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Thread: USB Dongle vs. SBS-1/1er

  1. #1
    Purser Responder's Avatar
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    USB Dongle vs. SBS-1/1er

    Hi all,

    I appreciate that this is basic knowledge to those who have been doing this for some time but I am new to tracking via ADS/B and installed dongles and started feeding FR24 since May 4th.

    I have two setups, which are both feeding FR24 independently using same Radar alias.

    Setup 1: USB Dongle connected to PC with supplied antenna situated as high as possible (unable to get above roof) outside front of house tracking North, East, South. This is fed by 10m Active USB cable with no extension between dongle and antenna.

    Setup 2: Same as setup 1 but connected to my Laptop with antenna at rear of house tracking South, West, North.

    Thus, giving me 360 degrees of proposed tracking.

    1090MHz Software by Jetvision shows I am easily tracking upto 40 aircraft on each dongle - depending how busy the sky is, up to a range of approx *75nm and feeding FR24 with upto 20 aircraft independently using same Radar alias, although some will be duplicates.

    With all the above said and in your opinion. What I have setup which is working well, would I benefit any further if I purchased an SBS-1/1er?

    What would I like to benefit? A longer range of signal. No fragmented data. No intermittent aircraft timeouts.

    As stated, I am unable to get above roof due to not having ladders that can reach almost 50-60ft.

    An SBS-3 is out of my price range at present, hence 1/1er.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Responder; 2013-06-29 at 22:39. Reason: * Calculated actual range from my location to furthest aircraft this evening.

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    Captain fungus's Avatar
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    Responder,

    I'm no expert by any stretch but from what you describe you need a decent antenna more than anything. I dont think changing over to an sbs-1/er will overcome any of the issues you'd like to and would likely have negligible impact. I own and operate an sbs-1 and have done so since 2008 with various setups and one of THE most important things is a good quality and high antenna (above as many surrounding obstructions as possible). That's what is most likely to overcome poor range, fragmented data and intermittent aircraft time-outs. Since it works on line of sight your antenna is your best friend and needs to be placed as high as possible AND away from obstructions as I've pointed out. After I placed mine on a 20ft mast on the ridge capping of the roof with good low loss cable I've increased my range in most directions by around 40-50 NM and in some cases I can log aircraft at more than 200NM. I've also cut out a lot of the momentary dropouts (but by no means all). I'm now considering a 30ft mast but I'll probably need a beacon on top of it. There are no shortcuts I'm afraid.

    Regards,
    Gregg
    Last edited by fungus; 2013-06-30 at 08:14.

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    Hi Gregg,

    Thank you for your reply and I agree, that obtaining height with no obstructions would enhance my coverage.

    However, where I live, I am surrounded by tall trees and the ridge capping/apex of my roof is well in excess of 40ft (as its a Victorian style tall 2-storey cottage) and impossible to get high enough with ladders. My only option is to purchase a decent antenna suitable for the dongle and construct a mast tall enough to get above the roof and bolt the mast to the wall, as guy wires aren't an option due to limited area in my back yard.

    I did purchase a 1090MHz Radar Rama Antenna for my dongle using RG58 cable but that was worse coverage than what I have now and so I sold it and reverted back to the dongles supplied antenna.

    Regards,
    Karl

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    Yeah, it's a problem chimneys being awkward to get to - but if using the dongles, we're looking for economy...a lot of my readon for using the RaspberryPi is I don't want to pay the electric bill for leaving a PC on 24/7


    Half of doing this is the kick you get for doing something yourself.

    Have a look at http://www.balarad.net/ - just whizz this up from some satellite downfeed cable (9 or 11 sections), then fix it to a bamboo cane with some cable ties, see it it improves coverage ... if it does then find a rigid tube to put it in (wickes 22mm white overflow pipe maybe 99p for a 2m length (seal it in with glue from a glue gun).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkUYdCPFXXs

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    Thanks Peter,

    I'll have a look at that in a bit.

    Just been outside and relocated the antenna at the back of my house - moved it 2ft sideways as unable to go any higher at present.

    Just doing this alone, has slightly boosted my range to from yesterday's 75nm to 111nm (128ml) South,West,North as I track an Aer Lingus plane over Milford Haven.

    I do need something better though, as I am tracking 23 out of 45 aircraft - the other 22 have fragmented data and I don't count those.

    I know your system works well Peter, as I've seen your radar attached to a few planes, in and around my area of Dudley :-)
    Last edited by Responder; 2013-06-30 at 16:00.

  6. #6
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    Not too far from here 52.461605,-2.027843 (don't want to be too specific in a public forum)
    - I'm tracking Newcastle upon Tyne, almost to Belfast, Irish coastline , Plymouth, Southampton, West London, then up to Wash. I have gaps with less cover, WNW (neighbours roof), ENE (my roof)

    Collinear went up this W/E mounted about 1m above the gutter line on a 2M mast fixed to T&K brackets where they are out of the way enough not to upset the domestic management. My cover would definitely improve if I had a 12' mast (neighbours might think I'm running a taxi office) but I think the Wickes overflow pipe would have a short life - the wind seems to stir it around alot.

    I was using a simple dipole antenna - made by splitting the centre from some co-ax cable at a right angle and the braid in the opposite direction, then cutting them both off at 68mm (113 mm from end to end) and mounting this so the elements were vertical - this gave about 50% more range than the little whip antenna supplied with the dongle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Responder View Post
    Hi Gregg,

    I did purchase a 1090MHz Radar Rama Antenna for my dongle using RG58 cable but that was worse coverage than what I have now and so I sold it and reverted back to the dongles supplied antenna.

    Regards,
    Karl
    The cable would have been the let down in that one. Unless you have 213 or LMR400 equivalent or greater, expect the patchy signal you see to be from loss

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    Hi Peter and Oblivian,

    Peter - I've been looking at the Collinear setup you described and it looks great but like you say, using the 2mtr plastic overflow pipe from Wickes and the wind we get, it wouldn't be long before it gets broken due to the flexing.

    I think my best bet, is to clamp together 4 or 5 sections of 27mm alu piping creating 16-20ft mast with a decent antenna on top and low loss cable and bracketing it to the back wall of my house with an earthing strap and try and get it above the roof.

    Oblivian - Do you think the Radar-Rama is a suitable antenna for the USB dongle providing (as you suggest) you use a good quality coax?

    Regards,

  9. #9
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    I'm unfamiliar with the quality/confirmed performance of that antenna. But in any case, unless its dual sheilded and a very short run of less than say 2m RG58 shouldn't be used for such high frequency.

    I went from 90-125nm to near 160 with cable change

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    [QUOTE=Oblivian; I went from 90-125nm to near 160 with cable change[/QUOTE]

    Wow, it looks as though you really do get what you pay for if that was your range with a cable change.

    I use the RG58 for my Airband Radio but as I bought a good length of it. I cut off 10mtrs and attached that to the Radar-Rama with N-Type and BNC but as you say, it was probably the cable that made the reception poor.

    Oh well, I sold the Radar-Rama over a week ago, I can't buy another now lol. I might buy the one suited for the dongle on the 1090.com site :-)

    Update: Just looked at a attenuation chart for RG58 and LMR400.

    Per 100ft on 1000MHz: RG58 24db compared to 5db for LMR400.

    That's a heck of a difference :-o
    Last edited by Responder; 2013-06-30 at 22:28.

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