How to Program a Uniden Bearcat Scanner

By Dan Ketchum

Updated October 03, 2017

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To some, scanners are vintage tech; to others, they're the foundation of a passion-worthy hobby. Nowadays, Japanese powerhouse Uniden's radio devices feature bells and whistles like iOS and Android compatibility and Wi-Fi access – but the company's older models still have plenty of life left in them, with more than two dozen Bearcat (or "BC" series) handheld scanners in the legacy lineup. Programming nuances may vary across the wide-reaching Bearcat line, but let's start with a dive into the basics.

Take the Manual Route

Don't sweat the foreboding "All LockOut" screen upon powering up your BC series scanner – that's just business as usual for a Bearcat that hasn't been programmed yet.

Start by pressing the "Hold" button on your scanner, then enter the number of the channel you wish to set (i.e., the number that you want to program the frequency to). Press "Hold" again, then "Function" followed by "E" (sometimes "Pgm/E," depending on the model). Now punch in the frequency of your choice – such as "157.669" – and press "E" once last time. Voila, you've just programmed a frequency.

To program the next channel – let's say channel two if you started with channel one – just turn the radio's dial one click clockwise, punch in the frequency number and press "E." Keep on turning that dial one click at a time to program channels to your heart's content.

Program on PC

If you'd rather not go manual, Uniden also offers the option of point, click and type programming on your Windows PC for some Bearcat models. Visit Uniden's Scanner Software (see Resources) site and follow the "BCDx36HP Scanners" link to find the Bearcat model of your choice. Once you've found your device, click the link to its scanner software to download a .ZIP file. Open the downloaded file, click on the Windows installer package and click on "Run" and then "Next" to install the software. Once the software's installed, connect your scanner to your PC via a USB cable and open the software to program your scanner with a straightforward, point-and-click visual interface.

Get a Little Help from Uniden...

Uniden's wide-ranging line of Bearcat scanners share a fairly common interface, but each model may have its own variations. For a deep dive on what makes your scanner (and the process of programming it) unique, head over to to access Uniden's official TWiki page. Click on the "Uniden Manuals and Information" link, then follow the link to the Scanner Manuals Homepage, and you'll be treated to a cornucopia of official user manuals across tons of BC devices – could be just the frequency you need to troubleshoot any nagging programming woes.

...Or Outsource the Job

If manual programming, PC programming and manuals still don't do the trick, you've got an option that's virtually guaranteed to work: Hand off the job to someone else.

That's right – online companies like Scanner Master and Hobby Radio Stop let you mail in your Bearcat, along with some information about your location, and they'll do the programming for you. At 2017 prices, mail-in programming services usually run about $50 to $80, including shipping fees. Often, that price tag includes additional services like firmware updates and optimization, too.