Weekend Project: Aircraft Band Receiver

Airplanes Drones & Vehicles

Dig out that vintage AM/FM radio and modify it so you can pick up air traffic control communications.Thanks go to Cy Tymony for the original article in Make Magazine.

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Check out the HardAircraft Band Receiver article MAKE 09 “Aircraft Band Receiver” & You can see that in our digital edition.

10 thoughts on “Weekend Project: Aircraft Band Receiver

  1. Sirfelix says:

    The Dept of Homeland Security is going to have a field day with this one. TSA: “Sorry, you cannot bring that radio onboard the plane.
    Thanks for making our lives harder to live free.

  2. KipKay says:

    I hope your comment is in jest.
    This trick is a very old one that has been around for years and years. It would be no different that bringing a handheld scanner on an airplane which IS NOT ILLEGAL. Go to Radio shack and buy a handheld scanner and ask the police or homeland security if you are breaking any laws.

  3. jammit says:

    When I worked at KCI, I had a cheap FM portable radio that I used to do this with. After work I’d have to wait for my ride to pick me up and I would re-tune it to pick up the tower. I put a scratch on the display window of a local radio station so I could turn the dial pointer to the scratch and re-tune it back to normal. I didn’t mess with the I.F. and R.F transformers and coils because the adjustments on the main tuning capacitor (the clear square thing) could pull the L.O. far enough. During bad weather I’d listen in on the pilots and let travelers know how delayed their flight was.

  4. The Oracle says:

    @KipKay – how many times here to read about the TSA going nuts over homemade devices while not giving a second look to the exact same commercial device?

    Not that this hack really shows, but, sadly, Sirfelix has a very good point in the ‘land of the former free’.

  5. carpespasm says:

    There’s no reason to get up in arms over this guys. You can’t tell the mod has been done, it’s completely legal, and if asked to show the radio still works you could still do so. There’s no wires or modifications apparent when looking at it even through an x-ray machine. TSA can and has shown themselves to be overstepping and trigger happy with regard to flipping out homemade items, much to makers chagrin, but this is about as mundane a mod as it gets the radio is completely capable of tuning these stations in already, it’s just set at the factory not to since most people don’t have use for those bands.

    Also, does anyone have any idea how likely new cheap radios are to be modifiable in this way? Still talking manually tuned, not digitally. Did you just choose the classic radio for ease of doing the mod Kip?

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