Need Advice On New Digital Scanner

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robo21

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I'm about to pull the trigger on a new digital scanner. I am going with a portable unit and I'm trying to decide between the Uniden 396 and the GRE 500. It seems that the 396 is much smaller and has better memory, but the GRE offers better digital performance and no motorboating.

My basic purpose is for monitoring LAPD, LASO, CHP, etc.

I am requesting input as follows:

1) Any recommendations about which scanner would be a better choice.

2) Is it worth it to pay for "pre-programming" of the scanner ($70) or am I better off buying the software & cable and programming the unit myself. I'm reasonably tech savvy and think I could probably figure it out myself but this is my first digital scanner and I have no idea what is involved.

Thanks in advance.

Robin

PS. I live in Los Angeles.
 
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Contact

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I own a 396.


Love it. I have the cable and software to program it myself.

It is a fairly steep learning curve (that I would gladly help you through), but once you learn it, reprogramming it is a breeze.

It's worth it to learn how to program it yourself, so you can customize it to your own preferences. Most people will admit to having to redo it a couple times before they got it to their liking. I know I've completely reprogrammed mine at least 4 times.

EDITED TO ADD:
Some people are too much of a techie nerd. I've heard plenty of stuff about how certian radios get better reception than the uniden, but I don't buy into it. I'm sure there is something to it, but with my uniden in the metro area of detroit I can still hear 15-20 miles away very clearly. I bought a scanner to know what's going on in my immediate area, I don't care what's going on in BFE.
 
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mciupa

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Better digital performance would be what I would want .

Take your family to dinner with the $ 70 and program it yourself. :)
 

robo21

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Contact said:
I own a 396.


Love it. I have the cable and software to program it myself.

It is a fairly steep learning curve (that I would gladly help you through), but once you learn it, reprogramming it is a breeze.

It's worth it to learn how to program it yourself, so you can customize it to your own preferences. Most people will admit to having to redo it a couple times before they got it to their liking. I know I've completely reprogrammed mine at least 4 times.
Thank you for the reply and the kind offer to help! I may take you up on that. Regarding the 396 - have you had any issues with digital reception? "Motorboating" etc?
 

robo21

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mciupa said:
Better digital performance would be what I would want .

Take your family to dinner with the $ 70 and program it yourself. :)
Dinner sounds much more appealing than having someone do the programming for me. Thanks. :)
 

Contact

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robo21 said:
Thank you for the reply and the kind offer to help! I may take you up on that. Regarding the 396 - have you had any issues with digital reception? "Motorboating" etc?
To be honest, I don't know what motorboating is. Sometimes units will step on one another or something like that and make a loud obnoxious noise for a few seconds, but other than that digital reception is clear as day.
 

captclint

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2) Is it worth it to pay for "pre-programming" of the scanner ($70) or am I better off buying the software & cable and programming the unit myself.
There is no question that software not only simplies the jpb, but it helps you understand all the features of the radio. Here is a list of software: http://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/BCD996T#PC_Programming_and_Control My favorite is ARC996 by BuTel. It allows a automatic download of any or all frequencies in your county and state from this site, and sets up trunking TGID's & para's(this is a big help, and doesn't cost $70:wink:). The Basic is $40, but well worth it. It has a neat virtual control panel that works your scanner from the keyboard, and lets you see your scanner window in a much larger scale that you can actually see clearly. For a little more money, the PRo logs all the information(freq & PL). The logging is great when searching, but it is also handy for normal scanning. Often, I do not look up in time to see what agency was just talking, so I just look at the log. See the the examples on their web site http://www.butelsoftware.com/ You can download it on a free trial basis to see if you like it.
There are free programs such as Freescan, which will do all of the above, but I have not tried it yet. Uniden also has free software, called UASD, but it does not download from this site, and does not have any logging and controls. Also, if you have a new PC or lap top, you will need a serial to USB converter from Uniden http://tinyurl.com/2cqyu4 or Radio Shack: http://tinyurl.com/2gpbsp . Another source is http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=103&cp_id=10311&cs_id=1031104&p_id=2276&seq=1&format=2, for quite a bit less. It is reported to work.
 

jmtyra

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The other members here are right on track:

* Not worth any amount (even free, IMHO) to have your scanner pre-programmed
---> It's better to learn your scanner, know how it functions, and program it yourself.

* Yes, use the $70 to take your family to dinner, love that idea so much better! =)

* You'll get replies here that Uniden is better/GRE is better, as with all brand comparisons.

Lastly, I was in your boat, and here is a breakdown of the items that I found at the time:
(Could have changed, I didn't go back and edit my post then.)

http://www.radioreference.com/forums/showpost.php?p=733039&postcount=36
(I'll copy and paste it as well...)

Currently, the following are items of consideration:
* Important items for me:
--> Overall audio quality: Digital, Analog, TRS and Conventional
--> Ability to pickup more signals/frequency along the spectrum
--> Ability to pickup said signals/frequency at the greatest range
* I don't have the funds to purchase both and 'try them out'
* Most of my scanning will be between 44/40 to NW Expressway, and along the expressway
* Close Call and Spectrum Sweeper: I could care less about these features
* My concern is mainly living in a high-saturation RF environment, thus scanner performance
* I'm a 'computer guy', so the UI is a mute point: I can learn either one

I'm leaning towards the PSR-500 because of:
* Higher sensitivity along the band (Important aspect for me)
* Firmware modifiable DSP and CPU (Also important for me)
* From what I've read:
--> Better audio quality, better digital decode
--> Customer care more responsive than Uniden
--> Does not have the audio level mis-match between digital and analog
--> Overall, I've seen more disgruntled BCD396T owners posting vs PSR-500
* "Expert Setting Menu" -- I like my computers the same way ::grin::

Still considering the BCD396T because:
* Smaller size, and it looks much nicer IMHO
* Unlike the PSR-500, it won't try to give you the audio of an encrypted signal
* Has more 700Mhz coverage, by roughly 6Mhz, according to the wiki
* Covers Motorola Type II VOC TRS, the PSR-500 does not, according to the wiki
--> I'd like the most compatible investment for my money's worth!
* From what I've read:
--> Gets less intermod than the PSR-500
--> Does better on VHF low, not getting overloaded
* Duplicate channel alert -- Have this on my PRO-84, and I like it
--> (The PSR-500 sort of has a check, but it seems more manual based)
--> User interface is 'easier' -- Mute point, but it's still a point I suppose
 

robo21

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capt_clint said:
There is no question that software not only simplies the jpb, but it helps you understand all the features of the radio. Here is a list of software: http://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/BCD996T#PC_Programming_and_Control My favorite is ARC996 by BuTel. It allows a automatic download of any or all frequencies in your county and state from this site, and sets up trunking TGID's & para's(this is a big help, and doesn't cost $70:wink:). The Basic is $40, but well worth it. It has a neat virtual control panel that works your scanner from the keyboard, and lets you see your scanner window in a much larger scale that you can actually see clearly. For a little more money, the PRo logs all the information(freq & PL). The logging is great when searching, but it is also handy for normal scanning. Often, I do not look up in time to see what agency was just talking, so I just look at the log. See the the examples on their web site http://www.butelsoftware.com/ You can download it on a free trial basis to see if you like it.
There are free programs such as Freescan, which will do all of the above, but I have not tried it yet. Uniden also has free software, called UASD, but it does not download from this site, and does not have any logging and controls. Also, if you have a new PC or lap top, you will need a serial to USB converter from Uniden http://tinyurl.com/2cqyu4 or Radio Shack: http://tinyurl.com/2gpbsp . Another source is http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=103&cp_id=10311&cs_id=1031104&p_id=2276&seq=1&format=2, for quite a bit less. It is reported to work.
Thanks Clint, I appreciate the info and the links to the cables. I am now totally convinced that I don't need the reseller to program for me. Actually, what happened is that when I requested stock/price information the reseller said "We could also program it for you (it's a
complex and time consuming job) for an additional $69.95" Which led me to believe I was going to have to spend hours programming the scanner before I'd be able to enjoy it.
 

robo21

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Very Informative

jmtyra said:
The other members here are right on track:

* Not worth any amount (even free, IMHO) to have your scanner pre-programmed
---> It's better to learn your scanner, know how it functions, and program it yourself.

* Yes, use the $70 to take your family to dinner, love that idea so much better! =)

* You'll get replies here that Uniden is better/GRE is better, as with all brand comparisons.

Lastly, I was in your boat, and here is a breakdown of the items that I found at the time:
(Could have changed, I didn't go back and edit my post then.)

http://www.radioreference.com/forums/showpost.php?p=733039&postcount=36
(I'll copy and paste it as well...)
John this is awesome! Thank you! I am grateful for the concise, comparitive information and your awareness that I was going through the same dilemma you did. Like you, I would prefer buying only one scanner and want my choice to be right from the beginning.

I'm going to call the reseller tomorrow to get further clarification on the "memory capabilities" but this is what he told me in an email:
The Uniden is considerably smaller. That's a very big point in its favor I think. The GRE, right now, is a bit better on digital and has less motorboating but I would bet anything Uniden is working on this. I like Uniden's memory capabilities over GRE. I think those are the salient differences. Right now if you do a lot of LAPD monitoring then I'd go with the GRE because of the digital.
Finally, John you say "I was in your boat" does that mean that you pulled the trigger? If so, which did you purchase?

Thanks again,
Robin
 

hoser147

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Take your time study the different ones you have to choose from on here and in Wiki. That way you can make a good informed choice. You may want to wait and see the members opinions here are after they get used to the Uniden Firmware upgrades and read up on the different scanners. The ultimate choice is yours and you have to live with your decision. Good Luck Hoser
 

N8IAA

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Contact said:
To be honest, I don't know what motorboating is. Sometimes units will step on one another or something like that and make a loud obnoxious noise for a few seconds, but other than that digital reception is clear as day.
It is the digital sound when the scanner is decoding the signal on the control channel at the beginning or end of the conversation.
Larry
 

Contact

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N8IAA said:
It is the digital sound when the scanner is decoding the signal on the control channel at the beginning or end of the conversation.
Larry
Thank you for the information, and yes it will do that from time to time, but not nearly enough for me to care to investigate what the sound was (as demonstrated here).

Maybe a couple of times a day or so...
 

ibagli

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n4voxgill said:
would you pay the same price for a 2008 car as for a 2006. Not me.
It's a good thing nobody here is talking about cars.
 

robo21

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n4voxgill said:
went right over your head. The 396 is two year old technology.
Yes, and I've already mentioned that I've recently returned to scanning. The last time I was involved in the hobby was the early 80's (BC 100 and Regency) all you had to do was say that in the first place. Thanks for the info, I assumed that the 396 had been updated since its introduction.
 

Contact

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robo21 said:
Yes, and I've already mentioned that I've recently returned to scanning. The last time I was involved in the hobby was the early 80's (BC 100 and Regency) all you had to do was say that in the first place. Thanks for the info, I assumed that the 396 had been updated since its introduction.
One thing to remember is that the radio equipment in use is still not beyond the capabilities of the 396.

Just because the 396 is 2 years old does not mean it is obsolete, or even that there are better things out there.
 
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