I started playing with radio when I was about 11 years old. Over the years I have used many radios – some good, some great, and some that were rather disappointing. There have been a lot of scanners throughout this time – AOR, Uniden, GRE, Whistler, RadioShack, NetSet, Fairmate and more!
This page lists the devices I enjoy using. I only recommend any products I use / have used!
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A great all purpose analog scanner. I use 3 of these on a regular basis in the shack, and often have 2 in my car at any given time!
They offer excellent receive performance across their full frequency range, and also handle analog trunked systems beautifully 🙂
A great handheld scanner for portable use. Analog only, but no trunking capability.
I make frequent use of mine, especially for Close Call applications and airshows.
It is a basic portable unit that is definitely frugal friendly, and a valuable asset to my scanner collection.
Uniden BCD 996P2
I have a couple of these units which are used to monitor digital systems. P25 comes as standard, but these units struggle with LSM. For regular P25 sites and repeaters they work great.
With the paid upgrades they support DMR & NXDN trunked systems as well which is super handy.
Unfortunately not sold directly in the UK.
This is the portable version of the BCD996P2 above. I use mine regularly on both digital and analog systems when out and about.
Not available in UK.
The 536 is a good radio for 700/800 MHz systems, but is not as sensitive on general VHF & UHF frequencies.
It handles P25, ProVoice, DMR & NXDN (with paid upgrades), so you get both analog and digital trunking.
Easiest to program via the free software supplied by Uniden.
Unavailable in UK.
Uniden BCD436HP (UBCD3600XLT)
This is the portable version of the BCD536HP. Good for digital modes, especially in the 700/800 MHz bands, but reception suffers in the general VHF & UHF bands.
If you have a 536, you can share your programming between both radios.
This is Uniden's current top of the range base scanner. I don't yet own one, but have used them on multiple occasions. I like them a lot!
They excel at digital modes, and are the only scanner on the market that can handle P25 simulcast systems (a.k.a. LSM).
Uses the same (free) programming software as the BCD536 & 436.
The Uniden SDS radios are actually SDRs on the inside!
Predictably, this is the portable version of the SDS200. As expected, it has excellent performance on the digital modes.
While it covers the usual VHF & UHF spectrum, you generally don't buy a scanner like this for monitoring analog signals.
Why are there no Whistler scanners on my list? Well quite simply I have not had good performance from the Whistlers I have owned. In my RF dense city, they really struggled to function well. They also don’t properly track voice channels on digital systems, although you can monitor DMR & NXDN with them.
In recent years, as technology has improved, I have taken to making extensive use of Software Defined Radios (SDRs). I find SDRs to be a frugal option given that 2 x $25 dongles can monitor P25 LSM better than all the scanners on this page bar the SDS series! If your interest is SDR, then view my SDR Gear page to see what I use and recommend.