FlightAware Discussions

Indoor antenna or Outdoor antenna (but up in attic?)

Hello Everyone:
Working on getting a box to join the club here.
I can mount the outdoor antenna on my chimney, or I can mount the indoor antenna on a window sill (2nd floor), or possibly mount the outdoor antenna inside (way up) in my attic as I have mounted my digital TV antenna (it’s about 30 feet from ground level). My digital TV antenna, 30 miles from North Philly, gets great reception and a better picture than my Comcast line. It would be easier to mount in attic and run cable down my conduit lines into the basement then up to the receiving box.
I have good wireless, but can use Cat6 cable to tie into router.
Obviously the outside antenna on chimney is best, but if I run into trouble with the install I’d like to have a back-up plan and take this risk into consideration.
So, here is my question: should I go with outside antenna and possibly install into attic if I can’t get the outside install done OR just get a window antenna and really play it safe?

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There is no “window” antenna specifically. You can mount any antenna close to a window.

I was using my device before the move indoor in the middle of the room on upper floor. I even needed to move it away from the window because it gives decreased results.

Now after the move, the whole setup is outdoor as i had already an outdoor antenna in use
Reception is the same but i achieve this with a lot lower gain (40.2 compared to 49.6 before).

So the improvement is not that much “visible”, maybe in summer once the traffic increases.

I feel moving the antenna to the attic was worth it and I’m in a single story house.

At first I had the antenna inside, at ground level, next to my desk. This was easy during the initial setup phase. But moving the antenna another ~8ft higher, into the attic, made a large improvement.

Probably personal preference, but it seems like an attic mounted antenna would reduce potential lightening issues vs. on the chimney, so I’m ok with the reduced range. Plus the attic install was simple and did not require sealing up holes from running the antenna externally.

  • Raspberry Pi 3b+
  • Flight Aware Pro Stick Plus
  • FlightAware 1090 MHz ADS-B 26" antenna
  • Band-pass SMA Filter
  • 25ft of RF antenna cable

Last 30 day stats:

Have you tried bringing the devices closer together?

Yes, during testing, I had a 12" antenna cable on it and the pi was strapped to a clamp just below the antenna. FA pro Stick Plus was plugged directly into the pi. So it was portable. Ran an extension cable and it was using wifi at the time (now hard wired.)

Everything was mounted at the top of a 4ft. piece of 1" PVC piping. I did not do any actual logging, but did try it in different locations for a few days at a time and did not notice a reduction in my average statistics, when moving the pi further away from the antenna.

I did notice a slight reduction in the average statistics between placing it on top of the roof (barely above roof peak) and then placing it in the attic, in the roof peak.

thank you for responding.
It looks like, from your comments and others, that the the attic install with outdoor antenna will work fine.
Again, thank you for your input.

Hi Mirage1Mitch:
Thank you for responding with your comments and information.
The lightening strike probability is real in my area. The tree out back took a direct hit about 7 years ago. I’d have to ground the wire, obviously, with that in mind if done outside.
I have RG-6 quad shielded cable so signal loss will be low to the box during the attic install.
I’ll let you know how i make out.
take care.

Hi Foxhunter:
I have a spool of RG-6 quad cable so I can custom cut the installation including putting on the connectors.
It would be about 25ft as you stated.
Thank you for your input.

Why don’t you just put the pi in the attic.
25 ft of RG6 is relevant as far as ADS-B at 1090 MHz is concerned.
It’s not a huge loss if the coax is good quality, but it’s not nothing.
Anyhow if you want it easily accessible, you’ll need some coax i suppose.

Reception in the attic will depend a lot on the roof and insulation materials used.
As far as antennas go, the only good antennas available are all made for outdoor use, but they remain the only good antennas.

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Hi Mirage1Mitch:
Thanks for these additional comments.
I have plenty of 1" PVC piping that I can use too – good tip!
My location is on the direct path northbound to LGA as well as where the two northern loops to PHL converge into the final approach (off by about 5 degrees).
So this attic install should work out fine.
Thank you.

I’m not sure about WavyBay36’s situation, but my attic sees 135F+ temps in the summer. So that was the other reasoning for running the longer cable and leaving the pi indoors.

That’s absolutely the best solution. People get spooked by long cables for no reason, the ADS-B radio signal is digital narrow band, it has better resistance to noise compared to FM radio or TV signals.

If anything, you can add a LNA in the attic, to compensate for the losses trough the wood plywood and shingles. That attenuation is bigger than whatever attenuation the cable adds.
The receiver stick noise floor is better (lower) and decoding works better at lower temperatures too.

Hi Mirage1Mitch:
My attic has gotten to 115+. i have a temp sensor up there. The GE digital TV antenna has been holding steady for over 4 years now with the RG-6 quad cable with no booster. This line is split across two TVs.
Thanks for your comments.

Hi SoNic67:
Thank you for your feedback.
I do have a light (power) in the attic if i need to install a LNA up there. I’ll see how the stats pan out. If the stats look meager on the south side of the house, I can move it to the north side. i have conduit there too.

Depending on cooling the Raspi isn’t that sensitive.

During summer i had in afternoon hours temperatures up to 100F, but the Raspi never went above 140F, the difference to the morning hours were only 10-15F
And it has only the small heatsinks in a cheap default case. I opened the cover from time to time and the temperature went down as well.

So using a case with active cooling should work.
Edit: I was talking about the Raspi 3, for Model 4 the active cooling would be a must in this environment

It’s worth having an outside antenna if you can. Here’s a post I made when I moved my antenna outside from in the loft : How much better is an external antenna?

The improvement was significant.

For LNA’s you send the power trough the coax cable.

Hi Caius:
I read through your attached post. Tremendous physical and informations work you did.
Thank you for your comments.

I have two pi’s up in the roof, one on a colinear and one on a homebrew 5 element yagi. The antenna coax is no more than 3ft long and I monitor both on a spare PC. I noticed that some double glazing has a coating that does affect RF getting through which could be a problem for those with no roof access. Outdoor antennas would be better, but my 170NM+ (203 miles, 327 km) coverage on the yagi, is good enough and I’m happy. With the yagi I have noticed that it does pick up reflections from the houses opposite, so sometimes they (the houses) can be a blessing. Good luck everyone from Bristol UK.

This is exactly my experience.

Toronto airport is TOTALLY hidden behind one large high rise building when viewed from my apartment. In spite of this, my antenna inside my apartment picks planes on ground at Toronto CYYZ airport. I dont see any way the microwaves can penetrate and cross the large high-rise building with left-over signal strength above the threshold of the receiver. I think the only possibility is reflections from glazed glasses of buildings nearby.