A Review of the Uniden SR30C Handheld Scanner Radio

I had lost some of my electronics, including some scanners among other possessions during that wretched Hurricane Ida. So, in the aftermath of Ida, I replaced most of what was lost.

From July of 2016 until Hurricane Ida, my EDC scanner was a Uniden BC72XLT. I still, in fact, have it but realize that, while it may be great for listening to railroads, civilian aircraft, and marine traffic, there are signals that it is increasingly unable to receive. This is due to that unfortunate narrowbanding mandate. Also, it only has one hundred memory channels, which means real estate in this scanner can only accommodate radio traffic of the highest value. In my case that is local fire dispatch, local railroad, frequently used marine, same with civil aircraft, local businesses both itinerant and wide area, 11 Meter Citizen’s Band/Freeband, as well as national emergency (just in case of a total disaster) and local ham radio. Each bank had ten channels dedicated to those services.

When I wasn’t busy in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, I was listening to this scanner and others that I managed to salvage. I don’t recall any VHF or UHF Federal Emergency traffic, so I am guessing they were using the Louisiana Wireless Information Network to communicate. LWIN is a 700/800 MHz statewide trunking system for government and public safety users and only one of my scanners can receive it. One day I might write a review of it.

So, I find Uniden to be Superior to Whistler in many ways and that includes the models they previously made for Radio Shack. GRE made fairly decent scanners, but after they were purchased by Whistler, they went downhill in quality.

For the past ten years and some months, I’ve realized the need to EDC an entry-level scanner as opposed to a premium model. Furthermore, to listen in on railroad and marine traffic, one only needs an entry-level model, though these entry-level models have advanced considerably in the past decade.

Meet the Uniden SR30C, which is their current entry-level handheld model, and that is what this piece will be a review thereof.

In between the Uniden BC72XLT and the Uniden SR30C was the Uniden BC75XLT, which I did own from March of 2014 until some time in 2019. Actually, in August of 2016, the display failed me. I think I just had a bad unit because I purchased another one at Hamvention in May of 2018 and it worked without any issues.

The SR30C is a considerable upgrade for both of those.

There are features in this scanner that make it the best entry-level scanner currently (at the time this piece is written) on the market.

I will list the features available and add my commentary:

Close Call RF Capture Technology-This equips the user with technology to find unlisted, even low power, nearby frequencies that are in use. GRE/Whistler has an equivalent feature known as “Spectrum Sweeper.” Radio Shack referred to this as “Signal Stalker”, whether the scanner was a rebadged Uniden or GRE/Whistler.

PC Programmable-The software is free to download and the USB programming cable is included with the scanner. However, it only, to my knowledge, works in Windows-and I hate Windows with a passion.

Custom Search-This gives the user to custom set ten different ranges to search.

Quick Search-This lets the user enter a frequency and search up or down from it.

Turbo Search-This provides a search speed of 300 steps per second on bands with 5 kHz increments.

Search Lockouts-200 (100 temporary, 100 permanent) frequencies can be bypassed during Close Call or Search modes. Also, any memory channel can be locked out. The lockouts can be temporary, meaning they are undone after powering the scanner off, or permanent, meaning they have to be manually unlocked.

500 Memory Channels with 1 Priority Channel for each bank.

Duplicate Channel Alert, will alert the user if he/she attempts to program a frequency that has already been programmed.

Two Second Scan Delay-Keeps the scanner on a frequency for two seconds after the transmission has ended to hear the reply.

Ten pre-set Service Bands-Weather, Police, Fire/EMS, Marine, Auto Racing, Civil Air, Ham Radio, Railroad, 11 Meter CB Radio, and Other (FRS/GMRS/MURS/Itinerant Business Band.)

Key Lock-Prevents unwanted accidental changes to the scanner’s programming.

Two levels of backlighting-This is a first.

Indefinite Memory Backup-The scanner retains its programming, even after an extended period with no power.

Three Power Options-The supplied USB cable can power or charge the scanner (with 2 optional AA NiMH batteries) from any USB power source. It can also be run on 2 AA Alkaline batteries.

Low Battery Alert-A tone sounds every 15 seconds to notify the user of depleted battery power.

Battery Save-When no transmission is detected for 1 minute, RF power is shut off for 1 second and instead is turned on in 300-millisecond intervals. This does not work in Priority or Close Call modes.

All of the other features are what comes standard on any modern handheld scanner.

It has the frequency range of an entry-level Uniden scanner and is as follows:

25.000-27.995 MHz AM (11 Meter Citizen’s Band/Free Band)
28.000-29.700 MHz NFM (10 Meter Ham Radio Band)
29.700-50.000 MHz NFM (VHF Low Band)
50.000-54.000 MHz NFM (6 Meter Ham Radio Band)
108.00000-118.99166 MHz AM (Civil Aviation Band)
137.000-144.000 MHz NFM (US Military/Federal Government Band)
144.000-148.000 MHz NFM (2 Meter Ham Radio Band)
148.000-150.770 MHz NFM (US Military/Federal Government Band)
150.77500-174.00000 MHz NFM (VHF High Band)
406.00000-420.00000 MHz NFM (US Federal Government Band)
420.000-450.000 MHz NFM (70 Centimeter Ham Radio Band)
450.00000-470.00000 MHz NFM (UHF Standard Band)
470.00000-512.00000 MHz NFM (UHF T-Band)

I know that this is an entry-level scanner, but I wish it would feature the additional Military Bands which are:
225.000-390.000 MHz AM (Military Aviation Band)
390.000-406.000 MHz NFM (Military Tactical Band)

Sadly it does not.

Entry-level GRE/Whistler scanners cover the Military Tactical Band, so I’m not sure why Uniden does not.

I have my theories as to why but will try to keep the controversy to a minimum.

The one theory I will disclose because I have mentioned it before on this blog is that I think the government (or at least people in high places) somehow coerces the manufacturers of firearms and scanners to deliberately jack up their prices to discourage the ownership of them. And as I have previously stated, I will recant this statement if I can be unequivocally proven otherwise.

For the record, if I want to listen to military traffic or the Feds, it’s not for any unlawful purposes, rather it’s simply for the wow factor. I mean I do find all military technology fascinating and I do respect our men and women in uniform, though some have severe anger management issues. I almost regret pointing that out because their anger issues are almost always brought on by the horrific things they witness in combat. Furthermore, even when I visit large population centers, the Federal Government bands are dead. I think most federal agents either use digital trunked systems operated at the state level or the federal government’s LTE system for communications. Honestly, those who know me well enough, know I’d much prefer listening to railroads and marine traffic. Fire and Medical calls are interesting as well and I think they display the heroic nature of our first responders. Some people want these to be harder to intercept because a bunch of knuckleheads wants to visit the scene of an incident. And then some simply think that public safety communications are none of the public’s business. I used to enjoy law enforcement communications, but now I find them depressing, especially when I hear domestic violence calls. Almost all law enforcement communications in my area are digital and now encrypted except for a few private security firms.

I’m not going to complain about the fact that it is analog-only, but I wish digital models could be had for cheaper and those aforementioned theories I have would explain why.

I purchased this scanner brand new on eBay for a total of $91.54-which I have to admit is quite a bargain. That includes taxes and shipping and it was still had for less than the MSRP of $119.99

In terms of battery life, narrowband capability, audio quality, compactness, and memory capacity, the Uniden SR30C is a wonderful scanner.

I wish scanners could be built more ruggedly but I also have theories as to why scanners are not built as ruggedly as they ought to be.

I had a hard time finding frequencies to store in all 500 memory channels, to where I had to do extensive research. At least I can travel to different parts of the USA and still hear some interesting transmissions on the channels I have programmed.

If one wants access to military aircraft traffic in a handheld model, the Uniden BC125AT covers it for a few dollars more, although I think Uniden needs to come out with an upgrade to its mid-grade handheld model. Although, I believe that was the first mid-grade handheld scanner to feature military aircraft.

Even though the Uniden SR30C is my EDC scanner, if I am going to watch trains are boats in a less than prime location, I will take an older, second hand, entry-level scanner, such as my Uniden BC72XLT, so if it gets stolen or damaged the loss would not be so bad.

I have only had this since September of 2021, but if I had to give it a rating, it would be 4.85 out of five stars, for two reasons:
Lack of military bands.
Programming software does not work in Linux.

I guess this, therefore, concludes my review of the Uniden SR30C. It took me the better part of the night to write this and I need to take my medicine. If anyone in my immediate circle is reading, they would likely agree, due to some of the comments I made in this piece.

All in all, I hope that you, the reader, have been informed, enlightened, and maybe even entertained.

May God richly bless you!

PS, Below are some YouTube videos that my wife recorded featuring the audio from this scanner:

Marine Traffic at Houma, Louisiana

More Marine Traffic at Houma, Louisiana

Even More Marine Traffic at Houma, Louisiana

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