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Electra Bearcat BC300

The BC300 is considered by many to be the "Cadillac" of early programmable scanners.

  • Bands: 30?-50, 108?-136, 144-174, 421-512 MHz
  • 50 channels in 5 banks.
  • Service Search and limit search
  • Hit counter
  • Clock
  • Tape out audio
  • Auxilliary relay to control tape recorder or other device (selectable)
  • Made by Electra and still sold after Uniden bought them out
  • Early units made in USA, later units made in Puerto Rico.
  • Discrete component construction for easy -- and frequent! -- repair


User manual PDF download

Schematic PDF download

Sales brochure PDF download

Bearcat Repair FAQ from Bob Parnass, AJ9S


Hands down, next to the Realistic 2004/5 series of scanners, this is one of the greatest scanning radios of all time.

The Electra Bearcat 300 Service Search used great and much used features that need to be incorparated in current, modern day scanning radios. Innovative features such as large channel capacity (50 channels was alot back then!), aux. carrier switch to hook a recorder directly to the scanner, Non-volatile memory, a clock, channel count, aircraft band, dimmer, 12v and 120v operation, large color contrasted buttons, service search, and a vacuum florescent display. (Please bring back this type of display!! It can be seen in any lighing condition, plus its much easier to see especially at night). The classic "rolling zeros" let you know that you were scanning! It also would show you if you had channels locked out by watching the display. Another great feature now gone....

I have 3 of these radios. The first one I bought and is still my "bedside" scanner (after 20 years of daily operation) was purchased new in April 1984. I have only replaced a capacitor and the display since. The other I bought as they were being pushed out by Uniden in 1987. The other I bought on e-bay for $32 to use as parts (display for the old one, and a logic board for the newer one).

The receiver is THE BEST OF ANY SCANNER RECEIVER I HAVE EVER USED. period. Low band and VHF is unbeatable. I own a slu of vintage Electra Bearcats, regencys and realistics, but this one is indeed the crown jewel of them all. It my not employ the more modern features of todays scanners, but this one is timeless and set the pace for "high end" scanners. And as I said previous, some scanners today need to have a few of the features this one had. Electical construction of these old beauties is not of the quality we see today with modern CMC and wave solder machines. These were "hand built" in the USA or Puerto Rico and by todays standards looks like a birds nest inside. The one advantage to this is that it is very easy to work on and componets are large. Their physical ruggedness using hard plastic buttons and steel/die-cast cabnits and frames make them worth "recovering" if one goes south.

Find these on ebay or ham fest for as little as $40 in good working order. A like new in box with all accories and in good working order should fetch $75 to $100.

I you live in a small area (or dont need to listen to more than 50 channels) that still uses the greatest public safety band of them all (VHF) and want a REAL scanner, look no furthur.

Although the Bearcat BC-300 scanner is no longer available, it occupies a fond place in my collection. I exercise little self control when I see a used BC-300 for sale cheap, and have adopted two broken units. They make fine radios after repair.

The BC-300 was the forerunner of today's 760XLT. It was a 50 channel feature laden scanner, introduced around 1979, back when Bearcat was part of Electra. Retail sales of the BC-300 continued until 1987, when it was discontinued by Uniden.

Although Electra offered the pricey BC-350 as a step above the BC-300, firmware bugs and a batch of bad power transformers doomed the 350, and the 300 remained the jewel of Bearcat line.

It's easy to see why the BC-300 model was offered for several years. It boasted premium features like a clock, a carrier operated solid state relay for tape recorder activation, a transmission counter, and a Service Search of 11 ROM banks of preprogrammed channels. For memory, the BC-300 used EAROM (electronically alterable read only memory), so backup batteries were not necessary. The Dog House, a radio shop in Fairfax, Virginia, at one time offered the DH 1000, a 1,000 channel adapter for the BC- 300! Unfortunately for federal band listeners, the BC- 300 lacked coverage of the 138-144 and 406-420 MHz bands.

While outwardly impressive, internal construction was typical of Electra hand wiring in that era -- a bit messy. BC-300 schematics show at least 100 components changed between earliest and later units. The scanner went through many circuit design changes, but rather than changing the printed circuit board, new components were tack soldered on the foil side in different positions.

Electra stamped all of its scanners with a manufacturing date code on the rear of the cabinet. The code is comprised of a single character (C = Cumberland, Indiana, P = Puerto Rico), followed by four digits denoting year and week the radio was built. For example, "P2284" denotes the radio was made in the Puerto Rico factory during the 22nd week of 1984.

Switching power supply failure was common in early units due to insufficient capacitance. Electra responded by increasing the value of capacitor C98 from 22 ufd/16 v to 47 ufd/25 v, but I recommend 47 ufd/35 v. If your display is getting abnormally dim, C98 is probably the culprit, as it was in five Bearcat scanners I fixed.

Squelch preset potentiometer R81, mounted on the radio circuit board, was misadjusted in new units, requiring readjustment after the components aged.

In one radio, I replaced Q9, a small signal PNP transis- tor. Its failure caused the BC-300 to become deaf on all but the UHF band. Failure of squelch gate transistor Q15 caused the squelch to remain open at all times.

Cold solder joints, especially on the wires and ribbon cable connecting the radio board to the logic board, have been responsible for other failures.

I have seen serious IC failures in three BC-300s built around 1984. These include CPU chip IC201, memory chip IC202, and IC203, not in stock at your your local Radio Shack.

The BC-300 circuitry, especially on the radio board, is very similar to the circuitry in the the BC-220, BC- 20/20, BC210XL, and BC-350, so some of the previous remarks may be applicable to these models as well.

I can neither furnish schematics nor repair your radio. If you come across a broken BC-300, obtain a schematic from Uniden and spend some time troubleshooting. If you give up, your BC-300 can be fixed by Electronic Repair Centers in Franklin Park, Illinois, (312)455-5105. I'm told they do good work. The BC-300 is a classic scanner and worthy of your efforts.

Hope this info is of help to you.

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