Race Track Operation benefits?

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flyingpylon

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I'm very new to scanning and I'm looking to purchase my first scanner. My primary motivation for getting into this is race scanning, not just NASCAR but IndyCar, NHRA, and short/local tracks as well (I live near Indianapolis).

I've done a ton of research, and while the obvious choice is to just run out and get an SC230, I'm a person that always likes to maximize the value I receive for any $$$ spent, even if it means spending a bit more.

For example, I can see the benefit of spending just a little more to get a trunking scanner like the BC346XT (for general use... I realize that trunking is not needed for racing). And then it looks like there are still BR330T's available though they are a bit pricey. On the other hand I have decided that at least for now, I don't want to spend $500 for digital.

What I'm curious about is the benefit of Uniden's "Race Track Operation". I have read a few descriptions around the internet (including the one in the RR wiki) but I don't seem to be able to discern if this is really a feature I need or if the very same thing can be accomplished using the custom systems and groups available in other Uniden scanners. Obviously they can all receive the actual racing communications.

I am not afraid of programming the scanner myself, and I definitely want to do it via the PC. I realize that a scanner like the BC346XT probably can't be programmed by vendors at the tracks and that's fine with me.

So is "Race Track Operation" such a valuable feature for racing that I shouldn't go without it, or is it ultimately smarter to get a more fully-featured scanner? Seems like the "Race Track Operation" feature is simple enough that it could have been included in more/newer models and I'm kind of curious about Uniden's decision not to include it, and wonder if it's something that will be around long term.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
 

tmoosetrax

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Bethlehem, PA
Listening to a scanner while going to a race will add so much more to your Experience.
As for getting a scanner that is used for nascar, you could stick with a pre programed scanner or like you say go to one that can be manual programed. I would definitely buy one with alps tags so you could label the drivers name to the channel along with TV stations and Officials and other track radios. The Frequencies do not seem to change much with the teams over the years so reprogramming should not take much.

If you looking at a scanner that can do more then nascar i would make a list of organizations or types of scanning you would enjoy listening too.
If your thinking about local police, fire or municipal services check RR and see what types of frequencies or Systems they use in your area, conventional, trunked , p25 digital.
This will point you in the right direction of what type of scanner you will need to optimize your experience.
 

jdlsc

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Jul 3, 2009
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Lexington, SC
6 months ago I was sitting exactly where you are with respect to buying a scanner for races (ALMS, in my case). A secondary consideration was scanning public safety while not at races. I ended up getting the BC346XT and don't regret it one bit. I've been programming it with the FreeSCAN software with no problems.

I highly recommend you play with the programming well in advance of the race so you can settle on a configuration that will be easy for you to control while at the races. The last thing you will want to do is reprogram your scanner while at the race without a PC.

What I did was gathered several frequency lists from the web. Fortunately, with ALMS racing, they are all pretty much available. I kept a spreadsheet with all of the "latest" frequencies for each team as well as ones that "might" be used or were used previously. Once this was gathered, I created a conventional system for each car with the car # as the Quick Key. This made enabling and disabling any car as simple as punching in their #. I had to get creative with some. For example, car 7 was on Quick Key 7. Car 07, was on Quick Key 97. I programmed the alpha tagging to show the car # and team name. This way you could easily check to see if you enabled the correct car or not. I also programmed in all possible frequencies for each car into their corresponding system (typically only 3-4 per car). The scanner will scan through the channels fast enough that you won't have to worry about delays. Besides, you won't be scanning every car at once so at the most my scanner was only monitoring 10-15 frequencies. FreeSCAN will also identify duplicate frequencies, so you can make a decision on whether to include it in a particular system or not. For example, if car X used frequency A at the last race, but car Y used that same frequency a couple years ago, I'd not worry about programming that frequency for car Y.

Race Ops, SpeedTV, Local cops... each had their own conventional system, but no Quick Key. I enabled/disabled them on the scanner simply by locking/unlocking them as needed.

With all that being said, while at the race, I spent most of the time listening to the SpeedTV frequencies. The director is very cool to listen to while watching the video on the Jumbotron. Their "off-air" commentary and stories about drinking the night before were very entertaining and will provide plenty of laughs.

Lastly, FreeSCAN allows you to print out your programming. Since I was camping at the Petit LeMans, I had plenty of time to buy a frequency table, compare it to my printed program sheet and add/delete on my scanner as needed.

Don't let all of this discourage you. This may look like a lot of effort, but once you get it done once, you can use that configuration file as a template for future programming.

The BC346XT is a great scanner and can be learned without too much effort, just allow time to figuring it out in advance. DO NOT plan to pick one up on the way to the track and figure out how to program it in the parking lot. You'll pull your hair out doing this.

Enjoy!
 

AK9R

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flyingpylon, I bet you are an autocrosser. I'm a 30-year SCCA member and have done a few autocrosses, thought that's not my primary interest.

Aside from your interest in race scanning, you may want to keep in mind that your scanning interests may eventually go beyond racing. If you ever have an interest in scanning public safety, you will probably need a digital scanner like the GRE PSR-500 or Uniden BCD396XT. Marion County, Hamilton County, Indiana State Police, and many other city and county agencies in Indiana are using digital systems.
 

flyingpylon

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Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
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Thank you all very much for the replies, they are much appreciated. Especially jdlsc... that was exactly the kind of information I was hoping for. And W9RXR, you are correct! I was at one time an autocrosser... with what I like to refer to as a "brief yet unspectacular career"! :)

I think the BC346XT makes a lot of sense. It just seems like a far more capable scanner than the SC230, for really just a few dollars more (and no NASCAR logo... bonus!).

I live in Hamilton County, IN and though I realize that the public safety organizations in my area have gone digital, I'm just not sure I want to spend $500 on my first scanner. Maybe if I really get into non-racing scanning I will trade up at some point. More than the actual money, going digital would require more "political capital" at home, if you know what I mean.

I'm still open to other input and opinions if anyone has any...
 
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