Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver


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The communications between commercial aircraft and the ground can be interesting, amusing and sometimes even disturbing. However radios that receive the approximately 220MHz to 400MHz band commonly used for aircraft (both military and commercial) are not easily found. And scanners can be complicated, large and expensive. With an easy to build circuit such as this one, everyone can enjoy listening in on these conversations.

Schematic

Schematic of the aircraft receiver circuit

Parts

Part
Total Qty.
Description
Substitutions
R1, R3247K 1/4W Resistor
R2110K 1/4W Resistor
R414.7K 1/4W Resistor
R515K Linear Taper Pot
R612.2K 1/4W Resistor
C1, C2, C3, C640.001uF Ceramic Disc Capacitor
C412.2pF Ceramic Disc Capacitor
C511pF Ceramic Disc Capacitor
C7115uF 15V Electrolytic Capacitor
C8118pF Variable Capacitor
D111N82 Diode
Q112N918 NPN Transistor
L11See Notes
L211.8uH Inductor
ANT11Approx. 18 Inch Wire Antenna
MISC1PC Board, Wire, Knob For C8

Notes

  1. The circuit originally appeared in the Think Tank column of the Sept. 1995 issue of Popular Electronics.

  2. L1 is made by winding 2 turns of 22 AWG magnet wire on a 5/32 drill bit. This inductor can be modified to shift the frequency range of the circuit.
  3. The antenna can also be placed at the anode of D1 if overload is a problem with it connected to the emitter of Q1
  4. R5 adjusts regen and thus sensitivity.

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Comments

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anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Friday, March 21, 2014 11:32:14 PM
Can this be modified to listen to spacecraft communications from the International Space Station and Soyuz spacecraft?
ss542006
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Sunday, November 24, 2013 4:36:02 PM
I am getting ready to build this radio,I am using a 0-60pf variable cap with a 22pf in series to bring it down to the 15pf as shown in the schematic. There is alot of military aircraft traffic here so I should be able to use it alot. I do want to build a second for the 108-135megahertz commercial/civilian aircraft band...what would be the coil for this conversion and what would be the capacitor value for the emitter to collector?
ss542006
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Saturday, November 02, 2013 8:58:02 PM
In the schematic is the 1N82 diode in correct orientation? Cathode towards C8?
anonymous
aircraft communicationAircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:45:58 PM
I have a gmrs twoway radio it keys from 110.9 to @36.5 MHz. Will anybody hear me in a airplane. If they are not to far away my call is k6cal I am in San Jose CA
Norman (KA1GUK)
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 5:05:40 PM
One thing I forgot to mention in my previous comment was that the 2N3904 transistor will not work at 400MHz, but the SF245 transistor used in the Czech circuit will. The 2N3904 transistor will work fine in the audio stage, however.
Norman (KA1GUK)
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 4:37:48 PM
Please see the circuit at: http://krysatec.benghi.org/phprs/view.php?cisloclanku=2006033102 It's in the Czech language, but you can translate it and the schematic does not need any translation. The ideas of using a front end buffer and an audio amp stage can help this type of receiver circuit quite a bit. I like the circuit on the above website, but the values of the coil and tuning cap need to be changed to tune the newer air band. I'm not sure what else may need to be changed at this point to accommodate the higher frequencies.
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Monday, March 07, 2011 12:25:51 AM
it does really work?
Federico Colombo
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, August 12, 2010 12:53:00 AM
I biuld this circuit but I receive no signal (yet)... I used a 2N5179 instead of 2N918. 1N34A instead of 1N82. And a C7 of 22uF (not 15uF). The other parts are same as needed. Do you have any comments about these replaces?. Thank you very much.
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 12:34:35 PM
I built it and works! I replaced 2n918 with a 9018 with a frequency transition of 1100 mhz! I made L2 with 28 turns of 0,6 mm wire on 7mm drill bit , 1.6 cm long. Also a diode 1n34 works fine!
Don Hill
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Saturday, October 17, 2009 12:48:32 PM
My research indicates that the 1N82 is a germanium diode from the fifties. A 1N34 should work as a replacement. A normal silicon diode will not work well as a Germanium diode has a 0.3V forward drop and a silicon diode has a 0.7V forward drop.
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 5:40:37 AM
does it work?
1s4
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Friday, July 17, 2009 9:24:00 PM
for air band i am using a 3.5 turn coil of wire on a 3/8 in. coil form the wire is 22ga.
mohammed shafeeq.p
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 1:07:34 AM
its really fantastic opertunity to see this circuit & to create it
Meysam
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Friday, July 03, 2009 12:09:33 PM
How can we change the range of this radio to 118~137MHz?
Dark Fox
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, June 24, 2009 5:00:27 PM
Can I replace diode 1N82 for 1N60? If no, what diode can I replace 1N82?
1s4
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Friday, June 19, 2009 2:22:09 PM
you can obtain a 2N918 transistior from mouser electronics web site a MPS2222A transistor will only work on air band 117-137 mhz not 220-400mhz.
wparker1934
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Monday, May 04, 2009 9:52:23 PM
A more common subsistute for 2N918 would be nice.
Hendrik Pas
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Monday, March 23, 2009 4:46:52 AM
Q1 can also be a BFX73 transistor.
OD
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, March 12, 2009 6:35:38 AM
I can't get my hands on the 1n82 diode. Can anyone suggest some replacements? Also the diode seems to be connected in reversed bias. Is this an error or on purpose?
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Friday, January 23, 2009 3:03:53 PM
Has anyone tested this receiver????
Albert Harrison
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, January 15, 2009 10:10:52 PM
I am a novice. Where is audio out and power in? Can someone confirm my observation before I build this scanner? 1-(+) positive side of microphone or speaker tap in at base of Q1 between C3 and C6. 2-(-) Negative of speaker tap in at Q1 emitter at top of L2. 3-Power in at top of C5, power out to positive at R2 at +9V This appear to be the best way.
1s4
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Sunday, January 11, 2009 9:41:59 PM
this radio is a very well built project it is very stable. when you are building this receiver keep all the leads as short as possible. otherwise you will have problems getting the radio to work. i have not tried the radio on 220-400 mhz.
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Saturday, January 10, 2009 1:55:47 AM
total information is not given
anonymousMAYUR DATE
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Saturday, November 15, 2008 6:50:59 AM
It is avery wonderful circuit.and it is very simpal for new electronic field commers. thank you
undidly
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, November 06, 2008 7:09:13 AM
Are you sure this circuit is OK. How does the diode conduct anything at all.It is biased off permanently. My own receiver taps audio from the junction of C3 and R2.No diode needed. For filtering out the squelch oscillation put R1 in place of the diode and take the audio from C1.
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 5:41:00 AM
Ok, I had to dig deep to find any schematics to make a really cheap aircraft scanner, but I found one... And its easier than you think! I bought a $5 am / fm radio from the dollar store. I took it apart and literally just used a screw driver to seperate the FM tuner coil (1 of 2 copper coils you'll see on inside). I pushed it far enough apart without breaking where it was soldered to the green board to change the range to 109mhz - 135 mhz.... The catch? Without further modification you always hear the background static.... That and since it was a $5 radio, you pretty much have to be right at the airport to pick up anything... Maybe with a slightly more expensive one and a better antenna you could pick up more..... But for $5, you can't beat the results....
threewhldwndr
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Friday, October 10, 2008 1:41:58 PM
flyingfish7000: I remember as a kid having a radio that could also recieve uhf/vhf and when i took it apart and played with the tuning circuitry, i could hear the plane talk at the airport nearby................
v.vinoth
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Tuesday, August 12, 2008 6:36:48 AM
what's a range of this tranmitter and what's range of AWG
flyingfish7000
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:33:55 PM
I live near BWI and listen to the tower, ground control, Patomac Approach, and Departure. All of them communicate between 108 - 132 Mhz. According to my sectional charts all domestic ATC com. is on these frequencies. It happens that 108 Mhz is the top end of the FM broadcast band 88 - 108 Mhz. Can an off the shelf FM receiver be retuned to receive 108 - 132 mhz?
SARAVANAN
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, July 02, 2008 10:17:17 PM
i read your document its nice and useful. i would like to do a rc plane could you help me in doing that rc receiver and transmitter
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, April 17, 2008 12:10:32 AM
ATC is all Amplitude Modulation operating at the VHF - Anyone built this? What is it like? Can you hear any communications ?
sokari, tonye
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Monday, April 07, 2008 2:35:04 PM
please can i get a qualitative note on how this circuit works,its limits, its range and how it can be built. thanks
zezu72
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Sunday, March 23, 2008 12:00:58 PM
I have difficulties in finding the diode 1N82 (or NTE112 for a substitution as marked in comments) , I need help for finding more equivalent parts , please let me know
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Friday, March 07, 2008 11:26:12 PM
Audio output is not enough to drive a speaker. Use the audio out to drive a 1 or 2 transistor audio amp. Most air traffic between 108 & 135mhz is AM. This circuit is for 220 - 400 mhz. Im not sure if they use AM up there or not. Im also not sure civilian aircraft operate up there. I always thought that 220 - 400 was military. I hope this helped. kg6ath
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, March 06, 2008 10:47:18 AM
sir, i want to set up this system for my school laboratary. i want more ground. and how it will be powered.
ROSHAN PREM
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 12:02:30 AM
quite good, but is this practically applicable with low audio output speakers?????????
aravinth
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, February 14, 2008 7:08:45 AM
i want to do this project
(v)e
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, February 07, 2008 2:28:07 AM
Just curious, is there a way to simply modify a simple am/fm stereo to pick up aircraft bands? Also is the transmission in FM or AM? I've read documentation giving conflicting responses...I'd lean towards AM since the radios at work seem to pick up a lot of static when actually emitting sound (Noise reduction I believe helps this when not picking up a signal).....Oh and one other thing....I don't know about the rest of the world, but at least at my airport the comms range is from around 117 - 125 mhz (approach and ground) and goes as high as 140 mhz (airline ops)......Are those freqs for centers or as aforementioned? Thanks for the schematics though.
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 10:24:46 AM
COMPONENT D1 IS THE WRONG WAY ROUND ON THE CIRCUIT
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Monday, January 28, 2008 4:15:21 AM
i want recever circuit
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 7:43:22 AM
In terms of seminar paper how do someone get a reliable information on this project.
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 11:47:14 AM
A substitution for the 1N82 is the NTE 112
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 9:17:08 AM
Can someone tell if this works??
M.ADIL KHAN
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:43:07 AM
SIR WILL U KINDLY PLEASE TELL ME THAT WHAT KIND OF AUDIO OUTPUT CAN BE USED,I AM USING A SIMPLE AUDIO SPEAKER OF 8OHM.WHAT IS THE RADIUS OF CATCHING THE PARTICULAR FREQUENCY.
Babil
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, January 10, 2008 10:42:44 AM
Hello Sir I decided to do your ideas in my project if i get success, its because of you so advance thank but it really works na..........
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, January 10, 2008 8:51:35 AM
Can not find the 1N82 Diode, is there any substitutions for this part
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Thursday, December 20, 2007 4:33:15 PM
What should the audio output be hooked to? A speaker, an amplifier, or a pizeoelectric earphone?
anonymous
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Tuesday, December 11, 2007 4:18:59 PM
I have a question about the Variable capacitor. U have one value, 18pf. Would it be possible to get the full range of the capacitor?
subash
Aircraft Radio Communications Receiver
Friday, November 30, 2007 1:44:11 AM
hi sir iam going to communication between small air carft so that i need high range tansmitter and recivier would u like to help me.
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