New Scanner Enthusiast

bvretr69

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Sep 23, 2020
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3
Location
Harford County, Maryland
Thank you for letting me join and Hello!!

Just got my Bearcat BCT15X to take the place of Live PD since it is off the air. I remember years ago playing with my Grandfather's old scanner and remember it being quite easy to program. I now begin trying to program my system and WOW have things changed. So far I was able to program a couple agencies by frequency but now am researching how to program Project 25 Phase I which is most of the Police here.

Is the system I bought a pretty good starter system and any tips you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
 

KB4MSZ

Billy
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
407
Location
Tampa, Florida
Is the system I bought a pretty good starter system and any tips you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
Good question, I will be watching the replies that you receive. I have also been looking at this scanner as an alternative to the SDS200, as I believe it can receive the county and city communication in my area (Hillsborough County, Tampa) at a much more reasonable cost.
 
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sallen07

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Dec 22, 2013
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480
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Rochester, NY
Just got my Bearcat BCT15X to take the place of Live PD since it is off the air.

Project 25 Phase I which is most of the Police here.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the BCT15X is an analog scanner and will not decode P25 or other digital modes.

If you tell us where you are located we can give you some recommendations for an alternative.
 

sallen07

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Dec 22, 2013
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480
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Rochester, NY
Good question, I will be watching the replies that you receive. I have also been looking at this scanner as an alternative to the SDS200, as I believe it can receive the county and city communication in my area (Hillsborough County, Tampa) at a much more reasonable cost.
You might want to post in the Florida forum so folks who live in your area and are more aware of developments there can respond, but here's what I can tell you after looking at the database. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that most Hillsborough County traffic is currently on an EDACS system, which the BCT15X can track, and the vast majority of talk groups on the system are analog, which the BCT15X can hear. The bad news is that it looks like there is a new P25 system for the county, and once traffic is moved to the new system an SDS scanner will be your best option.
 

gmclam

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Fair Oaks, CA
Just got my Bearcat BCT15X to take the place of Live PD since it is off the air. I remember years ago playing with my Grandfather's old scanner and remember it being quite easy to program.
If you had one that could be programmed, that's not even old school. Long before those came out were tunable radios and crystal controlled receivers/scanners.

So far I was able to program a couple agencies by frequency but now am researching how to program Project 25 Phase I which is most of the Police here. Is the system I bought a pretty good starter system and any tips you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
I think by system you mean radio. The issue isn't whether it is good or not, it simply is not capable of receiving the type of systems you want to monitor. You'll want to do the following:
- Edit your profile to show your location so we have a better idea of what systems are near you
- Check out the Wiki section of this site where you'll see a radio models section. Look at P25 capable receivers
- In selecting a new radio, you'll also want to get software and a cable to connect the radio to your PC for programming
-- I'll note that many radios come with a cable, and there's free software available too

Although it's a pricey solution, I recommend getting a Uniden SDS-100 or SDS-200. The radio comes with a cable, and they are programmed with Sentinel software, which is free. If you do some research here you'll find that it is a very popular scanner for P25 trunked systems, and the only scanner solution that handles simulcast distortion. The cheaper alternative is getting an SDR dongle, but that ties your listening to a PC.
 

bvretr69

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Sep 23, 2020
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Harford County, Maryland
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the BCT15X is an analog scanner and will not decode P25 or other digital modes.

If you tell us where you are located we can give you some recommendations for an alternative.
Yup. I just found that out when I was trying to program it. I am located in Harford County, Maryland. It seems this scanner is very little use to me to monitor Police activity. Are there any scanners that are digital around this price range?
 

sallen07

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Dec 22, 2013
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Rochester, NY
Are there any scanners that are digital around this price range?
It would appear that public safety in your county is on this system:


Not only is it a P25 Phase I trunking system, but looking at the information on the system it would appear that it is simulcast as well. Unfortunately, older scanners have a very hard time dealing with simulcast. You might want to post in the Maryland forum to see if anyone who lives near you can share their experience.

If it turns out that simulcast IS a problem where you are, the only scanner option is the Uniden SDS100/200. Some people also purchase Unication G4 or G5 pagers, or you can use an SDR dongle and software on a PC or Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately the SDS100 or 64/G5 will set you back several times what the BCT15X cost.
 

bvretr69

Newbie
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Joined
Sep 23, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Harford County, Maryland
It would appear that public safety in your county is on this system:


Not only is it a P25 Phase I trunking system, but looking at the information on the system it would appear that it is simulcast as well. Unfortunately, older scanners have a very hard time dealing with simulcast. You might want to post in the Maryland forum to see if anyone who lives near you can share their experience.

If it turns out that simulcast IS a problem where you are, the only scanner option is the Uniden SDS100/200. Some people also purchase Unication G4 or G5 pagers, or you can use an SDR dongle and software on a PC or Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately the SDS100 or 64/G5 will set you back several times what the BCT15X cost.
Much appreciated. Unfortunately at this time my budget doesn't allow me to spend that much. Are the SDR Dongles a good workable option? I looked them up and they seem pretty inexpensive but to be honest I am not really sure what I am looking at.
 

buddrousa

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Jan 5, 2003
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NW Tenn
If you have good computer skills and understand using command lines.
Not as simple as turning the volume knob on and listening requires work from the user.
 

tvengr

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Feb 10, 2019
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Location
Baltimore County, MD
Harford County does have simulcast issues. The BCD325P2 handheld or BCD996P2 base/mobile may or may not work depending on your location. What area of Harford County are you in?
 

firebal

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Dec 28, 2011
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188
Location
Baltimore, MD
@bvretr69
The SDR Dongles do work pretty well but as @buddrousa said they do require computer skills and a bit of time to set up correctly. I am not sure how busy Harford County site is but you will likely need more then one SDR dongle (if you use the cheap ones).

For Baltimore County and Baltimore City, I currently use 3 rtl-sdr's all plugged into a USB hub and SDR Trunk. You can use DSD+ Fastlane, but it requires a bit more effort to get working IMO.
 

Mike_G_D

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Dec 19, 2002
Messages
1,092
Location
Vista, CA
I am going to offer an alternative solution that I expect may not be supported by many others on here. Take a look at this device: BlueTail Technlogies.

It's called the "P25RX".

It is a hybrid SDR based receiver primarily designed for reception of P25 Phase 1 and 2 trunking systems.

I can personally attest to the fact that it works very well on a large countywide simulcast 800MHz P25 Phase 2 trunking system.

Yes - you need a computer to program it to start with and to be able to see what it is listening to; however, the programming is pretty simple compared to setting up a full-on SDR system using dongles and various software solutions. The software is easy to download from the website and is easy to install and use very quickly.

Also, once programmed, you can use it without a computer unlike most SDR radios, you just won't have a display. And it works with Bluetooth car systems and portable speakers, though I haven't used that feature myself. It also has a standard analog line out analog audio jack which I use that works fine.

With a USB battery pack you could also use it "portable"; is is very small, pretty lightweight though solidly built. You would just need a bluetooth speaker or headphone for audio reception. No display, unfortunately, but the audio is VERY good!

There is an active thread about this device on RR here: P25RX P25 Phase 1/2/DMR Receiver With Bluetooth Audio Support. It's a long thread and has a lot of discussion about the unit with the developer as he is constantly updating and improving the software and firmware according to user comments and suggestions - which is a good thing!

Initially it did not support P2 but it now does (again - long thread, if you are put off by how long that thread is just at least read the first page or so and then the last two or three pages to catch up) and does so VERY WELL!

My knowledge of radio design is not trivial and I am somewhat "picky" when it comes to RF. Suffice it to say that, since getting this device it has now become my primary 24/7 trunking system monitoring unit for my area.

That said, no, it's not perfect. I think it shines the most on 700/800MHz band trunking. It can do conventional though only using command line instructions using the console in the software (though they are fairly simple commands). It can also do analog in a similar fashion.

It also won't go lower in frequency than about 140MHz or so so it won't do Low Band VHF nor the civilian air band but your current 15X is excellent for both of those frequency ranges anyway.

It can now also handle DMR and is in the process of being able to handle NXDN; the latest test software and firmware has initial NXDN support for conventional non-trunked NXDN. I have not tested this functionality, though, myself.

The developer is very receptive to comments and suggestions for feature improvements, etc. But he is one guy and has limited time, etc. That said, it's pretty amazing how well he has done with the limitations he has to handle.

Also, though it is supposed to be able to handle trunking on VHF and up I have not tested it at those frequencies as I do not live close to any such systems. I can only vouch for 700/800 MHz trunking and some testing at some VHF conventional stuff.

For $249, unit only with back-of-set telescopic antenna and $259 for the same plus a 1/4 wave 800 MHz mag-mount "spike" antenna added I would definitely say this is a very good deal!

In my opinion, if I were you, I would hang on to that 15X you already have and use that for all things analog near you and then get this device, the P25RX, for the trunking system near you. Much cheaper than an SDS or Unication pager which are your only simulcast-friendly handling receiver-only choices. You would then have a nice well-working system for monitoring your local area at a very reasonable cost.

-Mike
 
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