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LiveATC FAQ

  • What is LiveATC.net?

  • LiveATC.net is primarily a streaming audio network consisting of local receivers tuned to aircraft communications around the world. It is also a large community designed to unite pilots, student pilots, flight instructors, air traffic communication enthusiasts, FBO operators, and real-world (and virtual) air traffic controllers. Its target audience is anyone who can learn from or just enjoys listening to or discussing aviation communication topics. The community is supported by volunteers who live within radio range of airports and who use spare radio and computer equipment to relay "airband" transmissions into the LiveATC.net audio network.

    LiveATC.net was founded and is operated by Dave Pascoe, an Instrument-rated private pilot and ham radio operator who has been an avid ATC listener since his teenage years. He deploys and operates many of the major feeds on LiveATC.net and assists the many volunteers who provide most of the feeds on the network.

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  • How do I listen to LiveATC audio streams on my iPhone?

  • The Apple iPhone is a multimedia smartphone that operates on both GSM cellular networks and over WiFi. The iPhone was announced by Apple on January 9, 2007 and was initially introduced in the United States on June 29, 2007 for the AT&T Wireless network. It is now available in many countries around the world. In early 2011 Apple introduced a version of its iPhone 4 model for the Verizon CDMA cellular network.

    LiveATC has a dedicated application that works on all iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices...
    Click this icon to purchase ($2.99 one-time fee, no membership or subscription required):

    LiveATC continues to update this popular application with improvements and new features.

    Other ways to listen on Apple devices:

    Access the LiveATC Mobile Site (m.liveatc.net) via the mobile Safari browser.
    (works on most smartphones)

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  • How do I listen to LiveATC feeds on my Android smartphone or tablet?

  • In May 2011 LiveATC released LiveATC for Android, its first Android application. It is available in the Android Marketplace for a $2.99 one-time fee, no membership or subscription required.

    Purchase here:
    https://market.android.com/details?id=net.liveatc.liveatc_app
    Purchase LiveATC for Android

    Other ways to listen on Android devices:

    Access the LiveATC Mobile Site (m.liveatc.net) via the Android web browser.

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  • How do I listen to LiveATC feeds on my Blackberry smartphone?

  • Try the LiveATC Mobile Site: http://m.liveatc.net (works on most Blackberry phones - after you select a feed tap on "Open", not "Save As" - can take up to 2 minutes to load initially, be patient)

    LiveATC is working on better support for the Blackberry platform but the platform is changing rapidly. We continue to track development of this platform in order to design the best way to support it.

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  • When are you going to provide a feed for my local/favorite airport?

  • LiveATC provides many of the major airport feeds on the network but most of the feeds are provided by volunteers. For this reason we sometimes have only limited control over where (and when) new feeds come online. However, we do spend time actively looking for volunteers in areas around very active airports and airports that have been requested.

    If you know of anyone in your area of interest who might be interested in becoming a feed provider then please have them contact us . We will work with them to help get them online.

    The requirements for a feed provider are as follows:

    - Be located somewhat close to the airport (within 15mi/24km)
    - Have "always on" Internet connection (but feed uses only 16kbps)
    - Have an external or attic antenna (for optimum reception, optional)
    - Have audio cable to connect scanner to PC sound card
    - Have computer w/ spare sound card (Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux)

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  • Why don't you have any feeds from the UK?

  • It is illegal to provide air traffic control feeds from within the UK due to an outdated law that originated back in 1942. The antiquated law states that although it is not illegal to sell, buy or own a scanning receiver in the UK, it must only be used to listen to transmissions meant to be broadcast to the general public.

    OfCom (the U.K. regulatory authority for communications) has stated on numerous occasions: "It is an offence to listen to any other radio services unless you are authorised by a designated person to do so."

    This means that it is illegal to listen to anything other than general reception transmissions unless you are either a licensed user of the frequencies in question or have been specifically authorized to do so by an authorized person. This is clearly a law that needs to be updated in light of the many educational uses for listening to aircraft communications. Furthermore, the original reasons for this law have long since become irrelevant.

    Let's hope this law gets modified - there has been at least one online petition aimed at attempting to get some attention but it does not seem to have had much of an effect on Ofcom. If you are a UK citizen, please contact your MP and see if they can help make an exception to this law.

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  • What firewall ports do I need open to listen?

  • You do not need any special network configuration to listen in. LiveATC feeds are provided on port 80, the standard web server port.

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  • I keep getting disconnected from LiveATC - what can I do?

  • The Internet can sometimes be fragile, especially if you are on a cellular data connection. For that reason, you may occasionally get disconnected. The problem could be the connection between your computer and the listening server you happen to be connected to, or it could be a more widespread network problem. Our iPhone and Android apps will do their best to maintain a connection but sometimes the mobile operating environment makes this difficult. Many MP3 players (PC/Mac/Linux) will also try to maintain a connection. If all else fails just try to reconnect manually.

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  • Why do feeds go down? Why aren't they always up?

  • Many factors can affect the status of a particular LiveATC feed. LiveATC automatically monitors all of the feeds and we know when they go down. We make every effort to repair known issues as soon as possible. Sometimes the need to replace hardware can cause longer delays.

    Typical causes of outages:

    1) Internet connection problems

    Though it is normally very reliable, the internet is a complex collection of networks and wasn't really designed for long-term connections like we use here for live audio feeds. Occasional outages can cause feeds to go down from time to time. LiveATC feeds come back up automatically when the internet connection issue goes away.

    2) Computer problems

    LiveATC feeds are typically provided by regular desktop or laptop computers. As you know, computers can occasionally experience hardware and software-related technical problems. When these problems cause the computer to go down, the feed goes down with it. Sometimes a feed may show as "Up" but have no audio. This could be due to the airport not being very busy or a cable that got disconnected accidentally - if you notice that a feed has been quiet for an abnormally long period of time please contact us and we can usually get it resolved within 24-48 hours.

    3) Server problems

    LiveATC.net operates a fairly robust server infrastructure and it has proven to be very reliable. While we try to protect against all issues that may occur, sometimes we can experience down time that is beyond our control. Since the infrastructure is always improving we hope that any outages will be minimized.

    4) The feeder may have other priorities or limitations

    Some feeders share their computer with other family members who may need to access the microphone or Line In for their own needs. Some feeders have ISP's who cap (place a limit) on the amount of bandwidth each customer can use per month, limiting the amount of time they can feed an audio stream.

    5) Sometimes people move

    When a feeder moves and is unable to continue providing the feed, we simply remove it from the network and try to recruit a new feeder for that area.

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  • I want to listen to my local airport and/or provide a feed to LiveATC.net - which scanner should I buy?

  • This is always one of the most difficult questions to answer. It depends on three main factors:

    1) Base/mobile or handheld?

    In general, base/mobile scanners are easier to interface to a computer. Handheld scanners frequently cause ground loops ("hum") and have isses with leaving chargers plugged in all the time - but can still be used. You need to decide whether you need a scanner you can take with you when you want to listen on the road. Handhelds can be great for planespotting at or around airports.

    2) What else do you plan to use the scanner for when you are not providing a feed to LiveATC.Net?

    Do you need 800 MHz trunking, for example, to listen to public safety communications in your town? If so, you'll want a scanner that has support for trunk tracking. What other frequency bands might you want to listen to? Answering these questions helps narrow down the choices.

    3) How much money have you budgeted for a scanner?

    You can spend anywhere from $40 to $500 (or more) for a scanner. It all depends on the features you need and whether you can live with buying a used scanner. There are many perfectly good used scanners out there on eBay and Craigslist.

    In general, I suggest the following:

    1) Bearcat/Uniden BC-780XLT, if you can find one and it fits within your budget. The BC-780XLT is one of the best scanners ever made. The 780XLT has excellent sensitivity, covers both VHF (civilian) and military (UHF) air bands, and has an RS-232 computer control interface for programming.

    2) Bearcat/Uniden BC-350A, BC-350C, BC-355C. These are great scanners and represent great value. Lots of them on eBay. The BC-350C adds 800 MHz to the BC-350A (useful for listening to some public safety agencies but does not support trunked systems). The BC-355C is the newest model in the series and adds RF "close call" technology to the BC-350C. None of these scanners supports trunking or digital public safety monitoring but they are all great for aircraft monitoring and other applications.

    3) Radio Shack has some great mobile/base scanners in the $80-$150 price range.

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  • I want to provide a feed to LiveATC.net - where do I start?

  • Contact us via the feed volunteer contact form . Please be sure to provide the following information:
    -Name
    -Location (city, state, country)
    -Airport(s) or ATC facilities that would be covered by your feed
    -Frequencies on which you can receive ATC transmissions
    (prefer feeds that can pick up controllers and pilots, not just pilots)
    -Operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, other Unix, be specific)
    -Type of scanner or other receiver
    -Type of antenna (internal, external, type)
    -If you don't currently have one, can you install an external antenna?
    
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  • Are LiveATC audio feeds archived? How do I listen to them?

  • Yes, almost all of the LiveATC audio feeds are archived. You can listen to and/or download MP3 recordings of the archives at: http://liveatc.net/archive.php

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  • I tried to retrieve an archive but it does not appear to be available.

  • Archives might fail to exist for a couple possible reasons. Currently archives are kept for 30 days, so the archive you want to retrieve may have expired. If you are trying to retrieve an archive within the 30-day period, some possibilities are:

    - the stream may not exist because the stream may have been disconnected during the time of interest
    - there may have been a server problem during the recording period.

    Though it is a robust and automated system, archives are provided on a "best effort" basis and no guarantees are provided.

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  • Is there a time delay between the actual and received broadcasts?

  • Yes, but only the delay in encoding and transmitting the audio across the network. Transmissions have to traverse this path: feeder -> main audio server -> slave audio server -> listener

    Delay depends on a number of factors, but delay is typically less than 20 seconds for most listeners. Your mileage may vary depending on what device you use to listen in and your network connection speed/quality.

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