BCD436HP: Opaque Instructions, Bizarre Software, Faulty Controls

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jpolich7

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I have spent an exasperating weekend setting up and testing a new BCD436HP, during which I encountered many of the issues mentioned in some other posts. At this price point, you expect the product to work right out of the box. I am not a novice: I have used public safety radios since the 1960s, was a Uniden dealer in the early 1970s, and successfully deployed or used radio systems-- including P25-- in recent years as a volunteer with several agencies. A few comments:

OPAQUE INSTRUCTIONS. When an owner's manual starts with "Understanding The Memory" you already know you are in trouble. It is more a statement of the programmer's idiosyncratic philosophy than a guide to field use of the radio. There are pages of description of what each button or knob is supposed to do, but little explanation of how to do common tasks like monitoring a single department and switching from a dispatch channel to a tactical channel.

BIZARRE SOFTWARE. The default seems to be that every system, department, and channel in the country is turned on. You want to listen only to Phoenix Fire? Apparently, you must individually "avoid" every system, department, and channel across several counties. But you must leave the total national database turned on or you will be warned there is nothing to scan. If you miss an "avoid," you end up with an unwanted system dominating your scanning. Favorites lists revised and saved in the software do not always overwrite those in the radio memory, even when overwrite is chosen in the software.

FAULTY CONTROLS. If you finally succeed in isolating one department to monitor, there is a new challenge: How do you move from one channel, such as fire dispatch, to another channel, such as the tactical channel assigned by dispatch? The instructions seem to say this is done by pressing the white CHAN/MOD button and then rotating the SEL/VOL/SW knob to walk through the channels specific to the held channel. That held channel is, of course, within a specific department and system. However, the reality is that rotating the knob takes you to distant departments and channels that are specifically marked "avoid" in your active favorites list.

Together, these issues make the scanner impractical for professional use, although hobbyists may enjoy listening to the whipsaw of uncontrolled, unrelated transmissions.
 

AZScanner

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You do raise some valid points, but those are all things I can overlook as long as the radio PERFORMS, which this scanner does almost flawlessly here in Phoenix.

As for the issues with systems and the full database, this is why I almost exclusively scan from a favorites list and recommend everyone else to do the same. The only time I would use the zip code feature would be if I was visiting a city I normally wouldn't have frequency information for, such as Dallas or Chicago. Even then, the first thing I would do is find out if anyone here had an HPE file for the area. There's just too much stuff in the RRDB to scan from that and expect to hear much of anything coherent as you said, unless you REALLY lock down those service types.

One thing I have noticed that is a bit annoying is the fact that even though I have loaded my favorites list in alphabetical order by system, the scanner itself seems to arrange these systems in whatever order it likes. That makes it harder to find a specific system in my FL using the SEL knob. If I could recommend one thing to "fix", it'd be that.

-AZ
 

fxdscon

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One thing I have noticed that is a bit annoying is the fact that even though I have loaded my favorites list in alphabetical order by system, the scanner itself seems to arrange these systems in whatever order it likes. That makes it harder to find a specific system in my FL using the SEL knob. If I could recommend one thing to "fix", it'd be that.

-AZ
After you did a "Sort Favorites List" in Sentinel, did you check the "Erase Favorites Lists on Scanner" box when you did the "Write to Scanner"?

.
 

AZScanner

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After you did a "Sort Favorites List" in Sentinel, did you check the "Erase Favorites Lists on Scanner" box when you did the "Write to Scanner"?

.
Yep, I always do that. Am I missing a step other than that? It could totally be operator error at work here. I just figured the scanner determined the sort order and didn't think too much more about it. If there's a way to correct that, I'm willing to give it a try.

-AZ
 

JoeyC

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The radios have a greater learning curve than prior scanners but I would expect they do given the fact that they can handle multiple bands, multiple systems, conventional, multiple trunking types in multiple ways.

"Understanding the Memory" is on page 15 of the manual not exactly the start, but the foundation to understanding the operation of the radios is based on understanding the memory layout. If you don't have a handle on that, the rest of the operation will not come easy either.

Even before I purchased this scanner I knew right away that operating with the 'full database' was not the way to go. I downloaded and prepared my programming in the Sentinel software based on information I had obtained by watching videos, reading threads, etc and immediately went to the Favorites Lists methods to organization. I have never left the total database on when using this radio.

I have not found any issue with moving from channel to channel as you speak of in the FAULTY CONTROLS section.

Basically, these are very complex scanners that handle multiple tasks. I would not expect their operation to be cut and dry, down and dirty. I would expect to be in learning mode for quite some time, and then some. The fact that I've reprogrammed my radio hundreds of times during these learning stages is a testement to that.

Bottom line, get your programming down, and everything will run smoother than you think. And certainly don't expect that to happen after 1 or 2 programmings and a week or so of operation. I've had this thing 6-8 weeks now, and learn something new about its operation every day.
 

jpolich7

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Happy the unit you purchased works to your satisfaction after programming hundreds of times over 6 to 8 weeks. That sounds like an alpha, not even a beta model. Yes, I too use favorite lists. They do not always update. The firmware loses its way pretty quickly. It even misses traffic received on two antique BC780XLT. I won't go into the discone antenna, my experience, etc. Enough to say that the technical term for the unit I received is squirrelly.
 

fxdscon

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Happy the unit you purchased works to your satisfaction after programming hundreds of times over 6 to 8 weeks. That sounds like an alpha, not even a beta model. Yes, I too use favorite lists. They do not always update. The firmware loses its way pretty quickly. It even misses traffic received on two antique BC780XLT. I won't go into the discone antenna, my experience, etc. Enough to say that the technical term for the unit I received is squirrelly.
These 2 links (one for the scanner, and one for Sentinel) might help you grasp some of the basics:

Easier to Read BCD436/536HP Digital Scanner Manual

Sentinel BCDX36HP Software Manual

.
 

bee

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I have the HomePatroland and use a GPS, and it has always preformed great.

Gets only my surrounding area at range 0, and as the range is increased, it gets other counties and agency's ,frequencies, ect.
I dont understand the problen, with the 536

i will be ordering the 536 soon.
 

JoeyC

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Its hardly an alpha, or a beta. It works nicely, now that I understand it better and have it programmed optimally.

I never have used the Full Database mainly because the only time I did (and I am confirming that again now) I turned off ALL FLs and only used the Full DB, set my zip code, then set my range to 1 mile, and I am STILL getting EVERYTHING in the DB within the county AND Riverside county as well. So its pretty much worthless to me as is. I don't know, perhaps its operator error but I don't use it anyway that way, so all is good.
 

LIScanner101

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Basically, these are very complex scanners that handle multiple tasks. I would not expect their operation to be cut and dry, down and dirty. I would expect to be in learning mode for quite some time, and then some. The fact that I've reprogrammed my radio hundreds of times during these learning stages is a testement to that.
Bottom line, get your programming down, and everything will run smoother than you think. And certainly don't expect that to happen after 1 or 2 programmings and a week or so of operation. I've had this thing 6-8 weeks now, and learn something new about its operation every day.
From the Uniden website ad for the BCBCD536HP:

"Home Patrol programming makes it the easiest-to-program mobile professional scanner we've ever made."

There is a disconnect somewhere, for certain.
 

davenlr

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The way the range setting works is, it ADDS the range in the database for the system, to the range you entered in the scanner. If the range in the scanner is set to 0, and the range in the database is set to 40 miles, its going to pick it up if the center of the entered zip code is within 40 miles.
 

davedaver1

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I happen to agree with the OP.

The problem with these new radios is that they capitalized on the Home Patrol's instant programming, which is just not for everyone. For people who like the XT radios, it means that instead of programming the radio, you have to learn all this stuff to *avoid* the automagical features of a national database in your radio. I'm so happy I did not pull the trigger on one of these things, because I want to program what I want to listen to, not spend a ton of time avoiding what I don't want to.

This is not a flame towards the radios - certainly if you like them you are entitled to. I am on the other side of things and sure hope that Uniden brings out an equivalent to the XT radios. I think these are a mashup of the two families (XT and HP) and I don't think it came off very well. But that's just me.
 

drkatzjr

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I think there is complete agreement that Uniden sent the first batch of units out,
knowing problems existed, demonstrating a very poor quality control protocol.

And their solution: is offensive.
 

mrkelso

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My neighbor friend bought a 436 and 536. he sent both back. said they were garbage and an unfinished work.
 

LIScanner101

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I have been vilified and threatened for speaking out about these scanners because I apparently don't have the right to talk about them since I don't own one. Whatever.

Anyway, I too really enjoy the ability to put in what I WANT, as opposed to spending ages telling my scanner NOT to scan things I DON'T WANT. That seems to be an insurmountable obstacle for me. Hopefully Uniden will have another shot at this next near if they release an XT with P25 II and PLEASE NO BELLS AND WHISTLES THAT DON'T WORK.
 

bama9999

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I happen to agree with the OP.

The problem with these new radios is that they capitalized on the Home Patrol's instant programming, which is just not for everyone. For people who like the XT radios, it means that instead of programming the radio, you have to learn all this stuff to *avoid* the automagical features of a national database in your radio. I'm so happy I did not pull the trigger on one of these things, because I want to program what I want to listen to, not spend a ton of time avoiding what I don't want to.

This is not a flame towards the radios - certainly if you like them you are entitled to. I am on the other side of things and sure hope that Uniden brings out an equivalent to the XT radios. I think these are a mashup of the two families (XT and HP) and I don't think it came off very well. But that's just me.
By using Sentinel and creating favorites lists, it's not difficult at all to choose exactly what you want to hear. Also, if what you want to listen to isn't in the database, it's not difficult at all to add those to your favorites lists. Scanning the main database is great if you happen to travel with the radio, but when I'm at home I use the favorites lists, and hear exactly what I want to, nothing more, nothing less.
 

SCPD

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I'm Happy with my 436.
Sorry to you all who having Problems.
First run from Store to Home more then Happy with the Zip code feature.
Then my first run setting up FL list with some close Call Hit from my 396xt I almost pulled my hair out and if anyone would heard me to properly sought I gone crazy as I was question myself for getting this as I had not gotten my Tax refund.
Guess WHAT It was user error.
By now I'm at rework 8.
I'm fine turning as I go.
I have for now set up 3 FL.with NO FULL Database.
FL0 just for the Town I Live in (12,000) or so. There I listen to Local PD EMS FD, SO for County and Near City's, Plus some close by extra.
FL1 while traveling in county a bit more expanded.
FL2 while traveling to next County with even a bit more.
Anywhere else use full Database with Zip code.
So I just hit 1 Enter to turn On or Off and so on only to enable where I;m at.
Once I get the feel for it I will go Further into the setting and add Keys for other Settings and so on.
With this breed of new Scanner scale it back to what you have in your (Old one) and then Slowly add things on.
 
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