Computer Aided Technologies

Since 1989, the recognized Leader in Computer Control





REVIEW - Scancat-Gold for Windows Ver 8.0

Reprinted with express permission of
Scanning USA Magazine - Jan 2002

Computer aided scanning has come a long way since the days of terminal software and DOS applications. Today there is software available that can turn even the most modest equipment into a high-tech listening post.

This month, I'll introduce you to the latest version of Scancat-Gold for Windows Surveillance Enhanced (SCGW-SE).
Jim Springer from Computer Aided Technologies (CAT) was kind enough to send us a copy of version 8.0.2.2 for this review. Version 7.57 was last reviewed by Scanning USA in April 2000.
If you've never used software to control your computer enabled scanner, you're missing some great enhancements that can only be achieved through the use of a 3rd party utility like SCGW-SE.

Benefits gained from using SCGW-SE

Alpha-tags
Automatic logging of active frequencies
Easy programming for off-line use
Audio recording/logging
Unattended monitoring and logging
Spectrum scope

Installation:

For this review I installed SCGW-SE on a 450 MHz Windows 98 PC and used an Icom PCR-1000 computer controlled receiver. Look for a review of the Icom PCR-1000 receiver in a future issue of Scanning USA. I also hooked up a Drake R8 and a Uniden BC895XLT to test the ease of setup. The recommended computer requirements for SCGW-SE are

* Windows 95\98\ME (Windows NT4/2000 are currently not supported)
* 32 Megs Ram
* VGA Monitor
* 8 meg installation space on Hard drive
* 2-3 Gigs of available hard drive space for recording "wav" files.

After you install SCGW-SE, and use the necessary cables to connect your radio to the computer, you're ready to get started. If you want to take advantage of the audio logging, don't forget to run a cable from your receiver line-out (or speaker/headphone out) to the microphone input on your computer!

Setup

When you start SCGW-SE for the first time, you'll need to setup the application to work with your equipment. The folks at CAT have made this about as easy as it can be. Simply pick your radio from the list and select the Com Port you used (1-6 are supported). Everything else is set for you.

The user can tweak just about every setting in this software package (from scan speed to Com Port resources). Using the default settings should get you up and running though. Once you're comfortable with the operation of the application, you can do some tweaking to get better results (higher scan speeds and better performance).

As far as I know SCGW-SE supports the largest number of radios of any software currently available. I was very impressed to see all of my computer-enabled equipment on the list (Drake R8, Radio Shack Pro-2035 with Opto Board, Uniden BC895XLT, BC245XLT, and the Icom PCR-1000) If you have the right equipment, you can even "slave" multiple radios. Slaving allows one radio to do the scanning, and when it encounters an active signal it tunes in a "slaved" radio to do the monitoring while the primary radio continues scanning. See the ScanCat website for more details.

Features

The true value of any applications is based on what it can actually do. After several weeks of playing with SCGW-SE, I'm still finding neat little features that help set it apart from the others.

Some highlights of this application are
* Conventional scanning/searching
* Trunking (when used with a trunk capable radio)
* Spectrum analysis (real-time and log analysis)
* Frequency logging
* Audio recording
* Activity frequency alarm
* Memory upload/download (most models)
* Frequency database functions
* Linked bank scan
* Detailed report printing

Almost everything can be accomplished with a click of a mouse or the press of just a few keys. The optional "bubble help" will explain every piece of the screen. Perfect for those users just starting to use the application. The upload/download function (when used with my Drake R8 Uniden BC895XLT, and 245XLT) saved a lot of time and frustration. I was able to completely download the memories of the radios, make a few changes and upload data back into them without a problem.
You have several options when it comes to generating frequency lists. They can be manually input, or imported from the various CD-ROM based frequency programs. I was even able to import the data extracted from my homemade logbook application.
Being able to record action as it happens is a feature that really impressed me. Step away from the computer for a wile & you can instantly review what happened while you were gone. Not only was the data easily accessible, the recordings are indexed by frequency, making it much easier to find just the information you're looking for.

Tech Support

I had a small glitch in the way SCGW-SE acted with my Uniden BC895XLT. A quick e-mail to Jim at CAT was all it took. He had me up and running within a couple of hours.

Summary

Overall, I think SCGW-SE is a very impressive piece of software. The number of available options can be, at times, a little overwhelming. Also, the naming convention of the various data files is a little confusing at first, but consulting the manual quickly sets things straight. This is what I would call a semi-professional application. If you're just wanting to upload/download frequencies to your radio, it's overkill. If you really want to study the radio spectrum in your area and take advantage of advanced data collection/analysis, this tool will fit the bill nicely. I found the SCGW-SE package to be a very robust and extremely stable application that can continually run and gather frequency information. There's a learning curve to use the software to it's full potential, but if you're serious about scanning, it shouldn't be an issue. Visit the CAT website and take the demo for a test drive. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the latest version of Scancat-Gold for Windows! Resources

Computer Aided Technologies has a 1.6 MB demo program available on the company website http//www.scancat.com/ The full registered version of SCGW-SE can be purchased from Computer Aided Technologies for $159.95. About the Author

Andrew Everhart (N9WCN) has been scanning the airwaves since 1990. Areas of interest include monitoring DC to Daylight with special interest towards Police/Fire communications and Short-wave Utility's. Andrew is the Webmaster and creator of IndyScan.com, the largest collection of Indiana scanner information available on the Internet. IndyScan.com covers all aspects of scanning (above 30 MHz).

Questions/comments about this review are welcomed and encouraged. Andrew can be reached at webmaster@indyscan.com or AOL-IM IndyScan.

Basically, if you can think of it, it's probably in there.

Usability

You're probably going to need to refer to the spiral-bound 158-page instruction manual when accessing some of the more advanced features. The written documentation is very complete and easy to understand. In addition to the normal ScanCat documentation, the "SE" version of SCGW has an additional 20-page instruction manual. This secondary manual covers the added enhancements. I found the screen layouts to be quite logical and thorough.

COMPUTER AIDED TECHNOLOGIES
P.O. BOX 18285 - SHREVEPORT, LA 71138
Phone Toll Free (In USA) 888-722-6228 (888)SCANCAT
FAX 318-686-0449



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