Greetings once again scanner friends. This month I just received the upgrade to Probe version 2.0 and there are a couple of features I just had to tell you about. We'll go back and cover computer controlled scanning in more detail in an upcoming issue.
Probe 2.0 requires a PRO 2005 or PRO 2006 equipped with the Optoscan OS456 interface, or a PRO 2035 or PRO 2042 equipped with the Optoscan OS535 interface. Probe is the first program I have seen to take full advantage of the extra speed offered by the OS535. I have clocked speeds in excess of 100 channels per second with no noticeable loss in reception. If you're scanning a lot of frequencies, this sure comes in handy.
Probe allows for up to 99 banks of up to 1000 frequencies each in a group. It is a group that you scan, so in theory you could be scanning as many as 99,000 frequencies at a time. A group can be made up of data you entered, imported from Percon, or a search range. Each frequency in the search range counts as a "frequency", so is included in the 99,000 limit. I really haven't had much of a problem with running out of space. You can store up to 4000 groups on your hard disk, ready to go at just the press of a few keystrokes.
At first, I was using groups just for different blocks of frequencies that I wanted to scan or search, but the new manual suggests that you can also use them to accommodate changes in settings. Great idea! Now I have one group set up for my regular stuff on the 2006, and another one, with identical frequencies, set up for the 2035. Just pick a group and run! I also have groups set up now for different priorities... one for just local stuff, one that emphasizes fire, one for searching, and one that's got SmartScan enabled, and one that doesn't.
What's SmartScan?, I hear you ask. Rather than try to give a big explanation, let me give you a couple of examples.
Our local fire dispatch is divided up into 4 regions. Each region has a dispatch center, etc. and an associated bunch of callback, emergency, an other frequencies that only come into use when there is a fire. I used to scan all these channels (about 40) all the time. With SmartScan, I put just the dispatch frequencies into a bank that is scanned all the time. That's 4 channels. When one of them goes active, it means there's some sort of activity, and then the callback freqs and other channels associated with that dispatch center should be scanned. SmartScan can be set so that when it hears activity on one of those 4 dispatch channels, it flips over to the appropriate bank for that dispatch center and stays there for some amount of time that I can set. So it only scans the 10 or so frequencies that are likely to be active for that fire call. If it doesn't find anything before the timer expires (Probe calls this "dwell time"), then it goes back to normal scanning. If it does, it resets the timer and stays in the "SmartBank" until things settle down. I am hearing a LOT more callback activity using this method than I was before. I also believe I'm hearing more of other stuff too, because I don't waste time scanning all those channels which will be empty unless something's happening.
I have also used SmartScan fairly effectively with out State Police. They use a system where the callback can be on any of about 4 frequencies, but not the one that the dispatcher is on. I have set SmartScan so that when it hears activity on one of those channels, it just scans that group until the dwell time expires. Really neat!
There is also a mode where a trigger frequency can just turn on another bank, without scanning that exclusively. This might be handy for something like the air emergency frequency of 121.5. Nothing much happens here, but when it does, things are likely to be hopping all over. Scan 121.5 all the time. If you hear something, turn on a bank of airport related stuff, but keep scanning the normal police, fire, ambulance etc. All sorts of application for this mode too.
If you have an Optoscan equipped scanner, you'll want this one.