Difference between revisions of "Phoenix Area Trunked Radio System Quick Guide"

From The RadioReference Wiki

m (removed Category:Intermountain Region; added Sub-Category: Arizona)
Line 58: Line 58:
The following scanners are known to be able to monitor the valley's systems:
The following scanners are known to be able to monitor the valley's systems:
*[ Uniden] [ BCD396T], [ BCD996T], [ BCD396XT],
*[ Uniden] [ BCD396T], [ BCD996T], [ BCD396XT],
[ BCD996XT] and [ Home Patrol]  
[ BCD996XT], and [ Home Patrol]  
*[ Radio Shack] [ PRO-106] and [ PRO-197]  
*[ Radio Shack] [ PRO-106] and [ PRO-197]  
*[ GRE] [ PSR-500] and [ PSR-600]  
*[ GRE] [ PSR-500] and [ PSR-600]  

Revision as of 18:17, 30 December 2013

Welcome to the Valley of the Sun!

While this page is designed to help the new hobbyist or a traveler unfamiliar with the Phoenix area to get started listening to one of the fastest growing areas of the country, we do expect the user to have a basic understanding of radio terminology.

Please note that this is an introductory level page concentrating on basic public safety monitoring for the valley's trunked systems. The author has intentionally not included some technical information that would not lend itself to the nature of this page. Also, some details that more experienced listeners might be looking for are not here for the same reason. If you want more detail on the valley's systems and users, may we respectfully suggest you consult, or purchase the Southwest Frequency Directory.

We acknowledge that there are non-trunked conventional systems in the valley, including fire departments, highway patrol, ambulances and the like. This page is not intended to address conventional systems. Please refer to the Maricopa County Database for information on these systems.

If you have suggestion or comments regarding this page, please contact the author at The Wiki project is a collaborative effort, but if you feel the need to unilaterally alter the information here, a courtesy message to the author would also be appreciated.

This page was last updated updated 8/30/12

Here we Go!

The majority of trunked radio users can be found on one of the three main systems in the valley. Here is a list of the systems and their subscribers (users:

Topaz Regional Wireless Cooperative (TRWC)

  • Mesa
  • Apache Junction
  • Gilbert
  • Queen Creek
  • Apache Junction Fire District
  • Rio Verde Fire District (pending)

Regional Wireless Cooperative (RWC)

  • Avondale
  • Buckeye
  • El Mirage
  • Glendale
  • Goodyear
  • Peoria
  • Phoenix
  • Surprise
  • Tempe
  • Chandler Fire
  • Daisy Mountain Fire Department
  • Guadalupe Fire Department
  • Maricopa Fire Department
  • Sun City Fire Department
  • Sun City West Fire Department
  • Sun Lakes Fire Department
  • Scottsdale
  • Paradise Valley
  • Tolleson (pending)

Maricopa County Radio System

  • Maricopa County and contract cities

Which radio to use

The current trend in public safety communications is to use digital technology. Also, since television's move to digital broadcasting, a new band of 700 MHz frequencies have become available for public safety systems.

In the valley, there are analog systems, digital systems and combination systems on both 800 MHz and 700 MHZ frequencies. For instance, the Maricopa County system combines analog and digital communications on an 800 MHz system. Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa systems are fully digital and use both 700 and 800 MHz frequencies. Small systems like Chandler are only analog.

Most 'trunking' scanners can track the 800 MHz analog trunking systems. To track digital systems a P25 compatible scanner is required; to track the new 700 MHz trunked systems, a 700 MHz capable radio is needed.

We do not recommend any particular brand of scanner. We do recommend that you research your purchase carefully to ensure that you can hear the systems you want to hear.

The following scanners are known to be able to monitor the valley's systems:

BCD996XT, and Home Patrol

Note that the analog ony scanners like the BCT15 or PSR 300/400 cannot receive digital or 700 mhz trunking, but still may work for analog systems. The PRO96/2096 does receive digital, but cannot trunk on 700 mhz due to firmware limitations.

A final note: Scanners are not built to the same standards as professional radios and you may not be able to hear what you want to hear. For user comments on specific radios, visit the appropriate radio discussion forums at Radio Reference or visit Yahoo Groups for your scanner of interest.

Systems and Sites

We will refer quite frequently to systems and sites. Simply speaking, a system consists of one or more sites.

A site is a specific transmitter location with a set of frequencies assigned to it. Most wide area systems have many sites. When all sites in a system use the same frequencies, the system essential becomes one site - it is only necessary to program in one set of frequencies to monitor that entire system. When each site in a system has its own set of different frequencies, you must enter each site's frequencies separately to monitor that system.

A simulcast system transmits the same traffic on some or all of the sites in the system. The valley's systems uses simulcast technology that some scanners have difficulty tracking. This is usually because of the relative positions of the scanner and the site you are monitoring. Sometimes moving your radio's location, adjusting or changing antennas, or adding attenuation to the frequency may help (see your radio's user guide). For more details on reception issues see the appropriate radio discussion forums at Radio Reference or visit Yahoo Groups for your area of interest.

What to program

Most trunked scanners require at least the data frequency (the control channel) to be programmed for each site. Some older scanners require all the voice frequencies to be entered as well. To listen to just valley public safety traffic (and not all users on a system) you also need the correct voice channels and a list of users you wish to hear - known as talkgroups. A complete list of frequencies and talkgroups can be found at the links on the bottom of this page.

Listening to the Valley

For the purposes of monitoring the valley's public safety agencies, you need to know the system that provides the coverage for your area of interest. We have included a list of system names, locations and relative coverage areas to allow you to decide what systems you should program. Not all systems are linked to each other.

RWC=Phoenix system TRWC=Mesa System MCo=County System YRCS=Yuma County system

Greater Phoenix Area System Coverage

The following systems carry most of the public safety traffic in the valley. Please note that these simulcast systems are designed to provide coverage to a limited geographic area. Not all systems can be received from all locations. A listener should program the systems that they are best able to receive to hear the desired public safety traffic.

RWC Simulcast A Site 201 Phoenix metro area Phoenix Police
RWC Simulcast B Site 101 Phoenix metro area Phoenix and Valley Fire Departments, METRO light rail
RWC Simulcast C Site 202 Southeast Phoenix: Chandler, Ahwatukee, Sun Lakes Phoenix, Chandler, METRO light rail
TRWC Simulcast D Site 301 East Valley Cities Mesa, Gilbert, Apache Junction Law and Fire
RWC Simulcast F Site 205 Tempe Tempe
RWC Simulcast G Site 501 West Valley Cities Glendale, Peoria, Buckeye, El Mirage, Surprise
RWC Simulcast H Site 301 Scottsdale Scottsdale, Paradise Valley
RWC Simulcast J Site 001 Buckeye area Buckeye, West Valley Cities
MCo Thompson Peak Site 001 Primary East Simulcast MCSO All Districts
MCo White Tanks Site 002 Primary West Simulcast MCSO All Districts
MCo Central Courts Building Site 009 Primary Central Simulcast MCSO All Districts, Central Jails

The following stand alone sites are not normally connected to the above simulcast systems and generally carry localized traffic only. They are included for those listeners who may need to monitor a specific location outside the RWC-TRWC-County simulcast footprint:

RWC Quintero IR Site 502 Peoria, Quintero community only All subscribers
RWC Sky Harbor IR Site 103 Aviation users at KPHX All subscribers
RWC Daisy Mtn Conv Site 902-904 Conventional at Daisy Mtn FD All subscribers
RWC Outlet Mall IR Site 204 North Phoenix All subscribers
MCo Oatman Mtn Site 003 Southwest Rural MCSO District 2
MCo Yarnell Hill Site 004 Northwest Rural MCSO District 3
MCo Mt. Gillen Site 005 Northwest Rural MCSO District 4
MCo Bronco Butte Site 006 Northeast Rural MCSO District 4
MCo Mt. Ord Site 007 Northeast Rural MCSO District 5
MCo Humboldt Mtn Site 008 Northeast Rural MCSO District 4
MCo Southeast Center Site 010 Southeast Rural MCSO District 1
MCo Durango Jail Site 011 Durango Jail users MCSO Durango Jail
MCo Chandler Site 012 Southeast Rural MCSO District 1
MCo Smith Peak Site 013 Northwest Rural MCSO District 3
MCo Towers Mtn Site 014 Northwest Rural MCSO District 3
MCo South Scottsdale Site 015 Southeast Rural MCSO District 1
TRWC Thompson Pk IR Site 302 East Northeast Valley MCSO District 1
TRWC White Tanks IR Site 303 West Valley MCSO District 1

The following Public Safety Interoperability Communications (PSIC) sites were phased in beginning in 2010. They are expected to be used for mutal aid and/or interoperability to RWC for users not subscribed to RWC:

RWC Thompson Peak Site TBD Northeast Maricopa County All users
RWC Far North Mtn Site 108 North Maricopa County All users
RWC North Mtn Site 107 Northcentral Phoenix All users
RWC South Mtn Site 106 Southcentral Phoenix All users
RWC Pinal Pk, Sacaton Site 109 South Maricopa County, North Pinal County All users
RWC White Tanks Site 208 West Maricopa County Active for NASCAR and NFL activities
RWC Towers Mtn Site 111 West Maricopa County, South Yavapai All users

The Yuma Regional Communications System (YRCS) maintains sites in Maricopa County for communication and interoperbility in Maricopa, Pinal and eastern Yuma counties. Primary traffic in Maricopa County is from DPS and ADOT units.

YRCS Oatman Mtn Site 107 East Yuma County, South Maricopa County, Northwest Pinal County DPS, ADOT
YRCS South Mtn Site 120 Maricopa County DPS, ADOT, MVD
YRCS White Tanks Site 122 Maricopa County DPS, ADOT, MVD
YRCS Thompson Peak Site 123 Maricopa County DPS, ADOT, MVD
YRCS North Mtn Site 124 Maricopa County DPS, ADOT, MVD


Each Agency on a system has its unique talkgroup (channel) assignments. Dispatch talkgroups are the busiest, with much routine traffic. Tactical talkgroups can be used for small incidents or to coordinate large events. Many agencies use a 'hot' channel to dispatch urgent calls. We recommend including 'hot' talkgroups in your scan list.

One of the buzzwords popular in the telecommunications field is interoperability - the ability for users from different agencies (and even on different systems) to communicate with each other at the scene of an incident, without relaying through a third party. Interoperability (mutual aid) channels can be very exciting, but there use is sporadic. A good practice is to program these talkgroups in their own folder or group and scan them regularly. You may be surprised at what you will hear!

A word about encryption and scrambling: You may also notice that some talkgroups are scrambled and you will not be able to understand the traffic on those channels. (These talkgroups are marked with the letter 'E' on the Radio Reference pages listed below.) Due to the nature of digital encryption, specific technical information is needed to convert the scrambled signal to clear speech - and that information is only released to those individuals or agencies that need it. No scanner on the market today can be programmed to monitor encrypted communications.

Radio Reference Frequency and Talkgroup Links

We offer the following links to the most current data available for the following Phoenix Metropolitan are systems: