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Airband Radio

Old 4th May 2011, 09:02
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Lightbulb Airband Radio

Hi all, I'm looking for advice on buying an Airband Radio, I live and fly near Manchester Airport and would like to have a listen in ... dont want to spend a fortune but the choice confuses me ... thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 4th May 2011, 09:29
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The cheapest will do, IF it has digital tuning. Analog tuning is not constant unless large amounts of AFC are applied. For myself I used a cheapo AR108 to full satisfaction for several years. Only the built-in speaker is poor, a headset is recommended.
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Old 4th May 2011, 09:37
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Hi Jan, thanks for that its helpful advice!
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Old 4th May 2011, 09:46
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I've bought a 2nd hand Bearcat UBC 200XLT for 40 euros. Works fine. (Unless you consider the worn-out battery, so I need it on external power at all times.)

I built a basic dipole antenna to use at home (it's hanging in the attic) instead of the whip antenna that comes as standard. That sounds complicated but it really isn't. It took me about 10 minutes to fabricate it using stuff I had lying around the garage anyway. It greatly improves reception.

However... I still consider it money not well spent. I should have saved it and use it towards buying a transceiver instead. (Icomm seems to be the standard here.) You can use a transceiver to listen in, but you can also use it as a backup in the plane while flying.
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Old 4th May 2011, 09:53
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i bought a bearcat 200 quid thing, and an AR-108 for taking abroad and to airshows. I just use the AR-108 all the time now, it's fine for what you need, it's nice and compact and battery life is relatively long

p.s. don't worry about people complaining that you're not allowed to listen to this and that, you're not bothering anybody...
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Old 4th May 2011, 10:08
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Yes the AR-108 keeps cropping up again and again and gets good reports!
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Old 4th May 2011, 10:26
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Another happy AR-108 user here - great battery life, dual freq watch, and memories - works a treat.
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Old 4th May 2011, 11:38
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Uniden Bearcat UBC 30XLT Airband Digital Radio 59.95

This

Or this?
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Old 4th May 2011, 12:43
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Another vote for the AR108
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Old 4th May 2011, 13:55
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Do NOT buy a scannner without a numeric keypad.

When you hear a new frequency being mentioned, one you do not have stored, you will miss the action because it takes so long to twiddle the knobs to store it.

Being able to type a frequecy on a keypad is a huge advantage.

http://www.flightstore.co.uk/images/.../5975-1-1.jpeg


Not This

http://www.flightstore.co.uk/images/...XLT/0-1-1.jpeg
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Old 4th May 2011, 15:04
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Backpacker, why do you keep coming up with your inappropriate dipole? Dipoles are directional and that's what we do NOT want, aircraft having the strange habit of dispersing wherever they can and sometimes beyond. OTOH any antenna will perform better than the supplied rubber dickie.

Check Circuits Online - Forum - Simpele antenne voor VHF-ontvangst for some better ideas - if you can make out local language...
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Old 4th May 2011, 16:07
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I still use my Sony Air 7. But it's getting increasingly flaky - sometimes needs thumping in a particular way - and I haven't round a reasonable alternative yet (which, for everyday listening to the radio, which I do far more of than listening to aeroplanes, would need DAB these days as well as FM).
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Old 4th May 2011, 20:27
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Backpacker, why do you keep coming up with your inappropriate dipole?
Well, my dipole antenna took 10 minutes to make from stuff I had lying around in the garage and works perfectly fine. Yes, there may be better designs but I doubt whether you can create them as easily as a simple dipole.

I don't know in which direction it is directional but since it's hanging vertically I think it's only the traffic that's directly overhead that might be a problem. And where I live, there's virtually no traffic overhead. (Too close to the field, but not in one of the extended centerlines.)

Also I have seen numerous ATC antennae that are dipoles, and for instance the antenna in the Europa is the exact same thing, just glued to the inside of the fuselage. Yes, dipoles may be directional and not send/receive straight up and down, but that's where the other party is normally not located.
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Old 4th May 2011, 22:01
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Probably not having the 'right' stuff lying about, can I just buy a much better antenna for my AR 108? Like something that goes in the garden and comes with a lead I just screw on where the current thingy is?

Any links to a website where I can simply order such in the UK appreciated. (a few others might appreciate it too if like me they have the right receiver but the wrong house).
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Old 5th May 2011, 08:47
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Google is your friend for that. Just a word of caution: As soon as you start messing with outdoor antennas you've got to worry about grounding (lightning!), corrosion, getting the cable into the house while keeping the weather out, and possibly planning permission and that sort of stuff. (Not to mention permission from your significant other...)

Airband is VHF and thus line-of-sight. Due to the curvature of the earth, which limits the Designated Operational Coverage (DOC) of an ATC station, this means that the aircraft you are listening to will rarely be more than 300 km away, and usually much closer than that. The transmit power in any airband radio is such that reception is not a marginal business at those distances. So the difference between an indoor antenna and an outdoor antenna, both more or less tuned to airband frequencies, will not be noticable. Because of that, I don't think it's worth messing about with outdoor antennas for airband reception. (Unless your house is a Faraday cage, in which case you've got no choice.)

The major improvement in reception comes from replacing the tiny whip antenna, which has to be a relatively small form factor in order to be portable, and has to be tunable to all frequencies that your scanner might be able to receive, with something that's specifically tuned for airband.

On the other hand, if you want to experiment with frequencies that are not line-of-sight but follow the curvature of the earth (HF for instance), a good outdoor antenna will make all the difference.

Last edited by BackPacker; 5th May 2011 at 08:59.
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Old 5th May 2011, 09:43
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I got one of these from Ebay for 60. (Private sale). Superb.
GRE PSR-282
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Old 6th May 2011, 01:37
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That model will not cover military airband. Perhaps not essential, but worth knowing before you buy.
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Old 6th May 2011, 21:00
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R1132

... In 1956 some VHF sets were slighty larger in size and weight -being
the possessor of an ex RAF R1132 VHF receiver - Formerly in use with SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) based at LAP - As a staff member it was offered to me for the for the princely sum of 5.

Coming complete with its original packing crate - including racking and seperate power pack etc - total weight around 60 lbs - A superb item of equipment - provided one had half a room going spare to house it.

...
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Old 7th May 2011, 07:20
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<<Dipoles are directional >>

Not when they are hung vertically, which is what is required for airband. It is the cheapest, most efficient antenna.
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Old 7th May 2011, 08:34
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I live about 9 miles from EGBJ Staverton, but only 55ft above sea level.

Using a Bearcat UBC30XLT and a Realistic Pro-39, coverage was pretty poor with no hope of hearing anything other than a 5 mile radius overhead.

Ten minutes with some copper busbar and plastic conduit saw a dipole hoisted as high as possible in the loft. I couldn't get any RG58 coax through the wall down to the living room, so I connected through the existing TV coax, knowing it would restrict the efficiency of the dipole.

I was pleasantly surprised how good the system is. I can now hear Staverton tower clearly and sometimes hear Brize. A lot of airlines in and out of Birmingham, Lulsgate & Cardiff come through clearly now.

Think how much better it would be if I had a proper setup :-)
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