|UNIDEN/BEARCAT BCD396T OVERVIEW:|
What's most important for listeners to the Westmoreland County APCO 25 system is that this is the first truly portable radio which can store ALL frequencies and talkgroups, both present and future. The unit is not limited to 150 talkgroups as is Radio Shack's PRO-96 portable. The 396T works on a concept which is probably new to most scanner listeners: virtual memory. Instead of having channel numbers, the 396T stores frequencies, name tags, talkgroups, etc., in "systems". Each system can be setup as the user wants. For example, one system could consist of a grouping of regular VHF/UHF FM frequencies, along with their alphanumeric designators, CTCSS/DCS, delay and other information. Another could consist of a zone of an APCO25 digital system.
In addition to being APCO25 capable, the radio also has the ability to monitor all AM or FM frequencies between 25 and 1300 MHz ("excluding cellular" bands and UHF-TV frequencies, which means the radio cannot receive, or be modded to receive, frequencies between 512-764 MHz, 776-794 MHz, 824-849 MHz, 869-894 MHz, and 947-1240 MHz.)
To date, over 120 talkgroups have been identified. And this radio can handle them all!Unlike the PRO-96, which can store a maximum of 150 talkgroups per system, and even Uniden's BC796 desktop which can hold 100, the BCD396T uses Dynamically Allocated Channel Memory, which allows for the storage of a virtually unlimited number of talkgroup alpha-tags!
The radio comes complete with a programming cable to connect it to your computer's 9-pin serial plug. The radio has a covered miniature USB connector on the side panel for connecting the cable interface with your Windows PC. If you are using a newer model computer, particularly a notebook model, you probably don't have a 9-pin search connector on the back, so you will need to purchase a USB-to-serial adapter which will allow you to connect the programming cable to your computer's USB port. You can purchase a standard 9-pin serial cable with male connector at one end and female connector at the other at many computer supply stores, or from Sewell Direct for about $18.00.
As shipped from the factory, the BCD396T DOES NOT include Uniden's programming software. This software is available as a FREE download direct from Uniden's website. It is the download file named BCD396T_UASD_v188.8.131.52.exe, and is also known as the Uniden Advanced Scanner Director. INTERNET TIP: While PA2600.com recommends using Mozilla Firefox for all internet browsing, for some reason this Uniden file DOES NOT properly download with Firefox (it considers it a "zipped" file, which it it not); therefore, you'll have to use Internet Explorer this one time to download the Uniden Advanced Scanner Director software.
After downloading and installing this software, you will find by exploring it that the radio has 50+ trunked radio systems preprogrammed into the scanner's memory, and one is known as "Westmoreland County". Yes, that's our Westmoreland County. However, you will probably NOT want to use this system data: it groups all control channels into one system bank, and only includes about 10 talkgroups. Instead, I suggest deleting the factory "Westmoreland County" system, and following the instructions below to add separate Northeast and Southwest Westmoreland County systems, along with all 120+ known talkgroup alpha-numeric ID's.
Don't want to program all the data yourself? JUST DOWNLOAD OUR PREPROGRAMMED DATA (INCLUDING ALL UPDATED TALKGROUPS AND FREQUENCIES!!!) Because the BCD396T is a complex computer-controlled radio receiver, downloading and installing this information involves a slightly different process than that used on the BC796D.
Bearcat's UASD software stores all its radio system data in a file on your computer known as "Documents and Settings\PrimaryUser\My Documents\UASD_DataBase\BCD396T\UASD_systems". In order to have our updated Frequency/talkgroup data ready for uploading to the radio, you will need to download the following file(s) to cover Westmoreland County's two zones and the talkarounds:
You will have to copy these downloaded files to the folder in your computer named "UASD_systems" (without the quotation marks, of course.) This can be found in in a file on your computer known as "Documents and Settings\PrimaryUser\My Documents\UASD_DataBase\BCD396T" (if you can't locate this on your own, try using the Windows "search" function which is among the choices given when you click on the "Start" icon (extreme lower-left of screen.)
Once you have these WEST systems saved to the UASD_systems folder, close the folder and follow these steps to get the data into your radio:
When scanning APCO25 trunked systems be sure to have the scanner in the "SEARCH ID" mode, NOT the "scan ID" mode. This way you will be able to receive any new talkgroups as they come into use, beyond the groups preprogrammed in. (As with the BC796D, in Search ID mode, the radio receives all talkgroups regardless of whether they are stored in the alpha-numeric memory. When a non-stored ID is received, the radio will let you hear the transmission and will display the numeric talkgroup ID. In Scan ID mode, the radio ONLY receives those talkgroups preprogrammed into memory; all others are skipped.)
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