Scanner Programming FAQ
Welcome to the Scanner Programming FAQ. This article is inteded to document many of the common questions regarding programming scanners, cables, software and so forth. Please feel free to add items, new sections or comments as needed. Note that anything in blue is a link.
Scanners that can be programmed
- Which Scanner Models can be programmed with the PC?
Almost all the models in our wiki can at least be connected to a PC and can up/download data. Please see our Radio Control Software article for software recommendations
- Can a Radio Shack Scanner be used to log frequencies/record and scan?
In general (for the older scanners) the answer is no, due to firmware limits. The only exception is the Pro-2052, which is really a rebadged Uniden scanner in a GRE case. This scanner can log, record and scan with the right software. However the newer Pro-106, Pro-197 and Pro-107 can.
- I used to program scanners years ago; now Uniden has this DMA technology. What is that all about?
In DMA terminology, there are no such things as banks anymore. Basically, channels are allocated from a pool of memory, the capacity of which is different for each model. It's highly recommended to read UPMan's article, and use a spreadsheet (or other columnar function) to plan how to program one of these scanners. There are also the 'Easier to Read' manuals for each of the DMA scanners, which are a signficant improvement over the Uniden offerings. Start by reading the Uniden DMA FAQ first.
- Can the PRO-96/2096 receive in the UHF Milair range (225-390 mhz)?
The answer is a qualified yes. While Win96 can enable these receive ranges, the sensitivity varies widely from good to deaf as a stone. This is because the scanner was never designed to handle these ranges. If you have one that does not work well in this range, it should not be thought of as defective.
- Can the PRO-96/2096 follow the new 380 mhz milair/700 Mhz trunking systems?
No. The code necessary for the extended trunking tables to follow these systems does not exist in the firmware for these 2 scanners.
Connecting the scanner to the PC
Most newer PCs these days have no serial ports - you must use a USB cable to make the connection. While there are some dedicated models - Uniden has their USB-1, and certain distributors - such as
Scan Control - market their own offerings, other brands may also work.
Many problems with using USB connections seem to fall into a few categories;
- Not having up to date drivers. These are generally available from the manufacturer's website
- Not allocating an open COM port. Be sure to check in Windows Device Manager to insure that COM port you are attempting to allocate is actually available
- Bad cables - yes, it does happen.
See the Connecting scanners via USB for some tips and steps for installing USB ports to connect to scanners.
- What Software is Available for my scanner (insert make/model)?
Most scanners now have articles on this site. They can be referenced from the main page. They are indexed by manufacturer (in the Forum Specific Topics area) or on the top right, by the type of trunking they do (analog/digital) and their size and form (handheld, mobiles, ect.). Each article has a supporting software section toward the bottom.
- I have a Mac Computer. Are there any programming packages that work on a Mac?
There are no Mac-native solutions for programming. See this article from Scanner Master for alternatives.
- Where can I get data to program my scanner?
There are numerous sources for data.
- Undoubtedly one of the most popular methods is to use the Web Service to download data directly from the RadioReference database. This page also has a concise list of applications known to support the service.
- Ask on the RadioReference forum for your state if anyone has a file they could share. Be sure to specify which software you are using - not all formats are compatible with one another.
- Check to see if any other owners of your scanner have already compiled a file. Join the Yahoo group(s) for your scanner - these are listed in the scanner's article. Again, be specific about what software you are using.
- Several websites also host data files for their area. Be sure to take files for the software you are using. Check your state or area in the Collaboration Area for a list of such sites.
- Check to see if there's a mailing list for your area as listed in each state/province in our Collaboration Area.
- If you are programming one of the Uniden DMA scanners, you may be able to import files from the Uniden Advanced System Director or UASD. This is software distributed by Uniden, and usually available from their downloads area. Some UASDs are free, others require payment for registration. Be specific in what software and scanner you are using; some software can only import UASD files for a single scanner (some BuTel products, for example) while others can accept them from other scanners (FreeScan, for example)
- What if my software cannot connect to the Web Service?
If you have Microsoft Excel or similar, you may be able to use it as an intermediate collection point. Sometimes data can be loaded by saving it as a comma separated value (or CSV) format that can later be imported, as many programs have this ability. If not, you may be able to copy data to the Clipboard and paste it in place. See our Excel Copy/Paste Special to Software article for instructions. (Please note that this Wiki does not preserve the tab-character that is used in TSV files.)
- Are there any freeware packages available?
The answer to this depends on how old the scanner is, and what distributor;
- For older RS models, there is the Win92, 93 and 95 from Starrsoft. There is some limited freeware for other legacy models. Check the scanner article for more information.
- For the newer RS models, most all this software is either shareware or commercial
- For GRE models, there is no freeware
- For Uniden models, there is an extensive list of freeware packages available.
- Are there any non-Windows software packages for programming scanners/receivers?
- What about running a Windows package in a non-Windows (Mac, Linux) environment?
Check the individual scanner or receiver article for more information.