AirNav RadarBox in Alberta

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Jay911

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Bragg Creek, Alberta
Am I the only person in western Canada running this device? :)

I just installed this thing today. With the stock antenna, I can pick up aircraft SW of Calgary from about Canmore down to Cranbrook, and east to Claresholm. I'm sure I'll pick up more when/if I get an external antenna.

Among the aircraft I see are many WestJet and Air Canada flights, Jazz/Skyservice/etc, more than a few international flights which pass over that portion of Alberta/BC sky, and even a USAF C-17, STORK43 (with no position information, unsurprisingly). Very little if any general aviation which kind of surprised me considering my proximity to Springbank Airport, but perhaps the transponders are not as prevalent in GA acft in Canada yet.
 

SCPD

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Am I the only person in western Canada running this device? :)

I just installed this thing today. With the stock antenna, I can pick up aircraft SW of Calgary from about Canmore down to Cranbrook, and east to Claresholm. I'm sure I'll pick up more when/if I get an external antenna.

Among the aircraft I see are many WestJet and Air Canada flights, Jazz/Skyservice/etc, more than a few international flights which pass over that portion of Alberta/BC sky, and even a USAF C-17, STORK43 (with no position information, unsurprisingly). Very little if any general aviation which kind of surprised me considering my proximity to Springbank Airport, but perhaps the transponders are not as prevalent in GA acft in Canada yet.
You are the first I know of and thanks for exposing us to this device. I looked it up and yes, it's a real neat toy :) a bit pricey though
 

MrVelvet

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Okotoks, AB
Very cool indeed, but I must agree on the price.

So its $760 to buy it outright and then you get a year long subscription, after the year you pay $30 a month for real time tracking?

Wait, does it come with the antenna kit or is that an additional $700?
 

Jay911

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The antenna is a tiny 1090MHz antenna that comes with the initial kit. Set in the window of my basement apartment in Bragg Creek, facing southwestwards, I get the abovementioned range; put on the roof of my car (it's a magmount) and driven around a bit, I got a significantly larger area of coverage. There is an external antenna that you can get, and done right, it will cover a ridiculous area. See Lindsay Blanton's post in the Aircraft Monitoring forum for more info - he has a setup in south Texas that sees several hundred nautical miles in every direction.

The subscription that starts out with 12 months free and changes to a monthly subscription after that is for network tracking. The program lets you view more than the aircraft you are "seeing" from your own antenna; you can also view other aircraft that people elsewhere are tracking, by a networked service. The software connects to the Internet and populates your (and others') discovered data to a server that everyone else connects to - that's the pay network service. To be honest, I'm going to probably spend $ to put a better antenna up, and see more aircraft on my own - when that's done, I'm not sure how much worth the network service will be, depending on how far my setup can see.

One more thing - the free network service is delayed 5 minutes from realtime. Paid service is "live", and any aircraft seen by your own antenna is live.

As for the initial price, $700 is not too much more than one would pay for a modern digital scanner. Or a TV, or a gaming system and accessories, or a good camera, or any other hobby's items. ;)
 

MtnBiker2005

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Jay911

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Bragg Creek, Alberta
MtnBiker2005, I was showing up on that map when I first installed it this morning, but since then I changed my location from the auto-detected setting (of Calgary, Canada) to my exact lat/long, to focus the map properly. Now I'm not showing up.

I'll post the polar diagram tomorrow after the machine has had a chance to flesh it out some more. I'll also post the one from my drive, which took me between Bragg Creek and Cochrane, two towns about 45km apart on the west side of Calgary. That one looks wild, and goes as far as the US border IIRC :)
 

Jay911

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Here's the polar diagram from my PC as it shows now.



I'm not 100% sure if the dark spot toward Cranbrook (YXC) is just lack of traffic in that area or a true RF shadow. Alberta Air Ambulance goes to Cranbrook on occasion so I should see eventually.

I also have a problem in that where I can put my antenna right now is directly beneath a 2.4GHz wireless modem known to spray RFI in all directions. I'm considering putting some kind of mesh around the antenna to shield it from interfering with my stuff like the RadarBox and my FD radios.
 
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MrVelvet

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Okotoks, AB
OK, that makes more sense now Jay.

$700 total and you can see live aircraft data - I'm ok with that cost.

It was the monthly fee that scared me.
 

Jay911

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Bragg Creek, Alberta
Not very many aircraft right now (from North America) are providing the full data that includes position location. Of the 56 aircraft that I have logged since I started up, only 11 have ADS-B equipment - the rest are just providing altitude and aircraft ID. Of those 11 aircraft, 4 were Air Canada, 5 were WestJet, one was Polar Air Cargo, and one was Lufthansa. There are lots of aircraft that don't have that information being transmitted, including ones from Air Canada and WestJet. Supposedly, all new aircraft in North America will have this equipment from a certain point onward (a WestJet bird built in 2002 has it).

The other aircraft just appear on your list.
 

electricsheep

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electricsheep
Am I the only person in western Canada running this device? :)

I just installed this thing today. With the stock antenna, I can pick up aircraft SW of Calgary from about Canmore down to Cranbrook, and east to Claresholm. I'm sure I'll pick up more when/if I get an external antenna.

Among the aircraft I see are many WestJet and Air Canada flights, Jazz/Skyservice/etc, more than a few international flights which pass over that portion of Alberta/BC sky, and even a USAF C-17, STORK43 (with no position information, unsurprisingly). Very little if any general aviation which kind of surprised me considering my proximity to Springbank Airport, but perhaps the transponders are not as prevalent in GA acft in Canada yet.
I don't know anyone up here with the airnav radarbox, but there are a couple of guys in the edmonton area/northern albreta with the SBS-1 Receivers - Kinetic Avionic Products
I was thinking of getting an ads-b receiver at one time, but a look at what was showing up on their receivers compared to what was on flightaware.com at the time just didn't justify the cost. When it is mandated for all general aviation it might be more interesting to me.
 

omrail

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Jan 12, 2008
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Leduc Alberta
Very little if any general aviation which kind of surprised me considering my proximity to Springbank Airport, but perhaps the transponders are not as prevalent in GA acft in Canada yet.
from what i know Jay if a GA acft is not using radar services then the transponder will not be squawking, so you will not see it.
 

DX-300

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Alberta, Canada
Haha, funny that this topic should come up, I was looking at these the other day and was seriously contemplating getting one, looks neat!! :))
 

Jay911

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Bragg Creek, Alberta
Ok, who's picked up one of these? :)

I see returns coming in from the Calgary area across the network, with good signal in Calgary itself right down to the runway. Right now WJA103 just transitioned from the network to my box, and two other flights that were on the network a moment ago went away.

I have moved my receiver to a higher location and see slightly better now. I can get returns from Springbank Airport if it's good, and a consistent strong arc from about Lake Louise south to Invermere/Radium. Cranbrook and Sparwood are out of my range, blocked by terrain, and I can see pretty much all the way south to Waterton Park. I get intermittent returns as far E and SE as Fort Macleod, Claresholm, Cayley, and the rare shot near Okotoks/High River.
 

VA5LF

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Been thinking of getting one of these, but there's so many other things to spend money on too. :)

I can answer one question for you from a bit upthread. You won't see much general aviation on Mode-S, most GA transponders are Mode-C. That'll gradually change but it'll take a while. Given the age of some of the equipment I've seen in local light aircraft, I wouldn't be suprised if you pulled it out you'd see tubes.

In the Calgary area, pretty much all aircraft will have a transponder, since it's a Terminal Control Area (Class B airspace) and you must be able to be radar identified and have permission from ATC to enter.

If you are into aviation montioring, you might want to get a Canada Flight Supplement and an area VFR chart. They will give you a nice picture of where VFR aircraft are. Most commercial flights are IFR and usually have Mode-S.

Now if I could only afford to keep flying... ;)
 
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