Concept for a future Uniden scanner?

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doctordave

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Folks,

Thought I'd throw out an idea for a future Uniden product....and if there is reasonable interest in this general framework, then perhaps Paul might pursue it further with his development team. I regularly talk with public safety and media personnel who greatly desire to monitor both conventional and trunked radio systems, but are tremendously intimidated by the complexity of modern day scanning radios - particularly the existing Uniden & GRE digital models. Here are a few thoughts:

-Streamlined, ultra-basic control set- much like many existing public safety radios. Volume, scan, manual, channel lockout and channel scroll dial. Perhaps even choice of a few "zones" by way of flipping a toggle switch.

-Large, simple display screen that cites the channel #, channel name & lockout/in status only.

-Software set that allows the programmer to define the number of total channels to be in a single scan list (for each given zone) and this scan list could well be a combination of conventional channels and trunked talkgroups---but from the perspective of the radio user, these channels would be treated the same in terms of display appearance and manipulation via the radio controls. Nice and simple.

-Reasonably sized, front-firing speaker.

-Ultra rugged design & black exterior.


In essence, this sort of radio would share some similarities to certain public safety trunking radios in existence today. Hallmarks would be great flexibility in radio setup via software and a rather structured/basic profile from the standpoint of the user. Public safety agencies considering scanning devices for their vehicles would have a clear frontrunner to go with and the legions of not-so-tech-savvy personal scannists would have an outlier in the market that very much meets their needs. I suspect that many of us here on RR, who are clearly quite at ease with the current crop of digital trunking scanners, would nonetheless be intrigued by such a product.

Of interest? History has certainly proven the offering of product ideas here on RR to be fruitful.
 

DaveIN

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Hmmm... maybe an analog trunking scanner with TrunkTracker 3, but I can't see someone buying a ~$500 digital (P25) scanner without at least the same feature set that is currently available on the GRE and Uniden digital line.

I understand what you mean by comlexity, but we really don't want to go back to banks and channels again do we? That is such a waste of memory and ability to manage your frequencies and trunked systems is much better with the newer dynamic memory methods.
 

doctordave

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For folks like you and me (and probably 85% of our RR members) who are comfortable with full feature radios and could operate them in our sleep, no. But, for the many folks out there who are overwhelmed by the many bells/whistles/buttons of the existing digital radios and simply want to monitor a few local public safety agencies - then probably yes. Given how much it costs to develop/market a given radio, I doubt that any company would split off digital radio production into a high feature and a low feature series....but it doesn't hurt to throw the idea out there.
 

nosoup4u

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This is something I have been thinking about for a while.

For the next generation of hand-held scanners, I would like to see an external interface box (Unidens version of the convertacom). On the radio side of the box, would be a cable with a singe connector that goes to the back or bottom of the radio. On the other end of the interface, I would like to see the following connectors:

Power
Speaker
Antenna
Serial (To remote head)
Serial (To GPS)

Then all you have to do when you get inside the car is plug in 1 thing into the scanner and you are all set to go.
 

Don_Burke

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doctordave said:
For folks like you and me (and probably 85% of our RR members) who are comfortable with full feature radios and could operate them in our sleep, no. But, for the many folks out there who are overwhelmed by the many bells/whistles/buttons of the existing digital radios and simply want to monitor a few local public safety agencies - then probably yes. Given how much it costs to develop/market a given radio, I doubt that any company would split off digital radio production into a high feature and a low feature series....but it doesn't hurt to throw the idea out there.
How about a keyboard sequence that would put the scanner in a field programmed mode much like what you are talking about?

That plus an optional tougher case would seem to fill the bill and would not put much strain on a manufacturer.
 

nosoup4u

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Another thing that would be nice is a notepad, where you could enter information (unit or station numbers etc.), that you could pull up with a key press.
 

exkalibur

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There are two things I would change before anything else.

1) LOUD audio - at least 1W of audio like a commercial radio
2) RUGGED case - I should be able to drop the thing and not break it
 

N8IAA

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exkalibur said:
There are two things I would change before anything else.

1) LOUD audio - at least 1W of audio like a commercial radio
2) RUGGED case - I should be able to drop the thing and not break it
Amen. I just recently bought a Yaesu VX-170. 700mw of audio, metal case, waterproof, approximately the size of the 396, large screen/easy to read alphatags. Easily programmed(dual vfo's!) and under $120 before accessories and tax. The banks are user defined in size. If we stopped buying the throw-away radios, maybe the manufacturers will listen. I know this is the Uniden forum-so Paul-let the engineers know that there are more than enough of us who want a pocket sized scanner that is more like commercial gear. I won't be buying a new scanner from Uniden or GRE until they make one that actually feels like a radio.
Larry
 

kd7ckq

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I always wanted a small platform scanner. When the BC-RH96 came out, I thought it would be the perfect platform. Take a look at the BC396T, BR330T or even the BC246T. They pack alot into a small package. Why not take there internals and place them into the BC-RH96 chassis. Keep the Big display and add a pigtail female BNC.
Also, If ham radios can have two recievers and transmitters. Why can't we have just two recievers in a scanner? I don't know how many of us are ham radio operators. But, sometimes I have my TM-D700A set to scan a couple of ham channels and a few Public Safety channels on side B and have it set to monitor a single channel on side A. Can't believe how convienent this is. Brand New when they first came out it cost me $550 and my last one cost me $450.
Yes, Zones would be cool.
 

scanfan03

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kd7ckq said:
I always wanted a small platform scanner. When the BC-RH96 came out, I thought it would be the perfect platform. Take a look at the BC396T, BR330T or even the BC246T. They pack alot into a small package. Why not take there internals and place them into the BC-RH96 chassis. Keep the Big display and add a pigtail female BNC.
Also, If ham radios can have two recievers and transmitters. Why can't we have just two recievers in a scanner? I don't know how many of us are ham radio operators. But, sometimes I have my TM-D700A set to scan a couple of ham channels and a few Public Safety channels on side B and have it set to monitor a single channel on side A. Can't believe how convienent this is. Brand New when they first came out it cost me $550 and my last one cost me $450.
Yes, Zones would be cool.
Add $300 for the APCO scheme (since this is going to be a top of the line scanner), add another $100 for LTR trunking, add another $100 for MOT trunking, and last but not least another $100 for EDACs. So you're looking at about $1100 give or take a little (this doesn't include a better case or better receiver with a better front end). I hope you get the idea. That's pretty much why we dont see scanners with dual VFO's. What do you mean by zones? banks?
 

PeterGV

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I've been begging... BEGGING... for a scanner with dual receive for a couple of years now. And there's NO reason it can't be done reasonably. IMBE decoder chips cost $20 each (and that's quantity 1)... P25 doesn't really have to add that much to the price.

Of course, I've also been begging for scanner with decent selectivity and sensitivity, and with a P25 decode that's the equivalent of a Motorola handheld.

Heck... if it was done right, and put in a Mil Spec submersible case, I'd pay plenty for it.

de Peter K1PGV
 

mancow

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The chips may be $20 physically but the licensing is far more and that really helps drive up the price.




PeterGV said:
I've been begging... BEGGING... for a scanner with dual receive for a couple of years now. And there's NO reason it can't be done reasonably. IMBE decoder chips cost $20 each (and that's quantity 1)... P25 doesn't really have to add that much to the price.

Of course, I've also been begging for scanner with decent selectivity and sensitivity, and with a P25 decode that's the equivalent of a Motorola handheld.

Heck... if it was done right, and put in a Mil Spec submersible case, I'd pay plenty for it.

de Peter K1PGV
 

scanfan03

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PeterGV said:
I've been begging... BEGGING... for a scanner with dual receive for a couple of years now. And there's NO reason it can't be done reasonably. IMBE decoder chips cost $20 each (and that's quantity 1)... P25 doesn't really have to add that much to the price.

Of course, I've also been begging for scanner with decent selectivity and sensitivity, and with a P25 decode that's the equivalent of a Motorola handheld.

Heck... if it was done right, and put in a Mil Spec submersible case, I'd pay plenty for it.

de Peter K1PGV
The thing is, manufactureres are going to way the benefits of making a product. If a product costs a lot of money and a lot of people buy it, the cost can be justified. But with the case of this radio that you have been begging for, the market base is not big enough to manufacture an expensive scanner with your specifications because no one will buy it and they will lose money. Do you see where we are coming from? If the cost can be driven down to about $500-$800 I'm sure they would do it. Otherwise you're not going to see it happen.
 

kd7ckq

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I look at it like this. Technology has improved, Other industries have learned to build higher quality items cheaper. Why should the scanner industry be any different. My current computer has much more capability than my computer from 2yrs ago, yet it cost less.
 

scanfan03

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kd7ckq said:
I look at it like this. Technology has improved, Other industries have learned to build higher quality items cheaper. Why should the scanner industry be any different. My current computer has much more capability than my computer from 2yrs ago, yet it cost less.
Two years ago Uniden introduced us with a DMA scanner, which was never before heard of and a big step foward in the scanner age. Scanners are getting much more capable and they are getting cheaper/staying the same price. Think back 15 years ago when the brand new $300 scanner was a 10 bank 100 channel scanner without alpha tags and conventional only with no DPL or PL. The technology has advanced and a lot at that. Now you can get the same new scanner with alpha tags, trunking, PL/DPL, computer control/programming and DMA all for $200. At least we don't have to use crystals anymore. That's all I'm saying, the industry has advanced a lot and it costs a lot of money to buy the licenses to use someone elses property (Think Motorola isn't going to let anyone listen in on their systems easily without a hefty price tag).
 

PeterGV

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mancow said:
The chips may be $20 physically but the licensing is far more and that really helps drive up the price.
Sorry, but there is no added licensing cost for decoding P25 (IMBE) audio. There are no licensing fees for decoding and interpreting the P25 CAI. None. This "urban legend" about license fees (you hear $200 a unit mentioned a lot) are just that -- a legend with little basis in reality.

So, while there may be licensing fees beyond those included in the $20 chip price involved, they are most assuredly not required for anyting related to P25.

de Peter K1PGV
 

PeterGV

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scanfan03 said:
The thing is, manufacturers are going to weigh the benefits of making a product. If a product costs a lot of money and a lot of people buy it, the cost can be justified. But with the case of this radio that you have been begging for, the market base is not big enough to manufacture an expensive scanner with your specifications because no one will buy it and they will lose money. Do you see where we are coming from?
Yes, I absolutely see what you're saying. You're making a business argument, and a good one at that. But three things to note:

1) It doesn't necessarily need to be THAT expensive.

2) Even if it DOES need to be expensive, there are multiple models for product success. Not every product has to compete at a commodity level (where pure cost and volume are the drivers).

I suspect that there's room in the market for a scanner that has premium features and performance, and commands a premium price. The trick, of course, is that the price is significantly greater than the cost of the premium features -- yielding a very profitable product.

In other words, you can make a little money on each unit and sell a ton of units (commodity model) or you can make a lot of money on each unit and sell just a few units (price premium model).

Now, it could be that Uniden (by deliberate corporate decision) only wants to compete in commodity markets, and doesn't want to product limited volume products. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. Just forces us to look elsewhere for premium products.

3) There's a middle road, that I frankly don't understand why more consumer electronics manufacturers don't utilize: Design the product for BOTH the commodity and price premium markets. The increase in design cost is marginal. Build and market the commodity version as usual, making a little money on each unit and planning to sell a ton of units. Build and market a limited release, high-end model, with higher quality components and added features (think, better selectivity and sensitivity, maybe dual-receive). Price this at a significant premium, selling only a few units and making a ton of profit on each unit. Car manufacturers do this. Audio component manufacturers do this. Scanner manufacturers could do this too. What makes this practical is the use of automated electronic assembly systems that make it practical to order-up even just a hundred of an item at a time. You don't need to carry a lot of inventory of the premium item, and you fire-off a few hundred units each time you have enough demand.

What would make this attractive to a volume manufacturer like Uniden is that they can spread the initial investment in the design across the large quantity of commodity units... yet generate monster profit per unit from the price premium items.

For example... if Uniden could offer me a scanner with the capability of the 396, with really good quality P25 audio decode, and selectivity and sensitivity (in just the VHF, UHF, 700MHz and 800MHz) bands that equals that of a Motorola handheld... would I pay $1200 for it? You bet I would. It'd hurt, but I'd pay it. And so would every other scanner freak who owns a handful of XTS-3000, XTS-2500, and XTS-5000s...

--

Sorry for the business discussion... I think the business aspects of the scanner market are some of the most interesting, actually.

de Peter K1PGV
 

welshtorg

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How about

How about:

1). A Desktop, drop-in style charger, complete with little metal contacts on the back, just like a Minitor Pager...Keep it on a bedside table and pick it up when you go...No more snatching out power cords or trying to find the cord (that always seems to fall behind the nightstand) to plug it back in...

2.) If it's a portable, how about a GPS receiver???? My Garmin Etrex is much bigger than 396....No fancy features...just for turning sites off and on....

3.) Like NOSOUP4U pointed out a vehicular, drop-in charger/port replicator...via a contact port (not plug in) like Motorola's JEDI ports on the upper right side of their radios....All of it...External Speaker, External antenna, External GPS antenna, power/battery recharge....all by "locking in" the scanner with one knob...

4.) Close the gap between programming software and electronic methodology from the portable and the mobile model....While it's not hard to convert 996-to-396 and 396-to-996, it would be just nice....
 
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