PRO-92 Review

From The RadioReference Wiki

Review of the PRO-92 by DV

I have to say, I didn't expect to find a scanner without control channel trunking. GRE found a way though, and the PRO-92 was what came of it.

The PRO-92 was Radioshack's dive into EDACS and LTR trunking, and their first Motorola trunktracker not made by Uniden. It also brought a full fledged LCD screen with dot matrix instead of the older 7 segment display with text as their own segments.

The first thing we should talk about is physical attributes. The radio is basically a big gray brick, the bottom part is about as thick as a WS1040. It stands taller than the WS1040 by a bit, and it also is heavier than the WS1040 because of the 6 AA batteries it requires. It's good on battery life though, it definitely doesn't draw much current, and when you're stopped on a channel it will go into a power save mode when no signal is heard for about 5 seconds. It lasts a few days with constant monitoring, besides being shut off at night.

The audio is pretty decent sounding as well, it's easy to hear what people are saying, and it doesn't distort super easily. I had to turn it up to about 70% in order for it to start distorting, and at full volume it was super loud. Probably not great for the speaker or your ears if you let it sit all the way up, but to each their own.

Programming the radio is decently easy by hand, you press program, enter your frequency, text, and PL/DPL tones if desired. You can also hook it up to a computer and use software like Win92 to program it. It also allows you to change the button beep tone, add additional search ranges, change the welcome screen, and a lot more you can't do from the radio. The data transfer rate is pretty slow, but given that it was the first (?) Radioshack scanner with computer programming, it's understandable. The format might just have a lot of overhead as well.

Receiver sensitivity on the PRO-92 is alright. It's definitely not as sensitive as newer scanners such as the WS1040, but it does still hold up pretty decent. The stock antenna has some decent gain on it, I seem to get better reception using that than my WS1040 antenna for example. PL/DPL tone decoding is FAST, PL tones pop up within about a quarter of a second and DPL codes decode in about a half to 3/4 of a second. One thing I want to bring to your attention is the fact that the scanner is NOT narrowbanded. You will get trashed with interference from strong stations near your desired frequency. For example, Ashland County Fire/EMS is on 154.995 MHz, and Bayfield County Fire/EMS is on 154.980. I imagine you can see the problem. Ashland County bleeds into Bayfield's channel because the scanner is receiving that whole 25 KHz of bandwidth. That puts the top of receive bandwidth at 154.9225, which is well within the 12.5 KHz bandwidth the Ashland County tower transmits within. This is easily remedied with PL/DPL tones, but is still annoying.

Another thing is the screen. The text is big. Like really big. That means you have less room to put stuff. The PRO-92 houses a 12 character by 4 line display. Hang on a second, alpha tags are 16 characters long, right? Yes, and the PRO-92 will not fit them. You have a lot of abbreviating to do with the PRO-92, or split your banks up by counties and cities. However, setting a channel to receive a PL tone gets rid of the last line of the display. That's where your bank tag is supposed to go. If you change the receive mode from AM or FM, you don't get your bank tag. You either need to memorize what county's agency uses what PL tone, or if it's short enough, put a two letter abbreviation for the county that the channel belongs to. The backlight is quite dim, it's good enough in darker environments, and the display is readable without it with some form of lighting, but it still could be better. There's also no way to make it hold the backlight on.

Trunking on this radio is a bit different than others. Motorola and LTR systems can be in any order and can be mixed with conventional frequencies, but EDACS systems need to be in a bank by themselves, per the manual. I don't have any EDACS systems by me, so I can't confirm or deny this, but given that you can set channels to be EDACS or not, it's somewhat doubtful. I did get a chance to try it on an LTR system while I was down in the Eau Claire area, but all I got was a talkgroup with voice inversion. Granted, it was the weekend, so it could've just been very quiet, but it did work. LCNs in LTR systems do not matter on the PRO-92, as it pulls the information it needs from the subaudible datastream. It also does this with Motorola systems as well, unless you ended up with an A or B model. You don't need any bandplan data either as it doesn't use the control channel at all. EDACS does use the control channel, but since it only tells radios to go to channel x and those channels are programmed in, instead of using a bandplan and figuring it out itself, it should work just fine. The A and B models will not work with rebanded systems due to the bandplans being hardcoded into it, so you can't change it. The original model doesn't deal with the control channel at all, so all you need to do is program the rebanded frequencies into the radio and you should be all set.

The weather alert feature is also pretty nice, weather standby locks the keypad though, and the siren goes on forever instead of shutting off after 8 seconds or so. It responds quickly to the SAME weather alert, going off almost immediately after hearing it. The siren is the same for every alert level, so discerning the importance of the alert just by hearing the siren is not possible with this radio. It also contains the older SAME alert code tables, which will not display the newer alert codes as their proper names but just as "Tune to TV or Radio". There is also no way to set a FIPS code, so it will go off for every alert it hears. In WX Standby mode, it will also respond to the 1050Hz tone commonly used for less important alerts or for extensions.

All in all, it's a pretty solid radio, and for it being a first for GRE, you can't knock it too much. It was the only LTR capable scanner from Radioshack from 1999 to 2005 when the Pro-97 was launched. It brought a lot to the table at the time, and its design language was used in the PRO-93, PRO-95, and PRO-96. I would give the radio an 8/10, it's got a few problems but it's smooth as glass once you get it all sorted out. However, it's becoming less practical because of the lack of digital. If you have analog Motorola or EDACS systems or you want to monitor LTR, this radio is a good pick for that.