Analog scanners that worked fine before are not compatible with the county’s new state-of-the-art APCO P-25 digital trunking system.
That’s a national standard for digital wireless communications products and shoppers should specifically ask merchants for a P-25-compliant scanner. Large chain retailers in the county like Kmart and Walmart said they don’t carry police scanners, but electronics stores do.
The new equipment won’t come cheap, according to two local merchants. “Scanners compatible with the new system cost three to four times as much as the old analog units, which are now completely obsolete,” said George Saade, owner of AC Specialty Electronics, 1038 N. Broad St.
AC Specialty Electronics carries two items — a handheld scanner and a unit that can be used as a base or mobile scanner — that are compatible with the county’s new system. Both types cost about $550.
Radio Shack, 2204 Shorter Ave., has had trouble keeping digital scanners in stock since the switch, according to sales associate Justin Stang.
Stang said his store has scanners compatible with the local digital trunking system on sale through Sunday for $379 and $499. The regular prices are $424.99 and $524.99.
One big difference between analog and digital scanners is the older units were much easier to program. Newer units have to be programmed with computer software and connecting cables.
“Most older scanners were fairly easy to program, but that’s not the case with these,” Saade said. “It’s virtually impossible to program them if you are not into electronics.”
Saade said scanners sold at his store are already programmed to pick up local frequencies.
“All you need when you get them from me is to turn them on,” Saade said.
At Radio Shack, their scanners are not programmed due to time restraints, Stang said.
“As soon as we have them in the store, they are gone,” he said.
Some customers have complained that their new scanner was too difficult to program, Stang confirmed.
Frequency codes needed to program digital scanners so they pick up local traffic are available on web sites like www.radioreference.com.