basic user help - sorry

Jun 27, 2018

Sorry in advance for these dumb beginner questions. I looked around the site and databases and read some articles so I understand a little bit.

What is recommended for approx. $500 or less -- so I can listed to Phoenix emergency radio?
I would prefer a mobile unit I can put in my truck.
A base station would also be acceptable.

I live in Surprise, AZ.
I want to be able to pick up police, fire, sheriff,etc.
When I travel around in my truck, it would be nice to be able to listen in on CB, and other emergency channels.

Ideally, i'd like to buy something that is pre-programmed, or easily programmable, so that I can do it after reading some instructions.

I am very new - so I am sorry.

Thank you so much in advance.
Nov 18, 2017
Phx, AZ
Hi Sk323i, most public safety agencies around the Phoenix metro area use digital trunked radio systems. If you're unfamiliar with what exactly that means, RadioReference has some good info in the wiki - Trunked Radio Systems. Two entities provide the majority of the wireless network infrastructure for public safety and other municipal agencies, Regional Wireless Cooperative (RWC) and TOPAZ Regional Wireless Cooperative (TRWC). They both operate APCO Project 25 Phase I systems, which means you'll need a scanner capable of receiving these types of radio transmissions. However, I think both of these systems are planning an update to P25 Phase II so it would be in your best interest to purchase a radio capable to receiving that as well. Maricopa County Sheriff operates a Motorola Type II SmartZone system and scanners capable of receiving P25 Phase II should also be able to receive MCSO. According to the RadioReference database, it looks like MCSO is planning a transition a P25 Phase II as well.

As far as specific scanners, I have a Uniden BCD996P2 for monitoring around the Valley and the rest of the state. It is a very capable radio, however the learning curve is quite steep and I would not consider this "easy" to program without putting in quite a few hours of reading and experimenting. A Uniden Home Patrol 2 might be a good choice for you, these are comparatively much easier to program and scan, and can be done so by just entering your ZIP code and selecting the agencies or systems you want to listen to. ScannerMaster has a lot of great radios and they offer a programming service so you're ready to listen right out of the box. Your budget of $500 will be able to get you the radio you're looking for. If you want to spend a little extra and get the latest and greatest in scanning tech, the Uniden SDS-100 looks pretty cool. I don't own one, but have seen one in action and it is a very cool little radio. Still trying to decide for my self if I want to get one...


Premium Subscriber
Apr 25, 2011
I second the home patrol 2. Easy setup especially compared to the bcd996p2. The 996 is a great radio though but it just takes a little learning. As for the CB side of things I would reccomend just getting a CB. Every newer scanner I've had doesnt pick up all that great down in that band. If you're primarily going to be using it to monitor 800mhz systems the antenna setup required to listen to that and CB wouldn't be very practical. Plus Cb's are super cheap.
Apr 8, 2018
Taylorsville NC
My 2 cents votes for the Home Patrol. I asked the same question in NC bacause I didn't want to learn to program a scanner. It is so easy with the Home Patrol. I was up and running in minutes (really!) Getting a favorites list loaded was tricky for me because I didn't know what I was doing. However these folks in this group were so helpful and acutally explained WHAT I was actually doing not just how to do it. Great people here.


Apr 3, 2008
Port Charlotte FL
just how far do you travel ?

if you stay in one or two counties no big deal.
if you travel the state or around the country then you want a GPS controlled scanner with the full database.
Aug 17, 2003
Peoria, AZ.
Surprise PD is carried on the Regional Wireless Cooperative, which is a P25 Phase I simulcast trunked system. It is expected to be upgraded to Phase II within the next couple of years.
Simulcast systems are notoriously difficult to properly receive with most scanners.
However, Surprise PD is carried not only on Simulcast G of the RWC, but also a non-simulcast site, known as an Intellirepeater, atop the White Tank Mtn's, making them one of the easier PD's to listen to, if you use that site to do so.
And they only have 2 unencrypted channels. Their dispatch channel, and a city-wide channel that all of the city departments are supposed to be able to have access to for interoperability needs in the event of a major incident. I may have heard the city-wide channel used once.
If you want to add in the one unencrypted channel that El Mirage PD has, you may have some issues receiving them, as they are only carried on Simulcast G, which has the multi-path issues.

As for Surprise FD, they are a part of the Phoenix FD's Regional Dispatch Center. The RDC dispatches for about two dozen fire departments and districts, with an automatic aid agreement so that the closest appropriate unit goes to the call, regardless of city borders. Glendale, Peoria, Sun City, El Mirage, Surprise, and North County (Sun City West and Wittmann) are the Northwest Valley departments and districts that are a part of the RDC.

The FD runs two radio systems. For fires and hazmat incidents, they have a 15 channel analog simplex NFM system in the VHF-High band. For EMS and any other calls, they use the Regional Wireless Cooperative trunked system, which again, can be problematic to listen to.

The current Maricopa County system is easy to listen to. The system currently being tested will be simulcast, and may be difficult to listen to, as the RWC is now. But we won't know for sure until it goes live. Encryption may or may not be much more heavily utilized on the new system as well, but again, we won't know until it goes live.

A Uniden Home Patrol 2 may work well enough for you at home, but no one can say for sure unless you try it out.

However, your best bet to beat the simulcast issues would be the new Uniden SDS-100 handheld. I don't have one myself, but I have seen and heard it handle simulcast issues much better than my GRE PSR-500 handheld and even a Uniden BCD-436HP handheld.
The SDS-100 however, runs $649.99 (plus possible sales tax and/or shipping, depending on where you purchase it).
Currently, there is no mobile or base equivalent. Speculation abounds about whether or not either will ever be announced and released.

I don't want to discourage you from the hobby. I just want you to be fully informed as to what you may want/need in order to be able to listen to what you want to as effectively as possible.

I'm lucky in that Peoria PD is also carried on the White Tank Mtn's IR High site, so I can easily listen to them. And I listen to the fire department VHF channels. I listen to Surprise PD, MCSO, DPS, and some other easily heard agencies on occasion as well. However, I am unable to listen to El Mirage or Glendale PD, most of Phoenix PD, or most EMS calls due to the simulcast issues. I simply enjoy what I can hear.