Setting realistic expectations (KCLT area)

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jerseytom

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Good morning! First post here, wasn't sure if it'd be more appropriate for this sub-forum or the antennas one or what.

Background: Bit of an aviation and plane spotting enthusiast, and depending on the day I often get a fair amount of traffic over my place. Started looking at tuning into air band radio to get a better heads up on stuff entering my area since LiveATC doesn't cover the standard terminal arrival routes. Got a BC125AT + RH77CA yesterday and voila - works great. Can hear aircraft transmissions throughout my area, 40-50+ miles out.

As you can probably guess, the next thing that popped in my head was - I wonder if it'd at all be feasible to get the tower transmissions from the house.

Constraints: I'm ~15mi from the tower in a development with a HOA; big external antennas not an option. I could however probably fit something like a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna or similar up in the attic (2 story single family).

With that being the case - what might I realistically expect if I went that route? Plausible to pick up tower transmissions with any clarity? Or not so much?

Thanks!
 

SkiBob

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Welcome to the forums. I will start by saying "you don't know until you try". What works for me may not work for you. Let me share some of my experiences.

First of all, now is not the ideal time to monitor aviation. At noon, I am only seeing 10 inbound aircraft into KCLT. You will not get a good idea of how well your equipment is working with that kind of inactivity.

I am 18 miles from the world's busiest airport and at the same elevation. I have an air band dedicated antenna 20ft above the ground. I am on the fringe of hearing ground ops.(tower, ground, ramps etc) If there is any kind of propagation, I can hear it all. (with static). I can however, hear aircraft as far as 230 miles away, depending on their altitude.

Ground ops can be fun to monitor, but I find dispatch, AIRINC, maintenance, general aviation, and helicopter frequencies much funner to listen too. It's always better to have a high antenna, but when aircraft are 2000ft and higher, it doesn't take much on your end to hear them.

The president of our HOA is my neighbor. He has no idea I have 4 antennas on my property with one being 60 ft long. Do some research, there are creative ways to hide antennas and still get the results you want.

Again, try it. If it doesn't work, try something else. When it works, try to make it better. That's the fun of the hobby.

Let us know how we can help.
 

Arkmood

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I wonder if it'd at all be feasible to get the tower transmissions from the house.
Thanks!

Here's something to think about:
Take your BC125AT + RH77CA up in the attic and wait for tower transmission ... now, if you receive the tower you could "realistically expect' to hear it downstairs with a halfway decent antenna and cable setup.
 

spanky15805

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jerseytom. Doing some go ogle mapping, found one rtr site. Looks like 25 vhf/uhf frequencies to choose from. If the pictures look familiar and are close to you, have fun!
 

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spanky15805

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CHARLOTTE TOWER:118.1 ;RWY 05/23, 18L/36R 126.4 ;RWY 18C/36C 133.35 ;RWY 18R/36L 257.8
CHARLOTTE GROUND:121.8 ;WEST 121.9 ;EAST 348.6
CHARLOTTE APPROACH:120.05 ;120-295 8000 FT & BLW 120.5 ;246-074 ABV 8000 FT 124.0 ;075-245 ABV 8000 FT 126.15 128.325 ;001-119 8000 FT & BLW 134.75 ;296-360 8000 FT & BLW 257.2 ;180-359 307.8 ;360-179
CHARLOTTE DEPARTURE:120.05 ;120-295 8000 FT & BLW 120.5 ;246-074 ABV 8000 FT 124.0 ;075-245 ABV 8000 FT 128.325 ;001-119 8000 FT & BLW 134.75 ;296-360 8000 FT & BLW 257.2 ;180-359 307.8 ;360-179
IC:120.05 ;120-295 8000 FT & BLW 120.5 ;246-074 ABV 8000 FT 124.0 ;075-245 ABV 8000 FT 128.325 ;001-119 8000 FT & BLW 134.75 ;296-360 8000 FT & BLW 257.2 ;180-359 307.8 ;360-179
 

ai8o

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Good morning! First post here, wasn't sure if it'd be more appropriate for this sub-forum or the antennas one or what.

Constraints: I'm ~15mi from the tower in a development with a HOA; big external antennas not an option.

With that being the case - what might I realistically expect if I went that route? Plausible to pick up tower transmissions with any clarity? Or not so much?

Thanks!
When you say "tower" transmissions what do you mean?
Transmissions from the tower to approaching aircraft, or on ground channels like: Ground Control, Clearance Delivery ATIS or all of them?

Also dont forget there are other aero transmissions you can hear.
ARTCC, KHKY, KFAY, and Columbia SC.


Remember that KCLT is NOT the only active airport in your area.
KCLT-Charlotte
KJQF Concord
KVUJ Albemarle,
and several other General Aviation airports.
Depending on your location you might hear the other airports on ground transmissions.

KCLT and KJQF ( Concord) both have commercial passenger aircraft going in and out.

Go to my webpage at: AI8O-Piedmont NC AIRPORTS

Click on KCLT for a listing of Charlotte frequencies.
There is also a RadioZone map of the frequency usage zones.

The frequencies listed are only the frequencies listed on the official published FAA "Airport Diagram".
There are several non-published frequencies like 127.1, that are only used as overflow frequencies when the airport is very busy.


Also, there are some Airline Company frequencies, ARINC, and ARTCC transmitters at KCLT.
These are NOT listed on the FAA "Airport Diagram".

128.325 tends to be used as if it were a TRACON, even though it is not officially listed as that.


KVUJ is very busy at times with NCANG 145 AW operations, FEMA air cargo, and Green Beret training ops (SF parachute jumping on the airport grounds).

Any queations?
Just PM me

Good luck listening
Dan
AI8O
 

ai8o

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<FEMA air cargo >
Material moving into and out of the FEMA warehouse at KVUJ.
I last heard them before, and during, the hurricane in September 2019.
Oficially it is FEMA Rapid Deployment property, BUT with SF heavily using the KVUJ area, who knows for sure?

Yes, there are lots of frequencies used in aero operations in the KCLT area that are not listed in RR or FAA databases.
68 MHz, 148 MHz (CAP), the NCANG base at KRUQ on 137MHz.

The whole area is just crawling with aero radio users.
KCLT ops are just the most easily found/ monitored.
 

ai8o

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Now more to your question.

<<<<I could however probably fit something like a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna or similar up in the attic (2 story single family)..>>>>

A 1/4 wave ground plane antenna will always work better than a rubber duck.
In your attic (higher above ground) will improve your reception even more.

Several considerations here.

1) is there foil baking to the insulation in the attic?
2) is there foil backing on the roofing matierial?
3) are there any RFI producers in the attic (HVAC or air blowers)?
4) is the roofing matierial metal?
Items 1,2, 3, 4 will cause problems.

4) Use GOOD coax to connect the antenna in the attic.
5) Make sure you solder the connectors on the coax well. Make good solder joints.
 

jerseytom

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Wow, lot of replies - I appreciate the info! Spent the past few days playing around with a few things while learning the scanner and programming in a variety of frequencies.

Tried @Arkmood's suggestion and just holding the scanner up in the attic... nada. Not that there's been much traffic in general, but I haven't heard so much of a sniff of transmission from the CLT and JQF towers. So maybe it's not in the cards.

Remarkable though, after getting more channels loaded in, the other night I could hear some inbound aircraft southwest of here almost 130 miles out! I guess that's a good illustration of how important line of sight is. Would have never guessed I could hear that but not the actual airport tower way closer. In any event it still suits my purposes being able to hear just the one side of communications to get ready for a photo op. I may try the antenna for the hell of it to see if it clears up anything; some of the low altitude GA stuff around 14A and JQF doesn't come through great.

A silly question for @spanky15805 and/or @ai8o - any reason why the standard terminal arrival frequencies weren't listed? E.g. turbojet commercial traffic coming in from the east (STOCR, RASLN, MLLET, MAGIC, KABEE, CHSLY STARs) seem to all be on 126.15 up until when they call the field and get turned over to tower. 125.35 for STARs to the NW, 135.60 to the SW. App/dep seems to only handle SIDs and whatever other random traffic crosses through CLT controlled airspace.

Lots to learn here yet but honestly already more fun than I thought it'd be! Interesting stuff.
 

spanky15805

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jerseytom. I'm not sure what "the standard terminal arrival frequency" is. Approach control receives traffic from the center (ARTCC) and hands off to tower (or terminal, if you will) and finally ground for taxi instructions. It depends on weather/wind direction as to what runways are in use. With the Left/Middle/Right runway configuration, other forum members can give you a WAY better traffic flow synopsis then me. Really depends on tower staffing, airport ops have a runway closed, hot load coming in and the number of flights inbound/outbound as to which runway/s are being used.

With that being said, at this point in time, trying to monitor air traffic frequencies could lead to frustration because of the lack of air traffic and how positions have been combined.

If you have the software for the BC125AT, I would have it scan 118.00 to 137.00 for an hour or two and see what frequencies pop up and cross them with what AI8O and I have provided. If you have detailed questions, you can pm myself, or better pm ai8o since they are in you neck of the woods.
 

jerseytom

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Standard terminal arrival route (STAR) just being the various GPS navigation procedures to get funneled in to CLT airspace.

I've been trying to cross reference and check across a few different places and seems like everyone has slightly different information listed, which has thrown me for a bit of a loop. I'll jot down observations here in case anyone else comes across this later on, and then PM some folks for details since it's a bit outside the initial scope of my post.

So for example, if I look at the currently valid BANKR2 STAR (FAA *.pdf link) it lists Charlotte approach control specific to that STAR on 135.600. That channel is also used by UNARM, JONZE, and CHPTR STARs, all from the SW. I can confirm that I've heard traffic inbound on that channel, all the way up until they call visual on the field and get handed off to one of the tower frequencies.

I just hadn't seen that frequency listed in what had been shared in this thread. On the AirNav page for KCLT it does list that frequency next to a variety of STARs from the southwest, but not specifically in their block for app/dep control. Also doesn't appear (as of right now) on the RadioReference page for KCLT, nor on any of the area ARTCC's (ZTL, ZDC, ZJX, ZID).

For the moment I'm inclined to go with the FAA documentation as gospel; maybe some of the other resources just haven't been updated yet?
 

alcahuete

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I just hadn't seen that frequency listed in what had been shared in this thread. On the AirNav page for KCLT it does list that frequency next to a variety of STARs from the southwest, but not specifically in their block for app/dep control.
All those blocks with headings are there generally for the VFR pilots. 135.6 is listed on the STARs and not those blocks because CLT TRACON does not want VFR pilots calling on that frequency when that controller is busy merging the arrival streams for the different STARs feeding the airport.
 

AirScan

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jerseytom,

For the moment I'm inclined to go with the FAA documentation as gospel
It's probably the best source but I wouldn't consider the FAA data "gospel". For example using BANKR2 you posted as an example - there is a LiveATC feed that covers Atlanta Center (ZTL, Sector 31, 135.350) that works the arrivals on this STAR and you can hear they are being handed off CLT approach on 125.350 (not 135.600 as published).

I'm not that familiar with CLT but another thing to consider is that the sector configuration and frequencies used might change depending on time of day and traffic volume. So maybe 135.600 is used during certain times or when busy ? When did you hear it in use and could you tell what traffic was on it ?

AS
 
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