Upgrading My Currant Feeder

Hi All,

I have been feeding my stats to a number of sites for a while now, and was looking to step up my game as much as i can.

My current setup is:
RPi4 4Gb → Flight aware pro stick (blue) → blue FA inline filter → 5m LMR400 cable → 6Dbi antenna on my roof.

Performance is pretty good and i am well inside my countries top 50 feeders on FA.

After looking at “your setup” thread it got me thinking, what else can i do to boost my performance in both range and messages per second.

What would be the ultimate setup if money was not a consideration?

I have seen the Air!Squitter mentioned and that seems to solve a lot of problems in one single appliance.

The other thought was to swap out some of my currant hardware and upgrade it leaving the antenna, cable and Pi4 in place.

So i was thinking along the lines of this for an upgrade:
RPi4 → Airspy HF+ → uputronics filtered preamp → 5m LMR 400 cable → Current antenna

Would this be the best route to take? Or would anyone like to make a few suggestions on what the upgrade should look like? Maybe i missed a few components, so happy for any suggestions.

I am happy to consider the Air!Squitter if you folks think that is the best upgrade \ device to run in order to maximise my setup.

Thank you in advanced.

I am running an Airsquitter. It can’t do miracles and it’s not outperforming an Airspy USB solution. What problems do you want to solve? If there aren’t any the Airsquitter would not help.

The price is extraordinary high, meanwhile you need to pay > 800 Euro if you need the full feature set. (including open data ports).
My Airsquitter is meanwhile operating with an Uputronics filtered LNA. For this you will also need an additional GPS antenna including a splitter which drives the cost up also.

First of all check what’s your max. range using heywhatsthat.com
If you’re already at max, the only suggestion is to replace the blue FA stick with an Airspy Stick followed by a filtered LNA

I am not sure if an Airspy HF+ would really be required or a good idea, i think an Airspy mini or Airspy R2 would be fine for you.

It would be a very good idea to check the receiver specification airspy hf+:

  • HF coverage between 9 kHz … 31 MHz
  • VHF coverage between 60 … 260 MHz

against the desired reception frequency (1090 MHz).
Then select the appropriate product (airpsy mini or R2, R2 has minimal benefits if any for 1090 MHz)

Don’t expect pretty much range out of the airspy mini, the range difference is usually pretty minimal.
But you can get usually better position rate near the borders.

What is the current antenna?

Also do this to judge the potential of the location: https://github.com/wiedehopf/tar1090#heywhatsthatcom-range-outline

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If you can, put the preamp at the antenna end of the co-ax :
RPi4 → Airspy HF+ → 5m LMR 400 cable → uputronics filtered preamp → Current antenna
It won’t make too much difference as your feeder cable is short but as you are looking for marginal improvements, it should give you 0.75dB improvement in noise figure over having the preamp at the other end of the co-ax.

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Cheers guys thanks for the quick reply.

I dont have any really. This setup i have now was the first one i had setup and i wanted to now see how far i could push it and upgrade some of the components or add more products into the setup to optimise it. I wanted to see if there was anything else i could add \ change out to enhance the setup. I did originally buy the current gear on not much research so thought i may not have bought the best gear i could at the time.

220NM from that website in most of the directions. +- 10NM. In tar1090 i am almost getting to the max but still i could optimise it a bit more. Ill also raise the mast a bit more off the roof as well to see if that helps over the next few weeks.

Its just a no name from china 6Bdi (VSWR is 1:5) and is tuned to 1090Mhz so it should be pretty good, but happy to take any suggestions on something better

This is what i wouldn’t mind gaining for an area of improvement for sure.

Ah ok so if i put the preamp up as close to the antenna (on the mast essentially) that would be better than at the other end inside near the pi?

5m of LMR400 have very low attenuation. (or comparable coax like M&P ultraflex 10 … or stuff like that, LMR400 is very stiff and unwieldy)

While it’s better to put the LNA at the antenna … the practical difference will likely be very very small or non-existant.

One thing i forgot to mention about the airspy: Better dynamic range, so you don’t have to balance very close by reception with aircraft far away.

Well if it’s a noname antenna i have no clue how good it is :slight_smile:
Anyhow no reason to suspect it’s a bad antenna, you just don’t know. (or did you analyze it?)

Mind posting a screenshot? (you can remove the range rings / dot in the settings)

If you do not have obstacles around you (other roof or trees close) it won’t change a lot. You will need a much higher position to really get an impact.

This is from the last few hours since i have had tar1090 running

Yeah good call right there. Maybe raising it will not make much difference.

I was thinking the same around how i would waterproof the amp up under the antenna. I think as you mentioned ill just put it at the other end of the LMR 400 cable and test it from there and see how it works out.

:slight_smile: me either haha
Would you suggest a branded one that i should buy if i was up for a new one? And is 6Dbi the right dbi for tracking 1090?

I wasnt able to analyse it (dont have the gear), just trusted the website listing :thinking:

With the airspy, should i be looking at the R2 or the mini? Is there any performance difference between them? Does the r2 have more power than the mini?

Yes, but as you’re using a relatively short length of good quality co-ax already, it probably won’t be worth the inconvenience. Your existing feeder loss is only going to be about 0.75dB. I doubt you will notice much difference in practice.

Best antennas i know of are made by DPD and vinnant, jetvision has good ones as well, the FA antenna isn’t bad either.
But i don’t think it’s reasonable in price to ship any of them … for what might be no difference.

I have two different antennas here. One is the 5dBi version made by Jetvision, the other one (currently in use) is the Vinnant 7.5dBi

Both were operating for a week at my Airsquitter and the difference is almost zero. With a Vinnant you’re not doing something wrong, it’s about half the price of the Jetvision.

You can read my testing (without real test results here:

My suggestion: If starting new, the Vinnant are absolutely ok.

Thanks all for the replies here. So in summing up i think this is the plan i will go with.

Purchase an airspy R2 (or mini), purchase a uptronics adsb filtered amp

Change out the setup to this:

Antenna → 5m LMR-400 cable → Uptronics Amp → Airspy R2 \ Mini → Pi4

How does that sound? Should i make any other changes to optimise the setup?

Also, would i be better to get the Airspy R2 or the Airspy mini? I am guessing they both will do a similar job in this instance.


Looks like the Uputronics Ceramic filter is out of stock just the normal SAW one is in stock, should i be waiting for the ceramic one to come back into stock or the SAW will work just as good?

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