choosing a reasonably-priced mobile scanner

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w2edv

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Hi Everyone - if this is a duplicate, I apologize. I wrote and posted, but cannot find my original.

At home I use a 996T which I bought, programmed and use. It works well, though I am not a scanner hobby expert. I want to use a scanner in my car, but not the 996T. I was hoping to get some advice on a reasonably-priced and appropriate unit and antenna for my car. I wish to monitor police, fire, ems and HAM and WX service would be nice. I'm a Skywarn spotter and having a scanner in my car would be helpful. I stow my dual-band transceiver and GPSr when I exit the car, so I thought perhaps a hh unit would suffice - one to which I can attach and detach power and antenna cables. I can mount it on the dash.

Do I *require* a digital trunking scanner? I live in northern NJ. With my VHF/UHF unit, I have a hatch mount for my vertical whip. I was envisioning using the same type mount (PO/PL259) on the other side of my hatch, for the scanner.

Any thoughts or recommendations are greatly appreciated.

earl
w2edv
 

whiskeytango

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im too lazy atm so you should check nj's database and if it says "d" under type then that agency is digital and you will need a digi. i got the pro 160 and i take it in and out of my truck at night, mostly for security reasons. its not digital, just a trunk scanner. radio shack has a good selection for a basic budget minded antennas...just poke around the forums for a bit
 

w2edv

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WhiskeyTango,

thanks - I'll do that. If I could, I'd ask your advice on one or two points:

another individual recommended that I stay away from a Uniden mobile/hh because they are too difficult to manipulate in the car. I use the 996T at home, but I'm sure I haven't explored all the functionality.

Another poster mentioned that side-by-side, he thought that GRE scanners were more sensitive than their R.S. counterparts (R.s. I believe contracts with GRE for at least some of their scanners).

What would be your take on those two suggestions?

thanks/73
earl
 

KE4ZNR

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WhiskeyTango,

thanks - I'll do that. If I could, I'd ask your advice on one or two points:

another individual recommended that I stay away from a Uniden mobile/hh because they are too difficult to manipulate in the car. I use the 996T at home, but I'm sure I haven't explored all the functionality.
Whoever told you that is wrong. Granted attention should always be placed on the traffic around and not at other devices (cellphone, GPS, or scanner) but I can operate both my GRE/Radio Shack and Uniden Radios in the mobile environment with no problems. Neither brand is "easier" to use in the car.

Another poster mentioned that side-by-side, he thought that GRE scanners were more sensitive than their R.S. counterparts (R.s. I believe contracts with GRE for at least some of their scanners).

I would say that GRE Radios and Radio Shack radios have the same sensitivity considering that Radio Shack sells Rebadged GRE Radios (GRE makes most of Radio Shacks scanners) the above is also not exactly correct. Take the Radio Shack Pro 106. It is a rebadged GRE PSR 500.

Hope this helps!
Marshall KE4ZNR
 

w2edv

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Thanks, Marshall

I have to determine if I actually *need* a digital trunking scanner, or if I can make do with an analog trunking scanner. In looking at the RR database for my area (Bergen, Passaic and <orris counties of NJ), it isn't altogether clear to me whether I need digital or not.

{sound of hand scratching head}

I posted a question in the NJ forum on this (digital or not) as well.

73
earl
w2edv :confused:
 

whiskeytango

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these are the trunked systems in ur area :
Fort Lee Borough Public Safety, Fort Lee
Neoworld (Alpine) , Alpine
New Jersey State Police Omnilink Statewide
Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (PSE&G)

fort lee borough is digital so youll need a digi scanner for it, but after clicking on it theres no info for it so go figure.

Bergen County, New Jersey (NJ) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference this is bergen co., if its not in the 800 hz range its prolly not gonna be trunked, but not all the time.

Passaic County, New Jersey (NJ) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference this is the passaic co
 

Drafin

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I have to agree with Marshall that when it comes to scanner "manipulation" you will see no difference in Uniden or GRE or any other scanner for that matter.

Once you tinker a bit with whatever scanner you decide to buy , the main buttons used while mobile will be like second nature (buttons such as manual,scan, pause, sweeper/signal stalker, etc) and you won;t even have to take your eyes off the road.

Draf
 

hfxChris

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Whoever told you that is wrong. Granted attention should always be placed on the traffic around and not at other devices (cellphone, GPS, or scanner) but I can operate both my GRE/Radio Shack and Uniden Radios in the mobile environment with no problems. Neither brand is "easier" to use in the car.
The only thing I find difficult about the 396XT/330T layout is the placement of the function key. It can sometimes be difficult to press, depending on where and how it's mounted in the car.
 

N8IAA

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For Bergen and Passaic Counties, an analog scanner will work quite nicely. But, for Morris County, you will need a digital capable scanner. The majority of the TG's are digital. My suggestion is to get either a Pro-106, or, a PSR-500. They do quite well in a mobile environment. They also have enough memory to handle all the frequencies from the three counties. A decent, short, dual band antenna with a BNC connector will suffice for the scanner (TT'ing, and conventional). Best accessories: USB programming cable, 12v to 9v DC car adapter (to save on batteries), and most important--- http://www.starrsoft.com --- Win500 software to program the scanner. How you mount the scanner is up to you:))
73,
Larry
 

scansalot52

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I can hear anything local I want using hh with an 800 specific antenna. It works ok on V/U also due to most traffic being on repeaters here. I use a universal 12v adapter and rechargeable NiMH. It can be thrown under the seat or just as easily be taken with me where and whenever I want. I have all the talk arounds and tacs in it, but only monitor primary and first tac channels while mobile to prevent distractions to driving and not miss major events. If I get called to an event then I can unlock those secondary channels as needed.
 

w2edv

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thank you all for the replies; I went to a local R.S., but of course, they don't have any Pro-106s actually in the store. I would have liked to play with it for a bit. Nice that they expect you to plop down $500+ without even touching the unit. Since we are nearing the holidays, I will check RS online and see if the unit goes on sale.

I will post after I get either the 500 or the 106. If anyone else has any thoughts I will happily listen.

73
w2edv
 

w2edv

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Right now, after looking at the features/battery life/weight, I'm beginning to lean towards the 396XT although the GRE/RS units are more sensitive.

sigh..

thoughts/recommendations? Any and all are appreciated.

thanks,
w2edv
 

hiegtx

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Right now, after looking at the features/battery life/weight, I'm beginning to lean towards the 396XT although the GRE/RS units are more sensitive.

sigh..

thoughts/recommendations? Any and all are appreciated.

thanks,
w2edv
I have both the 396XT & the PSR500. (The Pro-106 is functionally the same as the PSR500; the differences are in the front panel layout, i.e. speaker & display placement. Also, the PSR's come with ac adapter & PC cable included. Those are extra cost options for the Pro-106. Operationally/sensitivity is the same between the 500 & 106.)

While the 500 is more sensitive, that is negated (in my experience) by it's tendency to overload & desense in a heavy rf urban environment if I use a gain antenna such as the Radio Shack 800mhz antenna. (That means I hear less, not more, with a gain antenna in the city). While the 396XT is a little less sensitive, it's much less susceptible to overload. I use the R/S 800 antenna on it. Using the stock antenna on the 500 (to prevent overload), and the 800 on the 396XT, they are fairly equal. This area has a wide mix of systems. From suburbs & nearby rural counties (mostly on the south side of the metro area) on Vhf-hi, to Dallas (city) on Uhf, to a number of 800mhz trunked systems for the larger suburbs, and some of the other counties.

When I travel outside the metro area, I switch both to antennas better suited for the Vhf-hi that predominates in the areas I most often head to. Both units perform well. Either will do what you want. I personally prefer the display & memory arrangement of the Uniden's, but that's a personal preference, not a 'one unit is better than the other' statement. However, I would recommend the 396XT, over the older 396. The XT is a bit more sensitive (it seems), plus it has NAC capability and multi-site that the older 396T does not.
 

w2edv

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thanks Hiegtx,

Yes - I was using "396" in my post as shorthand for 396XT. Interesting - different antennas depending on your location/your scanning target - interesting. I was aware that the gre and rs units are the same. It is a bit sad that rs charges extra for items that are standard equipment in the GRE.

Do you use a cigarette-lighter cable to power the unit in the car (dc to dc convertor), or do you just use the batteries?

thanks,
w2edv
 

hiegtx

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thanks Hiegtx,

Do you use a cigarette-lighter cable to power the unit in the car (dc to dc convertor), or do you just use the batteries?

thanks,
w2edv
That depends. For everyday use, I just use the batteries. I keep a couple of sets of four charged low self-discharge batteries in my truck, just in case. (I sometimes have the PSR500 with me as well, which takes 4 batteries; the 396XT takes 3.) But I also have a lighter cable for longer trips. Weekdays, the scanner is in the truck, on batteries, during commute, and occasionally, if something is happening, maybe a few additional hours during the work day. I usually get 8 hours or so on a set of batteries, longer if I'm going out of town & switch to a fresh set of higher capacity ones. (Battery run time is affected by volume, how much the display backlight is used, as well as how much activity is being received. If it's a busy day on the scanner, the batteries will get more of a workout than they would on a slow day, or deep nights.) For a mini-weekend trip, I usually will run the scanner on the dc power cord in the truck (battery charge switch to off) so that they stay charged for use when I'm out of my truck.
 

w2edv

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All,

I have purchased a slightly used 396XT via eBay. I think I got a good deal and expect the unit to arrive by Friday.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to give me their advice, the benefit of your experience and their consideration.

73
w2edv
 

N8IAA

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All,

I have purchased a slightly used 396XT via eBay. I think I got a good deal and expect the unit to arrive by Friday.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to give me their advice, the benefit of your experience and their consideration.

73
w2edv
Freescan is the way to program the 396XT. Look in the wiki for it.
Larry
 
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