FlightAware Discussions

Finally got around to setting VRS up to display receiver range

I’ve had VRS running for several months but hadn’t really been paying attention to it. I recently noticed that it wasn’t displaying the “splat map”, so about 2 weeks ago I set about trying to figure it out. Got it working, and I have to say that there really must be a more obvious way to enable it.

Anyway, at the beginning of June I moved my antenna to the peak of my roof. It’s 28 feet above ground level, about 310 above MSL.

This is a Pi 3B+ with the FA blue dongle, the light blue FA filter (have a cell tower about 300 feet from my house, a random eBay inline amp that I go back and forth on whether I truly need, 50 feet of “low loss 50 ohm extension cable, SMA male to N-male”, and the 26" FA antenna.

I have been trading places pretty evenly with one other guy in my “nearby sites” who is apparently 5 miles away, for the top position for aircraft count, so I am probably near maxed out.

Also, here’s my theoretical max range from HWT. I think I left the ring at 30k feet, but I do see a fair number of planes at 34-36k, especially to the north.

It would be nice if there was a way to overlay both on the same map (and there probably is, I just don’t know how to do it!)

Thanks to everyone for all of the information that is shared in these forums. It makes the adventure a lot of fun!


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so you want to overlay your theoretical max range ring with the current range you achieved in VRS?

I haven’t seen any solution how this works.

That’s great range for this mountainous region. I live a couple hours north of you in a dense forest and only get about 150 nmi range. You must have a nice view from the roof!

We get lots of flights 40,000+ feet around here. I use 40k for my HWT overlay and it seems to match my reality over the Cascade mountains to the east.

Well, I found a way to sort of “fake it”. I realized that I could use the range rings for scale to create an accurate overlay, so I brought both images into Adobe Illustrator, made the SkyAware image 50% transparent, and matched up the rings.

I can see that I am exceeding the HWT range to the north, east, and southeast, and coming up short to the south, west, and northwest.

I think that most of the miss to the west is simply a result of not a lot of planes flying over the Pacific Ocean there. I catch a lot of Seattle <-> Hawaii flights, and a fair number of great circle flights between LAX/SFO and Asia, but it’s just not a high count. I think that the little missing chunk right below Vancouver Island is probably the shadow of Mt Olympus, so that doesn’t surprise me.

I really feel that most of my opportunity to improve would be in finding a way to capture lower altitude flights. I lose stuff landing at SEA somewhere around 8500 feet, and lose PDX at about 1500. I think that to really see any more improvement I would need to create some fairly significant lift above my roof. I’m not sure that gaining an easy 5 or 10 more feet would be worth the effort.

Overall, I am pretty happy with my results. Especially given how little investment was required.

That might work for some range which is consistent. But for me the range is too different based on the direction. My range is everything but not a cicle.

What I meant was that I have both SkyAware and VRS displaying range rings at 100/150/200 miles. So if I match the rings, then everything else on the maps should match up as well.

Ah, now i got it.

But what sense does it make to have both range rings displayed on one map?

What I was trying to do was compare my HWT theoretical range with my VRS actual range - but they were in 2 different images. So I combined them into one new image, using the 100/150/200 rings to line the two up. The last image that I shared has the HWT range showing as a thin black line, while the VRS is the pink filled area.

ok, that was my misunderstanding.

The “range” rings are the rings which are set on the map at 50,100,150 NM etc.

What you’ve set up is an image which shows your max range from your receiver compared to the theoretical max range based on your location

Yes! Sorry I did such a poor job explaining…

Or me such a poor job understanding. In all communications you need at least two persons and this doubles the risk of misunderstanding.