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BCD436HP: New Owner - Returning to Scanning

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Chandler, AZ
#1
I want some advice. I am a new owner of the BCD436 as I wanted a portable handheld unit and the SDS is out of my price range for my current knowledge level. I used to be into scanning back in the day with my father and grandfather, using an old crystal scanner and listening to Glendale, AZ fire and PD. My dad recently passed away and I am wanting to get back into scanning as a way to remember some of the good times.

That all being said, the new digital stuff seems a bit daunting and I have read a few posts here about what to do and I want to make sure I have it all down correctly. I live in the East Valley of AZ, so Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe area.

Questions:
1. These are all simulcast sites for PD and Fire correct?
2. Should I only program the sites near to me? Or the entire network?
3. When programing the sites, do I leave all the frequencies that all pulled in or remove all but the CC freq?
4. Any other key tips starting out so I don't get frustrated and get nothing but dead air?

Thanks!
 
Joined
Oct 21, 2017
Messages
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#2
I suspect most here will tell you that you have the wrong tool for the job. My understanding is that this area of AZ, like many other public safety systems in the USA, uses P25 simulcast which, in the sub-$1000 range, not much other than the SDS-100 and the Unication G4/G5 pager will pick up reliably. Especially while mobile...

Unfortunately right now scanning these types of systems reliably just has a kinda high ($500+) startup cost unless you want to look at the PC-based solutions.
 
Joined
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Messages
3,675
Location
Peoria, AZ.
#3
Some people have found that the Uniden x36 scanners can work, at least to an extent, with P25 simulcast (LSM) systems such as the Regional Wireless Cooperative (RWC) and TOPAZ RWC. However, unless you can find a "sweet spot" to place the scanner in, or use an outdoor directional antenna and play around with the best direction to point it in, your decode percentage won't be 100%, and you will miss transmissions. Then again, you may not get much of anything from them if you're in a bad spot.

The SDS-100 has had mixed reviews across the country, as well as here in the Valley, in regards to its performance with LSM systems speficially, as well as its general performance in certain enviroments, especially electrically noisy ones such as around computers, as well as in high RF enviroments. Some have had excellent results, some have had poor results. Some of this may be due to manufacturing variables in the hardware being used, and some of it may be due to Uniden still tweaking the firmware. (I myself don't have either of the x36 scanners nor the SDS-100.)

Without buying and using the radios, you won't know what will happen.

However, to answer your questions:

1. For what you want to listen to, yes, the main sites are all simulcast. There are a few single site Intellirepeaters, however, very little main police or fire comms are carried on them.

2. For Scottsdale PD, you want RWC Simulcast H.
For Tempe PD, you want RWC Simulcast F.
For Chandler PD, you want RWC Simulcast C.
For the Phoenix FD Regional Dispatch Center EMS calls, you can pick whichever simulcast is closest or gives you the best reception, as they are carried on all simulcasts except Simulcast A. (Fire & Hazmat calls are carried on the Phoenix FD RDC analog NFM VHF channels.)
For Mesa PD, Gilbert PD, and Apache Junction PD, you want the TOPAZ RWC Mesa Simulcast.
For the Mesa FD Regional Dispatch Center, you want both the TOPAZ RWC Mesa Simulcast and the Mesa FD RDC analog NFM VHF channels.

3. You only need the control channels and alternate control channels.

4. Even if you do experience issues with the LSM systems, there are other things to listen to. DPS is on analog NFM UHF channels, as well as on a non-simulcast P25 system, alongside ADOT. (Don't discount listening to ADOT. The ALERT emergency response units can be very interesting and informative to listen to when it comes to incidents on the freeways.) The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is currently using an 800 MHz mixed analog/digital trunked system, that is easy to hear. And the county DOT has its own emergency response unit, called REACT, that works with both MCSO as well as many PD's, and has assisted ADOT ALERT units in the past. The county is working on installing a 700 MHz P25 (probably Phase II) simulcast trunked system, but it'll still be awhile before it goes live. As mentioned above, both Phoenix and Mesa have analog NFM VHF channels, and there's also Rural/Metro FD, which covers county islands in the East Mesa area, as well as other areas around the county, and in the San Tan Valley area of Pinal County. The Salt River and Gila River (and Ft. McDowell) Indian Community PD's are encrypted, but their fire departments can be monitored.

If you go over to the Arizona forum, I'm sure you can find locals to you who can meet up with you in person and give you some pointers. I myself am on the other side of the Valley.

John
Peoria
 
Joined
Jul 18, 2014
Messages
8,884
Location
PA
#4
I suspect most here will tell you that you have the wrong tool for the job. My understanding is that this area of AZ, like many other public safety systems in the USA, uses P25 simulcast which, in the sub-$1000 range, not much other than the SDS-100 and the Unication G4/G5 pager will pick up reliably. Especially while mobile...
With any scanner other than the SDS100, or a Unication pager, simulcast performance is a total crapshoot. In some places, you will get excellent reception, but a short distance away, you may get a unlistenable garbled mess. While the 436 is not designed for simulcast, it performs better than most scanners not designed for simulcast on simulcast systems, so you have a better-than-average chance of getting acceptable results. But you're still likely to have reception problems you would not have with the SDS100 or a Unication pager in some areas even though they have good signal. I would seriously consider returning the 436 and saving your money for a SDS100.

The 436 and SDS100 come with a nationwide database. You will need to update it, but once that is done, you don't really need to program it. Mostly what you'll be doing is copying systems you are are most interested in monitoring from the database to a favorite list. You generally want to copy the entire system, trying to delete stuff manually will render the system unmonitorable unless you know exactly what you are doing, and limits what part of the system you can hear when mobile. Both the SDS100 and 436 allow you to connect a GPS to the scanner, so that it knows where it is and can automatically select sites within reception range to scan. This is highly recommended for mobile scanning, otherwise you have to manually toggle systems and sites while driving, whis is a PITA and a driving hazard.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
Messages
4
Location
Chandler, AZ
#5
Thank you all for great tips and feedback. It seems like the consensus here is that I have picked the wrong tool for the job that I want to complete. So I have processed the return of the BCD436 and will wait for more reviews of the SDS to come in and save some more for that model. Thanks again!
 
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