Any suggestions for improvement?


#1

I have a PI with the new (Blue) NooElec dongle.
My antenna is a homebrew 9-element 5-foot collinear stuffed in a PCB pipe on a mast about 18 feet up from ground level. The mast and antenna are painted black to keep to hide everything as best I can since the association frowns on antennas.
The cable run to the dongle is about 30-feet at this time. I’m waiting for a wall mount box for the unit. Once I get it I’ll move everything to my network rack in my office and this will cut the cable run to about 20-feet.

Right now I’m seeing planes usually out to 200 KM with a very occasional 300 KM.

I’m looking at whether I would benefit from an amplifier to add to boost the signal.

  1. It needs to be on the mast near the antenna, correct?
  2. Would any additional filtering be helpful?

If yes to either, I’d appreciate suggesting (and/or links) on what to get.

Any other suggestions or is this thing running about the best it can?

Thanks and aloha from Hawaii.


#2

I’ve have good luck with ‘inline Satellite cable pre-amps’ and ‘PCT power inserters’, for about $15, total, from Amazon. The only thing you’ll have
to make is a 12VDC ‘supply’ with an F connector.
In a ‘perfect world’, the ‘masthead’ would be the best place, however there’s also a strong argument for mounting the preamp in a weather-safe
location. Front-End filtering is also a good investment, although 1 ‘stage’ can cost as much as everything else. ($100) There’s a video on You-Tube
where a front end filter is added and the tracking went from 800 planes to 1,300 planes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=(http://ava.upuaut.net/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=72_73&product_id=85)


#3

I wrapped my anteanna amp is self amalgamating tape and put it up the mast (I’v heard they are waterproof anyway … but I suspect the connectors are not)

200km … not that good, a simple dipole can achieve that

maybe the tube enclosing the coco is absorbing signal …

  • Can you take a sample of the tube used to enclose the coco put it in a microwave oven alongside a cup water then zap it for 30 seconds - if the tube gets warm it absorbs microwave signals.
  • repeat with a painted tube see if the paint is a problem.

It’s easy to make a bad coco - with the element lengths off if the velocity factor doesn’t match the cable

It could be worth trying a simpler setup as illustrated in ads-b-flight-tracking-f21/confused-about-antenna-design-t19969.html

I’m thinking of something like this with the vertical just stuffed into the top of amplifier (seal over with silicon caulk), and the earth plane wires soldered to a penny washer (or drilled copper/brass coin) fixed to the thread
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8657/16333155950_afddce3083_o.jpg … that should give you 300-400km

You can tell what range should be achieveabl by going to heywhatsthat.com/ - say where you are, what your antenna height is, select ‘in the air’ set the altitude to 38000 ft. zoom out to see the ring.


#4

Peter -

Thanks for that link. According to the results I’m actually getting about twice the range it shows, especially to the south. I guess I should not mess with success and leave it alone :slight_smile:

Thanks for the help!


#5

[quote=“skipf”]
I’ve have good luck with ‘inline Satellite cable pre-amps’ and ‘PCT power inserters’, for about $15, total, from Amazon. The only thing you’ll have
to make is a 12VDC ‘supply’ with an F connector.
In a ‘perfect world’, the ‘masthead’ would be the best place, however there’s also a strong argument for mounting the preamp in a weather-safe
location. Front-End filtering is also a good investment, although 1 ‘stage’ can cost as much as everything else. ($100) There’s a video on You-Tube
where a front end filter is added and the tracking went from 800 planes to 1,300 planes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=(http://ava.upuaut.net/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=72_73&product_id=85)

Thanks Skip - that’s helpful.
Much appreciated![/quote]


#6

Nooo,

do experiment … unless you have hills or trees in the way you should see up to 400km - just don’t burn what you have until you have something better.


#7

Point well taken.
Thanks.


#8

My setup is a work in progress as well, but let me share with you a few things that have more than doubled my tracking numbers. I believe I’m running the same SDR dongle as you. The front end is so broad that I experienced a lot of interference from the neighborhood as well as FM broadcast stations. I found a link for a combination filter/preamplifier (LNA/SAW) set for 1090MHz elswhere on FA: ava.upuaut.net/store/index.php?r … duct_id=85
It has remarkably improved both the numbers and distance of coverage.

I’m sure there are many versions that are similar to mine but I chose to house everything in a PVC structure that provides weather protection as well as blending in well with the white vinyl covered fencing around my third floor balcony. (a picture of the installation is on my profile) The antenna portion is 3/4" PVC pipe with the equipment housing is 4" PVC. Inside is the coaxial colinear antenna, LNA, SDR dongle, Raspberry Pi 2+, Powered USB hub, WIFI dongle and three “walwart” power supplies. This approach eliminates the issue of cable losses between the antenna and the receiver at 1090MHz as well as the need to run Cat5 cable through the exterior wall of our condo…definitely frowned upon by our HOA :slight_smile:

May you continue to have success with your installation.

Dave K4DPF


#9

ooooops, just realized that’s the same URL as previously posted. Well…just consider my input as an endorsement :smiley:


#10

Thank you Dave.


#11

Thank you everyone for your advice.

One more stupid question. PI 2 and FightAware docs don’t deal with this: What’s the purpose of the USB connection between the PC and the PI? Seems to be the data goes to the dongle, into the PI and out to my internet connection.
I want to move the unit to another area and just let it feed. That’s going to require dumping the USB cable due to distance. I can get my data info from the FA site.

Thanks once again.


#12

The only time I’ve connected a Pi to a PC via an USB cable was to power it during testing. If you have a stand-alone power supply for the Pi, then you’re good to go.
…Tom


#13

The Micro-USB connection is only used to supply power to the the Pi.

Normally the standard sized USB connections are used to connect the tuner dongle, A wifi dongle (though configuration can be awkward) and maybe a keyboard during initial configuration (when a TV is connected to the HDMI port as a monitor).

I prefer the Vonets VAP11G bridge to using a wifi dongle - less config :slight_smile:

Once the configuration work is done, most people run it headless (no monitor or keyboard) and just interact with it using ssh - puTTY being the SSH client software most people use on windows to control the Pi over the network. The Pi is put in a location that works well for the antenna downfeed.


#14

Great - then I’m good to pull the plug.
Thanks.


#15

Mine is a full USB A-to A cable from the PC to one of the main USB connectors. It appears the USB cable was/is to provide the head during setup since I have no keyboard or monitor directly attached. It appears I can remove the cable without a problem since I have a PS connection already.
This has been an education and thank you to everyone for the lessons :slight_smile: