What to buy?

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JohnFreeman

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I live in an area where there's a significant amount of use of digital communications. I'm a very experienced radio listener/operator/hardware hacker. I'd like to get a scanner to be able to perhaps use in concert with a computer and be able listen to police/fire, etc in my area. I have a tower and can easily add a discone or the like for an antenna.

If you have say ~$400 to spend on a radio for this application, what would you get and why?

I'm looking forward to your input

Thanks John
 

mciupa

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Hello John, a new digital radio would be hard to come by for $400, have a look at these digital models on sale at Scanner Master Digital Scanners

If you increase your budget slightly then it should be no problem. Each brand has it's highlights and lowlights, it's similar to comparing cars.

I think the BCD996XT would be hard to beat feature wise, if I had to draw straws.
 

captclint

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I live in an area where there's a significant amount of use of digital communications. If you have say ~$400 to spend on a radio for this application, what would you get and why?
There are really only 2 choices and 4 radios(1 HH & 1 Base/mobile for each company) :GRE Radios and Uniden Scanners . None of these are available for $400, as was pointed out. RS is customer unfriendly (and getting worse), and very slow to incorporate firmware fixes and improvements. Uniden and GRE make radios for them, and the are both good about firmware updates, but RS delays firmware updates from both. GRE is the most aggressive and slightly better on customer relations. Also see: Digital Scanner Comparison Chart - The RadioReference Wiki

The basic considerations are as follows:

  1. GRE is more sensitive(gets weaker signals), but that very feature makes them prone to overload if in the city or near any type of radio/TV/cell towers. Previously, GRE was better with digital, but I think that difference has been minimized with the latest firmware from Uniden...see how important firmware can be.
  2. Uniden does not overload as much (hence is not as sensitive), and generally has more features, which you will probably appreciate once you are familiar. For example, they skip over encrypted communications, while GRE just hangs on them producing annoying noise. Also has GPS system control (limited value for a Base unit), Channel Number Tagging -- lets you quickly select a channel like bank scanners, temporary lock-out, and Fire Tone outs (limited value IMHO)
  3. You really need software to program and better understand a digital radio. There is an excellent program for Unidens that is free: FreeScan. GRE typically costs $30-$40


You will find diehards in either camp, but I think they all generally agree on the points above, so you need to decide if you are far enough from the radio signals to justify a GRE, or if the extra stuff justifies a Uniden.
 
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gmclam

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The Radio Shack Pro-106 occasionally goes on sale for $399... no reason to think it won't again sometime soon. Used digitals can also be found in your price range.
I'd get the PSR-500 from ScannerMaster (see link at top of page). It is essentially the same radio as the PRO-106 but comes with different accessories.
 

RadioDaze

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I'd get the PSR-500 from ScannerMaster (see link at top of page). It is essentially the same radio as the PRO-106 but comes with different accessories.
That's a great suggestion - it's the equivalent of getting the RS sale price and buying a few essential accessories. Plus you're buying from a first-rate vendor with great customer service.
 
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