After this weekend’s announcement of new Uniden digital scanners, a lot of scanner enthusiasts are disappointed that the new devices don’t decode protocols such as NXDN and MotoTRBO in addition to Project 25 Phase I and Phase II. This how-to video shows you how to build your own scanner that turns a TV tuner into a software-defined receiver and uses Digital Speech Decoder and UniTrunker to decode everything including NXDN and MotoTRBO.
Uniden Product Manager Paul Opitz unveiled new portable and mobile scanners today via a YouTube live stream. The stream started out with average people talking about why they’ve been scanner enthusiasts, in a manner that seemed so scripted that it was a sales pitch that didn’t add value to the announcement. Which boggles me, since the people watching this announcement are experienced scanner users, not prospective users. Skip to 9:50 for the start of the announcement.
You’ll notice that both models include the letter “D” in the model number, meaning they both decode digital. More specifically, they will decode Project 25 Phase I and the emerging Project 25 Phase II. Also of note in the model names are they both include the letters “HP” indicating it’s a HomePatrol variant. With both radios, you can enter any frequencies, systems, or talkgroups that you want, or you can enter your zip code and it will scan the pre-loaded RadioReference database specific to that area (United States and Canada only) from the on-board 4 GB data card, just like the HomePatrol-1. You can still attach an external antenna for seamless roaming instead of entering various zip codes. The handheld can also record on the data card, and both devices can support up to a 32 GB card.
No more serial cables, either. Uniden is ditching serial cables in favor of USB to program the devices.
The video’s scripting wasn’t very clear whether the discovery and analysis modes will come for free on the devices or whether it will be a pay-as-you-go option like the HomePatrol-1′s “Extreme” upgrade, but the recap at the end suggests it may come free with the new devices.
The Uniden BCD436HP is the new handheld scanner and the display has been doubled vertically. Three AA batteries can power the handheld for 8 hours or more, Opitz says.
The Uniden BCD536HP’s mobile scanner display has also been doubled, but horizontally. The mobile version comes with a wifi adapter so you can access the scanner over the internet via Android phones and tablets. Opitz suggested that using the Android app with a phone or tablet to act as a remote head. Opitz also suggested that more wifi features will be available in March 2014.
Here’s a video of the BCD536HP in action:
The MSRP on the BCD536HP is expected to be $499 and the BCD436HP at $599 when the devices start delivery in January 2014.
Some initial thoughts on this… number one: no MotoTRBO, no NXDN, no OpenSky. I understand these are proprietary formats, but Uniden continues to dodge customer feedback regarding these modes being excluded. Also… no remote head! Uniden discontinued the RH-96 years ago and the only vendor that has new heads in stock is ScannerMaster, and the market price for these units have risen as a result. I will always include a scanner in my mobile installs, but my mobile installs are permanent. There’s no way in hell I’m going to make my vehicle more attractive to thieves by installing a tablet in the vehicle just so I can use it as a remote head. Plus, I’d rather have something to hard-wire to the vehicle. That just kills the mobile install unless you have enough room to mount the whole scanner. Also no mention of how well these scanners perform on simulcast P25 systems, which has always been a weakness for Uniden.
Overall… disappointed. I’d be perfectly happy snapping up a bunch of Uniden BCD996XT’s if there weren’t P25 Phase II systems launching soon in my area.
Authorities in Lakewood say some children in the area are using two-way radios, available for purchase online, as toys. Unbeknownst to them however, they often talk on airwaves designated only for emergencies.
“They’re young and they just don’t realize the consequences of what it is that they’re doing,” said Captain Meir Lichtenstein of the Hatzolah EMS.
According to Lichtenstein, children interrupted emergency channels used by Hatzolah and other first responders nearly 10 times so far this year.
It’s amazing to see now that actual two-way imported portable radios meant for amateur radio use are cheap enough to be bought by parents for their kids’ playtime.
It’s worth noting that the person found intentionally jamming the Des Moines public safety radio system was also using a Baofeng handheld.
I came across this on the interwebs and even though it’s from 2011, I still found this to be worth sharing. A would-have-been documentary, titled Push to Talk, touted itself as the “best ham radio documentary you’ve ever seen!” was unsuccessful in its bid to raise $50,000 via Kickstarter by its October 14, 2011 deadline. Out of two backers, one pledged $50 and the other pledged $20 in the 30-day fundraising drive. On Kickstarter, the project author receives none of the pledges if the project does not reach its fundraising goal.
The project author is a recently-licensed amateur radio operator in the Atlanta area named Stephen Bentley, KK4ATV. Bentley states he stumbled upon the topic when visiting an amateur radio site where users were debating whether ham radio was relevant in the 21st century. The documentary would have been made as a “character-driven film that resonates with audiences through powerful storytelling, imagery, and facts.”
So I started asking myself… am I getting myself into something that’s on its way out? I mean, if the ham radio operators themselves are debating about the future of ham radio, what must the general public think?
In the Kickstarter pitch video, Bentley concludes that, yes, amateur radio is indeed relevant in the era of social media. Pledges of $10,000 to the project listed “you’ll go down in the annuals of ham radio history as one of its protectors” as a benefit.
I’m a little late to the show on this one, but about a year after popular scanner manufacturer GRE America closed its doors, radar and laser detector manufacturer Whistler Group announced that it’s acquired GRE America’s intellectual rights, according to a press release:
The Whistler Group, Inc., a leading industry supplier of laser/radar detectors, is announcing entry into the radio scanner market. Whistler has purchased the intellectual property of scanner industry leader, GRE America, Inc., and plans to launch a complete line of scanners under the Whistler brand.
Whistler is proud to enter the scanning receiver business, picking up popular scanner models often characterized by hobbyists as easiest to program and use. Whistler scanners will include handheld and desktop/mobile digital scanners with full keyboard, a handheld scanner with USA/Canada database built in, and two models of VHF/UHF non-trunking scanners. The assortment will include the first and only scanner that works on newer modulation protocols including P25-Phase II.
Look for Whistler scanners and the return of RadioShack-branded scanners in Q1 2014. Until then, Uniden remains the only major player in the scanner game.
(hat tip Kevin Thornton)