This WEB site decribes a simple interface that you can build to add computer control to almost any scanner. I started this project several years ago when I got tired of looking up frequencies in the Police Call Book and laboriously typing them in through the tiny front panel keypad on my Radio Shack PRO-2032. During the last several months, a group of scanner enthusiasts have been building prototype interfaces for several different scanners and testing the software that I call PROgramit. Thanks to their efforts and a few hundred hours of programming on my part, I think this project is ready for you to enjoy. A complete description of the project appeared in the November 1997 issue of Nuts & Volts Magazine. The purpose of this site is to supplement that article with information that will make it even easier for you to build one for yourself.
Project Status - August 2010
The 8 X 8 CMOS switch used in this project was discontinued years ago and the few people who have tried to find surplus parts or an equivalent part were not successful. I have ideas for an even simpler design, but these days I just do not have the time to experiment at the bench. If you are inclined to do so and have microcontoller skills and equipment, email me and we can discuss some ideas.
What is PROgramit?
PROgramit is a one-way interface from your computer to your scanner. Its purpose is to simplify the task of programming the memories in your scanner. When this is accomplished, you can unplug the programmed scanner from the computer and your settings will remain as if you had typed them from the front panel keypad. In fact, PROgramit works by electronically "pressing" the keys on your keypad. The unique aspect of the project is its ability to work with just about any scanner.
There are serial and parallel versions of the interface which use only 2 or 3 ICs. Printed circuit boards are available for both. The Windows 3.1 / Win95 software allows you to create and save custom channel setups by dragging and dropping from a master database listing to the bank/channel of your choice. Currently, your Probe, Percon, Grove and Scanware databases can be imported into PROgramit.
"Almost Any Scanner"?
I am quite confident that PROgramit will work with any scanner that has a front panel keypad that is scanned by a microcontroller. If you have one that is not, you don't need PROgramit ... you need a new scanner!
The heart of the PROgramit interface is an 8X8 CMOS switch matrix IC. A CMOS switch is connected across each switch on your keyboard and the computer can remotely open and close each switch. The article and this Web page shows how this was done in my PRO-2032. It has also been tested in Radio Shack 2004, 2005, 2006, 2024, 2026, 2035, 2042 scanners so far and all are working great. We learned early on that the added capacitance of the CMOS switch interfered with normal operation of some scanners, but this was solved with a few resistors and diodes that are now part of the interface. I have little reason to believe that the hardware will not work equally as well in your scanner.
The software was designed to be configurable by you for your radio. From a point-and-click menu, you tell it how you wired the interface to your scanner, what the keys are called, and teach it three simple programming sequences. From then on, it knows how to program your radio. This really works folks! Read the article, download the SW and see if there is some feature in your radio that is not addressed by PROgramit. Send me some mail and explain the details of what is needed and I will do my best to get it implemented and posted in a new version (usually within days).
What if it doesn't work? - Often referred to as the "Disclaimer"
If you have read this far and this is really an issue for you, perhaps you should purchase a new PRO-64 or some other radio with a built in computer interface. PROgramit is meant to be a home-brew hobby project for those with intermediate level construction and debug skills who get a kick out of knowing that they built it and made it work. You probably should own at least a voltmeter and a schematic of your scanner is useful if the needed info is not already posted on this site. You should understand that this is not an off-the-shelf, guaranteed to work or your $15.00 back product. I am sharing a few years of my own experience on the project with you and many hours of testing on the part of those who have participated over the last 9 months to help you be successful at building your own. A list server has been set up so that you can communicate with me and others who have built or who are building the project. To join the list, send a message to email@example.com. In the body type "subscribe PROgramit" (without the quotes). You will receive a confirmation email and then you will be able to send email to the group at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also email me direct at email@example.com
I think that you will find this a very enjoyable project to build and
use and I hope that you decide to build one one for your scanner. Good
Schematic of Parallel Interface Version
Schematic of Serial Interface Version
Pictures and Comparisons of Serial and Parallel Interface HW
Special Instructions for Radio Shack 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2026,2035, 2042 Scanners
Special Instructions for use with the PRO64 and PRO2041 built-in serial interfaces
Special Instructions for AR1000
Notes to help you understand the operation of PROgramit
Download the latest version of PROgramit Software
Download the HW Diagnostic Program
Information on printed Circuit Boards
Links to other scanner related pages
Check out PROgramit IRext - An add-on that gives you remote control of your scanner!
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