Not sure what happened here with my PiAware?

Hi all. I’ve been running my PiAware since Nov 18. Early on, I was getting fairly low numbers of flights, even though I’m literally 20min south of YOW and 15min north of the busy flight corridor along the St Lawrence River.

Eventually I was up to 110 to 180 flights per day - not unhappy with those numbers at all, and all was tickety-boo. (did I just say that?)

Had a “crash” one day that was unrecoverable. Had to re-image my SD card. I had saved my config file, so it was a simple re-flash and copy over the working init file.

Since then, I’m back to 10 to 40 flights per day. Pretty sure that’s a load of malarky - we had a busy Christmas season of people flying south :slight_smile:

Nothing has changed in terms of location, antenna…

I’m a reasonably technical guy for programming, but not so much on the receiver/antenna side.

Anyone have any ideas what might be wrong?

As a start describe your antenna / setup. Or make some pictures.

How would you debug a program without the program? :stuck_out_tongue:

Nothing changed would most likely be a bad cable connection. Could also explain why at first you didn’t get good reception, it got better and then worse again. So you can unplugging the cable and plugging it back in.
If you have a small whip antenna it may be internally defect, those are almost all of poor quality.

Or there is a source of electrical noise that is only on in winter? More likely a bad connection.

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Had a look at your site: jrpalmer ADS-B Feeder Statistics - FlightAware and based on stats from “Nearby sites” (robert schwartz 16NM, TigersEye 17NM) there certainly are a fair number of flights to track in your area.

I am guessing by your coverage, a basic indoor antenna is what is in use.

The issue you are facing may be as simple as a faulty antenna, cabling, or an incorrect adapter in use. (Reverse Polarity SMA vs SMA), but lacking any details, we are just speculating.

If you can the post details and/or photos of your set up, there are numerous people on the forum that are able to assist you in trouble shooting and solving your issue to get better ADS-B reception

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At the start of this hobby in 2013, I used DVB-T (black generic) and its whip. I was happy and satisfied, till one day suddenly the number of planes and max range dropped to very low values. I could not find what went wrong. I decided to move the antenna nearer to a window. While I was relocating the antenna, this is what happenned: (This incident launched me into DIY antenna making hobby :slight_smile: )

Here are the parts from Amazon.


Yes, I have double-checked that my son didn’t play around and install the 978MHz antenna :smile:

So, the antenna screws directly into the Flightaware receiver. Receiver into the Pi (I have tried multiple USB ports, no change. I have unscrewed and re-screwed the antenna onto the receiver.

I recognize that an inside antenna setup does NOT give me the widest possible range, and that running outside is a future plan. My goal is to get me back to the 180+ flights per day, up from the current 40.

The entire unit sits in a window ledge - right against the window. No electrical devices within 10’. It’s probably about 18" above grade in its current location, and has a wide open view West to SW.

If i remember correctly someone measured those antennas and they are tuned without the plastic sleave present.
So removing the plastic might improve reception. Do it at your own risk though.

Why the reception would change that much, no idea. Did you move it? Even a few cm or something beside it could change reception at 1090MHz.

Apart from that, just try the 978 MHz antenna, maybe it was mislabeled or just works better no telling.

Also try standing the pi on it’s side and make the antenna straight, so the pi and the dongle are not in the plane of the antenna. Reduces possible interference from the pi itself. Also the antenna has more free room around it, antennas generally like that.

If the pi is standing on its side you can also experiment with a wire sticking out 6.8cm from the dongle. Unscrew the antenna and stick a wire in the SMA connector, it will be your antenna.

If you are fancy you can bend some copper wire to make radials. Radials are just pieces of wire connected to the ground, the outer conductor of the SMA connector. How you hold them in place is up to your imagination :slight_smile:
Then you would basically have a spider antenna described in plenty of threads around here.

Here is how I have actually done it, but with a laptop and using a 90° USB bend (bend not needed with RPi, just make RPi stand vertical to make Pro Stick vertical)



4 radials made using two pieces of steel tie wire. More than 1 turn over sma female’s barrel can be provided for better hold



Use Steel Tie Wire OR Wires from Scrap Network Cable.



You folks are awesome.

As I like to do things in incrementals, I have started with turning the whole thing vertical - Pi, Receiver and Antenna are all in one nice straight line. Tip of the antenna is now about 11.25" off the windowsill. I can still play around with placement on the windowsill to find best spot.

As I was doing some electrical around the house just before Christmas, I had some leftover chunks of copper wire around. I have stripped 3 x approx 9" chunks which I will use as 3 individual radials - but I’ll try that after a day of trial in the current vertical mode.

I have not stripped the sleeve off … gives me the heebiejeebies (heh…I love using all these old words) as my perspective is that it was working, so let’s not go too crazy :smile:

I look forward to seeing the results of your very helpful suggestions!

Just as a short test sticking a piece of wire (2.67 inches long) in there without any radials is probably a good idea.
If the reception becomes better you know the Nooelec antenna is no good an you can start improving the new antenna with some radials :wink:

The radials are meant in conjunction not with the current antenna but just a piece of wire.
(It could improve the current antenna but that is more a shot in the dark than anything else)
It combines to one of these antennas:

The dimensions should be approximately as described here:
(Three Easy DIY Antennas for Beginners - #2 by abcd567)
or here:
(QUICK SPIDER - No Soldering, No Connector)

9" is much too long for radials :slight_smile:

Just making something like the style on this picture is your best bet :slight_smile:

Anyway good luck.

So, after 4hrs of absolutely nothing with the Pi/Receiver/Antenna upright, I went to phase 2.

I did cut a 2.67" length of copper - but as it was electrical, it was too thick of gauge and would not fit into the receiver.

So I took a 7" piece of electrical copper and wrapped it twice around the receiver as a radial at the base of the antenna (hangs out near horizontal 2.5" each side of the antenna). Suddenly better (and further) reception than ever before - as in holy crap, wow - I am actually getting MLAT which I was not getting before, and flights beyond 50miles out

Will monitor for a couple of hours before I take next steps.