Airshow scanning question

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Chris-B

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I posted this over at Air Show Buzz but just realized I'd get more answers over here at Radio Reference...

As a new airshow scanner user (GRE PSR-300), I am curious as to how all you air show veterans set up your scanners for shows. I already know that it makes sense to program the scanner for each show depending on whose performing but do you set up different banks for flight comms and ground ops? Does it make sense to put the military performers on a couple of banks and the civilians on others? I realize that the adage KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) probably makes a lot of sense here since I bought the scanner to add to the air show experience not to become one by itself...

Chris
 

CrabbyMilton

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I usually put the aircraft frequncies including military in one bank and the behind the scenes along with local police and fire in another bank. I have a decicated bank for the MURS(color dot) frequencies. Sometimes, I search 123-124 range as that's where most airshow action is. I kicked my self a few months agao though. I live in Milwaukee, WI> and went to the air show in Janesville. The Canadain Snowbirds were there and yours truly did look up the military frequencies ahead of time so I missed out. I tried searching th MILAIR band but gee, where do you start?
 

K4DHR

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Find out what the CTAF/UNICOM/MULTICOM frequency for the field in question is, at the airshows I have attended, those are what are generally used for most communications, unless some special frequencies are set up for marshalling, etc...
 

AZScanner

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With the close call capabilities of today's scanners, programming your scanner for a particular event is practically obsolete. I've been thinking of getting a cheapie handheld with this capability solely for use at airshows and other events.Just activate Close Call (or Signal Stalker, etc) and let the scanner find all the nearby transmissions for you!

-AZ
 

jimlawrence

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Basically here's how I set up my scanner based on the assumption that I have only one scanner to use for all listening.

One bank has off-field public safety. Usually just police; everyone from staties to locals. I listen to this bank as I drive in to be alerted to traffic tie-ups, etc. Plan on arriving as soon as the gates are open. Arriving more than one hour after the gates open = sitting in huge traffic jams and missing a good portion of the show.

Another bank has on-field public safety. Again, usually just police, sometimes commanders nets, etc if available and known to me. Also I'll enter low-power tactical freqs. used by civilian law enforcement if I know them or can find them ahead of time. If it's a military show, I'll also put ground support freqs in this bank such as flight line, etc. but you may want to break ground support freqs out into its own bank.

These two usually get locked out once I'm on the tarmack.

One bank for local ATC. I'll hunt or signal stalk for the air boss as soon as I arrive at the show and enter that freq. or those freqs into the ATC bank. I'll lock and unlock this bank as I wish during the show. Also, I may lockout certain freqs. in the ATC bank during the show so I can monitor most closely others. For instance, I may lock out departure while listening to tower, ground and approach. Sometimes if there's going to be a fly-by by a B-2, I'll also have the freq for the center that covers the field as well so I can be alerted to when the aircraft arrives in the area.

One bank for air-to-air freqs. used by performers. Freqs. like 123.15, 136.675, 376.025, etc. You might want to duplicate the air boss freqs here as well.

One bank for the featured performer (Blue Angels, T-birds, etc.) Usually, I'll put no delay on these freqs. When the featured performer flies, I lock out everything else.

Basically, think of the various situations you'll want to monitor as you approach the show, during the show and departing the show. My experience has been if I only have one receiver I can't listen to everything because there's just too much radio traffic at an airshow plus all the ambient sounds, conversations with others, eating (right, Ken?) etc. By using multiple banks, I focus on what I'm most interested in at any given time.

As you can tell, successful monitoring at an airshow involves lots and lots of research prior to setting foot on base. I know I won't be able to hear everything but if I can hear 80% of what's going on, I'm happy. (The old 80/20 rule. It's just a hobby, isn't it?)

And definitely definitely bring your headphones!

Enjoy and happy listening.
 

Chris-B

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Thanks for your very comprehensive post....exactly the kind of info I was looking for! Since I'm relatively new to this "scanning thing", I expect to be spending the weekend with the ARC300 software and RR!
 

ecps92

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Find some other Scannists going to the show, see what they do.

Jim's right on the mark if you have One Scanner.
I tend to run multiple with different antenna's, geared to the band I'm using

Thanks for your very comprehensive post....exactly the kind of info I was looking for! Since I'm relatively new to this "scanning thing", I expect to be spending the weekend with the ARC300 software and RR!
 

jimlawrence

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Thanks for your very comprehensive post....exactly the kind of info I was looking for! Since I'm relatively new to this "scanning thing", I expect to be spending the weekend with the ARC300 software and RR!
While this is a great idea, one thing I might add is to get really familiar with your receiver before you go to the airshow. You're going to want to search for, add, delete and lockout frequencies during the show and if you only know how to do that using software, you'll be out of luck unless you're going to bring your laptop along to the show with you and trundle all the way back to the car everytime you want to make a change (or worse yet, lug the laptop into the show...I'd much rather travel light). Call me a Luddite, while it's great to have the convenience of computer management of your receiver, IMHO there's still no substitute for knowing how to operate it in every detail using its keypad for those times when you're not near your computer or you're without power for extended periods of time.

Along with headphones, bring along at least one set of replacement batteries. I learned over the years to bring two complete sets of replacement batteries.
 

Chris-B

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Thanks for the info...

I only got the software to make it easier to program but I've spent a fair amount of time with the manual and will spend more time over the weekend. Assuming I had a laptop (which I don't), there's no way I'd take it along anyway.... And I discovered the benefits of lithium batteries for my photo gear a long time ago and use them for just about everything else when possible. I always carry at least 2 sets of spares.
 
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