PRO-137 Conventional Alfa Tag Scanner on Sale $79.99

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BHinAZ

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I noticed today that the Radio Shack web site is showing the Radio Shack PRO-137 scanner on sale until 01/02/2010 for $79.99. That is a good deal. It normally sells for $130 and the last two sales were at $99. If you can live with some limitations, it is a great scanner for that price.

This is a conventional scanner (non trucking, non digital) made for Radio Shack by Uniden. It shares the case and some operational features with the Uniden BCD series, expect it uses a conventional fixed bank memory design rather than the more abstract dynamic memory model. I have one (also bought several more for relatives and friends) and the reception quality (on conventional frequencies) is the same as the BCD396T and the BR330T.

What is special about this scanner compared to some of the competition in it's class is that it has alpha tagging so you can enter an alpha description of the frequency you are listening to. It also displays the frequency number at the same time. This is great for listening situations such as commercial air bands and ham where they reference frequency numbers in many of their transmissions. Also nice is the ability to program the radio on the PC using after mark software. (I liked ARC137 the best for $25.)

Now for the limitations. It does not decode tone codes and you can not specify modulation (FM, NFM, AM) or frequency steps. Some minor annoyances are no signal strength meter, no battery voltage (just a low battery symbol when the battery is getting low), limited back light options, and limited key tone (beep) options. Also, the alpha tagging is 12 digits because the first 3 digits plus a space are reserved for an optional "race car" number. It does not pick up the military air band.

Radio Shack markets this as a NASCAR model, but that is mostly marketing hype. It allows you to associate a race car number with the frequencies for that car (or team), then access that group of frequencies directly by keying in the car number. However, you can totally ignore that usage, and with some imagination, come up with some other good uses of the functionality. I use it for air band so when the tower say Cactus 123 contact departure (but no frequency given), I just key in "1" and get to the group of several departure frequencies I have associated with the "quick key" "1". I then rotate the scroll wheel to pick up the transmission. When Departure says Cactus 123, contract Albq. Center, I just enter "2" and get directly to the Center frequencies. Neat!

Another unique feature it has is a second set of three more memory banks where it stores additional channels "off line". They can be swapped into active memory using selections from the scanner menu. They are preprogrammed with race car assignments, but you can load your own frequencies in this space. Custom usage does take some creative thinking on part of the owner and the PC programming software cannot access this auxiliary memory.

This is obviously not a Uniden BCD396XT (or a PRO-106), but it is a great scanner for it's niche in the market at 80 bucks. And, it has a couple of unique special features is the race car/quick key functionality and the auxiliary memory banks.
 
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wb0wao

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I picked one of these up earlier in the week as a "backup" scanner as well as for use in brute force decoding of trunked systems (LTR and EDACS). I have it running right now on some freqs that are listed in the RR database but I have yet not confirmed or heard. Nice rig for the price.
 
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Just picked one up tonight! Came home and threw in some freqs, and it pulls in stuff (with the stubby ant.) that the BCT15X with included ant. can't. Great price for decent features, great reception, and alpha tagging.
 

jak122

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Juneau, AK
I'm about ready to jump on this bargain mainly because of the operating temperature range and the audio output.

My main concern is this is listed as a racing scanner. What exactly does this mean besides having tags tailored for alpha input based on race car numbers? I seem to recall reading this type of scanner is wired to receive transmissions only in close proximity and/or of high output wattage. I can't find where I read that now, but reading the above post it seems reception is good.

So, is this a sensitive scanner? And could anyone please verify if the listed audio output of 500mw makes this a loud scanner? This is a must as I plan to use it in my somewhat noisy truck.

500mw is a really high spec for a handheld, the highest I can recall seeing. Of course this means a higher battery drain, but again, since I'm planning to use it in my truck, I will be tapping into an almost unlimited source of power.

thank you
 

BHinAZ

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Arizona
Jak122,

1) Meaning of Race Scanner:

The PRO-137 has everything a "normal" scanner has plus these additional functions.

- It comes pre programmed with outdated NASCAR frequencies and quick access/CAR numbers assigned to these pre programmed frequencies. These can all be deleted by resetting the scanner.

- Has the added CAR feature that allows you to assign a CAR number to one or more frequencies. This is basically a quick key way to directly access like frequences. They can be put to any use that you can think of or this feature can be ignored.

- The first 3 character positions plus a following space of the alpha tag display are reserved for the display of the quick key/CAR number. This part of the display will be blank if no quick key/car number is assigned.

- Tha actual alpha tag is only twelve characters since the first four postions are for the optional quick key/CAR number. This compares to 16 characters in many other Uniden radios, but still enough to get the job done.
- The scanner has "RACE 1000" printed in small letters on the front panel, but it does not have the NASCAR logo like the BR330T. Some would say that is a good thing!

- It has off line memory that can be used for other purposes, or ignored.

- Sensitivity is not detuned for the track. In addition to the regular rubber duck antenna, it also comes with a less sensitive stub antenna for track use.

Bottom line, other than reducing the alpha tag discription field to 12 characters, the Race features do not take away anything from what would normally be on the scanner. It only adds features that can be ignored. I do not see any down side (other than possibly the 12 character alpha tag impact).

2) Sensitivity:

I would say it is very good and is the same as other recent Uniden scanners, such as the BR330T and the BCD396T. It is somewhat less sensitive than the BCD396XT. A GRE made scanner may be somewhat more sensitive than the PRO-137, but the PRO-137 does a good job in handling intermod.

With the squelch on (set at 2) I can pick up the Tucson weather broadcast (162.400) off Mt Lemon from the north part of Phoenix with the included portable antenna if the scanner is positioned in a sweet spot. That is over 100 miles away.

3) Volume:

The volume can be set louder than you would normally listen to in the house. The volume setting goes up to a relative value of 15. I normally have it set around 8 in the house. I can not say if the max setting would be loud enough for your truck. I have a GM Duramax diesel, (which is much quieter than a Dodge Cummins) and I can hear it just fine, but I always have the windows up. I suspect it would have a hard time over the road and air noise doing 70 with the windows down. It also depends on the transmission since some have weaker audio than others. There may be times where you would have to pick it up and hold it closer to your ear. The max volume is about the same as the BR330T and the BCD396XT. It is not near as loud as a car stereo. (You may be able to feed the headphone output into the car stereo if you need more volume.) The battery drain seems to be about the same as the other two radios.

One more comment: The radio looks much nicer than shown in the pictures. The RS website shows an orange frame around the lens. That is wrong. It is actually a light silver. Looks fine.

Hope I touched on all the items in your post. If you can live with the limitations mentioned in my first note, it is a very good buy at the sale price. The manual is online at the Radio Shack web site, so take a look at that for even more details.
 
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jak122

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Juneau, AK
Jak122,

- Sensitivity is not detuned for the track. In addition to the regular rubber duck antenna, it also comes with a less sensitive stub antenna for track use.

2) Sensitivity:

I would say it is very good and is the same as other recent Uniden scanners, such as the BR330T and the BCD396T. It is somewhat less sensitive than the BCD396XT. A GRE made scanner may be somewhat more sensitive than the PRO-137, but the PRO-137 does a good job in handling intermod.

With the squelch on (set at 2) I can pick up the Tucson weather broadcast (162.400) off Mt Lemon from the north part of Phoenix with the included portable antenna if the scanner is positioned in a sweet spot. That is over 100 miles away.

3) Volume:

The volume can be set louder than you would normally listen to in the house. The volume setting goes up to a relative value of 15. I normally have it set around 8 in the house. I can not say if the max setting would be loud enough for your truck. I have a GM Duramax diesel, (which is much quieter than a Dodge Cummins) and I can hear it just fine, but I always have the windows up. I suspect it would have a hard time over the road and air noise doing 70 with the windows down. It also depends on the transmission since some have weaker audio than others. There may be times where you would have to pick it up and hold it closer to your ear. The max volume is about the same as the BR330T and the BCD396XT. It is not near as loud as a car stereo. (You may be able to feed the headphone output into the car stereo if you need more volume.) The battery drain seems to be about the same as the other two radios.
Thank you BHinAZ for clearing up sensitivity being dependent on the antenna, instead of the racing scanner being intentionally made to be less sensitive. Even if it is maybe slightly less sensitive than the models you mentioned, the selectivity would make up for it as I plan to connect it to a pretty good wide band scanner antenna mounted to the outside of my truck.

My truck is a well-maintained GMC with a gas engine, meaning the engine isn't noisy and the rubber door seals are intact and block most of the road noise. So the volume should be quite adequate with the windows rolled up. I already downloaded the manual and immediately looked at the specs, so I suspected the audio would beat the 110mw in my current truck scanner and from your description it sounds like it does.

Anyhow, I ordered one, can't wait to get it! Now I have to figure out how to get rid of my clunker AR2700...

thanks again
 

jak122

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Oct 12, 2008
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Juneau, AK
Well this proved to be all I suspected it would be and more. The audio is exceptionally loud and clear!

The sensitivity and selectivity connected to an externally mounted antenna on my truck is what I needed in this scanner and I'm far away from disappointed.

Great value, watch for this one to go one sale again. If it doesn't it's still worth it.
 
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