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 – Programming the Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Scanner

Product: Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Scanner

Scanner 101 Topic: Manually programming the BC125AT Scanner without software.


Here are the steps to programming a conventional frequency into BC125AT

Step 1
Press Hold Button and Press the channel number you want to program then hit hold again.

Step 2
Press “Func” (Orange Button) then hit “Pgm E” button.

Step 3
“Enter Frequency” will be highlighted press “Pgm E” button.

Step 4
Press in the frequency you would like to program, then hit “Pgm E” button when you done.

Step 5
Select “Edit Tag” by scrolling the knob at the top of the scanner one click clockwise, then press “Pgm E” button.

Step 6
Using the knob at the top of the scanner scroll thru the letters and stop on the one you want then hit the “6 >” button to add the next letter. (repeat this step on until complete) Once your done with your Text Tag then hit the “Pgm E” button

Step 6
Select “Set CTCSS/DCS ” by scrolling the knob at the top of the scanner one click clockwise, then press “Pgm E” button.

Step 7
You can select from the following CTCSS/DCS options

  • Off
  • DCS
  • CTCSS/DCS Search

If the frequency has a CTCSS or DCS you can program it here or you can Search for it.

Step 8
The other options in the menu you wouldn’t need to worry about when programming. You can now hit scan to start scanning. To add more frequencies repeat Steps 1 – 7.

Programming Software
Programming software is available from Uniden and from BuTel software. Uniden Software will be very basic vs. the BuTel Software will more advanced. With the BuTel Software you will have capability to import frequencies from with a paid Membership.