Questions? We have answers!

Here are a few of the common questions we get here at ScannerMaster’s World Headquarters as well as the answers we provide. If your question isn’t listed please call us and ask.

Q: Do you have scanners that will allow me to hear Encrypted/Scrambled communications?

A: Nope! There are 2 reasons why we don’t sell scanners that work on encrypted channels. First of all it is illegal. Our people like sleeping in their own beds at night and not on cots at the county jail. Second, even if it were legal the technology just isn’t there to break modern encryption, especially on a device sold to the public.

Q: Do you sell scanners that can hear cell phones?

A: Nope, sorry, for the same reasons we do not sell encryption capable scanners, it is illegal and impractical. Years ago one could clip a diode and open certain scanners for the old analog cell phones but those days are long past.

Q: Can you tell me the frequency for my hometown police department?

A: Sure we can. You can also find the freqs at

Q: Are you guys the same guys at RadioReference? Broadcastify? Uniden? Whistler?

A: No, we are ScannerMaster. We are friends with these other companies and do business with them but we are all separate companies. We sell products from Uniden, Whistler and others but if you need support beyond what we are authorized to do we will refer you to the right place. We can often answer a quick question here and there about these places but we have no access to their files.

Q: Can you fix my scanner?

A: We do offer a programming service and programmed replacement SD Cards for ZIP Code scanners but we do not do repairs or sell internal parts. Newer scanners should be sent to Uniden or Whistler for authorized repairs, One great source for older scanners repairs and parts is G&G Communications, they can be reached at 585-768-8151 or

Q: Can my scanner be upgraded to DMR/ProVoice/NXDN?

A: Well, that depends on the scanner you have. Here is a list of the scanners that can be upgraded for these modes. Some of these can change in the future so be sure to check back! If you have an older scanner then it cannot be upgraded for these modes.

Maker            Model             DMR               ProVoice        NXDN            Notes

Uniden            BCD996P2     Paid                 Paid                 No

Uniden            BCD325P2     Paid                 Paid                 No

Uniden            BCD536HP    Paid                 Paid                 No

Uniden            BCD436HP    Paid                 Paid                 No

Whistler          TRX-1            Free                 No                   Free     Via Firmware Update

Whistler          TRX-2            Free                 No                   Free     Via Firmware Update

Whistler          WS1095          Free                 No                   No       Via Firmware Update

Whistler          WS1098          Free                 No                   No       Via Firmware Update

Whistler          WS1080          Free                 No                   No       Via Firmware Update

Whistler          WS1088          Free                 No                   No       Via Firmware Update

GRE                PSR800           Paid                 No                   No       Only thru Whistler

RS                   PRO668          Paid                 No                   No       Only thru Whistler

RS                   PRO18            Paid                 No                   No       Only thru Whistler

All those weird ports on the back of the scanner

Modern scanners have a plethora of various ports, jacks and sockets on them. Here is a look at some of them.

Taking a look at the rear panel of the BCD536HP scanner there are 6 different ports on it. From left to right they are:

  • BNC antenna jack
  • External Speaker Jack
  • USB Port (used for WiFi unit only on the 536)
  • GPS Serial Port
  • 3-pin power port
  • Coaxial power port

Other common ports on scanners include:

  • USB programming port
  • Record jack
  • Headphone jack
  • Various serial ports.

Let’s look at each port and what it is used for: (*Bonus! See below for an explanation of the weird hole smack in the middle…)

Antenna Jack:  Of course this is used to connect an antenna to the radio. Most scanners these days use BNC, the little push and turn job you see in the picture. Some handled scanners use the smaller SMA connector. Some older scanners had Motorola or even SO139 connectors and some had both an external connector and an internal threaded connector with a hole in the case to insert it.

External Speaker:  These are used to plug in an external speaker and are different than headphone jacks. Speaker Jacks do not limit the volume like a headphone jack will. When you plug in a speaker into the external speaker jack the inside speaker is disconnected.

Headphone Jack:  The Headphone jack has a limiting circuit to protect from overly loud sound that can damage your hearing. Otherwise it works much like the external speaker jack. Headphone jacks are usually in the front panel of desktop scanners while speaker jacks are usually on the rear. Handheld scanners usually just have a headphone jack on the top.

Record Jack:  The Record Jack allows one to pull audio from the scanner at a constant level that is not affected by the volume control. This is important when the radio is used as a source for recording or streaming. Some older RadioShack scanners and some current Uniden scanners have record jacks.

GPS Serial Port:  Unique to Uniden scanners, the DB-9 Serial port (male) is used mostly to connect a GPS receiver to allow location based scanning. It can also be used to program or control the scanner with the properly constructed cables. Do not confuse this with the female DB-9 port used for programming on older scanners like the BC780XLT or the BC898T

USB Programming port:  Most scanners these days use a USB-Mini port on the front or side to program and control the scanner. On many handheld scanners these ports are also used to charge the batteries and power the radio. On the BCD325P2 a special cable is used to connect a GPS to this port.

Other serial ports:  Some older scanners use different type serial ports. Older Unidens (like the “XT” series) use a unique 4-pin square connector for programming and connection of the RH-96 remote head. HP-1 and HP-2 scanners use that same port style for connecting to a GPS. Older design RadioShack/GRE/Whistler scanners use a jack that is just like a headphone jack for serial port connections.

Coaxial Power Port:  Most desktop/mobile scanners have a coaxial power port to provide 12 VDC to the scanner. There are 2 different jacks in common use. The majority of Uniden mobile and desktop scanners use a “Type M” male jack while most recent RadioShack, GRE and Whistler mobiles use a “Type T” female jack. Both use center-pin positive. Some older handheld scanners use smaller coaxial power ports but newer portable scanners usually use the USB port for charging and external power.

3-pin power port:  This is another unique to Uniden port, similar to the power port used on some of their CB products. On Uniden scanners there are the regular black and red wires for power and a third orange wire used to control the brightness of the display when connected to the lighting circuits of the car.

Discriminator Jack:  This is probably the most popular jack that doesn’t come on scanners. Discriminator audio is used to provide an unfiltered audio source mostly for data decoding. This type of decoding usually does not work from the record or speaker jacks due to the filtering circuitry in the radio. Scanners usually do not come with jacks for this but it is often added on by advanced scanner hobbyists to allow data decoding.


Bonus Round

See that threaded hole smack in the middle of the back panel in the picture at the top of the page? Most Uniden base/mobile scanners have that. It is used to allow a rear bracket to stabilize the radio under the dashboard. It is not mentioned in the owner’s manuals but is shown in the diagrams.

Basic Scanner Types

There are basically 3 different types of scanners, “Basic” “Digital” and “ZIP Code”. Which one is best for you depends on the systems used in your area. There are 2 basic formats of scanners, handheld and desktop/mobile.

What we call “Basic” scanners are those inexpensive scanners that usually have analog reception only and do not handle any type of trunking systems. Current “Basic” scanners include the Uniden BC75XLT, BC125AT and BC365CRS as well as the Whistler WS1010 and WS1025. These scanners are fine in areas that do not use digital or trunking systems, they also work well for aircraft, marine and railroad monitoring.

Digital” scanners have the ability to monitor digital and analog trunking systems (EDACS, Motorola, LTR, P25). Some of these scanners also include “Phase 2” systems, which is a newer form of P25. Some radios also will allow you to monitor ProVoice, DMR or NXDN digital systems.

“ZIP Code” or “Database” type scanners are digital trunking scanners that allow one to select a specific area and import channels from an on-board memory card. These memory cards can be updated when needed. These will work almost anywhere in the country and are ideal for those who travel often.

What scanner is best for you? Call us and we can help you decide. We have access to the world’s largest database of scanner frequencies and can quickly look up your area and let you know which radios would work best for you.

When you do call us we will ask a couple questions, including the location you wish to monitor and what format radio you want. With this information we can make a couple suggestions of scanners that will work in your area.

Most of the time we can suggest a couple different scanners with different feature levels. Conversely if you have your heart set on a specific radio we can tell you whether or not it should work in your area.

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

Scanner Tip: Care and feeding of scanner batteries

If you use handheld scanners then you have to manage batteries. Most scanners come with or use rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride cells, often abbreviated to Ni-MH. There are still some older Nickel Cadmium (“Ni-Cad”) cells still around. There is also a newer technology called Lithium Ion (“LI”). If you still use one of the older scanners with composite battery packs (like the BC250D or BC296D) these likely use or NiMH battery packs.

Current scanners almost always use “AA” sized batteries. AA Ni-MH batteries are very common these days and can be found almost anywhere and are also used in a wide variety of different applications. LI batteries are more expensive but are lighter in weight and provide longer life in many instances.

If you charge your batteries in the radio then remember that it is likely set up for Ni-MH. If you use Ni-Cad or LI cells then the charge times will be different. If your radio supports altering charge times then you could change it to match.

Whatever you do make sure that ALL the cells in the radio are the same! Do not mix different types of cells. Also make sure that you do not try to charge alkaline cells like Duracell or Ray-O-Vac’s! This is an easy way to blow things up and make nasty things happen. If you do this warranty will not cover you and the repairs are on you.

If you want to use rechargeable batteries that are different than the ones that came with the radio then consider a separate charger. This would allow you to manage 2 or 3 sets, one for current use and another for standby when the current ones are depleted and a third set in the charger. Make sure the charger you use is appropriate for the batteries you use.

What about Alkalines? Alkaline batteries, such as Duracell’s, Energizer or Ray-O-Vac brands, are great for scanners. You do need to make sure that you do not try to charge them. On many Uniden scanners there is a tiny switch inside the battery compartment that you can select Alkaline or Ni-MH. If you select Alkaline the radio will not attempt to charge batteries in the radio. If you have a RadioShack, GRE or Whistler handheld scanner then the yellow battery holder will charge your batteries when the radio is plugged into an outside power source, so do not use the yellow holder for alkalines. The black battery holder is used for alkaline batteries.

One other thing to consider is that rechargeable batteries produce a slightly lower voltage than alkaline ones do. Typically rechargeable cells produce 1.2 to 1.25 volts compared to 1.5 volts for alkalines at full charge. Usually this is not a problem; the extra quarter-volt per cell is not going to burn up your radio. Using higher voltage alkaline cells will allow the radio to run a bit longer before the battery warning starts.

Here is a little hint for users of later Uniden scanners: You can see how many volts your battery has at any time by pressing the rotary knob down while scanning. Make note of the voltage with fresh cells and the voltage when the battery warning starts. This will give you a good idea of when to expect the need to change or charge the batteries.

I always try to keep an extra set of batteries handy when I am out and about. Save those little battery boxes or use something to keep the batteries from shorting and bouncing around. I use a prescription bottle; larger ones are perfect for 3 or 4 AA’s! I can then toss that in the glove box. Just remember to take off the label so the world doesn’t find out what meds you take. Do they make a pill that will cure a scanner addiction?

Scanner Tip of the Day: Search, Search, Search!

Most scanners these days have Search functions. These can be “Service Search”, “Range Search” and some sort of near-field search. Each works differently but provides a similar result: New stuff to listen to.

Service Search allows you to root out users of specific services, like aircraft, marine, railroads etc. Select the service you want from your scanner’s controls and the radio will go thru frequencies used by that service and stop on active traffic. Like to listen to planes, trains or boats but don’t know what channels they use in your area? Use Service Search and find out.

Range Search allows you to set up a pair of frequencies (or several pairs on some radios) and search from one end to the other over and over, stopping on active frequencies. This is handy if you know about where they operate or want to search out and find new stuff in a specific frequency range.

Near Field reception (called CloseCall by Uniden, Spectrum Sweeper on GRE and Whistler radios etc.) is a fascinating way to find operations where you least expect it. CloseCall and it’s brethren allows you to find a nearby transmission so you can listen to very local operations. While it works a little differently behind the scenes, the results are very similar with GRE/RadioShack and Whistler radios.

On a mobile scanner in a vehicle using an outside antenna you may well hear base station traffic within a few miles or so and mobile radios within a few blocks. Using a handheld scanner your range will be less but then likely you will want to hear stuff closer to you anyway.

Next time you are at the mall take your handheld scanner with a set of earbuds and walk around a bit. You will be amazed at the amount of radio traffic you can hear. The largest department stores to the little boutiques all use radios these days. It isn’t just the security and maintenance guys either.

Some radios also let you store hits from the various Searches. Then you can go back and review them to figure out who or what they are.

Get your Police Scanner for a Snow Storm

By Jonathan Higgins

Stay ahead of the storm with a police scanner.

Before you head out and on the road!

  • Keep update on traffic accidents.
  • Keep a pulse on traffic delays and backups.
  • What roads are treated and plowed.
  • Up-to-minute Weather updates from NOAA Weather Radio.

Looking to get into the hobby:
I would recommend a portable unit because you have may power options, such as rechargeable/alkaline, AC and DC Power. Portables are compact and easy to take everywhere with you.  We can program the scanner for you or you can program it with computer software, USB cable, and Radio Reference subscription. Not sure what police scanner to get?  Drop us a e-mail!

Already own a scanner? Here are some programming tips…
In addition to programming your local Fire EMS and state/local police you may want to program some storm related departments such as:

  • Local and Statewide Emergency Management Agencies
  • Highway/Dept of Public Works
  • Electric Utilities Company
  • Intercity Fire and Police Networks
  • Traffic gathering networks

Most of this can be found on

You don’t always need to scan these departments, but you can stored them in the scanner, so in an event of a storm they can be turn on.

Firmware Alert – GRE PSR-800

By Jonathan Higgins

Product: GRE PSR-800
Firmware Update: U 1.7

What included in the update?

  • This experimental beta CPU software adds APCO Project 25 Phase 2 functionality to the PSR-800 and must only be used in conjunction with the companion beta DSP version U1.2 included in this upgrade.
  • More details

How to update your GRE PSR-800?

  1. Download Firmware File
  2. Connect your PSR-800 to your PC via the Programming cable/Power Cable.
  3. Follow detailed (PDF File) instructions on how to update your PSR-800

Show Off Your Shack!

We would love to see photos of your shack at your home, office or vehicle, or even your antenna set-up. A few times a month the Scanner Master Blog will feature a customer shack, maybe yours! Some of you may be asking what is a “Shack”? It’s your monitoring post where you spend your time listening to your scanners. If you think you have a cool set-up we would love to see it. Check out the shacks so far! Your Shack could be here, Next!

Simply follow the steps below to show off your shack! Step 1 Take photos of your shack, up to 4 jpg photos.

Step 2
Description of your shack:
  • What your station consist of … scanners, two way radios, and so on.A little about yourself:
  • Your Name
  • Your City and State
  • Ham Call Sign (if you have one)
  • How long you been in the hobby?
    What you like to listen to? —

Step 3
E-mail us your write up and attach your photos and keep eye on the Scanner Master Blog!

Scanner Master reserves the right to edit text, and photos. We may not be able to feature all “Show Off Your Shack” entries.