EZ-Scan Install Hints

Everything you need to know about Whistler Scanners and SD-Cards in one handy location!

After installing EZ-Scan on a bunch of computers and talking to several customers on the phone it appears that there are issues installing EZ-Scan from the memory card. This occurs on on various Whistler scanners, like the new TRX-1 and TRX-2 as well as the older WS-1098, 1095, 1088 and 1080’s. It appears that the most problem-free method to follow is to download the installer from the Whistler website and install and update it before connecting to your radio.

Follow these steps and you should be good to go. While we have also installed it fine in some instances from the memory card there have been enough issues to warrant us suggesting this method to avoid problems.
1) Download the software from Whistler (https://www.whistlergroup.com/usa/updates/)
    (Do NOT install the version on the memory card)
2) Install it on your computer from the downloaded file.
3) Check for updates to the SOFTWARE and run them if applicable
4) Connect the scanner to the computer and run the database, firmware and DSP updates via EZ-Scan.
Here at ScannerMaster our folks have used this procedure on several computers with no issues. We did have a problem on a couple computers installing from the SD Card and reverted to the above procedures to make it work.
Remember that on Whistler scanners the scanner needs to be OFF to recognize the card for database updates and programming. This is the opposite of Uniden scanners. Also remember that you can use an SD Card reader to program your radio instead of connecting the radio itself. This is sometimes quicker due to the faster read-write times of a card reader. You still need to connect the radio (with the card installed) to do firmware updates.
Mac users: This worked fine in Windows 7 and Windows 10 using Parallels and BootCamp. Joy for the Rest of Us!
EZ-Scan has the ability to reformat SD Cards from within the application. Instructions are provided at the above software link. You can create spare SD Cards for your scanner in case your regular card gets corrupted. Certain SD-Cards may perform better in the scanner but also know when using larger capacity cards the radio will take longer to become active at startup. Once the radio is on it should work just fine with higher capacity cards, it just takes longer to load.
Whistler mobile radios (TRX-2, WS-1098, WS-1095) use full-size SD Cards (or Mini-SD Cards with the full-size adapter) while the handheld scanners (TRX-1, WS-1088, WS-1080) use Mini SD-Cards. Cards are cheap, buy a good one if you want better results and more reliability.

ProVoice, DMR, MotoTRBO, NXDN and scanners FAQ

Recently Uniden and Whistler announced scanners with capabilities of handling new digital formats. Each company has announced updates to their top-tier scanners and Whistler has also announced new models.

Here are some of the more frequently asked questions:

Q: What is DMR?

A: Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) is a digital format, similar in function to APCO P-25. It is mostly used by businesses but occasionally by public safety users. It is less expensive than P25 for the end user but it is not compatible with P-25 radios. It can be used in conventional or trunked modes.

Q: What is MotoTRBO?

A: It is Motorola’s implementation of DMR. They added a few features to the DMR standard and named it TRBO. DMR scanners can handle TRBO.

Q: What about encryption?

A: If the user selects the Encrypted mode then scanners cannot monitor it. There are no modifications or upgrades that can be made to get past radio encryption.

Q: What is Uniden offering?

A: Uniden has announced updates to its BCD436HP (handheld) and BCD536HP (desktop/mobile) scanners. One update is for ProVoice, a digital format used for some public safety purposes in parts of the country. They have also announced updates for DMR and MotoTRBO formats occasionally used by public safety but more often used by business users. Each of these updates are paid and ScannerMaster can install them for you.

Q: What is Whistler offering?

A: Whistler has announced updates for its WS1080 and WS1088 (handheld) and WS1095 and WS1098 (Desktop/mobile) scanners for DMR and MotoTRBO. These are free updates that are installed by updating the firmware in EZ-Scan. Again, ScannerMaster will be happy to install these for you as part of our Setup & Optimize service. No ProVoice upgrades have been announced for Whistler scanners.

In addition, Whistler has announced 2 new scanners. The TRX-1 (handheld) and TRX-2 (desktop/mobile) will work on DMR and MotoTRBO out of the box and will be updatable later for NXDN. (Expected about January 2017.)

Q: What about NXDN?

A: NXDN is a separate digital format used by some public safety agencies and businesses. It is slated to be used by the nations railroads once the required updates are made to the railroad’s infrastructure and radio fleet.

Whistler has already announced that NXDN will be available sometime in late 2016/early 2017 for its TRX-1 and TRX-2 scanners but will not be available for others. Uniden has not announced any NXDN updates yet but has said they are working on “other formats”.

Q: What about DMR trunking?

A: Both the Uniden and Whistler scanners will track DMR trunking systems.

 Q: My question isn’t answered here. Where can I go for more information on these scanners or to buy them?

A: You can send your questions via email or call 1-800-SCANNER.

DMR Scanning is coming soon! FAQs & More

DMR Scanning is coming soon! Here are some FAQ’s

On May 16, 2016 Uniden announced that the BCD436HP and BCD536HP scanners will soon be capable of being updated to allow reception of DMR and MotoTRBO communications. There are a lot of questions out there, here are some of them:

Q: What scanners will this work on?
A: At this time ONLY the BCD436HP and BCD536HP scanners.

Q: Will I be able to upgrade my (insert model here) scanner for DMR?
A: If it isn’t a BCD436HP or BCD536HP then no. There are no upgrade paths for ANY other scanner model.

Q: How much will it cost to update my scanner for DMR?
A: If you do it yourself the introductory price is currently $50 from Uniden. If you prefer ScannerMaster perform the update for you then it will be $69.95 plus return shipping (if not purchased with a new radio). The price may change.

Q: What formats of DMR will this update work with?
A: Conventional DMR and MotoTRBO as well as Capacity Plus and Connect Plus trunking.

Q: What about NXDN? IDAS? IDEN?
A: Only DMR and TRBO formats are covered now. Any possible future formats (if any) would be announced later.

Q: I have 2 (or more) x36 radios. Do I need to pay for each one? How does the pricing work?
A: The above prices are PER RADIO. If you want to update more than one radio you will have to pay for each.


Q: Do I need to have the ProVoice update also?
A: No, they are separate updates and are not dependent on each other. You can have the ProVoice and DMR updates at the same time, or just one or the other. Each is a separate purchase.

Q: If I update my radio now and sell it can I install the update to my other radio?
A: No. Once updated the update will only work with that radio. If you sell the updated radio the update stays with the radio, you cannot remove it and install it into a different one.

Q: When can I obtain the update?
A: As soon as Uniden makes it available. As of mid May 2016 they are still tweaking the update and ironing out some wrinkles to ensure a smooth installation and operation.

Q: How do I do the update?
A: Hard way: First you update the radio with the latest Uniden Firmware Update for the x36 radios by using Sentinel. Then you obtain the ESN (Electronic serial number) via the menu system of the radio. Then you go to Uniden.com and order the update, providing the ESN at the time. You will then be provided with a one-time code to enter into the radio via the radio’s menu system. After all that the x36 radio will be capable of decoding DMR audio and trunking.

Easy way: Just send the radio to us and we will do all this for you and return the radio to you. Fill out the form at (insert link to form) and send it and the radio to us and a little while later you will get it back ready to go with the DMR Update installed.

Q: Will I be able to see it in action first?
A: Sure, come see us at HamVention 2016 this weekend in Dayton OH. ScannerMaster will be in Booth 402 to demonstrate the update to you!

If there are any other questions please contact us at support@scannermaster.com or 800-SCANNER and we will do our best at answering it!

Favorite Scanner: RS PRO-2004

Years ago in the mid and late 1980’s police scanners were pretty tame by today’s standards. 20 channels was the norm, 50 channel scanners were top of the line. Most scanners did not cover 800 MHz, the displays were small and hard to view.

Radio Shack surprised the scanning world in 1987 when it introduced the revolutionary PRO-2004 scanner.  Made by GRE (like most RS scanners at the time), it had 300 channels, totally unheard of at the time. People actually complained that there were too many channels available! Soon it was discovered that the memory could be easily expanded to allow 400 channels.

In addition the PRO-2004 had full coverage from 25-520 MHz. and 760-1300 MHz. This was also unheard of at the time. This was one of the first radios that covered the entire spectrum, including Military Air and more. Later versions of the PRO-2004 had the cellular bands removed from the radio.

The radio itself was pretty big and heavy. There was a lot of metal involved, the entire frame and case was made of steel, just the front panel was plastic. The metal case helped reduce outside interference sources. The radio soon developed a reputation for excellent sensitivity and image rejection and it was soon considered the top-of-the-heap scanner.

An entire cottage industry soon developed for modifications to the PRO-2004. It had plenty of room inside for additional boards and components. The radio had a diode matrix used to configure it for different areas and these uses were discovered in short order. Enterprising hobbyists created memory expansion cards. computer interfaces and data decoders to be installed to the radio.

The PRO-2004 spawned 2 successors, the PRO2005 and PRO2006. These were essentially identical to each other with minor updates to the 2006. The 2005/6 were identical in function and features to the 2004 but were in a smaller plastic case (although the interior case was steel).

Almost 30 years on and the PRO-2004/5/6 are still considered among the best scanners ever made. Many are still in daily use. The large channel capacity and wide coverage made them ideal for Military aircraft listening. While current scanners dwarf them in features and capacity the PRO-2004 made a tidal wave sized splash in the scanner hobby. Old-timers maintain fond memories of these scanners.


Firmware, Firmware, who needs Firmware?

OK, you have this whiz-bang multi-hundred dollar scanner sitting there and you want to make it much more better! You read about Firmware Updates but haven’t a clue what this means. Should you update the firmware on your scanner? If so how do I do it? What does it all mean? What is the meaning of all this? Can you do this for me?

First, let’s explain WHAT firmware is. Firmware is the operating system of your radio, it works behind the scenes and tells the radio how to deal with things like keyboard inputs, frequencies, etc. Just like your computer or phone has an operating system (Like Windows 10, iOS etc..) scanners do too. Remember, scanners these days are miniature computers, they work much in the same way.

Firmware updates are released for a couple reasons. They either fix a problem or add/change features. Sometimes they do both. As an example, the BCD436HP’s most recent firmware update added the ability to add ProVoice digital, the version before that addressed an issue with clock settings.

When updating firmware one must follow ALL instructions CAREFULLY! You have the possibility of “bricking” your radio if you don’t do it right. This means that your $500 scanner may now be more useful as a brick than a radio… Follow the provided instructions to the letter and make sure that the program and firmware file you use is intended for your radio. The firmware for the PRO106 will not work on the PRO97!

Before trying to update the firmware on your radio make sure you have properly downloaded the firmware file itself as well as the installation program (if needed) BEFORE you start. If you do not have a replacement firmware file to install do not start the process since this erases the existing firmware to make the radio ready for the new version. No new version means no radio once you get going.

Some radios firmware updates are easier than others. The HomePatrol type radios use a program called Sentinel to check for new firmware versions and install them (easy, safe). Other Uniden scanners use a “Bearcat Version Updater” program to install a new update. GRE/RadioShack/Whistler scanners also use an application to install new firmware versions (nerve-wracking maybe).

What they all have in common is that they require a computer running Windows to update. You can use also a Mac as long as you are running Windows on it (with Bootcamp, Parallels, Fusion etc.). You also need the appropriate cable to connect from your computer to the radio. This is usually done via USB but some older radios use a Serial port.

Before updating your firmware make sure you have the following on hand:

  • The radio you want to update
  • The proper cable for your radio, along with the drivers already installed (if needed)
  • The Firmware Updating program appropriate for your radio
  • The actual firmware file itself
  • A strong sedative or plenty of alcohol to calm your nerves (optional)

Follow the instructions included with the firmware update TO THE LETTER. Make sure your radio and the computer can communicate properly. If you have programming software for your radio then read it first and save the programming file just in case you need to restore it to the radio. This also ensures that the radio and computer can communicate.

We also suggest that you check the RadioReference forum for your radio to see what other peoples experiences have been. Reading about someone else’s mistake is a lot easier than trying to fix your own.

Owners of PRO651 and PRO652 scanners that had tried to update their radios’ firmware versions had issues since no firmware updates were available until recently. Now one can download them and install them so previously bricked radios can be reincarnated.

ScannerMaster can update the firmware on many different models of scanners. Download the Hometown Programming Form for your radio and check the Firmware Update option if you would prefer our expert programmers to do this for you. We keep them heavily sedated all of the time already so their nerves are steady. Firmware Updates for “Zip Code Scanners” (HomePatrol, 436/536 and the WS1080/1088/1095/1098 series scanners) is included with the Setup and Optimize package already, it is an extra cost option for other scanners. If you aren’t sure call us and we will let you know.


Favorite Scanner: BCD436HP

The BCD436HP (commonly referred to as the “436“) is Uniden’s premier handheld scanner. It takes the Location Based Scanning system from the HomePatrol and merges it with the huge feature set of the BCD325P2. You get the best of both worlds; easy ZIP code based scanning and the flexibility and functionality of a full featured professional scanner.

Remember the commercials for the candy where some guy got his chocolate into another guy’s peanut butter? Well, imagine mixing a HomePatrol 2 with a BCD325P2, instead of a tasty peanut butter cup the end result is a BCD436HP.

The HomePatrol’s ease of use required the removal of several key features that were present on other scanners, this included things like CloseCall, Limit Search, Fire Toneout and keyboard programming. While most HomePatrol purchasers do not need these features there are others that want them. The “436” restores all of these features and more and keeps the Location Based scanning of the HomePatrol. With Phase 2 capability, the 436 works almost everywhere in the USA and Canada, just by putting in a location.

The 436 also now allows one to listen to ProVoice. These are used in a few areas of the country and until recently could not be heard by any scanner. With the extra-cost ProVoice option you can now hear unencrypted ProVoice digital systems such as used in San Antonio or Oklahoma City among other areas.

The 436 also has the ability to record conversations heard on the scanner to it’s built-in SD Card, allows analysis of trunked radio systems and more. You can program it on the fly like you would older scanners, use a computer to program it or just let the radio use it’s internal database.

The 436 comes with the free Sentinel software to update the firmware and database (Windows only, sorry Mac dudes!) as well as rechargeable batteries, a USB cable and antenna. You charge the batteries with a USB charger, available at extra cost or just use the one from your cellphone or other USB device. It covers most scanner frequencies from 25 to 1300 MHz. and works on AM, FM, FMW, P25 Digital Phases 1 and 2 as well as ProVoice digital (requires extra cost key for ProVoice). Optional ARC software is also available for control and advanced programming.

The BCD436HP is available from ScannerMaster at BCD436HP or just call us at 800-SCANNER.

Uniden Scanners

Favorite Scanners: BCT15X  

This week’s Favorite Scanner is the Uniden Bearcat BCT15X. The BCT15X is the premier analog only scanner from Uniden. It replaced the similar BCT15 a few years back and added some refined features.

If you do not need digital for your monitoring then the BCT15X will likely fit your bill nicely. It handled Motorola, EDACS and LTR trunking as well as conventional modes. It is great for Fire Tone monitoring, aircraft and railroads as well as local police and fire in many areas.

The BCT15X also supports GPS control like it’s digital cousin (the BCD996P2). With it’s all steel dual shell it is well protected from outside interference and is of sturdy construction. At less than $200 it is an affordable yet capable scanner.

I have a half dozen BCT15X I use for Military Air and railroad monitoring, they work great for this!

If you do not need digital then the BCT15X may be perfect for you!


Zip Code Based Scanning: How does it work?

You say you are interested in a “ZIP Code” scanner like a HomePatrol, BCD436HP or BCD536HP? You like the idea of having the scanner do all the programming by itself but don’t understand how it works? Here are the answers you are looking for! The HomePatrol and x36 scanners are wonderful technology and take a lot of the work out of scanning. By understanding how they work you can better understand how to use the radio and address any issues that might pop up.

First of all there are a couple misconceptions about these scanners. One common one is that they will only hear things in the chosen ZIP Code. This is incorrect. “ZIP Code” scanners use the location you enter into the radio (either by ZIP Code, city and state or by GPS coordinates) as a CENTER POINT. You then enter in a “Range” in miles, this creates a circle around that location. The larger the Range setting makes a larger circle and more stuff that will be programmed into your radio. The Range setting only affects what is programmed into the scanner, not the actual distance it will receive from.

When you set a location and range the radio will automatically program in all the services you selected within the circle and allow you to listen to it. If a Service Type is unavailable to be selected (greyed out) that means the database has no channels with that Service Type within the circle.

So what happens when you need to listen to something 20 miles away but really don’t want to listen to another area closer in? This is where the “Avoid” system comes in handy. Learn how to use the Avoid key on your scanner and use it to lockout Channels, Departments or Systems from your radio to help tailor your listening. “Avoid” works much like the Lockout function in older scanners. “Temporary Avoid? Means that the item will be locked out until the radio is shut off, the item will return the next time you turn on the radio. “Permanent Avoid” will cause it to stay locked out until you go in and “unavoid” it.

There is another way to easily tailor your HomePatrol or “x36” scanner to your preferences. This is by using Favorites Lists. Favorites Lists are basically your own frequency sets for your area. Instead of using the Nationwide Database and going strictly by location, a Favorites List will allow you to import Systems from the Nationwide Database or create your own from scratch. This is usually done with the Sentinel program that comes with your scanner. You can also work on Favorites Lists with ARC-Patrol (for HomePatrol’s) or ARC-536 (for the BCD436HP and BCD536HP).

To create a Favorites List you would import items from the Nationwide Database into it. You can then edit the information but adding or deleting your own information. You can also create a List from scratch and built it from the ground up.

If you selected ScannerMaster’s Optimize option for your HomePatrol or x36 scanner we would have created a Favorites List for you for your area. You can edit this if you want with Sentinel. You can also edit this from the scanner itself but this can be time consuming and kind of daunting. It is a bit easier on the 436 and 536 than the HomePatrol but we recommend that you do this in Sentinel, trust me it is a lot easier!

So where does the database itself come from? It comes from you and me! A website called RadioReference (www.radioreference.com) hosts a database where scanner users from all over the world share information. Each state and province has one or more Database Manager’s that filter submissions from users and update the main database. Once a week Uniden retrieves a copy of this database and makes it available to scanner users via Sentinel.

Favorite Scanners: BC125AT

Another entry on our favorite scanners, past and present!

Today we look at the BC125AT
The BC125AT is the premier analog conventional scanner in Uniden’s line. While it does not work on digital or trunking systems it is a fantastic scanner for analog and conventional systems. It is a favorite for planewatchers and railfans due to it’s small size and large display. It comes with the rubber-duck style antenna and beltclip. It improves on the less expensive BC75XLT in that it supports alpha-tags and PL/DCS.

I spend a lot of time trackside or at airports and the BC125AT is almost always with me. I clip it to my camera strap and it works great. The small size really helps!

This also works in the old-fashioned “Banks & Channels” programming mode. It has 10 banks of 50 channels each totaling up to 500 available channels. If the newer modes of scanner programming confuses you then this might appeal to you.

I use Banks 1 and 2 for rail channels, I put them in AAR Channel positions,  for example AAR Channel 79 is in channel 79 on the scanner. I have a bank each for a few of the local airports and a couple for some local operations. I leave the last bank open to enter in anything I might want to listen to on a trip or event.

The BC125AT uses regular or rechargeable AA batteries and can charge with the USB cable. Free programming software is available from Uniden or you can use the awesome ARC125 software from Butel for an even better experience.


Favorite Scanners: The BC760XLT

One of our favorite scanners of the past is the Bearcat 760XLT and its siblings. This was a desktop-mobile scanner family introduced in the late 1990’s. Built in a fairly small package, it fit almost anywhere.

This was one of a series of scanners in the same style case sold under the Bearcat, Regency and Cobra nameplates. Other models, like the BC950XLT, BC580XLT, BC590XLT and others shared the same case style. The 950 and 760 versions handle 800 MHz, the others do not. They were all analog-only and did not have trunktacking capabilities.

There were two optional boards for these radios. One was an internal pre-amp that could amplify the signal strength. While this was not available on the 760 and 950 versions (an 800 MHz. converter was installed in the same slot on these) an external preamp was available for these.

The most interesting thing with these scanners however was the introduction of a PL board. This was the first scanner to have the PL function, a revolutionary thing back in 1998! A pair of switches on the bottom of the radio under the bail controlled these options.

These scanners came in 2 generations. The first had an older style Motorola antenna jack and the newer ones changed to a BNC. The newer versions also allowed one to use the PL on some channels and not others while on the older ones the PL board was either on or off for the whole radio.

These radios were quite sensitive and were well known as great “Skip” receivers on low-band. They were also quite popular as the core of specialty devices like wireless mic receivers in mobile video systems, the radio portion of fire station alerting receivers and other uses due to the low cost, high sensitivity and a design that made it easy to adapt for these uses.

They were replaced by the famous BC780XLT but there are still many of these around.