Suggestions for my first scanner in Old Bridge?

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Phigment

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I live in Old Bridge (Middlesex County) and am looking for advice on what to buy for my first scanner. I'd like a table top model that can pick up the local police and fire and possibly the state police since we're right off the parkway.

I apologize in advance if this post belongs in another forum but this seemed most appropriate.

Thanks,
Scott
 

SCPD

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You would need a Trunk Tracker scanner. I don't know if it's a Digital System or not, I can't monitor them from where I live.
 

robbinsj2

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Welcome, and I do think you picked the best spot for your question.

Old Bridge's system is still all-analog, and the NJSP system is still mostly analog, so an analog trunktracker should suit you fine.

Old Bridge's trunked system will undergo a retuning because of some wide-spread technical problems (NJSP just switched, South Brunswick and Middlesex County changed a little while ago). Although it is unlikely in Old Bridge's circumstance, there is potential for some older scanners to stop working on the system when the retuning happens. For this reason I would caution you against buying older used trunktrackers at least until Old Bridge makes the change and you can be confident those older scanners will still work.

There's still a lively market for newer used scanners on the net, just make sure you get a model from the past couple years. If you see a used one that catches your eye you can post its make/model here for us to comment upon.

Of new base/mobile models, I would suggest the GRE PSR-400 or the Uniden BCT-15X. www.ScannerMaster.com is a well-regarded online retailer (and sponsor of this site) and they're running a sale on those models for $139 and $209, respectively until Monday. For more info on that sale check out the recent post in the Community Announcements and News forum.

Whatever scanner you get, you'll want software and a programming cable for it. Some scanners come with free software, you can download free 3rd-party software online for some models, and if you can't find any free software that's any good then you can usually buy some for about $30. Make sure the scanner comes with a power supply and programming cable, or plan on buying them separately.

If you've got the budget for it then you can consider going right to a digital scanner now, but they start at $400 on sale and go up to some $500 or $525. For reference the two digital base/mobile models I'd recommend are the GRE PSR-600 and the Uniden BCD996XT.

If Radio Shack is running a sale then their prices may be better than prices on GRE and Uniden-branded models but RS units generally don't come with as many accessories (power supply, programming cable) as GRE and Uniden. GRE is the OEM for most or all RS models so differences between them will usually only be cosmetic and bundled accessories.

Good luck,

Jim
 

Phigment

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Thank you so much for the detailed reply. In regards to the recommended scanners; is the $60 price difference going to give me features and performance that are noticable to me as a novice?

Alternatively, I see a BCT15 listed on eBay for about $125. Is this a good mix of value and features for a beginner? Is this model too old and going to be outdated if and when Old Bridge makes changes?

Thanks,
Scott
 

SCPD

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The BCT15 is a good scanner. I have one as a Base. FYI, it'doesn't cover Digital. That's a good price, new i paid $ 229.00.
 

kb2vxa

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Getting down to brass tacks Scott, Old Bridge is a reasonably favorable location so it all comes down to what you want to listen to. There's a lot more than the local cop shop, with a good antenna in a high location (within reason of course) your receiving range covers quite a large area and there's a LOT out there.

With this in mind a buck and a quarter isn't going to buy much of a scanner. Considering the above and leaving room for future expansion of your listening habits I suggest you save your pennies and get a high end model with plenty of channels and the features you will come to need sooner or later. $500-$700 isn't too much to spend when you consider money wasted on radios you'll outgrow and will become obsolete as radio systems change. Patience pays off in the end, you'll be happier when you go for the gold instead of trying to convert lead, there is no Sorcerer's Stone and the Holy Grail is but a myth.
 

robbinsj2

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The BCT15 will not be outdated by the 800MHz rebanding which Old Bridge and many others have or will undergo. Uniden has already issued a free user-installable upgrade which takes care of this issue for this model.

I respectfully disagree with KB2VXA. Unless you've already had some exposure to scanning then I recommend you start out with an inexpensive basic scanner which meets your current needs and interests. Don't invest in a top-of-the-line scanner until 1) you know you're into the hobby; and 2) the stuff you want to listen to requires a better (digital) scanner or the pricier ones have features, like memory arrangement, which you really want. And if you're really into the hobby then you'll eventually want multiple scanners so in case of an event in Old Bridge you can dedicate one to that system and another to mutual aid departments, paramedics, NJSP MedEvac, etc.

It's rare that I sell, donate, or toss any of my old scanners when I get new ones, and I continue to use some pretty basic ones which I picked up 5-10 years ago just as much as I use the newest ones I've gotten within the past year. In fact some of those old ones have quirks which make them far better at certain tasks than newer scanners.

I can't speak to the cost/value of the BCT15 you cite, I'm not especially familiar with its performance, etc. Do note that the BCT15X is a newer version of the BCT15, that they aren't the same exact scanner. Not to discourage you from the older radio, just keep that in mind as you shop around.

Jim
 

robocop80

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Hello Phigment,

First off Welcome to the scanning world. I am not an expert by any means but I think I can offer a suggestion to your question. I just got back into the hobby about 2 years ago so scanning had felt brand new again and there was a learning curve when it came to programming the scanner. My first scanner was the BCT-15 and I paid 250 at that time for the scanner. I still use that scanner everyday for the state police and several other analog departments in my area. When I visit my parents house I am able to pick up all of Old Bridge public safety with my BCT-15. I did end up upgrading about a year later when I had some extra cash and I purchased the BCD996T which is the digital version of the BCT-15. So as others mentioned to you, its all about what you want to scan and really how much you are working with. In my opinion I would go with the BCT-15 for now and get use to the scanner and see how much you enjoy. I think you will love the BCT-15 and I found it to be more user friendly for a newbie than the Radio Shack versions were. I didnt start off with a programming cable so I had to learn how to program it by hand and I found that after a day of playing with this scanner I was able to get the basics down farily quickly.
 

ansky

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I would recommend getting a basic scanner for now depending on what you want to listen to. There is no point in spending $500 on a digital scanner unless there is some specific agency using digital that you just can't live without. Some people on these boards will tell you to go digital now to "prepare for the future". It's not worth it in my opinion. Digital scanners are still way overpriced simply because not many people are buying them yet. Over the years as digital communications become more prevalent, the price should come down just like any other technology as more people start purchasing these types of scanners. It is going to be a long, slow process for towns to convert from analog to digital.
I live in Essex County and the only department that I would want to listen to on digital is Montclair PD, but it's not worth the extra cost when everything else in the area is analog. I use a Uniden BCT-8 and have had no problems. I even have an old Realistic branded scanner that is almost 20 years old and still works great.
 
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