Using a two-way radio as a scanner

One of the more common question we get here at the opulent ScannerMaster Palace is how do I program this (Brand X) radio to my local systems. Usually it is one of those off-shore $40 two-way radio with unpronounceable names that are flooding the market on eBay and in stores.

The basic answer is that you don’t. These radios are intended as Ham radios and are basically toys. Some can be made to receive on VHF and UHF conventional analog channels and even talk on them.  This is not a good thing. First off the build quality on these things is poor. They are designed not for performance but for cheapness. If the radio breaks it usually cannot be repaired.

If your area still uses VHF or UHF analog channels then these might be able to be used to receive your local channels but they cannot do any type of digital or trunked system.

These cheap radios are not ideal for most monitoring anyway. They lack the features scanner buyers have come to expect such as banks, scanlists or quick-keys. They also usually do not support other typical scanner features like CloseCall, Fire tone out, easy field programming etc. They often do not work on aircraft, either civilian or military.

For not much more than you will pay for one of these cheap toys you can get a decent basic scanner like the BC125AT or WS1010 that will run rings around  them with the feature sets.  Our basic scanners start out at under $100 and have way more features than these junk toys.

VLog – Unication G-Series P25 Receivers

In this Scanner Master Vlog learn more about the Unication Pager-Receivers. A rugged mini-handheld receiver that solves the problem of APCO P25 digital simulcast distortion. Monitor conventional channels as well as digital trunking.

Links
Unication Software –
http://www.unicationusa.com/downloads-new
Get a Unication Receivers – http://www.scannermaster.com/Unication_Pagers_s/779.htm

Weird Funkiness with scanners: 536 Cuts out

We here at ScannerMaster get calls from customers often to explain some sort of weirdness happening with their scanner. Usually we can figure it out pretty quick but once in awhile we get stumped. When we get stumped it sticks in our craw for a while until we have an epiphany and figure it out. We had one just like that earlier this week.

A customer called and his brand new BCD536HP was acting all ornery. Every couple of seconds it would stop hearing and the signal strength meter would fluctuate. Most of the time this is caused by the Priority or CloseCall features. We determined it was neither of these but still couldn’t figure out what it was.

Here is why we were looking at these features:

Priority, when enabled, will check specified channels every couple of seconds for activity on it. If there is activity it will divert the radio from what is was doing to listen to the Priority channel.

CloseCall will check for strong signals in the area and if detected will divert the radio to the frequency the CloseCall feature detected. If the feature is set to CloseCall Priority then it will cause the radio to stop hearing a channel for a bit, just like the customer complained.

So when we made sure both Priority and CloseCall were off we were flummoxed. Well, I was flummoxed; he was frustrated. I am sure there were some other words starting with “F” being bandied about as well.

I started going thru the menus on the radio in the office (We have one of just about everything here at ScannerMaster) and eventually dug thru all the menus and submenus. Eventually we found the culprit: The Weather Alternate Priority. Somehow the customer got this turned on. As soon as we turned it off the radio worked great again! We had one happy customer and a relieved representative.

The Weather Alert Priority tells the radio to check the weather channels every few seconds and if it detects the standard 1050 Hz. tone used to signify a Weather Alert it will divert the radio to that alert.

New scanners have a ton of neat features but sometimes they can be too smart. Some of these features can cause aggravation when that feature is not needed.

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 Scanner: Uniden HomePatrol   

This weeks Favorite Scanner comes from our Programming Manager Greg Jolly. Greg likes the Uniden HomePatrol best for its ease of use.

The Uniden HomePatrol was introduced several years ago to address several concerns. Many people wanted to listen to their local police, fire and other radio activity but did not know (or want to know) how to program scanners. The HomePatrol brought a whole new dimension to scanning: instead of learning frequencies you just put in your ZIP Code.

The HomePatrol really makes Greg happy, being the ScannerMaster Programmer it makes his job easier! It just requires a periodic update to keep it humming along.

The HomePatrol 2 was introduced recently to cover those areas using “Phase 2” digital, otherwise it works the same as the original HomePatrol.

 

New Product – Windshield Mounting Kit for HomePatrol

By Jonathan Higgins

New Product:
Windshield Mounting Kit for HomePatrol
Cost:
$39.95

What’s included with the Windshield Mounting Kit?

  • Heavy duty 3 ½ inches suction mount
  • Adjustable 7 inches arm
  • HomePatrol Mobile Mounting Bracket
  • Bracket mounting screws and nuts


Road Test

Over the past weekend, I was able to Road Test the new Uniden HomePatrol Windshield Mounting Kit.

During the road test I was very impressed with this product. It has heavy duty suction mount along with its 7 inch arm. The windshield mount holds the one pound HomePatrol without a problem. Well built, and suitable for most windshield mounting situations.

This product is made by Ram Mounts for the Uniden HomePatrol.