Help--Scanner for P25 ?

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rs16

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I just got back into scanning and bought a BC125AT from Uniden. I discovered that my local police now use a P25 system and the BC 125AT can't receive it.

Is the Uniden 396XT the only option to listen to P25 frequencies?
 

hiegtx

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I just got back into scanning and bought a BC125AT from Uniden. I discovered that my local police now use a P25 system and the BC 125AT can't receive it.

Is the Uniden 396XT the only option to listen to P25 frequencies?
Hi rs16

Without knowing which specific system you are trying to monitor, I'd hate to make too specific a recommendation. The 396XT is one of a number of scanners that can successfully monitor and track a P25 Phase I trunked system. However, some of the newer systems are Phase II,which is beyond the capability of the 396xt.
Which system are you trying to hear? City (or county) and state? The name of the system, or a link to the database page for it would also help. Provide that information, and your question can be answered much more accurately.
 

rs16

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I was trying to listen to Buffalo Police in addition to all the other analog in Western New York. I don't know if they are phase 1 or phase 2. My local radio dealer said they switched to P25 a few months ago. I could buy BCD396XT, but I'm worried that will become obsolete if I buy it. Here's a link to my area. I'm in Buffalo--notice it's now P25 for police.

Erie County, New York (NY) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference
 

mikewazowski

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Phase 1 and 2 only applies to trunking. Buffalo is conventional so you don't have to worry. The 396XT will work just fine.
 

rs16

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Mike, Thanks for the info. A couple follow up questions:

When you say Buffalo is "conventional", what does that mean? One of the posters above said that the 396XT Phase 2's are beyond the capability of the 396.

If I buy the 396XT, could I anticipate being able to use it for years to come? I heard that Erie County Police is supposed to go digital next from a local radio store. I'm hoping the 396XT would work for that also if/when they switch.

Going to the Uniden 436 level, in both price and complexity would likely push me out of the hobby. The 396XT would keep me in.

Thanks,
Rick.
 

pinballwiz86

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I just got back into scanning and bought a BC125AT from Uniden. I discovered that my local police now use a P25 system and the BC 125AT can't receive it.

Is the Uniden 396XT the only option to listen to P25 frequencies?
You might look into the 996XT as well. It does P25 Phase I.
 

mikewazowski

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Mike, Thanks for the info. A couple follow up questions:

When you say Buffalo is "conventional", what does that mean? One of the posters above said that the 396XT Phase 2's are beyond the capability of the 396.

If I buy the 396XT, could I anticipate being able to use it for years to come? I heard that Erie County Police is supposed to go digital next from a local radio store. I'm hoping the 396XT would work for that also if/when they switch.

Conventional means all users share one frequency. Trunking means users share a pool of frequencies. The Wiki has more detailed information.

The 396XT will not do Phase II trunking however to listen to Buffalo, you don't need it and will likely not need it for Buffalo for quite a long time.

However, I don't have a crystal ball and I'm not on top of New York State happenings so somebody local will have to comment.

You might want to consider a 396T which will work fine on Buffalo and will be cheaper. You can start saving your money towards one of the newer scanners and when somebody in the area does deploy a Phase II trunking system, you'll have some cash set aside for an upgrade.

It's also possible that Whistler or Uniden will come out with a cheaper Phase II capable scanner at some point.
 

hiegtx

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Mike, Thanks for the info. A couple follow up questions:

When you say Buffalo is "conventional", what does that mean? One of the posters above said that the 396XT Phase 2's are beyond the capability of the 396.

If I buy the 396XT, could I anticipate being able to use it for years to come? I heard that Erie County Police is supposed to go digital next from a local radio store. I'm hoping the 396XT would work for that also if/when they switch.

Going to the Uniden 436 level, in both price and complexity would likely push me out of the hobby. The 396XT would keep me in.

Thanks,
Rick.
Besides the 396XT, the Home Patrol 1 would also work. It's not a 'true' handheld, in that it is not really made to be used with a belt clip, but it runs on rechargeable batteries, and comes with both an ac adapter ac and a dc (cigarette lighter) adapter cord. It has the entire US & Canada RadioReference database base in it, so you can enter your zip code and start scanning. You may possibly find a 'deal' on either of these scaners either in the classifies here, on eBay, or maybe your local pawn shop.

Another option are the new scanners released by Whistler, and being sold by Radio Shack such as the Pro-651. This is essentially the same scanner, previously manufactured by the now closed GRE, under model number PSR-500, or, if sold by Radio Shack, as the Pro-106. (Those can both be found on the used market.)

The Whistler labeled version of the Pro-651, the WS1040, should be available soon.

The 996XT is the base/mobile version of the 396XT. There are a couple of active threads about selected Radio Shack stores clearing out these at ridiculously low prices (see here and here).

All of the scanners above can use the NAC code, which is part of the information for conventional P25 frequencies like those in Buffalo. Using that in the programming helps reduce or eliminate interference from other transmissions on using the same frequency in another area (but possibly still within range), or on an adjacent channel. While the 396T would receive the P25 conventional transmissions, it cannot utilize the NAC information.
 

rs16

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Thanks to all for the suggestions and information. I'll likely buy the 396XT. It seems like it would satisfy my needs (and is likely way more complex than I really need).

I would think that at some point in the future, if everything went digital, Uniden would have to come out with digital scanners that could handle P25 Phase 1 and 2 systems at lower price points.
 

RadioPatriots

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Thanks to all for the suggestions and information. I'll likely buy the 396XT. It seems like it would satisfy my needs (and is likely way more complex than I really need).

I would think that at some point in the future, if everything went digital, Uniden would have to come out with digital scanners that could handle P25 Phase 1 and 2 systems at lower price points.

This may be of great or little consequence according to your needs, patience and skills, but recall that the 436HP can be programmed, within abut 10 seconds, to immediately start scanning all services in your personal area (zip code). It is essentially based on all the data in the RR database, which can of course be updated as systems and frequencies change. Also, services (i.e. Fire, EMS, Police, Business) and several sub-sets of the above can be turned on or off at will. For example, with Law Enforcement comms, you can choose to listen to only dispatch, only tactical, only (list function here), or all of the above. Quite a nice and convenient feature.

Although more than sufficient, the 436HP seems to have not quite the total front-end sensitivity that the 396XT has, but this will only be relevant if you're living significantly distant from those systems you wish to monitor.

There's a gentleman on Youtube (I believe he may frequent this site), who has posted a video of the 436HP receiving a P25 Phase II system from (allegedly anyway) 34 nautical miles away, loud and clear. Some things to consider.

Uniden Bearcat BCD436HP Phase 2 @ 34.15 Nautical Miles
 

rs16

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RadioPatriots,

Reading your posted has me intrigued about the 436. The programming would likely be a problem for me with the 396, but being able to program easily might push me to the 436. Since the 436 is a new (2014) product, it looks like it will be around for a while. I'm not in a big hurry to get it.

Does it use the Radio Reference database? Or does Uniden have some arrangement with radio reference for the database? Can someone explain where Uniden (or the scanner) gets the frequencies from?
 
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hiegtx

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RadioPatriots,

Reading your posted has me intrigued about the 436. The programming would likely be a problem for me with the 396, but being able to program easily might push me to the 436. Since the 436 is a new (2014) product, it looks like it will be around for a while. I'm not in a big hurry to get it.

Does it use the Radio Reference database? Or does Uniden have some arrangement with radio reference for the database? Can someone explain where the Uniden (or the scanner) gets the frequencies from?
I'm not Radio Patriots, but I can still answer the question.

The 436HP does use the RadioReference database. Download and install the software Uniden provides (Sentinel, which is free), update the software database from the server, then update the scanner. Then, enter your zip code, after choosing the service types you wish to monitor, and you'll be up and scanning in ten to 15 minutes, or less.

HRO had it on sale around July 4th, but now it's back up at 499.95. I've seen a couple in the ~490.00 range from time to time. Some people simply do not like the scanner, and have sold their units at a substantial discount (check the classifieds here as well as eBay or perhaps a local pawn shop). Frankly, mine does everything I expected it to do. Handles the only (for now) Phase II system near me, as well as the wide mix of analog and digital,Vhf to 800MHz, channels and systems here in the DFW Metro area.

However, unless you want a "true" handheld case setup such as the 436 (or 396XT), take a second look at the Home Patrol 1. Yes, it's not a 'true' handheld, in that it does not lend itself readily to use with a belt clip (I saw where some one, a third party, had a "kit" for that". And, no, it does not do Phase II, though at present, that does not appear to be something you need in your area, though it might be a consideration for areas you travel to, either on business, or visiting friends and family. That's an unknown factor. The other difference is that with the 436, you can program systems and frequencies from the keyboard. You can't do that with the Home Patrol unless you purchase the Extreme upgrade. At $100, that pushes the cost to that of the 436. Otherwise, if that is not a concern, the Home Patrol also contains the RadioReference database, both the HP-1 & 436 will allow you to plug in a GPS unit and the scanner will literally program itself as you drive. The HP one can be found for about $100 less than the 436HP, though as noted, the 436 is the current 'latest & greatest' model available.

Note that you can program a 396XT. Yes, there is a learning curve, but it can be done. Once you grasp the concept of how it handles frequency and system entry, it is very logical. There's a lot of help available here in the forums, along with user guides online and in the Wiki, so you can get assistance if needed, no matter which scanner you eventually acquire.
 

RadioPatriots

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As heigtx said, the 436HP does use the entire Radio Reference frequency database. This is an enormous benefit, as you don't have to use the "copy and paste" routine to program your scanner, using software such as Freescan, Butel, Proscan, etc.

At its core, the 436HP is designed to be initially easy to use via a quick setup (entering your zip code). After that you simply select the services and then the sub-function of those services you wish to listen to (i.e. dispatch, tactical, talk). However, as great as all this is, you will eventually want to use (probably) the Sentinel software which is designed to tailor program the 436HP with all your favorite sites, services and talkgroups.

There is a learning curve, but this will be true of any scanner, including the 396XT. And yes, you can do FPP (front panel programming) on any of these scanners. But to program numerous sites, services and talkgroups, that will take a great deal of time and become very tedious. The 436HP simply took the concept of the 396T/XT in conjunction with software such as Freescan, where you could merely copy and paste data tables from the RR database into Freescan, and then consequently program that data directly into your scanner, and did it one better. Now the scanner (436HP) simply carries the entire RR database inside of it. How good is that? And as the RR database updates, you can upload the updated database into the 436HP

Also, as has been mentioned earlier, the 436HP can be connected to a GPS. This facilitates a feature known as "location based scanning." You could conceivably drive across the entire country and hear all of the sites/services along the way, all without ever having to push a button. If you travel a lot, this feature would be invaluable. If you're interested in how that feature works, this will explain it nicely. They use the HomePatrol-1 as an example, but it applies equally to the 436HP

How it Works: Location, Location, Location

One thing that applies to me personally is being up to date. The 436HP can receive P25 Phase II. It's true that Phase II is still not widely implemented, but it's growing all the time. After all, it is essentially the precursor to and the end-goal of Phase I. So do you think that Phase II not being widely in use now will still be true in several years? With the 436HP, you won't have to worry about putting your 396XT on Ebay in about a year only to use the proceeds to buy a 436HP so you can hear the emerging Phase II systems. But I admit this is personal preference.
 

rs16

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Thanks to all of you so much for all of your insight. After further review, I see the merits now of the 436 due to the ease of programming and its up-to-date nature. It seems like the best choice for the long run.
 
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