FlightAware Discussions

Determine if a site is aggregating data?

I have a neighbor, about 2 miles away (rural area), that also sends data to Flightaware. For the last 2 years, I’ve always collected more planes & positions than the neighbor’s site. Recently I noticed that his sight/username was gone, but a new site and username shows in the same location. This new site started out (last month) with about the same stats as the previous site/username. Then, after about a week of operation, this “new” site/username jumped from just under 1,000 aircraft (total) per day to around 2,000+. His positions went from 50,000 to almost 300,000. This jump occurred in 1 day.

Is there a way for users to see if other users are aggregating data? I like the challenge of trying to tweak my system to have higher stats than other users near me, but I’m not really interested in aggregating my data because it seems like gaming the system (I know that the FA staff doesn’t see it that way). I drive by this other site, every day on my way to work, and don’t see any antenna/tower. This location sits in a slight depression vs the surrounding land. My house has a slightly higher elevation, and my antenna (FA stick) is mounted above my 2nd story roofline. It seems that my location should be better, but I haven’t checked it against heywhatsthat.com to verify. He may very well have a better setup, but it just seemed odd to jump so drastically and after changing usernames. I’m running my normal site and recently restored my testing site to see if I can tweak one or the other enough to get near the results he’s getting.

I’m running a Pi4 (2gb) and a Pi3b. I have a FA stick feeding one and a Radarbox stick feeding the other. I’m using FA orange & blue dongles and also have a few other brands. Have the older FA filter and an uputronics preamp/filter on hand as well. FWIW, the uputronics preamp/saw filter hasn’t helped with and combination of my dongles/antennas I’ve tried yet.

Here’s the site graphs/stats

Not sure on the aggregation portion of your question, but the jump could be a bunch of things - looks to me like it may have been an indoor to outdoor switch and could have also switched over to an Airspy or something as well during the same move. That could explain some things. Without knowing much about the other setup (hardware involved), it’s so tough to say. I didn’t see what you listed as your antenna other than FA stick either… That could also be a good portion of the sudden difference between your sites and why you may not be able to up the pace for a lack of better terms in comparison.

I’ve got the Flightaware 26" stick antenna and the same/similar antenna from AirNav/Radarbox. I just swapped from the FA antenna to the AriNav antenna on my main Pi. It’s mounted so that it clears the peak of my roof by about 3 feet, but I do have a lot of trees that block my west & north. I switched to the AirNav antenna so that I could eliminate a bunch of connectors/adapters and RG6 that I used on the FA antenna. I actually didn’t see much, if any, improvement when switching antennas. The AirNav antenna has a pre-installed cable with SMA connector.

I’ve been reading the AirSpy threads & wondered if that may be what happened, but with the username change & starting everything over with a new site #, I thought maybe he started aggregating data.

At 50 miles and less & 200-250 miles we are about the same # of positions. At 250+ I average almost 5x his # of positions. At 50-100 and 100-150 he gets about 30k (each) more positions than me. At 150-200 he averages about 12k more. I’m having fun trying to tweak & adjust to “catch him” & learning what helps and what doesn’t!

Switching to Airspy might be one answer. The higher frequency can immediately double the number of reported messages.
Moving the antenna from indoor to outdoor normally does not show this high performance increase as long as the indoor performance wasn’t too bad.