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Reviews Categories | Receivers: Scanners | Uniden Bearcat BCD996XT Help

Reviews Summary for Uniden Bearcat BCD996XT
Uniden Bearcat BCD996XT Reviews: 19 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $699.00
Description: Digital Mobile Scanner with 25,000 Channels and GPS Support
The BCD996XT comes equipped with Uniden exclusive features like Advanced Dynamic Memory System, Close Call™ RF Capture Technology, GPS compatibility and much - much more!
Product is in production.
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NO6E Rating: 4/5 Jul 28, 2012 11:11 Send this review to a friend
Capable but Quirky  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
As a scanner user since crystal days, the Uniden BC996XT makes one feel like a Wright brother at a space shuttle takeoff. The radio is astonishingly capable, and spoils one for lesser units. The multi-color backlight is fun (red for fire, blue for police or whatever you want) but not 100% accurate at decoding. Still, it adds to the enjoyment and at-a-glance usefulness of the radio.

Don't even consider programming the BC996XT from the front panel. I used the excellent freeware program FREESCAN ( download data from You have to pay for a premium RR subscription, but it's more than worth it, saving hours of retyping data from the website into the software.

It does seem odd to have the radio use a serial, rather than USB, data port. I had a bit of trouble fiddling with port numbers and conflicting software, but no more than usual. Once set up, the connection is reliable and fast, loading the radio with two large trunking systems and numerous conventional channels in a few seconds. Programming is through a small connector on the front panel, an advantage for mobile use. (There's separate rear-panel serial connector for a GPS receiver.)

It does take some adapting for those accustomed to traditional scanner memory arrangements to understand the object-oriented programming of this radio and its portable sister, the BC396XT, but the system is powerful and almost infinitely large. You can easily program more stuff than a single radio can ever hope to cover. The program I described above uses about 2% of the radio's storage.

I haven't had the opportunity to try out the GPS function, which allows you to have the radio switch setups based on your location. If I were a long-haul trucker I'd love that.

The audio quality of P25 digital audio is variable, based on how good the signal is. As with FM stereo, multipath reception can cause decoding problems. With a good signal, though, a well-maintained P25 system sounds better, if anything, than a comparable FM system.

Indeed, both the factory manual (on CD) and the aftermarket manuals leave much to be desired. Still, I was able to figure things out enough to get started fairly quickly. Using a good software package and RR data help prevent programming errors.

I actually worked on this radio for my employer, and the BC996XT is an expensive radio. At the moment, I'd suggest a rebandable analog trunking scanner instead, unless you need the P25 digital audio capabilities. But the handwriting is on the wall about the coming dominance of P25 digital, and most of us will need a radio like the BC996XT sooner or later.

Andy NO6E
Lafayette, CA
N0VA Rating: 5/5 Jul 11, 2011 18:31 Send this review to a friend
Love it  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned the BCD996XT about 2 months now and find no fault with it. It's my first digital scanner. It is solidly built (heavy metal case.) I did not even try to program it by the front panel buttons. I paid for a membership to, plugged the included serial cable into the scanner and a laptop serial port, downloaded my state P25 system and other digital groups for the local county and it has been nothing but fun ever since. I enjoyed the looks and sound of it so much that I added a BCT15X to the stack for so I could separate the conventional stuff from the digital.
K6MTT Rating: 5/5 May 12, 2011 13:33 Send this review to a friend
It's the best  Time owned: more than 12 months
This scanner is the top of the line. It is, hands-down, the best scanner ever made. That's a pretty big compliment, I know. But in more than 40 years of "monitoring" (and 36 of ham radio), this is the most usable, flexible and featured radio I have ever had. It includes digital (P25) capability.

However - if you are expecting instant results or plug-and-play operation, this is not for you. This radio has a learning curve and is truly a hobbyist radio. Having said that, if you are willing to invest the time in learning how the radio works, you will be rewarded with an excellent and enjoyable experience.

Yes - there is no manual. Yes, the substitute for it - the Uniden Wiki - is abysmal as a stand-in. But, there is an alternative "manual" available online (and in a printed version for a price) that will do you well. I'm tempted to downrate the radio by a point for Uniden's poorly-implemented cost savings attempt, but the reason I don't is that most radio manuals suck anyway. Radio Shack's are legend for being crummy, and Uniden's old printed manuals left a lot to be desired too.

For those who just want to listen to things without programming and details, Uniden's Home Patrol may be a better choice. It's as simple as putting in your zip code - and you'll be listening. For the BCD996XT (and its handheld relative, the BCD396XT), it will require programming, using the included cable to connect to a computer. You will have to get the software for it - which ranges from Freescan (absolutely free) to Proscan and other paid-for programs. Of course, like most ham radio - I want the control - automatic is not good, so this radio is the scanner for me.

Once you do get the programming down, it's a joy to operate and listen to. One of the limitations of even modern scanners is bank and channel - everything had to fit in the "blocks" of channels. The DMA (Direct Memory Access) architechture blows those limitations away. Once you have the concept of "systems" and "groups" down, it makes scanning ridiculously flexible. The downside is that you can have so much programmed in your radio that you need a printed guide to remember what is where for the less used things (and the software allows you to print those guides).

I do not use the GPS capabilities, but it's a brilliant concept. Once programmed, the radio can turn systems on and off based on the location your GPS provides. For folks travelling a regular route or commute, for instance, this would switch things on an off according to where they are travelling, such as different highway patrol channels, county sheriff departments or city fire and police. The possibilities are endless (and this is all available in the handheld BCD396XT as well).

If you have deep pockets, do add the handheld BCD396XT to your collection also - having two radios programmed exactly the same is a great sanity saver - they are nearly identical in function, having only slight differences on the keypads.

If you don't need the digital capabilities, you can go with the non-digital BCT15X for about 300 cheaper. But when digital comes to your locality, you will be buying a new scanner.
W7KEW Rating: 4/5 Mar 20, 2011 00:15 Send this review to a friend
Very Good if you can learn  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The Uniden BCD996XT is packed full of features that you must take time to learn. The key is the MENU system. Once you learn all the ins & outs of the MENU system you can master the use of the scanner. There is a web page & book available that explains the scanner so people can learn it. ( ) If you have a hard time learning technical things I suggest you have the scanner pre-programmed for you or buy the pre-programmed scanners GRE 800 or Uniden HP-1
N2MAC Rating: 5/5 Oct 12, 2010 19:57 Send this review to a friend
Monster Scanner  Time owned: more than 12 months
The BCD996XT is a monster top of the line trunk system scanner. Trunk systems can be complex and are set up differently some more generic than others. Now with rebanding trunking complexity has increased . The scanner’s memory is organized as a database for in depth organization. You should not attempt to program this device without understanding its database structure. Two huge efforts are required to get this device programmed. Understanding the complex database structure and complex menu structure could take days even weeks for some people.
So do yourself a favor, don’t beat your head against the wall trying to program it manually. When you buy the BCDxxxXT , BCxxxXT scanner line remember it really requires
a computer with an rs232 port or Special USB-1 cable and USB-1 driver,
computer software and
database data
Programming the scanner is a thing of beauty when you interface it with a computer.
In my case I got a subscription to Radio Reference online so I could download all the databases for just about every county in the USA. This way I do not have to know how to setup the trunk systems it is already done for me. FreeScan, BCtool are free software you can download online or buy ARC XT or ARC XT PRO. All these software packages make special subscription connections to RadioReference web site where you down load the systems (databases) for your area of interest and upload them to your scanner. And save them on your hard drive.
In one nights sitting I down loaded and installed 30 some odd systems for several counties containing thousands of frequencies and several trunking systems. The old type bank programming radios could never do this. The on screen data base reports in text exactly what you are listening to. Amazing.
You need to concentrate on how to turn these system and sub groups on and off manually.
This is a monster scanner. BCD996XT has 25000 channels and GPS interface. An incredible machine when traveling over the road. You could program in all the systems for many counties along you way and have the GPS automatically turn them on and off for you as you travel. And if you are traveling great distances you can set up multiple profiles with this software in block profile of 25000 channels. And upload from your laptop as you go covering the continental USA.
Once you have downloaded a few system and study then in your scanner software’s database you will learn very clearly how this data is organized and be able to make your own changes or your own systems altogether.
The user manual is fragmented a good reference manual but a poor how to manual. Check out this web site for a clearer explanation of how to operate this monster.
RadioReference is a free web site and has tons of information and lots of people to help you through this learning period, check on the forums. The Databases are free to use and look at if you wish to manually program. But getting a premium membership so you can download them to the scanner is a giant error free time saver.
This unit has a very good RF section with good sensitivity and stability. It has excellent portability. It is designed to be used with a low gain antenna. If it’s there you will here it. If your intending to receiver over the natural horizon with a high altitude high gain antenna this is not the radio for the job. Go buy a UHF/VHF table top receiver with heavy image rejection.

KJ4SLP Rating: 4/5 Mar 3, 2010 13:25 Send this review to a friend
Generally a good product  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Wow, opinions are all over the place about this scanner. Well, here are mine.

The manual leaves much to be desired. I agree with the reviewer who made the point about learning new technology. However, I DO know about new radio technology, including technology a heck of a lot more sophisticated than this little scanner. And the manual IS poorly written. Information is scattered and difficult to locate on the CD while the on-line manual system has long been acknowledged to be a bad joke. Uniden might pause to consider that not every buyer is knowledgeable about scanners. This means including a "Start Here" section for neophytes.

The radio, itself, is a very nice little device that works exactly as described. Unlike another reviewer, I have not experienced overloading of the front end or significant intermod though I use a high efficiency antenna on a 12 meter mast.

Capable? Yes. Fairly easy to learn? Yes. Overpriced? Of course, aren't they all? Overkill for most listeners? Definitely.
K4VNG Rating: 4/5 Nov 20, 2009 18:13 Send this review to a friend
No written manual drops score by 1/2  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just got the BCD 996XT (pre-programmed for my home county). First off I have to say that without a manual, I'd give the rig 2. With a manual, I'd give it a 4--but since there is no written manual, I'm going to have to give it a 2. If I hadn't had the rig pre-programmed, I would be returning it. It is too frustrating to work through the wiki manual that is online (the disc Uniden included with my rig didn't even work).
Bottom line, for the pre-programmed stuff--its GREAT. No manual drops the score significantly.
K9XYZ Rating: 5/5 Oct 24, 2009 12:14 Send this review to a friend
IT IS A BASE RIG!!!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The previous "review" must be someone's attempt at a joke. But I'm not not laughing, are you? Beware if you can't read simple english or understand a manual that comes on CD rom not DC rom whatever that is don't buy this scanner, you will be as miserable as the previous user. However, if you own or have owned a trunk tracker scanner that has been available for more than 10 years and you can read and understand basic english then buy one, they are fantastic radios.... PERIOD!!!
Uniden listened to users of the earlier 996t and 396t models and made great improvements on the new models. I own all of them the older models and both the new ones the 996XT and the 396XT as well as the GRE PSR 500 and 600 and I can read and understand english. If you choose to live in a large metro area that is bombarded with RF don't attempt to blame a radio because you can't receive anything. My scanners work perfectly and receive is phenominal on all the models. The new uniden scanners have extremly well laid out menus and are very user friendly. The menu system they have is second to none, except maybe the GRE models(grin).
If you have not bought a scanner since the days of the bearcat III with crystals then do yourself a favor, download the manual from either uniden or GRE website and take the effort and time needed to read and understand the NEW scanners. Both these manuals state that you need to learn new technology in order to understand the way the new scanners operate.
READ THE MANUAL FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NE7X Rating: 1/5 Oct 24, 2009 09:28 Send this review to a friend
Not for base usage  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased a new BCD996XT from Universal Radio in Ohio to use as a base Police/Fire/Amateur scanner. After I removed it from the box and connected it up, I spend 5 days trying to figure out how to get a freq into it, and scan a few basic freqs. The owner’s manual which came with it (DC-ROM) is the most poorly written document I have ever read. It makes “assumptions” the user already knows how to use and operate a trunking scanner. Being new to using a trunk type receiver, I did not understand it does not operate like a normal old-fashion radio. The user manual should be more descriptive, more details with examples and have a “beginners” section.

The way I finally figured out how to get the receiver working was to install FreeScan (excellent free scanner software) onto my computer, connect the scanner via null modem RS-232 and down-load the pre-load frequencies which Uniden put into the scanner’s memory. Then after looking at the FreeScan configuration and reading the user manual, I was finally able to piece together how to operate the scanner. One of the reasons why I am rating this scanner low, because I feel it should not have been that complex to get the scanner working out of the box for a beginner. I feel the fault was in the poor documentation.

The main technical issue with the BCD996XT, when connected to an outside antenna, the receiver over-loads and is full of intermod. This makes the receiver totally useless in city urban areas where there is lots of RF in the environment. Using the telescopic whip antenna which comes with the scanner, it works fine. However this prevents me from listening to distance repeaters or trunks on the other side of the city.

Looking at the BCD996XT a little closer, it’s really designed for mobile use, not home base usage. It comes with lots of extra hardware for mounting the scanner into the dashboard of an auto or truck. Even the user manual has a full section on mobile installation and operation.

So if you are planning to purchase a BCD996XT for mobile usage, it should work fine. However if you plan and using it as a base receiver connected to an outside antenna, save your $$$$$.

Tom NE7X…
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