Icom IC-R30 vs Uniden UBC-125XLT for airband monitoring

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Tonimr

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Hi:
I'm an aviation photographer looking to improve its airband receiver. I'm currently using a Uniden UBC-30XLT and an old Yupiteru MVT-7100.
I've also had had several receivers in the past (IC-R1, Yaesu VR-120, IC-R5).
At the airport all of them work according to my needs but at home I get a lot of noise and it's hard to discern lower signals. I use ATIS for testing as it seems to be the weakest signal. I'm only 5 miles from the airport and I sometimes hear the the ATC from Barcelona FIR (100 miles!) much better than local ATIS!
I live in the fourth floor of a five level building and using the stock rubber antennas though I've made some tests with an indoor folded dipole with almost the same results. I'm currently planning to made a 1/4 GP and probably a filtering LNA.
By now I'm discarding the use of rooftop antennas. Even still keeping my A radio amateur license that would give me the rights to mount something there, this should be made with the 5th floor owner permission and while he's a friend, he's not very keen to help as I found out when trying to mount an ADS-B antenna there (finally placed in one of my two terraces).
The question is that I was looking to replace the UBC-30XLT for the UBC-125XLT because of its better audio, frequency managing and alpha tagging but according to the specs I think it has the same or very similar RF stages. I'd like to know if some of you could confirm it.
Moreover, I'm also interested in the IC-R30. I know it's expensive and one might think it's overkill but I like its features, wider coverage, dual receiver, BT... and it would be very good to replace both the UBC-30XLT and the MVT 7100.
The problem is that, by reading the specs I see its sensibility in Airband AM it's 1.4 uV (10 dB S/N) vs the 0.4 uV (ok: measured as 12dB SINAD) of the Unidens (Even IC-R6 is 0.63 μV 10 dB S/N). I wouldn't like to sacrifice signal for features but by reading at forums and reviews some say the IC R-30 performs better than the Uniden in Airband so that would be good enough for me.
I'de be very grateful if someone could give me its impressions about this subject.
Thanks in advance!
 

xms3200

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If you are interested only in airband like I am, could I suggest the Icom A25C...it will definitely blow your mind as to the reception of airliners at FL 350 hundreds of miles away with the stock rubber ducky antenna.
 

Tonimr

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If you are interested only in airband like I am, could I suggest the Icom A25C...it will definitely blow your mind as to the reception of airliners at FL 350 hundreds of miles away with the stock rubber ducky antenna.
Good advice, thanks: I've also considered it. I asume being an airband only transceiver it's going to give me the best result although it lacks UHF airband that I use cery seldom ...
 

Ubbe

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ATIS often have its antenna on the tower. ATC FIR could have relocated sites many miles from the airport. I have an airport to the north of my that are impossible to hear it's ATIS but they have a site to the south of my, but at twice the distance, but the FIR communication can be heard as the antenna sits on a tower high above ground, and maybe also use higher power.

FM broadcast often interfere with air-vhf monitoring that reduce what you can hear. Adding a FM trap filter and using a low noise amplifier with a simple external antenna will help in almost all cases. Amplifiers need attenuators between it and scanner to reduce their 20dB gain to something low in the 0-6dB range that the scanner can tolerate. Listening to ATIS and adjusting everything from antenna type, position and location and attenuation are a good way to find the optimum settings.

/Ubbe
 

N4DJC

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The R-30 offers a lot of performance for a handheld, dual band record, super fast scanning (200 per second/150 per second), very long battery life, and it's very water resistant. I can't compare it to the AC-25 as I don't own one. The R6 has the hottest receiver but is a pita to program (IMO) and the screen is almost impossible for me to read.

I sold my R-30 a while back after my renewed interest in Public Service scanning (bought an SDS200), but nothing I've owned compared for Rail or Air bands. I could pick up Air or Railband traffic that wouldn't break the squelch on a BC125AT with a Diamond antenna. It's a lot of money for a receiver, but it's a lot of receiver. Will it work for your location? I couldn't begin to guess. The biggest issue I had with the R-30 is the screen, it did not have enough contrast to see in some lighting conditions.
 

Tonimr

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FM broadcast often interfere with air-vhf monitoring that reduce what you can hear. Adding a FM trap filter and using a low noise amplifier with a simple external antenna will help in almost all cases. Amplifiers need attenuators between it and scanner to reduce their 20dB gain to something low in the 0-6dB range that the scanner can tolerate. Listening to ATIS and adjusting everything from antenna type, position and location and attenuation are a good way to find the optimum settings.
Thanks:
I'll try to add a FM band trap to help with the noise as only the LNA turned into more noise as expected (I still have been unable to order an specific airband LNA that I suppose it's the ideal).
 

Tonimr

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The R6 has the hottest receiver but is a pita to program (IMO) and the screen is almost impossible for me to read.
By hottest you mean better in Airband than the R30?

I could pick up Air or Railband traffic that wouldn't break the squelch on a BC125AT with a Diamond antenna. It's a lot of money for a receiver, but it's a lot of receiver.
It's exactly what I wanted to know: I wouldn'tt pay as much just for features but if it does receive better that the 125 or the R6 then I'll go for it.
Thanks Jerry!
 

Ubbe

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I'll try to add a FM band trap to help with the noise as only the LNA turned into more noise as expected (I still have been unable to order an specific airband LNA that I suppose it's the ideal).
FM broadcast are so close in frequency to the airband that a FM trapfilter often are needed.

You can order a combined airband filter and LNA but then you can't use the LNA for anything else. I use a FM trapfilter and LNA and then a splitter with 6 outputs to different scanners and receivers that receives everything between 60MHz and 500MHz, that's the frequency range where there are radio communications in my country. The attenuation from the splitter seems to be enough to not cause problem to any of my scanners.


A combined $30 FM trap filter and low noise LNA

A combined $50 airband filter and low noise LNA

Remember that these amplifiers have a 20dB gain and will kill any scanners reception. You will have to attenuate at least 10dB. Using an adjustable 0-20dB attenuator will let you listen to a constant transmission like ATIS and dial in the best reception.

/Ubbe
 

N4DJC

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By hottest you mean better in Airband than the R30?


It's exactly what I wanted to know: I wouldn'tt pay as much just for features but if it does receive better that the 125 or the R6 then I'll go for it.
Thanks Jerry!
It will overload with an outside antenna, all I ever used was the telescoping whip. It's a pretty sensitive on SWBCB and will decode NXDN and P-25 as well. It doesn't have DMR and I doubt Icom will ever add that mode. The dual band RX and record is very handy. I could scan MilAir and programmed frequencies simultaneously. The Icom software is expensive, but the R-30 is pretty easy to program from the front panel.
 

Tonimr

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FM broadcast are so close in frequency to the airband that a FM trapfilter often are needed.

You can order a combined airband filter and LNA but then you can't use the LNA for anything else. I use a FM trapfilter and LNA and then a splitter with 6 outputs to different scanners and receivers that receives everything between 60MHz and 500MHz, that's the frequency range where there are radio communications in my country. The attenuation from the splitter seems to be enough to not cause problem to any of my scanners.

Remember that these amplifiers have a 20dB gain and will kill any scanners reception. You will have to attenuate at least 10dB. Using an adjustable 0-20dB attenuator will let you listen to a constant transmission like ATIS and dial in the best reception.
Thanks Ubbe:
I'll try to add the FM trap to the wideband LNA and may be latter the specific for airband. Good idea that of the splitter with several different tuned LNAs.
 

Tonimr

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It will overload with an outside antenna, all I ever used was the telescoping whip. It's a pretty sensitive on SWBCB and will decode NXDN and P-25 as well. It doesn't have DMR and I doubt Icom will ever add that mode. The dual band RX and record is very handy. I could scan MilAir and programmed frequencies simultaneously. The Icom software is expensive, but the R-30 is pretty easy to program from the front panel.
I'll order the R30 and see how it performs with the telescopic. Then also with an external and filtering/LNA.
Thanks you Jerry.
 

N4DJC

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I'll order the R30 and see how it performs with the telescopic. Then also with an external and filtering/LNA.
Thanks you Jerry.
Being an avid airband enthusiast, I think you will enjoy it.
 

iMONITOR

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Personally if your primary interest is aircraft I think the Icom IC-R30 would be a very expensive over kill that would not necessarily yield better results. You could buy (6) Uniden UBC125AT scanners for what you probably pay for an Icom IC-R30. The Uniden would be much easier to program and use. Better yet buy the UBC125AT hand held and the *BCT15X base/mobile to go with it for only about $260

Note: Double check the band plan on the BCT15X as I just noticed you are in Spain.
 
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questnz

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1+ for the above, on the spot. Get 125 and 15X plus some good Air Band tuned antennas and you still have spare change in the pocket.
 

Tonimr

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Personally if your primary interest is aircraft I think the Icom IC-R30 would be a very expensive over kill that would not necessarily yield better results.
1+ for the above, on the spot. Get 125 and 15X plus some good Air Band tuned antennas and you still have spare change in the pocket.
Yes. You both are right concerning the cost.
I've marked iMONITOR remark because he thinks the IC-R30 would not necessarily better results. This is exactly what I'm trying to disguise though I'm afraid it isn't going to be easy unless I have the chance to made a field test with both in my hands.
 

questnz

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Amigo, just read all reviews on 125AT on Civ and Mil Air performance, no need to invest in expensive IC-R30 scanner, OVERKILL, keep the money!
Among other similar radios i also have (396XT, TRX-1) I use 126AT (my version) anytime I travel via Airports and take to Air Shows. Never disappointed. Just use with quality ear piece, no need for speaker. FREE Programing software comes with the scanner, also you can use Scan125 from Nick Bailey in UK (donation accepted) My handheld antenna to complement 126AT is Watson WSMA-901 you could also use longer Diamond SRH771 (also called RH77CA) and perform well on Air.
 

Tonimr

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Amigo, just read all reviews on 125AT on Civ and Mil Air performance, no need to invest in expensive IC-R30 scanner, OVERKILL, keep the money!
Among other similar radios i also have (396XT, TRX-1) I use 126AT (my version) anytime I travel via Airports and take to Air Shows. Never disappointed. Just use with quality ear piece, no need for speaker. FREE Programing software comes with the scanner, also you can use Scan125 from Nick Bailey in UK (donation accepted) My handheld antenna to complement 126AT is Watson WSMA-901 you could also use longer Diamond SRH771 (also called RH77CA) and perform well on Air.
Sounds quite reasonable.
It's hard to understand that Icom software for the R30 it's only for programming, not for controlling, and nobody has released a program for that, even knowing that Icom has published all the commands available in the advanced manual.. They have the iOS ang Android app but I'm not quite sure if it's practical.
 
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