SDS200 Observations

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SDS200 Observations

#1 Post by W1KNE » 05 Apr 2019 18:03

So after having my SDS200 for a little bit, a couple of key observations on it.

Things I like.
*The DMR decoding is amazing on it. Far superior to the 536. It decodes faster, sounds better, and it's nice having the talkgroup/slot show up immediately without having to "quick search".
*The display is REAL nice. I love the black background on it. It is really easy to read, even with my bad eyesight. It's a little stretched, but I like the amount of data displayed.
*It's very sensitive. I argue it's even more sensitive than my 536 was on the same antenna. This is a good thing. I am picking up things on it, I never did on my 536, and they're not images (see below). I am getting RISCON almost crystal clear with no breakup. My 536 would get it but it would be broken up.
*The audio through the external speaker is nice.

Things that I am not a fan of.
*Of course Uniden switches from a Mini USB to a Micro USB. So all those programming cables you have for your 996/536, now are not good. It does come with the right cable, however. Just a PITA if you're travelling with it.
*The audio buzz is definitely noticable, and after a while, it does get annoying. I hope the shield does fix it.
*It has the images issue the SDS-100 used to have, but the IFX does a nice job of fixing that.
*If you have the global RF filter set on "Auto", the scan and search rates are very slow. If you have it set to Normal, Invert, or off, they are much faster.

I think there are still bugs to be worked out with the receiver section in it, but so far, in my eyes, it's a winner. The real test will come during DX season to see how well it decodes some of the usual stronger Trop UHF stuff from NYC and New Jersey this summer. (If we get it.)
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#2 Post by Mark SNE Moderator » 05 Apr 2019 20:34

I hear the P-25 audio is much better than most every other Uniden model? I never liked the P-25 audio on any Uniden, with the exception of the HP-1 and 2.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#3 Post by garys » 05 Apr 2019 21:01

The audio is great. It got better today with another firmware update. P25, NXDN, and DMR are all very good. Analog is good, too. I don't know about Pro Voice as I don't have it on my SDS200.


Mark SNE Moderator wrote:
05 Apr 2019 20:34
I hear the P-25 audio is much better than most every other Uniden model? I never liked the P-25 audio on any Uniden, with the exception of the HP-1 and 2.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#4 Post by N1ZZN » 06 Apr 2019 22:13

I too picked up the SDS200. Audio is great... But, the overload it experiences on VHF is AWFUL!

On my 536 and every other scanner in the past, I've been able to receive the WX stations on 162.400 (RI), 162.425 (Cape Ann), and 162.525 (NH) just fine. On the SDS200, they're hardly there at all, or just barely come and go with increase and decreasing modulation from 162.475. I am very disappointed in this truly AWFUL performance.

I've also experienced the intermod and images on UHF that others have noted on the SDS100.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#5 Post by garys » 07 Apr 2019 12:04

I'm surprised at your issue. Most of my programming consists of 700/800/900 trunked systems and UHF analog and P25, with some DMR and NXDN mixed in. That being said, I have a number of VHF frequencies in there was well.

I've had no issues with overload on any band. I'm going to listen in on the Wx channels to see what's going on.

I'm a bit confused by your use of the "overload" as it sounds more like poor reception.
N1ZZN wrote:
06 Apr 2019 22:13
I too picked up the SDS200. Audio is great... But, the overload it experiences on VHF is AWFUL!

On my 536 and every other scanner in the past, I've been able to receive the WX stations on 162.400 (RI), 162.425 (Cape Ann), and 162.525 (NH) just fine. On the SDS200, they're hardly there at all, or just barely come and go with increase and decreasing modulation from 162.475. I am very disappointed in this truly AWFUL performance.

I've also experienced the intermod and images on UHF that others have noted on the SDS100.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#6 Post by W1KNE » 07 Apr 2019 12:25

N1ZZN wrote:
06 Apr 2019 22:13
I too picked up the SDS200. Audio is great... But, the overload it experiences on VHF is AWFUL!

On my 536 and every other scanner in the past, I've been able to receive the WX stations on 162.400 (RI), 162.425 (Cape Ann), and 162.525 (NH) just fine. On the SDS200, they're hardly there at all, or just barely come and go with increase and decreasing modulation from 162.475. I am very disappointed in this truly AWFUL performance.

I've also experienced the intermod and images on UHF that others have noted on the SDS100.
Go to one of the frequencies you're having an issue with, hit "Function" then "7", see if the IFX clears it up. I've found that has nailed the image issues whenever they've come up.
Also make sure your global auto filter is in either Auto or Off. The normal and Invert modes seem to do some funky stuffs with entire bands.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#7 Post by Scott » 07 Apr 2019 17:02

Of course after I just posted my whining I found Jeff's comment. I have experienced the same results to the point where Hamstation Jeff is sending me another one tomorrow. My issue also extends to 800 MHz conventional frequencies. In Marstons Mills I can't hear Falmouth PD or Sandwich PD, which is ludicrous. I have tried different filter settings (currently off) without much if any difference. I have not tried the IFX but what the hell at this point, might as well.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#8 Post by W1KNE » 07 Apr 2019 18:09

There is hope. I just sent you and Jeff an email with a short video clip of my NOAA reception here, which is very much at par with my 536.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#9 Post by N1ZZN » 07 Apr 2019 19:22

Mike, yours sounds considerably better than mine!

I just made a video showing the comparison, on the same antenna.

https://youtu.be/CuCsmfgwCqQ
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#10 Post by N1ZZN » 07 Apr 2019 19:47

I should also note that none of the filters or IFX seem to make any difference.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#11 Post by Scott » 07 Apr 2019 20:32

Now here's an oddity and you two probably read it in my email reply.

I'm not hearing Falmouth Police on 855.4625 or Sandwich Police on 855.1125. However....I'm copying the Nantucket P25 system from over 30 miles away with its control channel of 857.7125. How the heck does that happen? :t There is something mighty screwy going on around here....
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#12 Post by ScanBoston » 08 Apr 2019 06:37

It's due to the Space Time Continuum.

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Re: SDS200 Observations

#13 Post by N1ZZN » 08 Apr 2019 09:10

garys wrote:
07 Apr 2019 12:04
I'm a bit confused by your use of the "overload" as it sounds more like poor reception.
If you watched/listened to my video, you probably see what I mean by overload. Especially on 162.400, you can hear the audio from 162.475 bleeding all over it.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#14 Post by Scott » 08 Apr 2019 09:40

N1ZZN wrote:
08 Apr 2019 09:10
garys wrote:
07 Apr 2019 12:04
I'm a bit confused by your use of the "overload" as it sounds more like poor reception.
If you watched/listened to my video, you probably see what I mean by overload. Especially on 162.400, you can hear the audio from 162.475 bleeding all over it.
This makes perfect sense to me. I am now truly wondering if my issue is a bad radio. If I manually tune either of the two frequencies I've referred to above and open the squelch, I hear what sounds like the MSP Zone 04 control channel (855.5375) in the mud as well. This transmitter is on a hill about 1.5 miles from me. Of course it has not been an issue with other scanners. Naturally the most expensive scanner ever made has the issue. (Insert eye roll here). I have the same issue that you show at 162 MHz also with my strong weather transmitter bleeding over. Yet I hear weak and distant VHF-HI signals just fine in the 154-155 MHz range and as stated can monitor an 800 MHz P25 system 30 miles distant. Late last night I did try the "wide invert" filter on Falmouth PD and it brought the signal back a bit but not nearly as clear as the older scanners.

I also wonder if it is a firmware issue. I would like to have the capability to roll back to an older version of firmware and compare notes. However I have yet to find a repository for old firmware versions for this radio. It'll be interesting to see how the one I have coming compares with it as it'll almost certainly be running an older firmware version.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#15 Post by Scott » 08 Apr 2019 17:36

Post #6 in the below linked thread at RR is somewhat depressing with regards to this scanner ever performing as well as one of the older models where analog signals are confirmed. This is from Paul Opitz himself, and had I known this was an issue I may likely have not bought one of these.

https://forums.radioreference.com/threa ... er.385842/

As a user of SDR technology for years with superb results on analog signals of all types and at all frequencies I never would have given thought to a $700 flagship scanner lacking in reception of same. But I hold out hope that there will be a solution either through firmware or the right combination of filtering.

On a side note I applied the IFX to Falmouth PD and the signal came up from an RSSI of -118 to an RSSI of -102. Um...for a few transmissions...and then it pretty much seemed to disappear and reappear when it felt like it. This gives me a hint that the radio is being desensitized by interference.

Once again we are beta testers.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#16 Post by garys » 08 Apr 2019 19:52

The last couple of firmware revisions have greatly improved the SDS200. To my ears, the analog is as good as digital now and I can't tell any difference between it and older scanners. They figured out both the crackling on PL and the muted audio.

I don't think of us as beta testers as early adopters. Uniden is listening to concerns from users and doing firmware updates to address them.

FWIW, I'm able to get the NXDN trunking system on Bald Pate Hill in Georgetown down as far as Brockton in my truck. My DSD+ set up in the house picks it up once in a while, but usually won't.

The only area where I'm not too impressed with the reception is on VHF Air. I haven't listened to that band in a long time, but the audio on my SDS 200 is no where near as good as I remember it on older scanners.


Scott wrote:
08 Apr 2019 17:36
Post #6 in the below linked thread at RR is somewhat depressing with regards to this scanner ever performing as well as one of the older models where analog signals are confirmed. This is from Paul Opitz himself, and had I known this was an issue I may likely have not bought one of these.

https://forums.radioreference.com/threa ... er.385842/

As a user of SDR technology for years with superb results on analog signals of all types and at all frequencies I never would have given thought to a $700 flagship scanner lacking in reception of same. But I hold out hope that there will be a solution either through firmware or the right combination of filtering.

On a side note I applied the IFX to Falmouth PD and the signal came up from an RSSI of -118 to an RSSI of -102. Um...for a few transmissions...and then it pretty much seemed to disappear and reappear when it felt like it. This gives me a hint that the radio is being desensitized by interference.

Once again we are beta testers.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#17 Post by Scott » 08 Apr 2019 20:56

I think it is down to the individual for how this thing is performing, and that's obviously where filters come in. I started to get better reception as mentioned of Falmouth PD by switching on IFX. I went through the filters and with the IFX on and the filter set to Invert Falmouth PD came to life. The same setting brought Sandwich PD out of non-existence to a full scale and full quieting signal.

Such is the nature of this beast apparently in high RF environments? Who knows? My problem could be non-existent for 99% of the rest of people. When I discovered last night that I was hearing the control channel of Zone 04 in the mud on these frequencies and then discovering that I was receiving Nantucket just fine I began to have some hope.

So, things are improving here, but there are also numerous reports as I may have mentioned that reception is diminished with the latest firmware. I now have the ability to roll back if need be but I am going to stay where I am for the moment given the improvements I've made. God knows how many other reception issues I'm having that I have yet to discover!
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#18 Post by garys » 08 Apr 2019 21:23

I'm either very fortunate or clueless. Maybe both.

I haven't had any need to use the filters or the IFX on anything. At least so far. If I find that I'm not receiving something I should be, I'll remember to try changing these settings and see what happens.

There's a lot to learn with these scanners. Having had a 536HP gives me a head start, but I'm still learning how to change some settings and what they do. Reading the manual helps, but as always, there is stuff not in the manual.

I'm happy and planning to get a SDS100 when I can swing it.
Scott wrote:
08 Apr 2019 20:56
I think it is down to the individual for how this thing is performing, and that's obviously where filters come in. I started to get better reception as mentioned of Falmouth PD by switching on IFX. I went through the filters and with the IFX on and the filter set to Invert Falmouth PD came to life. The same setting brought Sandwich PD out of non-existence to a full scale and full quieting signal.

Such is the nature of this beast apparently in high RF environments? Who knows? My problem could be non-existent for 99% of the rest of people. When I discovered last night that I was hearing the control channel of Zone 04 in the mud on these frequencies and then discovering that I was receiving Nantucket just fine I began to have some hope.

So, things are improving here, but there are also numerous reports as I may have mentioned that reception is diminished with the latest firmware. I now have the ability to roll back if need be but I am going to stay where I am for the moment given the improvements I've made. God knows how many other reception issues I'm having that I have yet to discover!
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#19 Post by Scott » 08 Apr 2019 22:03

Yep, tonight has been a corner turner with this, without a doubt.

I will say that I have had my hands on this scanner probably already more than I did the 436 or 536 in the entirety of the time I had them. But I have learned and re-learned a lot in a short time. They are a different animal altogether yet obviously very familiar because of the similarities of their structuring and menu system.

I also will say that I've never had to work so hard to get a scanner or receiver to actually receive what I'd like it to! That in and of itself is a boatload of trial and error but it gets your hands into the thing to the point where you will never forget how to operate it without the "luxury" of the computer interface. Now I look forward to, and at the same time dread, the next firmware update! Hopefully it won't blow up the progress I've made fixing what was "broken".

And thank God they finally put the flippin' zero first in line for favorites, systems, and departments...that was a long time coming! ;)

So I'm not completely sold yet, but it's starting to win me...stay tuned!
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#20 Post by garys » 08 Apr 2019 22:28

I've been reading about filters and still have no idea. Most of mine seem defaulted to Global, but I don't know if that's where they should be. Auto looks like a non starter because of the way I'm worth.

This is like the digital threshold thing all over again.
Scott wrote:
08 Apr 2019 22:03
Yep, tonight has been a corner turner with this, without a doubt.

I will say that I have had my hands on this scanner probably already more than I did the 436 or 536 in the entirety of the time I had them. But I have learned and re-learned a lot in a short time. They are a different animal altogether yet obviously very familiar because of the similarities of their structuring and menu system.

I also will say that I've never had to work so hard to get a scanner or receiver to actually receive what I'd like it to! That in and of itself is a boatload of trial and error but it gets your hands into the thing to the point where you will never forget how to operate it without the "luxury" of the computer interface. Now I look forward to, and at the same time dread, the next firmware update! Hopefully it won't blow up the progress I've made fixing what was "broken".

And thank God they finally put the flippin' zero first in line for favorites, systems, and departments...that was a long time coming! ;)

So I'm not completely sold yet, but it's starting to win me...stay tuned!
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#21 Post by Scott » 08 Apr 2019 22:35

I have global set to off and I'm just manipulating the individual channels I need to change from there. I actually found a list of what the filters do...and then I saw something shiny, forgot about it, and can't relocate it. I think it may have been in one of the previous firmware update threads at RR. I'll find it eventually.

I like your "if it ain't broke..." approach Gary but I had no choice here. I'm just about totally convinced that my 800 MHz problem is/was the MSP Zone 04 site up on Shoot Flying Hill. I'd probably be fighting it a lot more had I not manually entered the frequencies being affected and then zero'd the squelch. With the DCS tone programmed into the actual channel I'd have never heard the culprit.

On another note I'm actually becoming quite impressed with my VHF-HI reception. I'm hearing communications from vessels in the Canal a lot more than I seem to have in the past. And I'm not even on my #1 VHF antenna, just a scantenna. Something tells me that less antenna may be more with this scanner and that's just fine.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#22 Post by W1KNE » 09 Apr 2019 16:05

Scott wrote:
08 Apr 2019 22:35
I have global set to off and I'm just manipulating the individual channels I need to change from there. I actually found a list of what the filters do...and then I saw something shiny, forgot about it, and can't relocate it. I think it may have been in one of the previous firmware update threads at RR. I'll find it eventually.


On another note I'm actually becoming quite impressed with my VHF-HI reception. I'm hearing communications from vessels in the Canal a lot more than I seem to have in the past. And I'm not even on my #1 VHF antenna, just a scantenna. Something tells me that less antenna may be more with this scanner and that's just fine.
The filters are IF stage RF filtering. As I recall, "Normal" is High Pass, "Inverted" is Low Pass, "Wide" is a wide band filter for FM Broadcast, "Auto" the scanner's receiver switches from Normal to Inverted based on reception. Which is why the auto causes the scanning to be SO SLOW. What I would like to see is the filtering setup into a quick key. Function - Squelch Push or Function whatever, brings you directly to the filter setting for the channel/frequency you're on.

As you know my results have been an anomoly, but similar to Garys. I haven't had any real issues with VHF Hi Band, and it's been a rock solid performer for me. With that said, I finally had a taste of the VHF overload issue the other night. Had Bristol RI PD coming in, 155.13, and all of a sudden it sounded like a transmitter was off frequency next door overloading it. I will say this is the FIRST time I have had this with this receiver. The well documented overload.

I think the big issue with this scanner, is it SUCH a hot receiver, and the RF levels going into the SDR , which are pre-amplified, are so high, that it just overloads it. I love so many aspects of the scanner, that the overload aspect is somewhat of a killer. With that said, I did swap out my SDS-100 (first generation) with a second generation (Factory authorized exchange), and it was noticeably better. The overload issue was gone.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#23 Post by garys » 09 Apr 2019 19:27

Mike, thanks for explaining this. As I don't have any sort of interference problems, I'm going to leave them as is for now.

Interestingly, I've started receiving a UHF frequency for a private ambulance that I never heard on the 536HP. That's MedStar ambulance "Worcester Operations." I'm hearing that in Boston with the proper PL, which is pretty impressive.

I'm also hearing a lot of the VHF ambulance frequencies with no interference in Boston or anywhere else.

Very good reception on this scanner.
W1KNE wrote:
09 Apr 2019 16:05

The filters are IF stage RF filtering. As I recall, "Normal" is High Pass, "Inverted" is Low Pass, "Wide" is a wide band filter for FM Broadcast, "Auto" the scanner's receiver switches from Normal to Inverted based on reception. Which is why the auto causes the scanning to be SO SLOW. What I would like to see is the filtering setup into a quick key. Function - Squelch Push or Function whatever, brings you directly to the filter setting for the channel/frequency you're on.

As you know my results have been an anomoly, but similar to Garys. I haven't had any real issues with VHF Hi Band, and it's been a rock solid performer for me. With that said, I finally had a taste of the VHF overload issue the other night. Had Bristol RI PD coming in, 155.13, and all of a sudden it sounded like a transmitter was off frequency next door overloading it. I will say this is the FIRST time I have had this with this receiver. The well documented overload.

I think the big issue with this scanner, is it SUCH a hot receiver, and the RF levels going into the SDR , which are pre-amplified, are so high, that it just overloads it. I love so many aspects of the scanner, that the overload aspect is somewhat of a killer. With that said, I did swap out my SDS-100 (first generation) with a second generation (Factory authorized exchange), and it was noticeably better. The overload issue was gone.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#24 Post by Scott » 09 Apr 2019 22:02

Thanks for the filter info.

It's going to be interesting to see what else can be done with this scanner. Will there be I/Q output to a third party program for possible point and click spectrum display type operations. Will there be a way to remote control it from outside of one's own LAN without having to interface it through a local PC running ProScan. Have any of you tried Siren with it yet? I have and it works fine. I think it's nifty that it has an ethernet port on it, but the location of it...who the hell thought of that?

I haven't done much playing with it tonight, just listening, as I got my two fixed Stridsberg Multicouplers back from repair and installed them.

I'm hoping they will give us the "up front filter selection" feature in a forthcoming firmware. It needs to be front and center. One has to hope there will be a lot of forthcoming possibilities for this scanner.
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Re: SDS200 Observations

#25 Post by W1KNE » 30 Apr 2019 16:41

So after having this scanner for a few weeks. The hum/buzz while scanning is getting really annoying. This model came with that after market foil already installed, and it's still quite annoying. Quite honestly, with all the IFX changes I had to make, the filter obscurity and overall non reliable performance, I don't think I will be replacing my 536's anytime soon or buying another SDS-200. I wouldn't call it a fail, but also don't think it's worth the price tag either.
I do wish Uniden would combine the "all in one" and slick display with the receivers in the 536 for those of us who don't care about LSM performance.

I don't see that happening.

As for the hum/buzz, I hope they do have a real fix for that sometime soon.
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