channel prematurely!

I also have a tip for the digital decoder setting (to access this, hold 9 whle on an active P25 frequency). Conventional wisdom says to set the decode value so that the number displayed during decode is lowest, ideally 0000. I found that it's actually better to find that setting and dial it back one, i.e. if the "sweet spot" for your system is 533, set it to 433. The voices don't seem as bassy that way, and it makes it easier to understand what they're saying.

That's all I have for now, but if I come across any other tips, I'll post them here. In the meanwhile, if you know a trick or tip with your old X96D, feel free to share! I'm always looking for new ways to tinker with my old toys. ;)

-AZ
 

AZScanner

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Also be sure the BCi96D digital card firmware is up to date (version 1.3). I could hardly receive several talkgroups in the IL Starcomm 21 system before updating this. Now it sounds about as good as my 396XT. The updates are here: http://www.uniden.com/my/downloads.cfm?product=BC296D. (account on Uniden's site required)
Ah, yes... good call there. I'm *pretty* sure I installed this already, but will double-check.

FYI: To check firmware on a BC796 or 296D, turn off the scanner, hold down 2-4-9 and turn it back on. The firmware version will be displayed (not sure if it displays the card version or not - I think it does but will need to confirm when I'm back home).

Another tip/trick: If you monitor a huge system like I do , and need more than 100 slots for talkgroups, program a second bank (or more if needed) with identical control channel frequencies, and then continue to program additional talkgroups. The scanner is able to switch between the two banks very quickly since it will be monitoring the same frequency on both.

This evening I'm going to start on a full reprogramming of the scanner, using this technique on all 10 banks (yes, I'm a sick puppy). But the idea will be that when this scanner goes mobile again, I will be able to monitor the RWC from anywhere in the valley seamlessly. If it works well enough, I might even pick up a second 796 on the cheap and run 2 - they're very sturdy scanners and work great as mobiles.

Good stuff, keep it coming guys! WE REFUSE TO BE OBSOLETE! LOL......:D

-AZ
 

ka3jjz

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This would be a dandy wiki article. You could even write this up in Word and use the translation macro to convert it to wiki code, and I'd wager that a good chunk of it would be ready to go with just a little bit of fixing. The user's guide has the details.

73 Mike
 

911scanner

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Just chiming in....

My 296 is still functioning just fine. Although I do have a few other newer scanners, why not keep this one up & running???

I use it to sit on a local TG with priority turned on, and have my other 10 favorite TG's as PRI channels. Works good for those comms I just don't want to miss!!!


MM
 

AZScanner

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This would be a dandy wiki article. You could even write this up in Word and use the translation macro to convert it to wiki code, and I'd wager that a good chunk of it would be ready to go with just a little bit of fixing. The user's guide has the details.

73 Mike
Say, that IS a good idea - I keep forgetting about the wiki. I'm a complete noob when it comes to wiki'ing though, so I'll need to read up on how it all works. In the meanwhile, I'll keep this thread active, and when I've got all the content together we'll move it over to the wiki.

911scanner said:
Just chiming in....

My 296 is still functioning just fine. Although I do have a few other newer scanners, why not keep this one up & running???

I use it to sit on a local TG with priority turned on, and have my other 10 favorite TG's as PRI channels. Works good for those comms I just don't want to miss!!!
Fantastic tip. I use this all the time also on my 796. Where I live, the police departments all have "hot" channels (no, that's not where the hottest sounding dispatcher works, guys) that carry the traffic for major incidents. When in a particular area, I will sit on the TG for the local PD dispatch and keep the hot channel as a priority, so that when they dispatch a call and move it to the hot channel, my scanner follows along automatically. This is where the 1 second TG delay tip comes into play, because the scanner will only check priority ID's when it's on the control channel, so you want to get back to that channel quickly or else you might miss traffic on the priority ID's. The local FD for Mesa and Gilbert also has a major incident channel where all working fires and serious MVA's go, and this makes a good priority as well.

OK, off to read about this wiki thing we have here. ;)

-AZ
 

iMONITOR

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I think the BC796D is still one of the best digital scanners ever made, if it were not for the AGC issue, and memory limitations.
 

ka3jjz

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AZ, you might find it easier, given that this thread is a bit fluid at the moment, to record everything in Word and use this macro to change most of the data to Wiki markup language;

InfPro IT Solutions GmbH

I can help you with the cleanup. It shouldn't be all that hard, frankly. No need to get fancy here, at least not yet. Just remember to disable your antivirus if it flags the VB macro as a virus- some antiviruses don't take kindly to VB macros 73 Mike
 

ka3jjz

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You might as well add a comment about rebanding - link in the following wiki article, which has a specific example of the table values, and the screens in ProScan to use;

Software Support for Uniden Rebanding - The RadioReference Wiki

As I mentioned in another thread, I haven't got screen shots of ARC250 to show where the rebanding values go. I *think*, I am unsure whether this is right, that if ProScan detects that you are downloading a system from RR that has rebanded, the table values are automatically inserted. You would only need to do them manually if you were programming manually. You would *not* need these tables for systems that are true P25- they carry the necessary information on the control channel, nor would you need them for EDACS systems. EDACS systems simply need reprogramming.

Scan Control - the only other major player, I think, for programming the 296/796 - also has the rebanding screens, but like ARC250, I don't have screen shots to display it. I don't know if the TrunkStar products have been updated for rebanding.

Also I would note what firmware upgrade is necessary for rebanding support, and where you can obtain it (the Uniden TWiki has all the links)

73 Mike
 
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RadioChief55

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796 & 296 UHF P-25 help

I been trying too get my 796 and 296 to work on the new Jersey City NJ UHF P-25 system. It looks like it is going threw the talk groups but doesn't stop on any. I put it next to my 396 and it is stopping on TG and I hear it loud and clear but nothing on the 796 or 296. I can hear the talk on the radios if I scan the frequencies conventionally. I have all the updates. I just cant figure it out. Any ideas??

Thanks
John
 

sjlamb

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I been trying too get my 796 and 296 to work on the new Jersey City NJ UHF P-25 system. It looks like it is going threw the talk groups but doesn't stop on any. I put it next to my 396 and it is stopping on TG and I hear it loud and clear but nothing on the 796 or 296. I can hear the talk on the radios if I scan the frequencies conventionally. I have all the updates. I just cant figure it out. Any ideas??

Thanks
John
Have you performed the APCO P-25 Adjustment as detailed on page 51 of the BC796D Owner's Manual?

http://www.uniden.com/pdf/BC796Dom.pdf
 

ka3jjz

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Probably the best way to diagnose this issue is to dump the contents of the scanner, John. My first WAG would be that it's not properly programmed with the right system type, but without a way to look at the programming, it's hard to make an accurate diagnosis.

At first I thought it's not a true P25 system, but it is, according to the database. Those offsets look wierd - I'm unsure if they are right. Someone on the NJ forum is likely to know this, but you need to put those offsets in as well. Did you do this? Did you compare your programming on the 396 to the 296? 73 Mike
 
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DaveNF2G

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I was trying to breathe life into my BC-296D so I could sell it yesterday when the volume and squelch controls decided to fail. Is this a "send it back" problem or is it something that somebody has managed to correct on their own?
 

cg

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There is no firmware upgrade I can find for the card, you upgrade the scanner. If it is the card that is being done, can I update the ones in my 785s as Uniden has no firmware update for it? How about if I swap them into the 796 one at a time? I have done the firmware update to the 796.

chris
 

KE4NYV

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I was a 785 owner, without the digital card. I quickly sold it and moved to the 796D in anticipation of the statewide Virginia VHF P25 system going online. Once it did start rolling out, I quickly found that my 796D was not going to hack it and to put it simply, I was pissed. I was even more pissed when Uniden originally said they would not support it for rebanding. I was even more pissed when I found out they would not fully support VHF P25 support. Yes, the scanner has an option for P25, but it does not trunk a VHF P25 SmartZone system.

I still have the scanner and I would love to make it work, but I don't have high hopes. That really started to sour me some on Uniden and their lousy support for a slightly older model. I'm not one of those guys that gets pissed because a scanner from 1985 isn't supported, I'm talking about a model that came out in this decade!
 

crevatis

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The BCi96 update is available in Uniden's download area if you select the 296D or 796D scanner. I don't know if you the 785 uses the same card.

There is no firmware upgrade I can find for the card, you upgrade the scanner. If it is the card that is being done, can I update the ones in my 785s as Uniden has no firmware update for it? How about if I swap them into the 796 one at a time? I have done the firmware update to the 796.

chris
 

ka3jjz

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The 785, AFAIK, wasn't designed for 9600 baud systems anyway - so it's unlikely the card, even if you could find it, will work.

73 Mike
 

kd7ckq

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You might want to read this thread on the use of the BCi25D card in a BC796D/BC296D scanner.

does-anyone-rr-know-source-uniden-bci25d

Where Upman said the following.
To clarify a bit, the BCi25 and BCi96 are functionally and electrically identical. 9600 bps (i.e. control channel decoding) is not handled by the card, but by the base scanner. A BCi25 in a BC296D would work identically to a BCi96 in a BC296D...either configuration would handle a P25 control channel.

A BC285D cannot decode a P25 (i.e. 9600 bps) control channel regardless of the card installed.
 

RadioChief55

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Ok, I did the updates, I did waht was on page 51. The off sets don't work/ The number is to big. It will only take some thing like 380 or so. The systemm had a 4 and a 5 digit off set number. I just don't know.
 

AZScanner

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I still have the scanner and I would love to make it work, but I don't have high hopes. That really started to sour me some on Uniden and their lousy support for a slightly older model. I'm not one of those guys that gets pissed because a scanner from 1985 isn't supported, I'm talking about a model that came out in this decade!
I don't know if this is helpful or not, but if you set the trunking type to Motorola Type II Custom (assuming rebanding update has been applied) and enter the base and offset information as shown in the wiki entry below, I don't see any reason why it would not work.

Trunktrackers and STARS - The RadioReference Wiki

Worth a try.

-AZ
 
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