Help - I'm out of ideas to increase my range

Actually, for a lot of us, it’s the whole point of this hobby.


Re: Weatherproofing.

For connectors:

It appears there are a lot of possible noise sources very close by based on your photos. Careful with adding components. Every component introduces two potentially lossy connections (i.e. in and out).

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Cable TV wasn’t hugely popular in Australia where I grew up, so I have vivid memories of contorting a wire coat hanger into various shapes to see which one managed to improve the reception enough that I could let go of it. Usually because someone had snapped the rabbit ears. Sometimes even moving closer to the TV seemed to change the reception.

You could spot people of my generation who just received their drivers licenses, because invariably they’d be driving a beaten up Commodore with a snapped-off radio antennae replaced by a coat hanger. If it worked for the TV it would surely work for the radio! A hack I’m sure was repeated the world over. Also handy for those times you locked your keys in the car.


Suction cups? Like big ones?

I also use black electrical tape as my waterproofing. Seems to work.

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You left off Tasmania!


Ran out of coat hanger! :laughing:

(photo wasn’t mine, but captured the vibe perfectly)


The government issue toilet roll really didn’t stand up to the rain and the wind – unsurprising :grimacing: and I knew they wouldn’t. More worrisome was it flapping around in the breeze which might draw unwanted attention from the building management.

So … I used GPT4 to get some advice on ADS-B antennae mounting! It was remarkably good advice, actually! Here’s what I ended up. It didn’t identity the specific components used in the design, but helped me clarify a few things, such as whether the antennae components would be safe to paint. It was quite specific about making sure the PVC wasn’t RF blocking – although it didn’t seem to know about the trick where you microwave the pipe and see if it heats up :laughing: Regardless, this design doesn’t bury the antennae inside the PVC.

SMA connector and contacts with the PCB were coated in silicon. Currently using command strips to attach it to the exterior. I can experiment with the orientation and the distance from the building by picking a different slot and rotating the PVC – currently it seems vertical or horizontal orientation doesn’t change things a great deal, but I will continue to experiment. Another weather system moves through here tomorrow, at which point it will have its first adversarial test.

Recommend to orient antenna vertically for best results. Otherwise could loose significant signal strength, as the source signal from the planes are vertically oriented.


Hello @hagmonk
Too much gain is not your friend… You can saturate the input and the noise will be bigger than the signal. Try to change the gain step by step from 15db upwards. It will be better if you have some kind of sdr software tunned in 1090mhz and do the changes in gain. Remember that in RTL, the gain is not linear, but in steps (Supported gain values : 0.0 0.9 1.4 2.7 3.7 7.7 8.7 12.5 14.4 15.7 16.6 19.7 20.7 22.9 25.4 28.0 29.7 32.8 33.8 36.4 37.2 38.6 40.2 42.1 43.4 43.9 44.5 48.0 49.6). When you see the noise raises the amount of db difference, means you gain is not making any effect, in fact is worsing the signal. Then, its time to stop.
Another thing, try to connect the earth of the cable to the window with a wire and see if the signal improves.

It’s been tested worse than the standard tuner i believe.

Specificity the E4000 or the Smart XTR?

It’d surprise me if there were any (real) Elonics chips in circulation (someone could have bought the rights I suppose).

The first dongle I tried for ADS-B was an E4000 based one and it performed noticeably worse than the R820 and R820 v2 dongles I used afterwards. The E4000 was probably 10-20% down on messages so worth switching if you are looking for the best performance.

The Nooelec website actually recommends not using it for ADS-B because of the reduced sensitivity at that frequency (it’s right next to the gap), but for frequencies below 500MHz or above 1500MHz where it performs best. I don’t know if they just bought up a ton of E4000 when they were available or if someone is producing them again, but I think Elonics went out of business 10 years or so ago and E4000 based receivers were hard to come by even when I first started playing with rtl dongles.

Your body is actually a pretty good antenna.

@CraigWoodThomas you’re in-town local to me and killing it with your setup comparatively. Could you share your mast/antenna/cable/filter/dongle setup?

Hi V2 local. Glad to share the setup. I bought the FlightAware 1090Mhz PiAware ADS-B kit that costs $119 and comes with the Raspberry Pi Zero W processor and the blue Pro Stick Plus for the antenna connection. I first had it connected to the tiny wire wound antenna that comes in the kit to get things kicked off and to provide proof of functionality as a system. I added a couple of items to the Pi processor connectivity to enable it to have a hard line ethernet connection to my home network by adding a USB 4 port hub that source connected to the Pi and provided USB connectivity to my ethernet dongle and the FlightAware blue Pro Stick Plus for the antenna feed. Shortly after wrestling with getting the MLAT function up and working, I ordered the 1090mhz dedicated stick antenna from FlightAware along with their 15-meter coax cable with connectors already installed. Very happy with the antenna and coax quality. The antenna is supported by an apex section of radio tower secured to the eve of the house that has EMT conduit pipe raising the antenna to an approximate height of maybe 26 feet. The base of the antenna itself is near to 3 foot above the highest peak of the roof. Hope this gives you a adequate description of my setup. Let me know if there are other questions. Best of luck.

Well V2 look at you now! Checked on your receiver coverage this morning to see how you were doing and wow what a difference. Seems you were out early yesterday morning to make some kind of significant change. You are in the game now there pal. Good job!

Starting with a pi4b and generic SDR I already had, I bought the cheapest 1090mhz Amazon antenna I could find and got signals out ~30nm (but not quite to MCO) while installed in an interior room of the house. Bought the 15m cable and stick antenna, installing on my wx station pole that’s ~20ft tall. Stats went way up, but peaked with the tree line to my north and west. For fun I have the pro stick plus on the way to see if it does as advertised. I get a good number of FL300+ signals out to ~150nm now. I still have a family member down in Broward county that I want to recruit to host a station for me out of the spare parts I’m accumulating. Not that we’re super hilly around here, but it is flat down there. Hoping the Amazon antenna in a window will reach to slightly overlap my coverage and pick up the planes out of FLL, PBI, and maybe a little of MIA.

Great news! You are really getting it done now. It’s actually pretty amazing what a small antenna can do inside the house if it is placed in a window. Good to hear from you. I’ve been peeking at your stats every now and then to see how you are doing.

Depends on the glass.
I’ve been running my portable receiver at a temp location. Placing the antenna in front of a window halved the performance compared with 0.5m into the room.