FlightAware Discussions

Two faulty USB Sticks. Is it possible?

What is the easiest way to check if a FlightAware Pro Stick Plus is not faulty?
I have spent days to find out what went wrong with my ADS-B setup.
I had a configuration with Raspberry Pi Zero W and an RTL-SDR V3 dongle working fine so far without any issues. Then I decided to replace the RTL-SDR dongle with the FlightAware Pro Stick Plus. Why? because I have read many good comments about it. Better reception and better filtering.
As soon as I replaced the stick, problems started, no reception at all. I tried reimaging the SD memory many times, replaced the power supply, different antennas and Raspberry Pi Zeros too. No success, no aircraft reception. Then I though the rtl1090a windows program will check what the stick is receiving. The messages received from this program are:

1 RTLSDR device(s) found.
Index:0; Cannot read device info:-12
Cannot find device: ser=
And then the program stops.
Furthermore, and strangely enough my Windows 10 laptop cannot “see” the stick in the USB port.
So, I thought the stick has hardware problem and I decided to ask for a replacement from my supplier in U.K. So recently I received the replacement. I repeated all the above setups and testing methods with exactly the same results, no reception.
Am I doing something wrong? Can someone help me on this issue? I will greatly appreciate any possible help.
I have some photos of the stick for comparison, but I don’t know how to upload in the forum.

Does your system work correctly if you swap back to your previous dongle with no other hardware changes?

Are you using a piaware sdcard image or a different sdcard image?

Hi
Does your system work correctly if you swap back to your previous dongle with no other hardware changes?
In most cases the system works after switching back to RTL-SDR
Are you using a piaware sdcard image or a different sdcard image?
I am using piaware image

“most” is a bit worrying, I wonder what else is going on.

Please try this with the problematic prostick connected:

lsusb
lsusb -t
dmesg | grep usb | tail -30
dmesg | grep -i voltage | tail -30
sudo systemctl stop dump1090-fa
sudo rtl_test -s 2400000
   (wait for 30 seconds, control-C)

and post the output (you can surround it with ``` at the start and end to format it better)

Usually when replacing a normal dongle with one that has amplifier, probably there is too much gain and the receiver gets overloaded.

Now, that should not affect the services starting or anything like that.

“most cases” mean “not all the time”.
What’s in the logs if it is not working?

This type of problems are often caused by power supply

The dongle is not faulty! I made a new PIAware image and now the FlightAware Pro Stick Plus is receiving aircraft positions with a lamda/4 antenna inside the house. This is great news!!! Then connected to my hi-gain (homemade 1090 1m colinear outside) antenna and it stop receiving. It’s clearly gain issue and has to be reduced. What are the possible gain settings and commands? Furthermore, I cannot connect to PI via SSH using putty at port 22. I get “connection refused”. Need assistance again here.

sudo touch /boot/ssh
sudo reboot

I think there is more to it. Some tips for you to follow are listed above.

This needs to be entered on command line and will work only if local access with a screen is available. Just to complete it :slight_smile:

Thanks, but I cannot connect via windows putty application in order to be in linux enviroment. The PI is running PIAware from image. No SSH used so far to have access to PI

Then yank the sdcard out, put it in another computer and create a file called ‘ssh’ in the boot folder. Shove it back into the pi and boot. Or, plug a keyboard into the pi and type the commands in from above. Or, the silver-spoon approach which explains things much more eloquently than I:

or

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Great, thanks for your help!, I can connect now via SSH-Putty to my PI. Now I have to experiment with the gain in order to work with my external 1m colinear antenna.

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What about pasting the information @obj was seeking from above? I doubt gain is your only issue.

I will, but at the moment I’m trying to figure out the best possible gain.
e.g. gain with value 0 picks airplanes overhead with the high gain antenna outside.

I adjust gain to maximize the spread between my weakest signal (-29.3) and my strongest signal (-1.1) as shown on @wiedehopf graphs1090 24 hour output.

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I guess what I’m getting at is the fact that you appear to have a sucking chest wound, but are attempting to fix it with a band-aid and masking tape. Working on gain at this point is futile until you rule out other possibilities.

If you must, drop the gain about 17dB or so from where you had it with the RTL-SDR radio when using the FA Stick to get you in the ballpark. You could be having power issues for various reasons and not know it. This is why you need to test for that before wasting time trying to make an ostrich fly.

I followed your instructions. Here are the results:

Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0bda:2832 Realtek Semiconductor Corp. RTL2832U DVB-T
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

/: Bus 01.Port 1: Dev 1, Class=root_hub, Driver=dwc_otg/1p, 480M
|__ Port 1: Dev 2, If 0, Class=Vendor Specific Class, Driver=usbfs, 480M

[26033.417326] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: found a ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design’ in warm state
[26033.484878] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: will pass the complete MPEG2 transport stream to the software demuxer
[26033.485012] usb 1-1: media controller created
[26033.618920] usb 1-1: DVB: registering adapter 0 frontend 0 (Realtek RTL2832 (DVB-T))…
[26033.714607] rc rc0: Realtek RTL2832U reference design as /devices/platform/soc/20980000.usb/usb1/1-1/rc/rc0
[26033.714994] rc rc0: lirc_dev: driver dvb_usb_rtl28xxu registered at minor = 0, raw IR receiver, no transmitter
[26033.715323] input: Realtek RTL2832U reference design as /devices/platform/soc/20980000.usb/usb1/1-1/rc/rc0/input11
[26033.730846] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: schedule remote query interval to 200 msecs
[26033.739879] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design’ successfully initialized and connected
[26036.430615] dvb_usb_v2: ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design:1-1’ successfully deinitialized and disconnected
[45395.938572] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: found a ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design’ in warm state
[45396.009574] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: will pass the complete MPEG2 transport stream to the software demuxer
[45396.009707] usb 1-1: media controller created
[45396.110235] usb 1-1: DVB: registering adapter 0 frontend 0 (Realtek RTL2832 (DVB-T))…
[45396.186866] rc rc0: Realtek RTL2832U reference design as /devices/platform/soc/20980000.usb/usb1/1-1/rc/rc0
[45396.187239] rc rc0: lirc_dev: driver dvb_usb_rtl28xxu registered at minor = 0, raw IR receiver, no transmitter
[45396.187505] input: Realtek RTL2832U reference design as /devices/platform/soc/20980000.usb/usb1/1-1/rc/rc0/input12
[45396.200683] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: schedule remote query interval to 200 msecs
[45396.209364] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design’ successfully initialized and connected
[45398.225155] dvb_usb_v2: ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design:1-1’ successfully deinitialized and disconnected
[58896.320399] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: found a ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design’ in warm state
[58896.391419] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: will pass the complete MPEG2 transport stream to the software demuxer
[58896.391545] usb 1-1: media controller created
[58896.507289] usb 1-1: DVB: registering adapter 0 frontend 0 (Realtek RTL2832 (DVB-T))…
[58896.593311] rc rc0: Realtek RTL2832U reference design as /devices/platform/soc/20980000.usb/usb1/1-1/rc/rc0
[58896.593694] rc rc0: lirc_dev: driver dvb_usb_rtl28xxu registered at minor = 0, raw IR receiver, no transmitter
[58896.593972] input: Realtek RTL2832U reference design as /devices/platform/soc/20980000.usb/usb1/1-1/rc/rc0/input13
[58896.607016] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: schedule remote query interval to 200 msecs
[58896.615625] usb 1-1: dvb_usb_v2: ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design’ successfully initialized and connected
[58898.530276] dvb_usb_v2: ‘Realtek RTL2832U reference design:1-1’ successfully deinitialized and disconnected

Found 1 device(s):
0: Realtek, RTL2832U, SN: 00001000

Using device 0: Generic RTL2832U
Detached kernel driver
Found Rafael Micro R820T tuner
Supported gain values (29): 0.0 0.9 1.4 2.7 3.7 7.7 8.7 12.5 14.4 15.7 16.6 19.7 20.7 22.9 25.4 28.0 29.7 32.8 33.8 36.4 37.2 38.6 40.2 42.1 43.4 43.9 44.5 48.0 49.6
[R82XX] PLL not locked!
Sampling at 2400000 S/s.

Info: This tool will continuously read from the device, and report if
samples get lost. If you observe no further output, everything is fine.

Reading samples in async mode…
Allocating 15 zero-copy buffers
lost at least 92 bytes
^CSignal caught, exiting!

User cancel, exiting…
Samples per million lost (minimum): 0
Reattached kernel driver

It appears your radio is disconnecting and reconnecting itself, unless that was you doing it manually?

Also the last test, you shut it down before it started running - that’s one of the main ones to see.

My thoughts are this and I could be completely wrong: I think you have a power issue, or are perhaps using a poor quality cable between the Pi and the radio. Even though it’s not chirping undervoltage, it may be close enough to where you didn’t have the issue with the RTL-SDR radio but see it only after adding the FA radio with it’s increased power requirements (remember it has a built-in amplifier that needs extra juice). Funny things happen with bad cables and/or poor power supplies with these setups. If you have some backup cables to try, that may be a start.

Thanks! I wanted to rule out any USB connection problems since you had trouble on your Windows machine. That all looks healthy, though, so adjusting the gain would be the next step.

That is normal, it is librtlsdr detaching the kernel driver when it wants to use the device (and reattaching it afterwards)

I stopped it manually. I followed odj: instructions step by step. Then I started again dump1090