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Author Topic: NYC Heli feeds  (Read 8693 times)
MikeNYC
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« on: February 15, 2011, 10:56:47 AM »

Hey all,

I now have the two NYC Heli feeds up and running. The two feeds run off of one machine (Mac Mini G4) and a Behringer USB soundcard. As the receiver site is remote (at a friend's business), I had to build the system as compact and self-contained as possible. My goal was shoebox-sized for two feeds together, and while I couldn't make it that small it's still fairly compact. I bought a 40mm ammo can on eBay and proceeded to build the system into that box. The plan was to have it entirely contained within, including a UPS, and just jacks on the outside of the box for the connections. I owned no equipment before starting on this except the handheld scanner, and bought everything on eBay, PartsExpress, RadioShack, ScannerMaster and BestBuy.

Here's what the equipment is:
PC: Mac Mini G4 1.25Ghz / OS 10.5, no integral audio-in
Sound: Behringer UF202 external sound card
Power: ?? 420w UPS on sale for $24 at BestBuy
           12v 3A universal power supply feeding both scanners and cooling fan
Scanners: BC350A
                RadioShack Pro-94
                Jim Airband bandpass filter installed
Case: 40mm Ammo Box
         Pass-through connectors from PartsExpress (BNC, RJ45, IEC Power)
         3" 12v cooling fan from RadioShack
Antenna:
        1/4 Wave Magnetic NMO Mount Airband antenna from ScannerMaster

Plenty of BNC cables, couplers, audio cables, etc. I did find a nice item at RadioShack that helps the dual channel feed... "Aircraft Adapter 1/8" Stereo Jack to 2 1/8" Mono Plugs Model: 42-2495"... it combines 2 Mono 1/8" male plugs into one stereo 1/8" female jack. That, plus a 1/8" stereo to dual RCA cable gets the audio into the USB input device.

The ammo box was quite a pain to cut holes in with the Dremel. I went through about 12 cutting blades. I didn't have the perfect tools for it, but it worked out in the end. I also reused some old Molex connectors to provide a power disconnect for the lid which holds the cooling fan.

My initial plan was to have the box connect via WiFi at the location, but the particular Mac Mini I ended up with didn't have built in WiFi (or audio input, which I assumed it had). A USB WiFi dongle proved unreliable in testing, so Ethernet it was. In any case, here's the build.

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Feed Provider Of:
NYC Helicopter Class B/Ops
KEWR Tower (TCA/Helicopters)
NYC Helicopter CTAF
KLGA NY Approach (HAARP/Final/Dep)
KTEB Del/Gnd/Tower
NYC MilAir/MISC
dave
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« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2011, 11:03:58 AM »

A truly inspired installation!  Great pics Mike!
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MikeNYC
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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 11:54:02 AM »

Thanks Dave! The Marvell DreamPlug was announced after I'd already spent a bit on gear, but that looks like a good option. My ideal setup here would be a DreamPlug + Icom PCR100 for each feed, giving me the ability to add/drop frequencies remotely and having a tiny total package. Maybe sometime down the road.

One thing I'm happy about with mine is that in full operation it only draws 32w, which includes 2 scanners, Mac, UPS and cooling fan.
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Feed Provider Of:
NYC Helicopter Class B/Ops
KEWR Tower (TCA/Helicopters)
NYC Helicopter CTAF
KLGA NY Approach (HAARP/Final/Dep)
KTEB Del/Gnd/Tower
NYC MilAir/MISC
K5PAT
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2011, 12:53:48 PM »

Fantastic!!! I like it, I like it, I like it. Great ideas for a future feed. grin
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MikeNYC
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2011, 01:03:19 PM »

Just hit one month of solid uptime out of the Mac Mini. It's doing better than I expected, and is rock solid!
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Feed Provider Of:
NYC Helicopter Class B/Ops
KEWR Tower (TCA/Helicopters)
NYC Helicopter CTAF
KLGA NY Approach (HAARP/Final/Dep)
KTEB Del/Gnd/Tower
NYC MilAir/MISC
dave
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2011, 06:42:38 AM »

Awesome!
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Chadan
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2011, 04:05:09 PM »

Fantastic setup Mike! Nice craftsmanship on the box!
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Feed provider for KBNW out of Boone, Iowa on 123.0. Also catching chatter from nearby airports: KAMW (122.7), KIKV (122.9) and the Aviation Guard channel (121.5)
uplink
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2011, 02:45:23 AM »

Good job on providing this feed Mike.  After the last 2 high profile accidents in that area, there has only been speculation on what is said (or not said), by the tour helo's and the fixed wing aircraft on the CTAF freqs over the Hudson river corridors.  Not even the FAA has a record of what comms occur out there.   Your feed is filling a valuable missing hole, and good for training for those pilots new to the area wanting to go for an NYC tour.
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MikeNYC
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2011, 02:22:51 PM »

Mike and Uplink,

Thanks for the nice words! I share the same thinking... it's a high traffic area, and to my knowledge there's no recording of the CTAFs used in the area. God forbid, should there be another incident, this recording might be helpful. Also, I was (am) a newer private pilot in the area, and listening to both the CTAF and the low Class B radio traffic gives me a better idea of what to expect and more confidence when I do fly through that area. It also keeps me entertained/informed when there's unusual air traffic over NYC. I'd love to split the Class B feed into L/R pair, since EWR and LGA are both very busy at the same time during the day, but haven't gotten to that yet. I'm just glad the machine has been so stable... 140 days of uptime without being touched.
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Feed Provider Of:
NYC Helicopter Class B/Ops
KEWR Tower (TCA/Helicopters)
NYC Helicopter CTAF
KLGA NY Approach (HAARP/Final/Dep)
KTEB Del/Gnd/Tower
NYC MilAir/MISC
uplink
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2011, 03:27:29 AM »

oh, and I love the ammo box setup too.  Was just looking at all the freqs, oops, actually looks like 123.050 and 123.075 are the corridor CTAF freqs, not sure if your in range, but it would be really cool to hear those.
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MikeNYC
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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2011, 09:21:45 AM »

Uplink,

Here's the CTAF scan:
123.075 East River/KJRB/6N5 Heliport
123.050 Hudson River/KJRA/West 30th Heliport
131.975 Kearny Heliport

Got'em covered  wink They're on the sticky in the picture that's upside down on the BC350 scanner.
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Feed Provider Of:
NYC Helicopter Class B/Ops
KEWR Tower (TCA/Helicopters)
NYC Helicopter CTAF
KLGA NY Approach (HAARP/Final/Dep)
KTEB Del/Gnd/Tower
NYC MilAir/MISC
uplink
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PPL ASEL, SOCAL AREA


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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2011, 07:38:32 PM »

Uplink,

Here's the CTAF scan:
123.075 East River/KJRB/6N5 Heliport
123.050 Hudson River/KJRA/West 30th Heliport
131.975 Kearny Heliport

Got'em covered  wink They're on the sticky in the picture that's upside down on the BC350 scanner.

OK, I see what I did wrong, I got yours mixed up with the other one called "NYC Helicopter Class B/Ops" after a searched KJFK and KEWR, and was looking at THAT freq list.  Finally found yours under KLGA.   I dunno, seems like yours should be listed under all the airports in the area, since the heliport designations are less known.  Great audio by the way, love it!
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 07:45:47 PM by uplink » Logged

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