decisions decisions???

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BobCrk

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I live in central Texas and I am trying to decide on which digital scanner to buy, Radio Shack PRO-197 or the Uniden BCD996XT , and from what I have read there are some real programming issues. Radio Shack said they would program it for my area. If I wanted to program the radio myself how would I go about it?
Thanks in advance for any help
Bob
 

captclint

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Radio Shack said they would program it for my area.
Don't do it. They use outdated info, and have been known to screw up a scanner.
Radio Shack said they would
If I wanted to program the radio myself how would I go about it?
Get software, get a
premium membership to this site, and then you can automatically download and program your scanner from what is likely to be the very latest info, giving you the ability to update without having to go back to RS. This way, you can get whichever scanner you want and get it programmed easily.

Here's my take on your decision:
There are really only 2 choices and 4 radios(1 HH & 1 Base/mobile for each company) :GRE Radios and Uniden Scanners . RS is customer unfriendly, and very slow to incorporate firmware fixes and improvements. Uniden and GRE make radios for them, and the are both good about firmware updates, but RS delays firmware updates from both. GRE is the most aggressive and slightly better on customer relations. Also see: Digital Scanner Comparison Chart - The RadioReference Wiki

The basic considerations are as follows:


  1. GRE is more sensitive(gets weaker signals), but that very feature makes them prone to overload if in the city or near any type of radio/TV/cell towers. Previously, GRE was better with digital, but I think that difference has been minimized with the latest firmware from Uniden...see how important firmware can be.
  2. Uniden does not overload as much (hence is not as sensitive), and generally has more features, which you will probably appreciate once you are familiar. For example, they skip over encrypted communications, while GRE just hangs on them producing annoying noise. Also has GPS system control (limited value for a Base unit), Channel Number Tagging -- lets you quickly select a channel like bank scanners, temporary lock-out, and Fire Tone outs (limited value IMHO)
  3. You really need software to program and better understand a digital radio. There is an excellent program for Unidens that is free: FreeScan. GRE typically costs $30-$40

You will find diehards in either camp, but I think they all generally agree on the points above, so you need to decide if you are far enough from the radio signals to justify a GRE.
 
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hiegtx

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I live in central Texas and I am trying to decide on which digital scanner to buy, Radio Shack PRO-197 or the Uniden BCD996XT , and from what I have read there are some real programming issues. Radio Shack said they would program it for my area. If I wanted to program the radio myself how would I go about it?
Thanks in advance for any help
Bob
Welcome, Bob

Captain Clint has already covered much of what I was going to suggest.

I would not say that there are programming "issues" as such with either scanner. However, if you have never used either a dynamic memory scanner (the Uniden system, for the BCD996XT), or object oriented (the method GRE uses to organize the programming memory in their scanners, including the Pro-197, which they manufacture for Radio Shack), then, yes, there will be a bit of a learning curve. However, there's lots of help available here to assist you past that. And once you begin to use either, it will start to fall in place for you.

While your local Radio Shack may be able to give you an initial program "load", just to get started with a Pro-197, after that, they pretty much leave you on your own. Similarly, if you order a scanner online, and request it be programmed, from one of the many dealers that offer that option, that's also a one shot deal. A few of the dealers will do that at no charge. Most charge a fee. In any event, that programming may, or may not be current (reflecting recent changes), and may not include everything you would be interested in, or could hear from your location.

If you click on the database, for Texas, on any given day one or more counties is shaded to show some sort of update. Whether that directly affects you, that day or not, sooner or later there will be one that will. The best way to program your new scanner, whichever you buy, is with software. It's much quicker to enter frequencies and text tags via a keyboard, then upload to the scanner, than it is do it on the scanner itself. You can also see all of the entries on the screen, at the same time, making it easier to spot and correct any typos.

The GRE PSR-600 is the same scanner, just a different name on the front, as the Radio Shack Pro-197 (which GRE makes for them). The 600 comes with the programming cable, Radio Shack charges extra, but gives you a printed manual. (GRE provides theirs on a cd-rom, or available for download.)

For programming the PSR-600 or Pro-197, there are three software packages available: WIN500, PSREdit500, and ARC500. See this page for more information. All of these will do imports if you are a premium subscriber. All have a thirty day trial period before you have to buy or quit using the program.

For programming the BCD996XT, besides FreeScan, as Clint mentioned, there is also ARC-XT and ProScan. FreeScan is free. The other two are not, but do have a trial period. All will do imports for premium subscribers.

As far as initial programming, I know there are several users of the BCD396XT in your general area (that's the handheld companion to the base/mobile BCD996XT). May be a 996XT user or two as well. Also, FreeScan (and probably the other software programs (I use FreeScan on my 396XT)) can also import from earlier Uniden *.usd system files, like from the previous BCD396T/BCD996T models.

I also suspect there is at least one or more users of one of the GRE-made scanners in or near Waco (I'm basing these estimates based on posts in the Texas forum in the past). The programming files for the Radio Shack Pro-106 & Pro-197, or GRE PSR-500 & PSR-600 would all work in compatible software.

Once you decide upon which scanner you intend to purchase, ask in the Texas forum for somebody in your area, with the same type of scanner (GRE or Uniden), willing to share a file to get you started. Whatever software they use or send the file format in, download that software so that you can load it on your new scanner.

Once you have a working file, on your scanner, open that file in the software, and see how that particular city, county, or system looks, on the screen in the program, versus on the database page here. That will help you cut that learning curve down much more quickly.
 

BobCrk

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brick and mortar stores

With me living between DFW and Austin is there an electronics store besides Radio Shack that deals with scanners and has some experienced help?
 

hiegtx

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With me living between DFW and Austin is there an electronics store besides Radio Shack that deals with scanners and has some experienced help?
If there's a store catering to ham radio operator's in Waco, you might get lucky. A few Radio Shacks do have someone with knowledge, though most here in the DFW metro area don't, & just want to sell you a new cell phone anyway. In any case, their level of knowledge is usually limited to only the products they carry. There aren't any scanner specialty stores I'm aware of in the DFW area. When this question has been asked before (somebody looking for a bricks & mortar store in the metro area), no one has come up with anything other than a couple of Fry's Electronics stores and the occasional CB radio shop. Some of them carry a few scanners, but at inflated prices, and the sales staff at Fry's are not what I'd call knowledgeable on the product line. A few truck stops carry a limited number of scanners, if you want to punch a few buttons before buying, but I doubt you'll find a great depth of scanner knowledge to draw upon at most of them. Prices at any of these stores will be considerably higher than for the same unit ordered from most of the online dealers.

You might ask that specific question either in the Texas forum, for a dealer in or near Waco, or consider joining the CenTexComm Yahoo group, which covers your area, and asking there. Also, check out the features of the models in the Wiki link Capt Clint provided, as well as user comments in the forums. Remember that comments on programming & using the PSR-600, found in the GRE forum, would also apply to the Pro-197; they are the same scanner, with different names on the outside.
 

Drafin

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For example, they skip over encrypted communications, while GRE just hangs on them producing annoying noise.

My 500 doesn't do that. You don;t hear anything at all and I thought you could set it to not stop on ENC TGs but I could be wrong.
lets you quickly select a channel like bank scanners, temporary lock-out,
Can be done on the 500 as well.

The basic difference except the fire tone out thing and GPS is the sensitivity issue. If someone lives in an area with lots of RF interference then the Uniden is the way to go. Rural areas or areas needing extra "range" (so to speak) , I'd go with the PSR 500 or Shack Pro 106.

I've messed with both and they are both VERY good scanners.

Draf
 

captclint

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Originally Posted by captclint
For example, they skip over encrypted communications, while GRE just hangs on them producing annoying noise.
My 500 doesn't do that. You don;t hear anything at all and I thought you could set it to not stop on ENC TGs but I could be wrong.
Just so I don't misreprent the facts, does it skip enc TGID's in the open mode? I can see that you might be able set some feature per each TGID in the closed mode. Please clarify.
 

rmiller818

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Just so I don't misreprent the facts, does it skip enc TGID's in the open mode? I can see that you might be able set some feature per each TGID in the closed mode. Please clarify.
That's a good question, which I am not sure about. And to be clear the PSR-500/Pro-106, there is no "Open" mode like its predecessors because it is all scan list based. So the better question is when using a wild card on a Motorola Type II system, will it open the squelch on an encrypted transmission.

Just remember, it will only skip encrypted transmissions on Motorola Type II systems. If it is a P25 system it will not.
 

Drafin

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Ok my only real world dealings with this have been on the NC Viper System so far. The NC Viper system is a Motorola type II SmartZone Omnilink with a system voice of analog and APCO-25 common air interface.

On a talkgroup that was supposed to be encrypted, I was getting one side in the clear. When that radio stopped transmitting the 500 would continue scanning. From the radio traffic it was clear that it was a two sided conversation on that same TG and the 500 was just skipping over them, with no encryption noise. Then the same person/radio id would come back on that same TG and continue the conversation.

This happened about a month ago and I'm fairly certain that's the way it worked, but can't be 100%. I'll put some TGs in an active scan list and check it out over the next few days and report back what I find.

Draf
 

rmiller818

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On a talkgroup that was supposed to be encrypted, I was getting one side in the clear. When that radio stopped transmitting the 500 would continue scanning. From the radio traffic it was clear that it was a two sided conversation on that same TG and the 500 was just skipping over them, with no encryption noise. Then the same person/radio id would come back on that same TG and continue the conversation.
Right, that is what I was saying it should do. The question in this case is if you had a wildcard enabled and it came across an encrypted talkgroup would it skip the encrypted transmission or open the squelch of the undecoded encrypted noise?
 

N8IAA

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Right, that is what I was saying it should do. The question in this case is if you had a wildcard enabled and it came across an encrypted talkgroup would it skip the encrypted transmission or open the squelch of the undecoded encrypted noise?
Not on the 500/106. Only the Unidens mute the encryption. I wish that my 106 did. I would run it in open mode while mobile to catch anything that is not encrypted.
Larry
 

rmiller818

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Not on the 500/106. Only the Unidens mute the encryption. I wish that my 106 did. I would run it in open mode while mobile to catch anything that is not encrypted.
Larry
Thanks Larry, so if I am understanding you, the Unidens mute encryption anytime. The 500/106 only do it when trunking Type II systems withOUT a wildcard?
 

N8IAA

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Thanks Larry, so if I am understanding you, the Unidens mute encryption anytime. The 500/106 only do it when trunking Type II systems withOUT a wildcard?
Yes, only Unidens to it.
No, the GRE /RS scanners do not mute encryption at any time at all. The Wildcard enables the scanner to monitor all TGID's in the system. Regardless of whether or not they are in the clear or encrypted; or, analog and digital. Not using the Wildcard, or, locking it out, will allow you to monitor only those TGID's that you enter that are not encrypted. Encryption exists only on digital trunked systems. Not on analog trunked systems, with the exception of mixed mode Analog/Digital systems. There they can take a digital TG and encrypt it.
Larry
 
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Drafin

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Yes, only Unidens to it.
No, the GRE /RS scanners do not mute encryption at any time at all. The Wildcard enables the scanner to monitor all TGID's in the system. Regardless of whether or not they are in the clear or encrypted; or, analog and digital. Not using the Wildcard, or, locking it out, will allow you to monitor only those TGID's that you enter that are not encrypted. Encryption exists only on digital trunked systems. Not on analog trunked systems, with the exception of mixed mode Analog/Digital systems. There they can take a digital TG and encrypt it.
Larry
Well now I'm confused.

Are you saying that it never mutes encryption, or it never mutes encryption when a wildcard is in play? The reason I ask is I have seen it mute encryption when I had an encrypted TG was broadcasting with one radio in the clear as I noted in my above post. There was no reply transmission to the radio in the clear. But it was clearly a two sided conversation that I was picking up.

Draf
 
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