How often should you update the programming on your scanner
One of the questions every scanner support service get is how often one should update the programming on their scanner. The answer to that depends on a few things, including what kind of scanner you have, the resources available to you (computer, software etc.) and what is happening in your area.
The type of scanner you have is the first question we always ask. ZIP Code type scanners, such as the HomePatrol, x36/SDS type or the Whistler TRX and WS types are pretty easy to update with the free Sentinel or EZ-Scan software. With a Windows computer these can be updated as often as you like at no charge just by running the software and sending the updated data to the radio. Remember that updating the database does not update the Favorites Lists that you may have so if you are using Favorites Lists check them for any changes.
On other modern scanners, such as the various Uniden, Whistler, GRE and Radio Shack digital radios (and some analog ones) they can be programmed by computer with the appropriate software and cables. If you have access to programming software then you can update these easily whenever needed.
The third question relates to whether you actually need to change it or not. There are some places using the same channels they have for 20 years or more, the Chicago Police Department for example is using the same radio channels they were in the 1970’s for the most part. Other areas have changed frequencies or systems several times over the last couple decades.
For ZIP Code scanners we normally suggest that you update the database when you buy the radio and perhaps once or twice a year after that. If you go on a trip and are bringing your ZIP Code scanner with you update the database before you leave. You might have to update the scanner if you know that your targets have changed systems or perhaps they disappeared and you no longer hear them on the channels that once used.
For non-ZIP Code type scanners it is a little more difficult. Since these are pretty much custom programmed for your area you might have to tweak them from time to time to add a new channel or agency. If your targets move to a new system then you would need to reprogram or replace the scanner, depending on whether the scanner is capable of monitoring the new system.
SDS100 Hints, Tips and FAQ’s
Here are a Baker’s Dozen of hints and tips to make life with your new SDS100 scanner happier. If your question is not answered let us know and maybe we can add it to Part 2!
1) What is the deal with the battery?
Uniden designed the radio with a new Lithium Polymer battery pack, getting away from using common AA cells. While a lot of people preferred the AA cells since they can be easily obtained and swapped out, they just could not provide enough current to run the radio for a decent amount of time. The Lithium Polymer pack that comes with the radio was supposed to be sufficient but Uniden was not happy with the results so they designed a larger pack to be used. Unfortunately the radio was already on the assembly line by the time it was discovered that the battery life was not up to snuff.
Uniden decided to allow the radio to be sold and distributed as it was but included a notice in the box to advise purchasers to sign up for a FREE larger battery pack once they are available, likely in August 2018. Sign up at Uniden’s website and they will send you the new larger battery as well as a replacement battery door at no cost.
Once these batteries are available there should also be available for sale extra batteries. Eventually some sort of external charging device will also be available so you can charge one battery while using another.
2) Can I charge the battery and run the radio at the same time?
Actually, on the SDS100 you can! While other Uniden scanners do not support this, as long as your charger has sufficient current capability you can charge the battery with the radio on as long as you have that option turned on in the Settings>Battery Options>Set Charge While On menu.
Why would you not want this option turned on? The only reason I see is that the red or green charge light will be on all the time when the radio is plugged in. It might take a while longer to charge the battery when the radio is on but it should not be a big issue.
3) What else can I use to charge the battery?
The SDS100 comes with a USB charger. Alternately any USB charger will power and/or charge the SDS100 battery. If you have a smartphone or other USB device charger you can use it if you don’t want to use the charger that came with the radio.
In the car you can use any USB port to power/charge the radio. Most cars these days will have a USB port to charge your phones and other devices, these work well with USB powered scanners like the SDS100.
4) What is the deal with the raised ridge by the antenna connector?
That ridge is part of the water proofing of the radio. When used with the supplied rubber duck antenna this helps provide a seal to block water from getting into the radio. The supplied SDS10 antenna has a rubber gasket that fits this ridge.
This does however block use of many third-party antennas and adapters. The SDS100 comes with an SMA-BNC adapter so you can use your BNC antennas but with this adapter you will not have the water resistance provided with the supplied antenna.
5) What is that little hole on the back of the radio? Am I missing a screw?
That hole below the belt clip knob is there to provide a case breather to prevent pressure issues. The radio is still water resistant due to other parts inside the case. On some radios there have been issues with elevation changes causing the case to pressurize and damaging components. This pressure relief helps to prevent these issues.
6) It is hard to see the color screen in sunlight, what can I do?
The SDS100 color screen is a thing of beauty but can be difficult to read in direct sun. If you go into display settings you can select white on black or black on white instead.
7) What are the “Detail” and “Simple” screen modes?
The SDS100 has a fully customizable display. You can set it up to display just the basic information (Simple) or all kinds of special information (Detail) when receiving. Almost every item can be positioned where YOU want to put it. You can even select the colors each item is displayed in.
Simple Mode shows just basic information in an uncluttered way. Detail Mode allows you to show many different details about what you are listening to, such as trunking ID’s, PL tones etc. so you can analyze systems you are listening to. You can switch between these at will and change the way they look on the radio via the keypad or Sentinel.
8) What are the software options?
The SDS100 uses the free Sentinel software to do the database and firmware updates. This is the same version as used on the BCD436HP and BCD536HP scanners and you can share files back and forth among all 3 radios. There is a separate version of Sentinel used for the HomePatrol models. The HomePatrol modes Sentinel has a brown icon, the 436/536/SDS version uses a green icon. Sentinel can also be used for programming Favorites lists as well.
ARC536 by Butel can be used to also program Favorites Lists, it provides the familiar Butel interface so if you have used other ARC products you will feel right at home. The Pro version also supports Virtual Control as well as other features.
9) Will there be a base/mobile version of the SDS100?
Yes! The SDS200 is identical in operation and programming to the SDS200, but in a mobile package with a larger display.
10) How does the GPS unit connect to the SDS100?
The Uniden BC-GPSK GPS receiver works on many different Uniden scanners and comes with several cables to adapt it to these scanners. With the SDS100 (as well as the BCD325P2) however you need a different cable. This special adapter cable, available at scannermaster.com, replaces everything but the GPS disk and attached cable. Plug the round plug from the GPS into this cable, the USB plug into a USB power source and the small plug into the Charge/USB jack on the radio. The radio will be powered/charged from the GPS cable as will the GPS itself.
11) Sharing Favorites Lists with other scanners
The SDS100 can share the same Favorites Lists as the BCD436HP and BCG536HP, and since they all use the same version of Sentinel, it is really easy to share. You can create different Profiles for each scanner if you want or just program them all the same.
To share files from other radios you would need third party software and import/export those files with that software.
12) If I have many Talkgroups or Sites in my trunked system will it slow down the scanner?
If you have many TALKGROUPS then no, it will not slow the scanner down. The SDS100 (and other Uniden scanners) does not actually scan talkgroups, it scans SITES and if it sees an active Talkgroup it looks to see if it is in an active Favorites list and Department. If it is it displays the name and listens to the talkgroup. If not it ignores it and moves on. All this is done in fractions of a millisecond.
If you have that trunked system’s Favorites List set to Trunked Search the scanner will look for the talkgroup and see if it is listed. If it is in the radio it will show the name etc. and hear the traffic. If it is not already programmed into the radio it will display it as “Unknown” with the Talkgroup number. If you can identify the user you can add it to your Favorites List.
What can slow down your scanner is if you have a lot of SITES programmed into the radio that you have no chance of hearing. If your area uses a large regional or statewide system then either turn off or delete the sites you would not be able to hear. (The radio’s manual describes how to do this…). The fewer sites the radio has to go thru the faster it will get to them.
13) Do I need ProVoice, DMR or NXDN?
Well, maybe, maybe not… Check the RadioReference database and see if anything in that area use these modes. If they use them in the areas you want to listen to then you might want to get the upgrades. ProVoice is used mostly by public safety agencies in specific areas including Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver and Albuquerque.
DMR and NXDN are mostly used by business operations and campus installations but are occasionally used by smaller police and fire departments as it is less expensive than P25 digital systems.
Using a two-way radio as a scanner
One of the more common question we get here is how do I program this (Brand X) radio to my local systems. Usually it is one of those off-shore $40 two-way radio with unpronounceable names that are flooding the market on eBay and in stores.
The basic answer is that you don’t. These radios are intended as Ham radios and are basically toys. Some can be made to receive on VHF and UHF conventional analog channels and even talk on them. This is not a good thing. First off the build quality on these things is poor. They are designed not for performance but for cheapness. If the radio breaks it usually cannot be repaired.
If your area still uses VHF or UHF analog channels then these might be able to be used to receive your local channels but they cannot do any type of digital or trunked system.
These cheap radios are not ideal for most monitoring anyway. They lack the features scanner buyers have come to expect such as banks, scanlists or quick-keys. They also usually do not support other typical scanner features like CloseCall, Fire tone out, easy field programming etc. They often do not work on aircraft, either civilian or military.
For not much more than you will pay for one of these cheap toys you can get a decent basic scanner like the BC125AT or WS1010 that will run rings around them with the feature sets.
Basic Troubleshooting – How to fix a silent scanner
So your fancy scanner no longer works. Is it the scanner itself or did your local agencies move to new channels? Today we will discuss ways to find out.
The first thing I tell callers when they say their scanner is dead is to try the local weather channels. Almost everyone is in range of one of the National Weather Service radio stations on 162.400 thru 162.550. If you try each of the 7 channels (listed below) and nothing is heard then there may well be something wrong with the radio. If you have another scanner or weather radio handy try that one. If the other radio works then there is likely something wrong with the first radio.
Here are the weather frequencies that you can check to see if your scanner is working properly:
If the weather channel works on your scanner then we should look to programming. If the radio worked before but no longer hears the local police, fire or other agencies you used to listen to then they may have changed frequencies. Several states have recently updated their wide-area radio systems, if you live in Ohio, Indiana or South Carolina there is a great possibility that this is what occurred. Alternately, some agencies have switched to existing regional radio systems such as these states or those in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan Colorado, Louisiana and Mississippi among others.
The best thing to do is check the RadioReference.com database and forums. If you recently lost your target there is likely someone else who has also. I had a caller the other day from northern Arizona say his police department disappeared, he listened to them over the weekend and then on Monday they were gone. We found that they had just switched to a new P25 digital system. While it was not yet listed in the RadioReference database it was being discussed in the RadioReference forums for Arizona.
If all this fails and you cannot find the target anywhere by searches with the scanner there are still a couple more tricks. Remember that public safety communications systems are expensive. They don’t go out and buy them on a whim. Purchases of that size usually must be approved by the local boards, City Council, County Supervisors etc. Look at these board’s websites for meeting minutes and agenda items. This is all public information and most places these days post them to the web. You can sometimes find all kinds of interesting information on the systems, sometimes even complete technical details, frequencies and talkgroup information get put up there!
Check with your local officers and administrators. While often they might not be technically savvy they might know that “we switched to the County system” or something. Also look for the type of radio they are carrying or have installed in the vehicle. That can sometimes point to the radio system type they are using.
Once you find out what system they are using and the frequencies etc. reprogram or replace your scanner to match
HP1 vs .HP2
The Uniden BearCat HomePatrol was a revolutionary design that transformed the scanner hobby when it was introduced. Never before was there a scanner that allowed one to just put in a ZIP Code to replace individual channel programming. The success of the HomePatrol led directly to the BCD436HP and the BCD536HP as well as location based scanners from Whistler (GRE and RS).
A couple years ago the HomePatrol line was extended with the introduction of the HomePatrol 2, the original HomePatrol is now called the HomePatrol 1.
So what is the difference between the HomePatrol 1 and 2? Well there are a few differences. The biggie of course is that the HP-2 handles APCO P25 Phase 1 and Phase 2 while the HP-1 only does Phase 1. If your area doesn’t use Phase 2 you could save some money and get the HP-1. The HP-1 has a silver front panel while the HP-2 is black.
In addition the HP-2 (like most other current handheld scanners) chargesits batteries from the USB port instead of using a separate jack like the HP-1. This allows the HP-2 to use common USB chargers of which you probably already have a bunch of. Since it uses common USB chargers it doesn’t come with one. If you are that one guy who doesn’t have a USB charger available we do sell them.
Other than the charger and Phase 2 the HP-1 and HP-2 are almost identical. The same software is used to update and program either radio. You can even take a memory card from one radio and use it in another. If you are using mounting gear the same gear can be used for either radio.
Hosting a stream
One of the most popular ways to listen to the local scanner action these days is via a live-streaming service over the Internet. By far the largest source for this is Broadcastify.Com. While this is a great place to listen, it is dependent on someone hosting a scanner for the area you want to listen to. If no one does you can do it yourself. Here is what you need to set up your own feed:
Step 1: Make sure there is no feed already covering the traffic you wish to stream. If there already is one look at the noted for that feed and see if there is something different that you will do.
Step 2: If you are not already a RadioReference or Broadcastify member (with user name and password) set up an account. You can set up a free account, paid accounts offer great benefits but are not needed to host a feed. If you are already a member skip this and go to Step 3.
Step 3: Go to the Broadcastify site and submit a Feed application. They need your information, the channels you plan to stream and some other details. Once you submit your application it takes a few days (usually) for a response, and if approved they provide a code that is entered in your feed software to enable it.
Step 4: Set up the hardware. This is the computer that you are going to use and the radio itself. You will need an audio cable to connect the computer and radio. If you are using a Uniden scanner you can also connect a USB or serial cable so allow channel tags to be sent along with the radio traffic. See below for the best scanners to be used for feeds.
Step 5: Set up the software. The software is free from Broadcastify, you can download it there. It is pretty simple to install and set up, print out the instructions that come with it and follow them. If you follow them correctly it will work great!
Step 6: Adjust the levels. Once your feed is live listen to it and make sure the audio levels are set properly. If the channels you set up are not very active try programming in the local weather channel for a few minutes to use to set the levels properly. Once you have the levels set where they sound best be sure to note the settings in case you need to move something later. Don’t forget to get rid of the weather channel!
What is the best radio for a feed? Well, it is the radio you have that will listen to the traffic you want to stream. Remember, once you commit to hosting a stream that radio must be dedicated to that stream 24/7.
If the radio you use does not have a record jack then you need to set the volume and leave it where it is. Be sure to mark the level with a dab of White-Out in case it gets moved.
For feeds the Uniden BCD15X (analog) and BCD996P2 (digital) are favored by many streamers since they are reasonably priced and have a record jack on the back. The Record jack is ideal for feeds, as the sound level is not affected by the volume control. You set the sound level with the computer’s sound controls and you can use the scanner volume to allow you to listen to the scanner locally without affecting the feed volume. They also support sending channel tags so the listener can see the channel names.
Streaming hints and tricks:
No one likes to hear static, noise etc. Make sure you monitor your stream to be sure that it doesn’t lock up on noise or interference. Make sure the audio levels are good and that the feed sounds good.
How many channels can I stream? The best answer is less is more. If you have a lot of channels or a bunch of real busy ones then the scanner is going to be busy all the time and some channels are going to be missed. Some really busy feeds (like Chicago PD) have just a single channel that is active almost continuously.
What kinds of channels can I stream? These rules are listed in the Terms of Service for the streaming service. Broadcastify has rules against certain tactical or sensitive traffic. Make sure none of the channels you have include the prohibited traffic.
Can I stream 2 radios at the same time? Yes! Set up one radio to the left channel and the other to the right. Possible scenarios are police on one and fire on the other. Make sure you note this in the feed description!
What do I do if the agency doesn’t want me to stream them? Well, that is up to you. Streaming is legal and the agency cannot force you to stop streaming their traffic. They can however add encryption, then it will not be able to be heard at all by anyone.
Broadcastify has a complete set of rules and procedures on it’s page at Broadcastify.com. If you use a different service be sure to read their rules before setting up your feed.
All those weird ports on the back of the scanner
Modern scanners have a plethora of various ports, jacks and sockets on them. Here is a look at some of them.
Taking a look at the rear panel of the BCD536HP scanner there are 6 different ports on it. From left to right they are:
- BNC antenna jack
- External Speaker Jack
- USB Port (used for WiFi unit only on the 536)
- GPS Serial Port
- 3-pin power port
- Coaxial power port
Other common ports on scanners include:
- USB programming port
- Record jack
- Headphone jack
- Various serial ports.
Let’s look at each port and what it is used for: (*Bonus! See below for an explanation of the weird hole smack in the middle…)
Antenna Jack: Of course this is used to connect an antenna to the radio. Most scanners these days use BNC, the little push and turn job you see in the picture. Some handled scanners use the smaller SMA connector. Some older scanners had Motorola or even SO139 connectors and some had both an external connector and an internal threaded connector with a hole in the case to insert it.
External Speaker: These are used to plug in an external speaker and are different than headphone jacks. Speaker Jacks do not limit the volume like a headphone jack will. When you plug in a speaker into the external speaker jack the inside speaker is disconnected.
Headphone Jack: The Headphone jack has a limiting circuit to protect from overly loud sound that can damage your hearing. Otherwise it works much like the external speaker jack. Headphone jacks are usually in the front panel of desktop scanners while speaker jacks are usually on the rear. Handheld scanners usually just have a headphone jack on the top.
Record Jack: The Record Jack allows one to pull audio from the scanner at a constant level that is not affected by the volume control. This is important when the radio is used as a source for recording or streaming. Some older RadioShack scanners and some current Uniden scanners have record jacks.
GPS Serial Port: Unique to Uniden scanners, the DB-9 Serial port (male) is used mostly to connect a GPS receiver to allow location based scanning. It can also be used to program or control the scanner with the properly constructed cables. Do not confuse this with the female DB-9 port used for programming on older scanners like the BC780XLT or the BC898T
USB Programming port: Most scanners these days use a USB-Mini port on the front or side to program and control the scanner. On many handheld scanners these ports are also used to charge the batteries and power the radio. On the BCD325P2 a special cable is used to connect a GPS to this port.
Other serial ports: Some older scanners use different type serial ports. Older Unidens (like the “XT” series) use a unique 4-pin square connector for programming and connection of the RH-96 remote head. HP-1 and HP-2 scanners use that same port style for connecting to a GPS. Older design RadioShack/GRE/Whistler scanners use a jack that is just like a headphone jack for serial port connections.
Coaxial Power Port: Most desktop/mobile scanners have a coaxial power port to provide 12 VDC to the scanner. There are 2 different jacks in common use. The majority of Uniden mobile and desktop scanners use a “Type M” male jack while most recent RadioShack, GRE and Whistler mobiles use a “Type T” female jack. Both use center-pin positive. Some older handheld scanners use smaller coaxial power ports but newer portable scanners usually use the USB port for charging and external power.
3-pin power port: This is another unique to Uniden port, similar to the power port used on some of their CB products. On Uniden scanners there are the regular black and red wires for power and a third orange wire used to control the brightness of the display when connected to the lighting circuits of the car.
Discriminator Jack: This is probably the most popular jack that doesn’t come on scanners. Discriminator audio is used to provide an unfiltered audio source mostly for data decoding. This type of decoding usually does not work from the record or speaker jacks due to the filtering circuitry in the radio. Scanners usually do not come with jacks for this but it is often added on by advanced scanner hobbyists to allow data decoding.
See that threaded hole smack in the middle of the back panel in the picture at the top of the page? Most Uniden base/mobile scanners have that. It is used to allow a rear bracket to stabilize the radio under the dashboard. It is not mentioned in the owner’s manuals but is shown in the diagrams.
FRS/GMRS/MURS/CB: The Personal Radio Services
Anyone can use one of several types of two-way radios, most of which do not require a license. From something the kids can play with to serious business uses there are a bunch of different types of varying quality and usefulness. These are called CB, FRS, MURS and GMRS. Only GMRS requires a license, the others do not. Each of the four services have different intended functions.
- FRS: Family Radio Service (low power, short range, intended for families and individuals)
- GMRS: General Mobile Radio Service (high power, longer range, intended for families)
- MURS: Multiple Use Radio Service (mid-power, medium range, intended for business)
- CB: Citizen’s Band Radio Service (low power mobile)
You ever go into Wal-Mart or Best Buy and see those cheap little two-way radios encased in one of the most devious inventions of man-kind (Bubble Packs)? They boast wild range figures (“35 mile Range!”) and are made by many different companies like Motorola, Midland and Cobra. These are called “FRS Radios” (Family Radio Service). FRS radios are restricted to ½ watt, non-removable antennas and are intended for short-range person-to-person communications. While titled as the Family Radio Service they are commonly used by businesses and government organizations. In my neighborhood I hear construction crews, hunters, the local school and the golf course maintainers on FRS channels. Just about everything but families… There are few restrictions on what you can use it for so business and personal communications are allowed.
FRS is actually pretty interesting to listen to in many cases. While a lot of the traffic is inane nonsense, like kids wearing out the noisemaking alert beep button, occasionally there is some interesting stuff to listen to. I live in a fairly isolated area 20 miles from the nearest town. There is construction going on and the crews use several FRS channels to coordinate activities. There is a school in the area that uses FRS radios too. The golf course guys use FRS when performing maintenance or to corral loose duffers. Local landscapers use FRS as well.
Listening to FRS channels at the mall or around amusement parks etc. can also be fun. The stores and shops often use FRS radios for clerks and stockers, customers use them to keep in touch with their family.
A lot of the FRS channels are shared with GMRS, so listening to one set of frequencies you may hear both services.
GMRS is a little different than FRS. Since a license is required and power levels are higher they tend to be used in a more formal matter. FRS also allows repeaters so you may hear traffic from all over the area. GMRS is often used by REACT and other volunteers as well as family businesses and often for just idle chit-chat and radio clubs. Sometimes it sounds a lot like ham radio.
MURS can be very interesting. It is on VHF and allows higher power than FRS but in many other aspects it is very similar. Like FRS there are few restrictions on what you can use it for. Since the radios tend to be a little more expensive MURS channels tend to be more business oriented.
CB these days is mostly a wasteland of unintelligible noise. It is still popular with the highway crowd but between high-power illegal amplifiers, over-driven power echo-mics and other noisemakers it is no longer a viable communications tool. It can be interesting to listen to however!
If you put these frequencies in your scanner you may find some interesting communications. You might also be bored silly but you won’t know until you try it.
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
- Freq (MHz) Remarks
- 462.5500 Repeater Output/Simplex (Repeats 467.5500)
- 462.5750 Repeater Output/Simplex (Repeats 467.5750)
- 462.6000 Repeater Output/Simplex (Repeats 467.6000)
- 462.6250 Repeater Output/Simplex (Repeats 467.6250)
- 462.6500 Repeater Output/Simplex (Repeats 467.6500)
- 462.6750 Repeater Output/Simplex (Repeats 467.6750)
- 462.7000 Repeater Output/Simplex (Repeats 467.7000)
- 462.7250 Repeater Output/Simplex (Repeats 467.7250)
- 462.5625 Simplex (5 watts)
- 462.5875 Simplex (5 watts)
- 462.6125 Simplex (5 watts)
- 462.6375 Simplex (5 watts)
- 462.6625 Simplex (5 watts)
- 462.6875 Simplex (5 watts)
- 462.7125 Simplex (5 watts)
Family Radio Service (FRS)
- Freq (MHz) Ch #
- 462.5625 1
- 462.5875 2
- 462.6125 3
- 462.6375 4
- 462.6625 5
- 462.6875 6
- 462.7125 7
- 467.5625 8
- 467.5875 9
- 467.6125 10
- 467.6375 11
- 467.6625 12
- 467.6875 13
- 467.7125 14
- 462.5500 15 (Shared with GMRS)
- 462.5750 16 (Shared with GMRS)
- 462.6000 17 (Shared with GMRS)
- 462.6250 18 (Shared with GMRS)
- 462.6500 19 (Shared with GMRS)
- 462.6750 20 (Shared with GMRS)
- 462.7000 21 (Shared with GMRS)
- 462.7250 22 (Shared with GMRS)
Multiple Use Radio Service (MURS)
- Freq (MHz)
Citizens Band (CB)
- Freq Ch # Freq Ch #
- 26.965 1 27.215 21
- 26.975 2 27.225 22
- 26.985 3 27.255 23
- 27.005 4 27.235 24
- 27.015 5 27.245 25
- 27.025 6 27.265 26
- 27.035 7 27.275 27
- 27.055 8 27.285 28
- 27.065 9 27.295 29
- 27.075 10 27.305 30
- 27.085 11 27.315 31
- 27.105 12 27.325 32
- 27.115 13 27.335 33
- 27.125 14 27.345 34
- 27.135 15 27.355 35
- 27.155 16 27.365 36
- 27.165 17 27.375 37
- 27.175 18 27.385 38
- 27.185 19 27.395 39
- 27.205 20 27.405 40
WiFi on BCD536HP. How does it work? What you can and can’t do with it.
The Uniden Bearcat BCD536HP is the only scanner that has the capability of being directly controlled by WiFi. By using the included WiFi dongle one can connect a smart phone or tablet to the scanner and listen to and control the scanner with the device. There are some other uses for the WiFi dongle as well.
Uniden has provided free “Siren” software (available for free via the Apple iTunes store or Google Play Store) to allow you to use your smart device as a scanner controller. You can even use this as a remote head for the scanner if mounted in a vehicle or to listen to your scanner from the patio or another room of the house for a scanner installed in the home. Some third party software allows you to use the WiFi feature to connect the canner to the computer without the need to plug in a cable.
There are a few things that the WiFi dongle will not work for, this includes database and firmware updates and other programming.
The Wifi dongle is designed specifically to work with your home or office WiFi network. While we have read of people using it for remote access this requires such networking tools as VPN, if you know how that works you probably can figure it out. Sorry, we cannot help with notworking issues like this!
To use the WiFi feature you need to understand the two modes involved; Infrastructure and Access Point.
Infrastructure Mode allows your scanner to connect to your home or office WiFi. This then allows you to connect to the scanner via third-party software like ProScan or RadioFeed or to the Siren application.
To get to Infrastructure Mode use the following steps:
Press Menu then select WiFi Setup>Select WiFI Mode>Infrastructure Mode
The radio will look for local access points and list them. When it displays the list select your router’s SSID name.
Then enter your password for the WiFi access point. This is the same password you would use for setting up any other WiFi device on your network. To enter the password you scroll thru the letters and use the 4 and 6 buttons to move the curser.
Access Point Mode allows you to connect you scanner to a smart phone or tablet (iOS or Android) using the free Siren software. You would use this when you are not in range of your WiFi system, such as when the radio is mounted in a vehicle. This allows you to use a phone or tablet as sort of a remote control head for the scanner.
In Access Point Mode the 536 acts as an Access Point and provides an SSID which you can change or leave at the default. You then connect your phone or tablet to that WiFi SSID and enter in the IP address in the Settings of the device. The IP address can be found in the WiFi settings on the scanner.
Siren is the free app available at the Apple iTunes Store for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch’s. It is also available for Android devices at the Google Play Store.
Siren is a neat way to use your 536 scanner but there are limits to it. It will only work with the 536, and it has limited abilities for control. It can set the range, select Quick Keys, set the squelch and start and reply the recording features but that is pretty much all she wrote. There is also a 2-3 second delay in hearing the audio compared to the radio itself.
The WiFi feature on the 546 is unique and useful as long as you know its limits
ZIP Code based scanning: How does it work?
One question we get all the time here is “when I put my ZIP Code in my (HomePatrol, 436 or 536) scanner how do I hear something in the next ZIP Code over?” The answer is that you already are… Let me explain.
On the Uniden ZIP Code type scanners (Home Patrol, BCD436HP and BCD536HP) when using the ZIP Code method of scanning (versus using Favorites Lists) you enter your local ZIP Code into the “Location” menu. You then can set the range (in miles). The ZIP Code acts as a center point on a map. The range is how big a circle that is drawn around the center point of the ZIP Code. More miles equals a bigger circle; a bigger circle equals more stuff programmed into your radio.
So if you live in Mayberry and your ZIP Code is 27031 you would enter it in the scanner. You then set a range; let’s say 15 miles. Draw a circle 15 miles in any direction from the center point of the ZIP Code and that is your primary coverage area. When the radio loads up it will load all the channels that are in that area, based on the service codes you enabled. Simple, right? Well, not so much.
The way the HomePatrol Database is constructed is that each entry itself also has a geographic location assigned to it with a range. So the various entries in the database all have their own circles. If any of these circles touches or crosses your circle then they will be entered into your scanner. For this reason you may hear things that are actually outside your circle.
Let’s say that Mt. Pilot is 20 miles from Mayberry, where you are. If you set your range to 10 miles you may not expect to hear Mt. Pilot. In the database however the Mt. Pilot stations are set to a range of 15 miles. So the Mt. Pilot circle goes out 15 miles and crosses the 10-mile circle you set in Mayberry. Therefore you will have the Mt. Pilot channels in your scanner. Clear as mud, right? Well wait, it gets even weirder!
So, you see Mt. Pilot’s frequencies on your radio but you never hear them. Why is that? Your range is set to include them and they show up but the radio doesn’t stop on them. There are a couple possible answers:
The first reason may be that they are too far away. Just because they are within the range settings of the radio doesn’t mean your scanner will actually be able to hear them. Perhaps sometimes you can hear them and other times not. Radio signals are predictably unpredictable.
Systems are designed to reliably cover specific areas. When you are within those areas your scanner should be able to hear them all the time. When you are outside the main coverage area it all depends on things like elevation (yours and the transmitters), terrain, obstructions, distance and sometimes even the weather. If there is a mountain between you and them you may not hear them. If you cannot hear them you might want to try a taller antenna, but that is a post for a different day. A good rule of thumb is that if the agency’s radios work where you are your scanner should as well.
Another reason might include the database being wrong. The HomePatrol Database is derived from the database at RadioReference.com. This is maintained by scanner enthusiasts all around the world. Some areas are better covered than others. If there are a lot of dedicated scanner users in the area the database is liable to be more accurate.
Still another reason might be that your scanner is not capable of hearing the type of signals used.
Whistler ZIP Code scanners work differently. You select a location and the radio offers a set of systems and channels to enter into a ScanList. The same thing applies for distance however; you may not hear something that is closer than others due to obstructions, low antennas or power.
If this is all too confusing for you then have ScannerMaster perform its “Setup and Optimize” service on your scanner. We will set up Favorites Lists for your county or counties so you will only have the items programmed into your scanner that you really want!
Super Health Secrets
When asked about his secret of staying young, Dick Clark replied, ” it’s simple. Pick your parents carefully. “
Obviously, you can’t pick your parents, otherwise Ozzie and Harriet would have had thousands of children. However, who your parents are can have a huge impact on how long you live. Diseases that can cut your life short, like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and most types of cancers, have a strong genetic connection.
Here is a detailed article that explains how you can avoid or reduce the impact these deadly diseases that you might have inherited.