BCT15X: Match a mobile antenna for a newbie

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jrh143

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I'm new to the world of radio and scanners. I'm learning a bit as I go. I'm here seeking advice from folks in the know about what antenna best fits the scanner I'm looking to buy (the BCT15X) for my installation in my truck. I have no preference about whether the antenna is permanent mount, hood mount, magnet mount...as long as it doesn't detract from the look of my truck (low key, smoked out, all black '02 Dodge Dakota). I've read elsewhere on here about the Larsen NMO150-450-800 Tri-Band Nmo Antenna which has the kind of style I'm potentially looking for, but I would rather make a fully-informed decision prior to purchase. Is there a better fit I should consider?

My main focus right now (which I admit may change in time as I learn more and more about all this) is listening in on local fire/police/sheriff/public safety traffic as well as weather alerts...and whatever else might be interesting! I don't travel far from home in my truck (20-30 miles normally), but I may take it on a longer trip in the near future. A camping trip to the mountains would take me a couple of hundred miles away, for example, but still in state (North Carolina).

Absolutely any and all other advice is also welcome. Educate this newbie! :)

Thanks in advance! Looking forward to it.

- John
 

ko6jw_2

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It would help if you could be specific about the frequencies you want to cover. There is no point in getting antenna that is not designed for the bands you want to cover.
 

jrh143

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It would help if you could be specific about the frequencies you want to cover. There is no point in getting antenna that is not designed for the bands you want to cover.
I'm not sure how to figure that out. Like I said, I'm a newbie. Is there a place where I can get that info? Do I have to call the agencies and ask them?
 

ko6jw_2

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Radio Reference is the place. Search the database by state, county, city etc. Where are you?
 

ChrisABQ

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Do not buy a radio UNTIL you know what departments and frequencies you want to listen to. BCT15X is an older analog type scanner and will not pick up new digital traffic. Do your homework before you blow your cash.
 

mmckenna

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Putting the cart before the horse.

You do need to figure out which agencies you want to listen to. The database here on this site is a pretty good source of that information. The database will provide frequency data as well as what kind of system it is.
Not all systems are compatible with all scanners. Depending on the specifics, you may need a different scanner.

Overall, the Larsen is a good antenna. Where it won't work well is in the "VHF Low band". This may not be an issue since that band of frequencies isn't quite as popular as it once was.

If you can provide a list of agencies or location, we can help you out.
 

jrh143

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Thank you all for pointing up the fact that I'm going about it backwards!


Do not buy a radio UNTIL you know what departments and frequencies you want to listen to. BCT15X is an older analog type scanner and will not pick up new digital traffic. Do your homework before you blow your cash.
I live in Wingate, NC (Union County). I've looked up the location in the database, and while I have more info, I'm not sure how to decipher it. The frequencies tend to be 154's to 155's, and 453's to 460's. The tones are PL/CTCSS. I don't know what that all means, though. Am I looking at digital traffic, or analog?

The only agency I couldn't seem to find was the State Highway Patrol. Not sure why they weren't on the list in my county, as they are definitely on the highways in my county.
 

jrh143

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Anyone have any suggestions for me? I figured I'd get a reply by now. I'd really like some help if anyone is willing to give it!
 

N8IAA

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Thank you all for pointing up the fact that I'm going about it backwards!




I live in Wingate, NC (Union County). I've looked up the location in the database, and while I have more info, I'm not sure how to decipher it. The frequencies tend to be 154's to 155's, and 453's to 460's. The tones are PL/CTCSS. I don't know what that all means, though. Am I looking at digital traffic, or analog?

The only agency I couldn't seem to find was the State Highway Patrol. Not sure why they weren't on the list in my county, as they are definitely on the highways in my county.
NC has a statewide system called VIPER. It is P-25 Phase I. That is what the NCHP is on. Your county shows conventional frequencies in the RR database, but also on the VIPER system. The 15X, though a really good scanner, does not receive P-25 digital transmissions. The only alternative is the Uniden 996P2, or the Whistler 1065.
They won't break the bank like the SD card scanners that are out there.
I use an older RS Pro-106 when traveling to W NC. Works great on the VIPER system.
HTH,
Larry
 

NYRHKY94

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Larry is correct about the statewide digital VIPER system. A digital scanner would be your best bet in my opinion, unless you are only interested in monitoring the analog frequencies in your county, The Uniden BCD996P2 would be a good choice. I have the handheld version of that model and it does a great job receiving the VIPER system. For the antenna question, I've been using the Larsen Tri-Band for years and highly recommend it. It performs very well and has a clean low-profile install.
 

paulears

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I think we're all not too sure what you know - so educate me is a tall order, because you haven't done the basic research into radio systems. You read the spec, and now have to put the jargon into place.

CTCSS (tones) PL (Private Line) FM, AM, then digital - which has dozens of subtle and often incompatible variations. Frequency wise, radio comms lives in the UHF - the 420-470MHz (ish, as different countries set different limits) - then VHF with 140-180MHz being typical, low band VHF 70-80MHz ish, then a whacking chunk from 1round 30 to 70MHz available for the military. Just to confuse, aircraft use 108-136MHz, in AM not FM, and then military aircraft worldwide use the low 200's to nearly 400MHz - but with thousands of channels available, it's still hard finding them. Every man and his dog are going digital when they buy new radios and very few scanners can receive this. Many people buy small digital handhelds but these are rubbish scanners, and need programming so they use a computer gizmo that can track down the digital noises and tell you what kind of digital it is, and what settings you need - which you stick in the radio and you hear plain speech.

A LOT of learning to do. THEN buy something.
 

jrh143

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NC has a statewide system called VIPER. It is P-25 Phase I. That is what the NCHP is on. Your county shows conventional frequencies in the RR database, but also on the VIPER system. The 15X, though a really good scanner, does not receive P-25 digital transmissions. The only alternative is the Uniden 996P2, or the Whistler 1065.
They won't break the bank like the SD card scanners that are out there.
I use an older RS Pro-106 when traveling to W NC. Works great on the VIPER system.
HTH,
Larry
Thank you for the reply and suggestions. I do have more questions, though.

What if I don't necessarily need to listen to the VIPER transmissions? What if - for the time being - I'm content to listen to all the other traffic just to get into this hobby? Would the 15x work fine for me then? I'm balking a little bit at the steeper price tags on the radios you referred to. In fact, I'm leaning even further into the "cheaper" realm...like, say, the Uniden BC125AT. What antennas would y'all suggest for this unit on my truck? Am I still going about this the wrong way?

Thanks again for your help!
 

KE4ZNR

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Thank you for the reply and suggestions. I do have more questions, though.

What if I don't necessarily need to listen to the VIPER transmissions? What if - for the time being - I'm content to listen to all the other traffic just to get into this hobby? Would the 15x work fine for me then? I'm balking a little bit at the steeper price tags on the radios you referred to. In fact, I'm leaning even further into the "cheaper" realm...like, say, the Uniden BC125AT. What antennas would y'all suggest for this unit on my truck? Am I still going about this the wrong way?

Thanks again for your help!
You should visit us in the NC Forum...we have a thread devoted to answering your questions:

https://forums.radioreference.com/north-carolina-radio-discussion-forum/260715-scanner-buy-monitoring-nc.html

Short answer is this: You are only hurting yourself if you buy an analog voice only scanner. You really need to consider a new/used digital voice capable scanner as the majority of public safety radio traffic is using digital voice here in NC.
You want a digital voice scanner that can follow 700Mhz/800Mhz digital voice systems (some of the earliest digital voice scanners like the Pro96/Pro2096 can NOT follow systems with 700Mhz sites...which VIPER is using more and more of) .

Marshall KE4ZNR
 

jonwienke

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Am I still going about this the wrong way?
Yes. Get the proper tool for the job--one of the P2 or x36 digital trunking scanners. Otherwise you are wasting your time and money when you buy one anyway, after buying other scanners that don't work.
 

ot0tot

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I disagree. I think picking up a cheap analog scanner is a great way to get started in the hobby and to decide whether it is worth it to you to spend several hundred dollars on a digital trunking scanner (eg P2, x36).

With an analog scanner, you'll be able to pick up all of the conventional VHF and UHF frequencies in use in your area, mostly by local public safety (police, fire, EMS) for paging, dispatch, and talk around.

I purchased several BC125AT handheld analog scanners from Amazon Warehouse Deals for $30, and use them more than my digital scanners. The receive sensitivity is phenomenal, and it frees up my digital scanner to monitor a few trunking systems.

It all depends on what you want to listen to. Most rural public safety agencies are a long ways off from transitioning to digital radios, so you'll be able to get plenty of use out of whatever you buy.
 

KE4ZNR

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Most rural public safety agencies are a long ways off from transitioning to digital radios, so you'll be able to get plenty of use out of whatever you buy.
With all due respect that is not the case here in NC.

More and more agencies are either using VIPER or some form of local Digital voice trunked radio system. Any resident that buys an analog voice only scanner expecting to hear "rural public safety agencies" here in NC will be extremely disappointed.

I again direct the original poster to the sticky post in the NC forum where us NC residents have firsthand knowledge of what works best in our state.

Marshall KE4ZNR
 

ot0tot

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I stand corrected. I didn't realize how widespread VIPER has become. It looks like Union County also uses the UASI system, which is P25pI digital as well.

At least it is only Phase I. Are there any plans to transition to P2 in the near future?
 

KE4ZNR

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I stand corrected. I didn't realize how widespread VIPER has become. It looks like Union County also uses the UASI system, which is P25pI digital as well.

At least it is only Phase I. Are there any plans to transition to P2 in the near future?
Nope. Too many non-APX radios still out there on VIPER and other local systems. :)
Marshall KE4ZNR


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phask

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Same here in Ohio

The ONLY thing I hear regularly that is analog is City and County Fire - and even some of that is on the statewide system.

Plus the usual air, rr, etc - just not Public Service.

And I'm in a very rural area.

With all due respect that is not the case here in NC.

More and more agencies are either using VIPER or some form of local Digital voice trunked radio system. Any resident that buys an analog voice only scanner expecting to hear "rural public safety agencies" here in NC will be extremely disappointed.

I again direct the original poster to the sticky post in the NC forum where us NC residents have firsthand knowledge of what works best in our state.

Marshall KE4ZNR
 

jrh143

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I'm very grateful for everyone's input here. I can't afford a digital scanner at this time, so I guess it'll be awhile before I get into this hobby. It is still one which piques my interest, though. Perhaps I can find a used digital scanner out there somewhere...

Again, thanks to everyone who contributed to my education!

- John
 
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