Uniden BCD99XT -- Piece of JUNK!

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hackinstack

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Be forewarned, this is going to be a rant...

I recently purchased a BCD996XT from Universal Radio. I was really excited when I read through all the features and it seemed like a safe decision -- I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG!!

This thing is about as useful as a boat anchor. The interface to the front panel is so confusing, non-intuitive and downright infuriating that I have almost thrown it through the window a couple times. It took me almost an hour just to figure out how to simply enter a frequency I wanted to listen to. (not *programming* a Freq, just punching in one to listen to) I spent 7hrs last night (straight) trying to figure out how to do a few simple things and accomplished about a 3rd of what I wanted... it is so bad, it effectively *requires* you to have a PC connected to do anything. Nonsense, even for a base scanner...

For $500 this thing is a complete rip-off. The documentation from Uniden is a JOKE! Its not available in PDF (except crappy screen grabs of their "wiki"), their site is SLOW - 20 to 30 seconds per page transition, and even the "easy" guides I have found make absolutely no sense at all from a "how do I perform XYZ" -- you almost have to read through and understand *every* single button and feature in the entire 1000 page manual to THEN be able to do what you want. Uniden has seemingly relied completely on the hobbyist community to supplement its horrible, horrible design.

The worst part is that Universal Radio has a 15% restocking fee, so this will be a $75 mistake. Some hobby...

This will be my once and final Uniden purchase. If anybody wants to still ignore my warnings but has been looking at this unit, PM me if you are interested in buying it off my hands.
 

DaveIN

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Tell us how you really feel :lol:

I've seen a few of these post's on the Uniden, RadioShack, and GRE forums and they all say the same thing. :confused:

All humor aside, what radios have you used in the past? Did you read up on the model before you purchased and see how other users felt about programming and the documentation available (i.e. the Wiki)? If you just want a radio that will let you hear P25 digital or conventional systems then the alternative is the RadioShack/GRE Pro-107/PSR600, and if your level of patience and expertise is on a banks and channels scanner, then your not going to do well with either model.

The closest thing to a banks and channels scanner with P25 digital is the Uniden BC796D or RadioShack Pro-96. Both of these models are discontinued and can be found on eBay or in the classifieds forum on this site.

If you do get past your rant and decide to take another look there are plenty of resources at your disposal to help with your endeavor of learning to program a Dynamic Memory Architecture scanner and even free software to get you started called FreeSCAN.

Good luck with either decision you make, as many of us are enjoying our BCD996XT's.
 

rdale

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I hope you do more research next time... Or use the forums. If it took you 7 hours to type in one frequency, I'm not sure how happy you'll be with any other scanner.

A better bet - I'd use a computer to program any scanner other than the most basic these days. You have free software, and a free cable - so why skip that step?
 

hackinstack

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Dave - I've been limited to mostly wideband receivers. I have an Icom R20 and R5 Sport that were a little difficult, but I figured it out within an hour or so.

I did do a lot of reading before I got this one and I guess that is part of my frustration because I felt like I had done my research. Until you start working with it and getting stuck you don't know the exact terms to search on to see a lot of the complaints. But boy, have I found them now.

I tried Freescan, ARC-XT, Proscan and a couple others... (I've put some time into trying to figure this thing out) they all work pretty well. Freescan is pretty awesome actually. It seems like anything *not* done by Uniden is great actually, the problem is that I didn't want to *have* to use Freescan all the time. If I'm out and about and realize "I want to do X, instead of Y" - good luck changing it!

In the last hour I managed to get into a mode that automatically turns on the temporary lock-out every time a transmission is received until it stops scanning altogether with the infamous "Nothing to Scan" message and then when I wiped the settings and re-uploaded from Freescan it started scanning through my conventional police systems and then doing a service search across the railroad band? WTF?!?!
 

hackinstack

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rdale - you need to go back and proofread a little closer. I said it took me almost an hour to figure out the direct entry. Admittedly, I tried 10mins or so, just playing around, before reading the directions -- but is still took me 45min to decipher it from those instructions once I had found them. Ridiculous...
 

mtindor

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Your "issue" isn't uniquely attributable to Uniden digital scanners. It's attributable to all current generation digital scanners from all manufacturers.

Even with a book in hand, the only way to truly understand and get used to programming one of these scanners by hand is to fiddle around with it until your brains are scrambled and your fingers are raw from pushing buttons.

I think most of us have experienced your frustration at some point. You'll get over it, just like we did. I don't believe anybody could really write a user manual for any of these scanners that would do justice. The only true way to effficiently program them is to use a third party application -- and there are many out there for the various scanners as you have discovered.

People with bald/shaved heads really have it bad... they don't have any hair to pull out when they've given up in frustration.

Mike
 

hackinstack

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Let me re-iterate guys... Using Freescan (a non-Uniden) product makes the *setup* of this thing simple, even for trunked systems. With the RR subscription it took me all of about 15 mins to get it programmed. The problem is *USING* the radio after you get it setup and easily switching between different usage scenarios -- and that is because of the crappy way they have setup the keypanel.

There is no "cancel" button really to stop you if you start down a path you don't want to go down, you can only start "disabling" things and then if you are not careful you get to a point that you cannot re-enable them without jumping through major hoops...
 

hackinstack

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Thanks Mike -- it makes me feel a little better that you've seen the same thing... and I understand that these are complicated things, but I just don't like that I practically have to be an RF engineer to plug in some freqs. to listen to or jump from scanning to searching...
 

W6KRU

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Hey Hack :lol: The scanners have so many functions that the buttons usually have 3 or 4 functions depending on what the scanner is currently doing. They are not intuitive at all. This week we have had a lot of bad weather and I wanted to use the weather alert function. I had to break out the reference manual to figure out how to do that and it wasn't really obvious how to do what I wanted with the manual. Just keep using it and figure out a few things at a time. You will get there. :D
 

pdfdems286

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what can i say. don't give up on a hobby because of what you consider to be a bad purchase. remember the old saying, caveat emptor <let the buyer beware>. although i own the 996xt and love it dearly, i cannot replicate the problem's you had. on the other hand, i have had a few not so nice dealing's with universal radio. not the most accommodating folk's going. i can honestly say that i will never do business with them again. i try to limit my radio purchase's to scannermaster. remember, you alway's need to research any major purchase,and read the fine print.
 

hackinstack

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LOL -- DDan... My girlfriend came in my office last night, she was wondering why she hadn't seen me for a couple hours, and she saw me fiddling with it (obviously frustrated) and said "what's that?" -- I was so fed up at that point I just shook my head and told her "It's a really expensive weather radio" :)
 

iMONITOR

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Don't give up so quickly. Take a break, then go back to it. Eventually you'll make sense of it all, and when you do, you can start enjoying a great scanner!
 

cpuerror

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If you buy a complex piece of electronic equipment and then don't understand how to operate it, it is not the manufacturer's fault. Uniden also has simpler scanners like the BC95XLT available.
 

KE4ZNR

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If you buy a complex piece of electronic equipment and then don't understand how to operate it, it is not the manufacturer's fault. Uniden also has simpler scanners like the BC95XLT available.
+1 million.
How many times do we have to go over this?
Public Safety systems these days are complex.
Hence the scanners used to monitor these public safety systems
have to be complex. It does not matter if you choose GRE or Uniden there is a large learning curve to these radios.
Heck, I should start offering a "beginning scanner user" class here in central NC. I could charge admission and show n00bs how to use both GRE and Uniden radios and make a killing.
People need to realize it will take you a week or two to get used to your radio. Take a break if you get frustrated. Come back later.
Marshall KE4ZNR
 

phoenicks

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I just want to add my two cents to this post. For what it's worth, I was ready to throw my BCD396 XT out the window a couple times. Then I would read directions again, get on this forum and read, and read some more. Now I can program frequencies in by hand or on the computer almost with my eyes closed. I look at it this way with this new electonic stuff. There are only so many buttons on it. Good luck.
 

KE4ZNR

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I just want to add my two cents to this post. For what it's worth, I was ready to throw my BCD396 XT out the window a couple times. Then I would read directions again, get on this forum and read, and read some more. Now I can program frequencies in by hand or on the computer almost with my eyes closed. I look at it this way with this new electonic stuff. There are only so many buttons on it. Good luck.
Another great post.
Thanks for your input phoenicks!
Happy Monitoring
Marshall KE4ZNR
 

sjlamb

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Last Christmas.... my 13 year-old nephew manually programmed his entire county's trunked system (less alpha tags) into a 996XT in a little under two hours.... and he had never programmed ANY scanner before.
 
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grodgers

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I am surprised that no one has posted a link to the "easier to read" manuals (and other VERY helpful stuff) at Mark's Scanners

I realized the closest relevant manual is for the BCD396T, but the gist of it is the same, and much easier to comprehend than the stock manual.
 
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