Phoenix PD Question

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chrisareston

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Hey all I'm new to Digital Scanners, I lived in Albuquerque NM and they were using Provoice so no way I could listen to them at all. I have lived in the valley now for almost 2 years and have decided to go for the digital. I live in N Phoenix, Tatum and JoMax area should I be able to pick up all of Phoenix transmissions up here since they have repeaters? I'm going to get my UNIDEN BCD396T tomorrow (Is this a good scanner for Phoenix?) One concern I have is that I was told that all of Phoenix PD and Maricopa County are using encryption so I wont really hear anything anyways. IS THIS TRUE? If so then I might not buy the radio.

Thanks!
 

wlmr

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Google maps seems to indicate you'll be Ok for reception for Phoenix PD. I didn't see any noticeable obstructions between you and at least one site. The traffic for them isn't just repeated, it's simultaneously repeated from 9 locations around the valley. From some of the complaining by some scanner owners, being in a location that receives only one or two of these transmitters well could be to your advantage.

For County reception, Thompson Peak should do really well in your area.

The 396 is carried around here by most of the scanner enthusiasts I've met if they don't have the GRE500.

There is encryption but the main PD talkgroups are clear. By no means is ALL traffic encrypted, just no listening to SWAT, etc. I haven't heard too much complaining about County encryption either.

See what kind of return policy the place you get the scanner from has & try it out! If you don't know how to program in a trunked system, they may also be the source for at least getting a beginning program set up.
 
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You have a site at Tatum and Greenway that should make it to you, and north mountain should be obscured somewhat by terrain, and this would be good. You want ONE site hitting your scanner much harder than other sites if possible, because a simulcast system is like multipath from hell. Out of sync signals cause reception issues. But if I had to guess I would say adobe and north mountain will be obscured just by looking at a topo map. You may want to verify this to be sure. Either way, frys electronics has the 396 for about 550 with no loss if you return it. Ham radio outlet has it for 500 with a restocking fee of 10% I believe.

Main talk groups such as area dispatch and chase groups are not encrypted. Just the tactical stuff and detectives, and unfortunately the car to car. However, there is so much cool action in Phoenix to be heard it doesn't matter.

You will enjoy scanning PPD and weekends are a real blast with tons of intense stuff like barricades, shootings, and searches for dangerous suspsects who go on the rampage on Friday and Saturday nights. The action gets so thick on the weekends I turn off everything but the six chase talkgroups! There just isn't room at that point to listen to anything else with all the action going on. So you won't really miss the other stuff, you couldn't listen to it all at once if you had it anyway.

MCSO rarely uses encryption even for detectives, and should come in great at your location. Scottadale PD also has lots of great stuff including tons of neat detective activity, most of which is in the clear.

You will also hear the FBI operating P25 digital in the VHF band in the clear more often than not.

If you do have issues with PPD reception, I can probably help you out in setting up a yagi antenna so that when you are at home you can "tune out" all but one site, if things go well and geography allows it.

Go get that digital scanner, you won't regret it.
 
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chrisareston

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Thank both of you, how do you know where the sites are located? I did not see the one for Tatum and Greenway. I tried to look on Google Earth and didnt see anything for radio towers. Im picking up the 396 at Frys tomor! I cant wait! Does it come pre set with Phoenix? How hard will it be to set it up? Right now I listen to Scottsdale with my PRO 97 although they come in staticy more than clear! Im sure ill have more questions! Thanks
 

scanbc780

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Thank both of you, how do you know where the sites are located? I did not see the one for Tatum and Greenway. I tried to look on Google Earth and didnt see anything for radio towers. Im picking up the 396 at Frys tomor! I cant wait! Does it come pre set with Phoenix? How hard will it be to set it up? Right now I listen to Scottsdale with my PRO 97 although they come in staticy more than clear! Im sure ill have more questions! Thanks
You might also try Ham Radio Outlet "HRO" on I-17 and Dunlap (actually just east of I-17 on Dunlap, just past DeVry). They should be able to help you out a bit with the scanner and they also have the GRE PSR-500 to compare it with. Not to talk you away from Frys, but I am sure they wont be able to answer your questions or help you program it like HRO or another specialty place can.
 
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You might also try Ham Radio Outlet "HRO" on I-17 and Dunlap (actually just east of I-17 on Dunlap, just past DeVry). They should be able to help you out a bit with the scanner and they also have the GRE PSR-500 to compare it with. Not to talk you away from Frys, but I am sure they wont be able to answer your questions or help you program it like HRO or another specialty place can.

Great points. I would personally rather go to HRO and risk a restocking fee. To begin with, even if you have a few reception cut-outs on the PPD system, there are antenna solutions for home use, and there are so many other cool digital things to monitor it is worth having either way, and cheaper (if you buy and keep) at HRO. On top of this, try to go during a weekday, and the "scanner guy" should be there. He has played with all the models, and can even throw in a working program for the valley for free. It isn't perfect, but pretty darn good, way better than what comes pre-loaded. You may want to call and make sure he is there before making the trip. It would be worth it.

Frys is a big box store and knows nothing about scanners, even though they do full refunds.

Note that the PSR-500 handles simulcast a bit better, and is more sensitive. The 396 is more immune to desense from strong nearby signals, or "front end overload". Both are great scanners and I don't want to push you either way, just throwing that info out there.

Be prepared for a learning curve EITHER WAY. Expect to spend the week after you buy one playing with the (free trial - three types) software and programming it your way, if you like to have things exactly your way. Be prepared to re-read the manual three or four times. Learning how to assign objects and use scanlists or quick keys will take some time, so be patient, it will be worth it. This is not something you turn on and fully understand in five minutes, and those that expect that get frustrated quickly. Personally I find it fun to learn the "in's and out's" of a new scanner. It is an interesting mental exercise that I enjoy.

The Radio Reference database is very good, and lists site locations. VERY useful for those trying to get the best reception out of this system. You can even try for free and then buy software that will allow you to download directly from this site for a small fee. There are experts here in the use of the Uniden BCD396T scanner, as well as people like myself who have spent many hours learning the PSR-500 scanner's features. My experience with the 396 was only a few months for comparison testing, so there are others in the uniden and Arizona forums who are more familiar especially with the new firmware updates. Either way there is plenty of help to be found here.
 
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chris480

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Thanks again! The reason im going to Frys is I have a gift card to use :) I do want to make sure that the 396 is very upgradable is this true? Also how do you find the towers on google earth?

Thanks!

And I look forward to playing with it ( I have downloaded a manual already to read before I even get it)
 

wlmr

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Also how do you find the towers on google earth?
I didn't. I knew generally where the towers were and used Google "MAPS" to find your street intersection. Then I turned on the topo map display part of Google Maps to do a basic scan for "big things" between you and the tower locations.
 

chris480

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Great just picked it up and letting it charge for its 14 hours! So will I need to updated it since I just got it?
 
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Yeah, give it the latest firmware. Unless a Uniden guy here knows a reason NOT to use the latest update.

By the way, you could just put some alkaline batteries in there so you can play with it now, with no wires, and stick those cells in a charger.

Remember, the BCD396T might just be the worlds most expesive AA battery charger. I would hate to see a bad cell ruin your new toy. I have seen to many cells "go bad" and it is not pretty. I NEVER charge batteries in my scanners. Just my opinion.
 

chris480

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Guys! I actually didnt even play with it at all last night, by the time I got home it was late. I did bring it to work today LOL! I look at doing the firmware update and putting some Phoenix in if I have time. Is the best software to use the one on Unidens site? Also does anyone have a good file they could share with me that includes everything for Phoenix?
 
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I lost my uniden file a while back and wish I had it so I could help out people like yourself (this request comes up a few times a month).

I know somebody has a file they can send. If not, it is really pretty easy to program in Simulcast A, you should be able to do it in a half hour or less. It is like 20-30 frequencies if I remember correctly and you will only be able to listen to about 20 talk groups, so it really isn't hard to put in, if you are forced to do this. Besided, using the program and learning to enter a system will be an educational experience and help you understand things better.

The Uniden program seemed to work fine for me, but many others will point you towards the aftermarket programs, so I guess they have advantages. I think you need one of them to import from RR.
 

wlmr

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it is really pretty easy to program in Simulcast A, you should be able to do it in a half hour or less. It is like 20-30 frequencies if I remember correctly and you will only be able to listen to about 20 talk groups, so it really isn't hard to put in, if you are forced to do this.
Refresh my memory on why to put in all 20 frequencies for Simulcast A? The scanner tracks the system by listening to the control channel. This means for Simulcast A putting in just the four control channel frequencies and letting the scanner find the active one.
 
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Good point. You don't really need to as far as I know. I just like to type them all in the list so they are all there in the scanner if I want to take a look at the list. The control channels will cause the scanner to tune the correct voice frequency. You actually don't even NEED to put in talk groups either. It could be really quick to get it up and running, using the search control channel function on Uniden or a wildcard group on the PSR, and you could just TLO any encrypted stuff.
 

chris480

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Jan 11, 2002
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So is the software on unidens site to prog the scanner the best one? Or are there others out there I should look at?
 

chris480

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Also this might be a stupid question but do i need to put in all of the freqs or just the red and blue one? And does it matter how I put the IDs in?
 

chris480

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ok got her home and turned her own, I am listening to 22 since that is phoenix. i have not heard phoenix pd at all and dont think i have heard any digital either. I hear fire that says its Chandler FD but its had calls all over the valley. Are the freqs and IDs pre prog not good?
 

elephant

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Jan 29, 2003
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ok got her home and turned her own, I am listening to 22 since that is phoenix. i have not heard phoenix pd at all and dont think i have heard any digital either. I hear fire that says its Chandler FD but its had calls all over the valley. Are the freqs and IDs pre prog not good?
I have to programs that I use to program my 396. I use the Uniden USAD and also a program called
bcTool. Both programs work very good, but the bcTool software is easier to see all your "stuff" in one glance. Also, the bcTool is very portable. I have it on a USB flash stick so I can take it with me. If I find something new like when I'm at work, I can update my database right then and there.

bcTool and be downloaded from www.bctool.org You can see screen shots of the program there.
bcTool also allows you to record scanner traffic and will keep a log of all calls, should you want to turn that feature on.

Whichever software you decide to use, I'll be glad to send you either my USAD file or the bcTool file.

I have all the area PD's loaded along with fire, ambulance, federal, air traffic, Luke AFB, Sherrif, State Patrol and Sky Warn for our thunderstorm season.

Let me know if you want them.

Doug
 
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