2017 Dayton Hamvention

The 2017 Dayton Hamvention is going to be held from May 19 thru 21, 2017 at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia OH. This is the first year for Hamvention to be held in the new location and we are very excited about attending this year!

Rich Barnett and Gommert Buijsen (Author of the Butel ARC programming software) will be manning the booth this year. We will of course have a wide variety of scanners and accessories available at great prices.

Be sure to stop by at Booth 3303 (in Building 3) and say Hi to Rich and Gommert!

Software UPDATE: ARCXT Software V.2.1 Build 3

BuTel ARCXT Software update is now available
Download here ARCXT Basic / ARCXT PRO

BuTelChanges in 2.1 build 3:

  • added support for DMR/Mototrbo systems
  • added talk group filters to RR import
  • added service type filters to RR import
  • fixed error message in RR import
  • add print group quick keys option
  • added Color code settings to DL/DPL

DMR/ProVoice firmware update information 

Note:
Owners of the BCD325P2 and BCD996P2 must update the scanner firmware in order to use the new ARCXT update.  This is only for P2 models and does not effect XT models.

BCD325P2 Firmware Updates
BCD996P2 Firmware Updates

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

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.

 

Basic or Pro, Download or CD? Which is the best ARC software for your scanner?

ScannerMaster is proud to sell ARC software products for scanners from Butel. ARC stands for “Advanced Radio Control” and there are ARC packages for most current and many older scanners. These applications share a common “Look and feel” so that if you learn your way around one you will know how to work the others. These are the easiest to use programming software for scanners and ScannerMaster is the main US distributer.

When you chose your software make sure to pick the right product! ARC Products work on specific radios. The radios the software will work on are listed in the descriptions, if you are not sure call us and one of our experts will help you make sure you have the right product. Some packages work on many different radios and others work only on one.

When you look at the ARC packages on our website you will usually see 4 choices. Two of them are named “Basic” and “Pro” and there are usually CD and Download versions each.

ARC “Basic” software allows the user to read and write to the radio, import files from RadioReference and other sources and perform all programming actions.

ARC “Pro” versions add in the ability to control the radio within the software (if your radio supports this) as well as record audio from the radio to your computer. Some radios also support a Bandscope feature.

The “CD” version comes delivered on a CD with the product key on a label inside the CD cover.

The “Download” version comes to you as a link emailed to you so you can download the software on the Internet, the product key is emailed to you. This saves you the shipping cost and if you lose your product key we can resend it to you.

Even if you buy the CD version you can download the updated version of the same software as needed, such as if you get a new computer or an update has been made. Your product keys will still work.

A couple things to remember: 

If you buy the CD Version make sure you save the product keys! We do not have copies of these numbers, if you lose the CD Case and didn’t copy the number someplace we have no way of replacing it. We can resend Download version product keys but only to those customers that bought the Download version.

Most ARC products will automatically print a confirmation sheet when you successfully register the software with the Product Keys. Save this someplace safe, it has your Product Keys on it and can be used to reinstall the software on a replacement computer.

As always ScannerMaster experts are here to help with your questions!

Windows 10 and Scanners

Many people have recently been upgraded to Windows 10, whether they like it or not. For most people it seems to work fine, it just looks different. Most scanner software, such as ARC products, Sentinel and EZ-Scan works just fine in Windows 10 but might take a few steps to get it to work. Here are a few steps to make your transition a little easier:

1)         Update the cable.

If you have a Uniden XT series scanner and use the USB-1 cable make sure you have the newer version. There are 2 versions of the USB-1 cable. The older version will not work in Windows 10 (or Windows 8 for that matter). The ones we sell now work just fine in all versions of Windows. If your cable worked in Windows XP or 7 and no longer works in Windows 10 then it probably needs to be replaced by a newer version. You can also try a USB-Serial adapter and the Serial Port cable that came with your scanner.

Most RadioShack, GRE and Whistler orange, blue and black USB scanner cables seem to work fine in Windows 10. If your scanner (Uniden, GRE or Whistler) has a “Mini-USB port on the front or side of the radio that looks like a little trapezoid then a standard USB device cable will work.

2)         Update the driver.

Some cables and scanners require drivers. These are small files that tell the computer how to relate to and communicate with the radio. Check the ScannerMaster page for the cable or radio that you have for links to the current drivers. Most of the time it is better to install the driver first, then plug in the cable or device. Make sure that you install the driver for your operating system. If Windows 10 isn’t listed then use the Windows 8 driver, chances are it will work fine.

3)         Update the program.

Sometimes the application itself needs to be updated for Windows 10. Just like drivers however, if it worked in Windows 7 or 8 it should work in 10.

4)         If all else fails reinstall the program.

Sometimes after you upgrade to Windows 10 you will still not get the radio and program to communicate. We have found that many times, especially with ARC products, simple uninstalling the program and reinstalling it will fix your connection issues. Make sure you are updating to the latest version of the program. You can download the latest versions at the program’s website. Your activation keys will still work with newer versions of the same program.

As with any program, your results may vary. The above steps will fix a majority of the issues with scanner programs, they have fixed every issue I have had. Depending on the computer hardware, software, operating system and a host of other factors you may have an issue that just doesn’t want to work even after doing all this. If you still get stuck then you may need to contact the software’s support department.

When bad things happen to good scanners: Heap Errors

On certain Radio Shack, GRE and Whistler scanners, specifically the ones using Object Oriented programming, one can be beset with an error message that reads “Heap Error” along with some seemingly random text.

These are caused when the radio doesn’t know how to deal with an Object programmed into the memory, usually a Talkgroup (TGRP) not assigned to a  Trunked System (TSYS).

If you can get into the radio programming you should make sure ALL talkgroups entered as Objects are assigned to a Trunked System. This is pretty easy to do in ARC500 or other programs but a lot more difficult without software. These radios are hard enough to program manually let alone find orphaned TGRP objects.

When programming by hand be sure to associate every TGRP with a TSYS BEFORE saving it. When programming with software sort the TGRP list by TSYS and make sure all are assigned to a TSYS. If it says “New” for the TSYS then you need to change or delete the TGRP. Also check for duplicates in your list of TGRP’s. These can also cause errors.

If you don’t have software to program the radio and can’t get into the radio to edit the objects you may well have to reinitialize it and start all over. (Press 0, then 1, then enter during the startup screen.) While this will erase the radio it will get rid of the dreaded Heap Error. If you have software you can usually read the radio even if a Heap Error is present.

Object Oriented programming is used for the following scanners:

GRE: PSR310, PSR410, PSR500, PSR600

RadioShack: PRO-106, PRO-197, PRO-651, PRO-652

Whistler: WS-1040, WS-1065

Drivers? What are they and why do I need them?

If you have a scanner and a computer you will most likely want to use one with the other. Computer programs (like ARC products) are great for programming and controlling scanners.

Windows however tries to make life difficult for us and requires almost everything we connect to a computer to have “drivers”. Drivers are basically small programs that allow the computer and device to talk to each other, kind of like an interpreter.

If the stars are all aligned and all is well with the world the device driver will load automatically when you plug in the device. If not then you will have to install a driver to make it work.

We have a link here that helps scanner users get drivers and load them. This page also links to download pages for the drivers needed by many scanners.

Depending on the scanner you have the driver might be connected to the radio or to a separate cable. If your scanner has a standard USB port on it (such as a HomePatrol, a BCD996P2, BCD325P2 or some of the other newer model Uniden and Whistler scanners) then the driver goes to the radio itself.

If you have an older radio with a USB-serial adaptor cable, such as a BCD996XT, BCD396XT, PRO106, a PSR 500/600 etc. then the driver is matched to the cable (like the Uniden USB-1, or the blue, orange or black RadioShack/GRE/Whistler cables). Once the cable has the proper driver installed and a serial port (Comm-X) number assigned it can be used for any compatible radio with no further issues.

Some radios use an old fashioned serial port with a DB-9 connection, either on the radio or it’s programming cable. These require a serial port on the computer itself or the use of an USB-Serial adaptor. If you use a USB-Serial adaptor then the drivers connect to the adaptor.

The common denominator for all this is that the radio gets a “Com Port” number assigned. This will show up as “COM1” , “COM36” etc. Once this number is displayed in the Device Manager use that number in your programming software so the radio and program can communicate. This is kind of like a channel number, if the radio and computer are both set to the same Com Port number they can talk.

Com Port and communication issues are the biggest problem faced with users of software and scanners. Once you get the drivers loaded and the program set to the right com port then you can read and write to the radio all you want.

Some older USB-Serial adapters and cables will not work with some newer versions of Windows, or with 64-bit versions of Windows. Others require newer drivers to be downloaded and installed. Once installed the drivers should automatically be loaded each time you plug in the cable but sometimes Windows may change the com port number so if you have problems check the Device Manager to make sure.

Scanner 101 – Understanding BuTel ARCXT Software

Last month Gommert Buysen, the owner and software developer of BuTel Software stopped in at our corporate headquarters in Holliston, MA. During his visit we shot two great videos about the ARCXT Software.

Products used in this Scanner 101:
ARCXT Basic
ARCXT PRO
Uniden USB Cable

The ARCXT Software works with the following Uniden scanners:
BCT15X
BC346XT
BCD396XT
BCD996XT

What are the differences between the ARCXT Basic and PRO?

Option
ARC-XT-BASIC
ARC-XT-PRO
Multi scanner support
Yes
Yes
Enhanced Editor for conv./trunk channels
Yes
Yes
Bandplan Editor
Yes
Yes
Multi Trunk site programming
Yes
Yes
Virtual Control
No
Yes
RadioRef Import
Yes
Yes
GPS US address lookup utility
Yes
Yes
Enhanced Virtual Control
No
Yes
Data logging/history
No
Yes
Bandscope
No
Yes
Waterfall Display
No
Yes
‘no loss’ Harddisk Audio Recording
No
Yes
Closecall/Subtone logging
No
Yes


Video 1 –
ARC-XT Scanner Radio Software Walkthrough

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mchtwl4ugbM&w=400&h=350]

Video 2 –
ARC-XT PRO Scanner Radio Software Virtual Console Walkthrough

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuoUJYVYk38&w=400&h=350]