Open Suggestion to GRE/Uniden

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Citywide173

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Last night, when I arrived to work, I found a Deputy waiting for me.....usually not a good sign. Turns out all he wanted was the scanner in the command vehicle "reprogrammed". It only took a few keystrokes to get the majority of what he wanted on the radio by enabling/disabling scan lists, but one of the scanlists had been completely removed, most likely by someone who had no idea what they were doing. There needs to be end user access, as they are allowed to turn scanlists on/off depending on their listening pleasure.

I didn't have my computer with me, and quite honestly, I forgot how to add frequencies to scanlists, but the whole thing got me thinking.

My department has Uniden 780's, 785D's, BCT8's, BCT15's and GRE PSR-600's in a fleet of over 75 vehicles (Ambulance and command/support) which are all over the city at any given time. Since we're not looking at the generic "one radio/one user" scenario, and I know we're not the only agency to have scanners in the fleet, I feel that it would be beneficial, both in the small and large scale if the scanner manufacturers either changed the programming port to, or added a USB port to the front of the radio that could be used to access a thumb drive. The thumb drive could contain an agency specific "base" programming, which could be easily loaded into the radio when end users have corrupted the intended use of the radio either by adding or deleting frequencies/scanlists, etc.

I put this in this thread to avoid double posting in the GRE and Uniden forums, but if the mods feel it's approprite, please move it.
 

N8IAA

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This is a common sense approach that the manufacturers have been asked to do for years. Uniden has the funky side and front connector that either ends in a DB9 or USB for programming. GRE uses a stereo connector to USB for their radios. It would definitely be nice if they all used a common connector. But, I don't think it will happen soon. The biggest change is adding a SD card to the scanner. How may people really use 200 scanlists for their immediate, or roaming area? GRE needs to take a lesson from the Uniden XT series radios about memory management. I have an 800, but, to take it portable makes no sense when it eats batteries and doesn't have a readable screen without the backlight. It sits here in the radio room. My 396 goes everywhere with me. 800's audio is much better and louder than the 396, but it still isn't functional enough to stick in a pocket.
JMTCW,
Larry
 

OCO

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Ed:
Rather than adding another port type (standard USB) , why not put the microSD card on the front panel, under a small flap like cameras use?. Spare, preconfiguired cards would make a quick swap and back on the road possible..
 

Kel

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I agree what you said about the battery life on the 800,I will soon need a new battery cover as I have to use 2 sets a day and now my cover is bent just above where it says open.
 

rdale

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Not a bad idea, but 95% of the scanner users wouldn't use this. I can't see any time when I would need to update my radio with a USB stick.
 

Ed_Seedhouse

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. My 396 goes everywhere with me. 800's audio is much better and louder than the 396, but it still isn't functional enough to stick in a pocket.
Funny, I carry mine around in my shirt pocket all the time. Fresh batteries last longer than most trips I make, and I carry another four freshly charged NIMH's in my backpack. I use in ear headphones so I won't disturb other folks on the bus. The headphones cost me about as much as the 800. That's overkill but sometimes I use them with my iPod and then they come into their own.
 

Citywide173

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Not a bad idea, but 95% of the scanner users wouldn't use this. I can't see any time when I would need to update my radio with a USB stick.
You're absolutely right, but you aren't running a fleet of radios (flush mounted in consoles), which means you probably aren't buying 15+ at a whack. I know we aren't the only fleet out there, and $$$ talks, so the first to cater to the people making the big purchases will probably get the business.

The largest difference between you and the users in my system are familiarity rate/technical knowledge when it comes to these radios-it just doesn't exist in abundance-this is a tool that is relied upon to work with little to no input by the end user. They want to turn it on and hear what's going on, while still being able to lockout/in frequencies as the become relevant. It's one of the most important interoperability tools we have, as the XTL5000's scan capabilities are limited, and unlike some people seem to believe, in a city where there are over 100,000 EMS calls, 800,000 police calls and 80,000 fire calls, common channels are not assigned every time a multi-agency response is made.
 

Highpockets

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I just wonder how much that would add to the price of a scanner. With all the additions users want added to scanners these days, before you know it, the average user won't be able to afford one.
 

Citywide173

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USB ports are popping up on everything today. The scanner manufacturers are keeping the prices up by using proprietary connectors so that you can only get the programming cables from them. If they switched, I'd be willing to say that the end user's costs would actually go down.
 

Highpockets

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USB ports are popping up on everything today. The scanner manufacturers are keeping the prices up by using proprietary connectors so that you can only get the programming cables from them. If they switched, I'd be willing to say that the end user's costs would actually go down.
I disagree, they would lose money by not selling cables, and with additional hardware needed to add the USB ports, I think the price would go up. I guess if they ever add one, we'll find out. I would like to see them work on making the digital decoding better, with all the different types of new systems and the ones that they don't cover now.
 

Citywide173

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I would like to see them work on making the digital decoding better
I agree on this.....however, pay attention to my post above. The majority of the radios I mentioned are NOT digital capable (the 785D's do not have cards). We use the radios to ensure that those responding have the capabilities to monitor the agencies they are responding with (info AND responder safety). Only two of those agencies (college police departments) are P25, and one of those two are encrypted-digital isn't an issue to us. As I said above, money talks, and if all of the PD/FD/EMS agencies that utilize scanners in their fleets got together and made this request, one of the two companies is going to realize that if they did it, and kept the cost competitive, they will be the ones getting the fleet sales. Unfortunately, as an end user that isn't buying in volume, you, as well as I, don't have much say in what they do.
 

OCO

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Ed:
Really, you don't want a full featured scanner - you want one with full receive capabilities, but limited user controls. Most of the control features of today's scanners are for configuration, which is where you run into trouble (they may not be technically adept, but they sure do like punchin' buttons..). I'd actually not want a standard USB port - not only would you get your thumb drive, but their thumb drives, cameras, cell phones and laptops plugged into your USB port.

Give them a large bright display (with dimming control), necessary keys (bank,up/down, lockout, hold, scan....) in a good environmentally sealed case - standard size. Set it up for quick cloning - front panel jack of some type. Give them pro quality audio (and instant replay like the HP1's got..) But overall, keep it as simple and tough as possible...
 

Highpockets

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I agree on this.....however, pay attention to my post above. The majority of the radios I mentioned are NOT digital capable (the 785D's do not have cards). We use the radios to ensure that those responding have the capabilities to monitor the agencies they are responding with (info AND responder safety). Only two of those agencies (college police departments) are P25, and one of those two are encrypted-digital isn't an issue to us. As I said above, money talks, and if all of the PD/FD/EMS agencies that utilize scanners in their fleets got together and made this request, one of the two companies is going to realize that if they did it, and kept the cost competitive, they will be the ones getting the fleet sales. Unfortunately, as an end user that isn't buying in volume, you, as well as I, don't have much say in what they do.
Very good points, but, with all the years I have in scanning and helping program radios for State Agency we never had a problem programming radios or scanners with a computer and a cable.

It would also be a task to get enough agencies together to make such a request. I guess we'll have to wait and see if Uniden and GRE add your request. I enjoyed your posts concerning the USB addition. :D
 

rdale

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They want to turn it on and hear what's going on, while still being able to lockout/in frequencies as the become relevant
I guess I don't understand how this makes things any easier. If they are messing with the programming, then you still need to go back and reprogram. Is it really that difficult to put a laptop on the front seat, plug it in, and wait a minute? As mentioned above, adding a USB port is not free, and actually a money loser. I'm not speaking as an "advanced" user - just as a "business owner" - and I don't see what's in it for the scannermaker.
 

Citywide173

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As a business owner, you apparently miss the point of having vehicles running all over the city 24/7. The USB port would allow the flexibility of having a USB drive (or SD card) available in a supervisor's vehicle to immediately correct problems. In my case the other night, I would have pulled out my computer and fixed it, but given the neighborhood that I was shifting out of, I didn't dare bring the computer with me, as it would have had to have been left in the car outside, overnight.

The supervisors aren't trained in the software, the shift commanders aren't trained in the software, and aside from the ONE person that determined the programming of the scanner, I believe only a handful (probably more like three) of people on the department are familiar with the software, so yes, it really is that difficult to put a laptop on the front seat, plug it in, and wait a minute. We're a small fleet, I can only imagine it's more difficult as the fleet size increases.
 

Citywide173

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Ya know what? Forget I said anything. I identified an issue that is being experienced by my agency, and a fix for it. At times, our lives depend on the information we receive on a scanner, because it is more direct that waiting for it to pass through the dispatcher chain, and the fact that there is no easy way to reset the programming when someone messes with the radio is an issue.

Responder safety is obviously not an issue, as has been made clear by the multitude of people in other topics here that support encryption and think that scanners should not be able to pick up police departments, even if that means adjacent agencies (FD/EMS) are placed in danger.

And to rdale, thanks for the Firepics branded version of ScannerLive that you were supposed to deliver last year but never did. Good luck on your business.

Mods, please close this thread, and move my account status to "Banned for the greater good", as it's obvious that my views are wrong, and don't meet with Radio Reference's "greater good"
 

OCO

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Ed - thought you might want to be open for more ideas...didn't mean to rain on your parade. I didn't see anything submitted that suggested that there wasn't a concern for responder safety (most of my career was directly supporting that). My personal suggestions came from the knowledge that the mere addition of a front panel USB port would be major re-engineering and that maybe there were other possibilities.

Gerry
 
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Highpockets

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As a business owner, you apparently miss the point of having vehicles running all over the city 24/7. The USB port would allow the flexibility of having a USB drive (or SD card) available in a supervisor's vehicle to immediately correct problems. In my case the other night, I would have pulled out my computer and fixed it, but given the neighborhood that I was shifting out of, I didn't dare bring the computer with me, as it would have had to have been left in the car outside, overnight.

The supervisors aren't trained in the software, the shift commanders aren't trained in the software, and aside from the ONE person that determined the programming of the scanner, I believe only a handful (probably more like three) of people on the department are familiar with the software, so yes, it really is that difficult to put a laptop on the front seat, plug it in, and wait a minute. We're a small fleet, I can only imagine it's more difficult as the fleet size increases.
Radio Repair should be the only people touching those Radios/Scanners when it comes to repair or problems. Supervisors/Shift Commanders should keep there hands off and do the job they were hired for.
 

GTR8000

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Ya know what? Forget I said anything. I identified an issue that is being experienced by my agency, and a fix for it. At times, our lives depend on the information we receive on a scanner, because it is more direct that waiting for it to pass through the dispatcher chain, and the fact that there is no easy way to reset the programming when someone messes with the radio is an issue.

Responder safety is obviously not an issue, as has been made clear by the multitude of people in other topics here that support encryption and think that scanners should not be able to pick up police departments, even if that means adjacent agencies (FD/EMS) are placed in danger.

And to rdale, thanks for the Firepics branded version of ScannerLive that you were supposed to deliver last year but never did. Good luck on your business.

Mods, please close this thread, and move my account status to "Banned for the greater good", as it's obvious that my views are wrong, and don't meet with Radio Reference's "greater good"
I thought I was on Firepics for a minute after reading that classic Ed style passive aggressive, woe is me, post. :twisted:
 

Citywide173

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Radio Repair should be the only people touching those Radios/Scanners when it comes to repair or problems. Supervisors/Shift Commanders should keep there hands off and do the job they were hired for.
Radio repair works 8-4 M-F, and they aren't the one's responsible for the scanner programming, in fact, the head of our radio shop (there are only two of them) doesn't like scanners and doesn't think they should be in the trucks by his own admission. It was the command staff that listened to the rank and file and put them in the trucks.

If a two-way goes down in the middle of the night, we switch trucks. If a scanner goes down or gets corrupted, it's not considered significant enough to put down the truck. The design I speak of would allow the one person that has determined the department's official programming to enable others to restore it in short order.

As far as what the supervisors were hired for....do you have a copy of the job description in your hand? If you do, you would know that things like this are already in there. It's part of ensuring that the department vehicle meets department specs.

I agree with the above post about a scanner with limited functions and simplified controls, but we all know that isn't going to happen anytime soon. One that has a coffee, cream and sugar barrier would also be nice...
 
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