antenna + location questions


#1

Hi all:

I may get crucified for this but I have a few questions about antennas and locations.

Currently I have two piaware setups:
a) cheap desktop antenna -> FA filter -> Orange FA stick -> pi 3. This one is about 25 feet off the ground at my desk near a window. Range isn’t great but my office is near KCLT so picks up a decent amount of traffic.
b) the new one, with the antenna (below) -> 20ft RG6 -> blue FA stick -> pi3

I didn’t have an antenna for this new one, so I ordered the FA 26" one. In the interim, I thought I’d try an antenna I already have - a 12.25dbi gain ClearStream 4 18"x28" HDTV antenna I had already hung in my attic (attic of a two-story house, so maybe 40 feet above the surrounding ground), but still indoors, under the roof. The message rate shot up to around 500/sec in the mornings, peak time around here for KCLT, and the range is sitting around 100nm, with the occasional beyond that.

However, I’m assuming this is not an optimal antenna.

I can:
a) mount the FA antenna outside, about 8 feet off the ground (but in the front yard of the house, about 30 feet from the house)
b) mount the FA antenna indoors, in the attic, or
c) keep the TV antenna

Mounting the FA antenna on top of the house outdoors is also an option, but a more involved one.

So all that said -
Will the difference between a non-optimal antenna and the FA antenna be so significant that it’s worth a switch?
And will a lower elevation (with some blockers to the horizon) but outdoors be better than higher elevation but indoors?


#2

hi john,

this question is really hard to answer. i’d guess the tv-antenna isn’t the best option. probably the best would be the fa-antenna mounted on top of your roof. the second best (and what i still use) could be the fa-antenna in the attic under the roof. but you have to test also the fa-antenna mounted in the front yard. every location/site is different - but in general higher is better and outdoors is better than indoors. but regarding the attic it depends extremely on the materials your roof is built with.

if i were you i would place the antenna for an hour on top of a cheap flag-pole at about the same hight if it were on your roof (be careful with thunder and lightning) - afterwards an hour in the attic. this way you see the differences and see if its worth for you to install the antenna on the rooftop …

cheers
tom

p.s. yes - i’d switch in every case to the fa-antenna. and what matters more elevation or indoor/outdoor you have to prove this for your location by trial and error.


#3

Not sure which frequencies your TV antenna is meant to receive, but using an antenna that is tuned for 1090Mhz should improve reception considerably.

I also have the two (easy) options between attic (highest possible point) and outside (lower and some obstruction).

Right now I have temporarily put the antenna outside, through an open window, to the ideal spot (higher, outside with almost no obstruction, and lets hope it does not rain :smiley: ).

In one direction the results have improved (no wall in the way), but not much (the hill is still threre).

To the West, I might see a/c a little further away, but that has no effect on the total number, even though the number of messages will probably increase.

So all in all, it seems, putting the antenna outside would be better, but not that much.

Edit: Putting the antenna outside did make more of a difference that it appeared at first sight.

High up inside was always better than any lower location outside.


#4

To summarize to comments above, you haven’t provided enough information to make a meaningful comparison.

Once you’ve done a site survey for each setup of interest (Scientifically known as: Empirical observations, or more commonly known as: Suck it and see), you’ll have your answer.


#5

Thanks all, for the info. I think I’m going to install a second and third one at the house, one with the FA antenna mounted near the existing TV antenna and one outdoors, to see which works better.

I’m on vacation at my in-laws this month, so I brought a setup with me here. The range is incredible, with the FA antenna/stick mounted about 9 feet off the ground. Our advantage here is a giant, flat, dare I say ‘Great’ lake a couple miles to our east and flat farmland everywhere else. If these results offer any anecdotal data, outdoors with a proper antenna looks like a solid route, so I’m anxious to get home and try it out.

thanks!


#6

I’d like to mount mine on the gable end of my roof. My only issue is the ground point is located inside the house in the basement, and my garage is next to the peak. So getting two grounds down would be an ugly pain. I haven’t had a chance to check performance in the attic with all of the trusses. Height wise I may only gain 3-4’ or so from its current location in a rear window. Now my south tracking is pretty solid, but north suffers. The last spot I had it was the opposite.