Scanner for Maricopa County?

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kf6gpe

Ray, KF6GPE
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My brother and his family live in Maricopa County --- Mesa, to be exact --- and he's been limping along with an old scanner he got from my father or someone several years ago. (John, if you're reading this, please stop now.)

His birthday is coming up, and my wife and I were thinking about getting him a new scanner. If I'm reading the posts here correctly, P25 is increasingly common there, and the Uniden BCD536HP does P25, so that should be a good choice. Am I missing something?

Living in Santa Cruz county, my knowledge of urban frequency use is pretty minimal --- here public service is still all simple narrowband FM stuff for the most part, and my 2m ham radio does just fine for that, so I haven't dug into what's going on in other parts of the country.

I'd hate to pick a radio for him that wasn't compatible with the modes in his area.

Thanks!
 

Paysonscanner

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My brother and his family live in Maricopa County --- Mesa, to be exact --- and he's been limping along with an old scanner he got from my father or someone several years ago. (John, if you're reading this, please stop now.)

His birthday is coming up, and my wife and I were thinking about getting him a new scanner. If I'm reading the posts here correctly, P25 is increasingly common there, and the Uniden BCD536HP does P25, so that should be a good choice. Am I missing something?

Living in Santa Cruz county, my knowledge of urban frequency use is pretty minimal --- here public service is still all simple narrowband FM stuff for the most part, and my 2m ham radio does just fine for that, so I haven't dug into what's going on in other parts of the country.

I'd hate to pick a radio for him that wasn't compatible with the modes in his area.

Thanks!
The Phoenix regional trunked system is now using P25 Phase II trunking and the BC536 can receive it. The problem seems to be that whenever signals are being simulcasted from more than one site the performance can be very poor. The newer SD100 (handheld) and SD200 (desktop) seem to be the best on the market for handling simulcast. Too bad, the 536 costs about $470, but the 2 SD scanners are at $700. Then, if you want to hear some other new tech systems, DMR NDXN and Provoice the scanner can be upgraded for $75 for each of those. Shipping and tax means you are looking $1000 right in the eye, depending on where you buy it. I'm contemplating getting a SD200, but at that price I'll have to save up for several months.
 

K7MFC

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The Uniden BCD325P2 can be had for less than $350 and does a decent enough job monitoring the TOPAZ Regional Wireless Cooperative - the system on which Mesa PD and FD operate. I don't really have too much issue with simulcast on this system with this scanner.
 

kf6gpe

Ray, KF6GPE
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The Phoenix regional trunked system is now using P25 Phase II trunking and the BC536 can receive it. The problem seems to be that whenever signals are being simulcasted from more than one site the performance can be very poor. The newer SD100 (handheld) and SD200 (desktop) seem to be the best on the market for handling simulcast. Too bad, the 536 costs about $470, but the 2 SD scanners are at $700. Then, if you want to hear some other new tech systems, DMR NDXN and Provoice the scanner can be upgraded for $75 for each of those. Shipping and tax means you are looking $1000 right in the eye, depending on where you buy it. I'm contemplating getting a SD200, but at that price I'll have to save up for several months.
Yow. That's probably a little out of the budget. He's a good guy, of course, but even so. Thanks for the input --- it's especially interesting to hear about the problems with simulcast receive, like you say --- I'd not have learned that just from reading spec sheets. Thanks a million! (or maybe $500, at least!)
 

Paysonscanner

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I should have added that Maricopa County has just switched to a Phase II system also, but the system Mesa uses, Topaz, is still Phase I.
 

cfsimmont

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The Phoenix regional trunked system is now using P25 Phase II trunking and the BC536 can receive it. The problem seems to be that whenever signals are being simulcasted from more than one site the performance can be very poor. The newer SD100 (handheld) and SD200 (desktop) seem to be the best on the market for handling simulcast. Too bad, the 536 costs about $470, but the 2 SD scanners are at $700. Then, if you want to hear some other new tech systems, DMR NDXN and Provoice the scanner can be upgraded for $75 for each of those. Shipping and tax means you are looking $1000 right in the eye, depending on where you buy it. I'm contemplating getting a SD200, but at that price I'll have to save up for several months.
Not that it matters for the Mesa Topaz system but the upgrades are $50 or $60 each when you do it yourself, only $70 when you pay one of the stealers (dealers) to do it for you.
 

Paysonscanner

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Not that it matters for the Mesa Topaz system but the upgrades are $50 or $60 each when you do it yourself, only $70 when you pay one of the stealers (dealers) to do it for you.
How do you do it yourself? I see that Scannermaster charges $75 for the firmware for each of the upgrades for DMR, NXDN and Provoice. Is there a way to directly obtain the firmware to DIY install them.
 

N9JIG

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If you go to my.uniden.com you can get the DMR/NXDN upgrades at $60 each per radio. Be sure to update the firmware first.

If you buy the radio at Scanner Master or other vendor they would do the upgrades for you but they charge a fee for the work.

With that said, the DMR and NXDN modes are not needed for the Mesa area police, fire and EMS systems, they are P25 and that comes with any of the digital scanners. DMR is popular with many business and campus operations and NXDN is used by many businesses as well.

P25 Phase 2 is required for MCSO and eventually will be for Topaz and RWC (the other two large systems in the area) so the 325P2, 436HP or SDS100 are good choices.

As far as simulcast goes, it all depends on many factors. Location seems to be the biggest factor, I have had great results with a 325 in some areas but two blocks away reception drops out altogether. The SDS100 seems to work fine almost everywhere in and around the Valley.
 

cfsimmont

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How do you do it yourself? I see that Scannermaster charges $75 for the firmware for each of the upgrades for DMR, NXDN and Provoice. Is there a way to directly obtain the firmware to DIY install them.
Yeah Scanner master will do it for you, as they will also "professionally" program your scanner. With the 436/536 or the SDS scanners I find this absolutely hilarious being as you can program the unit with your ZIP code since the whole RR database is on the SD card. So what exactly are they doing other than relieving you of the stress of too much $$ in your wallet. As the other posts state you can add the extra modes to your scanner as well as the free firmware updates from Uniden.
 

kf6gpe

Ray, KF6GPE
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Oh, that's a good tip on getting the dealers to do the upgrades. My brother is busy enough that I'd really like this to be a gift that he can unwrap, unbox, plug in, and hear something quickly, because if not, he'll go off to the family business and it'll be six months before he gets to use it again. (I realize that the zip-code-entry-gimmick is a gimmick, but it's a good one for folks like him who enjoy listening and don't necessarily have time to track down and download frequency lists).

Thanks to others about the firmware upgrade info & video. I wondered how that worked. It makes sense.
 

Paysonscanner

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If you go to my.uniden.com you can get the DMR/NXDN upgrades at $60 each per radio. Be sure to update the firmware first.

If you buy the radio at Scanner Master or other vendor they would do the upgrades for you but they charge a fee for the work.

With that said, the DMR and NXDN modes are not needed for the Mesa area police, fire and EMS systems, they are P25 and that comes with any of the digital scanners. DMR is popular with many business and campus operations and NXDN is used by many businesses as well.

P25 Phase 2 is required for MCSO and eventually will be for Topaz and RWC (the other two large systems in the area) so the 325P2, 436HP or SDS100 are good choices.

As far as simulcast goes, it all depends on many factors. Location seems to be the biggest factor, I have had great results with a 325 in some areas but two blocks away reception drops out altogether. The SDS100 seems to work fine almost everywhere in and around the Valley.
It looks like a person can save $45 by installing the upgrades themselves, resulting in a basic price of $880. Tax would then take that up to $963.42 if state (Arizona 5.6%), county (Gila 1%) and Arizona city (Payson 2.88%) sales taxes are all collected. If only state sales tax applies the price is $929.28. Then shipping is applied so we are looking at $1,000 or just a little below. For my parents and I this is a large expense as we are all on fixed incomes. There is no way I can install the SDS200 in my Honda CR-V, the car I drive to Phoenix and back. They are such large radios.
 
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Paysonscanner

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Oh, that's a good tip on getting the dealers to do the upgrades. My brother is busy enough that I'd really like this to be a gift that he can unwrap, unbox, plug in, and hear something quickly, because if not, he'll go off to the family business and it'll be six months before he gets to use it again. (I realize that the zip-code-entry-gimmick is a gimmick, but it's a good one for folks like him who enjoy listening and don't necessarily have time to track down and download frequency lists).

Thanks to others about the firmware upgrade info & video. I wondered how that worked. It makes sense.
Hubby and I passed through Boulder Creek a few times on our way to the state parks. I treasure the memories of camping among those neat trees. We avoided Highway 17 like the plague (ironic to say that right now). We drove it once just to see what everyone talks about. We also experienced the Boardwalk, something both of us had heard about for years. It was a lot of fun.
 

KB7MIB

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I bought my SDS-100 through Scannermaster a year ago.
I paid $649.99.
Standard shipping is free. Takes about a week for delivery.
No sales tax.
I enabled the DMR and NXDN modes myself after registering it online. EDACS ProVoice isn't needed in Arizona, as no systems use it, so I haven't enabled it.

John
Peoria
 

Paysonscanner

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I bought my SDS-100 through Scannermaster a year ago.
I paid $649.99.
Standard shipping is free. Takes about a week for delivery.
No sales tax.
I enabled the DMR and NXDN modes myself after registering it online. EDACS ProVoice isn't needed in Arizona, as no systems use it, so I haven't enabled it.

John
Peoria
John, as of October 1st, 2019 online purchases are subject to Arizona sales tax. So your purchase of a year ago would not have been subject to it.

Arizona Online Purchase Sales Tax

The current price for a SDS200 from Scannermaster is $699.99, in other words $700 as I discussed above.

Scannermaster SD200

Thanks for the information for free shipping. The site lists shipping as a cost up to the point I had to click the affirmative for the purchase. I'm not going to do that right now, the expense has given me pause. I plan on getting all three modifications as I would plan to travel with it where those systems might be in use. I assume you paid $60 each for the DMR and NXDN modes. The price for the SDS100 is as you indicated, but the battery situation steers me away from that. There's been enough discussion on that point. Also added costs for it include a carrying case, AC wall wart and I'm not sure what else. I would want a drop in smart charger for it also, it is so easy to shorten the life of batteries with a wall wart. But such a discussion is moot, I'm not going to buy one. Anyway, the $50 drop in price is made up for with the accessories a hand held needs.
 
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Paysonscanner

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I just took a look at the price of an additional battery and charger. It looks like the SDS100 price is more than the SDS200. $67 for a battery and charger and $48 for a spare battery. Does the $650 base price not include a battery? The website is not very clear on that.

**EDIT** I now see that a software package is also needed for both the 100 and 200. This will be a very big purchase and a learning curve w/o dear late Hubby.
 
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N9JIG

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Couple of clarifications here:
  • Scanner Master does not charge sales tax to Arizona.
  • Paid software is not required for the SDS100 or SDS200. Sentinel is used to do the database and firmware updates and can also do the majority of people's programming needs. The paid software sold is totally optional.
  • The SDS100 comes with the large battery and an AC charger. The optional battery and battery/charger combo is just that: Optional. If you want a spare get one otherwise the radio comes with the battery.
  • You can get the DMR/NXDN/ProVoice updates directly from Uniden and save some money or have your dealer (Scanner Master or otherwise) install them for you for an additional fee. Be sure to update the firmware first if you plan on doing it yourself.
  • Check to see if you even need these updates before you buy them. There is no ProVoice in Arizona, DMR and NXDN are used mostly by businesses and rarely by public safety agencies here.
 

jonwienke

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I just took a look at the price of an additional battery and charger. It looks like the SDS100 price is more than the SDS200. $67 for a battery and charger and $48 for a spare battery. Does the $650 base price not include a battery? The website is not very clear on that.

**EDIT** I now see that a software package is also needed for both the 100 and 200. This will be a very big purchase and a learning curve w/o dear late Hubby.
The SDS100 includes a battery and a USB charger to charge the battery while it is in the scanner. The optional spare battery and charger charges the battery separately from the scanner, so one battery can be charging while the other is in use in the scanner.

Sentinel is free, and can do all of the programming and configuration, as well as database and firmware updates. But ProScan is highly recommended for remote control, recording, and logging traffic. It also has a long list of other nice features, and you may prefer to use it to edit programming over Sentinel. It's $50, but has a 30-day free trial.
 

kf6gpe

Ray, KF6GPE
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@Paysonscanner I'm glad you've been through here! And yes, Highway 17 is to be avoided at all costs! :)

I've been through Payson several times, on my way up to Show Low to visit my mother. You live in a beautiful part of the state!

To others --- the SDS series looks great! The SDS100 does look tempting. It's out of my budget for my brother, probably. It's good that it charges off of USB. I wish more radios did that.
 
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