This is a list of radio equipment, scanners/receivers and amateur radio gear, that I use along with some comments about what I think of them.
- Uniden BCT15X – Excellent for analog scanning, they make particularly good VHF Airband and UHF MilCom scanners; they’re the current backbone of my home monitoring shack, which is geared towards MilCom. Note: As of February 2022, I’ve had two of the 15Xs die on me; they suddenly start to scan very slowly and go completely deaf. They used the same antenna system and Astron power supply that two BCD536HPs and a BCD996T have run on for years with no problems, so I’m not sure what happened to them.
- Uniden BCD996T/BCD996XT – Good digital scanners for P25 trunking; the 996T is the previous generation of the radio and the XT is the current generation of the radio.
- Uniden BCD536HP – Excellent for all around scanning; they do a great job on P25 Trunking, do well on VHF airband and UHF MilCom. Drawbacks are that they are pickier than the Whistler TRX-2 on DMR trunking programming. Other than DMR, in my opinion they’re superior to the TRX-2.
- Whistler TRX-2 – To be honest, it’s a disappointment. It’s a poor performer on P25 simulcast trunking, which is what most of the public safety agencies in coastal Georgia use. Two redeeming features are its ease of use for DMR trunking and it’s ability to read P25 conventional radio IDs. Otherwise, I much prefer the BCD536HP.
- Uniden Home Patrol 1/Home Patrol 2 – Great radios for beginner or casual scanner listeners, the internal database and touch screens make them easy to use. The touch screen also makes them great for mobile use. The Home Patrol 1 is the discontinued previous generation, the Home Patrol 2 is the current generation.
- Uniden BC125AT – A very good, inexpensive scanner for non-digital/non-trunked monitoring. It’s great for Airband, MilCom, Marine VHF, Railroad, etc. when you don’t need something that will do digital or trunking.
- Uniden BCD396XT – Good older model digital scanner for P25 trunking.
- Uniden BCD325P2 – A good option for scanning various digital and analog systems both conventional and trunked. It’s not quite as feature packed as the BCD436HP, but it’s also less expensive.
- Uniden BCD436HP – Excellent for all around scanning; they do a great job on P25 Trunking, do well on VHF airband and UHF MilCom. Drawbacks are that they are pickier than the Whistler TRX-1 on DMR trunking programming. Other than DMR, in my opinion they’re superior to the TRX-1.
- Whistler TRX-1 – To be honest, like the TRX-2, it’s a disappointment. It’s a poor performer on P25 simulcast trunking, which is what most of the public safety agencies in coastal Georgia use. Two redeeming features are its ease of use for DMR trunking and it’s ability to read P25 conventional radio IDs. Otherwise, I much prefer the BCD436HP.
Note: The current Uniden digital scanners do not do DMR or NXDN digital modes out of the box, you have to do an approximately $50 upgrade for each one to be able to use them.
Amateur Radio Base/Mobile Radios
- Yaesu FT-8800 – They’re discontinued, but they’re great 2 Meter/70cm dual band analog mobiles that have extended receive capability. I’ve had one for ages and still use it in the home shack for amateur use and scanning.
- Anytone AT-D578UVIII Plus – I’ve grown to enjoy DMR through the two Anytone HTs I bought and DStar just isn’t as active in Savannah or most places I visit as DMR is, so I took the iCom ID-4100A out of the mobile station and replaced with with an AT-578UVIII Plus so I would have DMR capability while mobile. It’s a very sturdy radio, but it doesn’t have a detachable face/control head, which limits mobile mounting choices, especially when you have a lack of space or a smaller vehicle. Otherwise, I’ve been very pleased with it. Like the AT-D878UVII Plus below, it has 500,000 contact memories instead of 200,000 so running out of contact memories and having to edit the list isn’t going to be a problem for a while.
Amateur Radio Handheld Radios
- Anytone AT-D878UVII Plus – The AT-D878UV below only has 200,000 contact memories, and with over 200,000 amateur radio DMR IDs in use, it meant I was having to edit the contact list before I could upload it to the radio. The AT-878UVII Plus has 500,000 contact memories and Bridgecom was running a sale on them around Christmas, so I bought one for daily use and shifted the AT-D878UV to use with a hotspot.
- Anytone AT-D878UV -My first DMR radio and the one that got me hooked on DMR. It’s not the easiest radio to program and since it’s based on a commercial radio you have get used to slightly different ways of doing things with it, but it packs a lot of features for its price. I’m thoroughly enjoying using it and I think the big manufacturers could learn from it if they wanted to.
- Icom IC-91AD – One of the earlier generation of DStar handhelds, I recently took it out of mothballs and put it on the air for Analog and DStar use.
Software Defined Radios (SDRs)
- AirSpy R2 – An awesome little VHF and up SDR; I use mine for lightning quick spectrum searches, to analyze trunking systems with Unitrunker, and more. They’re high quality with firmware and software that’s updated periodically. It’s hard to beat the AirSpy R2 for the price.
- AirSpy HF+ Discovery – A wonderful little HF/VHF SDR; I use mine for Shortwave/AM/FM broadcast listening and utility monitoring. Like the R2, they’re high quality with firmware and software that’s updated periodically. It’s hard to beat the AirSpy R2 for the price. Pair it with a Youloop antenna and you’ve got a inexpensive yet effective portable HF receiver.
- SDRPlay RSPdx – A slightly more expensive HF/VHF/UHF and up SDR and best used with SDRPlay’s SDRuno software, they’re great radios with some very nice filtering options. Although you could use one for portable use, to me they’re better in the shack. It’s not quite as plug and play as the AirSpy radios, but once you start learning the software and the myriad of options the RSPdx becomes a very versatile and flexible radio.