Tips for Aircraft Band Monitoring

Do you own an Aircraft Band receiver? Are you slightly disappointed because cannot receive the tower or aircraft on the ground, you are not alone, many have the same problem, keep reading to discover what can you do to fix the problem.

Your location, in other words where you live and the terrain between you and your local airport usually dictates what you will receive in aircraft communication.

Once aircraft are airborne it becomes less of a problem to receive their transmissions because when they are in the air, there is nothing to block their transmissions form your receiver, unless you live in an area where you are surrounded by metal, radio waves do not travel through thick metal objects, but you can improve your reception with these simple improvements.

The aerial on the top of your receiver is probably a rubber duck, this aerial may be tuned to a different frequency range. If like many rubber duck aerials that are supplied with a hand-held air band receiver, it probably works better up on the Ultra High Frequency allocation. It will work on air band if you are very near to the airport however the farther away you are from the airfield the worse the aerial becomes for air listening.

All aerials have quite a narrow band width and no rubber duck is going to cover the huge range of frequencies that you scanning receiver covers, but try making a simple quarter wave for your scanner, these are around fifty ohms impedance which you receiver needs to see to provide adequate signal to your receiver.

Simply divide the frequency you are interested in, into 234 feet, this gives you the length you need for a quarter wave aerial. You can make an aerial from stiff coat hanger wire by soldering it to the middle of the plug which fits into your handy. These plugs vary but many are B.N.C. type plugs. Attaching three or four radial wires to the outer part of the plug completes the design, radial wires cut to the same length as the radiator and made out of more flexible wire work well if you are within a reasonable distance from the airport.

Many people find that this simply built aerial is all they need, if you position it on a window sill on a second floor room it will work better because you are raising the height of the aerial, a good rule of thumb for any aerial is to site it as high as possible and clear of surrounding objects.

This quarter wave arrangement can be modified with time and patience and a little ingenuity to form a good quality outside aerial. The aircraft band is situated in the Very High Frequency part of the radio spectrum; it is a line of sight band which means that transmissions are best when you can see the transmitting aerial plus about a third. If you build the aerial use quality low loss cable to reduce the signal loss from your aerial. Using this design I have successfully received transmissions form my local airport at a distance of seven miles from my home location.

Another adaptation on the above theme is to make a half wave dipole, simply divide the frequency into 468 feet, feed the aerial in the middle of this length with loss coaxial cable and hear the difference you have made to your air band listening.