New BCD396XT/Freescan user preparing for road trip

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mcfl

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Hello,

I'm brand new to this forum, a brand new Premium subscriber, and the brand new owner of a BCD396XT with the GPS receiver and USB computer connection cable. I live in the Jacksonville area, but I'm getting ready for a road trip that will take me through GA, AL, MS, AL, & TX, and I wanted to prepare my scanner for the trip.

Are there any tutorials or "cheat sheet" pages I can look at to explain the process? I've installed FreeScan, and plan to use that. Is it reasonable to assume that I can get the basic public safety frequencies for those areas in this scanner, or will I need to update it for the various regions as I go?

I haven't put anything into it yet, because I wanted the benefit of the collective experience here, rather than do it wrong and have to redo it. I'm not new to computers (been in software development for many years), or radios (I've had lots of SW receivers and Analog Scanners), but I am new to Digital Scanners, Trunking, etc., so I'm reading up on all that stuff, now...

Thanks for any assistance,

Mark
 

trap5858

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go to the wiki section and then to scanner software and bring up the freescan info, that has the necessary documentation you will want.
 

ka3jjz

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You can also get to the user guide if you're online while using FS - go to help/online help from the toolbar. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

If you've never programmed a DMA scanner, no matter how good the software you use, you are going to get overwhelmed pretty quickly with a lot of details you may not grasp at first. I would strongly recommend you get the Easier to Read manual for the 396XT (either download it or order a printed version from Scanner Master), and spend some time in the DMA FAQ (linked below - and it has the Easier to Read links at the bottom)...

Uniden DMA FAQ - The RadioReference Wiki

Traveling through various states as you evidently will, you want to completely understand the concept of Location Based Scanning - it will save you the trouble of locking/unlocking stuff as you go. It is a pretty neat concept, but given you're traveling so far, it will take a good deal of study, as well as some fancy plotting, to get everything to work the way you want.

Also keep our online glossary handy - no doubt it will be useful as you'll run into unfamiliar terms...

Category:RR Glossary - The RadioReference Wiki

FreeScan can import files from BuTel applications as well as the old UASD, so you might consider going to those state's forums and asking for files. You will, undoubtedly, need to plot your route fairly accurately in order to get files that you will be able to tailor to your needs.

best regards..Mike
 

hiegtx

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Hello,

I'm brand new to this forum, a brand new Premium subscriber, and the brand new owner of a BCD396XT with the GPS receiver and USB computer connection cable. I live in the Jacksonville area, but I'm getting ready for a road trip that will take me through GA, AL, MS, AL, & TX, and I wanted to prepare my scanner for the trip.

Are there any tutorials or "cheat sheet" pages I can look at to explain the process? I've installed FreeScan, and plan to use that. Is it reasonable to assume that I can get the basic public safety frequencies for those areas in this scanner, or will I need to update it for the various regions as I go?

I haven't put anything into it yet, because I wanted the benefit of the collective experience here, rather than do it wrong and have to redo it. I'm not new to computers (been in software development for many years), or radios (I've had lots of SW receivers and Analog Scanners), but I am new to Digital Scanners, Trunking, etc., so I'm reading up on all that stuff, now...

Thanks for any assistance,

Mark
For your projected road trip, looks like you'll also be passing through Louisiana, so don't forget them. I'm guessing I-10, headed west?

FreeScan will import whatever you need, though you might want to tweak a few of the text tags after import. I primarily use FreeScan on my 396XT's, as well as the other Uniden DMA scanners.

FreeScan can import files from BuTel applications as well as the old UASD, so you might consider going to those state's forums and asking for files. You will, undoubtedly, need to plot your route fairly accurately in order to get files that you will be able to tailor to your needs.

best regards..Mike
Check in with the locals in each state, as Mike suggested. Be sure and give the approximate routes, and for Texas, maybe destination city or metro area if you want something more specific than Texas DPS and the counties you'll pass through. The statewide channel plan (for DPS) covers them very well, so you don't need to import the individual dispatch frequencies a second time. (The same ones are used repeatedly, statewide, with a limited assortment of NAC codes.)
 

mcfl

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Thank you all for the excellent suggestions - that's exactly what I was looking for.

Mike - I've started going through the DMA info, as you suggested. It's definitely a different animal from the old bank style memories! The Easier to Read Manual is clearly going to be very helpful, too... I've got a couple more weeks before we take off, so I'm going to spend as much time as I can understanding it all before I load the scanner. Next, I guess I'll head on over to the local state forums and ask for suggestions!

Steve - I definitely didn't mean to overlook LA, because I'm planning on spending a few days in the Baton Rouge area. (And there's a wonderful place in Krotz Springs called Kartchner's Market that I have to get boudain from whenever I'm within 100 miles or so...) I really appreciate the tips on Texas, because that's where the bulk of our time will be spent.

Since both of you mentioned careful planning of the route, I'm assuming that's because there's not enough room in the scanner? Or is it an organizational issue?

Mark
 

ka3jjz

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Both, really. While the 396XT has a massive amount of channels available, going through 5 states - and some have very involved systems - it's really not out of the question that you may run out of room before you are done. You will also want to structure your selections so they follow logically through the route(s) you will be taking; and remember, you will also want to be able to follow your programming backwards for your return trip. Be sure clear your memory first! You will have a lot of pre-programmed states that you won't be able to use, and they will simply be taking up memory you can use - and may well need.

Another point here - organizing your trip around specific routes may help you plot your graphs and circles for Location Based Scanning (LBS) more accurately. There is a limit - I think it's 125 miles - that each circle can encompass, and with 5 state's worth of plotting to do, I really don't think you want to end up with a bubble bath (hi).

You may end up having to plot each state and lug a laptop along with you to reprogram as you go - hopefully not, as that would be really klunky. But with such a large range to cover, I'm not entirely sure you can use LBS as effectively as one might hope or desire.

best regards...Mike
 

W2PMX

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I've done basically the same thing since the 396T first came out. I travel from NY to NC - 6 states, with state and county/city systems. I can get everything from my home PD system to the NC systems in at one time, a different Quick Key for each system. (I even have one QK for CB and one for just CB channel 19. And loads of air frequencies. And I'm only using about 40% of the scanner's memory.)

I use Freescan to do the programming, and I export the systems. Then I copy the export and paste into Word and format it up so I have a single 8-1/2X11 sheet in the glove compartment with all the systems and channel/TG quick keys. Makes it easy to look at the sheet and reset the scanner for the next system. (When my wife is driving - the only thing I do with the scanner when I'm driving is listen to it. Cars and trees don't play nice.)
 

hiegtx

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Thank you all for the excellent suggestions - that's exactly what I was looking for.

Mike - I've started going through the DMA info, as you suggested. It's definitely a different animal from the old bank style memories! The Easier to Read Manual is clearly going to be very helpful, too... I've got a couple more weeks before we take off, so I'm going to spend as much time as I can understanding it all before I load the scanner. Next, I guess I'll head on over to the local state forums and ask for suggestions!

Steve - I definitely didn't mean to overlook LA, because I'm planning on spending a few days in the Baton Rouge area. (And there's a wonderful place in Krotz Springs called Kartchner's Market that I have to get boudain from whenever I'm within 100 miles or so...) I really appreciate the tips on Texas, because that's where the bulk of our time will be spent.

Since both of you mentioned careful planning of the route, I'm assuming that's because there's not enough room in the scanner? Or is it an organizational issue?

Mark
Mark,
I suspect it's going to be more of an organization issue, as long as you don't go wild and try to download the entire LWIN system for Louisiana or TxWARN in Texas, for examples.

Remember that going down the highway, your scanning range is going to be limited by both the antenna you're using, and the range of the transmitters you're trying to get. For trunked systems, and really for most anything else, concentrate on the systems (or for the statewide systems like LWIN or MSWIN, the trunk system sites) for the counties you'll pass through, and the talkgroups for those areas on the large systems. If you're merely passing through, then you're not going to be in range long enough to see much use out of the multiple talk, car-to-car or other channels. I'd concentrate at the county, and maybe major city level, plus the state troopers, for your route areas. Depending on how the channel count looks, you'll probably also have room for similar information on the adjacent counties (those either side of the ones you pass though). There's no point in loading up all of LWIN, including Shreveport, when you won't be within 100 miles of there, and won't hear their talkgroups in Baton Rouge even if you loaded them.

For Baton Rouge, where you may be a few days, then you may want to get deeper, and add more of the local channels or talkgroups, since you'd be there longer to her 'the rest of the story'.

Once you get into Texas, depending on where in the state you're headed, somebody can give you much more specific detail. Remember that besides the statewide channel plan for Tx DPS, which I mentioned above, in most of the state, they work through the local sheriff's office as much as anything, checking out on traffic stops, working accidents, so be sure you have those counties. In some areas, you'll hear little DPS radio traffic, as they use their MDT's extensively. But I have them in any scanner in the truck with me.
 

mcfl

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Thanks again, everybody, for all the help. I'm in study mode now, soaking in all the advice. I'm going to start loading the scanner in the next couple days, and I plan on using all the expert advice!
 

hiegtx

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Thanks again, everybody, for all the help. I'm in study mode now, soaking in all the advice. I'm going to start loading the scanner in the next couple days, and I plan on using all the expert advice!
You do have a limit of 500 "systems", so that's a limit to watch when setting up your imports. Basically, when doing your imports, FreeScan would tend to create a "system" for each county or trunked system, putting the various cities or county departments into groups within the system

If there's a group of counties that are sparsely populated, like this one in near West Texas, you could easily lump several of them together into one. I suspect you're more likely to bump the system limit before the 25,000 item limit.
 

mcfl

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You do have a limit of 500 "systems", so that's a limit to watch when setting up your imports. Basically, when doing your imports, FreeScan would tend to create a "system" for each county or trunked system, putting the various cities or county departments into groups within the system

If there's a group of counties that are sparsely populated, like this one in near West Texas, you could easily lump several of them together into one. I suspect you're more likely to bump the system limit before the 25,000 item limit.
Ok - that makes a lot of sense. I hadn't spotted that one, and I had been wondering how 25,000 could possibly not be enough. I guess it goes back to the first bit of advice I got about the radical difference between the old style scanners and DMA...
 

jaymatt1978

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I would also recommend you look at how much scanner action will be in each county. One thing I would suggest is go to the online scanners in the areas you'll be travelling through and see how active they are and if you want to put them into your scanner. It's dsefinitely helpful to have a printed list of what you in there with you.


P.S. W2MPX-- can you send me the Excel file you made?? I am very curious how you set it up.
kc2gik@justinmattes.com

Thanks
 
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mcfl

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I would also recommend you look at how much scanner action will be in each county. One thing I would suggest is go to the online scanners in the areas you'll be travelling through and see how active they are and if you want to put them into your scanner. It's dsefinitely helpful to have a printed list of what you in there with you.

Thanks
Cool! Online scanners - something else I hadn't thought of doing... I'm glad I asked the question a couple weeks before we're leaving, because it's going to take me that long to implement all the good ideas...
 

jaymatt1978

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Honestly I drove from Northern NJ out to Charleston, WV and it took me a few weeks to get my files together. I knew where I was stopping halfway so I programmed the hotel's frequencies ahead of time . It' s really an aspect of the hobby that really needs to be discussed more than just what frequencies that you need!


Cool! Online scanners - something else I hadn't thought of doing... I'm glad I asked the question a couple weeks before we're leaving, because it's going to take me that long to implement all the good ideas...
 
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