Sensitivity Shootout .. 20 Various Radios

Status
Not open for further replies.

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
Sensitivity testing for 20 various radios from scanners, receivers to transceivers. Results in attached PDF.

This includes the following radios. Frequencies from 127.5 to 868 MHz.

GRE PSR 500, PSR 800
Icom IC-92AD, IC-A23, IC-R7000, IC-R20
Kenwood TH-D72A, TH-D74A, DF-T6A,TM-V71A
Realistic Pro 2001, Pro 2020
Uniden BC780XLT, BCD436HP, Homepatrol 1, Homepatrol 2
Whistler TRX-1, WS-1080, WS-1095
Yaesu VX-170

All tests were FM except 127.5 MHz which was AM and at minimum squelch activation for all radios.

I also understand selectivity, but that was not part of this test procedure. :D
 

Attachments

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,034
Location
Far NW Valley
Have you had an opportunity to check multiple examples of the same model? For example I have several 996XT's, I often wondered what the measured sensitivity was between them.

Kind of makes me want to buy another service monitor.
 

prcguy

Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2006
Messages
8,092
Location
So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
Over the years I've done this using my service monitor but never recorded the results. What I have found is some radios/scanners that measure very sensitive on a service monitor can be the worst of the bunch when connected to an antenna due to overload and internally generated IMD.

One recent case I measured a Baofeng UV5R and an Anytone dual band handheld where the Baofeng measured extremely sensitive around .15uv or better and the Anytone was a little worse but still great. Using both handhelds on a hilltop I had a conversation on 2m simplex with a distant station that was coming in ok on the Anytone but could not be heard at all on the Baofeng, it just didn't exist.

Another person at the same location could also hear the distant 2m simplex station on a Yaesu handheld but the poor little Baofeng could not pull them out and we swapped antennas around to make sure that was not the problem.

This particular hill top was in direct line of site to a major repeater site about 2mi away, so I am assuming the Baofeng was getting blitzed by some strong out of band signals. You will find similar experiances comparing scanners under similar conditions.
prcguy

Have you had an opportunity to check multiple examples of the same model? For example I have several 996XT's, I often wondered what the measured sensitivity was between them.

Kind of makes me want to buy another service monitor.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
Over the years I've done this using my service monitor but never recorded the results. What I have found is some radios/scanners that measure very sensitive on a service monitor can be the worst of the bunch when connected to an antenna due to overload and internally generated IMD.

One recent case I measured a Baofeng UV5R and an Anytone dual band handheld where the Baofeng measured extremely sensitive around .15uv or better and the Anytone was a little worse but still great. Using both handhelds on a hilltop I had a conversation on 2m simplex with a distant station that was coming in ok on the Anytone but could not be heard at all on the Baofeng, it just didn't exist.

Another person at the same location could also hear the distant 2m simplex station on a Yaesu handheld but the poor little Baofeng could not pull them out and we swapped antennas around to make sure that was not the problem.

This particular hill top was in direct line of site to a major repeater site about 2mi away, so I am assuming the Baofeng was getting blitzed by some strong out of band signals. You will find similar experiances comparing scanners under similar conditions.
prcguy
http://forums.radioreference.com/general-scanning-discussion/319013-uniden-whistler-scanner-selectivity-shootout.html
 

JeffAdams

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 29, 2016
Messages
30
Location
Los Altos, CA
Thank you very much Edmscan for your extensive testing. I've been listening to receivers (HF to UHF) since 1970 (earlier really since my dad was a ham starting in the late 60’s), and ever since I can remember, people have been having the discussion of wanting better performing radios (especially regarding selectivity). I've still got a Pro-2004/5/6 somewhere (with a dead backlight) that probably performs better than today's radios in terms of receiver performance. I know you don’t have a BCD536HP Edmscan, but do you have any insight into its RF circuitry compared to an HP-2?

I too would love a purpose-built base/mobile scanner with all the best low noise-figure parts. But for every extra dollar spent, multiply that by 3-5 times to determine how much more it will cost you, the guy who buys from a storefront. Maybe it's worse now, I don't know. From manufacturer to distributor, there's markup. From distributor to store there's a markup. Then of course the store has to add markup to sell to us the public. Now I don't know about scanners, but the bump at the store is often 100% and more for some items. So if the store paid $100, you and I pay $200. (I know the markup is a lot less for some items; or I've heard that anyway; TV's used to be less, but diamonds and jewelry in general, maybe 2 to 3 times more than the 100% figure).

And I'm not suggesting anyone's greedy here. That last stop-off, the storefront, probably has the most overhead of the supply chain (not sure of that, but I doubt the distributor has a much overhead). So if Uniden or Whistler puts in just $20 worth of better parts, our end cost is probably pretty close to $100.

Many of us say we'd pay the extra cost. Has anyone ever tried this and built the better-performing base/car (vs handheld where battery life is at stake) scanner that supports all the modulation types? We've had software defined radios for a decade (more maybe?) and I'm still waiting for the combination of the benefits and cost reductions of an SDR and the scanning features of a Uniden or Whistler. (I thought maybe the AOR DV1 was going to be that radio, but it isn't). Is Uniden's and Whistler's trunking software patented such that this is a big roadblock? I am aware of at least one open source effort to provide a software package for an SDR to make it imitate a scanner, but my sense is it's still a long way away from having everything the best of Uniden and Whistler (or GRE before them) offers.

To that end, why do you suppose a scanner manufacturer hasn’t employed an SDR as the radio part of a modern-day trunking digital scanner? Or maybe someone has? Is there an inherent weakness that I don’t understand yet (I’m a wannabe RF engineer who is a software engineer)? Maybe this has been discussed ad-nausea already? Maybe the cheapest approach (based on reading your selectivity thread) is to buy an FM notch filter and be happy.
 
Last edited:

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
The FM band is not always the biggest issue, it could be just about anything that could cause your scanner issues. That is what happens when you desire all that coverage. That is why certain radios (ie .. commercial) shine .. as they are just well designed.

In the last year .. I scanned the whole commercial band using a SignalHound and logged all the signals and signal strengths of all the signals. That was a big help in seeing what signals I was picking up.

The trick about scanners, you do not have to totally eliminate the offending signals you just have to reduce them enough so that the scanner is happy again.

In my case .. a TX site 3 blocks from here causes me issues. I have a notch filter that I can use specially tuned for those frequencies if needed, but I have decided that I just use certain radios where they have no issues and have removed it from service.

As I noted here on RR recently .. my Icom IC-R7000 and oldie Realistic Pro 2001 are pretty rock solid. They are just not bothered.

My R7000 just got major tune up from top to bottom and will be good for another 30 years.

The moral .. newer is not always better. My next toy .. maybe the Icom IC-R8600.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
Have you had an opportunity to check multiple examples of the same model? For example I have several 996XT's, I often wondered what the measured sensitivity was between them.

Kind of makes me want to buy another service monitor.
We have measured for example .. a couple of the same models and found that they were very very close, nothing that you would notice in real world use. The one thing that I found out yesterday (just confirming my suspicion) .. is that some manufacturers just about blatantly lie about the signals that the radios are receiving.

It is all about marketing .. cause Uniden would not show a signal at 1 bar when the Whistler model shows 4 bars. You and I both know what people would buy. :D

In testing, I have found that scanners typically require an S5 signal for full bars.

My Kenwood TM-V71A was so far out from reality .. an S4 signal was full bars. Only my IC-R7000 has a fully calibrated RSSI that I know is accurate.

One of my local ham repeaters is full scale on the Kenwood and S3 on the R7000 so .. my motto is do not always believe what you see. But yes .. having some test gear around is pretty cool for testing your toys.
 

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,034
Location
Far NW Valley
I use the signal strength bars on scanners only as intra-radio reference points since they are not calibrated. I am pretty sure however that a signal on Radio A showing up as 4 bars is probably a bit stronger than a signal on the same freq on the same radio with 2 bars. It has little real correlation to another radio, even of the same model.

I go thru my various antennas occasionally (about once a year or after any major updates) and use the R8500 as the reference radio. I set up the radio with whatever steady transmitters I can find (ATIS, trunked control channels, pagers etc.) on the various bands and check the S-Meter reading. I add or subtract a point for voice quality; a noisy S3 gets a 2, a good sounding S0 gets a 1 for example.

As for the radios I have and the assignment I use them on it is a little more subjective. I compare them on the same signal and use a combination of the signal strength indicated and voice quality. I have 8 BCT15's and 4 BCT15X's, I found that 6 of them work well on MilAir so I assign them for that, one works real well on VHF highband and one is pretty deaf all around. The deaf one gets used for local channels where signal strength and sensitivity is of little consequence.

If I had a service monitor I could do this in a much more objective fashion and maybe even make some minor adjustments to better the radios.

On my old R7000 I found that I could do much of the alignment with a volt meter by following the service manual. It was deaf when I bought it (for a mere pittance) and after a couple hours measuring and adjusting for voltage levels it worked great. A few years later I sent it in to Icom for a complete alignment and replacement of some of the capacitors and when I got it back it wasn't a whole lot better performance-wise than before I sent it in.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
The thing is that many .. use the rather lacking bar indication on their scanners as gospel. Little do they know .. it is a rather poor indicator of much as even mediocre signals are given a full scale display.
 

AA6IO

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 10, 2007
Messages
1,489
Location
Cerritos, CA (LA County)
I also thought the AR-DV1 might be the link between SDR and a good scanner, but a real disappointment IMO. Will be interesting to see what the ICOM 8600 does. Have heard no further word since August.
 

JeffAdams

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 29, 2016
Messages
30
Location
Los Altos, CA
The Icom IC-R8600 looks interesting - but while it says it can decode a number of digital signals, it says nothing about actually scanning them, so, my guess is that this receiver will be, a) expensive, and b) no more functional for trunking than the aforementioned AOR radio. I hope I'm wrong.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
I also thought the AR-DV1 might be the link between SDR and a good scanner, but a real disappointment IMO. Will be interesting to see what the ICOM 8600 does. Have heard no further word since August.
I too am awaiting the R8600 .. could be my next toy. But will it scan, pretty sure that the answer is no, it is not a scanner. I am not interested in another scanner as Uniden in particular has major issues with their user interface design. Also .. encryption makes buying a scanner a waste.
 
Last edited:

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
Question, what was being used for the signal generation?

Man, haven't looked at any tables in µV in awhile…
We did uV as it is more precise than dBm readings. It is not my test gear so I do not know the model that we used.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top