Update, 25 January 2013, 0645 hrs: The Uniden USB-1 cable arrived earlier in the week and I began using it with an Acer netbook running Windows 7. Everything is functioning properly, so the issue was a conflict between the firmware update and the USB-to-Serial adapter. The firmware update is a great improvement to the radio’s performance so I strongly suggest running it as well as ordering the USB-1 cable. The cable is only $29.95 not $39.99 as support quoted on the phone so it isn’t as expensive as initially thought.
Update, 12 January 2013, 1100 hrs: In the ongoing saga of the Uniden BCD396XT post firmware update, I discovered this morning that an old USB-to-Serial adapter on an old Windows XP netbook computer will recognize the radio. I just reprogrammed it with that setup and all is working. I’m confident that what I had was an anomaly and that that the radio isn’t half-bricked. Purchasing a USB cable for it should resolve issues on all of the computers. I think others can feel comfortable doing the update with no problems and it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a USB cable for the radio rather than using an adapter anyway.
Update, 11 January 2013, 1300 hrs: I received an email reply from Uniden this morning that suggested I call their customer support, which I did. Customer support stated that in their experience, USB-to-Serial adapters are unstable and that the firmware update could have caused this setup to stop working (even though it has worked on multiple computers with multiple scanners for several years with no problems whatsoever). My options were to find get their USB cable for $39.99 or send in the scanner to be checked for $59.99. Come Monday, I’ll order the USB cable; once it arrives I’ll try things again and post an update on whether things work again.
Update: 11 January, 0700 hrs: Since I wrote the blog post, I’ve discovered I have problem with my BCD396XT after running the update:
WARNING: After updating the software in my Uniden BCD396XT scanner yesterday, it is no longer recognized by any of my computers or software. I’ve tried checking the PC control settings, uninstalled/reinstalled the USB/Serial adapter drivers, and tried a factory reset. I currently have a scanner with nothing programmed in it that I can’t computer reprogram. I have an email into Uniden support for more information. You may want to hold off on running the update.
Yesterday I found out about a new firmware update for the Uniden BCD396XT handheld scanner through a friend on Twitter and Facebook (who says social media doesn’t have some good use!?). The new firmware revision is 1.11.01 and is one that BCD396XT owners in the Savannah and Coastal Georgia area will be interested in. The firmware installer and update instructions can be found at:
One of the main complaints about digital scanners is that they have a hard time with the digital audio from digital simulcast systems such as the SEGARRN TRS which has sites in Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Glynn, and Liberty Counties. Uniden states that the purpose of this firmware update is to improve performance on APCO Project P25 sites operating using Linear Simulcast Modulation (LSM). This should improve the received audio on the SEGARRN TRS.
I downloaded and updated the firmware in my BCD396XT yesterday afternoon. While I retweeted KE6ZGP‘s tweet about the update and posted a link in Facebook after I did, I wanted to wait until after I had a chance to do some listening post-upgrade before writing about it on the blog. Throughout yesterday afternoon and this morning, I have noticed that the digital audio quality has improved. For lack of a better term it is “cleaner” and I’m not hearing near as much of the garbling and skipping that can be prevalent when in the area where tower site coverage areas overlap. This is what Uniden is trying to accomplish with this firmware update and so far it seems that it’s working.
If you’re a BCD396XT owner in Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Glynn, and Liberty Counties or surrounding counties (or to be honest any BCD396XT owner) this is an update you’ll want to install on your scanner. It’s free, simple to do, and doesn’t take but a few minutes.