Looking for advice on a new scanner

Scanners, antennas, coax, filters, amplifiers, demodulators...you get the idea. Scanning equipment questions, answers, and discussion belongs here!

Post Reply
413scan
Posts: 3
Joined: 09 Apr 2020 12:45

Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by 413scan »

Good afternoon everyone,

I have been scanning local UHF public safety off and on for 15 years now, but being stuck at home I have been scanning a lot more and realizing the limitations of my old BC95XLT. I'd like to get a new scanner soon, and have been reading quite a bit about the systems in use in MA, and could use a little help picking out my new scanner.

I am in the eastern Hampshire County (Amherst) area and would like a scanner that can pick up MSP trunked communications, even though I still have 800 MHz analog broadcasts within range I would like something that is future-proof and can pick up CoMIRS as I roam throughout the state. I'm still a more casual user and would prefer not to spend $600-700 on a SDS200, does anyone have any suggestions for a more inexpensive scanner that would meet these criteria? If anyone has a used unit available I would be very interested in that as well.

Some other things I'm considering as I shop:
-Handheld preferred, but open to a versatile base/mobile
-Don't mind programming at all, don't need the fancy features that auto-program frequencies in by ZIP
-Would like to be able to pick up MILCOM transmissions in the 200-300 MHz range from Westover & Barnes
-Would prefer a digital display that displays in text what channel I'm picking up
-Computer connectivity for programming & logging activity received preferred

Thanks so much for your help. This website is a great resource.

-Steve

User avatar
W1KNE
Owner-Webmaster
Posts: 4364
Joined: 19 Aug 2005 12:00
Location: Taunton, MA
Contact:

Re: Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by W1KNE »

If you want a handheld, that would work well in your area, and you could travel with, I'd look seriously at a Uniden 325P2, which is the portable version of the 996P2.
The scanner does what you're asking, both Phase I and II Digital Trunking, Alpha Tagging, and in the future you could upgrade to DMR if you wanted to monitor say Holyoke fire, or any of the colleges around you using it.

The base price (before DMR) is around $370. I have seen them lower on eBay.

You can use any number of software programs from ARC-XT from Butel, which is kludgey to Freescan to program it.
Mike Fitzpatrick
Broadcast Engineer - RF Enthusiast
Owner: Scan New England - NECRAT.US
Issues with Scan New England can be privately addressed to me. W1KNE at scan-ne.com.

jbella
Posts: 272
Joined: 12 Oct 2005 11:24
Location: Gardner

Re: Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by jbella »

If you want to future proof yourself, don't look at the price and just get an SDS100.

The learning curve is steep, but right now is a great time to invest in learning the software and radio.

413scan
Posts: 3
Joined: 09 Apr 2020 12:45

Re: Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by 413scan »

Thank you both for your advice. W1KNE, the 325P2 was one of the top scanners I was looking at. Good to know about the colleges - does UMass use DMR? I'd probably want it in that case...it seems I can get a BCD436HP for about the same price as a 325P2 + DMR... would it be worth it to go for the 436HP instead?

JBella, besides the much nicer display and the pre-programmed database, what features of the SDS100 would you say are worth it from a future-proofing perspective?

Thanks again.

User avatar
W1KNE
Owner-Webmaster
Posts: 4364
Joined: 19 Aug 2005 12:00
Location: Taunton, MA
Contact:

Re: Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by W1KNE »

413scan wrote:
10 Apr 2020 10:32
Thank you both for your advice. W1KNE, the 325P2 was one of the top scanners I was looking at. Good to know about the colleges - does UMass use DMR? I'd probably want it in that case...it seems I can get a BCD436HP for about the same price as a 325P2 + DMR... would it be worth it to go for the 436HP instead?

JBella, besides the much nicer display and the pre-programmed database, what features of the SDS100 would you say are worth it from a future-proofing perspective?

Thanks again.
The 436HP is a better scanner than the 325, for sure. The nicest feature of the 436 is the replay feature. Plus it can display DMR information without having to enter everyone as a talk group.
Also the 436 can be used as a ZipCode scanner for a quick trip somewhere, but can easily be used at home with regular programming. Like the 325, you're better off using software to program it.

Check out our WIKI for frequency information https://www.scan-ne.net/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

UMass has a mix of conventional, standard LTR and P25. The Campus PD are P25 encrypted so you won't hear them at all.
Mike Fitzpatrick
Broadcast Engineer - RF Enthusiast
Owner: Scan New England - NECRAT.US
Issues with Scan New England can be privately addressed to me. W1KNE at scan-ne.com.

413scan
Posts: 3
Joined: 09 Apr 2020 12:45

Re: Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by 413scan »

Thank you, that gives me a lot to think about. I can get a 436HP for $380 on Amazon which isn't too bad at all, I'm leaning in that direction.

Did UMass recently encrypt their Campus PD operations? I remember when I was a student back in the day not so long ago I used to listen to their analog UHF tactical channel when the riots were going on and hear when they would launch tear gas into the crowds.

I've been spending quite a bit of time on the WIKI, thanks to you and the other contributors for making that such a good resource. Are there any MA agencies that use the 1240-1300 MHz band that the 436HP will pick up?

jbella
Posts: 272
Joined: 12 Oct 2005 11:24
Location: Gardner

Re: Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by jbella »

I have a 436 & SDS100. The SDS does operate better on simulcast digital systems. On analog (State Police Central Mass) not so much. The digital audio is also better on the SDS. The SDS also is firmware upgradable.

It's pricier for sure, but when the state goes fully digital, how much TDMA will there be?

They're all parts of the equation

Dave2582
SNE and Wiki Moderator
Posts: 77
Joined: 03 May 2016 14:34
Location: Hudson, NH

Re: Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by Dave2582 »

I also would like to piggyback off the OP. I live in the Nashua area and would like to upgrade my portable scanner. I currently have a pro 106. With the stimulus money coming in, I wouldn't mind grabbing the sds100, but not sure if the purchase would be worth it for where I live. Thanks.
Dave
Hudson, NH

jbella
Posts: 272
Joined: 12 Oct 2005 11:24
Location: Gardner

Re: Looking for advice on a new scanner

Post by jbella »

With the amount of P25 in NH, I'd spend the extra money for the better digital voice quality.

Post Reply