• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

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Novice needs purchase guidance!

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Jul 11, 2006
About a year ago, I bought my first scanner and I absolutely love it. I work on the computer late into the night and enjoy listening and knowing what's going on around me.

I'm now thinking of upgrading and have *no* clue what I need to buy to fit the few needs I have. It seems Uniden Bearcats have a great following, so would anyone be willing to look over my list of 'wants' and offer suggestions?

1) Would like a hand-held so I can take it out with me and in case the power is out for any reason.
2) I listen mostly to the police and fire for Perrysburg, OH and Perrysburg Township - they are not on a trunk system.
3) I need cheap - this is a completely frowned-upon hobby so I have to fight to get anything for it. Bought mine on e-bay the first time for around $40 and have been happy except for the lack of portability. Very cheap, I know!

So...any suggestions? Best for the price type of think :)

Thanks very much! This stuff gets pretty deep.

Jun 5, 2004
Here's a link to the database page for Wood County, Ohio:


It appears there are a handful of trunked systems in your county, including one for the State of Ohio "MARCS" that is APCO-25 (aka digital).

The rest of your county appears to mostly be on analog VHF and UHF frequencies. You might post a quick question in the Ohio state forum here on RadioReference to ask if the agencies in Wood County are likely to go digital.

Digital scanners are more expensive and a bit more complicated than the traditional scanner, and might let you monitor the MARCS system (I don't know for sure, since I'm not in OH). An analog scanner is cheaper and a little less complicated.

There are folks that swear by Uniden and there are folks that swear by Radio Shack. It's kind of like the "Ford vs. Chevy" debate or "Coke vs. Pepsi".

As far as handheld scanners that are out there, it sounds like you are pretty computer literate. The Uniden BC246T is pretty small, takes only two "AA" batteries, and covers the analog stuff (VHF/UHF) that you are interested in. It also does analog trunking, has alphanumeric tags, and supports CTCSS/DCS, along with having a programming cable, batteries, and AC adapter. (Disclaimer: I had one for about a year and really liked it; eventually went for another model with more features.)

Software offerings for the BC246T are by Uniden for programming/control/logging, by Butel for programming/logging, and there is a great free program by "Scannerbase" that can serve as a virtual control and also do logging. The BC246T runs about $215.

Radio Shack has the Pro-97 handheld on sale right now for about $149. It doesn't come with batteries, programming cable, or AC adapter. There is a great program called "Win97" which you can use to program the unit. The 30-day trial is free; after that there is a $25 registration fee. The Pro-97 also supports analog trunking, alphanumeric tags, CTCSS/DCS, and even includes the military air band (225-380 MHz). Do note that Radio Shack does not support the upcoming 800MHz rebanding (see the Wiki) via firmware updates, while Uniden should.

If you are looking for something cheaper and more basic, Uniden has the BC92 for about $99 at Wal-Mart and elsewhere. No trunking, no alphanumeric tags, no CTCSS/DCS, and no computer programming. Radio Shack also offers the Pro-83 for $69.97 (which is made by Uniden for Radio Shack). Same idea; no trunking, no alphanumeric tags, no CTCSS/DCS -- although I believe there is software out there to program it.

And a step above all of these is the Uniden BR330T (~$250), which is essentially an analog version of the BCD396T (~$519) digital handheld scanner, with the addition of shortwave and other frequencies.

Definitely take some time to do a little research before jumping in and spending the greenbacks. If you don't care much about features, something cheap and simple might be the ticket. If you see yourself enjoying the hobby even more, it's worth it to get something you can grow into. Good luck! We were all in your shoes at one point or another! :)


Aug 8, 2004
Hey Mary and welcome to the site. I checked out Wood county in Ohio, Since you are not interested in the state system then you dont need the digital or trunked scanners. However all of the better quality scanners these days support trunking.

If you were looking at something new and we took cheap out of the equation, I would go with the BR330T. Gives you lots of growing room and you will be able to handle several types of trunking systems. Its going to run around $220-240. Thats probably not in the cheap range that you were talking about.

In the middle is the Pro97 which is a good scanner from Radio Shack/GRE. They can be picked up for around $150 and will also give you the ability to track trunking systems if you ever need to.

Uniden also offers some race models that are 100 channel units that might fit the bill nicely. The model number is the BC72XLT and I see they have been selling for as low as $60 on ebay new. This unit does not have the alpha tags.

Just keep in mind the state system on Ohio is a digital system and if you want to monitor that you will need one of the digital scanners (running around $500).

Im sure this will be the first of many, but I hope this helps.



Silent Key
Dec 15, 2000
New Braunfels, TX
You should take a look at the Radio Shack Pro83, which is on sale for $69.99 and covers what you want to hear. This is a great little scanner. i bought one just to play around with. No need to spend more since it covers what you want to hear.


Jul 11, 2006
Did the research, thanks for the starting points!

My summary was:

*BC92 $97 @ Amazon
BC246T $150 @ ebay
BC72xlt $90 @ usascan.com
PRO-82 $100 @ Radio Shack
*PRO-83 $70 @ Radio Shack
PRO-97 $130
PRO-99 $99 @ Radio Shack

The * are the two I'm going to pick one of ;) One more question, probably should know already, but I don't! The ability to 'program' a scanner on a computer is necessary (or a bonus) why? Do you mean programming in the frequencies you want to have scanned?

I have a PRO-2033 now - it allowed up to 10 frequencies to be stored. I found and entered about 8 I was interested in but then started blocking some because they were *so* busy and I couldn't tell if it was my city or one of the others!

So does the ability to computer program it mean that you can't enter stored frequencies any other way or that you can do a lot more than just that?

Thanks again! Really appreciate the help...


Apr 17, 2004
I've had good luck finding scanners at yard sales, believe it or not. Yes, you do have to hunt as they're not exactly found in every household (yet!). But if you're not in a hurry to buy one immediately, over the course of a summer you should be able to find at least a couple for sale at prices that are greatly under market value. You do take your chances as to the condition of the scanner you're buying as sometimes people put out a scanner that hasn't been used in years/doesn't work and/or is missing vital pieces such as an antenna, power supply or battery pack. I always make the seller show me that the radio works before I buy it and if there's anything about it I don't like, I pass it by.

Also check your local want ads and on-line want ads for used equipment. Use google to search for the units you're interested in (such as "pro-43") along with the words "for sale" and "2006" (you don't want google returning ads from prior years probably). Here again, I've had good luck buying via this method but not at the bargain-basement prices found at yard sales.
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Apr 23, 2004
Durham Region and Parry Sound, Ontario
The ability to computer program is for entering the frequency you wish to listen to. This is more of a convenience factor for scanner users with lots of frequencies they listen to, and who may change the programming routinely. Currently, all handheld scanners I am aware of support scanner keypad proramming.

Some scanners/programs will also allow you to control the scanner from your computer desktop.

A BC246T can have up to 1600 channels, using a computer to input data including the alphatag can save much time from doing it manually on the unit.

Another older scanner I would suggest you look at is the Uniden SC200 (sportcat). This unit is not reprogrammable with re-banding, but does offer alpha taggig & ctcss/dcs.
I currently use a SC200 for non trunked scanning in places I am unwilling to take my 246T.

Hope this helps,

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