NOTE: Those who dont want to make a DIY antenna, can order Flightaware’s antenna from Amazon
When DVB-T Dongle is purchased, a whip antenna is supplied with it. Every beginner uses this whip in his starter setup.
Improve the performance of this whip antenna by three simple steps given below:
(1) Whip is too long for 1090 MHz. Cut it to 67mm.
(2) Magnetic base provides an insufficient ground-plane. Enlarge ground-plane by placing the whip over a Metallic Can/Box/Plate. An added advantage of placing whip over an iron/steel can is that whip’s magnetic base will cling to the can and keep the whip stable & upright.
(3) Signal is weak indoors. Place whip near a window or in attic to get maximum signal.
Once your setup is up and running, you will be happy, but soon after you will want to increase your range. You can then try some easy and sure antenna, like Spider & Cantena. In next two posts below, there are “how to make” instructions for Spider & Cantenna.
Next step may be to venture through alluring coaxial antennas (coaxial cillinear, popularly known as coco, franklin, wire collinear with coils). These antennas are very alluring, as these are easy to make, and all postings on internet & youtube claim high gain excellent antenna. The problem shows up when these antennas are put to service, and give poor perfamance. Collinears are very hard to get right, and except for few lucky ones, most DIY collinear makers end up with a poor performing antenna.
**3 EASY ANTENNAS FOR BEGINNERS
The main disadvantages of stock antenna supplied with DVB-T USB Dongle are:
Problem (1): It has a very short lead. Due to this, in most cases the antenna cannot be placed at an optimum location.
Problem (2): The stock antenna is not optimized for 1090 Mhz.
SOLUTION FOR PROBLEM (1):
The short cable length can be overcome by connecting a MCX to F pigtail to the DVB-T USB Dongle, and connecting to the pigtail, the required length of commonly available RG6 cable with a DIY antenna at other end of RG6 cable.
(a) For RG6 coax lengths in excess of 5m/15ft, coax attenuation will be high, and an amplifier may become necessary.
(b) Even with short lengths of Coax, use of amplifier increases plane count & range.
SOLUTION FOR PROBLEM (2):
The non optimized antenna can be replaced by a DIY antenna which has a ¼ wavelength vertical whip connected to core of coax cable, and a ground plane connected to shield of coax. The ground plane can be formed by a disc, a number of horizontal radials, a number of slanting radials, or a food/drink can.
Below are 3 different easy antennas for beginners: Spider, Platenna, & Cantenna.
These all have a ¼ wavelength vertical whip connected to core of Coax cable, but use different methods of providing ground plane connected to shield of coax.