Help with portable scanner purchase

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thedoug

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My RS Pro-95 has become obsolete because of rebanding, so I'm shopping for a new scanner. I'd like one that works well with PC software through USB. Free SW would be plus. I'd like to download programming for Sacramento directly from the scanner freq databases on RadioReference.

Should I go digital? Is there something in the next 5 years that will drive me in this direction? If the Sac City or County go digital, would they encrypt transmission? If digital, what would you buy?

Should I go analog? Prices are much cheaper. Ease of programing using a PC is important. What would you buy?

I've been poking around the forums for over an hour trying to get guidance with little luck. Your feedback will be appreciated.
 

N0WEF

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You should definitely go digital, there is too many things out there not to.

You're choices would be:
Handheld----Base model
Radio Shack
Pro-96----------Pro2096
Pro-106--------Pro197
Pro-18

GRECOM
GRE-500------GRE-600
GRE/PSR-800

Uniden
BC296----------BC796
BC396T--------BC996T
BC396XT------BC996XT
HOMEPATROL-1

If it was up to me, I would go with the GRE PSR-500 (same as the PRO-106), the GRE PSR-800, or the Uniden 396xt.

For ease of use the PSR800 wins hands down, and offers decoding of X2-TDMA, unlike the others.

If you are comfortable with computers, and technology in general, the 500/106 or 396XT might be more up your alley.

If money is an issue, the PRO-106/PSR-500 is cheapest at aroung 300-350. Then comes the PSR-800(400-450) followed by the 396XT (450-500)
 

Sac916

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Looking at the entire SRRCS - Currently there are users that utilize digital and encrypted talk groups. Los Rios PD and Sac County Airport use digital along with a couple other minor services. As the system matures, expect to find a few more digital talk groups.

I don't expect any major primary law talk groups to go digital, it would only hamper mutual aid and inter-operability communications.

I DO expect MORE tactical and investigative talk groups to switch to digital and encryption. It's much less costly to hand out "new" radios to a few instead of a whole department.

SPD/SSD utilize encrypted digital talk groups that can NOT be monitored.

5 years from now? I don't expect big changes. But consider this....

Placer County, CHP, San Joaquin, City of Davis and a few others will or have digital capabilities.

Personally I enjoy Uniden products such as 346XT and 396XT (digital).

The software I use is;
FreeScan (free) This will do everything you need, including downloading from RR.com
ARX XT PRO
UniTrunker (free trunk radio data monitoring program)
 

davedaver1

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... What would you buy?
FreeScan & BCD396XT

I have and use both - for Sac Co., the valley and the foothills. FreeScan could not be easier. There will be a learning curve though - it's different than bank and channel. However, once you learn DMA, you will hate bank and channel!
 

thedoug

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Placer County, CHP, San Joaquin, City of Davis and a few others will or have digital capabilities.
Of the agencies listed above, are they unencrypted? I guess I don't mind spending the extra money for digital, I just want to be sure the radio will be useful for a long time.

I've already planted the seed with the finance committee (wife) about the cost. She knows that the radio I have now has lasted well over 10 years. She enjoys listening too.

Thanks for your help.
 

gmclam

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GRE PSR-310 for now

My workhorse scanners for the Sacramento Regional Radio System were a PSR-300, PRO-97 & PRO-95 up until rebanding. I too examined this question. I realize you get what you pay for and wasn't concerned about a one-time ~$30 software registration fee. Plus I already have all of the WINxx programs.

I was able to narrow down my choices really being between the GRE PSR-500 and PSR-310. I didn't want another '300 nor any Radio Shack branded models. I feel that a better digital scanner will be out by the time if & when more Sacramento stuff goes digital unencrypted. If I was listening to Davis, Stockton or the Fed channels; digital would make better sense.

The PSR-310 is a fairly new model and has a very nice display on it. It uses object oriented programming (rather than banks) and solves many issues the earlier models have. I feel the nicer display will be integrated into a newer PSR-500 and decided the '310 was the way to go for now.

I also looked at it a different way. If I only wanted ONE scanner (lets say for 5 or so years), then it should be the '500. But since I'd rather have both a '310 and updated '500; I went with the PSR-310 for now.
 

tcomm_specialist

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I am looking to upgrade my scanners due to rebanding. I have 3 scanners now that can scan rebanded 800 along with the 700MHz Public Safety Band. (CHP mobile extenders for the most part). I have a Pro-106, a Uniden BC-396T and a Uniden BC-15. Of these only the PRO-107 can listen to P-25 digital.

Prior to rebanding I had three BC-780XLT's and two BC-250XLT's along with the above mentioned scanners.

I purchased the Pro-106 because it was on sale and I wanted to see how the GRE manufactured unit held up to Uniden. Personally I do not like the Object Oriented Scanning (OOS). I prefer Uniden's memory management platform. The Pro-106 will give me the flexibility to listen to P-25 if and when any of the agencies I scan go there. At this time none of them are and aside from a few talkgroups in Law Enforcement I don't see the Sacramento Regional Radio Communications System (SRRCS) going digital wholesale.

I am going to replace the 780's and 250's with Uniden BC-15XT's. I prefer Uniden and the BC-15XT will give me the most bang for my buck. ($219 vs $449)

As with most things in life it comes down to a personal preference. There is no noticable difference in the reception quality of the Pro-106 next to my 396T scanning the SRRCS. What sold me on staying with Uniden is the memory management. I do not like OOS and if it weren't for the ability to download from Radio Reference I wouldn't have been able to program the radio.

My suggestion is to do your homework, compare the Uniden units to the GRE/Radio Shack units and see which one you like better. Either way you will be able to scan the SRRCS and any other systems out there. (Encryption not withstanding).
 

gmclam

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Memory management

Personally I do not like the Object Oriented Scanning (OOS). I prefer Uniden's memory management platform.
If I was the one writing the firmware for the GRE scanners, I wouldn't use any of the methods they've used (bank & OOP) nor the way Uniden does it. Memory management in embedded devices requires complex coding to be done properly and make it user friendly. There definitely are better ways to do it that also don't waste memory.
 

SCPD

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Do the newer Uniden's have flexibility for the size of the "banks" or "scan lists" as GRE calls them? When I was working for the U.S. Forest Service I purchased a newer model Midland than the standard 80 channel model that had been the standard for many years. The advantage of the new model was being able to use one channel in one or more "banks" or programs. This utilized a limited amount of memory more efficiently.

The Midland's channel assignment system is very similar to that of the GRE-500/600 radios, especially the Starrsoft software developed for them. Don Starr designed and writes the firmware for the GRE radios. I used the software Midland had for programming my mobile back in the 90's and have found the overall operation of the Starrsoft software similar in many ways. I like the object oriented feature on my GRE500/600 radios I have. I like having talkgroups that can be used and programmed like they are frequencies while not having to scroll down through individual trunked system frequencies that after the system is programmed cease to be of concern. I like being able to mix "Sweep Operations," or "Close Call" as Uniden calls it, in with whatever other banks or "scan lists" as GRE calls them.

I'm not sure if the Uniden models work in similar ways. I used Uniden scanners exclusively from 1979 - 2000 with three BC-760's and one BC-780XLT I had a few years back. I didn't care for the BC-780 or the software I used to program it so I returned to GRE radios. I also had a very negative experience with Uniden's service when I needed parts for the 780, that should have lasted the life of the electronics inside it. Plastic parts started falling apart on the exterior. Such experiences are not exclusive to one company, however the 780 and PRO-2052 made by Uniden that my experience soured my on Uniden radios.

I understand the digital audio quality on GRE radios is better than Uniden radios. I would like to get a Uniden in my hands sometime to compare the two.
 

tcomm_specialist

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I'm not sure if the Uniden models work in similar ways. I used Uniden scanners exclusively from 1979 - 2000 with three BC-760's and one BC-780XLT I had a few years back. I didn't care for the BC-780 or the software I used to program it so I returned to GRE radios. I also had a very negative experience with Uniden's service when I needed parts for the 780, that should have lasted the life of the electronics inside it. Plastic parts started falling apart on the exterior. Such experiences are not exclusive to one company, however the 780 and PRO-2052 made by Uniden that my experience soured my on Uniden radios.
I have three BC-780's and one knob left between the three and Uniden doesn't carry them anymore. I still prefer Uniden over the GRE manufactured scanners, but that also falls under Ford vs Chevy. Different flavors for different folks, in the end they both work and I am scanning most of what I want to. (Still need to replace the 3 780's).
 

tcomm_specialist

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If I was the one writing the firmware for the GRE scanners, I wouldn't use any of the methods they've used (bank & OOP) nor the way Uniden does it. Memory management in embedded devices requires complex coding to be done properly and make it user friendly. There definitely are better ways to do it that also don't waste memory.
I agree that both Uniden and GRE fail in the user friendly programming, I just feel that Uniden fails to a lesser extent than GRE.
 

thedoug

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Thanks all for your opinions. I bought the Uniden BC396XT. Now the programming fun begins.
 

avtarsingh

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get FREESCAN and a premium sub on radio ref

you will have your scanner programmed in under a minute ..
 

thedoug

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One question, I bought a Uniden BC396XT and I got freescan and premium sub on radio reference. I downloaded programming for Sacramento. I'm hearing transit system talkgroups. I do not want to hear them. Do I have to add them to freescan, then lock them out, or there an easier way? I assume there is a way to scan only what is programmed in the scanner. Thanks.
 

davedaver1

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If you are saying you didn't program the talk group for RT but are hearing them, then you might be in ID SEARCH mode instead of ID SCAN mode. When scanning, it will say one of those when scanning a trunked system. You want to be in ID SCAN mode for normal scanning. To switch between modes: while scanning the trunk system press Func then Scan/Srch

If you imported the system with everything included, you'll need to do a little manipulation to either delete the unwanted TGs or lock them out.

Be sure to check out the Easier to Read BCD396XT Digital Scanner Manual if you haven't done so. It's a great resource!

Keep asking for help - there is a learning curve for the radio (it drove me crazy when I first got mine, but I love it/them now!).
 

thedoug

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davedaver1, you're a genius!! Man that was frustrating. I really didn't like the idea of having to log, then lock out all of those talk groups. Thanks for your help.
 

davedaver1

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Nah, just the School of Hard Knocks....

BTW, I still have RT programmed as a locked out group - you never know when a flaming bus might go by! ;-)
 
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