The RTL-SDR receiver is a simple but very useful device. It can receive signals from 25MHz to about 1700MHz. It can be used to scan the aircraft VHF AM voice band from 118 to 137MHz and then the Marine VHF FM band from 156 to 164MHz.
VHF Air AM Voice Frequency Band
The VHF Air AM Voice Frequency band is 118 – 134MHz as detailed in Ref 1. The RTL-SDR receiver in conjunction with a VHF antenna and receiver software such as SDR# Ref 2 can be used to scan these frequencies. As shown in the YouTube video Figure 1, we can hear the Toronto International Airport tower, Toronto City Airport tower and airport weather signals. Since AM signals are affected more by noise, the SDR# IF noise blanker can be used very effectively. Care must be taken when setting the RTL-SDR gain so that intermod/spurious signals don’t overload the receiver.
VHF Marine FM Voice Frequency Band
The Canadian VHF Marine FM band is 156 to 164MHz. As shown in the YouTube Video Figure 1, typical receive signals are the Marine Weather Channels WX1/WX2 and AIS signals.
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#1. -“Airband”, Wikipedia
#2. – “SDR#”, SDR Receiver Software
#3. – “RTL-SDR for AIS_2”
#4. – “RTL-SDR for AIS_1”
#5. – “RTL-SDR for Weather Radio”