Newbie saying hi & seeking advice

#1
I joined the site today after lurking for a couple of days........due to ill health, I am spending more time indoors, so needed a hobby to keep me occupied & sane......aircraft have always fascinated me, so I looked into expanding that interest & have purchased (second hand) a UNIDEN BEARCAT EZI-33XLT HANDHELD SCANNER, which I am awaiting delivery of.....as is my want, I have done some homework on getting my first scanner & this one seems ok for the job initially & will help introduce me to everything....I am eyeing this antenna as an upgrade (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3709583507...84.m1423.l2649), as I believe from reading, that the supplied one may not be sufficient. I live about 25 miles from Heathrow & on many days & evenings, the flight path for aircraft landing there is directly over my house (Barnet) at around 7000 - 8000ft, so I'm hoping I will be able to listen in to the control tower & flights......I'm not sure if the scanner will arrive with a manual & I've been searching on the Uniden site for a download, but it doesn't seem to mention this particular model anywhere.....If anyone can guide me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it......I have a link to an "airport code" site, so that I'll be aware of each flight that I follow & am looking forward to starting......any advice or guidance would be welcome........Thanks............Chris.
 
#3
Hi Chris! I'm in the same boat as you, being sidelined by poor health, and looking for things to do. I'm also a long time (40 years & counting) scanner listener. Currently I have Uniden BC245XLT and BCD396T radios. I prefer Bearcat / Uniden over other brands.

My advice about antennas is to avoid heavy ones like the telescoping one in your first link. Handheld scanners tend to be not very heavy, and adding weight on top makes them unwieldy to carry, easy to topple and most importantly can wreck the delicate BNC connector in short order. You may be surprised by how well the stock "rubber duck" antenna works.

If you are primarily interested in listening to aviation transmissions, you can buy or build an antenna that's tuned to that frequency band, and be able to pull in more planes. IME the best way of doing this is to use a fixed antenna (indoor or outdoor) with a length of coaxial cable long enough for you to carry the radio about the room. Whether you have a rooftop antenna or a fixed indoor model, the extra cable gives you some mobility -- I find this handy.

One very inexpensive type of antenna can be made from nothing more than coax cable. Just strip a little more than a half-wave of plastic sheathing, peel back the braided shield over the remaining sheather portion of the coax to expose the center conductor (you can leave the plastic dialectric in place), then measure and trim the exposed center conductor as needed. You'll need to fit a BNC male connector at the other end, so it can plug into your radio. To use the antenna, just hang the end of the exposed center conductor to a curtain rod or other object high enough to let a half wave length to hang vertically. Here's a project for the 2 meter ham band, which is close to the air band. You'd need to change the dimensions accordingly for the longer wavelength:

http://vk2zoi.com/articles/half-wave-flower-pot/

The air band is 108–117.95 MHz, which gives a center frequency of 112.975 MHz. 300 / 112.975 == ~2.655 meters wavelength. Divide by 2 to give a half-wavelength (~1.33 m), which is the total length of the antenna, and again for a quarter-wavelength of ~66cm, which is the length of the "driven element", the exposed center conductor. You can use inexpensive TV coax for this even though the impedance isn't quite right. Impedance is very important for transmitting, and should be matched for ideal reception, but you can get away with a lot of setups that aren't strictly orthodox.

Good luck, and feel free to ask me anything.

Bill
 
#4
Hi Bill & thanks for the welcome. This will be my first purchase, so initially, I don't want to spend too much just in case, but then again, I know I won't reap the benefits with inferior equipment.....I've seen this antenna base, which would suit my needs better, as the Heathrow flight path is directly in front of my bedroom window, where I have my pc etc, so I was thinking of maybe upgrading the antenna (if the supplied rubber duck is no good) & fitting it to this base which would sit on my windowsill....what do you think?.........also, is there a suitable antenna on the page to the link below that you think would suffice........

Thanks again

Chris.

http://www.radioworld.co.uk/catalog...p-8495.html?osCsid=c6ubrqm1b5ggeldbpal9fkv9f5
 
#5
Hi Chris, you've already done well with your choice of a Uniden scanner. IMO that alone should be enough, especially as a first scanner. You'll have plenty to do with setting it up and getting used to its operation. That will give you plenty of time to see if the performance in the air band is good enough for you.. I think you'll be surprised at how well the stock antenna works!

The Watson W-901 antenna does look like a worthwhile investment. Since it's designed to be most efficient for air band frequencies, it should help pull in a few more transmissions, and make a difference on weak signals. Don't expect miracles though. ;) I've purchased so many aftermarket antennas, and I usually quit using them because they're heavier and bulkier than the stock antennas, and I don't notice any huge difference. The W-901 looks like a good design with the loading coil down low. The price is right, and a few websites I looked at think a lot of it.

Personally I'd skip on the antenna base if you're not planning on using it on a car roof. Any gains that you might get by placing the antenna in the window are likely to be negated by cable losses. Since the W-901 looks like it should work comfortably right on the handheld scanner, I'd try it that way before investing more money. K.I.S.S.
 
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#6
You're probably right.....I'm trying to run before I can walk....The scanner should be with me tomorrow, so I'll familiarise myself with it before deciding what to do.....I managed to source the manual online & have downloaded it, so that will give me something to do while I'm waiting for it to arrive........I've found a couple of sites that supply airport codes & aircraft call signs, so that has been helpful.......if there is anything else I should be aware of, I'd appreciate any guidance.....Thanks again for the help.
 
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