FlightAware Discussions

Hello, starting my first Piaware....advice?!

Hello out there,

I have had an extra Pi 3 sitting around and late last night, I figured out you could support the site by sitting up a piaware. I have already ordered my indoor antenna and today went ahead and ordered the flightaware outdoor antenna as well.

Question 1. I was thinking about placing the outdoor antenna on the end of a 10-15ft 3/4-1inch PVC pipe on our roof to try and get some decent signals. I ordered the upgraded FlightAware pro stick plus, so with that, the 25ft cable and flight aware antenna do ya’ll have any advice???

Question 2. I was going to just start out with the indoor antenna, but after reading what some folks said around here about line of sight, I figured I needed to upgrade. We have a lot of pine trees around us. So should I just return that antenna as soon as I get it?

My location is just south of Savannah GA so we pick up a LOT of Military and Civilian traffic. Heck, NASAs U2 departed and came back to HAAF last night.

Edit: I am all about the DIY…what fittings are used for these antenna’s and cables? I want to go to the hardware store so I can purchase the correct fittings and save $$$ by just making my own cables. TIA!

Howdy, and welcome.

Those are good bits of kit used by many here. The FA antenna consistently outperforms other models and homemade antennas. The Pro Stick Plus is well made and gives really good performance for its price. It has a built in amplifier and 1090 MHz filter. With 25ft of coax you may get a bit better results with good quality low loss coax designed for gigahertz applications. LMR400 gets mentioned and used a lot.

The higher up you can safely and securely mount your FA antenna the better. You can’t do much about the trees (unless there’s one nearby you can mount your antenna on the top of :grin:)

Sounds like you’ll see a lot of interesting traffic, should be good fun. Once you’re feeding, make sure MLAT is enabled, that will let you pinpoint traffic that’s not transmitting its location (your setup sends the ID data to FA, they triangulate the aircraft from the tiny timing differences of yours and all the other receivers seeing it and send the position back to you)

The FA antenna has a “N type female connector” and the Pro Stick Plus has a “SMA female connector”. So your coax needs to have a “N type male connector” for the antenna end and a “SMA male connector” for the blue stick end.

  • Make sure you avoid “RP” (Reverse Polarity) versions of these connectors – the male/female screwing is the same but the center pins and holes are reversed, so RP versions of these connectors won’t work.
  • If you do use LMR400 then it’s much thicker than normal coax. The N type male connector should fit (worth checking) but you’ll need special SMA male connectors to fit over the thicker coax. An online store dedicated to this kind of thing will be able to sort you out.

If you hit any problems use the search facility in the upper right corner as there are loads of posts talking about these points and you’ll likely find an answer or pick up some useful info. And if you get stuck you can reply in your thread here asking questions and someone will be able to help.

Please do post updates, it’ll be good to hear how you get on.

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For Beginners - How-to Connect FlightAware Antenna, Filter and Pro Stick - Connectors and Cables Required

 

I use Flightaware Antenna indoors, hanging from a string :slight_smile:
Performs Great!

The Red Coke Can above Flightaware antenna is a 1/4 wavelength DIY antenna (Cantenna) and also performs good indoors, but less than Flightaware Antenna.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE LARGER SIZE
CLICK AGAIN TO SEE FULL SIZE

You’re off to a great start.
25ft is a quite modest length, so you don’t need to go overboard on the coax.
LMR400 is excellent, but it’s stiff and heavy. LMR200 will be a lot easier to work with only a small performance penalty.

You’ll find the FA antenna (particularly if you use LMR400) will be too heavy and have too much wind-loading for a 3/4~1" PVC to support.

If you’ve already got the FA antenna on the way, you’ll find the indoor antenna rather disappointing. Given you like to DIY, you’ll be able to build your own that will perform at least as well.

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Thanks for the advice guys!
I think I may go ahead and take the indoor antenna and set it up at my parents house.

As for the weight on the antenna and cable, I am going to use electrical conduit for the pole. I agree that the PVC is going to be much to flexible after handling some of it yesterday.

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Well, here is the setup. Got the LMR400 cable in and the FA antenna. Mounted it on the old dish tv sat mount that was up on the roof. ~33 ft elevation. I went from picking up aircraft around Charleston to now close to the SC/NC border. The pole is a bit wobbly, but I can fix that.

I ended up using two lengths of rail pole for chain link fencing. They have a male/female end and it just made sense.

And as a testament to what a proper pole will do…I went from picking up ~30 aircraft to ~90+ instantly.

This is going to get fun :grinning:

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That’s great news, it’s nice and high and looks good! Did you find a decent supply for the LMR400 SMA connectors for the Pro Stick Plus end? Or did you use an adapter of some kind?

Thanks! I ended up just going to the Air802 website and getting a cable from them so the cable went right into the Pro Stick. So far…so good. I just picked up a US Navy C40 ~160NM away from me over the Atlantic. All of this with a ton of tall pine trees around me.

Nice catch! Wonder what they’re up to. If you have young kids it’s great for them to play along. They get excited by seeing an aircraft outside and then seeing it live and finding out all about it on the map. All good fun!

Who knows what they were doing. I spotted a 737 from the 89th Airlift Wing last night…callsign SPAR 19.

I shoot competitively and have a $2800 NightForce spotting scope. I can ID a plane @35k ft that is 6 miles away from me. It’s a metric ton of fun sitting on my front porch, watching the aircraft coming up and down the coast and picking them up on the spotting scope!

The real fun is trying to guess the carrier on the more subtle planes and then checking on here to see if I was right.

SWA is pretty easy to ID obviously! ha