PSR-500 vs BCD996T

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jcecklund

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I am wondering how the PSR-500 compares on 700 mhz to the BCD996T ?

I have the BCD996T and am not impressed with the audio and receiving on the 700 mhz band
the audio in the 700 mhz on the 996T is somewhat choppy and garbled at times.

Does the PSR-500 have better audio and reception in the 700 mhz?


Thanks for any input.
 

steveh552

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I have read that the 500 is better in the digital decoding, I have not played with either one so I am unsure. I know I was at a radio shop the other day playing with a 996 and some of the digital was not to great.
 

Viper43

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They are two totaly different radios, one desktop/mobile, the other a handheld so your comparing apples to oranges. Comparing the 600 to the 996 is more appropriate though, and they sound about the same. A portable will never sound as good as a radio who has a speaker that is three times larger
 

thewenk

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On the Idaho IIMARS 700 MHz P25 system my 996, with the latest firmware, is as good and in some cases better than my PSR-500, with the latest firmware. The 996 audio is better. As I have posted a number of times on this site, the 996 receives and decodes weak signals better than the 500. As I am typing this I'm hearing 700 MHz transmissions on the 996 that the 500 is totally missing. This is with both scanners connected to a 700 MHz custom Yagi antenna with RG-11 feedline and signal distrubution using a unity gain Electroline distribution amp. I've had my 500 since last Dec., so I've had a lot of comparison listening time. The latest firmware update to the 996 made great improvements in the audio and scan speed IMO.

While I like my 500, it's major advantages to me over the 996, are the extra info displayed and the fact that it is portable.

For a base scanner I would take the 996, although I've never compared it to a PSR-600.

Dave
 
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I have tested both side by side, with digital decoding my main interest.

The 600 makes the audio sound more like a strong analog signal than the 996 does, and has less garbling on all systems, especially on simulcast systems.

The 600 is less likely (with factory settings) to "jackhammer" (try to output a control channel signal as analog). These paramaters can be adjusted though, and similar results could probably be achieved with both units, though I have not verified this.

All testing was in the 860 mhz part of the spectrum, and NO testing was done in the 700 mhz band, since it isn't used around here.

I sold the 996 and kept the 600. I'll leave it at that.
 

mtindor

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As I am typing this I'm hearing 700 MHz transmissions on the 996 that the 500 is totally missing. This is with both scanners connected to a 700 MHz custom Yagi antenna with RG-11 feedline and signal distrubution using a unity gain Electroline distribution amp.
I'd have to surmise that this has to do with the PSR500 having such a hot front end that it may be suffering from strong signal overload that make it look/feel deafer than the 996. Overall, the PSR500/600 is a more sensitive scanner (on 7/800 mhz and VHF-HI at least) - but along with that comes a very real possibility of it becoming deaf in the presence of strong signals nearby on the same band. This is probably amplified by your Hagi and distribution amp.

Mike
 

mtindor

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Does the PSR-500 have better audio and reception in the 700 mhz?
I have owned both a BCD396T and a BCD996T as well as a PSR-500 (the handheld). I have never had any problems with how audio sounded on either. THe audio quality was fine.

Decoding quality - from my perspective, on Motorola digital systems (not purebread P25 systems) I believe that the PSR-500 (and would also guess the PSR-600) decode better (less motorboating) in most circumstances vs the BCD996T.

Reception - The PSR-500 (and I"m guessing the PSR-600) is by far the most sensitive scanner that I have ever owned, being notably more sensitive than a BCD996T and even more noticeably sensitive than a PRO-90/PRO-97 that I have. However, with the increased sensitivity comes the higher chance of front end overload on the PSR-500 in the presence of strong signals (at least on 7/800 Mhz and VHF-HI). If you live in an RF environment that has some high power (or very close proximity) signals in the bands that you want ot listen to, you may end up having a receiver that appears to be deaf on those bands because the receiver can't handle the strong signals without them swamping the receiver front end. You'll hear people mention that they sometimes have to turn on ATT (the attenuator) in order to get a signal, which is a very good sign that its a signal overload problem.

I wouldn't give up my PSR-500 for anything - seems to decode very very well. However, I do sometimes become frustrated by my inability in certain areas to monitor anything because of the overload. If I go into the heart of our county seat, my PSR-500 is totally useless on 800 mhz and VHF HI, except to listen to local signals with the attenuator on. And I listen predominantly with an 800 mhz ducky antenna on the PSR-500.

Mike
 

thewenk

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I'd have to surmise that this has to do with the PSR500 having such a hot front end that it may be suffering from strong signal overload that make it look/feel deafer than the 996. Overall, the PSR500/600 is a more sensitive scanner (on 7/800 mhz and VHF-HI at least) - but along with that comes a very real possibility of it becoming deaf in the presence of strong signals nearby on the same band. This is probably amplified by your Hagi and distribution amp.

Mike
Mike,
Thanks for the input. I'll look into the overload issue, but I have some doubts.

1-The distribution amp is a unity gain amp and thus provides no amplification.

2-The problem has been with weak signals from a transmitter 50 miles away. The 500 shows highly variable decode rates(10-60%) when the problem occurs, which isn't all the time. When the decode rate gets up above 60% the 500 receives the distant signals very consistently. If it were overload, it seems I would have seen the problem most of the time. This problem seems to occur about 30-40% of the time. The closest and strongest transmitter, which is still 25 miles away is about 60 degrees off the mian Yagi axis and it does not seem to be providing an overly strong signal. Without the Yagi, I can receive the other two transmitters on the system, the strongest of which is 25 miles away, using both the 500 and the 996 and my omni 700 MHz tuned antenna. Reception without an outside antenna is inconsistent and sporadic.

I'm going to try reaiming my Yagi and see what results I get.

Dave
 

Patch42

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2-The problem has been with weak signals from a transmitter 50 miles away. The 500 shows highly variable decode rates(10-60%) when the problem occurs, which isn't all the time. When the decode rate gets up above 60% the 500 receives the distant signals very consistently. If it were overload, it seems I would have seen the problem most of the time.
The overload doesn't necessarily have to come from the signal you're intending to receive. It could be any transmission.

I used to live a couple miles from a hospital that apparently had its own paging system (or just happened to have a commercial one located very close by). If I was using the Scout to reaction tune the scanner it would tune to the paging system frequency every time someone got paged. And this in the RF jungle that is Los Angeles. For that signal to have punched through it had to be something like ten times stronger than all the other RF energy combined. Considering all the other broadcast towers within five miles, that had to have been one REALLY strong paging transmitter. Something like that would clearly cause overload in a receiver sensitive to it. But it would only cause a problem when someone was getting paged.
 
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The overload doesn't necessarily have to come from the signal you're intending to receive. It could be any transmission.

I used to live a couple miles from a hospital that apparently had its own paging system (or just happened to have a commercial one located very close by). If I was using the Scout to reaction tune the scanner it would tune to the paging system frequency every time someone got paged. And this in the RF jungle that is Los Angeles. For that signal to have punched through it had to be something like ten times stronger than all the other RF energy combined. Considering all the other broadcast towers within five miles, that had to have been one REALLY strong paging transmitter. Something like that would clearly cause overload in a receiver sensitive to it. But it would only cause a problem when someone was getting paged.
EXACTLY!

I monitor a nearby county's SO and the transmitter is in the 40-50 mile range. It is a VHF-High frequency, and is obviously very distant and weak. With attenuation OFF I get NOTHING. With attenuation ON it comes in with two bars on average.

So even though it is a "distant" signal, without attenuation I don't get as much signal through as I do WITH attenuation, because of an intense amount of RF energy in that band, near my location, NOT near the site I am trying to pick up.

The way attenuation works in different bands is a VERY funny thing, and combining that factor with antenna and coax factors makes things very interesting.

I am a persistent type, so I look at it in the following way.

There is almost always a way to hear what you want, you just have to try different things and be creative. It is almost NEVER the scanner that makes the difference, it is usually your antenna setup and settings.

Back before the days of wonderful forums like this one, there was no way to share so much information and so many tips. When I first started it was trial and error for the most part.

As Bill Cheek said, "I would rather have a cheap scanner with a great antenna than a great scanner with a a lousy antenna". It usually comes down to your setup...
 

thewenk

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I thought at least part of my problem may have been large (taller than my antenna) trees in the direction which my antenna was initially aimed. I rotated my Yagi about 30 degrees away from all of the transmitters such that it was aimed through an open space in the trees. Now I am getting good reception on all transmitters including the distant one, plus higher decode rates on the distant transmitter. Both the 500 and the 996 are now getting all 700 MHz transmissions.

But the rotation has also decreased the signal strength from the strongest transmitter, so if there was any overload from that transmitter it is now seems to have been eliminated. Maybe a combination of several factors was affecting my signal strength and the 500's receiving ability. Since the 996's receiving didn't change through all this, overloading from the closest transmitter may indeed have been affecting the 500.

Although I tried aiming the antenna in several directions when I first installed it, I never rotated it quite as far as I did this time. Additionally my original aiming was only done with the 996 as I didn't have the 500 at that time. As was mentioned before, trial and error was what I needed and so far it seems to have worked.

Using attenuation doesn't seem to help on the 700 MHz transmitters, but I definitely have had to use it on a lot of the vhf-hi frequencies with the 500.

Sometimes you get yourself locked into a way of thinking and a forum like this makes you think more out of the box. Thanks for the inputs from everyone.

Dave
 
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I strongly agree with that. I have learned more here in a few years than I probably learned in all the years before. Many here will really challenge how you look at things. On top of this, I have found solutions to the most vexing problems thanks in large part to the ideas of others on these forums.

I am also the first to admit that many have problems with front end overload on the PSR scanners, and in some cases a 996 may be a better solution for some folks. I always include this when answering the weekly question of "which is better? (PSR vs. Uniden). Sensitivity is a double-edged sword.
 
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