FlightAware Discussions

Is There a Better Antenna?

I have the Flightaware Amazon kit with the small indoor antenna.

I would like to know if the 5 dBi antenna I see on Ebay quite often is significantly better than the antenna that comes with the indoor antenna?

I am two miles from a very significant airport. While my stats are quite good, I would like to improve them.

Is the 5 dBi antenna a good way to go? Or is there a better option?

                                                   Fred

The antenna from FA is much better than the indoor antennas.

You’ll have to get appropriate cabling as well.
I’d recommend any of the following offerings:

3’ Coax: https://amzn.to/31CQ5oi
10’ Coax: https://amzn.to/2H2oFQX
15’ Coax: https://amzn.to/2Z52boH
25’ Coax: https://amzn.to/2KygcXD
36’ Coax: https://amzn.to/2KzYuDh
50’ Coax: https://amzn.to/31xFkDM

By the way there is no “Flightaware amazon kit”, those are different from supplier to supplier, FA does not offer any kits.

Anyway if you don’t want to spend the money, you can significantly improve your current antenna by cutting it to the correct length:
How to improve performance of whip antenna of DVB-T

I started my FA journey with a similar “kit” which included the indoor antenna.

I screwed it off and replaced it with a piece of copper wire of the required length. Even this gave me an improvement of approx 30% overall

Which 5dB antenna from ebay? There are several, not all of which are any good. I have the one called “COL1090/5-H Vinnant” which has been very good so far.

I have tested a couple of eBay antennas listen as 1090MHz (black plastic cover, adjustable angle) and they were worse than the piece of wire cut at the proper length.
The only antenna that works as advertised, in my experience, is the FA antenna.

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The 5dB outdoor Flightaware antenna will likely improve reception from the 1/4 wave or stock SDR type antenna even if used indoors. The first step to improve coverage with any antenna is to have it placed outside and above obstacles like trees, buildings, etc.

If you need feedline (between SDR and antenna) @wiedehopf’s post above has lengths of quality LMR240 with the proper connectors already installed, I would recommend these. Always get extra length too so there is a bit of slack.

The next step to increase range is a preamplifier and filter combo at the antenna as well. A bias-T and power supply (indoors likely close to your dongle/SDR) powers the preamp. This mitigates feedline losses, interference from cell towers, and brings up weaker signals.

One step at a time though, it’s quite interesting to see the effect of improvements as you go.

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I performed some side-by-side tests of various readily available and low(er) budget antenna a couple years ago and Akos was kind enough to compile the data and post to his blog if you are interested in seeing the results of real-world tests using identical hardware at the same time/location:

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TWO RUBBISH ANTENNAS I HAVE TRIED

Rubber-Ducky-R2
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First I used Stanislav Palo’s 5/8 antenna (via ebay) and was very satisfied;
tested vs FA antenna: no big difference at my location …
And since March 2018 his VINNANT COL1090/5-S (for 28,53 €) is in use, even better … :slightly_smiling_face:
I can recommend Stanislav’s antennas.

I am using this one since a few months and it delivers excellent results with the blue Pro Plus FA stick.

It comes with a measurement report. Even indoor i had a peak message rate of 1300/second
Currently it’s limited due to a move. I will mount it outdoor later, then i will need to reduce gain of the stick.