Scanner Reminiscing: BC760XLT

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N9JIG

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In a post the other day “captncarp” talked about his BC560XLT scanner (https://forums.radioreference.com/uniden-tavern/352696-mystery-mobile.html).

This got me reminiscing about some of my Bearcats of the day. The 560 and its ilk spawned a large number of different scanners in the same package, kind of like what Uniden has done recently with the BCT15/996/536 series in the DIN size package.

There was the BC560 like he has and it included several others. The most well known (and my favorite) was the BC760XLT which had an early implementation of PL decoding with the optional board. ScannerWorld at the time had a couple “Exclusive” radios, their version of the 760 was the 950 and had a grey front instead of a black one. There were also private-label versions for Cobra and others. Uniden, which had recently bought out Regency's scanner line, also sold some under the Regency label.

When you get to the 760 there were 3 versions. The original one had the old Motorola antenna jack, the newer ones had the BNC. There were 2 versions of the BNC radio, later versions allowed you to have the PL decode on and set a tone on a channel without tone, the older one required PL on every channel if the board was switched on. Some of us installed little PL encoders set at the bare minimum deviation that would open the receiver on 67.0 Hz. This way if it were a CSQ channel the radio could be programmed with a 67.0 PL and still open while allowing actual PL encoded signals to pass their PL. Since the deviation of a "real" PL tone was higher it overrode the 67.0 encoder.

There was also the BC580XLT and it's similar radios that were much like the 760 but did not cover the 800 MHz. band. Internal to these radios was a slot that allowed the use of an optional pre-amp, this slot was used by the 800 MHz. converter on the 760/950 so these radios had an available external pre-amp. When you bought the PL or Preamp options they came with a switch board that mounted under the fold-down bail on the bottom of the radio that had 2 switches, one each for the pre-amp and decoder.

I had a boatload of these scanners, mostly of the BC760XLT version. They were compact, good performers and feature rich for the day. I had a couple of the 560's as well and used them mostly for railroad channels at home. The 760's were great in the car due to the small size. On an older one I soldered in a BNC-Moto adapter and another I actually removed the old Moto jack and replaced it with a BNC.

I didn’t have any of the ScannerWorld, Cobra or Regency versions so I don’t know if any of these ever came with the BNC connector, the only ones I saw were all with the Moto jack. I did have one 580 with the internal pre-amp and had a 760 with the external one. All of my 760’s had the PL decoder and the last one I kept was of the newest version with the BNC and that allowed PL or CSQ at the same time. I had at least 2 that I installed the PL encoder and at least 2 that I did not.

I had a friend who was so into PL decoding at the time that he literally wore out the keypad on his 760 by his furious programming efforts. He would program in the same frequency 38 times, each with a different PL and watch for hits, logging them as they came. (CARMA/RCMA-CC guys know who I am talking about!) This was back in the days when PL tomes were kind of hush-hush, the RCMA wouldn’t allow their publication at the time and that kind of made it the sacred forbidden fruit that everyone wanted.

I found one of my old 760's in a box when we were packing up the house a couple years ago when we were fixing to move. It still worked and I ended up giving it to someone at a CARMA meeting so I assume it is still out there someplace.
 

methusaleh

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I had a RS PRO2026, which I believe was the same scanner. Originally in the late 80s or so, it was branded Realistic Patrolman on the front, without the 800MHz segments blocked, later replaced by a RS-branded PRO2026 with the cellular block.

In the late 90s, I worked nights with a guy who was one of those electronics enthusiasts who loved a challenge. One night he opened up my older 2026 and he somehow got it to receive HF frequencies, AM only of course, which was useless to try to decipher SSB signals. Nonetheless it was interesting to pull up the "coordinated universal time" counter guy to amuse people who couldn't believe the frequencies that could be entered on that little scanner. I am still not sure how he did it, perhaps swapping out a crystal and removing filters?
 

N9JIG

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Forgot about the Pro2026, I hated that one! I bought one and returned it in a day or two. They changed some stuff from the Uniden method to the RS method and made it miserable to operate. I don't remember all the details but one was requiring a Program button where Unidens didn't.
 

scrotumola

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IIRC, the 2026 was one of the first RS scanners that had the cellular block in it and was also one of the easiest to override. It was also the first time I used Radio Shack layaway as when the powers that be decided to cancel this product, they put them on a low, LOW clearance price. I purchased the last 6 that day and as a senior in high school, paid them off in 2 months. I still have a couple floating around here.
 

n9mxq

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The one I miss most is my first portable, a Regency HX-1000. Was a great little (cough cough) handheld in it's day.

As a teenager it was high tech for sure...
 

scanman1958

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Have not heard Regency HX1000 for a while. I have one also. Keypad long gone bad. Had a very cool rapid drop in charger. If you were lucky you could also program aircraft am freqs. Not all of them could do it but you had to turn the volume way up just to hear any air traffic.

And my first hit of VHF low and high band skip was on my first keypad programmable scanner, the Bearcat 250 50 channel desktop. I could hear the entire state of MO low band state patrol at night and if conditions were right could hear VHF high band at night 150 miles or more away. The best high band skip I had was St Louis FD and KCFD talking on fire mutual aid 154.280 during a 5 alarmer in St Louis.

Those were the days.
 

ur20v

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My very first scanner that was truly "mine" (and not my dad's or grandfather's) was a BC-55XLT that I found at a flea market my dad dragged me to one weekend. It had a whopping 10 channels but a pair of AA batteries would last me all week. There wasn't much if any encryption in 1993, and analog trunking was just becoming a reality, so there was always plenty to listen to. Of course the current edition of Radio Shack's "Police Call" frequency book was mandatory, as the civilian internet was still in it's infancy. A year later I had outgrown the 55XLT, and saved up money from my crappy teenage job to buy a brand new BC-120XLT. Of course reading Popular Communications and seeing the ads for incredibly exotic (to me, at least) scanners from AOR, Trident, Yuperitu, etc., shortened the honeymoon for me and my new scanner... it stopped at 512mhz, so not having 800mhz and beyond made me feel inadequate and like I was missing out on a lot. One day I was in the pawn shop next to the newsstand where I bought new issues of PopCom and Monitoring Times and something caught my eye... it was a Radio Shack Pro-34, a radio I already knew all about, and I just had to have it. I traded in my practically brand new 120XLT and forked over a healthy sum of cash (I was a kid, I had no clue how to negotiate) and it was mine, and I was in heaven. I found an old Panavise cellular handset mount and a brand new Antenna Specialists thru-hole NMO cellular antenna kit at the flea market and with the help of some industrial velcro on the back, was able to mount the Pro-34 in my crappy teenage car when I was on the go. Surprisingly, that old-school cellphone antenna drilled into my trunk worked like magic through almost all the bands, except for maybe low, but even that wasn't terrible. Even though I own a BCD436HP and some kick *** ham gear, I still think back to that Pro-34 and the excitement it brought me every time I turned it on and the stuff I heard. It will always be my favorite, I'm sure.
Good times indeed.
 
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