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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Scanners | Uniden BC92XLT Help


Reviews Summary for Uniden BC92XLT
Uniden BC92XLT Reviews: 1 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $149.99
Description: 200 Channels in 10 banks
Close Call Radio Capture *US Version Only*
25-54, 108-174, 406-512, 806-956 (Excuding Cellular)
Service Search
10 User-Selectable Search Ranges
Scan Speed: 50 Channlels/Sec
Search Speed: 60 Steps/Second
Hypersearch: 180 Steps/Second
Display Backlight
Priority Scan
One-Touch Weather
Channel Delay
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.uniden.com/
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UK1 Rating: 4/5 Dec 7, 2005 10:20 Send this review to a friend
Buy for Close Call  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Mine is the US version NASCAR-branded BC92XLT with ‘Close Call’, the near-field capture technology and the only reason I purchased this radio. I had to buy the US version to get Close Call, and I was aware the pre-programmed bands and service scan would be far from ideal in the UK. In the UK we need 12.5kHz steps and full coverage, and switchable receive mode. The pre-programmed service search ranges are of no use here. But I also have an Icom ICR2 and a Yupiteru MVT7100, which being full-coverage and AM/FM-swichable are better suited for UK use.

The ‘92 is a bit less sensitive than my other two scanners, and the audio is a bit hissy (even on strong signals) and doesn’t go loud enough. At least this radio has triple conversion, so has fewer false signals across its range. A few more observations: The supplied antenna is OK for local stuff, but you will want a good telescopic instead—much better at VHF. The switchable backlight only illuminates the screen, not the keypad. The key press bleep is volume level dependent, but unfortunately cannot be turned off.

I still find operation confusing and not at all intuitive. The lack of dedicated Up/Down search keys and the use of the Function key means I still make mistakes when operating the set, especially when searching. For instance I can’t remember how to program memories without the instructions (and I’ve had lots of scanners over many years). It just isn’t straightforward enough. Also I really miss a tuning knob like my other radios have, but that would add to the price...


Close Call

OK, so as a scanner, the ‘92 is not as good as my other two handhelds, and you would be better spending a similar amount on an Icom ICR2 if you just want a good little handheld. So let me tell you a bit more about the feature you would, and should, buy this thing for—Close Call. If you are familiar with frequency counters you will know pretty much what to expect here, except this radio will bleep to inform you of the new signal and you then hear the audio. If you are quick—you have about 2 seconds—you can press any key and see the supposed frequency of the transmission. (I say supposed, as it isn’t always accurate especially with paging transmissions). After that it’s gone, and the radio is back in ‘hunting’ mode, so if the transmission was brief, as many are, it can be frustrating. More on this later.

Otherwise, it works pretty well. Walking around town with the radio in a top pocket using the supplied antenna netted a number of handheld and base station signals over reasonable distances. I have had lots of hits on VHF-Hi, one or two on Low (cordless phones / 49 Mhz baby monitor), several Air and the occasional UHF (on-site paging / mobitex data radio). You will have to experiment with antennas. I find the supplied one and telescopics work best on VHF-Hi band due largely to the field effect of these signals. For UHF you will need to be a lot closer to the source, though a well-sited telemetry TX came in at almost a mile. You are able to select any one or all bands to search, or any combination thereof.

In fact, VHF-Hi band is too sensitive on this unit during Close Call for some reason. Inside my home it will very frequently lock onto continuous carrier base station signals from 10 miles away from the old police and fire VHF systems still running here. In fact, one of these signals was from over 20 miles away, so I think the receiver sometimes just opens up on the strongest Hi-band signal it finds. There are several of these constant signals and I don’t believe they are massively stronger than the surrounding RF fields (and my Opto Counter never logged them), so I suspect some over-sensitivity on this band. After all, this feature isn’t supposed to stop on very distant stations (and these signals are not fully quietening so aren’t that strong).

It will lock onto a 165Mhz community repeater at over 1.5 miles on the hillside the opposite side of the valley, and pesky pager signals over at least that distance. Fortunately, you can lock out 50 unwanted frequencies, though in practice I find this insufficient as the displayed frequency if often someway off the real one (something I have found on frequency counters too). 5kHz steps quickly take up those memories, and of course the pager skip feature is just for the US… You can have Close Call on in the background when scanning, but this causes the audio to annoyingly chop every couple of seconds (just like priority scan).

I have the set on most of the time at home. I tried connecting it to my rooftop discone, but it overloads with paging signals. The best compromise I have found is a small magmount antenna, which I place on top of my microwave oven. It seems to pull in a wider range of signals than any set-top antenna. Typically, in one evening I will get one or two high-altitude aircraft and several taxis on VHF-Hi band within around 500 yards. (There isn’t much UHF here now).

My only real gripe with Close Call is that you cannot set the radio to automatically stop more than two seconds on the detected signal. That’s quite limiting unless you have the radio in you hand ready for a ‘hit’—you must quickly press any key to see the frequency—alternatively you can cancel the squelch and hear both sides of a simplex conversation. But after that the hit has disappeared and you may never know the source of the transmission. I’ve read one suggestion that setting the squelch right down will retain the hit. It does, but it causes Close Call to open up erroneously all the time—the instructions state you should have the squelch up full when using Close Call.

In common with frequency counters, Close Call will not detect wide bandwidth digital signals such as TETRA, GSM or DECT. (Even when tuning through these bands this radio seems to ignore these signals, unlike most scanners). It will of course lock onto digital signals modulating an FM carrier such as paging or mobitex. Incidentally, TETRA base stations sometimes cause nasty interference at some distance, though that said they do on all scanners to some extent.

So, to get Close Call ‘on the cheap’, buy a ‘92. It’s such a pity that this type of thing wasn’t around 15 years ago and affordable, as too much RF is digital here nowadays. But for netting the ever-decreasing analogue signals out there it works pretty well and I recommend you buy one, especially considering the US price.

Plus Points:

AA battery operation—charges NiMhs inside the unit. (2100s run for about 10 hours on Close Call)
Feels solid—no creaks
OK size and weight. Not too small.
Close Call works quite well
6.25kHz step on UHF. Very welcome—search mode usually stops bang-on frequency too.
Very few birdies, none on airband
Reasonable RF performance for such a cheap scanner (though the ICR2 is more sensitive)
Very fast search speed
Ability to link search ranges together

Minus Points:

Basic memory/search operation is too complicated considering this is so basic. Keypad is ergonomically poor. Needs larger, dedicated search keys
Cannot switch off keypad bleep
Audio quality slightly mushy—neither crisp nor loud
Constant low-level background hiss through speaker/earphone
Very basic feature-wise. (But price reflects this).






 


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