One serious deficit in the SDS200 package . . ..

djeplett

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That really not "reference", thats a case of ludicrous overkill.
Back in the day when that calculator came out there were no forums or YouTube. If HP expected to sell it to their target demographic (scientists, engineers, financiers, etc.) they were going to need to produce documentation on that level. Steve is simply lamenting the fact that those days are gone.

I also agree with you that there is plenty of info on the internet. It's one reason why I have a small 7" tablet for reading websites, forums and watching helpful videos. That is what companies are relying on today for documentation.
 

KB2GOM

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OP, if you are stumped on something in particular not covered in the manual, alls you have to do is ask.
I realize that, and full kudos to all the folks who have already helped me here!

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".
Clear writing doesn't have to be wordy. As to finding stuff, an index would help a great deal.

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.
That's a very good point. With a software-defined unit that is upgradable, any user's manual would be shooting at a moving target. The only solution that I can think of would be some kind of on-line resource that would be upgraded as the software-defined SDS200 is upgraded.

It is a shame that Uniden lost their chief scanner guru.

So far, my opinion is that the SDS200 is brilliant. A lot of clear thinking went into it, and I am enjoying the heck out of it.

Again, thanks to the good folks here who have already help me . . . and so many others.
 

hiegtx

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Clear writing doesn't have to be wordy. As to finding stuff, an index would help a great deal.
An index, or table of contents, covering every issue could get lengthy. That's why, when one is available, I download a *.pdf copy of the manuals. Opening the manual in Adobe reader, you can use the search function to look for key words related to what you want to do.
 

Blackink

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Well, I found it to be a lot of work but when I purchased any of my Uniden scanners, I then downloaded the Easier To Read Manual for that scanner and commenced to copying & pasting the important and relevant info for the scanner I purchased: BCT15x, BCD996P2, BCD325P2, into a Word document and saved it as the User manual.

I too find the original or even Mark's Easier To Read Manuals a bit confusing to read and some of those manuals have info for scanners that may not pertain to the manual. Mark himself told me, through email, that when base scanners and mobile scanners are similar like the BCD996P2 and the BCD325P2, BCD996t, he tends to clump all of the info for all of the scanners into manuals for each scanner. If you read through some of those manuals from Mark that I just mentioned, you'll see what I mean. And some of you may already know what I mean.
 

ratboy

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I've had some bad manuals over the years, some had the correct info, but it wasn't arranged logically (Icom and Standard were famous for this), or they used terminology that was non-standard for typically used functions. And then there were the German and Japanese translations that had words and phrases in them that don't really exist (Hello JRC).

I remember endless frustration with my first Icom HT back about 30 years ago just trying to use the manual to set basic functions up. Eventually, I got it set up and I made a shrunk down "How to" laminated 4 page "manual" so I could easily change things on it without the (IMHO) insane placement of how to change various settings in the original manual. But the SDS200 manual is almost shockingly bad in so many ways. If it wasn't for YT videos, Marks easier to use (Somewhat) and forums, and a friend who has little else to do but play with settings on it, I would have just sold my first one off, instead of buying a second one. I still think it's a great, but overly complex to use scanner that could have been much more user friendly.
 

KB2GOM

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I've had some bad manuals over the years, some had the correct info, but it wasn't arranged logically (Icom and Standard were famous for this), or they used terminology that was non-standard for typically used functions. And then there were the German and Japanese translations that had words and phrases in them that don't really exist (Hello JRC).

I remember endless frustration with my first Icom HT back about 30 years ago just trying to use the manual to set basic functions up. Eventually, I got it set up and I made a shrunk down "How to" laminated 4 page "manual" so I could easily change things on it without the (IMHO) insane placement of how to change various settings in the original manual. But the SDS200 manual is almost shockingly bad in so many ways. If it wasn't for YT videos, Marks easier to use (Somewhat) and forums, and a friend who has little else to do but play with settings on it, I would have just sold my first one off, instead of buying a second one. I still think it's a great, but overly complex to use scanner that could have been much more user friendly.
On the most basic level, I find the SDS200 super easy to use -- just enter your ZIP code and set your range, then set the service types. From that standpoint, it is simply awesome, but in terms of using more advanced functions, I agree with you completely. Further (and here my Scottish thrift genes are kicking in), for $700 you ought to get better -- a better manual and a support line where you could call a knowledgeable technician who could walk you through the trickier bits if "following the recipe" is not working for you.

For Thanksgiving, scanner enthusiasts ought to be grateful for the helpful folks here at RR.
 

KK4JUG

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We have some folks saying the information in the manuals is lacking while others are saying the information provided too wordy. Watcha gonna do? Someone said it is a good thing we have the Internet to fill in all the blanks in the various manuals. Has it occurred to these people that perhaps that's the reason the manuals have morphed into something less than Cliff's Notes for the electronic world? Why put out a manual when someone else can gather the information and put it out there?
 

Patch42

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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..
I have to agree with you. I just ordered a SDS100 and downloaded the manual so I'd be prepared when the scanner arrived. My first thought was, "This is it?" While this will be my first experience with the SDS100, I'm far from a novice with radio or scanners. From what's in the manual I'd maybe be able to get the scanner sort of working, but the lack of detail is astounding. I was severely disappointed.

I'm aware there are alternate sources of information and excuses galore for the current state of things. I just wanted to let you know you're not alone in this feeling about the manual.
 

SteveSimpkin

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We have some folks saying the information in the manuals is lacking while others are saying the information provided too wordy. Watcha gonna do? Someone said it is a good thing we have the Internet to fill in all the blanks in the various manuals. Has it occurred to these people that perhaps that's the reason the manuals have morphed into something less than Cliff's Notes for the electronic world? Why put out a manual when someone else can gather the information and put it out there?
One solution that has been done with more complex products is to have a "Quick Start" guide that briefly introduces the user to the product and lets them start using the most common features and another "Advanced Reference" guide that covers all of the features in more detail. This second advanced manual is often only available as a PDF file to save paper.
 

Citywide74

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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.
UpMan could have lived to be 125 years old and we still would have lost him too early. The info he provided for us will never be matched as these things were his passion, more than just a job, which is rare anymore
 

MStep

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If the Internet, RadioReference and YouTube (with the concurrent great support from fellow enthusiasts) did not exist, an "Operations Manual" for something like the SDS series would end up being 500+ pages in a loose leaf type binding with replaceable dated and documented pages. The intricacies of scanning, searching and configuring the radio would require quite a bit of instruction. And with all that, I'm sure most here would agree that there would still be tons of unanswered questions.

Paradoxically, it is quite interesting that because of the clever use of the RR database with Zip Code, even a total newbie with a minimal amount of knob-twisting and button pushing experience, can turn on the radio and within minutes, monitor their local police and fire frequencies, and a host more.

I think that Uniden attempted to strike a balance by providing a instruction booklet that managed to skim the surface and touch on some key points without delving into unnecessary complications that might scare away some potential buyers, all the while hinting that much more potential is available for those willing to utilize all the great information technology we have available to us online.
 

ratboy

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IMHO, the manual is the very thing that does/did scare away buyers. My second SDS200 is a friend's until that frustrated him to the point he just wanted it gone and for the $400 he wanted, I grabbed it up. I had it loaded with the same favorites lists as mine had, but he was constantly getting lost and turning on or off categories to monitor and finally gave up. The manual just confused him. I told him to just watch the YT videos, but I guess that he didn't want to do it. He just wanted it to plug and play. And no, he, nor I was happy with the HP1 or 2.

The bad thing about using the Zip code method is how much stuff you don't want is scanned that it puts in, so you have to go in and get rid of endless (It seemed like it) sites and departments. In my case, both in Michigan and Ohio. I've got them knocked down to just the stuff I can get from work and home (They are really close to each other) and I have the Detroit area PS stuff added to another favorites list so if/when I go to Michigan, I can get everything I want to listen to.
 

KB2GOM

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IMHO, the manual is the very thing that does/did scare away buyers. My second SDS200 is a friend's until that frustrated him to the point he just wanted it gone and for the $400 he wanted, I grabbed it up. I had it loaded with the same favorites lists as mine had, but he was constantly getting lost and turning on or off categories to monitor and finally gave up. The manual just confused him. I told him to just watch the YT videos, but I guess that he didn't want to do it. He just wanted it to plug and play. And no, he, nor I was happy with the HP1 or 2.

The bad thing about using the Zip code method is how much stuff you don't want is scanned that it puts in, so you have to go in and get rid of endless (It seemed like it) sites and departments. In my case, both in Michigan and Ohio. I've got them knocked down to just the stuff I can get from work and home (They are really close to each other) and I have the Detroit area PS stuff added to another favorites list so if/when I go to Michigan, I can get everything I want to listen to.
I find the SDS200 pretty manageable using range control (I entered my longitude and latitude) and turning on and off service types.. If I were to do a quick start guide for it, it would be as follows:

1. Update the firmware, page 10.

2. Update the database, page 11.

3. Press ZIP services and enter your zip code.

4. Press the Squelch button IN and Go to Select Service types. Rotate the chrome dial on the left to select the service type you want and turn it on or off by pressing the chrome dial in.

That would be it; unless you wanted instructions for changing range.

. . . something like that.
 

Patch42

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IMHO, the manual is the very thing that does/did scare away buyers. My second SDS200 is a friend's until that frustrated him to the point he just wanted it gone and for the $400 he wanted, I grabbed it up. I had it loaded with the same favorites lists as mine had, but he was constantly getting lost and turning on or off categories to monitor and finally gave up. The manual just confused him.
I think you've actually supported the point that the manual is inadequate. Ask yourself, would your friend have been better off with no manual at all? The SDS200 is a complicated piece of gear that no one is going to figure out how to use without a good manual, a lot of handholding, extensive research on the internet, or many hours of tinkering. That the manual didn't help your friend is a different issue, and the one largely under discussion here.

I would add that without the many YouTube videos and various posts here in the forums I wouldn't have had clue one how to work my SDS100. I've owned or worked with at least half a dozen different scanners over the years, so I'm definitely not a novice. This is a complex beast and it needs a manual that does a better job of explaining how to actually use it.
 

ratboy

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I think he might have been, he would have only had the YT videos and me to help him, and he wouldn't have had the choice of the manual. His schedule and mine are basically reversed, so going over to his house to show him in person was not going to happen often, so I would point him to YT and some of the posts here, but he just got angrier and angrier, and finally made me an offer I couldn't refuse. The SDS200 is probably the most frustrating scanner I've owned, well, maybe after the GRE WS-1080 and RS Pro-668. Those two were just flat anger producing. But their problems were all seemingly hardware related, with SD card issues and loss of sensitivity requiring repairs
 

hagensieker

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Interesting topic. I have the SDS100 and SDS200 and I feel like I can exploit them pretty good but one thing that escapes my understanding is Quick Keys. I only follow two P25 systems in a small town in Eastern NC and it is seldom that something exciting enough happens for me to lock in and hold a Talk Group. Not even sure if Quick Keys would even be beneficial to me. Then again, like I said....I don't get what benefit they hold.
 

Patch42

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Not even sure if Quick Keys would even be beneficial to me.
I'm new to the SDS100 so I may be missing something, but it appears to me the primary benefit is to quickly turn on/off FLs, systems, sites, and departments. Aside from the FLs I think they'd mostly be of use with large trunking systems where you don't want the system to be repeated on multiple FLs (at least on ones you're likely to be using together). If you assign QKs to sites you can easily enable/disable them. You can also assign the same QK to multiple departments, allowing you to turn off/on groups of departments. The usefulness of this occurred to me today when I was driving around and getting hits from places far away that I didn't at the moment care about but probably would be interested in if I'd been driving the opposite direction.

Where the whole QK thing falls apart for me is I'd need a cheat sheet to know what was assigned to which QK if I ever get beyond just a very few. The cheat sheet would be fine if monitoring at home, but if I'm roaming there's no convenient place to keep it with the scanner.

The Easier to Read Manual has more detail on QKs you might find informative. It's what got me to finally kind of get my head wrapped around it.
 

TexTAC

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I use quick keys all the time for various reasons. Here’s a thread I started.

 

fxdscon

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Where the whole QK thing falls apart for me is I'd need a cheat sheet to know what was assigned to which QK if I ever get beyond just a very few. The cheat sheet would be fine if monitoring at home, but if I'm roaming there's no convenient place to keep it with the scanner.
I just keep a cheat sheet text file in my smart phone... always with me where ever I go.
 
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