Scanner for my travels ? Long and confused...

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someguy123

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Nov 19, 2011
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I'm totally new to scanning, but very technical/computer experienced. I even have an amateur license.

I do a lot of winter travelling, at night, in storms. I mostly travel in western Canada and NW US. I guess its not just winter either. Twice we've had close calls with tornados and we have been in several severe weather summer storms. I keep getting the premonition that I should be better prepared for an event than I am.

I never seem to know what is going on in the area I'm in weather and traffic wise. It always seems like I'm driving in a storm and trying to figure out if the road is closed 20 miles in front of me or if the weather is getting better or worse or just what is happening.

I have a Cobra 75WXST CB radio with the weather channels. I find it a bit annoying to use and generally don't plug it in unless the weather is bad. It gets the weather channels fine, but the CB radio operation is a bit clumsy. Once in a while I ask truckers for road conditions, etc. I find it has very short range when meeting trucks travelling in the opposite direction in a snowstorm. Like about 30 seconds of conversation before they fade out.

So... I am trying to figure out if I should get a scanner and/or upgrade my CB radio to get a better handle on things.

I think talking with truckers (travelling in the opposite direction) is essential. I'd like to get an export cb radio with a bit more power. Something like a Magnum 257HP. This particular radio DOES NOT have weather channel access.

I'm thinking of augmenting it with a scanner. I'm thinking that if I listened to the police, fires and tow trucks, I'd have a better idea of what is going on. In winter, 75% of the time I wouldn't need it. But 25% of the time it would be extremely handy.

Then it comes down to the scanner itself. I don't like the Uniden HP because it appears to be "constrained". I like the idea of the 996XT, but I've read complaints about issues with P25 trunking. I don't want to buy something that isn't somewhat prepared for the future.

And then there is the mounting issue. These devices would be going in my F350 truck. It seems like it would have lots of room, but the factory nav system takes up a lot of the dash and I'm trying to mount an iPad on it as well.

If I got a 996XT, could I bury it in the fold down console and control it on the iPad touch screen ? Then I would only have to mount the CB where it could be seen and operated.

Sorry for the ramble... I know I should be more organized, but the more I read the more convergent my thought process becomes.
 

Rt169Radio

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I'm totally new to scanning, but very technical/computer experienced. I even have an amateur license.

I do a lot of winter travelling, at night, in storms. I mostly travel in western Canada and NW US. I guess its not just winter either. Twice we've had close calls with tornados and we have been in several severe weather summer storms. I keep getting the premonition that I should be better prepared for an event than I am.

I never seem to know what is going on in the area I'm in weather and traffic wise. It always seems like I'm driving in a storm and trying to figure out if the road is closed 20 miles in front of me or if the weather is getting better or worse or just what is happening.

I have a Cobra 75WXST CB radio with the weather channels. I find it a bit annoying to use and generally don't plug it in unless the weather is bad. It gets the weather channels fine, but the CB radio operation is a bit clumsy. Once in a while I ask truckers for road conditions, etc. I find it has very short range when meeting trucks travelling in the opposite direction in a snowstorm. Like about 30 seconds of conversation before they fade out.

So... I am trying to figure out if I should get a scanner and/or upgrade my CB radio to get a better handle on things.

I think talking with truckers (travelling in the opposite direction) is essential. I'd like to get an export cb radio with a bit more power. Something like a Magnum 257HP. This particular radio DOES NOT have weather channel access.

I'm thinking of augmenting it with a scanner. I'm thinking that if I listened to the police, fires and tow trucks, I'd have a better idea of what is going on. In winter, 75% of the time I wouldn't need it. But 25% of the time it would be extremely handy.

Then it comes down to the scanner itself. I don't like the Uniden HP because it appears to be "constrained". I like the idea of the 996XT, but I've read complaints about issues with P25 trunking. I don't want to buy something that isn't somewhat prepared for the future.

And then there is the mounting issue. These devices would be going in my F350 truck. It seems like it would have lots of room, but the factory nav system takes up a lot of the dash and I'm trying to mount an iPad on it as well.

If I got a 996XT, could I bury it in the fold down console and control it on the iPad touch screen ? Then I would only have to mount the CB where it could be seen and operated.

Sorry for the ramble... I know I should be more organized, but the more I read the more convergent my thought process becomes.
1. What kind of antenna are you using for your CB radio? It might not be high enough,I recommend the Wilson CB radio antenna brand if you need to get a new CB antenna.Also what kind of CB radio are you using?

2. The legal limit in the US for CB radio watt output is only 4 watts,nothing more.I don't about Canada although.

3.A scanner is good to have,even if your going to use it only 25% of the time because you will wish that you had one that 25% of the time.

4.I to have heard that the 996XT sometimes has problems decoding P25 systems,but I also heard that the GRE PSR-600,a close competitor of the 996XT has interference problems.I would recommend the Uniden BCD996XT over the GRE PSR-600.

5. This might help with mounting: AES Price list

6.I don't really know about that.Could you explain better?
 
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someguy123

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Nov 19, 2011
Messages
5
First off, thanks for the reply.

You are probably right that if I would "only" find a scanner useful on 25% of my trips that is more than enough to justify it.

I'm totally new to scanning. How serious are 996XT trunking issues ? Does it not handle certain transmissions at all ?

What are the chances that Uniden is going to release an updated 996XT in the near future ? Or was that the HP system ?

I'd love to hear from someone that currently uses a scanner or has tried to use a scanner in their vehicle to keep alert of road conditions and weather. How well did it work and do you still use it ?

How sensitive are scanners compared to a car AM/FM radio ? Would a scanner pick up a far off FM broadcast station better than a car radio ? What about an AM radio station ? Are they able to receive the audio portion of the new digital TV broadcasts ?

Thanks again.
 

GrayJeep

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N. Colo.
I'd love to hear from someone that currently uses a scanner or has tried to use a scanner in their vehicle to keep alert of road conditions and weather. How well did it work and do you still use it ?

How sensitive are scanners compared to a car AM/FM radio ? Would a scanner pick up a far off FM broadcast station better than a car radio ? What about an AM radio station ? Are they able to receive the audio portion of the new digital TV broadcasts ?

Thanks again.
I use a scanner for my daily commute of 50 miles each way. It's indispensible for knowing where the crashes are so I can avoid the traffic tieups go to Plan B or Plan C or......
It's especially helpful in snowstorms. One year I heard the interstate was blocked 5 minutes behind my passage thru a choke point of semis that couldn't climb a small hill and had blocked the right lane. 5 minutes later a semi blocked the left lane and shut the road down.

It is not terribly useful for speeding ticket repellent. (I don't try to use it that way)

I also program up the scanner for any roadtrips I might make such as the Christmas run from Colorado to Seattle last year. The scanner was indispensible in knowing what the state snowplows were encountering and what road conditions were like. A good example is that we were over 1 hour out from Boise, ID and knew that the roads were beginning to ice over in Boise based on the spinouts and crashes being reported. So we chose a hotel on the near side of town.

I use a Radio Shack Pro-106 and Win500 programming software. Combined with the RadioReference membership and the amazing database here it's pretty easy to get an effective program setup well in advance.
I also enjoy studying the route and picking the agencies I'd be interested in as I go.

Having NOAA wx at the push of a button is helpful too for getting situational awareness.

Scanners don't cover broadcast radio or TV (why bother?).

I'd feel really unprepared if I were to do a roadtrip without a preprogrammed scanner. There's so much more going on out there than you can see!
 

someguy123

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I guess that answers my question !

How much do the snow plows talk ? What about the tow trucks ?

That is exactly the information that I want to receive !
 

lep

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I have a 996XT in my vehicle. Where I am we don't have snowstorms so my purpose is not the check the WX but to know of fire/police activity. I use the ARC software to program it. I do NOT expect major upgrades from Uniden for this radio but there might be some more firmware changes, I sometimes use one of my HP-1 one to sit loose on the seat, not installedin the vehicle since it is easy to reprogram on the fly. The 996 requires me to drag along my laptop and USB cable and it not easily changed since it is permanently bolted under the passenger front seat along with other 2 way radios not related to scanning.
 

someguy123

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Nov 19, 2011
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So how do you like your 996XT as a mobile scanner ?

I'll have a laptop mounted permanently in my vehicle, so that is not an issue. I may just, in fact, hide the 996 entirely and operate it remotely from the laptop.

I'm new to scanning. What do the HPs do that the 996 won't ? And vice versa.

THANK YOU to everyone who replied. I'm deep in the woods here... without some guidance I would be totally lost.
 

someguy123

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Would you buy a 996XT right now ? Or would you wait, hoping Uniden either ups the support for it, ie more firmware or introduces a new model.

Thanks !
 

Rt169Radio

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I guess that answers my question !

How much do the snow plows talk ? What about the tow trucks ?

That is exactly the information that I want to receive !
Well it depends,it might be different in different areas.The city snow plows in my area talk about what roads need to be plowed and if something is in the way of their plowing.But in your area they might talk more or less.As for tow trucks I really don't listen to them so I don't know much about them.
 

GrayJeep

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N. Colo.
I guess that answers my question !

How much do the snow plows talk ? What about the tow trucks ?

That is exactly the information that I want to receive !
In my commute on snowy days I listen to the State snowplows. On last year's trip I listened to several State systems and their snowplows as we traveled. They describe the conditions they are encountering to their supervisors which is EXACTLY what I want to know. Traction, snow/ice depth, blowing or not, rate of snowfall and how effective they are at clearing the roads. Often they report both air and road temps they are measuring. And they indicate where they are working. Really good stuff.

Tow trucks - Around here they are are on business-band systems and I have no interest in listening to them because the ones I care about are only the ones responding to the State patrol to clear crashes. And I get the clear/not-clear info by listening to the State Trooper traffic. Besides, by the time the towtruck is called out, traffic is already tied up. I want to know as early as possible so I can go around the mess.
 

Rt169Radio

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I guess that answers my question !

How much do the snow plows talk ? What about the tow trucks ?

That is exactly the information that I want to receive !
Also the state snow plows,and I think their main snow plow station here during snow storms will give updated weather reports often and a snow level by different county/city and the snow plow drivers often give good info when their talking.
 

vernonm5

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Nov 28, 2011
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I use a scanner for my daily commute of 50 miles each way. It's indispensible for knowing where the crashes are so I can avoid the traffic tieups go to Plan B or Plan C or......
It's especially helpful in snowstorms. One year I heard the interstate was blocked 5 minutes behind my passage thru a choke point of semis that couldn't climb a small hill and had blocked the right lane. 5 minutes later a semi blocked the left lane and shut the road down.

It is not terribly useful for speeding ticket repellent. (I don't try to use it that way)

I also program up the scanner for any roadtrips I might make such as the Christmas run from Colorado to Seattle last year. The scanner was indispensible in knowing what the state snowplows were encountering and what road conditions were like. A good example is that we were over 1 hour out from Boise, ID and knew that the roads were beginning to ice over in Boise based on the spinouts and crashes being reported. So we chose a hotel on the near side of town.

I use a Radio Shack Pro-106 and Win500 programming software. Combined with the RadioReference membership and the amazing database here it's pretty easy to get an effective program setup well in advance.
I also enjoy studying the route and picking the agencies I'd be interested in as I go.

Having NOAA wx at the push of a button is helpful too for getting situational awareness.

Scanners don't cover broadcast radio or TV (why bother?).

I'd feel really unprepared if I were to do a roadtrip without a preprogrammed scanner. There's so much more going on out there than you can see!
Not to take this off track, but I just bought a Pro-106 and will be using it for pretty much exactly what you described for my move back to colorado.

I am new to scanners, but I would like to have it pre-programmed for the trip. I downloaded win500 and have the cable, but I am about as green as it comes. What would you suggest I do?
 

Rt169Radio

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Not to take this off track, but I just bought a Pro-106 and will be using it for pretty much exactly what you described for my move back to colorado.

I am new to scanners, but I would like to have it pre-programmed for the trip. I downloaded win500 and have the cable, but I am about as green as it comes. What would you suggest I do?
What to do as in what freqs to program in? Or how to program the radio?
 

W2PMX

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Oct 29, 2011
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333
Location
Fayetteville NC
Vernon,

Go to the database here on RR. Study a map and decide what agencies you'll need in the scanner for the move. (Or go to the individual state's forums and ask for each state you'll be traveling through.) Either manually enter everything from the database into Win500 or join (it's cheap) and let Win500 download what you'll need. Then arrange things to your liking and program the scanner. (I'd download everything and save it as one file. Then chop it up and program the scanner the way you want. If you decide you want something different, you have all the data in one file, so you don't need internet connectivity to make changes when you're on the road. (Just don't program the scanner while you're driving, or people will hear the dispatch for your accident.)
 

GrayJeep

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Vernon,

I posted my view of the steps needed to learn how to make a Pro-106 (it's the same as PSR-500 I think) play here: http://forums.radioreference.com/new-user-getting-started-forum/226731-i-dont-normally-do-help.html.

You could wait until you get to Colo and several people have programs we've already built that you could use to program your radio and learn how it works.

It appears I can't PM you. If you can PM me we can talk about whether any of my pre-programmed routes match anything you might be planning to do.
 
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ST-Bob

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100% agree with UPman on the HP-1 with a GPS. I use mine this way every day and always know what's going on around me.
 

OCO

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Doesn't the 996 work with GPS also? If the OP didn't want the HP-1 the 996 with a gps could be an option.
Not only the 996....
From the ScannerMaster page:
Provides location data for Uniden Scanners including:
BCD396T / BCD396XT
BCD996T / BCD996XT
BC346XT
BCT15 / BCT15X
HomePatrol-1
 
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