My first two weeks of ADS-B tracking - I'm pleased with this

Two weeks ago today (technically I know it’s now Saturday morning but I’ve not been to bed yet so I still think of it as Friday), I fired up a Raspberry Pi3 and installed the PiAware image using my old NooElec dongle and a really really bad aerial. An amateur radio 6m/2m/70cms vertical with around 20m of RG213. I was lucky to see anything.

On the Saturday, I deleted the image and started again using the ADS-B Receiver Project image and set up feeders to all four sites it supports. I built a quarterwave groundplane aerial, hung it in my window and watched my figures go up, no doubt helped by the preamp/filter which arrived the same day.

On the Wednesday afternoon, I put up an external Moonraker collinear and watched my aircraft count go up but the range go down so on the Thursday afternoon I swapped the RG213 for EcoFlex15 and saw the range go back up and the aircraft count go even higher.

On the Friday, one week after starting to play around with this tracking lark, I received reports from over 3,000 aircraft for the first time.

The Saturday after, I received the latest RTL-SDR dongle so ran the gain calculation thing for a few hours in the afternoon and my aircraft count was much lower - It does that to the stats.

That was the end of the first week.

The second week, it’s just pickled along with no changes to the setup, averaging over 3,000 aircraft/day with Friday being the highest at 3,132.

Tomorrow I’m raising the aerial another 10ft so that it’s going to be 37ft AGL and moving the preamp to the masthead. Beyond that, I’ll be getting into diminishing returns so I can’t see any other upgrades in the immediate future.

I’ve rekindled my interest in aviation (to the extent that when I hear a plane overhead, I’m rushing to the computer screen), I’ve used some of my much neglected *nix skills, I’ve learned some new *nix stuff and I’ve even been able to tweak some scripts. I’ve also got VRS working on an old XP computer I was hoping to retire. So much for that plan :wink:

I’ve also discovered a great forum with a lot of people keen to help and offer useful advice. Thanks everyone for your patience with what may have been some dumb questions this last fortnight.

So here’s a picture showing my stats for the last two weeks. Just because it looks good :smiley:

Great work – you are in a target rich environment!

–bob k6rtm

You’re right, Bob - This is a very good location. I’d just like a bit more to the west as I’m not seeing much traffic out that way. Perhaps raising the aerial tomorrow will help with that.

I’m pleasantly surprised how many callsigns I’m seeing on the forums and in the stats but I suppose it makes sense that there’s a lot of radio amateurs here.

73 Keith.

You figures are looking good Keith.
You will now probably spend many hours of tweaking an fiddling to squeeze every last bit of performance from your station.
Aka experimentation ,which is what amateur radio is all about.
Glad to see all is well
73 Mike, M0RRQ .

Congratulations Keith all’s looking good. Suspect that you are nearing the limit for your area but the last few need squeezing out.
73 G8GGI

Thanks folks, I do like faffing around with aerials.

Aerial work completed today.

Pole taken down, sleeve and extra 10ft added on top. Preamp moved to masthead.

Initial impressions are good, extra range added in all directions, minimum 50 miles to the east and west and it looks like the volume of messages has gone up as well. It needs to run for a few days so I can get a good comparison but it’s certainly looking good. A lot of the small gaps are now filled in.

And this is on the day before a massive storm is due to hit!

My 30ft lattice tower is clearly visible in the background but that’s only got RG213 going to it and it’s due to get my Hexbeam back on there so I’m not using it. The idea of putting the ADS-B aerial on the top with a long stub mast and the length of LDF-450 I’ve got coiled up in the shack has never crossed my mind. Honest :wink:

Looking good kiethma,
How does the lna fit in the mast mountable enclosure from uputronics, easily ?

Reasonably easily. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures so I can’t show what I did.

I drilled a total of six holes on the bottom plate of the enclosure, stood the amplifier on one of the sides and cable tied it tightly to the metal plate. Coax tails came through the two remaining holes and into the amp. All holes were filled with silicon on each side to seal them and then it was left for a day for the silicon to go off before putting it up.