Digital Scanner choices?

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skatertj

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Well, I talked with my local Fire Battlion Chief, and he informed me that my city is in the process to transfer to digital radios. I would like some help on choosing the right one. Im interested in getting a handheld because i have never owned one, and i would like to bring it back and forth from my car to my house.

What are my options on handheld digital scanners?

Any good place to pick one up, that isnt to expensive?

I know how to program scanners pretty well, so just give me all handhelds please.

And if i have a mobile antenna in my car, then a duck antenna, will i mess my connectors up if i continue to switch between mobile a duck antenna?

Thanks guys!
 

N0WEF

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As the other gentleman mentioned I would start with that article.

If you're looking for a new scanner I would say Scannermaster is a good bet. (See the ad at the top of the page) they are normally among the lowest prices and have great customer service if something goes wrong.

And yes, be very careful hooking/unhooking it, the "connector" can break rather easily.

(also check your local laws regarding having a scanner in your car)
 

skatertj

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Local laws allow to have my scanner in the car and i want to say they will be joining the kansas state wide digital system. I forgot what system it is, so i will need to check back on that.

Are their any brands of handhelds that are better than others? Im also looking to get a fire tone out scanner.
 

N0WEF

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I like my Uniden 396xt which will work well on the Kansas system (P25 phase1). It would also work with fire tone outs. They also don't break as easily as other brands, but that's solely my opinion.

Used models can go for as low as $325, new $450ish.

The GRE PSR-800 may be a better option for you as programming it would be easier, and it goes for roughly the same price new. And the 800 does tone outs too.
 

N8IAA

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Local laws allow to have my scanner in the car and i want to say they will be joining the kansas state wide digital system. I forgot what system it is, so i will need to check back on that. Are their any brands of handhelds that are better than others? Im also looking to get a fire tone out scanner.
skatertj, Since you wish to monitor the Kansas State system, I'm going to reccommend the Radio Shack Pro-106 handheld, and the Pro-197 mobile. They are both being discounted by the Shack. Also, if you wish, the GRE PSR-500 and PSR-600 come with the USB programming cable, and AC adapter saving you some money over all. These will decode the multisite system much better than the 396XT and PSR-800.
I have an 800 and am not impressed with the way it works. Even though it has the complete RR database on it. The Uniden HP-1 has this feature also. As was posted, read about the different scanners in the wiki.
HTH,
Larry
 

N0WEF

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I may be mistaken, but neither of those has the fire tone out.

And right now you would save $25-50 buying a scanner with a lot less features.

Not looking for a debate, I just figured the tone out feature maybe important as he specifically mentioned it.
 

W8RMH

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Local laws allow to have my scanner in the car and i want to say they will be joining the kansas state wide digital system. I forgot what system it is, so i will need to check back on that.

Are their any brands of handhelds that are better than others? Im also looking to get a fire tone out scanner.
Just remember when using the fire tone out feature, the scanner will be locked on one frequency (the tone out frequency) and will not scan or receive any other systems or frequencies.

Fire Tone Out - The RadioReference Wiki
 

ka3jjz

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And also that FTO capability is exclusively a Uniden feature - the other distributors don't have it. That narrows your choices to the BCD396XT or its older BC396T

Both are very well documented in our wiki. You will need to ask in your state's forum as to how well either works in your area - in particular how the digital decode sounds. best regards..Mike
 

W6KRU

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The Kansas system has some simulcast sites. If you want to monitor those, you may be happier with a GRE product Simulcast is handled very poorly by my Unidens and customer support on the issue is non-existent.
 

N0WEF

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Due to the overwhelming consensus, I guess I'll take back my 396xt suggestion.

I've monitored P25 (mostly simulcast) systems in 23 states with a 106, 396t and xt, and a psr 800(side by side), and the xt hasn't experienced the probs. others have been so vocal about in other threads.

I will chalk it up to luck. (And maybe an obsession to find optimal settings, and sweet spots when I'm inside)
 

Highpockets

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Due to the overwhelming consensus, I guess I'll take back my 396xt suggestion.

I've monitored P25 (mostly simulcast) systems in 23 states with a 106, 396t and xt, and a psr 800(side by side), and the xt hasn't experienced the probs. others have been so vocal about in other threads.

I will chalk it up to luck. (And maybe an obsession to find optimal settings, and sweet spots when I'm inside)
What kind of optimal setting on the XT model are you talking about?
 

RayAir

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For me, putting the $1.99 police scanner app on my phone solved my digital scanner needs.
My city is on Open Sky so having a digital scanner isn't too important to me.
The only negative about the app is that there are no TG's displayed and you don't have direct control. But there are many positives.
 

N0WEF

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Playing with the P25 Adjust Level has been the most effective for me. (The value, numberwise, has varied by system)

Though, I do understand from reading threads here for years that it doesn't work for everyone.

I did also realize after my post that I'm usually in the middle of the main metropolitan area of each state I visit so that prob. helps.
 

N0WEF

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Ok, this may sound overly simplistic, but DDan and HP would you be willing to try something?

After I used the word luck, which for a guy who spent the vast majority of his youth studying Math and Science is a "four letter word" I spent nearly two days forcing my XT into having issues. Since a number of things caused the issues people have described, only one thing solved them every time.

1.)Do a factory reset (2,9,hold,power)
2.)Upload your programming (BUT DO NOT send "custom radio settings" to your XT, and click "add only do not overwrite")
3.) Power off your XT, and open the hidden settings(Hold, and Power) and go to P25 Adjust and change it to 200
4.) Hit Scan

I don't know if it will work for you, but it's worth a try. (At worst you'll be out 20mins.)

After doing this the only "distortion" I notice is on a system 25 miles away. (And I'm in a 40' deep dried up lake)
 

W6KRU

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Ok, this may sound overly simplistic, but DDan and HP would you be willing to try something?

After I used the word luck, which for a guy who spent the vast majority of his youth studying Math and Science is a "four letter word" I spent nearly two days forcing my XT into having issues. Since a number of things caused the issues people have described, only one thing solved them every time.

1.)Do a factory reset (2,9,hold,power)
2.)Upload your programming (BUT DO NOT send "custom radio settings" to your XT, and click "add only do not overwrite")
3.) Power off your XT, and open the hidden settings(Hold, and Power) and go to P25 Adjust and change it to 200
4.) Hit Scan

I don't know if it will work for you, but it's worth a try. (At worst you'll be out 20mins.)

After doing this the only "distortion" I notice is on a system 25 miles away. (And I'm in a 40' deep dried up lake)
I have used my 396XT long enough to know what this was going to do but I did it anyway since it was only a couple of minutes to do it. The 200 setting disables the Auto threshold adjustment so it stays at it's non-changeable default setting of 8. If your local system decodes properly with a threshold setting of 8, this is a good workaround for the inability to manually set a threshold setting.

My local system requires a threshold value of 11 on my 396T and I suspect that my 396XT would work a lot better with a setting of 11 if Uniden had not removed the manual threshold setting feature on the 396XT.

The results of your " test" is worse than my previous settings. The P25 error rate is over 50 all of the time with the accompanying completely garbage audio. The threshold setting of 8 is obviously wrong for my local system and conditions.

If Uniden can't release a new firmware version that allows manual adjustment of the threshold it could allow the changing of default threshold level for automatic threshold setting as a workaround.
 

N0WEF

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Well, thanks for at least trying.

I just figured my system is notorious for this issue, and it worked for me so why not share it.

And yes, I knew what the 200 setting would do... Personally, I found my XT had issues when sending the settings through the programming. (It also occurred when using files shared by others.) Though, I didn't make that clear in my post... My bad.
 
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