Dongle overheating

Hello, I have a flightaware dongle pro plus and I’m using it with an RPi model 3 B.

After a while I go onto the virtual radar and it says that the radio is connected but no data received but I can see on flightaware that there is aircraft in my area.

The dongle is hot to touch (have to put it down or it burns fingers) so I think it may be overheating and not working when it gets too hot, is this possible? Thanks.

I must add that when I reboot the pi it works fine. Reconnecting the dongle before restarting does not work though. Could it be a pi issue?

Are both the devices in the open air? Or in a sealed box? In the sunshine?

I have my FlightAware Pro outside, wrapped in silicone tape to protected it from rain. It doesn’t overheat.

had same issue, dongle attached to rpi3. it helped removing the top plastic cover from the pi and also lowering the gain.

Cases removed from both, and now fan pointing towards them… there is a few aircraft showing on the list with no position but as soon as I restart dump1090 an aircraft popped which was going over the top. It’s strange, I’m not sure if the RPi or dongle is at fault.

I have done some testing and found out that after a few minutes the dump1090 virtual radar stops displaying info and if I use sudo systemctl restart dump1090-fa to restart it, then I get the aircraft on the screen for a few minutes until I restart it and it goes like that. Anyone ever had this? Using latest version of Piaware.

If you have another power supply unit, try it. Such problems are often due to power supply unit either undersized, poor regulation, or was good initially, but gone bad.

Also try another dongle if have one.

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A lot of cheap power supplies don’t meet the specification they advertise.

RTL-SDR doungle chips with a heatsink underneath the body of the chip. This heatsink had to be both electrically and thermally connected to the PCB
For better cooling:

SDRBlogImage_1_Side-150x150 used to sell their aluminum case with thermal pad separately.

Maybe they still will if you contact them.

After monitoring the device all day, I have concluded that after around 30 minutes the web server stops showing all aircraft until I do sudo service dump1090-mutability restart and then it loads the aircraft into view. Could the dongle be turning itself off or something? Could the USB port be turning itself off? At the bottom of the page it gives the error saying that dump1090 might not be running.

I’m running piaware on my laptop (ubuntu 18.04.3) with the flightaware blue dongle and, after a while, it overheats and stop send signal. If I remove the dongle and wait for refreshing, it works again, till overheat comes.

Try one of these:

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Maybe there is some heat transfer from the laptop to the dongle, maybe a small usb lead helps?

A lot of people have those dongles running 24/7 without any overheating issues, but those are mostly attached to small PCBs like the Raspberry Pi.


As @biekerc suggested, try a quality 6"/15cm USB pigtail. It may help with heat (@OBJ suggested this recently, I believe).

The rtlsdr website shop does have metal cases, however, they are out of stock at the moment.
(I bought four cases a few years ago for this use and to noise reduction).


I just turned upside down with the small ventilation openings up (Flightaware logo facing the table) and now it’s not so hot.
Thanks to everyone

I am having the same problem. It seems to have started several weeks ago. The first outage was for about 10 days before I was able to check it. It ran fine for about a for about a day and it stopped again. I just found this post and I’m going to see if it’s not getting enough air to cool the pi. I don’t have a fan but it’s been online flawlessly for many months. So, I’ve put it on edge and the vents are capable of getting more air…let’s see what happens.

Much more likely is that your power supply is giving up.

While the dongles get hot, they usually work just fine while being hot.

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I don’t think the dongle is the problem, I’m thinking the RPi is over heating…I don’t have a fan with mine. But I will keep an eye on the PS. I guess I should have looked at the OP title to the topic…

Yeah that’s not a typical failure either, even if the Pi is throttling due to heat it should continue to run dump1090.

As i stated before, intermittent decoding most often is a power supply issue.
The dongle can get “stuck”/“wedged” if the voltage drops too low, often requiring a reboot to work again.

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