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Mechanica

Realistic Pro-43

I have just had the pleasure of having the company of this scanner for a couple of weeks, it was nice to see an old scanner can still hold its own with today's scanners.

Okay I think I should give you the full picture here. I did not get hold of this scanner for reviewing purposes, rather I saw it for sale and thought I could make a couple of quid profit by re-selling on an auction site. So I bought it and straight away took a few pictures of it and had it for sale on the auction site in no time at all. "Ok I have it now for a while I may as well play with it" I thought, and off I went and boy was I surprised, I owned one of these scanners years ago and at the time although it served me well I was not so clued up on what was a good scanner and was always searching for the latest gadget.

The radio is quite attractive, set in a gray casing with white lettering, is almost identical in size to a Motorola GP300 radio.

In use

The first thing that struck me after programming some memories was the reception on VHF, this scanner definitely outperforms any scanner I have had on VHF and that includes your Yupiteru 7100! Birmingham airport from my location is just audible (Ground side of the comm's) on my 780 unless I hook it up to a discone of course and then it booms in. But with the 43 both sides came in loud and clear on a stubby rubber ducky! 162MHz and I thought I had stumbled on a new MPT 1327 trunked system, I wondered would my R5 with same rubber ducky fitted pick it up...Nope! I had to hold in the squelch button and then it was just audible, but on the 43 it boomed in, so chances are this system has been there for a long time and I did not even know about it!

 

UHF I would not say is better than any other scanner but it definitely isn't any worse.

I noticed that if there were any flutters in a transmission then the Pro-43 would sort of "Thunk" from the speaker this is rather hard to explain but I am sure Pro-43 owners will know where I am coming from.

Features

By today's standards the pro-43 doesn't boast many features, no it doesn't do ctcss or dcs, no it does not have alpha tagging and no it don't have trunking capabilities. What it does have is total ease of use, I never once looked at a manual to work it! I am pretty sure the Pro-43 was the first Triple conversion scanner from the Realistic/Radio shack/GRE stable, also I believe it was the first to come complete with military airband coverage. Also I believe it was their first hand held to come with am mode selectable on bands other than airband. Incidentally I found the am reception was very good indeed on the model I tested. There is a back light but this is very basic to say the least, to operate it you press in the "Light" button, there is no stop on time as soon as you release the button the lamp goes out, also the harder you press the button the brighter it goes.

Scanning speeds

Using the Pro-43 made me realise what a sluggish performer my Icom R5 is compared to the Pro-43 in terms of scanning speeds, I'm not sure what the specs are but it is very quick. The Pr0-43 comes with the "Hyperscan" terminology I'm not sure if this refers to just the search mode but scanning speeds are very fast and should keep most people happy.

Under pressure

I was interested to see how well it performed in a high RF area. The best place I know is on the M6 as there is a tower block of flats with a pager site on the top right next to the carriageway and when you pass this, virtually all VHF transmissions are virtually wiped out. I must say I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I listened as I passed the transmitter there was no interference whatsoever on the frequencies that usually suffer. Searching up and down the VHF spectrum I did get some very strong interference in the low 166 MHz area, this I have yet to test on other receivers so I can't really say whether this is a weakness in the Pro-43.

Audio quality

Blasting along at 80 MPH is a good test for any scanner audio. I had read somewhere that the audio quality on the Pr0-43 was poor, however I found very little distortion when cranked right up and all conversations were clearly audible. OK so it is not in the same class as the R5 but I found it more than adequate.

Battery power

The Pro-43 requires six AA type batteries which are loaded into an inner case which slides out of the bottom of the receiver. I couldn't check battery life as when charging it was obvious that one of the cells was not holding its charge as well as the others. When battery life is about depleted the display flashes and beeping can be heard. There are two points on the side of the Pro-43 one for mains power and one for charging (You can charge and use at the same time).

Final thoughts

If this scanner had Alpha tagging, CTCSS, DCS etc. then it would be one hell of a scanner. As it stands it is a classic, well stood the test of time, One thing to look out for if you do buy one of these second hand, the keypad tends to cease working over time, so check this first before purchasing. If it is faulty then all is not lost apparently it can be remedied (How? I don't know). Update! This will only be of use to US owners, I was recently emailed the following from a US owner of this scanner "I just had a Pro-43 that a friend gave me repaired; one of the keypad numbers wasn't working and it also had another problem. Radio Shack replaced the keypad for a reasonable price (the keypad is $11.26); over here their labor charge for the Pro-43 is a flat $49.00 regardless of how simple or complex the repair is."

I was sorry to let this unit go. To the chap that won the auction.. Fair play to ya mate, Have fun My loss is your gain!!