Creating the Ideal "Chase Rig"

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DFD1994

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I have recently been looking into putting together a mobile/vehicle setup that is more permanent than what I currently have and would, in reality, be most closely related to the vehicles used by "stringers" in the LA area news market. I am thinking of setting up 2-3 mobile units with external speakers in order to have dedicated scans for different systems/agencies given whatever area I am in. I cover an area mostly made up of P25 Phase I and Phase II systems with some 800's still lingering.

The question is this:
Is it best to just bite the bullet and price for 3 SDS200's (assuming the ever come in stock) or is it reasonable to plan for an earlier Uniden (536HP) or a Whistler model of similar spec? And what low-profile antennas out there have people had good luck with? I don't necessarily need tri-band as I could run 1 dedicated 800 scanner and the other 2 VHF/UHF (then again tri-band would be the easiest thing)

Would love to hear what setups you wither do run or would run on a setup like this. Just take the concept and run with it, I'm not having to keep it covert or a practical daily driver... this would be a dedicated vehicle with a console insert and permanent antenna mounts. I'm not saying money isn't an object but it doesn't have to be a budget build.

Thanks in advance to the hive mind for any insight/advice.
 

KK4JW

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I'd go with the SDS200 especially if there are Multi-site simulcast systems. I don't own one, but from what I've read, the SDS series scanners blow everything else out of the water on these systems.

Always buy the best you can afford.
 

JimD56

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Nice Questions. I actually owned a stringer service in Miami/Fort Lauderdale back from 1999 to 2003, then came the proliferation of cellphone cameras which made the business not viable, because you can't be at all the calls all the time.
I highly recommend for mobile the BCD996P2, if you do NOT have simulcast issues. IMHO the BCD996P2 display is far superior to the BCD536HP and the audio is great. I do run a BCD996P2 in my car and I have no display or audio issues. If you are going to run multiple units, you can change the display color on the BCD996P2 relevant to a system, i.e. Red Display Fire, Blue Police, etc. As for running multiple units, I feel the best way to set them up is to isolate systems per unit. i.e. Unit 1 Fire, Unit 2 PD, Unit 3 Flex for active incidents regardless of service Fire or PD. 2 Handhelds as well, so when you are out of your "mobile command post" on the scene you can still hear whats up. The BCD325P2 is nice and small and mounts nicely on ProClips anywhere in the car. That's what I use.
I see DFW metroplex on your tagline, which is great for monitoring because as of now you have NO simulcast issues in your biggest markets for fire and bleed news, Dallas, Tarrant County, Fort Worth. However, MOST of Fort Worth PD is Encrypted "E" and Johnson County does have 1 Simulcast site. In Conclusion, IMHO 2 - BCD996P2's go to Amazon and look below in the description for Used, Open Box, Returns. They typically run about $270-300, then do the same for the BCD325P2 handheld. That gives you four scanners for in-car, 2 of which you can "pull and run with". I run a Low Profile UHF NMO, and a dedicated 800-900 mhz NMO both Larsen. Antenna Farm is my go-to guy,

Lastly, do NOT forget 1 Analog Scanner, maybe a BC125AT, dedicated to DFW Airport Air VHF to listen to Pilots for aircraft emergencies and to listen to the local TV stations news desks, your possible competition.
Good Luck
Jim
 

mwjones

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Since you indicate that you're in the DFW Metroplex (as am I) I would heed others advice. All of the major P25 systems in the region are simulcast:

Fort Worth Regional = Simulcast
Dallas/NCTCOG = Simulcast (City of Dallas site)
Denton County = Simulcast
PAWM/(New) Collin County = Simulcast
GMRS = Simulcast
Metrocrest Quad Cities = Simulcast
Frisco = Simulcast
Richardson = Simulcast
McKinney = Simulcast
DFW Airport = Simulcast

Get yourself an 1 or more SDS100/200 radios and you won't regret it. I recently added one of each to my setup, mainly because of the Collin County move to P25 on PAWM, leaving my older BCD996T and BCD396T receiving less and less (currently they're relegated to monitoring Frisco because Frisco hasn't deployed any Phase 2 talkgroups). Of course this a hobby for me, and my career don't depend on me hearing everything.
 

iMONITOR

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I have recently been looking into putting together a mobile/vehicle setup that is more permanent than what I currently have and would, in reality, be most closely related to the vehicles used by "stringers" in the LA area news market.
Nice website, great photography! (y)
 

DFD1994

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DFW Metroplex
Since you indicate that you're in the DFW Metroplex (as am I) I would heed others advice. All of the major P25 systems in the region are simulcast:

Fort Worth Regional = Simulcast
Dallas/NCTCOG = Simulcast (City of Dallas site)
Denton County = Simulcast
PAWM/(New) Collin County = Simulcast
GMRS = Simulcast
Metrocrest Quad Cities = Simulcast
Frisco = Simulcast
Richardson = Simulcast
McKinney = Simulcast
DFW Airport = Simulcast

Get yourself an 1 or more SDS100/200 radios and you won't regret it. I recently added one of each to my setup, mainly because of the Collin County move to P25 on PAWM, leaving my older BCD996T and BCD396T receiving less and less (currently they're relegated to monitoring Frisco because Frisco hasn't deployed any Phase 2 talkgroups). Of course this a hobby for me, and my career don't depend on me hearing everything.
I'm encouraged to hear that the SDS series is performing well in this area, I am at about at my end with my 436HP as I live in a totally PAWM covered area and really only get good performance if I am only scanning a single department or a favorites list with a handful of channels.
I had saved up for one about the time that COVID came to town and am still waiting to see if I can find one that's available before the 10th of never. I will grab an SDS100 first since I don't have the ability in my current vehicle to mount a 200 but I think I am planning to pickup up 2-3 SDS 200's and then an analog base just to have for my times I go aviation spotting or it's a slow night.
 

motorcoachdoug

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Silver Spring, MD
Also do not forget the Unification G4 and 5 as well. You could use them when you get out of your mobile rig. Also you thought about an apx mobile radio? It can be set up to scan and not affiliate plus you are using the same radio that fd and pd use. I have an apx 7500 set up with 30 different systems programed into it since I live here in the washington dc metro area and i am surrounded by tons of phase 1 and phase 2 systems some of them are federal systems and the state of MD is on a phase 2 system plus a lot of counties are on it as well. I also have a couple of smartzone systems programed into it because 1)the county that I live in is on a smartzone system 2) when I travel to DE to Rehoboth Beach 3 to 4 times a year the whole state of Delaware is on a smartzone system with all 3 counties and every fd and pd in the whole state.
 

DFD1994

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DFW Metroplex
Also do not forget the Unification G4 and 5 as well. You could use them when you get out of your mobile rig. Also you thought about an apx mobile radio? It can be set up to scan and not affiliate plus you are using the same radio that fd and pd use. I have an apx 7500 set up with 30 different systems programed into it since I live here in the washington dc metro area and i am surrounded by tons of phase 1 and phase 2 systems some of them are federal systems and the state of MD is on a phase 2 system plus a lot of counties are on it as well. I also have a couple of smartzone systems programed into it because 1)the county that I live in is on a smartzone system 2) when I travel to DE to Rehoboth Beach 3 to 4 times a year the whole state of Delaware is on a smartzone system with all 3 counties and every fd and pd in the whole state.
I had considered the APX option, I think that is currently where I have to draw the line from a financial perspective but it is definitely something worth looking at in the future.
 

motorcoachdoug

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I agree about the price but i have found it to be worth it. Mine is a 700/800 band unit only no vhf but since 99% of the systems here in md are 700/800 its not a problem and I have 2 EFJohnsons 5100 to cover vhf and uhf both smartzone and phase 1 as well.
 

jonwienke

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If you're covering a large area, the SDS100 is a better option than a Unication. It can scan multiple systems, and automatically switch the systems, sites, and frequencies it monitors as you travel, if you have GPS attached.
 
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