One serious deficit in the SDS200 package . . ..

KB2GOM

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. . . the manual.

I'm sorry, but when you plunk down 700 bucks for a scanner, you ought to get a better manual than the 55-page guide that comes in the box. If I were grading this manual, I would give it a "C." For $700, you ought to get an A+ manual to go with your awesome scanner..

The "Controls and Indicators" section even says: "It is not a comprehensive list of all functions in all modes." Well, then, where is it? In addition, the information in the chart ought to be keyed to a diagram of the front panel of the SDS200, like many of the ham radio manuals. If I had to guess, I would say that this manual was written by an engineer had deep product knowledge but relatively little understanding of what an ignorant first-time user needs to know.

The process that should have happened is that a good writer should have interviewed one of Uniden's tech gurus at length about everything a user needs to know, while taking copious notes. The writer than crafts a user-friendly manual, and then -- and this is the key part -- they hand the manual and an SDS200 to someone who knows actually NOTHING about scanners to see if that person, using the manual, can get the scanner to work properly. Parts of the manual that are not clear will be unearthed, and after a couple of iterations, the manual will be what it needs to be.

Now you might be wondering where I get the cojones to say what I did above. Well, in the early 1980s I was working with a company that manufactured an electronic device used in data processing rooms at insurance companies. It was a good piece of gear, but they were experiencing an 80% failure rate on installation and wanted to see if they could fix that. The reason was that the users were doing the installation wrong.

I asked to see the manual, and it was awful; I mean, much, much worse than the Uniden manual. Then I did the process outlined above; interviewing the head engineer, taking lots of pictures, and pasting up a draft manual. Then I asked one of the company secretaries, who had no knowledge of what to do, to execute the installation of the equipment using only the draft manual. It worked; she pointed out some confusing areas; we made revisions, and, when the new manual was introduced, the failures on installation dropped to zero.

Why am I saying this? Because, in my view, Uniden did so great in the creation of the SDS200 (I am very impressed with this piece of equipment) that they should do equally great with their manual.
 

fourgres

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Typical, all company's are doing it that way. I got a Whistler car cam and the same crummy manual included. Also most company's are not testing the products they sell they let the purchaser find the bugs. Oh by the way your lucky if you get a manual at all. I love the ones printed in China that folds a thousand ways to read it. My $0.02.
 

TailGator911

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There is a scanner manual website called 'Mark's Scanners' (Mark's Scanners) that may or may not be useful. I have used it several times. He has a very large library of scanner manuals that he has rewritten for the novice/beginners in hopes that the technical gobblidy-gook in the manuals can be better understood and translated to read like a good user manual should. Very cool website.
 

werinshades

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Where have you been in the past couple years? This subject has been discussed frequently, and many of us use You Tube when we come across something we don't understand. Be patient, use the resources out there and you'll get the hang of it.
 

KB2GOM

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Where have you been in the past couple years? This subject has been discussed frequently, and many of us use You Tube when we come across something we don't understand. Be patient, use the resources out there and you'll get the hang of it.
Oh, I get it alright . . . and this (RR) is a great resource (and YouTube too) . . . a couple of people have already solved problems for me, but in my view, Uniden did so great in the creation of the SDS200 (I am very impressed with this piece of equipment) that they should do equally great with their manual. Good companies make good, sometimes great products. Great companies also do great customer service, including manuals.
 

ofd8001

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It is really hard to write a "one size fits all" manual. Get granular and half the people say "It takes forever to find something and when you do, it is so wordy I don't understand".

That said Uniden had two iterations of their 396XT documentation. One was a users manual and their other "A complete Reference Guide", the latter had lots of information.

I guess we lost Upman too early and before he could think about the same thing for the x36/SDS scanners. Interestingly, he started out as a technical writer.
 

eaf1956

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Oh, I get it alright . . . and this (RR) is a great resource (and YouTube too) . . . a couple of people have already solved problems for me, but in my view, Uniden did so great in the creation of the SDS200 (I am very impressed with this piece of equipment) that they should do equally great with their manual. Good companies make good, sometimes great products. Great companies also do great customer service, including manuals.
I have purchased new scanners (Uniden) which came with no manual. Some came with a CD, some nothing. Just the way things are. Truthfully though I hardly ever read manuals anyway.
 

trentbob

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It is really hard to write a "one size fits all" manual. Get granular and half the people say "It takes forever to find something and when you do, it is so wordy I don't understand".

That said Uniden had two iterations of their 396XT documentation. One was a users manual and their other "A complete Reference Guide", the latter had lots of information.

I guess we lost Upman too early and before he could think about the same thing for the x36/SDS scanners. Interestingly, he started out as a technical writer.
You got it, cancer didn't exactly cooperate with his personal business agenda. He really did work up to the last moment he could, the filters never got more attention or official explanation other than the firmware update notes. I'm sure there was so much more that he had planned on doing including writing supplemental Manuel's inserted with the radio as Uniden has done in the past.

So this brings us to why we have no firmware updates, we don't have any updates for the same reason we don't have any new supplemental manuals... Paul was the Uniden scanner division.

For those who think that some new scanner is out there under development for Uniden wouldn't you think that that technical wizard developing that new scanner would put out a couple of firmware updates to address some of the simplest wish list request? Don't you think their first mission would be to update the manuals and put supplemental additions with every radio?

The timing just didn't workout, he did work right up to the last moment, once he went on chemotherapy and brain radiation at the same time as a last-ditch attempt to stay alive he couldn't come to work anymore. It was just a matter of bad timing and there isn't anybody that has replaced him at this company. Reality check guys. It is what it is and Uniden is doing what they're doing. Selling radios, as is.
 
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palmerjrusa

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Uniden could do better re their instruction manuals, but there's plenty of information out there, here at RR, on YouTube and on the internet (= Mark's Scanners' webpage; a terrific source of information).
I kind of understand their problem, their high-end scanners have so many features a full overview would require a slab-sized manual.

Even the Big Three don't provide a "tree-based" comprehensive manual with their gear anymore, just a basic overview manual (which itself is large enough); for the complete picture you have to download the advanced version from their respective websites.
 

trap5858

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Quite often I find myself using youtube or google to get the answers to questions before I even go to the manual, those who post on youtube have thoroughly researched the topic and often provide a much clearer "how to"
 

Bugkiller

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Have you thought of going on line to download the manual? No matter what type of electronics I buy, I always on online to get a better manual. The SD100/200 manuals are very useful for a new or older scanner owner to understand.
 
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kruser

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So many things come without a manual these days.
Look at expensive things like desktop and laptop computers for example.
They often come with a manual that may tell you how to turn the thing on if your lucky.

And then look at a computer OS like windows or iOS. No manual at all, you are expected to figure out the OS on your own for the most part.
MSDOS did have manuals back in those days but that quickly faded away as newer OS's came out.

I always figure a manual is just a lucky perk today and no longer expect one to be included and it one is, it's usually a one or two page 'quick start' guide.
 

SurgePGH

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. . . the manual.

I'm sorry, but when you plunk down 700 bucks for a scanner, you ought to get a better manual than the 55-page guide that comes in the box. If I were grading this manual, I would give it a "C." For $700, you ought to get an A+ manual to go with your awesome scanner..

The "Controls and Indicators" section even says: "It is not a comprehensive list of all functions in all modes." Well, then, where is it? In addition, the information in the chart ought to be keyed to a diagram of the front panel of the SDS200, like many of the ham radio manuals. If I had to guess, I would say that this manual was written by an engineer had deep product knowledge but relatively little understanding of what an ignorant first-time user needs to know.

The process that should have happened is that a good writer should have interviewed one of Uniden's tech gurus at length about everything a user needs to know, while taking copious notes. The writer than crafts a user-friendly manual, and then -- and this is the key part -- they hand the manual and an SDS200 to someone who knows actually NOTHING about scanners to see if that person, using the manual, can get the scanner to work properly. Parts of the manual that are not clear will be unearthed, and after a couple of iterations, the manual will be what it needs to be.

Now you might be wondering where I get the cojones to say what I did above. Well, in the early 1980s I was working with a company that manufactured an electronic device used in data processing rooms at insurance companies. It was a good piece of gear, but they were experiencing an 80% failure rate on installation and wanted to see if they could fix that. The reason was that the users were doing the installation wrong.

I asked to see the manual, and it was awful; I mean, much, much worse than the Uniden manual. Then I did the process outlined above; interviewing the head engineer, taking lots of pictures, and pasting up a draft manual. Then I asked one of the company secretaries, who had no knowledge of what to do, to execute the installation of the equipment using only the draft manual. It worked; she pointed out some confusing areas; we made revisions, and, when the new manual was introduced, the failures on installation dropped to zero.

Why am I saying this? Because, in my view, Uniden did so great in the creation of the SDS200 (I am very impressed with this piece of equipment) that they should do equally great with their manual.
I agree on some of this. In my opinion though it IS a software defined unit. That being said a LOT of the features are subject to being changed with firmware upgrades. Just my thoughts.
 

SteveSimpkin

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For reference, the 1990 Hewlett-Packard HP-48SX scientific hand held calculator came with a 860 page printed manual with an optional 510 page programming reference manual. HP was (past tense) legendary in their ability to provide clearly written, comprehensive, documentation with a lot of examples for their products. Their products were usually expensive so they could afford to spend the time and money to provide outstanding documentation with them I suspect consumers would be less willing to spend the additional money need for high quality documentation today. That hand held calculator cost approximately $700 in today's dollars.
 

Xray

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For reference, the 1990 Hewlett-Packard HP-48SX scientific hand held calculator came with a 860 page printed manual with an optional 510 page programming reference manual. HP was (past tense) legendary in their ability to provide clearly written, comprehensive, documentation with a lot of examples for their products. Their products were usually expensive so they could afford to spend the time and money to provide outstanding documentation with them I suspect consumers would be less willing to spend the additional money need for high quality documentation today. That hand held calculator cost approximately $700 in today's dollars.
That really not "reference", thats a case of ludicrous overkill.
No one is going to spend days combing through 100's of pages to operate a consumer product, and with todays software upgradeable products, any manual written is going to be outdated come the 1st update.
Theres a learning curve for the 200, just like there is a learning curve for my $1,000 metal detector, which also came with a pretty sparse pamphlet.
You learn by trial and error, asking questions in places like this when you are stumped, and youtube/google. It takes an effort to learn any gadget, and manufacurers would be wasting their time trying to cover every conceivable function in a written manual. If your goal is to listen to local law enforcement, fire, rescue and aircraft then that is pretty easy and well explained how to do. If you want to tweak custom filters for certain channels/groups or discover unknown talkgroups ect, then that takes a little more effort.

OP, if you are stumped on something in particular not covered in the manual, alls you have to do is ask.
 
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