FlightAware Discussions

Advice on upgrading receiver equipment

Hi,

I’ve been running my current PiAware + FR24 setup since early 2017 with a Raspberry Pi, a NooElec NESDR Mini 2+ and it’s supplied antenna. It’s currently on the ground floor of my house and the antenna is indoors, so the range and overall performance of the setup is quite poor.

I recently managed to get the 26" FlightAware ADS-B Antenna and the FlightAware ProStick Plus USB receiver.

I’d like to mount the antenna on the roof of the house to get the best possible coverage/range, however I’m having some trouble planning the upgrade.

There is power on the roof right where I want to mount the antenna so my first thought was to mount the antenna on a pole right by the water tank, and keep the RPi under the water tank to protect it from direct sunlight. However, I decided against this since I didn’t want the RPi to be outside.

My next thought was to just bring the RPi inside, and get a really long coax cable from the antenna to the ProStick+, however I read that this would cause significant loss since the cable would have to be at least 50 ft long.

I’ve read of people using USB extension cables for their USB receivers since they’re quite big when plugged in to the RPi directly and block access to the other USB ports. However, in these cases people usually use short cables.

I wanted to know whether a really long USB extension cable would work in this case and if so, what sort of effect would it have on the performance of the whole setup?

To make it easier to understand my question, I’m attaching a very ugly diagram I drew up on MS Paint.

This seems to be the easiest way for me to tackle this because I can mount the ProStick+ underneath the water tank to protect it from direct sunlight, and just run a short cable from it to the antenna which will be a few meters above.

Would appreciate if I could get some suggestions from the experts on this or any other possible ways I could set this up.

Thanks

The USB cable length exceeds the recommended maximum length of 5m for USB 2 and 3m for USB 3. I suggest that you attach the dongle to the RPI and use high quality coax such as LMR400 between the dongle and antenna.

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Any recommendations on where I can get pre terminated SMA to N LMR 400 cable for this setup?

Also considering the distance from the antenna to the dongle itself would be quite long, wouldn’t that affect the performance significantly despite using a low loss cable like LMR400?

Another option would be to use an amplifier close to the antenna, use cheaper coax down to the RPI and an SDR-RTL or airspy dongle to power the amplifier. You could also keep the current dongle and power the amplifier by an inline bias-T device.

A second option would be to put the RPI under the water tank and power it via POE. Then you would only need to run a cat5e+ cable through the conduit. POE injectors are less than $US20, plus another $US30 on the RPI side.

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Sourcing an LNA where I am right now is proving to be a bit of a challenge. It was part of my initial upgrade plan but I couldn’t manage it.

Anyway, the PoE thing sounds doable but it would still involve the RPi being outside which I am trying to avoid unless I can come up with a completely weatherproof solution for it.

Speaking of weather, I forgot to mention in my main post, but do you have any advice on how to best protect my whole setup from lightning strikes? We don’t get bad weather often, but ideally I’d like to be prepared for the worst.

What is the cost of 50 ft LMR400? Is it available locally in @murtaza200012’s country? If not how much will be shipment + customs duty?

50 feet LMR400 N to SMA from Amazon.com will cost about USD$150 ($60+$50+$40) to Harīpur Pakistan.

Actually I’m not in Pakistan right now, so 50 ft of LMR400 will cost me around 110 USD with shipping and customs included.

I don’t know what shipping would be to your location, but I am using this cable to run from my antenna at the peak of my roof to the Pi in my garage. I have gotten excellent performance from it since June of this year.

Those attenuation figures smell.
Sound’s more like per meter attenuation instead of per 100 m.

You could be right. I actually didn’t notice that. I am happy with the performance though. In my “nearby receivers” standings I am typically 1st or 2nd every day since I installed it.