What is Airband (Aviation Band) on a Radio?

© Frankljunior | Dreamstime.com – Air Traffic Control Tower And An Airplane Photo

This has become a popular question with our new CC Skywave™.

According to Wikipedia, Airband, also referred to as Aircraft or Aviation band, is a group of frequencies in the VHF radio spectrum that are allocated to civil aviation radio communications. VHF is a short range, line of site transmission. Our radio covers 118 – 137MHz for Airband. In most countries a license is required to operate airband equipment but that appears to apply only to transceivers, not receivers. In some countries it is illegal to listen to or monitor the Airband without authorization (even in the UK).

The language that is used to communicate on this band can be a challenge to follow. Ken Hoke’s article on Stuff Pilots Say, gives some great insight into the meaning of the seemingly cryptic language used on Airband.

The primary purpose of Air traffic control worldwide is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and provide information and other support for pilots. It was difficult to find any “history” of airband but it appears that it was first used extensively after World War I and after 1921 at Croydon airport in London. Navigation and air traffic control have changed over time and many areas use higher frequencies and RADAR and other more sophisticated systems. The Airband radio frequencies still continue to play a part though, especially in ground communication with pilots. It is used almost exclusively in small airports that don’t have control towers. We have one customer who plans to use the CC Skywave for monitoring the ground to pilot communication at the local air races.

As to why we decided to include Airband in our radio? Here is Bob’s answer:

“When you are in a big airport you are sometimes subject to the whims of security and circumstance. TSA does a great job but when the process gets a little tense I yearn for more information. I want to know everything that will affect my tiny domain. When you listen to aviation band you can usually figure out more by reading between the lines on what pilots and the control tower are talking about. Sometimes you gain a sense of power and wisdom as you do with any knowledge.”

For more information on what you might hear or how to listen, visit the links below.

http://radio-scanner-guide.com/radioscannerguidepart3c-civilaircraft.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Listen-to-Your-Local-Air-Traffic-Control

 

Happy Holidays from C. Crane!

C. Crane is celebrating the holidays with a silly Ugly Sweater Contest… who do you think should win?!

 

 

Is Radio in Crisis?

WarningTape1

There was a great article recently in the WSJ “Public Radio’s Existential Crisisby Ellen Gamerman, which brings up a topic we are struggling with as well. In her article, she talks exclusively about NPR but we don’t see this discussion as limited to only NPR. What is the future of radio and is it in crisis?

The “old guard” of radio talk show hosts are in the best of circumstances aging and retiring and in the worst dying. With hosts that boast some of the largest on air audiences around, there doesn’t seem to be much succession planning on how to recover or replace the lost talent (interestingly enough, radio is not the only industry impacted by this dilemma, it is being experienced in small businesses, trades, medical fields, education and more). Enter podcasters. Ms. Gamerman’s article states “With both its start and audience aging, NPR is struggling to adapt to the digital age: ‘The most innovative people are doing podcasts.’”

By the end of the decade, NPR projects that younger listeners under age 44 will make up only around 30% of the overall audience for its member stations, compared with about 60% in 1985. Currently more than 80% of podcast listeners are under age 55, according to recent data released by Edison Research and Triton Digital.

Here’s where it gets confusing though:

NPR itself is already the nation’s top podcast publisher with a monthly audience of 7.2 million listeners, according to podcast analytics firm Podtrac. In the past year, it has doubled the revenue it gets from corporate sponsorship for podcasts.

Despite the growth of digital, Americans ages 13 and over spend more than half their total listening time on AM/FM radio and 2% of their listening time on podcasts, according to Edison. NPR’s weekly broadcast radio audience now averages 26 million.

A recent report from Radio and Internet News proves interesting as well.

AM/FM clearly has the widest reach — a notable and much-hammered metric in the radio industry. AM/FM’s monthly U.S. audience is 240-million. Compare that to Spotify’s global 100-million, and Pandora’s mostly-U.S. 80-million, and you see why broadcasters sometimes feel they don’t get enough respect (call-back to Rodney Dangerfield). On the other hand, U.S. radio is a $17-billion business, larger than the combined valuations of Spotify and Pandora.

Radio’s reach is a cleanly brag-worthy metric, while time spent listening (TSL) has more nuance.

With radio’s reach being so significant in comparison to everyone else and the battle of “platform” and “format” wars still being fought, we believe radio is here to stay for now but when the popular long standing talent leaves and no one that connects with that audience or is able to create a new audience in the slot takes their place, advertisers leave, listeners leave and ultimately radio suffers (enter podcasts?).

We love to hear from you. Do you think radio is in crisis? Are you switching to podcasts or some hybrid in between?

Let’s Celebrate World Radio!

World Radio Day is held annually on February 13th. What a great concept! C. Crane loves radio and since this happens to correspond with Valentine’s Day, we can’t think of any better way to celebrate our first love!

2016’s World Radio Day theme is “Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster”. C. Crane definitely understands the power of radio especially in times of emergency and disaster. This is why so many of our radios have the weather band and several have the weather alert option. Various models of emergency radios have been part of the C. Crane product line since 1998. The first rendition was the Baygen Freeplay Radio.

The world's first clockwork radio. It has three bands (MW, SW and FM) and needs no batteries, the power source being an internal spring-driven generator powered by hand. The brainchild of Trevor Baylis, the inventor of the Baylis generator, the radio was developed with funding from the British Overseas Development Administration. It was primarily aimed at people in developing countries where affordable energy sources are scarce or non-existent. Winding the handle for twenty-five seconds gives over 30 minutes listening time.This radio was one of the very first wind up radios on the market with satisfactory reception and audio. The timing of the product release coincided with some of the worst storms the US had seen in years.  Y2K was also on the horizon and people felt  they could not be too prepared for what might be in store.  At the same time, LED bulbs made their debut, which we added to the Baygen Freeplay Radio.  Their long battery life and LED bulbs that didn’t burn out or break made these flashlights a must have.

We’ve come a long way since those days and so have our radios. Emergency readiness and products that support disaster preparedness still hold a special place with C. Crane and so many of our customers. During hurricane Sandy several customers let us know how important their radios were in giving them a sense of security.  Since many cars were washed away or under water, and power was out for several days,  their C. Crane radio was the only way these storm victims could charge cell phones or get any information. With storms hitting all over the country, please take the time to check your radios and flashlights and make sure your emergency plans and kits are up to date.

While we love the idea of setting aside a special day to acknowledge World Radio Day, here at C. Crane every day is a radio day and we know for many of you that’s the case as well. Cheers to celebrating World Radio Day with you in spirit while tuning in to listen to this great medium called radio!

To read some of our previous blog posts on emergency preparedness https://news.ccrane.com/?s=emergency

Learn more about NOAA.

What I will hear on the 2-Meter Amateur Radio Band

International competition on the VHF radio become a tradition for a long time. These competitions are held the first weekend in July. Typically, operators of amateur radio stations go out of town - to field, and from there carry out radio communications. On the picture are operators from Russia, at the field day 2011 year Photo taken July 2, 2011

International competition on the VHF radio become a tradition for a long time. These competitions are held the first weekend in July. Typically, operators of amateur radio stations go out of town to field, and from there carry out radio communications. Pictured are Ham Operators from Russia, at the Field Day 2011 Photo taken July 2, 2011

What is the 2-Meter Amateur Radio band anyway?

According to Wikipedia, “The 2 meter amateur radio band is a portion of the VHF (very high frequency) Spectrum, comprising of frequencies stretching from 144.000 MHz to 148.000 MHz.” These communications are generally FM or frequency modulated transmissions although some operators do operate using SSB (single sideband) or CW (Morse code). These modes of operation allow for longer distance communications without the use of repeater stations.

While listening to the 2-meter ham band you can expect to hear normal conversations or “rag chew” as the hams call it. You may also hear a ham operator on his way home from work asking his wife if she needs anything from the store. You may hear a ham operator reporting a traffic accident and requesting emergency services.

You may also hear ham radio operators providing on the scene emergency communications during times of disaster. Often you will hear a ham operator reporting on conditions long before the general public has been advised of the situation via the normal news media. Even before you hear the information listening to a police or emergency services scanner you have already heard about the situation if you are monitoring the 2-meter ham band.

Ham Operators coordinate emergency efforts. SSB (or Single Side Band AM) transmits in long distances. The 2-Meter Ham band can have similar type local broadcasts but is normally much clearer audio and is FM.

The 2-Meter Amateur band frequencies are reserved for the exclusive use of those licensed in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as Amateur Radio Operators or “Ham Radio Operators”. Ham radio operators use the 2-meter band for general conversations as well as for emergency communications. Ham radio operators are often the first called upon to assist in major disasters with communications between the public and emergency services such a law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services. The American Red Cross has recognized that the 2-Meter Amateur band is a very effective way of providing communications during times of emergency and Ham radio operators provide 90% of the coordination efforts during a major emergency. During an emergency a 2-Meter band receiver could save your life or that of a loved one.

How does the 2-Meter Amateur Radio Band work?

In most communities, the local Ham radio operators own and maintain repeaters on the 2-meter band, which assists their communications by increasing the distance that they can communicate with each other while still maintaining the quality of an FM transmission. These repeater stations are located in high locations such as mountaintops or tall buildings in the big cities and consist of a powerful transmitter and a high-gain antenna allowing Ham operators to extend their coverage areas, often as much as 200 miles or more. These stations often have alternative forms of power such as generators, solar power and batteries, which keep them in operation when the commercial power supply has been discontinued due to weather or other disasters. Individual ham operators have also found alternative power sources for their equipment so that they can operate even when there is no commercial power available.

Ham radio operators are very inventive in their approach to communications and can often find a way to communicate when normal communications such as cell phones have been interrupted. As an example, Ham radio operators have been able to make phone calls using the 2-meter band for many years before the invention of the cellular telephone.

More information about the 2-Meter Amateur Radio Band.

Because it is local and reliable, and because the licensing requirements to transmit on the 2-meter band are easy to meet in the United States and many other countries, this band is the most popular Amateur Radio band in the United States. The 2-meter band is often the band on which Ham radio operators make their first contacts. Obtaining a Ham operator’s license consists of taking a simple test containing 35 questions covering such topics as operating procedures, rules and regulations and some minor electronics theory. There is no requirement to pass a Morse code test to be licensed to operate on the 2-meter amateur radio band. 2-meter radio equipment is also very affordable and can be as simple as a small hand held transceiver or a powerful base or mobile transceiver. This popularity also means that it is the most often used band for emergency communications such as providing emergency communications between Red Cross shelters and local authorities. Many neighborhood disaster relief organizations use the 2-Meter Amateur Radio band for their official communications during times of emergency.

To learn more about 2-Meter Ham radio and what is required to obtain a license contact the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) at http://www.arrl.org or call (860) 594-0300. They can provide you with local contacts for training classes in your area and test dates and locations. Your local Amateur Radio Club members will assist you in all aspects of obtaining your license including what type of equipment you need to get started. Also a gentleman named Gordon West would love to help you get started in ham radio. He has a school you can attend in Southern California (Gordon West Radio School) or you can order study materials from the W5YI Group at www.w5yi.org. Bob Crane recommends Gordon West’s course materials as they are extremely well written, while making it enjoyable to learn. Mr. West will even take a phone call if you have a question. Also take a look at our C. Crane blog post The Importance of HAM Amateur Radio by Tim Carter, Ask the Builder . He has a great story about Ham Operators and how important they are in aiding in emergency efforts. You will discover that Ham radio operators are a great bunch of people. They provide this irreplaceable public service for free.

Resources:
W5YI : Your Resource for Amateur Radio and Commercial Radio
Technician Class: 2006-10 FCC Element 2 Amateur Radio License Preparation – By Gordon West WB6NOA.