Questions on a used BCD396T

Status
Not open for further replies.

xtranaut

Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2014
Messages
9
Location
Lakesite Tennessee
I purchased a BCD396T on EBAY for 350.00. It was advertised as NEW but when I received it, it has Philadelphia Police frequencies in it and none of the interior packaging was in the box. The woman told me she bought it in 2007, has someone put a few frequencies in it, the basically, put it in the box and never used it.

Physically, it looks brand new and all the parts are with it, including the USB programming able. It just irritated me that I could not get this person to admit that something that has been programmed and turned on several times is considered USED.

My questions are as follows:

the scanner is working. Is 350.00 a reasonable price to pay for one that old in great shape?

Do I need to upgrade the firmware in the scanner and how tricky is that procedure without messing something else up?

What the is best and least expensive way to program the scanner? i LIVE IN A TRI-STATE AREA SO I WOULD PUT LOTS OF FREQUENCIES IN..

Are there people who will program these for you if you dont know much about that?

Obviously I am weighing whther I got a good enough deal to keep it...of if it being a 2007 model, it is up to par with something newer I could probably have for the same price.
 

ka3jjz

Wiki Admin Emeritus
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
22,128
Location
Bowie, Md.
Maybe - IF that cable really is a USB-serial cable. The 396's don't come with that standard. They come with a serial cable - and if that's the case, you will need a separate USB-serial cable to connect it to your PC

I would also ask about what firmware version it's running. If it's anything older than version 3, you will need to upgrade the firmware at some point. It's not an easy task - fortunately though you would only need to do it once.

Don't be turned off about programming this scanner. It's a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of working with systems and groups (and the various quick keys) you'll be set. There's even freeware you can use with a premium subscription to download data from our database. There are many links (always blue) in this article to get you started...

Program your DMA Scanner - The RadioReference Wiki

Learning to do this yourself is far and away cheaper than having to send it out any time you want to make a change, or inadvertantly hit a key you didn't want to...Mike
 

lep

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Messages
948
I own a 396T. I like it but I would not pay $350 for another. The last firmware update for it of which I am aware is v.3.2. on 2/28/2010. This is about the last Uniden which came with an actual printed manual, 150 pages. If it is new and complete you should have this manual.
I use ARC 396 PRO from Butel software to program mine. I have several Unidens and use various ARC programs for them. Others have different opinions but I have found Butel software to be reliable and easy to use.
Check the firmware version in your scanner and update if needed.
 

xtranaut

Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2014
Messages
9
Location
Lakesite Tennessee
I am trying to get to the bottom line in dollars. Why would you not pay 350.00 for this scanner again - even if in excellent shape? AND...WHAT, FOR 350.00 WOULD YOU BUY IN IT'S PLACE?

It did come with a CD manual and a copy of the printed one.

The woman said that everything that was in the box came with it when she purchased it so the cable is original. It is NOT the big serial cable that everybody suggests you use.

How would I be able to check what the current firmware on the scanner is? ... AND, IN WHAT WAY IS IT A HEADACHE TO INSTALL?

Radio Shack sells the XT for 469.00. Just don't know whether what I bought was a better value than I can expect to get from anything else.
 

lep

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Messages
948
What I would pay is really not the Question as I have 7 functioning scanners including a pair of HP-1 both with EE. The original equipment cable is NOT a USB cable, it has a DB9 on the PC end to attach to a Serial port but many new computer no longer have this port. So what you likely need is the same cable with the mini-plug for the scanner side connector but a USB connector for your PC with a "bulge" in the cable that contains the electronic to convert the signal. No big deal, the cables are easily available at a local shop or on the web.
No, updating the firmware is not complicated, depending on how old your firmware is there may be several steps. Follow instructions and it can be done in a few minutes. You can download the instructions and Release Notes (I like to print and save them in a folder and handwrite the date because with my several scanners I don't want to confuse myself!).
The XT models have improvements over the T models. For example I have the 996T AND the 996XT
Since little of my listening requires a hand held, I didn't bother with the 396XT.
My personal view is the HP-1 refurbished direct from Uniden at $379 is a better buy than either!
 

xtranaut

Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2014
Messages
9
Location
Lakesite Tennessee
HP-1 huh? I have heard good and bad. I like the idea that it programs itself but some say that has too many limitations. Apparently if you are in a small town it doesnt give you alot of peripheral choice...like beyond a local police department (if it has that in it's database at all) you can't expect to get highway patrol, sheriff and a lot of other things that you would chose to program. I also hear that the audio isn't that good. I would imagine a lot has to do with just hearing through something that lacks that serious scanner look. :)
 

lep

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Messages
948
HP-1 huh? I have heard good and bad. I like the idea that it programs itself but some say that has too many limitations. Apparently if you are in a small town it doesnt give you alot of peripheral choice...like beyond a local police department (if it has that in it's database at all) you can't expect to get highway patrol, sheriff and a lot of other things that you would chose to program. I also hear that the audio isn't that good. I would imagine a lot has to do with just hearing through something that lacks that serious scanner look. :)
You ask my opinion. I am a radio engineer by profession and training. I have been listening to public safety communications for a Long Time. I live in a small town. The RR.com database is complete for my town because I submitted most of the data that is IN the db in the first place, that's where the data comes from all over the country. In my opinion the HP-1 with EE is a professional instrument. For the nearest Large City to me, the db is complete because it was submitted by an employee of the State Patrol who happens to be a licensed amateur as well as a scanner fan. If you don't want the free advice, fine, no problem. But just don't base your thoughts on rumor, often from those who don't even own the equipment they are being critical about.
Your final sentence is funny. Who in the world care what the radio Looks Like? How well it performs the intended function is what counts.
Buy whatever looks good to you...Enjoy!
 

lep

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Messages
948
Oh, one more thing I forgot to mention. I assume you know what RID is. (some call it UID). The 396 does NOT identify UID. The HP-1 does. For example right now one of the officers of my city PD is transmitting, The HP-1 decodes the H-T as #13329. In a trunking system every radio has an RID. However by careful listening over time I have determined that officer's badge number is 239 and she uses "239" as her radio call sign. So, my HP-1 is programmed to display on the screen, not 13329 but PD 239-F. So I will know at a glance is a CD PD unit and it is a female officer. Similarly with the assistance of others we know the Sheriff numbering system, the University Police, etc. etc.

While you may think the 396 "looks more professional" I can assure you the HP-1 behaves more like a professional tool Again the 396 can't even identify RIDs at all.
 

xtranaut

Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2014
Messages
9
Location
Lakesite Tennessee
Interesting stuff, I meant what I said about the HP-1 design because that is the way many people are - not ready to accept change. I honestly think that some people look at it and wish they could hold it, but can't or put it on their desktop with other "technically advanced looking" stuff that they associate with rawly effective and enduring and perhaps don't feel like the HP-1 fits.

I have seen lots of good things said about it ... more than bad. I am not stuck in any conformity and look to how well something performs so I would probably like it and likely will be looking at the HP-1 as my choice beyond the 396T.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top