Frugal Radio: Monitoring HF Aviation Voice Communications with your SDR Radio or a WebSDR

Rob from Frugal Radio has recently uploaded the next episode in his excellent YouTube series on Aviation monitoring. In this episode Rob covers HF aviation communications. Rob writes:

Whether you are using a Software Defined Radio (SDR), an old school HF receiver, or utilizing a WebSDR, there is plenty to monitor when you know where to look.

This video will give you the basics of where to find the Aviation Communications that take place from 3-30 MHz (HF / Shortwave).

This episode covers VOLMET broadcasts, the Major World Air Route Areas (MWARA), and Military Nets like the US Global Communications System (HFGCS).

Remember, these signals travel thousands of miles. It can be quite exciting to receive them over such great distances. When editing this video I was listening to a VOLMET station in Auckland, New Zealand - a distance of over 7500 miles (12,200km) away!

Monitoring HF Aviation Voice Communications with your SDR Radio or a WebSDR

Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

As an SWL utility enthusiast for over a half century I’d rate Rob’s video as top-notch. He covers a lot of territory in a short amount of time. HF aero monitoring pretty much ensures 24/7 reception excitement as long as you know where to look, and Rob cites many frequencies pertinent to successful listening.
I use a dongle in tandem with a Nooelec Ham-It-Up up-converter to cover the HF spectrum and this setup is more than adequate to receive HF aero comms. My antenna is a 31 foot vertical which is for amateur radio use but doubles as an HF general use reception antenna. I definitely recommend an outdoor antenna for HF aero reception and not those small whips that commonly are bundled with SDR dongles. The best software to use with a dongle in my experience is SDR# or HDSDR. Both display the frequency spectrum plus a waterfall, and both have the ability to store frequencies of interest in a memory for later retrieval.
I’ve stored a number of Volmet stations in SDR#’s Frequency Manager memory which serve not only for listening pleasure but for assessing band conditions. Here on the US East coast Shannon, Gander and British Volmet stations are regularly heard.
One other interesting mode used in aero comms is SELCAL (Selective Calling) which consists of several tones used to establish communications between ground stations and aircraft. If you hear these tones wait a few seconds and you’ll hear SSB voice comms shortly after. If you are interested in determining how to decipher the tones an excellent software program package is MultiPSK. I also recommend The Spectrum Monitor, a monthly on-line publication which covers the radio listening hobby from DC to daylight.
Pardon the lengthy epistle, the video was uber-inspiring. Thank you Rob and Frugal Radio for the superb video. Looking forward to your future posts.