AirNav VHF Airband 118-136 MHz Outdoor Antenna

If you are an avid plane spotter or are just starting to get into the hobby. There are plenty things you can enjoy, one of which is listening to air traffic in your local area. Today’s review is going to be on the AirNav RadarBox Airband antenna available on Amazon.com. This antenna is finely tuned to operate on the “Airband”, which is a range of frequencies on the AM radio spectrum that are used primarily for civilian air travel, airline operations, and other associated airport frequencies within the 118 – 136MHz frequency range.

At the time of writing this review the antenna itself goes for approximately $60 USD. However the price may go up or down depending on demand. One thing to be aware of, which should by no means be a deal breaker, is the reviews you will find on Amazon for this item, as with most technology, you have to read everything before purchasing the item, the one-star reviews that I was able to source were only given one star because the buyer didn’t properly read the item’s description. Which can hardly be blamed on the seller, or the antenna manufacturer. Mainly these reviews were relating to not receiving an USB type dongle which the company sells separately for a fee. As of the writing of this review, there was no mention on the listing that this device was included, in fact in a few spots, it showed it was “sold separately”.

On to my experience now, this antenna has shown amazing results with the tests I have performed. I reside within 10 miles KSYR, Syracuse NY’s Hancock Int’l Airport, which is located just to the north of the city of Syracuse. The antenna was tested with several different hardware scanners, as well as 2 different variations of Software Defined Radios (SDR’s) both indoors and outdoors without being pole mounted as a preliminary review, and to my surprise, all radios had a noticeable performance improvement as opposed to using a stock, or wideband antenna, which when using a band-specific antenna is to be expected. However the level of improvement is was what was so shocking.

To compare these results, we’ll start with the lowest quality scanner I have available and work our way to the highest quality one. I realize that others of you may have better equipment or have better radios, but this is what I have in my arsenal at the time of writing this review. You can find them listed in the table below.

  RTL2832U (R828D) RTL2832U (R820T) Baofeng
UV-6R
Whistler WS1040 Whistler WS1065 Uniden SDS100 Uniden SDS200
Connector MCX MCX SMA BNC BNC BNC BNC
Cost $20.00 USD $30.00 USD $35.00 USD $299.99 USD $399.99 USD $699.99 USD $899.99 USD
  Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Discontinued Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon

When it came to actually hearing the signals clearly, all of the radios with the exception of the Baofeng UV-6R were able to cleanly receive the signals I attempted without the need for any form of modification. The Baofeng radio required an unlocked firmware update (which appears to no longer be available, and is outside of the scope of this review), however once that was completed, the radio was able to receive the transmissions from KSYR.

What sets the radios apart was what transmissions were missed. The higher end radios (Uniden’s SDS100 and SDS200 units), picked up every single transmission across the frequencies it was scanning. However, several of the other radios seemed to either miss or had parts of the same transmission cut off. For the RTL-SDR USB devices, it was more common for the transmission to drop, or be lost randomly, with the Baofeng radio simply just not even receiving them at times others were.

The Whistler, as well as the Uniden units did extremely well with this antenna and also seemed to work well with the Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) high and low altitude frequencies for Boston Center (ZBW), which covers the Syracuse Metropolitan Area, and several other areas (however those frequencies were out of range due to the mounting options I had chosen.

If you live under 10 miles from your chosen airport, any of these radios, with the exception of the Baofeng UV-6R should work fairly well for gathering and allowing you to listen to some really interesting communications from your local airport.

If you do decide to purchase this antenna, please use my affiliate link. It doesn’t change your price, but it does throw me a few bucks for taking the time to point you in that direction.

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