LNA Question

Need some help with getting a LNA setup!

Currently I am running a PI3 with a USB Hub (external powered) connected to it. Plugged into that are 2 NooElec NESDR Smart V4’s. On both of the V4’s I have a FlightAware Dual 978-1090 Filter. From there, both SDR’s have a 3 foot 50 ohm low loss coax cable running to a FlightAware 978 antenna and a 1090 antenna on the other! I live in a 3 story apartment building with my apartment being on the bottom floor. I have this connected in my garage with the antennas as far up as I can have them!

I want to get better range! I have no idea how my performance is right now. I am a noob at this. How do I look at that?

Looking at integrating an external inexpensive tee from eBay with a RTL-SDR Triple Filtered LNA. But you can only use LNAs on 1090 correct? Would I be able to power the external tee from my USB hub?

Correct me if I am wrong but it would be setup as,

Antenna → LNA → External Tee → Filter → Dongle → Pi correct?

Thank you in advance for the help!

First check on heywhatsthat.com about your max range based on terrain. If your current range is close to it, there is not much you can do.
Second check if you have obstacles close to you (trees, buildings). Most of these can be fixed only while putting the antenna higher

If both should give a better range/reception, then you can think on optimizing the setup. It then might depend on radio interferences close to you.

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If you know anyone on the upper floors, perhaps one of those might allow your receiver and antenna to share their space inside or outside. You might still be able to connect to your own wifi if there is adequate signal strength. Worth considering, as this will likely get above some building space and trees.

Foxhunter’s suggestion on running heywhatsthat.com will quickly tell you how your systems capability will be in either location. Range is primarily determined by the antenna height above ground and surrounding obstacles and the antenna gain. Based on what I have seen in my own systems, the antenna height is the prime factor in range. Installing the Low Noise Amplifier close or at the antenna before a cable run to the RTL-SDR receiver helps also. An improved receiver like the Airspy Mini or R2 for 1090 could help though at higher costs. Since the 978 signals are primarily local lower altitude, fancy receivers will not make any difference. Just remember, we are all noobs at this when we started. Learn and read the discussions, experiment, and see what works for you. Every location is unique. Enjoy the journey.

I agree with what those above have said. I just want to add that 1090MHz and 978MHz ADS-B and UAT messages respectively are sent on microwave frequencies at relatively low power, are very line-of-site, and are easily blocked by hills, mountains, buildings, trees, etc. An LNA will increase the signal strength of the messages that you receive as well as improve your signal to noise ratio, but it can’t amplify signals that were never received in the first place because your antenna is surrounded by buildings. And if you live in a small valley surrounded by hills you’re not going to get very much range anyway even if your antenna’s raised higher.

Regarding your questions, your order is correct: antenna, LNA, bias power supply (bias-T), filter, SDR, computer. Whether the particular LNA that you get is for 1090MHz only or will also work on 978MHz depends on what you buy. If you get an external bias-T power supply board you can power it by connecting whatever source of 5VDC you like including from a USB cable. In face, I’m doing just that as I don’t have any RTL-SDR dongles that can put out 5VDC over the coax. My board has two screw terminals to connect the power source and I’m using the red and black wires from a USB cable. It’s plugged into a USB port on my Pi. It works great.

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