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Thread: New Part Time Hardware Setup Advise

  1. #1
    Flight attendant
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    New Part Time Hardware Setup Advise

    I've been a subscribed member of FR24 for some time now and would like take the next step towards getting my first hardware setup to run from home.

    I've browsed the forums and, admittedly, found there to be so much useful information out there that it became a little overwhelming!

    I'm considering the Raspberry Pi 3 board setup, but really have no idea on suitable antenna receivers and I've never used Raspberry Pi hardware/software before.

    I'd like the system to be able to receive ADS-B and to contribute towards MLAT coverage too.

    As the Pi 3 has Wi-Fi, will it be possible to run the system standalone? For example, can I set the hardware up in a loft to maximize reception for example? Would this still allow me to view/contribute data?

    I'll be happy to contribute any data I can to the FR network, however I can't guarantee 24/7 up-time and the receiving antenna won't be external with 360 line of horizon sight etc, so not ideal.

    My total budget will be around 150 GBP but this is flexible.


    As I can't meet the criteria to apply for a free receiver, is it possible to purchase the receiver equipment as an alternative?

    Thanks in advance!

    Graeme
    Last edited by Graeme2812; 2016-08-07 at 17:16. Reason: Added/Edited budget.

  2. #2
    Passenger boab's Avatar
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    You should be able to get a RPi3 setup working well within your budget.
    The biggest problem will be getting to grips with the RPi :
    You don't have to learn that much but its hard by yourself.
    Do you have any experience of Linux/command line/telnet or know anybody who has a RPi?

  3. #3
    Team FR24
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    If you intend to use your Pi only for sharing data with FR24 then it shouldn't be that difficult. You can write Pi24 image (www.flightradar24.com/build-your-own) to an SD card, enable wifi on your Pi (https://thepihut.com/blogs/raspberry...an-jessie-lite) and that's it. Yes, you can run in it in your loft, you will be able to contribute data. If you can place your antenna outside somehow, then you would be able to contribute much more data than it being inside.
    --

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by boab View Post
    The biggest problem will be getting to grips with the RPi :
    You don't have to learn that much but its hard by yourself.
    Do you have any experience of Linux/command line/telnet or know anybody who has a RPi?
    Unfortunately I don't know anyone who has experience with RPi, but I'm prepared to learn what I need to. I'm reasonably computer literate. (I built a barebone system only a few months ago) and In terms of my technical ability, I have a basic grasp of command line work. (MS-DOS kinda stuff - Yeah, that old), HTML, and basic computing syntax so hopefully it won't be too difficult to get my head around. This will be a hobby project so there will be no rush.

    Quote Originally Posted by Khan View Post
    If you intend to use your Pi only for sharing data with FR24 then it shouldn't be that difficult. You can write Pi24 image () to an SD card, enable wifi on your Pi () and that's it. Yes, you can run in it in your loft, you will be able to contribute data. If you can place your antenna outside somehow, then you would be able to contribute much more data than it being inside.
    It will primarily be used for viewing and contributing data to FR24, so I think the FR24 'Build Your Own' guide will be my main direction with this. So thank you for the links.

    In terms antenna; The receiver/antenna will be around indoors at around 400ft AMSL. Unfortunately, at this initial stage, it will be indoor, hopefully near a window. (Not ideal, I know) With this limitation, would the USB Dongle (R820T) + Small Indoor Antenna here be the most suitable investment, given it's location?

  5. #5
    Captain abcd567's Avatar
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    Dont worry about indoor installation. I have 2 indoor installations of RPi.
    (1) With home made antenna (Cantenna).
    (2) With professional antenna (Flightaware 26" antenna).

    Not an elegant installation , but works great.




    Image 1 of 3 - max range with Flightaware antenna + filter + Pro Stick dvbt which has built-in amplifier.






    Image 2 of 3 - maximum range with Cantenna and DVB-T Stick, NO amplifier






    Image 3 of 3 - photo of setup

    Last edited by abcd567; 2016-08-09 at 21:28.

  6. #6
    Passenger boab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme2812 View Post
    Unfortunately I don't know anyone who has experience with RPi, but I'm prepared to learn what I need to. I'm reasonably computer literate. (I built a barebone system only a few months ago) and In terms of my technical ability, I have a basic grasp of command line work. (MS-DOS kinda stuff - Yeah, that old), HTML, and basic computing syntax so hopefully it won't be too difficult to get my head around. This will be a hobby project so there will be no rush.
    That's plenty to get you started. You can email me on bob at tidy dot org if you like and I can guide you through the various stages.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I've decided to go for a kit as listed at thepiehut (Can't post link unfortunately due to low post counts) and it includes;

    *Latest Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (64bit Quad Core, 1GB RAM)
    *8GB or 16GB Sandisk Ultra Class 10 MicroSD (pre-imaged with NOOBS)
    *Official Raspberry Pi 5.1V 2.5A International Power Supply (for UK, EU, USA & AUS)
    *Black Raspberry Pi 3 Case
    *2M HDMI cable
    *2M Ethernet Cable


    All for £50!

    Will also purchase from jetvision.de ;

    *ADS-B USB Dongle (R820T) + Small Indoor Antenna

    I'm hoping this will be all I need to get started. One thing I just released (I hope) is that this kit has the potential to be mobile. Assuming it can be powered and has an active internet/Wi-Fi/hotspot available?

    Quote Originally Posted by abcd567 View Post
    Dont worry about indoor installation. I have 2 indoor installations of RPi.
    (1) With home made antenna (Cantenna).
    (2) With professional antenna (Flightaware 26" antenna).

    Not an elegant installation , but works great.
    Thanks for the pictures, and it's good to see a 'live' setup.

    Even with Cantenna, the range is still reasonable. I did contemplate the more expensive, external antenna but thought best to get up and running first. I like the graphical plot. This will be helpful when trying to find the best location for the antenna.

    Quote Originally Posted by boab View Post
    That's plenty to get you started. You can email me on bob at tidy dot org if you like and I can guide you through the various stages.
    Thanks Boab! I'm hoping to purchase the hardware over the next week or so and try and make a start the week after when I can get the time. The help is much appreciated.

  8. #8
    Captain abcd567's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by =Graeme2812 View Post
    Thanks for the pictures, and it's good to see a 'live' setup.

    Even with Cantenna, the range is still reasonable. I did contemplate the more expensive, external antenna but thought best to get up and running first.
    My higher range with Flaghtaware Antenna is not only due to antenna. This setup has two more enhancements over setup with Cantenna:

    (1) A filter to eliminate other strong signals particularly cell (mobile) phone signals which overload the receiver and bring down its performance. Using filter improves reception & processing of ads-b signal.

    (2) The Flightawsre Pro Stick is a DVB-T dongle with built-in rf amplifier. This helps in boosting very weak signals from far away planes, increasing maximum range.

    I have now ordered a Flightaware Filter and a Flightaware Pro Stick for use with the Cantenna. This will hopefully increase the maxrange of Cantenna to 300nm +, still less than, but close to the range with Flightaware antenna

    I like the graphical plot. This will be helpful when trying to find the best location for the antenna.
    This plot is from FR24 statistics page for my receiver. When you will start feeding data to FR24, you can also see range curve on your statistics page.
    Last edited by abcd567; 2016-08-10 at 21:09.

  9. #9
    Passenger boab's Avatar
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    I also use the FlightAware Pro Stick (from Amazon) and noticed an improvement over my blue DVB-T dongle and other receivers I have used. The Cantenna is a brilliant antenna and ideal starter and hard to beat. If your area is free from mobile phone masts you could delay obtaining the filter, but you will probably eventually be tempted to buy one.

    I would also suggest a couple of additional 'spare' blank MicroSD cards so you can swap from a working setup to an experimental one quickly.

    Best of wishes for your project - I started in February with a £15 DVT-B, had a spare RPI3, toe in the water and am now addicted
    Last edited by boab; 2016-08-10 at 21:54.

  10. #10
    Captain abcd567's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boab View Post
    .....The Cantenna is a brilliant antenna and ideal starter and hard to beat......
    The story of birth of Cantenna is very interesting.

    It started when I decided to make a sleeve balun for my Coco. I was aware that dia of sleeve balun is not critical. Normally people used a tube 2 to 4 times the dia of coax, but using bigger dia should not be a disadvantage. I did not have a copper or brass tube handy, so decided to use an aluminium drink can from my fridge as it was made of soft & thin aluuminium and easy to cut to 1/4 wavelength by a knife or scissors.However, the addition of sleeve balun did not improve performance of the Coco as the coco was far off from optimum due to using wrong Velocity Factor.

    Since I was aware of a Dipole antenna design called "Coaxial Antenna" also known as 1/2 wave sleeved dipole, I decided to use the drink can sleeve to make one.

    The conventional sleeved dipole used a narrow copper tube 2 to 3 times dia of coax, and did not give good performance and therefore was not popular. I was convinced this is mainly due to narrow gap between sleeve and braid of coax, and using larger dia should prove better due to larger air gap betweem sleeve and braid of coax. My idea proved right and wide-bodied sleeved dipole / coaxial antenna proved much better than original narrow tube sleeved dipole, and this was the birth of Cantenna! Its name at birth was "1/2 wavelength sleeved dipole", but later I changed it to Cantenna.

    (1) Wide-bodied sleeve balun for Coco - 07 June 2014, my post #1217

    (2) The wide-bodied 1/2 wavelength sleeve Dipole using 1/4 wave drink can - 08 June 2014, my post #1224

    (3) Name change from "1/2 wave sleeved dipole" to "Cantenna" - 17 Aug 2014, my post #1490

    .
    Last edited by abcd567; 2016-08-11 at 20:51.

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