FlightAware Discussions

Is the RTL-SDR Dongle any good?

I have had a horrible experience on Amazon from Flightaware shipping me defective dongles, lousy customer service and making me go through hoops to have them replaced. I am considering going with another product and this RTL-SDR dongle was recommended to me by some guy at Adsbexchange. How do these dongles compare with the Blue (w Filter) Flightaware dongle.
Please feel free to make other recommendations.
Thank You

I have one of these.
It was particularly useful in identifying all the unwanted signals that were being amplified by my LNA. I can hardly get a signal on my mobile phone, but the ADS-B antenna seems to find it without any problem!
That said, if you are not near phone towers or broadcast transmitters, you may need a filter (Which is the logical progression if you are going to hooked by this “hobby”).

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Your question is very specific, so the answer is that they compare badly.

Taking a broader approach, the RTL-SDR dongle is an excellent receiver that can be used for a vast number of applications. The FA Blue can’t.

The FA Blue is a single purpose product that is very good for what it is sold for.

Does that answer you question?
(You didn’t specify your intended application)


Thanks. I would be using it exclusively for Flightaware or Flightradar 24 and nothing else.

In your above statement, better replace or with and.
One Pi with one dongle can simultaneously feed as many sites as you want.

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@HottubCowboy I have emailed you regarding your concerns. I’m sorry your experience wasn’t positive.

Please understand that due to global pandemic we have limited the number of staff in the FlightAware offices for our team’s health and safety. This means that you may see shipping delays. We appreciate your patience as we replace your Pro Stick Plus.

As far as dongles go it’s excellent but, for ADS-B, it benefits greatly from an amp and filter.

By itself, it beats a no-name dongle by a wide margin, but not a properly functioning FA Pro+.


I am well aware of the ongoing pandemic as I am based in Hong Kong…at China’s doorstep and work for the local airline here. I was shipped a defective item and instead of trying to assist me or resolve the matter, your staff decided to be rude and make the situation a lot worse. I have not received any email from you and am surprised that you have my email …as 8 hours ago the excuse for not shipping the replacement was because you did not have my email. I could have been notified via amazon messaging but your people didn’t even bother to do that.

I may be missing something here…but if you ordered from Amazon, you deal with Amazon for returns and replacements. At least this is how I deal with them.

Usage support only would be an FA issue.

Also, if you go with the RTL-SDR Blog dongle, you are better off ordering directly from them, since you are in HK.


In that case, out of the box the FA Blue will out perform the RTL-SDR V3.
If you add the matching RTL-SDR filter/amp, it will have the edge.

Multiple defective dongles? That sounds very unlikely.

That’s no more, unfortunately, unless he already has one or can buy one second hand.

Ah crap.
I was going to order another pair.

Try their wideband version with a dark blue FA filter. It uses a chip with very low NF.

I have both here, just waiting for an opportunity to ‘deploy’. :wink:


I ordered two of them and one was faulty.

Flightaware is the seller on Amazon and the item is currently out of stock which is why Amazon is unable to ship me one (that’s what they claim). Fulfillment and shipping are from the seller (FA) and not Amazon hence I was asked to call Flightaware which I did as I was not getting any response to my messages sent via Amazon messaging. After the phone call, I was still given a runaround until I left negative feedback about my experience with the seller.

Thanks for the tip on the RTL but esmatthews has reached out to me via email and is helping me resolve this issue.

Perhaps different Amazon sites operate differently. I use Amazon Canada.

On Amazon Canada it clearly states “Sold by Flightaware and fullfilled by Amazon”. When I had problems in the past I dealt with Amazon, and they either refunded or replaced the item.

This is why I prefer to deal with them, unless the price differential is substantial.


Thanks. I am from Dallas, TX but currently based in Hong Kong and Singapore. We don’t have a local Amazon in HKG hence the only option is using the US store. The problem with Amazon UK, CA and several others is that they or their sellers often do not ship to HKG.

@HottubCowboy I’m happy to help get this issue resolved and again I sincerely apologize for the experience you’ve had. I’ll be replying to you via email with updates as I have them.

FlightAware hardware is not considered an essential product by Amazon right now. As such it is not prioritized when we send it to their fulfillment centers. We have hundreds of units of all of our products at Amazon and showing as “received”, but they are not yet available for sale or replacement. We’ve repeatedly reached out to them to list them for sale and received no response.

I assure you, we are trying out best. If I can do anything else for you please reach out to me via email.