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Airline Frequency Scanners  
User currently offlineStevenjehly From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 7046 times:

Hello all. I am a new member and this is my first posting. Really love this website. I would like to purchase an airline frequency scanner. I live about 100 miles north of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and am on the flight path (I think!) for that airport. Also, what are the active frequencies I should program into the scanner? Nothing fancy. Any suggestions from the members? Thanks.

34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBri2k1 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 988 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 7044 times:

Welcome!

You can find a pretty comprehensive list at http://www.flightradio.com/.

For my money, listening to approach offers the most action. For SEA, you might try:

Tower - 119.9
Ground - 121.7
Clearance Delivery - 128.0
Approach Freqs - Seattle:120.4, 119.2, 120.1, 125.9, 126.5
ATIS - 118.0



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User currently offlineTheGreatChecko From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1130 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 6997 times:

Unfortunately, on the ground, 100 miles north of the field you won't hear too much unless the aircraft is flying right over where you live.

Scanners are a lot more fun when listening sitting at the airport. If you want to get your fix from home, here are two great websites (and great ways to save some money for flying lessons):

For your Police, Fire, EMS fix: http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/

For your ATC fix: http://www.liveatc.net/



"A pilot's plane she is. She will love you if you deserve it, and try to kill you if you don't...She is the Mighty Q400"
User currently offlineTimz From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 6895 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 6969 times:



Quoting TheGreatChecko (Reply 2):
you won't hear too much unless the aircraft is flying right over where you live.

By "right over", he means within... 20-30 miles?


User currently offlineTheGreatChecko From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1130 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 6958 times:



Quoting Timz (Reply 3):

By "right over", he means within... 20-30 miles?

It depends on the topography of where he lives and the altitude of the aircraft. Even then, all that would be heard was the pilot side of the conversation, the controllers would not be heard unless very close to the transmitter site.



"A pilot's plane she is. She will love you if you deserve it, and try to kill you if you don't...She is the Mighty Q400"
User currently offlineTimz From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 6895 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 6941 times:

Apparently it also depends on the scanner. I was on a 150-meter hill the other day with an unobstructed view of SFO across the bay, 25 km away, and my scanner wouldn't pull the tower in at all. Years ago, when my Sony worked, that would have been no problem at all.

If by chance you do have a good scanner you can expect to hear aircraft 100-200 km away if you have a line of sight to them-- e.g. if you're in flat country and they're at contrail height. It doesn't take much of a hill to dramatically extend your line of sight over flat ground; as I recall even 100 meters of elevation was enough to hear SFO tower, with the Sony.

In any case, sounds like we're agreed you should hear lots of aircraft, even if they're not right over you.


User currently offlineTheGreatChecko From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1130 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 6921 times:



Quoting Timz (Reply 5):
In any case, sounds like we're agreed you should hear lots of aircraft, even if they're not right over you.

That's if you are monitoring the right center frequency. At 100 miles away, approach is not controlling that traffic.

Also, IMO, it's not very interesting to listen to only half of the conversation.



"A pilot's plane she is. She will love you if you deserve it, and try to kill you if you don't...She is the Mighty Q400"
User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1656 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 6908 times:

Save your money and don't buy a scanner. Everything you want is on www.liveatc.net. I was listening to Seattle earlier tonight but switched to Chicago Center (best heard on KDBQ, a class 4 facility). Give it a try.

User currently offlineBri2k1 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 988 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 6867 times:

I wasn't going to mention it to avoid getting off-topic for this forum, but adding an external antenna will dramatically improve your scanner's performance at home. This applies to ATC, EMS, etc. There are volumes on antenna design, or you can find a local ham nut and befriend him, and build your own in the attic for not much money at all. You can also buy them. The idea is to get as high up as you can since VHF transmissions are line-of-sight.

Without knowing exactly where you're located, it's hard to guess, but if there's a reasonably busy GA airport near you, you can tune their frequencies as well for a bit of fun. Student pilots are often easily identifiable...



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User currently offlineStevenjehly From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6855 times:

I am reading the posts with interest and much appreciation in answer to my inquiries. Thank you all kindly. I live on an island 100 miles north of Seattle. We have a lot of small plane inter-island traffic which fly about 300 ft over our house. Also, quite a lot of large plane traffic descending into SeaTac at much higher elevation. Do you think those Seattle bound planes are doing much talking?

User currently offlineBri2k1 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 988 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 6834 times:

Yes. The common air-to-air frequency is 122.75, you never know what you might hear there (from the inter-island planes). If you're close to Bellingham, you can try their frequencies:
Unicom - 122.95
Tower - 124.9
Ground - 127.4
CTAF - 124.9
Victoria Approach - 132.7
ATIS - 134.45
I think a good test would be to try to pick up the ATIS. If you can hear that, you are likely to hear communication from the tower on the field, and planes overhead and within line of sight of your antenna.

If you want to hear more airline traffic, you can try to catch planes transitioning into and out of the SEA and YYJ terminal areas. The low-altitude center frequencies for your area are the best bet for this. A great link is here: http://microvoltradio.com/ARTCC/KZSE.htm



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User currently offlineTheGreatChecko From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1130 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 6744 times:



Quoting Bri2k1 (Reply 8):
I wasn't going to mention it to avoid getting off-topic for this forum, but adding an external antenna will dramatically improve your scanner's performance at home.

If you are really into scanning, this would be a great idea. You will hear a lot more than with just a hand held or desktop scanner on its own. Radio Shack will soon be your best friend.

Heck, go out and get your HAM radio license while you're at it. It sounds like you might enjoy that as well!



"A pilot's plane she is. She will love you if you deserve it, and try to kill you if you don't...She is the Mighty Q400"
User currently offlineStevenjehly From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 6669 times:

As the GreatChecko advised I went to http://www.liveatc.net/. What a great site. Have been listening to ANC as I am a former Alaska resident and do miss living up there; although I am from Sitka, not Anchorage. I think I will forgo buying a frequency scanner and just listen to the web site. Maybe I can share some stories (in a different forum) about trying to land in Sitka (as a passenger!) in the fog, at night, and having to head to Anchorage instead. Happened more than once. Thanks to the GreatChecko.

User currently offlineKparke777 From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 45 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 6575 times:
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While on the subject of scanners, what does this forum recommend for a great performing scanner? Good volume, # of channels, ease of use and strong reception. Up to $300 ish, ok.

User currently offlinePackcheer From United States of America, joined Nov 2008, 333 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 6558 times:

Radio Shack carries a good range and assortment of scanners. The ones that are in the $150 range work excellently. I took the rubber antenna off of my radio shack scanner and I put on a telescoping one that extends to about 3ft tall and that antenna works great for aviation traffic.


Things that fly, Girls and Planes...
User currently offlineRolypolyman From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 159 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 6540 times:

I'd be curious to know if there are iPod-like miniature aviation receivers, so one can have "channel 9" right there in flight without raising alarm. Having read many of the trip reports it doesn't sound like anyone does this, so I'm kind of surprised. I recall bringing an old $20 transistor air radio on a WN flight back in 1990 and had no trouble keeping with frequency changes and hearing how our flight was progressing.

User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3151 posts, RR: 11
Reply 16, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 6520 times:

That's against the law Rolypolyman. You're not supposed to have anything (with the exception of wifi on aircraft that are equipped with it) that receives or transmits.


DMI
User currently offlineTdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 17, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 6503 times:



Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 16):
That's against the law Rolypolyman. You're not supposed to have anything (with the exception of wifi on aircraft that are equipped with it) that receives or transmits.

Then there's a *lot* of mechanics in deep trouble...handheld VHF's are really common in the maintenance environment.

Tom.


User currently offlineJetstar From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1658 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 6392 times:
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Any of you old timers out there remember crystal radios, they were non battery radios that picked up RF signals and was powered by the RF signal itself and you had to use headphones to listen. I remember in my early days making a crystal radio from plans in either Popular Science or Popular Mechanics, it was designed to pick up AM signals and it worked.

Maybe someone can design a crystal radio for airborne use, because it does not use electric power, it is non electronic, does not have a power on switch and does not give off any stray signals, it should meet FAA regulations about electronic devices used in the air.

JetStar


User currently offlineBri2k1 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 988 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 6350 times:



Quoting Jetstar (Reply 18):

Changing the operating frequency range of the circuit would be pretty simple. But those devices receive AM signals, and VHF air-to-air and air-to-ground are FM signals. The tuners in those crystal radios aren't sensitive enough to demodulate an FM signal at any frequency (remember how the tuning dial was just a big knob with no calibration scale?) And even if they were able to demod FM, the language I've seen in the regulations usually prohibits "any device that transmits or receives a radio signal." So, even if they could receive the radio signal without any power source, they would still be receiving a radio signal -- and still against the regulation.



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User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9533 posts, RR: 42
Reply 20, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 6333 times:



Quoting Bri2k1 (Reply 19):
VHF air-to-air and air-to-ground are FM signals.

It's been a while since I thought about it but I seem to remember that they're AM.


User currently offlineJetstar From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1658 posts, RR: 10
Reply 21, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 6312 times:
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Quoting Bri2k1 (Reply 19):
Changing the operating frequency range of the circuit would be pretty simple. But those devices receive AM signals, and VHF air-to-air and air-to-ground are FM signals. The tuners in those crystal radios aren't sensitive enough to demodulate an FM signal at any frequency (remember how the tuning dial was just a big knob with no calibration scale?

Here is a link to someone who built a crystal FM radio

http://solomonsmusic.net/FM_CrystalRadio.html

JetStar


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 6311 times:



Quoting David L (Reply 20):
It's been a while since I thought about it but I seem to remember that they're AM.

You sir, are correct  yes 



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineBri2k1 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 988 posts, RR: 4
Reply 23, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 6300 times:



Quoting David L (Reply 20):
they're AM.

Yep, you got me. I mixed up voice with VOR reference signal. Even the voice channel on a VOR is AM. Good catch.

Quoting Jetstar (Reply 21):
link to someone who built a crystal FM radio

That does look fancy. I wish I had the time to try it out. I'm still not convinced of the legality or effectiveness of use in an airliner, but it would be fun to try.



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User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9533 posts, RR: 42
Reply 24, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 6291 times:



Quoting Bri2k1 (Reply 23):
I'm still not convinced of the legality or effectiveness of use in an airliner, but it would be fun to try.

I suspect the catch-all is the "designed to receive" bit, rather than how it's powered.

Quoting Bri2k1 (Reply 23):
but it would be fun to try

Which, almost by definition these days, would make it illegal, unhealthy or both.  grumpy 


25 Jetstar : I think it would create an interesting scenario. Listening to a crystal radio or not, it is still receiving a signal and there is no way to shut it o
26 Iakobos : Line of sight at 30,000ft is 212NM, add 5NM unless you lie your scanner on the ground, that makes 217NM or just over 400km. They are not. Switch on y
27 Post contains links Stevenjehly : Ladies and Gentlemen.......I had no idea that my first posting on this forum would create so much wonderful chatter concerning my question. Thank you
28 SPREE34 : In theory, and should not be depended on for communications beyond. In theory Bri2k is correct. That being said, I spoke on 146.52 FM Simplex from Au
29 Bri2k1 : Just a matter of semantics. Your eye can't "see" VHF signals, so why assume that line-of-sight means only at visible wavelengths? Refraction and refl
30 Sprout5199 : So true. LOS refers to the radio horizon, not visual horizon. IIRC the radio horizon for a VHF freq is 27 NM with the xmit antenna at 6 ft above grou
31 SPREE34 : And can seem particularly freaky at sea, or in the desert.
32 Iakobos : Not sure about this but my guess would be for the mode making use of the narrowest selectivity...ie good old CW. Well, sight relates to visual percep
33 KELPkid : I know that, when the sunspots start acting up, us amateur radio operators can sometimes talk to Hawaii on 2 meter single-sideband (145-147 Mhz band.
34 Post contains links Bond007 : Here is an interesting take on a 'crystal' receiver for airband: http://www.ramseyelectronics.com/cgi...ommerce.exe?preadd=action&key=ABM1 But, as me
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