PROBE 7.0 Review
It has been two years since Probe 6.0 was released. With the release of Probe 7.0, it's been worth the long wait. I've been using Probe since version 1.3 and this is one of the best upgrades since its first release. This version has some new features that no other scanning software has attempted.
The most exciting new feature is TacScan. TacScan adds a whole new dimension to scanning. I'm sure you all have experienced missed replies and other happenings because the scanner is busy scanning your other banks or it has stopped on some frequency that you're not currently interested in. TacScan will create a separate frequency list of only recent activity and will check this list while its scanning your other frequency banks. If activity is detected on the TacScan list it will let you listen. This increases the odds of hearing replies and gives you more continuity to your scanning. This becomes more important with the larger scanning lists a lot of us have.
The TacScan frequencies expire automatically depending on your settings to ensure only recent activity is checked. This ensures you that your scanner will continue to scan your other banks in the usual manner and not waste time checking on frequencies that have no activity. You are able to determine how often Probe will check the TacScan list and how long the frequencies stay in the TacScan list. TacScan will work in an automatic mode by recent activity, or in a "logged" mode meaning TacScan only checks frequencies that are logged! Since you have control over what is logged, you can determine which frequencies are added to the TacScan list.
TacScan also has a manual mode. When you have a frequency you want to add to the TacScan list, it just takes a tap of the keyboard to add it to the list. You can review the TacScan list and remove any frequencies if needed. You also have the option to increase the time a frequency will remain in the TacScan list over the current setting any time it's active. TacScan will even let you "prioritize" the order the frequencies are scanned in its list.
The uses for TacScan are endless since you have full control. With the proper settings, you can have only the local frequencies added to the TacScan list, or special events, or if you're a milair or federal buff, have only those frequencies added to the TacScan list. All the while, you can continue scanning other frequencies without worrying about missing stuff on those frequencies. One of my uses for TacScan will be for searching. Imagine searching a range of frequencies and hearing activity on any frequency that was found during the search but continue searching.
Probe has another new feature that is a favorite of mine - it will now export your frequency list to a map file that can be imported into programs like Street Atlas and Microsoft Mappoint. This allows you to display the frequency and name on the maps providing you have the lat / long coordinates entered into Probe. There is more to this just then the neato factor. A good time to generate some maps is after a FCC frequency import. You can determine which frequencies you want to listen to by the location on the map. Or try a map export right before a trip. Taking the map with you will be a great aid for areas your not familiar with. When the frequency is active just look at the plot on the map to see where the traffic is coming from
Try creating a map of inactive frequencies in your area. You may find you have a dead spot for your antenna and can take steps to correct it. If you're trying to track down interference, try importing common frequencies that cause interference like pagers onto a topo map. Look at the plots of the frequencies on the local hilltops in your area and you will probably see some frequencies that are causing your problems. It's handy to create separate maps by county, agency, etc., for your club or newsletters. The maps are a great aid when trying to identify who is using that new tower.
Another feature has been added that has been requested by many - Probe now has CSV import. You now have the ability to import frequency lists off of web pages or csv and text files from other programs. The templock feature also has been enhanced. Now you can view the templock frequencies and / or kill a specific templock frequency. New features have also has been added to the 'Monitor' feature. You can automatically templock frequencies by 'monitor time' or by 'carrier check'. 'Carrier check' checks for presence or absence of carriers on a frequency. The primary benefit of this function is to temporarily remove a frequency which exhibits carrier oscillation within a short period of time.
Enhancements have been added to 'marked records'. You can now list marked records by lockout, smartbank assignment and duplicate frequencies. Enhancements have also been added to DTMF logging frequency viewer. Probe now has an auto-resume feature when you forget to resume "paused" frequencies. The frequency viewer now has indexes on different 'marked' records. The 'Radio Service Codes' have been updated and various other enhancements have been added to Probe.
The Optocom users have a new feature. You now have the ability to download the Optocom's memory to any bank of your choice.
With the new TacScan and other enhancements, it seems like my scanner has gotten a complete overhaul. I'm glad to see Probe has continued to make conventional scanning and searching exciting.
I have posted some screen shots of Probe 7.0 and some map screen shots using the map export feature under the Probe section of my homepage
Steve Hancock, N3FWE