Buying my first scanner for christmas

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TXscannernut

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Need help on purchasing my first scanner that will be best in my area.
1) I live in Flower Mound, TX 75028
2) Maximum spending is $600
3) Portable scanner for road trips
4) Want to listen to local fire, police, ambalances in Flower Mound, TX 75028

Thanks
 

IAmSixNine

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I have had nothing but good listening to my Uniden BCD396T. The updated version is the BCD396XT. I hear its just as good with more features.
I live in Dallas, monitor surrounding areas. Its a great hand held scanner.
 

TXscannernut

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Thank you bigwrigg for your input. I will check out the reviews for the BCD396XT, I always thought I might be after the PSR-800, but after reading some reviews I'm second guessing myself. I just want to make one purchase, and making sure that purchase is the best for this area. Thanks again.
And Merry Christmas.
 

hiegtx

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Need help on purchasing my first scanner that will be best in my area.
1) I live in Flower Mound, TX 75028
2) Maximum spending is $600
3) Portable scanner for road trips
4) Want to listen to local fire, police, ambalances in Flower Mound, TX 75028

Thanks
Flower Mound is on the Lewisville system. They are not digital at this time. Neither is Denton County. However, just to your east, Frisco is digital, and many of the area systems are expected to make the conversion over the next few years. Statewide, TX DPS uses digital transmissions on conventional (non-trunked) frequencies. Your maximum budget of $600 leaves you plenty of room to get a digital trunk-tracking scanner, which will cover all the local systems, current, & (best guess) projected for the next several years,

I have had nothing but good listening to my Uniden BCD396T. The updated version is the BCD396XT. I hear its just as good with more features.
I live in Dallas, monitor surrounding areas. Its a great hand held scanner.
I'm also in Dallas. I have both the 396T and the current model 396XT. I would recommend the 396XT. It has several advantages over the 396T. These include the ability to utilize NAC codes, which is extremely useful for conventional, non-trunked, digital channels, such as DPS. Also, the 396XT will do multi-site systems. While we don't have much of that here in North Texas, since you mentioned road trips, you'd find that feature extremely handy in areas with large regional systems, such as TxWARN P25 and GATRRS, or the statewide systems such as Louisiana's LWIN, or AWIN in Arkansas
The features in the 396XT that are either unique to it (over the 396T), or are improved/expanded over the 396T are in bold on the 396XT's page in the Wiki. The 396T's page is here.
try the pro 106 thats the one i use for traveling. Might as well get a better antenna than the stock
The Pro-106 is the Radio Shack version of the GRE manufactured PSR-500. I also have the PSR-500. It also will handle all the local systems, and has multi-site and NAC capability. While the Pro-106 often goes on sale (I believe it is currently on sale, now), Radio Shack charges extra for the ac adapter and pc interface cable. You would need the cable, to do firmware updates on occasion, and it would be required if you wanted to be able to program via software. (GRE includes both items with the PSR-500.)

My personal preference is the 396XT. Like bigwrigg, I monitor a large number of systems in the N. Texas area. I like the smaller size, easier to carry, or slip in a jacket pocket. The Uniden scanners (if bought new) come with the pc cable, ac adapter, and rechargeable batteries. (The pc cable is serial, so if your pc does not have a serial port, either pick up a USB->serial adapter or order the USB programming cable.) There is a freeware program available, FreeScan, which works very well to program the Uniden scanners. I prefer Unden's memory management, DMA, over that used by the GRE scanners (includes the Pro-106); that's called 'object oriented'. However, that is a preference, Either will work.Software for the GRE scanners starts at $35.00.

With the 396XT, should you decide to go that far, you can attach a GPS, and have the scanner turn systems on & off as they come into & pass out of range while traveling (the GPS & related cables, though, would run about $100, so that's bumping your limit).

There are a couple of other options:
Either the Uniden Home Patrol-1 (HP-1) or GRE's PSR-800 would also cover everything you want. These scanners have the entire RadioReference database loaded on a micro-SD card. While the method varies between the models, you tell the scanner what types of systems/channels you want to listen to, and where you are. The scanner then finds and loads what's in range. I have one of the Home Patrols. It's not 'exactly' a portable, in the sense it's not made with a belt clip (like the BDC396XT or the Pro-106 or PSR-500). But it is small, and battery powered. It comes wiith an ac adapter, dc adapter (for the cigarette lighter), batteries, and a small stand. You can get a mount, like for a GPS, to mount it in your vehicle. It's about the size of an old style 'Walkman' cassette player.

On the HP-1, you can enter your location by entering the zip code, or city name, and be up and scanning in a few minutes. No programming required. I've found mine to be surprisingly sensitive, when paired with a good antenna, which is key for any scanner.If I don't get a GPS to use with it for Christmas, I'm going to order one, "to me, from me".
 

BillyFred

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What they said! I don's have experience with the Home Patrol but if you plan to carry the radio handheld then it's a bit much. The 396xt is a nice radio.

Honestly I thought Id never use the GPS function however I have one 996xt (mobile version of the 396xt) set up to do nothing GPS driven monitoring. It's pretty cool as you travel around to have the radio turn systems on and off for you.

Bottom line 396xt gets my vote!
 

rwier

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3) Portable scanner for road trips....................................................................

If your serious about #3, I wouldn't leave town without my HP-1(E). This jewel also has many useful analytical testing features that will increase your enjoyment of other scanners that decode digital/simulcast/multisite systems ( just my opinion based upon real life testing).

PS: After reading the responses of others, I must say that I have never once used my HP-1, walking around, hand held, and I also have never used it on battery power. Different strokes for different folks, lol.
 
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rwier

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Bottom line 396xt gets my vote!
Can't argue with you billy, I keep thinking I need (really just want, lol) one. But I keep thinking "Maybe early next year, about tax refund time, the next new 'best thing since sliced bread' scanner will make it'self manifest", lol.
 

Spooky527

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if your traveling is only in a vehicle and not on foot, its hard to beat the HP-1. the touch screen and recording abilities really make traveling nice especially when something good pops up.
 

KC5EIB

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Need help on purchasing my first scanner that will be best in my area.
1) I live in Flower Mound, TX 75028
2) Maximum spending is $600
3) Portable scanner for road trips
4) Want to listen to local fire, police, ambalances in Flower Mound, TX 75028

Thanks
The Radio Shack on Flower Mound Rd has a very knowledgeable scanner person that can answer your questions face to face and show you many of the current Radio Shack scanners available and how to manage the information in them. Though he mainly works mornings, he has been known to meet scanner users at he remote office across the parking lot at Starbucks when not working. Give the store a call to find out when he is available.

PS, I work this week Wed 10 to 2 and Thu 10 to 4, off on Friday.
 

hiegtx

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WOW, a lot to look at. I'm going to check out the HP1 and BCD396xt. Thanks again to all.
Don't know if they'll have any on display, but I picked up my Home Patrol at the Fry's in Irving (off 635/MacArthur). Price was competitive with with most of the online dealers (actually, a little cheaper, back in August, at $449.99). Current price there is $459.99, indicates in stock. Most of the online dealers are a little higher, but there would not be sales tax. On the other hand, there would be shipping from out of state, so that's a wash. Fry's also shows the 396XT in stock locally (Irving), @ $457.99. That's also competitively priced.

Besides the fact that the HP-1 is a much more capable scanner than many people expect, it has several features that comes in handy:
Spooky527 said:
if your traveling is only in a vehicle and not on foot, its hard to beat the HP-1. the touch screen and recording abilities really make traveling nice especially when something good pops up.
Even if you're not in a vehicle, the touch screen makes it extremely easy to stop on an active frequency, or department. While other scanners can be placed on hold on one frequency (or talkgroup, on a trunked system), with the HP-1 you can hold on either: a system (say the Lewisville trunked system; Flower Mound is on that system), or a city on that system (Flower Mound), of just a talkgroup, like a fireground channel. The 396XT also has a "system hold" function, where it will scan the selected system only, until told to resume. I find this handy when there is some sort of working incident- large fire, police standoff, chase, whatever, that I want to monitor, without having to lock everything else out, then remember to go back & unlock those channels/systems to resume normal scanning.

Besides the ability to record all, or selected transmissions, you also have a "replay" selection on the touchscreen, which will replay the last 30 seconds of voice traffic the scanner received. So, if you weren't paying attention, or just walked into the room, & missed it (darn it!), you can hear it again. (That 30 seconds is the default; that time can be set up to 240 seconds max for replay.)
 

hiegtx

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The Radio Shack on Flower Mound Rd has a very knowledgeable scanner person that can answer your questions face to face and show you many of the current Radio Shack scanners available and how to manage the information in them. Though he mainly works mornings, he has been known to meet scanner users at he remote office across the parking lot at Starbucks when not working. Give the store a call to find out when he is available.

PS, I work this week Wed 10 to 2 and Thu 10 to 4, off on Friday.
Too bad you don't have a "branch office", or twin, closer to my side of the Metroplex, Doug. I used to do a lot more with The Shack than I do now.
 

KC5EIB

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Don't know if they'll have any on display, but I picked up my Home Patrol at the Fry's in Irving (off 635/MacArthur).
Did not see any on display today but then they do keep a lot of these type items locked up.


Even if you're not in a vehicle, the touch screen makes it extremely easy to stop on an active frequency, or department. While other scanners can be placed on hold on one frequency (or talkgroup, on a trunked system), with the HP-1 you can hold on either: a system (say the Lewisville trunked system; Flower Mound is on that system), or a city on that system (Flower Mound), of just a talkgroup, like a fireground channel. The 396XT also has a "system hold" function, where it will scan the selected system only, until told to resume. I find this handy when there is some sort of working incident- large fire, police standoff, chase, whatever, that I want to monitor, without having to lock everything else out, then remember to go back & unlock those channels/systems to resume normal scanning.
This can also be done with most other scanners depending on how they are programed.

As with most all scanners on the market today, there will be a steep learning curve so what ever scanner you end up with, actually press the buttons while reading the manual to learn how to operate the radio.
 

hiegtx

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Did not see any on display today but then they do keep a lot of these type items locked up.
When I picked up my HP1, it was the last one on the shelf (they're over near the pc parts, sort of an odd place).

This can also be done with most other scanners depending on how they are programed.

As with most all scanners on the market today, there will be a steep learning curve so what ever scanner you end up with, actually press the buttons while reading the manual to learn how to operate the radio.
True. Just quicker & easier with the HP-1. My main take-with scanner is still the 396XT.
 
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