Better Antenna?

Disclaimer…I have all the products that Flightaware offered for sale - ProStick (2), antenna and filters (2). I’ve tuned my gain, put the antenna up higher on the roof away from my weather station and other obstacles. Think I’m maxed. However, can this antenna provide better coverage?

It’s $150…not sure what else I can do other than move somewhere higher.

I’m getting out about 180-200 miles right now


If it came with a customer satisfaction guarantee, I’d try it.

I have my suspicions that a cavity filter might be required if you’re located in a densely populated area.

That’s go’n to set you back at least another 100 bucks.

That quotes 9dBi. I think the FA aerial is 5dBd. Manufacturers quote dBi when they want their gain figures to look better! Realistically you’re looking at 1dB gain over what you’ve got which is probably not really worth it considering 3dB is half an s-point!

The FA antenna has a gain of 6dbi.

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What sort of coax are you using and how long is it?

I am not sure you would benefit from a better antenna. I have the DPD Antenna and it works well.
It is only about 65ft AMSL but does get a few hits per day at >200NM.

For me, in noisy NYC, a cavity filter worked the best with the hab filter/amp and a radarcape.
I know it is a lot of money and probably does only a few percent better than the FA dongle.

I think the FA dongle and a cavity filter are the best value for money in a noisy environment.
For long coax runs, the hab/nevis amp/filter, although the problem is powering the amp(They are better if they are closer to the antenna).
The FA dongle doesn’t provide Bias-T. I have powered them directly from the RPI with the Cavity filter on the outside(Antenna side) of the amp.

RG6, all professional terminations. 30’ or so. Not so noisy here with RF, cellular, etc. Running without the filter. If I add the filter I lose 10-15% aircraft and message rate. Upstate NY in the Albany suburbs. I was probably lured by the length of the antenna vs. the FA one. And being only one db better (subjective analysis likely).

30’ of RG6 is about 2db loss. You are losing about 1/3 of the signal. The antenna should make up for this.
One thing to be careful of is the N connector at the end of the cable. It must be the 50 Ohm version not the 75 Ohm version (Smaller pin). You are likely to have really poor performance if this was wrong.

I just checked outside and the DPD antenna is about twice as thick as the FA Dual band antenna.
DPD site says their antenna is 57". Amazon site says the FA Dual band is 49". That makes the DPD about 8" longer.
The VSWR on the Dual band FA Antenna is <2 whereas the DPD is <1.5. DPD is a single purpose antenna so that is a given.
I can’t easily compare them at the moment because I am using the FA antenna on 978Mhz with a mast mounted Hab/Nevis Amp. It would be a pain for me to jumper the amp connection.

1db is about 20% power. Not sure it would make a huge difference. Not even sure the VSWR difference would make much difference.

The closest person to you that has better results is gralston73 . They are about 18 miles away.

I am not sure which way I would go. If you have the single Band FA Antenna, the DPD antenna may be worth a try.

Thanks for the inputs. I had a plan to put my Prostick up under the eave via a 30’ USB cable then heard stories of problems with that approach. I could get my RG6 down to about 15’ if I did that. It’s all 50 ohm stuff. I don’t have any 75 around that I recall.

Prostick plus is a waste as I don’t want a filter. Have an Rpi 3 maxed out, ultra fast card. Fun to tinker but slightly aggravating as I’d like to get my numbers up but have diminishing returns unless I start buyt professional stuff (real $$$).


I’ve only heard of 75 ohm RG6 cable. RG6 is also not rated for microwave frequencies. A cable performance calculator tells me you’re losing about 50% of your signal strength with a 30’ run of RG6, which would explain why you’re not seeing out to 250+ miles. RG58 should drop you to a 33% loss.

I’m running my Pro Stick off a 15’ USB cord without issue. The 30’ cords essentially have USB hubs in them that serve as repeaters.

RG6 has attenuation of 6.2 dB per 100 ft. For 30 ft run, attenuation is 6.5 x30/100 = 1.86 dB, which is very normal and acceptable value since antenna has 6 dB gain and will easily cover the loss.

Adding an amplifier, or using pro stick which has built-in amplifier of 19 dB gain will improve maximum range, message rate, and plane count

Each 3 dB attenuation halves the power. Hence 6 db attenuation quarters the power (first 3 dB halves, next 3 dB halves the already half).

That’s it basically. Your city is down in a gully, with hills to the west. If you moved to the hills you’d be up high. Course, then you’d have to drive hours to get anywhere :slight_smile:

OKC is in a gully, but not as severe. If I lived about 10 miles south I’d be up on the ridge and see farther south at lower altitudes. I get targets all the way from Salina, Kansas to Dallas, Texas but they are above 30k. Down low I probably only do less than 50 miles. I have a DPD antenna. Also ran a filter for awhile, but terrain is the limiting factor.

We have a city dump that is tall like a hill. It’s about 10 miles away, but masks everything to the northwest for me, except maybe 30k+ altitudes.

The only fix is multiple sites, but then it’s too expensive for a pastime…

P.S. I’m a few miles away from the FAA long range radar site. My antenna is about as high as theirs. So they probably don’t see low altitudes any better than I do :slight_smile:

I think you have this backwards. RG-6 is usually rated for 3 GHz and is much better than RG-58 at 1 GHz.

Regarding that calculator, higher is better when looking at “Cable Run Efficiency.”


Hmm. Interesting. I will have to learn more.

If you really intend to put your tuner stick high up on a long usb (possibly powered0 then consider putting the pi up there too, running power up the the rent cable. The components to do this are available on amazon for maybe $30 … use 48v POE with active power regulators at the Pi end.

Tablet spell checker mangled that

If you really intend to put your tuner stick high up on a long usb (possibly powered) then consider putting the pi up there too, running power up the ethernet cable. The components to do this are available on amazon for maybe $30 … use 48v POE with active power regulators at the Pi end.

I am planning to mount mt RPi and Prostick on my tower. Today I put everything up there temporarily to test the wifi. I have the FA 49" antenna and I used a solid adapter to mount the Prostick directly to it. I used a 9 foot USB3 extension cable to connect to the RPi hanging just under the peak of my tower. I used an extension cord to get power up to the RPi. Reception did not seem to be that good so I ran the gain test and as expected, the gain needs to be down low.

Gain, Messages, Positions, Aircraft
49.6 4492 233 62
48.0 4527 244 60
44.5 4604 224 65
42.1 4290 198 63
19.7 4776 229 62
16.6 4899 224 66
15.7 4629 212 65
14.4 4796 254 69
12.5 5031 236 65
8.7 4535 220 63
7.7 4481 213 64
3.7 4857 278 67
2.7 4820 276 63
1.4 4717 225 67
0.9 4888 211 69
0.0 5035 253 65

When I run these tests, do I look mainly at msg count? I ran the test twice. The first time was 20-49, 10 sec each, and the second time I added down to zero and removed the middle settings that did not perform well. I will of course run more tests when I get it mounted permanently.
I had to hurry up and take everything down because it started to drizzle rain. My best gain setting with 40 feet of RG6 is 44.5