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New BCD396T problems

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wyldman

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Just got a new 396,and copied over some of my existing systems,and turned it on.Scans OK and everything works.

Set it up side by side with one of my 246's,and i find it is slow to pick up on a transmission and it drops the transmission sometimes.It takes a good second or two longer than the 246 to lock on a transmission,and start playing audio,so you miss the first bfew seconds of the transmission.Is there a setting to change this ? Crappy antenna maybe ? Then part way through the transmission (coming through loud and clear on both units),the 396 will drop the audio.It stays locked on the channel,and the channel shows in the display,but no audio is heard,just silence,not even static.If I push the hold key,it then plays the audio.While held on that channel,it doesn't seem to have the transmission delay either,it only does it when scanning.The signal strength meter bounces all over too,like it's not getting good reception.I think it may be an antenna issue.The 246 has the stock antenna too,and it works great.

I'm also having a problem getting BMR Fleetnet Zone 1.It is programmed correctly,but i get no reception with the stock antenna.With an external magnet mount it comes in perfectly.I expected poor reception inside,but i still get nothing out in the clear with the stock antenna.Is this common with the stock antenna on Fleetnet ?
 

SCPD

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Couple things to try.

Switch out the 246 antenna to the 396. There should have been a BNC adapter in the box.

Make sure the squelch is down to almost nothing. The squelch is my biggest complaint on this radio.

I've not had any reception issues inside w/stock antenna in the north end of York Region tracking the Edgar tower on Fleetnet.

Does it work ok outside and have you tried monitoring EMS on fleetnet (as you could again compare to the 246 by doing so as these are not digital).
 

wyldman

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I have tried it outside in the open,and no go.As soon as I switch antennas to my roof magnet mount (on top of van),I get everything on Fleetnet crystal clear.Will have to try swapping the 246 antenna and see.I also have an old RS rubber duck to try too.

I have never set the 246 up for any fleetnet,as i don't have enough room left in memory.I will have to try it to see how it works on Fleetnet for EMS.
 

wyldman

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I quickly threw in a Fleetnet system for the 246,and even it won't pick it up unless connected to an external antenna.Looks like I need something better for the lower bands.

Tried the 246 antenna with adapter on the 396.It is marginally better for our local system,but no better on Fleetnet.Not enough distant activity to get a real good comparison for now.

For what the 396 cost,i was expecting on par or better reception than the 246.Oh well.

Any antenna recommendations for Fleetnet (142 Mhz),and for 800 Mhz,that are readily available in the Toronto area ?
 

RBMTS

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Wyldman,
You sound knowledgeable about the Unidens, so you you probably already checked to make sure that the ATT was not turned on. If any of the systems are digital, you might want to check the digital setting to make sure it is on AUTO. A wrong setting on manual or default modes could cause a choppy signal on a digital system. Of course you might also have a bad receiver. My unit has really good receive, so it is not a characteristic of the scanner to have a poor receiver.

Hope your problem gets resolved easily and you can enjoy your new toy.
 

wyldman

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I've double checked everything (files are pretty much the same between my 246 and 396,just reloaded using different ARC software),and still can't get this thing to work right.

I've noticed the signal strength meter bounces up and down all the time,and I've tried several different antennas.Seems to be related to the unit itself.Is this normal ? Do other 396's do this ? When the signal strength drops is when I lose the audio,and then even when it comes back up,it takes a few secs to come back on,if at all.Sitting side by side with the 246,the 246 always comes in loud and clear,where the 396 is slow to respond,and drops the transmission.

I think there may be something wrong with this 396,I am going to see if I can exchange it,and try another.
 

wyldman

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Well the muting problem is not the antenna.I have the 396 connected to a rooftop antenna,and it now has all 5 bars on the signal strength,and it doesn't fluctuate much.It works great on Digital,but still has the muting problem on 800 Mhz trunking.It still picks up late,and mutes a few seconds later.The BC246 works fine sitting right beside it on the same transmission.It will stay muted until someone else transmits,then it comes back to life for a few more secs.Could it be a setting or something on the 396 that I am missing ?
 

SCPD

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wyldman said:
I've double checked everything (files are pretty much the same between my 246 and 396,just reloaded using different ARC software),and still can't get this thing to work right.

I've noticed the signal strength meter bounces up and down all the time,and I've tried several different antennas.Seems to be related to the unit itself.Is this normal ? Do other 396's do this ? When the signal strength drops is when I lose the audio,and then even when it comes back up,it takes a few secs to come back on,if at all.Sitting side by side with the 246,the 246 always comes in loud and clear,where the 396 is slow to respond,and drops the transmission.

I think there may be something wrong with this 396,I am going to see if I can exchange it,and try another.
It may just be a bum unit. Assuming you have double and triple checked that the attenuator is not set to on (as mentioned by RBMTS) One last thing to try before you swap it out. Change the P25 setting from auto to manual. It shouldn't make a difference on a non digital system but there are a few people that have said it does. Not enough radio traffic on the system I'm monitoring at the moment to confirm that it would be a concern but give it a go. All else fails get a replacement. To answer your other question...No, my 396 does not do this. It is hands down the best radio I've ever owned. In many instances it has better reception than my 246 and I'm in a bit of a problem area for radio traffic. Even the police radios don't work well here!! Keep us posted on what happens.
 

wyldman

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Bingo !

The P25 set to manual seems to have done the trick.I actually tried it just for kicks before I saw your post,and now it seems to work fine.It was set to auto before.i will play around with it some more to verify how it works.

This radio ISN'T as sensitive as my other scanners,but it does not pick up interference like the others do.My business is located about 200 feet from a larger repeater\cell tower,and the 246's just go nuts,or do not recieve anything if your outside in certain areas.inside the building they are fine.The 396 will work fine anywhere outside,just a little static in those bad areas.I think the 396 with the proper antenna (for what you are scanning) is a very sweet setup now that i'm working out the bugs.
 

UPMan

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From the symptoms, it was probably set to AUTO "0". This setting will make the scanner think it is seeing digital even when it won't. The default of AUTO "8" will work for most digital systems (although it can be optimized from there, usually no lower than 4 or higher than 11).
 

SCPD

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UPMan said:
From the symptoms, it was probably set to AUTO "0". This setting will make the scanner think it is seeing digital even when it won't. The default of AUTO "8" will work for most digital systems (although it can be optimized from there, usually no lower than 4 or higher than 11).

Thanks Upman. Can you clarify if it has any effect on a conventional trunked system? I say no but others swear it makes a difference in reception.

wyldman: Glad you got that resolved. Happy scanning.
 

UPMan

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Yes, it will affect analog trunked systems (and conventional systems, too, for that matter) as a setting of 0 can result in standard analog "looking" like digital to the scanner, which will cause the audio to mute as the scanner tries to turn the data-looking signal into bits for decoding.
 

wyldman

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We should have a sticky or FAQ at the top with all this type of simple info which can cause newbies problems.

I only found it because I am fairly scanner smart,and played around with it some.If I was a newbie,I may have never fixed it.

Thanks for all the help,i'm off to enjoy my new scanner,and my newly built antennas. :D
 

wyldman

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Sorry,forgot to ask.

Should we be using Auto - 8 or can we set it to a manual setting if we know that there is no digital on that system ? If so,what manual setting would be best ?

Should digital systems also be left at Auto - 8 ?
 

SCPD

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Thanks for the clarification Paul!!

wyldman: You can play with the settings to see what works best. I've got my Fleetnet set to man 5 for the digital, man 7 for the EMS stuff and my York Region trunk at man 6. Users have reported success with similar settings. But you know now that if you move the setting too low you'll get the old chop chop. The auto seems to be more of an "average should work ok for most" (or those that don't want to worry about changing them) type setting...Thus the ability to tweak.

Func and 2 pushes on the volume button will give you the error reading (ya, I know that's not the technical term for them) on the bottom of the screen to help with the settings.
 
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