SDS100 or Unication G5+VHF or something else for Central Maine

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Springer-

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I used to have scanners years ago and as I look at them now a lot has changed. I've read a few threads here that touch on my area to see what others have experienced. They have made clear, the waters are pretty muddy these days. I will explain my situation and maybe someone can point me in the right direction.

I would like a scanner for my car primarily. I am space limited (tight interior quarters if you will). I travel a lot in central Maine. Primary routes usually start in Augusta with destinations in Camden/Rockland, Belfast, Lewiston, Farmington, Waterville and I95/295 corridor. My only focus in Law Enforcement. Augusta PD, State PD, Sheriffs in Kennebec, Lincoln, Knox, Franklin, Waldo and Androscoggin. And local PD's in those areas.

I see a large number of them in VHF 150mhz range FM and P25. However when I check Kennebec and Franklin Sheriff I see UHF 450-465mhz range FM and P25. I also see the discussions here about L/A going to 800 and a few others.

After reading and watching countless reviews on BCDx36, Whistler TRX-1, SDS100 and the Unication G5+VHF, I am LOST. I have no experience with any of them but reasonably good understanding. The negatives of all the scanners seem to be what the G5 excels at. The G5 being a pager lacks much of the scanner capabilities but seems to have some work arounds. The BCD536 could possibly be installed in my glove compartment and utilize the WiFi connected app to control? The TXR-1 is the smallest scanner and could stash away anywhere with the addition of an external antenna. The G5 has Bluetooth and seems like it could easily integrate with my car audio. The G5 wouldn't have the UHF but I'm not sure what the Sheriffs use that band for or how important it is.

I seem to have it narrowed down to the SDS100, G5+VHF or possibly the BCD536+App. Can anyone share any personal experiences on the above dilemma either with Radio suggestion or how the G5 solves all the problems or any other input you feel might be helpful or things to consider

Thanks
 

Hit_Factor

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The G5 is a pager and only does one system at a time. The SDS100 is a scanner and can essentially scan an infinite amount of systems. They are so very different, if you don't understand the difference you probably should get the scanner.

There are a couple threads about the G5 bluetooth, it probably won't connect to your car.

Your travels scream for a GPS with the SDS100.

I have both the G5 and SDS100. Everything in my county is on the P25 system, it's great for that. It's useless for travel.
 

Springer-

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Thanks for the reply. I am aware the G5 is a pager. I was under the impression there were ways to work around some of its limitations but maybe not to the extent of a functional scanner like devise. You are probably correct the scanner is probably the better option.

Little surprised no one has any insight on the area mentioned or expected results etc.
 

jonwienke

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The Unications do 800MHz and either UHF or VHF, but not both. If you want to listen to simulcast, UHF, and VHF with one device, you'll need the SDS100.
 

fmulder13

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I grew up in central Maine, and, although I live in Minnesota now, I visit the area about 2 times per year. I have both an SDS100 and a Unication G5. You've hit the nail on the head that they're two different devices, with limitations for each. Here are my thoughts:

First, since Maine State Police is primarily operating on the MSCOMMNET trunked system (albeit with links to analog repeaters), consider how you'll want to scan them along with local departments. The G5 cannot simultaneously scan trunked systems and conventional frequencies, although the possibility for that has been mentioned in future firmware updates. No timeline has been given for this. The SDS can scan both trunked systems and conventional frequencies, but it misses transmissions while doing so. I've verified this while using multiple devices to scan. When I'm in Maine I usually have one device for conventional channels and one for MSCOMMNET, or scan conventional using one of the analog links to MSP.

Second, the SDS100 receives P25 digital traffic fantastically. While there is only anecdotal evidence (to my knowledge) to back this up, it doesn't do as well as other scanners on VHF analog. I've experienced this somewhat. I've been in a location where I've had to use IFX to receive Fairfield PD without a huge amount of static. I'm pretty confident that a singular source of interference at this location is to blame for this, but I'm not 100% sure. Again, anecdotal evidence, but it is what it is. Furthermore, I could say fairly certainly that the SDS100 has missed transmissions while scanning in situations where all other factors suggest it should have received them.

I've been very impressed with the receive quality of the G5. It's a hot receiver. I would say, again, unscientifically, it has the receive quality of a commercial grade radio. HOWEVER, and this is potentially big, it receives VHF on its internal antenna only. The only way to connect it to an external antenna is to use it with the Unication Amplified Charger. This could be a solution for mobile/base monitoring, but it's not a portable solution. That having been said, I'm fairly sure I remember correctly a drive down from Waterville to the state line where the G5 with its internal antenna was receiving MSCOMMNET as well or better than the SDS100 with a mag mount antenna on the car. I haven't had a chance to try and duplicate those results again, but that's my memory now.

Another limitation is that the G5 will only scan 16 channels at a time. You can hold on a channel, but you cannot lock one out yet. The beta firmware recently launched has the ability to hold and lockout trunked talk groups, and I think mention of locking out conventional channels being forthcoming has been made. If you want to scan more than 16 conventional channels at a time, go with the SDS.

The G5 does allow you to change the priority check interval when using conventional priority scan. I haven't had the chance to test out the G5 a great deal on priority scan, but the SDS's work on priority scan is disappointing. The silence it takes to check the priority is so long that I miss too much of the non-priority transmission.

400mhz frequencies are either mobile extender frequencies, or for tower-to-tower repeater coverage. I never bother to monitor them, and I wouldn't say that would be a consideration in your case.

I wish I had better results to share with you, but this is what I've experienced from 2 annual 1-week visits since owning the G5 and the SDS. They're both great devices. A nice benefit to the G5 is that it covers VHF and 800 mhz, which covers the whole state law enforcement including Portland. Of course the SDS covers that and more.

I hope this is at least remotely helpful. In summation, the G5 receives fantastically, but it's limited by 16 channels at a time and its internal antenna, unless it's on the amplified charger with an external antenna. The SDS100 is a great receiver, but it receives at the level of a consumer-grade scanner, not a commercial-grade device. I'm happy to answer any more specific questions/follow ups you may have!
 

Springer-

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I grew up in central Maine, and, although I live in Minnesota now, I visit the area about 2 times per year. I have both an SDS100 and a Unication G5. You've hit the nail on the head that they're two different devices, with limitations for each. Here are my thoughts: .....
Thanks a lot for the detailed reply. I'm still up in the air as to which direction to go. One of the features I like with the SDS100 is the GPS function so it will only scan the area I'm in and "track me" if you will. I'm not sure exactly how that would work with say MSP. I understand how it would work with local PD since it would know what I am near. I'm also thinking I can strip out the database of any non LEO related frequencies to keep its access time to a minimum. The SDS100 display color function seems handy as I could set background color to identify the type of agency talking. Example, Blue for local PD, Brown for Sheriffs and Gray for MSP. Then I would know at a glance what I'm hearing without need to focus on the radio.

The G5 was all but ruled out since someone mentioned you can only listen to 1 system. I assume that means just the MSP or just the Sheriffs? But you mention being able to scan 16 channels. Would that be from different agencies? I watched some stuff about working around some of the limitations but it is hard to comprehend when you don't have it in front of you to see what your results actually are and if they meet expectations.

The G5 VHF ant is a bit odd, I thought they had a multi-band antenna vs the 800mhz stubby also. If the charger/base has the ability to add an external VHF ant there should be a relatively easy way to tap whatever that connection is and use it mobile. An ambitious person might even crack one open and see if they could add a BNC to it somehow ... just a though.

I'll probably read your reply a couple more time and see if it sinks in more before posing more questions other than what I have in this post. Thanks again
 

Hit_Factor

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The G5 VHF ant is a bit odd, I thought they had a multi-band antenna vs the 800mhz stubby also. If the charger/base has the ability to add an external VHF ant there should be a relatively easy way to tap whatever that connection is and use it mobile. An ambitious person might even crack one open and see if they could add a BNC to it somehow ... just a though.
Channels are conventional VHF/UHF (typically). In other words, 16 old school FM channels at a time.

Talkgroups are used in Digital trunking systems, you can have lot's of TGs monitored on a system. You can even use a wildcard and hear everything that's not encrypted. Buy on a busy system you'll probably miss the more important traffic too frequently using the wildcard.

Monitor TGs or channels, but not at the same time.

Taping the pinouts on the bottom will not get a BNC hack. there is a 'presence' pin, search it up, it's been discussed.
 
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