Tag Archives: scanner

Uniden announces DMR capability for BCD536HP & BCD436HP series.

imagesUniden America has finally announced it plans to introduce the ability to monitor DMR systems, including Motorola’s MotoTRBO. HOORAY!

The ability to monitor the aforementioned protocol will at this stage only be offered on their flagship range of scanners, those being the BCD536HP and BCD436HP models. Now whether that includes the Australian versions in the local Pacific Telecommunications variants, the UBCD436-PT & UBCD536-PT which was offered to Victorian CFA members, I’m unsure. I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t, but remember, don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

Those familiar with my ramblings on this blog may recall how disappointed I was when these units were announced back in November, 2013 without the ability to monitor DMR, along with NXDN. (https://vicradiozone.com/2013/11/17/uniden-bcd436hp-bcd536hp-offically-launched/) Given how rapidly DMR usage has grown in numerous countries I found its lack of inclusion perplexing.

The ability for the aforementioned units to monitor DMR will come as a firmware upgrade for a cost, just as Uniden did recently with its ‘ProVoice’ upgrade for EDACS systems.

Uniden has also announced that early subscribers for the firmware upgrade option will receive said upgrade at a cost of $50.00 (USD). No word yet on what the final cost would be for those who don’t take up the ‘early bird’ special.

Should you choose to take Uniden up on their paid firmware upgrade offer your unit would then have the following protocols open to it;

Existing – Conventional Analog channels
Existing – Conventional P25 Digital channels
Existing – Motorola Type I and Type II Trunked Radio systems with Analog and Digital (P25) Voice
Existing – EDACS Analog trunked radio systems
Existing – LTR Analog trunked radio systems
Existing – APCO Project 25 Phase I and Phase II Digital Trunked Radio systems
Existing – EDACS trunked radio systems + Upgrade Option – with ProVoice channels (paid ProVoice upgrade required)
Upgrade Option – Conventional Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) channels (paid DMR upgrade required)
Upgrade Option – MotoTRBO Capacity Plus Trunked Radio systems (paid DMR upgrade required)
Upgrade Option – MotoTRBO Connect Plus Trunked Radio Systems (paid DMR upgrade required)

I can’t help but feel there were a few clues offered on the net that this may have finally been happening. One of those is an email that was initially doing the rounds on a certain YahooGroup which was later to be deleted from the groups servers. However it had been seen by several people before its removal and the author of said email discussed some DMR results on his BCD436HP.

Secondly was Paul Opitz seeking some assistance in using DSD+ on RadioReference. Perhaps to check some data, compare results, and identify where to seek various DMR data string characteristics such as Digital Colour Codes and such?

Lastly was the recent addition of the EDACS ProVoice upgrade, I started to suspect that if they could do that with these units, there may be more looming. Guess we’ll have to stay tuned for the NXDN upgrade huh?

A big congratulations to Uniden on finally getting this option in to some of it units. I think it is long overdue and a fantastic addition to their units.

Hamvention is coming up and with it was the expectation Uniden were set to announce something special, perhaps the early announcement is to get the jump on Whistler Group who are also expected to make some sort of announcement.

You can read more details about Uniden’s announcement here: http://info.uniden.com/twiki/bin/view/UnidenMan4/DigitalMobileRadioUpgrade

Scanning, a thing of the past?

For several years now there have been folks in the scanning community who have claimed ‘scanning is dead’, but just as there have been those who believe it was dead there have been those claiming otherwise.

Without a doubt during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s a very large portion of scanner owners were those who enjoyed listening to Police, Fire and Ambulance related transmissions.

Within Australia many of the state’s Police Forces have either already moved, or are in the process of moving, to not only digital communication systems but those that are capable of the dreaded encryption.

As a result scanner sales in Australia appear to have declined to a point where many of those businesses that once carried such items no longer do so.

In fairness to the above observation it should also be noted that two of the major retailers who once sold such items have had a change of business direction. One being Tandy Electronics who were purchased by the Woolworths group in 2001 and later absorbed in to Woolworths Dick Smith Electronics business operations, itself being purchased outright from its namesake by Woolworths in 1982. Dick Smith Electronics which was once considered ‘a must visit’ for hobbyists has decimated its hobby radio electronics section. (That’s a whole other issue!)

Although they’ve never actually said so outright many thought that Uniden planned on quitting the scanner market altogether in the Australia & New Zealand region.

Without a doubt most of the cries regarding the death of scanning has come about as a result of various federal and state emergency and law enforcement agencies move to more secure radio systems. With the addition of encryption these are unable to be monitored in the traditional sense.

I have to admit initially I would be one to quickly debunk anyone who would claim scanning was dead. When the Victoria Police moved to the MMR Network and with it the ability to encrypt their talk-groups I simply continued to monitor other services and systems. There was still a huge amount to listen in on and enjoy.

However nowadays I am a little slower to debunk.

My reasoning for this is that as more and more agencies move to more secure systems, as technological advances become less expensive to implement or replace existing systems there has indeed become less and less to monitor. It is now not only emergency services and law bodies that are accessing such technologies, but private industry as well.

In Melbourne in recent years we’ve since the emergence of the Motorola P25 MMR Network for the emergency services in Melbourne Metropolitan and Geelong areas and we’ve also seen several Federal agencies that operate in Melbourne move to encrypted P25 systems.

Now MotoTRBO, Kenwood’s NXDN and TETRA systems have also become more prevalent and many of the existing Motorola Type II Trunking systems converted or modified. As such many are no longer able to be monitored with any scanners currently available on the market.

The complexities of the MMR Network adopted by a large part of Melbourne’s emergency services saw a large amount of the long time scanner users simply give up on trying to understand the system and how to successfully monitor those TGID’s that were un-encrypted.

Even if they did purchase a capable scanner on the ever shrinking Australia scanner market they didn’t really understand the system and how it worked. Instead they relied on those who could understand or had adapted to set up their purchase.

The same thing had happened prior with the 800MHz Trunking boom with many failing to grasp and understand initially how it worked and as such were more likely to listen in to the old reliable VKC, VKN8, VicFire and 3WX for their radio communications fix.

Gone were the days of simply punching in up to 6 digits and away you went. Now there was trunking, conversations ending and jumping to another frequency, data control channels, TGID’s, logical channel numbers and the list goes on.

As a long time scanner user it appeared that each time new protocols and possibilities were introduced the hobby would lose something in both the ability to monitor and those who chose to partake in the hobby.

The developments that have been made in the communications scene seem to far outweigh those made in the commercial scanner market to enable the ability to monitor.

Whilst at this stage there are still systems to monitor I can’t help but look back at what we no longer can monitor and have to ask myself just how much time does this hobby have if some serious developments are not made?

What was your first scanner?

Greetings once again!

I’ve been into various parts of the communications hobby off and on for around 25 years now.

My first exposure to scanning hobby came in the way of a truck driver who had a Realistic Pro brand of scanner. I’ll never forget the moment I first heard VKC on what was then Channel 36 of the old UHF 64 Channel allocation. A press of the scan button and low and behold I was listening to the old City Patrol Group on Channel 26 and a message for ‘Constable Brown to contact the office ASAP’.

I was listening to units going ‘Code 5’, ‘Code 1’, asking for a ‘set of usuals’ and ‘IBR’ checks. It was a whole new world and I was hooked! That was it, I had to have one.

Given I was but a young teen I could only really afford a simple 10 Channel base station unit, a Realistic Pro 57. It was purchased from Tandy Electronics in Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds. Given this was in the days before the internet (yes I’m that old!) and BBS systems on getting home I raced next door to the local Fire Station to try and find out the frequencies required to listen to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. A quick call by the Station Officer to the Brigade’s technical services and I had what I needed.

A visit from a friend yielded my first frequency for the Police. As we sat there and listened to the MFB and airplanes he asked about listening to the Police. I couldn’t for the life of me recall what the mass of digits were that I’d seen on my first introduction to scanning by that truck driver. Then the visiting friend told me to ‘try 468.725MHz’ as he was ‘pretty sure that’s on my brother’s mate’s scanner in his tow truck’. Bingo! However imagine my horror to learn that there were another 63 frequencies and I only had 10 memory channels to play with on my unit.

Guess what that meant? Yup, another purchase was soon looming. A Realisitc Pro-2022 was soon sitting in place of the Pro-57. Then came the need of course to have the ability to be more portable and a Uniden Bearcat 100XLT was soon part of the family.

PRO-2022

The must have frequencies for me at that time was all 64 frequencies of the Victoria Police 64 Channel UHF allocation and the 10 UHF frequencies the Metropolitan Fire Brigade used.

Since that very first scanner the brands I’ve owned and the amount I’ve owned have been many, probably not that an unusual occurrence for those reading this.

Happy Listenng!