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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Scanners | Bearcat BCD396T Help

Reviews Summary for Bearcat BCD396T
Bearcat BCD396T Reviews: 18 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $850
Description: Uniden Bearcat Digital Trunk Tracker
Product is in production.
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W2DI Rating: 5/5 Aug 21, 2006 13:42 Send this review to a friend
Best Scanner I've had  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am not a scanning expert. However I've had many scanners and wideband HTs that also scan. I think the BCD396T is, by far, the best I've owned...therefore the 5.
This scanner does everything it is supposed to do and more. I don't know if I will ever use all its capabilities.
It is lightning fast. I can't imagine needing a faster scanner. Memory management is superb and the radio has a solid feel. The display is good and the blue light on the display and keys make it even better. Using 3 AA alkaline batteries last a very long time.
On the controversial issues mentioned, I find the sensitivity to be comparable to any handheld I've used with the supplied duck. Using a BNC whip that extends from 6 to 20" makes the 396 pull in all kinds of signals. The supplied duck isn't bad, but the longer whip is so much better.
I do agree that the audio could be louder from the speaker. In most environments it is very sufficient, however. With stereo phones (1/8" 3 conductor plug) you hear equal output from both speakers and the sound is excellent - hearing things and words you miss otherwise. But, as the manual warns, PUT THE HEADPHONES ON WITH THE VOLUME WAY DOWN AND MOVE IT UP SLOWLY - OR YOU MAY DAMAGE YOUR HEARING!! Some of the digital signals 'pop' in rather quickly!!!
Finally, if you are not an expert programing trunked, digital systems, you may find the task daunting. I thought I was good at programing handhelds until I got this radio. I ended up purchasing ARC396 software and subscribing to The extra cost is well worth it. There are a lot of sites and groups around to get valuable information. But there is a steep learning curve with the radio that might easily frustrate a new owner. I feel this may be the case with all radios in this class.
No, it may not be a perfect radio, but I feel it merits a 5 simply because it is excellent at what it is made for. Just my 2 cents and thanks for looking.
W6JHC Rating: 4/5 Aug 21, 2006 11:58 Send this review to a friend
very good radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
After a year this radio continues to amaze me with it's ability to receive interesting transmissions.
That is what it is all about right?
The LAPD come in perfectly, especially when connected to a discone.
I can listen to air traffic all over southern California when using that same discone.
The memory system makes all the difference in the world if you travel. There is nothing like being able to engage a couple of quick keys and being able to hear the action in a place you are visiting.
I have never rated a radio a 5 (I think it should be a 1-10 scale) because a 5 would be perfect. The perfect radio doesnt exist ...yet.
I believe that this is the radio that Bill Cheek was dreaming of when he worked so hard modifying the 2006 pro 43 and others. The BC 396 does virtually everything Bill worked to get into radios and much more. If you are on the fence just jump you can't go wrong with the 396. It does it all and more. The 396 is a cool radio, I think it will take one heck of a radio to displace the 396 in my EDC (every day carry) of a scanner. For me this is the one.
Till then.
PAULGBLUNDELL Rating: 5/5 Aug 3, 2006 17:42 Send this review to a friend
Great handheld Radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Uniden BCD 396T Digital Hand Held Scanner

Here’s my review of the new Uniden BCD 396T scanner.

Some of the more important specs:
25 MHz – 1300 MHz coverage
AM / FM/ NFM /WFM Modes
Steps from 5 kHz to 100 kHz
6600 channels – up to 400 systems
100 quick keys to access systems
Trunk Tracker IV operation
APCO 25 Digital decoding
Close Call
CTCSS / DCS decoding
Channel Alert tones
Text Tags
10 Custom search ranges with Auto Store.
PC Control / Programming

Here’s what you get with it out of the box:

Uniden BCD 396T unit:
This is a mid sized unit and is built quite well, it runs off 3 x AA cells and these seem to last quite a while.

Belt Clip:
This is a very professional setup and comes in two parts, one is attached to the back on the radio and clips on the second part on your belt, and this means the unit has to be turned upside down to get it off, reducing the chance of it falling off by accident.

SMA Aerial

AC Adaptor / 3x 2300Mah AA Cells
This is a 6v 800Ma unit and charges the 3 AA cells in 16 hours; it also powers the radio while it is charging.

Programming Cable
This allows the radio to be programmed via a PC; the software is a free download off the Uniden website and works very well.

This is a must have item as this is a very complex unit to set up and use.

Programming the unit:
Before using this unit you MUST have an understanding of how it is setup as it is very different to all other Uniden scanners.

You have a pool of 6600 channels by default, instead of banks you have systems which you can have to 400 of.
As you build each system it takes the channels from the pool and assigns them to the system, this means that to program the EDACS Mt Barrow site in to system 1 you take the 9 channels from the pool and add them to system 1, you can them add the 11 channels to build the system for EDACS West Launceston to system 2, this means that you are not wasting channels like you do on a Uniden 780 where you use 1 bank of 50 channels for a EDACS site with only 11 channels.

As you can have up to 400 system’s setup, you could have EVERY EDACS site in Tasmania programmed and still have over 6000 channels spare to put in your normal two way stuff like the Air band or UHF CB, with the UHF CB you could build a system with only the 40 channels required for it, by doing this you don’t waste any channels.

How I have my bcd396t setup is like this:
System 1 – 000 Services
System 2 – Air band / HAM Radio
System 3 – Business Band
System 4 – UHF CB
System 8 – EDACS Mt Barrow
System 9 – EDACS West Launceston

Using it for the last few days after programming it via my pc shows that it has every feature you could want in a handheld and that so far it seems to work very well both on the EDACS trunking and on normal vhf / uhf channels.
Having 6600 channels and custom system sizes allows a great level of freedom to set it up just how you want.

The only problem with a unit like this is that is VERY COMPLEX to setup and use, if you find a Uniden 245 or 780 hard to program / use , this will really test you out as it has so many feature and options you need to have a good understanding of it.

Hope this has been helpful, and please let me know if you have any questions about it.

VE3VWX Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2006 23:17 Send this review to a friend
Simply the best  Time owned: months
This scanner is basically the portable version of the 996T minus a few features.

This scanner does not use those wasteful lists former versions did, it has plenty of memory (fits the entire province of Ontario easily), has beautiful sensitivity (1/4 - 1/2 ~wave VHF whip works for all frequencies).

The ability to have the scanner automatically tune out channels when the control channel can no longer be heard makes mobile use a pleasure.

One side note is that this scanner is extremely complex and tiring to program without the aid of computer, hence get a cable and let the computer do all the work.

This is the best portable scanner on the market right now; it kills everything Radio Shack has and every other scanner out there except for the 996T.

Enjoy! Well worth the money!
VK7ZJA Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2006 23:38 Send this review to a friend
A great little box of tricks  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Such a pleasure to get a scanner that scans so quickly after owning a 4-channel-per-second scanner previously. This thing rips through the spectrum at breakneck speeds!

Sure, it's complicated to program, you didn't expect to buy one of the most technologically advanced, feature filled scanners out there today and have it as easy to program as an old PRO34 did you?

And no, it's not robust, but as far as scanners go, this is definitely one of the better ones, for sure.

The manual isn't bad but it definitely could have been better, but does omit vital facts and concepts. If you've owned a Uniden 780 before, you will have no trouble. But if this is your first, be prepared for a steep learning curve, lots of reading and re-reading the manual, and asking for help from other owners.

Sensitivity? Pretty much average. Not great, but not bad, either.
Selectivity? A bit better than average I'd say. Seems to be fairly interference resistant, to a point. Not the best in this department, but definitely in the top 25%.

But this thing does very well what a scanner should do: SCAN! A few other manufacturers seem to have lost the plot when it comes to this point. Thankfully, Uniden have not.

Sound quality is a bit average, not hi-fi by any means. More 'comms quality'. Can sound a bit raspy at times. My ears have gotten used to it now, so it doesn't bug me. A pair of headphones reveals great audio, so it must be the tiny internal speaker that's the problem here.

Well done Uniden. A great product, and with a few firmware updates to fix the occasional bug, it'll be even better. Worth the high asking price? Well, I think so (and I'm not even using the digital P25 reception capabilities!), but others might disagree.
For my money: I like it a lot!
VE6BGM Rating: 5/5 Dec 23, 2005 16:24 Send this review to a friend
Great portable scanner  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Had a chance to use one for about a month. A little too expensive to buy, but am saving up for one. Have had a number of scanners, both base and portable. This is one of the best sounding portables I have heard. Volume is "load and clear" as some like to say. It is a little difficult to program [mine was easy as someone else programmed it]. The rechargeable batteries at nearly 2300 mAh last about 12 hours. Can't say enough about this scanner. Yes, it is not intended to be a VX-170, or Motorola work radio, so the exterior is not made out of steel. The one I used, had been dropped a couple of times, yet only had 2 very small marks on the back. At least the light coming on when turned off confirms that it has indeed turned off. I have had other scanners that killed the battery because there was no confirmation that it had been turned off.
Other than a high price, the radio it self is a 10!
Bob, ve6bgm
KC8YWO Rating: 2/5 Dec 23, 2005 11:53 Send this review to a friend
High price, low quality materials.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is my third handheld scanner I have owned. My first was a BC100XLT purchased back in 1993.

I paid over $540.00 for this scanner and expected a rugged handheld. Unfortunaately what I got was a cheap quality scanner. After owning this thing for less than a week, the letters were wearing off the plastic. I returned it to Uniden and they sent me a new one.

The plastic case feels like it will shatter on impact if dropped. They should have made the case out of magnesium like my Yaesu VX-7R.

I am also disappointed in how muffled the sound is comming out of the speaker. I expected a much clearer sound.

And last but not least, the god awful manual! It is by far the most confusing scanner manual I have ever read. You have to refer to this page and that page. Nothing is in order.

I like the blue LCD, but do not like the fact they built the light button into the power button. Every time you turn off the scanner, the light comes on.

The scanner excels internally. It picks up signals great and is feature packed inside. In this regard I commend Uniden.

I am giving this scanner a score of 2 out of 5, mainly because the exterior of the scanner (which will see the most wear and tear) was not built rugged enough. Before you go and buy one, I would recommend seeing one in person first. If you can get by the exterior materials, then buy it.
K6LCS Rating: 5/5 Jul 16, 2005 13:43 Send this review to a friend
Improving All the Time  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
It has been an exciting last twelve months for Uniden! Physically, this new APCO25-compatible scanner is about the same size as the '246 - but the edges are a little more "squared," giving the unit a little more "box-y" feel.

Uniden is working on a firmware release already - and end-users can update! (Some have experienced problems with TGIDs above 4096 - and Uniden has quickly addressed this issue with a firmware update).

There is a very active YahooGroup on this unit - and Uniden rep Paul is there to answer all inquiries.

The CloseCall sensitivity "feels" beter on this unit than on the '246 (subjective observation - I do not own lab equipment).

Clint Bradford, K6LCS
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