FlightAware Discussions

Cantenna + Nooelec NESDR smart outdoor installation

I’m going to create a real-life experiment of installing Nooelec’s NESDRsmart RTL-SDR dongle directly inside cantenna antenna so that the receiver antenna port is actually the antenna itself.

Why this? I try to limit all signal fading due to coax.

I do understand that this may go so wrong. Water inside the dongle, too hot/cold for the dongle, computer stuff outside without proper shielding from elements and so on. I do highlight that this is experiment of mine and not promoted for debate about the “are you sure you know what are doing?”.

After saying this, let’s have a chat:

What do you think would be the most vulnerable parts of this construction?

I try to seal everything using self vulcanizing tape, the USB connector will be inside waterproof case filled with vaseline (or silicone) and the base of the antenna (sma connector of the dongle) will be isolated from the elements as well. For the can I plan to use empty beer can. The USB cable from the dongle is 3 meters long and “the best quality” you can by from local IT shop.

Happy to hear your ideas, comments!

Br: Mac

A good 3 Meter coax cable does have a attenunation less than -1dB on that length
So why doing that risk (even if you do not want to debate)?

Maybe adding a filtered LNA would be the better option

And i remember a discussion here already regarding interferences putting the dongle in a metal case. But i cannot find it any more

The antenna socket will be the weak point as it is most exposed. Water tends to wick into things, so if you have the socket pointing up on top of the can, it is going to get wet and the dongle is definitely going to fail. You would need to effectively seal around the whip part of the antenna as well as the hole cut in the can to prevent water ingress there.

I don’t know if you are intending to make it a permanent installation, but I would recommend a modern polymer based sealant rather than silicone (such as bathroom sealant). I’ve used some of Evo-Stik’s sealant and adhesive products called "Sticks Like Sh*t " in a marine environment and it lasts a long time. Stupid name, but it works very well. Might be a bit overkill if you are just going to put it out for a short test period however.

This was fun project and the reception is excellent. I have had much worse outcome with “official 1090 whip” than this. My version of cantenna is:

Nooelec SMArt RTL dongle installed inside soda can and protected from direct water (rain, snow) by two plastic soda bottles. I think the picture tells everything better. The basics are from this forum about DIY antennas for 1090 reception (The Cantenna).

I’m happy, lets see how well this can handle the next winter :smile:


Wow, good job

Now put some LED strips inside which are illuminated in different colors based on the amount of aircraft covered.