ACARS Reception with a WinRadio G305e

During an idle moment I downloaded the PlanePlottter software published by COAA and hooked it up to my WinRadio G305e receiver. Much to my suprise I’m getting fairly decent results with an antenna just sitting inside without a proper ground plane, not a great deal of activity because the Hobart (Tasmania) airport is hardly buzzing with activity but I have managed to pick up one signal close to 200KM away. When the weather fines up a bit I’ll try a proper antenna installation and see how it goes, at the moment I noticed I’m getting quite a few CRC errors and coverage is fairly directional as I’d expect with its current location.

So far the best ACARS settings for the WinRadio seem to be 131.550MHz (Australian / International ACARS frequency) in AM mode with the IF bandwidth set to 14KHz, smaller IF bandwidths seemed to get less reliable. I’ve got the RF section set for fast AGC with the preamp enabled but disabled the SAGC feature and any form of audio filtering. Setting the audio level also seems fairly critical for best performance, using the signal view in PlanePlotter I have it set so the noise floor is not a great deal larger than the graticules on the chart. Here’s an example message received earlier that contains GPS information:

—[2009-09-07 08:33:24]—
{SYN}{SYN}{SOH}
M {mode}
.VH-JQG {rego}
{NAK} {ack}
3L {unknown message type}
4 {block}
{STX}
M55A {seq}
JQ0711 {flt}
S 41.272/E146.515 /UTC 0834
{ETX}

PlanePlotter has displayed all positions so far without altitude, course or speed information. I’m not too sure what that is about, I thought especially the altitude would have been critical information. Anyway I’ll get it setup a bit better and keep my eye on it, the PlanePlotter software also supports Mode-S receivers which I haven’t looked into but maybe the standard ACARS transmissions don’t include the additional information.

3 thoughts on “ACARS Reception with a WinRadio G305e

  1. Hi Peter. I’m an Italian ACARS listener. Until now I used a modified receiver to get the signal from discriminator and the software WACARS. Recently I have bought a Winradio G305e receiver and the Virtual Soundcard SW, but there is no way to connect the receiver to the WACARS software. Do you have any suggestion about this matter?
    Thank you for the help.
    Ubaldo

  2. Hi Ubaldo, I haven’t tried the WACARS software yet but must try it soon, my PlanePlotter demo has run out and I decided not to purchase because I receive a fairly limited amount of aircraft communications in my area. However with the WinRadio Virtual Sound Card software I’ve had luck with some software using the Windows mixer to set it as the default sound input device. That seems to work with a lot of software where the virtual device doesn’t show up on the list of input devices.

    I have the advanced demodulator software option and something I’ve found is that a lot of software doesn’t seem to work when you have the output set to the “IF” section so try setting it to “AF” instead. Normally I’d download the WACARS software and try it now but the USB hub I have the receiver attached to failed a few days ago. Let us know how you get on and if you don’t have any luck I’ll try it next week when I have a new hub.

  3. Dear Peter. Thank you for the replay. I think that the problem is due to the fact that the standard G305e demodulator setup doesn’t allow to select the WinRadio Virtual Soundcard, although it is correctly configured on the PC ( I can see it via Control Panel/Sounds ). At the moment I don’t have the Advanced Demodulator software option. Please let me know the results of your tests with the Advanced Demodulator & Wacars when you will be able to permorm them.
    Regards.
    Ubaldo.

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