Upgraded to PiAware v7.1, getting poor reception/distance

So I decided to update and upgrade my RasberryPi running FlightAware Pro Stick USB stick. It looks like the upgrade blew away something that effected the ability of the receiver to detect ADS-B over 5 miles. Before the upgrade I would get data as far as 50+ miles.

pi@dragonrx:~ $ ls -ltr /etc/default/dump1090-fa*
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2311 Sep  6 04:06 /etc/default/dump1090-fa.pre-v6-upgrade
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2311 Feb 25 18:28 /etc/default/dump1090-fa

A quick DIFF doesnt show and differences between the old dump1090-fa file and the new one…

pi@dragonrx:~ $ diff /etc/default/dump1090-fa /etc/default/dump1090-fa.pre-v6-upgrade
pi@dragonrx:~ $

As well as I do not see a backup for the old piaware.conf

pi@dragonrx:~ $ ls -ltr /etc/piaware.conf*
-rw-r----- 1 root piaware 388 May 23  2021 /etc/piaware.conf
pi@dragonrx:~ $

Here is the corrent PiAware.conf

# This file configures piaware and related software.
# You can edit it directly or use piaware-config from the command line
# to view and change settings.
# If /boot/piaware-config.txt also exists, then settings present in
# that file will override settings in this file.
allow-auto-updates yes   # updated by fa_piaware_config
allow-manual-updates yes   # updated by fa_piaware_config

And here is the current dump1090-fa config

# dump1090-fa configuration
# This is sourced by /usr/share/dump1090-fa/start-dump1090-fa as a
# shellscript fragment.

# dump1090-fa won't automatically start unless ENABLED=yes

# SDR device type. Use "none" for a net-only configuration
# serial number or device index of device to use (only needed if there is more than one SDR connected)
# Initial receiver gain, in dB. If adaptive gain is enabled (see below) the actual gain
# may change over time

# Adjust gain to try to achieve optimal dynamic range / noise floor?
# Target dynamic range in dB (leave blank to autoselect based on SDR type)
# Reduce gain when loud message bursts from nearby aircraft are seen?
# Gain range to allow when changing gain, in dB (empty = no limit)

# Turn on options to reduce load on slower CPUs, at the expense of slightly worse decoder performance.
# Setting "auto" will enable these options only if the CPU appears to be a slow CPU (currently this
# means armv6 only, e.g. Pi Zero)
# Local wisdom file used to select DSP implementations; uses built-in ranking if the file is missing

# Correct CRC errors where possible

# Receiver location, used for some types of position decoding. Provide the location as
# signed decimal degrees. If not given here, dump1090 will also try to read a receiver
# location from /var/cache/piaware/location.env (written automatically by PiAware, if installed)
# Maximum range, in NM. Positions more distant than this are ignored. No limit if not set.

# Network ports to listen on for connections

# Accuracy of location written to JSON output

# Additional options can be added here:

# If OVERRIDE_OPTIONS is set, only those options are used; all other options
# in this config file are ignored.

# This is a marker to make it easier for scripts to identify a v6-style config file

Thoughts or suggestions?

How did you upgrade to PiAware 7.1 and what version were you using before?

Jaymot, v3.8 was the previous version I was running with the FlightAware Pro Stick. And the upgrade happened during the apt upgrade process.

(1) Previous version being 3.8, your OS version sure is one or two steps behind current version (Bullseye).

What is output of following command?

lsb_release -sc

(2) Upgrade from 3.8 to 7.1 is too big a jump, and likely to have problems.

Cleanest, easiest, and long-term solution is to burn a SPARE microSD card with Piaware SD card image ver 7.1, then slip-out old microSD card from Pi, and slip-in the newly written spare one and power up.

root@dragonrx:~# lsb_release -sc

That didn’t answer my question. How did you upgrade? Reburned your SD card with the 7.1 image or just changed repositories from Buster to Bullseye then updated?

Sorry, apparently my edit didn’t take. This was a straight “apt upgrade” from the command line. I did not change repo’s

If you started with the PiAware 3.8 image which was probably Debian Jessie and updated such that it’s now reporting that you have Buster it sounds like the system may be hosed. Best thing is what abc567 said: burn the PiAware 7.1 image to a spare SD card, make a note of your PiAware unique identifier, power off your feeder, swap SD cards, power it back up and configure PiAware for your latitude, longitude, antenna height and unique identifier. That will take care of any surrent operating system or software issues that might be going on.

If you still have poor range after that, check all your coax connections to make sure none have come loose.

Although effort can be made to debug the problem, but even after fixing it, it will never be as clean and long-term solution as reimaging a SPARE microSD card with

Latest piaware SD card image 7.1 (Bullseye),

Raspberry Pi OS Bullseye (download page), then make package install of dump1090’fa and piaware version 7.1


Well I think I narrowed it down to it not being an OS/Piaware issue. So I have two NOOELEC 1090 and I had tried switching them out, both gave the same results, hense my suspicion it might be a software issue. However, I decided to try the 978Mhz antennas, just to see, even though they are tuned to the wrong frequency.

Once I did the boards lit up, and now dump1090-fa is tracking 20+ planes. So I guess both of the 1090 antennas went bad, so as a test I dug out a HackRF and threw the Nooelec 1090’s on it, and sure enough barely any signals. Odd, but at the moment using the wrong tuned antennas, I am getting close to what I was getting prior.

I’m still going to upgrade using the SD card method, but just damn odd two lose to antenna at the same time.

Oh well lesson learned, fully test the hardware first.

That sort of thing happens more often than you’d think: a piece of hardware decides to fail just when people are doing an OS update so they naturally think the update is what broke their system rather than suspecting a hardware issue. Glad you got it figured out anyway.

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Make a DIY Spider antenna to use as reference in such situations. Spider is a solid reference with a moderate performance. It is very easy to make.


QUICK SPIDER - No Soldering, No Connector



To connect Spider to the Dongle, you will need one of the following pigtails also.

pigtail-F-female to SMA-male- RG316


pigtail-F-female to SMA-male- RG174

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You may want to try setting this to no to reproduce your pre-v6 settings.

(In theory, upgrades from pre-v6 should have already set that and only fresh installs should be defaulting to yes - not sure what went wrong - dump1090/upgrade-config at a13356d801e75d17c15de5737fe0fc0d28a977e9 · flightaware/dump1090 · GitHub)

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