Recommendation for my area (BCD436HP or BCD325P2)

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BMan56

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Hello all, I am a newbie to scanners and wanting to purchase my first. I'm looking for a recommendation to monitor Lafayette Parish, LA and surrounding areas police, fire, ambulance and other emergency services as well as airport traffic (and anything else that comes my way). As I understand, most of Lafayette Parish and the state of Louisiana are on the 800 band, while surrounding parishes are analog. To cover it all, I've narrowed my choices to the 436HP or the 325P2. I travel sometimes and might bring the scanner with me at times.

I've read many posts here and many reviews for both models. I know both models are good and packed with features but complicated and I will have a learning curve regarding programming and using the features. But I'm recently retired so I have time to play and learn. And this forum contains priceless resources and knowledge!

I welcome and appreciate any and all thoughts in helping me decide which is best for my area! Thanks!
 

hiegtx

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Hello all, I am a newbie to scanners and wanting to purchase my first. I'm looking for a recommendation to monitor Lafayette Parish, LA and surrounding areas police, fire, ambulance and other emergency services as well as airport traffic (and anything else that comes my way). As I understand, most of Lafayette Parish and the state of Louisiana are on the 800 band, while surrounding parishes are analog. To cover it all, I've narrowed my choices to the 436HP or the 325P2. I travel sometimes and might bring the scanner with me at times.

I've read many posts here and many reviews for both models. I know both models are good and packed with features but complicated and I will have a learning curve regarding programming and using the features. But I'm recently retired so I have time to play and learn. And this forum contains priceless resources and knowledge!

I welcome and appreciate any and all thoughts in helping me decide which is best for my area! Thanks!
Unfortunately, most Lafayette agencies that use LWIN are encrypted, so you cannot monitor them with any scanner. There are two sites in your county, but since they are using state licenses for the 700MHz frequencies they use, there is no site map I could use to verify whether or not either, or both, of the sites are simulcast.

I have both the 325P2, and the 436HP, as well as an SDS100. The 325P2 is a nice handy size that is light and easy to carry, Battery life can be less than other scanners since it only has two batteries, but you can get an extra set of batteries and a good external charger to give you some back up. As long as you are not dealing with DMR or NXDN systems, you can use FreeSCAN to program it. However, if you do want to include a system or agency using DMR, or NXDN, you would need, instead, to consider ProScan or ARC-XT. I prefer ProScan. The 325P2 would not be my first choice if simulcast is an issue.

The 436HP is somewhat better than the 325P2 at handling simulcast, though if you are in the middle of one of the more troublesome systems, you probably should consider the SDS100 instead. If simulcast appears to not be a factor, then the 436HP is a good choice. When you travel, you can use a GPS connected to the scanner, and let the scanner handle the systems along your route, turning systems on when they come into range, and off when they pass out of range. You can use Sentinel, provided at no charge by Uniden, to keep the database in the scanner updated. You can also create Favorites lists in Sentinel to monitor specific agencies or areas when you are not using a GPS. The 325P2 can also be set up to be used with a GPS, but when traveling, you would have to set up your programming, with location details, in advance to get the maximum use of the GPS. For the 436HP, you have to use Sentinel to keep the database current, and Sentinel is also required for applying any updates that come out. If you want something other than Sentinel for setting up Favorites lists, then your choices are ProScan or ARC536. Again, here I prefer ProScan.

Both the 325P2 and the 436HP can handle P25 Phase I and Phase II, and both can get the paid upgrade if you want to add DMR or NXDN.
 

MrThompson

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If you want to catch analog in the surrounding Parishes consider a second radio. Digital Unidens do what they do. An Icom R6 or to a lesser extent a R30 will pull in the analog stuff that the Unidens can't hear.
 

jonwienke

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If you want to catch analog in the surrounding Parishes consider a second radio. Digital Unidens do what they do. An Icom R6 or to a lesser extent a R30 will pull in the analog stuff that the Unidens can't hear.
Unidens can hear analog just fine. Everything is analog when it hits the antenna; all digital formats modulate analog radio waves. You can't have digital reception without analog reception that's just as good or better on that frequency.
 

BMan56

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Thank you all for your feedback. As I understand it, both the 436HP and 325P2 receive analog and digital signals meaning I should receive those analog signals in my area (or other areas transmitting in analog when I travel). Sadly, it appears I won't be able to hear the Lafayette agencies since their signals are encrypted, but I can hear surrounding areas.

So, given my limitations it appears both models are fairly comparable for my use. Is my assumption correct, and if so, would the cheaper 325P2 suffice or should I spend another $50-75 for the extra features in the 436HP (that I may use in the future)? Or, are any of those features necessary given encrypted signals in my area?
 

darkness975

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Thank you all for your feedback. As I understand it, both the 436HP and 325P2 receive analog and digital signals meaning I should receive those analog signals in my area (or other areas transmitting in analog when I travel). Sadly, it appears I won't be able to hear the Lafayette agencies since their signals are encrypted, but I can hear surrounding areas.

So, given my limitations it appears both models are fairly comparable for my use. Is my assumption correct, and if so, would the cheaper 325P2 suffice or should I spend another $50-75 for the extra features in the 436HP (that I may use in the future)? Or, are any of those features necessary given encrypted signals in my area?
There is nothing you can do about the encrypted signals. Unless they rescinded the encryption to make those frequencies open again, no unit available to the general public can decode them. Most depressing as you can imagine for those of us that are in this hobby ...

Regarding the choice between the 325P2 and the 436HP, I cannot speak for everyone but I can speak for myself. The main difference in my opinion with the 436HP for someone like you that is just starting out would be the inclusion of the "zip code" feature in the 436HP. If you would like to just use the zip code feature, it allows you to type in your location and range and it will load all frequencies from the RR database within your specified area. You may want to do this, combined with enabling all service types, to get an idea of what is in the area and what it finds. You may be surprised by some of it. The 325P2 has to be programmed manually, there is no zip code feature on that unit.

While you are learning the Sentinal software and how to create your own favorite's lists with just the things you wish to hear at least the unit will be in use for something, since you can plug in the zip code and start using the scanner right out of the box. Just make sure you update the database and firmware before trying to use it.

Also, having the zip code feature is helpful if you ever travel, as you can purchase the GPS puck. The GPS puck will automatically update the scanner's location via GPS and you will hear any open channels that are within range as you are moving without the need to manually update the location all the time.

That's how I would do it, anyway.

When I first got my 325P2 I had to program it myself. I'm a computer person, so I was not afraid of the software. But understanding how the sites and frequencies and all of that are set up were all things I was not told prior to purchase. I had to figure it out, though admittedly it was made a lot easier by being able to import from the RR database. That being said I am still not an "expert" by any means on setting up the sites and such. But I at least understand how they are supposed to be set up which is a big thing. Making friends with people in your state / area through here is great too, because you can share experience and find out how others who have successfully running favorite lists on their own scanners have them configured.
 

BMan56

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I have questions regarding a couple of earlier points made... and at this point I'm leaning toward the BCD436HP.

Can someone explain to me a bit about simulcast? What is it and does the 436HP model handle simulcast well (my take from hiegtx's post is that perhaps the 436HP does not handle simulcast well)? I have read the SDS100 is better with simulcast, but not knowing what exactly simulcast is, my conclusions are limited.

Too, since I think many systems in my area use DMR, what is the fee and is it a one time fee?
 

darkness975

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I have questions regarding a couple of earlier points made... and at this point I'm leaning toward the BCD436HP.

Can someone explain to me a bit about simulcast? What is it and does the 436HP model handle simulcast well (my take from hiegtx's post is that perhaps the 436HP does not handle simulcast well)? I have read the SDS100 is better with simulcast, but not knowing what exactly simulcast is, my conclusions are limited.

Too, since I think many systems in my area use DMR, what is the fee and is it a one time fee?
Two or more towers transmitting the same signal. Older units not specifically designed for dealing with that are unable to correctly decode it a lot of the time and therefore you will miss transmissions. Unfortunately that statement includes the BCD436HP. You may be one of the "lucky" ones who's home is situated in a "sweet spot" among the towers but there is no way to know without actually trying it.

The SDS100 and SDS200 scanners were specifically designed with simulcast in mind and are the only units that can work properly in a simulcast environment.
 

hiegtx

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I have questions regarding a couple of earlier points made... and at this point I'm leaning toward the BCD436HP.

Can someone explain to me a bit about simulcast? What is it and does the 436HP model handle simulcast well (my take from hiegtx's post is that perhaps the 436HP does not handle simulcast well)? I have read the SDS100 is better with simulcast, but not knowing what exactly simulcast is, my conclusions are limited.

Too, since I think many systems in my area use DMR, what is the fee and is it a one time fee?
Simulcast is where two or more sites, on the same system, are transmitting the exact same radio traffic on the same frequencies. Multiple sites are used so that there is better signal coverage in the area, especially for handheld radios, which might be used inside a building, or in spots where terrain might impact the signal path if only one transmit tower was used. Depending on what is needed in the area, you may have only a few sites, or you might have many more. These would be at various distances from your location. Even though radio waves move very rapidly, there still is enough time difference, even as minute as it is, for these signals to conflict with each other and affect how well the scanner can handle them. Professional radios, those used by the public safety agencies, are designed to deal with this, and don't have the problems that a scanner does. The older scanner designs are less able to handle the simulcast effect, and will either miss some radio traffic, or it may be received in such a garbled form that you cannot understand what is being said. A more complete explanation of Simulcast can be found in the Wiki.
Simulcast digital distortion - The RadioReference Wiki

For your home county, Lafayette, as well as most of the LWIN sites, frequencies licensed to your state are being used, so there is not a specific FCC license for the site, and thus there is no map of the sites so that you can see their placement. But, here is a map of the tower locations for a simulcast site in Montgomery County, on the TxWARN system. (Yes, that is a different site than Lafayette, and on a separate system, but the illustration of simulcast towers would still be useful.)
82225
Exactly what the tower placement in your parish looks like, I have no way of knowing. But as you can see in the map above, if you were, let's say, in Conroe, you would be surrounded by a ring of towers, all using the same frequencies at the same time, with the signals arriving at the scanner far enough apart to severely impact reception.

The 325P2 is not a good choice for simulcast. The 436HP is better, but not the best, which is one of the SDS series scanners. There are a number of systems here in the DFW area where members of RR have noted simulcast issues. After I got the SDS100, I made it a point to try the SDS100, 436HP, 325P2, and TRX-1 in some of the areas where the problem was noted as severe. In areas where the SDS100 was getting solid reception of a system, the 436HP was in the 70-80% range of what the SDS was hereing. The 325P2 was in the 50-60% range, and the TRX-1 much lower, say 20-30%.

That being said, when I'm at home, the 436HP and SDS100 are hearing the same percentage of the same systems most of the time. That's because for the systems involved, I'm far enough outside of their service area that I am not affected by simulcast. I will be, in the not too distant future, once Dallas (city) & Dallas County migrate to their planed P25 Phase II simulcast system. When that change is made, I expect that scanners other than the SDS100 & SDS200 will have problems at my location.

As already noted, virtually all of the public safety agencies in your home parish (Lafayette) are encrypted. But in most of your surrounding parishes, many agencies are not in the dark. If that holds true, the 436HP might be a good choice, as you may be out of the simulcast trouble zone for them, but hopefully still in range. That question should probably be asked down in the Louisiana forum, where someone in your vicinity may see your question, and give you an idea of what works for them. To do that, do not create a new thread. Instead, click on the Report in the lower left corner of one of your posts, and request that a moderator move your thread to the state forum. Someone in the area would be more likely to see it there.
 

BMan56

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To all of these replies, thank you very much. Sharing your knowledge and experience has been invaluable. In just a few posts, I have learned much. I think I have now limited my choices to the 436HP and the SDS100. Of course, the SDS100 is quite a few $$$ more.

A special thanks for the explanations about simulcast. That has been a big help!
 

darkness975

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To all of these replies, thank you very much. Sharing your knowledge and experience has been invaluable. In just a few posts, I have learned much. I think I have now limited my choices to the 436HP and the SDS100. Of course, the SDS100 is quite a few $$$ more.

A special thanks for the explanations about simulcast. That has been a big help!
You also want to consider future proofing yourself. Do you know anything about the systems around you in terms of their future plans? Are there any write-ups that you can find that discusses that topic? Or can you talk to some individuals here on RR that may know about that?

Basically, if you discover that in the next year or two the systems you are interested in would be best monitored with an SDS series scanner, then that is something that must be factored into your longer term plan.
 

jonwienke

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I would just get the SDS100. It's specifically designed to handle simulcast, which is becoming more common as time goes on.
 

BMan56

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I don't know anything about the future plans of the systems around me, but assuming they are currently using simulcast, or will move to simulcast in the future, my best option would be the SDS100. I'll do a bit of research on the boards and will put aside a few more $$$ for the model that covers me today and tomorrow. Thanks!
 

darkness975

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I don't know anything about the future plans of the systems around me, but assuming they are currently using simulcast, or will move to simulcast in the future, my best option would be the SDS100. I'll do a bit of research on the boards and will put aside a few more $$$ for the model that covers me today and tomorrow. Thanks!
Don't forget not to use that garbage stock antenna that they send with the unit.
 

tvengr

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At my location, the only scanners that will receive the Baltimore Co South simulcast site are the SDS100 handlheld and the SDS200 base/mobile. If you get the SDS100, I would suggest pairing it with the Remtronix REM-820S antenna. That antenna is designed for the 700 and 800 MHz frequencies used by LWIN. I could not receive my adjacent county on the stock antenna. With the Remtronix antenna, it works perfectly.
 

Bob1955

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There is nothing you can do about the encrypted signals. Unless they rescinded the encryption to make those frequencies open again, no unit available to the general public can decode them. Most depressing as you can imagine for those of us that are in this hobby ...

Regarding the choice between the 325P2 and the 436HP, I cannot speak for everyone but I can speak for myself. The main difference in my opinion with the 436HP for someone like you that is just starting out would be the inclusion of the "zip code" feature in the 436HP. If you would like to just use the zip code feature, it allows you to type in your location and range and it will load all frequencies from the RR database within your specified area. You may want to do this, combined with enabling all service types, to get an idea of what is in the area and what it finds. You may be surprised by some of it. The 325P2 has to be programmed manually, there is no zip code feature on that unit.

While you are learning the Sentinal software and how to create your own favorite's lists with just the things you wish to hear at least the unit will be in use for something, since you can plug in the zip code and start using the scanner right out of the box. Just make sure you update the database and firmware before trying to use it.

Also, having the zip code feature is helpful if you ever travel, as you can purchase the GPS puck. The GPS puck will automatically update the scanner's location via GPS and you will hear any open channels that are within range as you are moving without the need to manually update the location all the time.

That's how I would do it, anyway.

When I first got my 325P2 I had to program it myself. I'm a computer person, so I was not afraid of the software. But understanding how the sites and frequencies and all of that are set up were all things I was not told prior to purchase. I had to figure it out, though admittedly it was made a lot easier by being able to import from the RR database. That being said I am still not an "expert" by any means on setting up the sites and such. But I at least understand how they are supposed to be set up which is a big thing. Making friends with people in your state / area through here is great too, because you can share experience and find out how others who have successfully running favorite lists on their own scanners have them configured.
Ronnie-Very well written.
Send me a private message when you get a chance.
Bob
 

BMan56

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Louisianians, I'm seeking help when it comes to my first handheld scanner. You can read from the previous posts that I have concluded the Uniden SDS100 is the best out there, but I have one question specific to my area. I live near Youngsville in Lafayette Parish Louisiana. I'm curious as to whether simulcast is an issue in my area, or expected to be in the future. The more I have researched, the more I have learned that much of the state is encrypted or difficult to receive due to simulcast, so I'm wondering if the SDS100 cost is worth it, or if a cheaper alternative might work (such as the Whistler TRX-1). If anyone knows more about simulcast in my area, or is willing to share their thoughts on recommending a model that is compatible with my area, I'd like to hear you. Thanks!
 

Whiskey3JMC

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I'm curious as to whether simulcast is an issue in my area, or expected to be in the future.
The answer may very well differ from person to person. One listener may be in direct line of site to one tower and pick up ops from that tower alone with no troubles on something other than an SDSx00. Person #2's radio may break up or skip transmissions no matter how they have their thresholds set or what antenna they use. It all depends on where you are in relation to two or more sites broadcasting the same frequency map. But I'll shut up now and let the local folks answer...
 
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buddrousa

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Bman56 before anything else is said in the map above I do not see Youngersville. Plus you have been given the best case info but think of this.
#1 Are you going to be moving around with this scanner?
#2 If the answer to question #1 is NO Can you see one of the Towers or live less than 1 MILE from the tower.
#3 If the anser to Question #2 is no then the SDS100 is your scanner of choice.
 

BMan56

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The answer may very well differ from person to person. One listener may be in direct line of site to one tower and pick up ops from that tower alone with no troubles on something other than an SDSx00. Person #2's radio may break up or skip transmissions no matter how they have their thresholds set or what antenna they use. It all depends on where you are in relation to two or more sites broadcasting the same frequency map. But I'll shut up now and let the local folks answer...
Whiskey, sorry but I don't see a map posted. Can you repost it again so I can ascertain my location relative to towers? Thanks!
 
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