FlightAware Discussions

New User - Question on Indoor Antenna

I just set up my PiAware with a ProStick Plus and a onelinkmore antenna today. Currently I have the antenna attached to an empty soup can sitting on my window sill in front of my desk. The furthest aircraft I have tracked is only 53nm. I am wondering if my computers could be interfering with the signal? I am pretty much limited to an indoor antenna setup, but I am super new to all of this and pretty much know nothing about radio signals and best practices. My thought was that the window would be a good location cause that offers the best “line of sight” for the aircrafts I see on a daily basis, but if computers are a big interference then where I have it right now is probably less than ideal.

Maybe it is just because I have a cheap antenna, but I feel like I should be able to get out to 100nm. I am on the second (top) floor of a condo complex if that makes any difference.

The best thing about the cheap mag base antennas is that they take up very little space in your rubbish bin.
They are fine to get you started, but as you’ve discovered, you’ve outgrown it already.
To get an idea what sort of performance level to target, have a look at your User Page and see the performance of your neighbors.

Yes - that makes a difference. When it comes to RF range, height is king.

Try moving the antenna around. If the glass has any thermal properties (reflected, tinted etc.), it may not be very transparent to RF.

 

How to improve performance of whip antenna of DVB-T

 

 

My situation limits my antenna height too, but I saw a huge performance improvement when I switched to the FlightAware outdoor antenna. This is the mounting setup I used:

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I may have to pick one of these up eventually. This is my current setup

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What is that mesh made of?

Also see the post about improving those antennas, you really want to shorten the whip to 65 mm or so.

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That is a just a regular window screen, the other side to the left is where I had it with no screen but that is closer to my computers so I thought it’d be better away from my computers. The issue with this antenna is that it is spiraled in the middle so not sure how to go about cutting it down to 65-69 mm accurately

Flightaware antenna as shown above hung with piece of nylon fishing line from my curtain rod works fine for me. It performs almost as well as my outside antenna mounted on the roof of single story house.
I run two piaware setups full time and that eliminated any switching to make my comparison,
Indoor antenna is behind a plastic window screen.
I even get decent range in the direction opposite the window with no real path through the house that direction.

Yeah, but what is it? If it’s conductive, it’ll be an effective RF shield.

Feels like it may be metal. Moved back to original position and my messages went from 130/s to 40/s.

No need to cut the whip. Unscrew the whip from base and use a thin steel or copper wire as whip. Wind few turns of thin wire on threaded stud and cut the wire to 67mm. See photo below.

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Oh I like this! Any major difference between steel and copper? May run out to home depot in a little and try this! I just got set up yesterday, so I don’t want to break the bank on state of the art equipment quite yet :stuck_out_tongue:

 

No difference.

You can also use one of the wires from an scrap network or phone cable.
 

My first antenna was the same kind of setup, a tiny mag mount on a coffee tin on a windowledge. I was getting around 100 NM with it. However a friend of mine had the exact same antenna (I loaned it to him) near a window upstairs and got just 1 aircraft a few NM away. But when he moved the same setup into the attic he was getting over 100 NM like I was.

It looks like the wall construction, window material, adjacent houses, etc, have a large impact on performance for indoor antennas and I suspect that’s relevant in your case. If you can find a way to put the antenna high up outside – through an upstairs window perhaps – just temporarily and see what difference that might make so you can plan your next change.

Just went out and got some steel wire but I think I got it a little too think, couldn’t bend it very easily so I didn’t have a good attachment to the base. I’ll stick with my current setup for time being. Currently reading almost 200 messages a second, just don’t have crazy distance.

Yeah I may try playing around with a few different positions around the house. I am getting a lot of messages which is cool, just don’t have crazy range only getting about 60nm right now. I am in a condo complex so there are quite a few buildings around.

If you have a scrap network cable it has several thin wires in it. You can cut and use one of these wires.

 

Trial Run Results for Three Types of Whip Antennas

 

 

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offtopic
The power button on my computer case is broken and I have no idea how to fix it. Nice computer case except for this button.

@rugomol’s and my computer cases are TWINS :smiley:

Both are identical models of AUSUS
My case’s power button is still surviving :slightly_smiling_face:

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