I’m looking for some advice regarding my setup. After significant efforts to finally raise my antenna to its final height of 47’, I now have reduced range and message counts relative to my previous setup. Let me explain.
FA Antenna -> N-to-SO239 Adapter -> 50’ Low-Loss RG8 Coax -> 6” SO239-to-SMA Cable -> FA Prostick Plus
I have a 40’ tower and had the antenna mounted at around 35’. The rPi was mounted in an outdoor enclosure near the base and a “long-term temporary” 100’ Cat5 cable ran back to the router. The Pi was too far from the WAP to use WiFi.
This setup yielded around 2,000 aircraft with 400,000 positions daily, 24% of which were from 80+ nm away.
Over time, the Florida heat and humid air killed a rPi (or two). After damage to the Cat5 cable killed the enet port on another Pi, I decided it was time to relocate it indoors.
I fabricated a new mast with proper lightning protection and nice, proper antenna mounts. Extending above the top of the tower, it puts the FA antenna at about 47’. I had to add another 50’ length of RG8 and a SO239 butt connector in order to reach the Pi, now indoors.
I’m now seeing 1,750 aircraft daily, with only 220,000 positions, only 7% of which are from 80+ nm away. In short, I now have much reduced range.
I’m frustrated that having finally completed my setup, I now have worse results. Aside from the fact that it looks great, with the new mast and all, the 12’ height increase brings an order of magnitude improvement in line-of-sight/reduced obstacles. To troubleshoot I grabbed a 50’ extrension cord and moved the Pi outside to connect it at the end of the first 50’ length of coax. That seemed to help, but puts me in the situation of having the Pi back outside, which never ends well in Florida. Can the extra length of RG8 really cause that much signal loss? How much loss can be attributed to the butt connector? Any ideas on how to work around this?
SO239 (AKA UHF) connectors are not suggested for use above 300 Mhz, per their manufacturer. Granted, that’s for transmitting, but loss is loss, either way. And this manufacturer is top-shelf, unlike what passes for overseas junk
I hate to suggest this but try another piece of coax to see if you have water infiltration in the jacket. So if you are going to go the aggravation of putting up another single piece of coax, purchase a piece with factory ends installed
I think getting higher and better ends (no conversions) would offset the longer run DB loss.
Did you say if you were offset (standing off) from the tower? If not you should as the metal tower might have adverse effect on signal especially if you are blocking your best direction. Make sure the cable does not touch the earth and remove lightning protection at least as a test.
If I understand , you have effectively doubled your coax loss and added another connector in the antenna feed line. I get the sense you already know that is not a good thing in itself, but that configuration preserves the Pie, so to speak.
Only other thing I can think of aside from what folks have already suggested is to spend big bucks on a long LMR400 run to lower the coax loss and lose a few connectors by staying factory N connectors till the SMA jumper.
I’m in North Carolina, so this equation of height vs environment vs losses in cable runs pops up in my nightmares constantly. Compromises in any solution I come up with.
During 2013 and 2014, I did not have RPi, and my DVB-T was plugged into Windows Desktop. The antenna was located near a large window which had a good view. I had to run 45 feet of RG6 Coax between antenna and DVB-T/Desktop, which were in another room. The range was less than 100nm.
As the custom made 1090 MHz amplifiers were very costly at that time (Euro 100 and above), I used a low cost ($4) Satellite inLine amplifier RCA D903. It worked very good and improved my range to 200nm. The label on this amplifier mentions 950- 2050 MHz (Satellite TV L-Band) and is supposed to cut off signals outside this band.
I had to add two more items:
DC blocker between Amp and Antenna
At that time I was more interested in DIY, so the BiasT, the DC blocker, and the Antenna were all DIY
I have just now checked, and this amplifier with (newer appearance) is still available on ebay
US $2.99 + US $2.90 Standard Shipping within USA
US $2.99 + US $17.31 International Priority Shipping to Canada
. The write-up on photo below shows Amp #2 also exists somewhere in the line. Initially I have installed 2nd amp near biast, thinking “more is better”. Later I discovered that 2nd amp caused overload of DVB-T, and removing it improved reception.
The Pi, an old desktop power supply, and an additional cooling fan were mounted inside a Hoffman enclosure and mounted on the tower. Over time, the Florida air rusted anything not gold-plated and copper connections started to grow crystals. Basically the standard result for electronics living outdoors in FL.