Monday, April 5, 2010

Programmer scanners

You know, I always wonder why noone has brought out programmable scanners. Yes I know there are scanners that are called programmable scanners. Really old scanners used crystals and you had to have one for each frequency you wanted to monitor. Then someone built scanners that had PLLs and digital readouts and direct entry of frequencies and called those programmable scanners.

I want programmable scanners more like my graphing calculator. Is that too much to ask? Give me a nice sized screen, at least a basic interpreter and a computer interface by default. Even if the programs couldn't be built interactively on the radio itself, I could live with that I guess. Even something fairly low power like a z80 level of performance would be better than the fixed, closed systems we have now. Higher power options would add even more uses, albeit possibly at the cost of some battery life. Imagine one with a Cortex A8 ARM processor running Android or Linux doing software decoding of digital communications right on the scanner itself. Add a GPS module and you could have a portable APRS receiver that can show your location compared to others. (I'll admit this idea is nicer if someone would add it to a transceiver instead)

A computer serial interface is just something that every scanner should have by now whether most of its intended audience would use it or not. I'm rather certain all units have some sort of microprocessor built in that could at the very least give serial control and read out with a little programming and probably less than 50 cents worth of parts.

My Icom R3, which is one of the more advanced scanners I've ever owned, doesn't even have computer control. I can read frequencies out of it and write new ones in but I can't control it and even if I could, the interface is the speaker out.

Bluetooth would be nice too. I've seen that the VX8R has an optional addin for bluetooth but it's MSRP is $99. I wonder how much of that is justified or if it's mostly price gouging since pretty much noone else is offering it. From what I've read the bluetooth is exclusively for hands-free operation. Not a bad thing I agree but would it kill them to add some serial protocols to it so that you can pair it with a computer and control the radio and/or use the packet without additional cables? Probably.

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