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This is a niche product for those who want to track planes using the ADSB signals most modern planes produce as they fly around the world. In the past you had to use very expensive dedicated hardware or cheap RTLSDR TV tuner USB sticks connected to a PC or a Raspberry P, with a suitable antenna. This unit replaces the RTLSDR tuner in the cheaper setups and does an amazing job. My original setup is a RPi with RTLSDR stick, active amplifier and a home made co-linear antenna. This setup gave me a reasonable range, picking up planes around 140 miles away. Just swapping out the tuner and amplifier with this unit (it has a built in amp) immediately gave me twice the number of signals picked up and a range increase of around 50 miles. I further enhanced this by using a Flightaware Filter
ADS-B 1090MHz Band-pass SMA Filter
and now get a range of around 230-240 miles. The attached picture shows the increase in messages and tracks after fitting the dongle (I added the filter after the first few hours as I already had it to hand). A benefit you can get with these setups is to submit your tracking information to some of the tracking website (Flightware themselves, PlaneFinder and Flightradar24 to name 3). In return for doing this some of them grant you enhanced access (free business level accounts, access to mobile apps etc).
When I was a child I used to talk to my mates with a couple of tin cans and a string. This worked very well but not nearly as well as my smart phone. When I started out tracking ADS-B traffic I started out with a Raspberry Pi and a NooElec R820T SRD and a home brew stacked collinear antenna this also worked very well especially given my GZ is surrounded by hills, so happy I was! Certainly the cost of an up market ADS-B receiver did not make it a consideration especially as I never won one on Ebay. My first experiment with increasing positions received was to add a Flight Aware 1090Mhz band pass filter. This worked to some extent as my house is somewhat noisy (electrically speaking) and the filter cleaned up the signal for the NooElect. Three days ago I was tempted by £14 of FlightAware Pro stick! It arrived today so I quickly got it on line (switched out with NooElec ) and rebooted my pi and …… Instantly DUMP1090 is scrolling off the bottom of my screen with increased aircraft coverage. This is on a lazy Saturday afternoon! Whilst I have seen this on a busy Friday or Monday I have never seen this on a Saturday. Now I can’t wait to see what next Friday looks like. Range appears to have pushed out by 50 – 100 miles ….. very much a quantum leap like my phone but very much less expensive. Fully recommended!
Replaced an R820T2 usb stick with the flightaware one. Noticed an immediate increase in the range of aircraft picked up at high level (e.g FL300+). I'd estimate the increase was about 50 - 70nm. The PlanePlotter message rate has gone from about 200 to 500 - yes, I live near a major UK airport. I installed an in-line 1000MHz filter with the R820T2 but it didn't make any noticeable difference to the range. The figures for the flightaware stick are without the filter as I need an adaptor for it (ordered) - the R820T2 having a different antenna socket to the flightaware one. We'll see in due course whether the filter will help or not. I mention it as the flightaware stick came with a note warning that it includes an RF amplifier and hence either gain needs to be adjusted or a filter installed. Set up: The flightaware stick is plugged into an RPi2 running the dump1090 program (gain parameter being -10) feeding PlanePlotter, flightaware and a private UK server. I chose this route over a PC as it's low cost on both hardware / software and running costs.
Original set-up was a 'plain' RTL dongle (NooElec R820T) fed from a Moonraker MRP-2000 pre-amp (see below for antenna details). Decode was RTL1090 and display either ADSBscope or Planeplotter. Typically the off-air message rate around was 50/sec, range 200km to the south, 150km to west and north. Badly blocked by high ground to the east so about 50km. With the Pro Stick plus 1090MHz filter the off-air message rate is around 100/sec, range 250km to the south, 300km to west and 200km to north. To the east about 50km so still limited by terrain. Install on to Windows10 no problem, plugged dongle in, Windows 10 allocated a (wrong) driver so I used the Zadig tool to select the correct driver (WinUSB). Install on Vista failed.with 'could not allocate resources ' error, still trying to sort this problem. Annoying since I want run the Mode-S decoder using the Pro Stick on an old Vista laptop. Antenna is a horizontally polarised 50MHz square halo loop with a gamma match and located up at about 5m. I have no idea why this works, can only think some part of the matching hardware is resonant around 1090 MHz!
A definite improvement on the basic dongle as far as sensitivity is concerned. Don't know what bandwidth the LNA is and would appreciate knowing. Tested with a filter in front, as the higher gain may render it more susceptible to out-of-band interference if you live in a "busy" RF area (e.g. a city).
Using this with the FlightAware Filter plugged into a Raspberry Pi 3 and have seen the position reports and aircraft seen sky rocket thanks to the built in amp. My previous setup was a NooElec NESDR SMArt Premium usb stick with the FA Filter. This pro stick worked straight away with my existing FR24 dump1090 / modesmixer2 setup. I fully recommend this FlightAware Pro stick if you haven't got an amp in your setup and want to increase your ADS-B performance and stats.
A brilliant little gizmo. My previous dongle was giving me a message rate of about 250 per second. This is giving me a rate of just over 500. Max detected range is greater. I'm running Windump1090 with the gain set to -10 (minus 10) and no filter. The only hiccup was that the stick wouldn't work at first, but I had a lightbulb moment and guessed that maybe the Zadiq driver needed to be re-intalled. It did, it was, and Bingo, off she went like a greyhound out of the traps. For the money this has to be a bargain.
Would have been ideal if there had been dedicated and compatible software included as it stands for me it is almost useless but Ok for dump1090 but too much bother to try and integrate it with other pro-grammes disappointing really. .