FlightAware Discussions

Performance Comparison

I have a FlightAware tracker. There is a site 1 mile from me that has a Pi Aware. The other site seems to get significantly better coverage. I can not imagine his antenna is higher than mine, but it is possible. I live on the highest point in the county and have the antenna on a 10’ pole ontop of my 3-1/2 story house. Most homes in the area are 1-1/2 stories. Is there a way to get antenna height information for other sites? - and if it is not an antenna placement issue, does the Pi Aware perform better than a FlightAware tracker?

It may not be antenna height. There could be many reason.
1 less interference from electrical noise (cell towers, even my bedroom tv jams my bedroom setup, power lines, cheap noisy electrical equipment- LEDs etc)
2. better shielding on the dongle and RPI.
3 better dongle, eg. Airspy, Mode S beast or Radarcape
4 use on a decent LNA
5 better filter. A cavity filter and narrower LC filter.
6 better quality USB power supply
7 optimised gain settings
8 better antenna (Tuned antennas can act as filters on their own).
9 better coax (shielding wise not loss wise)

I believe that the trackers are designed for reliability and stability rather than outright performance.

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I feel with the height that you are at you are most likely about as high as going to be useful. The main reason that someone wants to be higher is to clear obstructions. So using my own location as an example, I “need” to be about 100 feet in the air as I live in the middle of a 90 foot high pine forest and I already have the tower for internet access.

But as an better example. My live feeder I can see about 250 miles out and about 110 planes. When I am building a new feeder inside, I might get 5 planes. When I do a quick outside test (and the same height as when I am inside I jump up to 25 planes and that is just moving it outside my house walls (just normal sheetrock and vinyl siding) .

When I was at my parents house in the city, just being on the roof top was giving me about the same line of sight that being on my tower at home.

As Jon was saying above me, most of what will help a site is the hardware itself and for me the dongle (airspy mini) an LNA, and a good antenna (official one from flightaware worked well for me from amazon)

To directly answer the question, no there is no a simple way to get the height from the locations near you. Seems like a minor oversight on the status page as you can more or less see where they are. You might be able to hack something together from the MLAT client as it needs to know the location and height of everyone around you. One hack might be to check on your neighbors feeder and see how many other receivers they are in sync with. When I check the people around me the receivers with a high range tend to sync with more receivers.

Example, I sync with about 280 other receivers per the status page. Another side that gets about the same as me is synced with 270. A smaller site that can only see out about 100 miles is synced with about 80.

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Some receivers have better dynamic range and can “count” both close planes, strong signal, and far away planes, low signal.
If you are in a location where that happens, then upgraded receivers can help.
In my case, I am right under one of the major “highway in the sky” where lots of planes fly almost overhead, lots of high signals that might overload the far away ones.

So I had to invest in a better receiver (airspy mini first and now an airspy R2) and maybe because of that I am the highest “performer” in my area.

Lately there are less planes anyway, only lots of GA, so that makes another difference.

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