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Thread: Antenna for ACARS and listening to ATC with DVB-T dongle

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    Antenna for ACARS and listening to ATC with DVB-T dongle

    Hi,
    I already have an FR24 feeder (F-EGNT4) which I obviously use for feeding to FR24. I recently purchased an RTL2832U+R820T DVB-T dongle. I wanted to use this mainly for picking up ACARS messages. As expected, using SDR#, the acars transmissions that I receive are very faint and no decoding software can decode them (even whilst using a large amount of gain) whilst using the stock antenna.

    I don't know a lot about antennas, which is why I asked here: I am looking for an antenna that could let me pick up these ACARS transmissions so that I can decode them. I don't mind making the antenna or buying one as long as it is reasonably priced. I also don't mind whether the antenna is inside or outside. If I was going to go into the bother of mounting it outside, I would rather that it could pick up ATC transmissions as well (however, if this will decrease the range of ACARS transmissions I can recieve, please let me know). Finally, if I do mount an antenna outside, will it need any spacing from the FR24 antenna that is supplied with the reciever?

    I would like monitor ACARS frequencies: 131.725 and 131.525 (not necessarily at the same time)

    Can anyone suggest an antenna that I could buy or make?

    Thanks
    - WeKnowMC
    Last edited by WeKnowMC; 2016-01-25 at 21:23.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WeKnowMC View Post
    Hi,
    I already have an FR24 feeder (F-EGNT4) which I obviously use for feeding to FR24. I recently purchased an RTL2832U+R820T DVB-T dongle. I wanted to use this mainly for picking up ACARS messages. As expected, using SDR#, the acars transmissions that I receive are very faint and no decoding software can decode them (even whilst using a large amount of gain) whilst using the stock antenna.

    I don't know a lot about antennas, which is why I asked here: I am looking for an antenna that could let me pick up these ACARS transmissions so that I can decode them. I don't mind making the antenna or buying one as long as it is reasonably priced. I also don't mind whether the antenna is inside or outside. If I was going to go into the bother of mounting it outside, I would rather that it could pick up ATC transmissions as well (however, if this will decrease the range of ACARS transmissions I can recieve, please let me know). Finally, if I do mount an antenna outside, will it need any spacing from the FR24 antenna that is supplied with the reciever?

    I would like monitor ACARS frequencies: 131.725 and 131.525 (not necessarily at the same time)

    Can anyone suggest an antenna that I could buy or make?

    Thanks
    - WeKnowMC
    Yes. For Airband, in specific those frequencies, you can easily construct a ground plane type, or "spider" type antenna, However, it will be somewhat large for indoor use. Using the same construction detailed everywhere on the ADSB forums, using a SO-239 panel mount connector, make the elements 21.435 inches. That will be centered up on your desired frequencies.

    Spacing from your existing ADS-B antenna should be not very critical. If the center of your ACARS antenna is at least 12" from the ADS-B antenna, you should be good.

    If you look around the web, you might find a Radio Shack Cat. No. 20-176 scanner antenna for cheap. Last one I bought was $12 at the local store. They are still on closeout at some locations. Good antenna construction and will cover that band plus UHF airband just fine.
    Last edited by K5TED; 2016-01-27 at 04:37. Reason: additional info

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    Quote Originally Posted by K5TED View Post
    Yes. For Airband, in specific those frequencies, you can easily construct a ground plane type, or "spider" type antenna, However, it will be somewhat large for indoor use. Using the same construction detailed everywhere on the ADSB forums, using a SO-239 panel mount connector, make the elements 21.435 inches. That will be centered up on your desired frequencies.

    Spacing from your existing ADS-B antenna should be not very critical. If the center of your ACARS antenna is at least 12" from the ADS-B antenna, you should be good.

    If you look around the web, you might find a Radio Shack Cat. No. 20-176 scanner antenna for cheap. Last one I bought was $12 at the local store. They are still on closeout at some locations. Good antenna construction and will cover that band plus UHF airband just fine.
    I've been doing some research and for now, I've decided that I am going to make an indoor 8-legged spider antenna. Will getting an amplifier help in any way? Could this antenna be mounted outside if needed?

    I have been looking on this thread: /threads/8596-3-EASY-ANTENNAS-FOR-BEGINNERS
    I don't have a soldering iron so I am not too sure if I want to go for the soldered version. Will the one that doesn't use the SO-239 and doesn't require soldering work just as well?

    Sorry for all of the questions

    - WeKnowMC
    Last edited by WeKnowMC; 2016-01-27 at 20:46.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WeKnowMC View Post
    I've been doing some research and for now, I've decided that I am going to make an indoor 8-legged spider antenna. Will getting an amplifier help in any way? Could this antenna be mounted outside if needed?

    I have been looking on this thread: /threads/8596-3-EASY-ANTENNAS-FOR-BEGINNERS
    I don't have a soldering iron so I am not too sure if I want to go for the soldered version. Will the one that doesn't use the SO-239 and doesn't require soldering work just as well?

    Sorry for all of the questions

    - WeKnowMC
    Not sure which 'no-solder' version you are referring to. With elements at over 21", anything that doesn't have a solid base of some sort for supporting those elements will likely just be a floppy mess and will not perform well.

    If not solder and SO-239, are you game for something made of PVC or is this about keeping the cost to almost nothing?

    Consider going commando....

    For indoor use, one could cobble something together with soda straws, copper wire from a piece of CAT5 cable, and some RG6, and lots of tape.

    A 32OZ plastic soda bottle would make a good frame for some antenna made of thin copper wire.


    Really depends on what level of effort you are willing to put into it. How about making a discone or biconical type antenna out of cardstock paper and thin copper wire? How about the same using thin strips of aluminum duct seal tape?
    Last edited by K5TED; 2016-01-29 at 17:57. Reason: fun

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    Quote Originally Posted by K5TED View Post
    Not sure which 'no-solder' version you are referring to. With elements at over 21", anything that doesn't have a solid base of some sort for supporting those elements will likely just be a floppy mess and will not perform well.

    If not solder and SO-239, are you game for something made of PVC or is this about keeping the cost to almost nothing?

    Consider going commando....

    For indoor use, one could cobble something together with soda straws, copper wire from a piece of CAT5 cable, and some RG6, and lots of tape.

    A 32OZ plastic soda bottle would make a good frame for some antenna made of thin copper wire.


    Really depends on what level of effort you are willing to put into it. How about making a discone or biconical type antenna out of cardstock paper and thin copper wire? How about the same using thin strips of aluminum duct seal tape?
    Hi, first of all, I have decided that I will get the SO-239 and solder the discone/spider antenna together (meaning that I will have to get a soldering iron). I was looking at this design: www(dot)atouk(dot)com/wordpress/?wpdmpro=your-first-adsb-antenna&wpdmdl=397 (sorry, I cant post links until I have over 4 posts)
    Obviously, I would need to make the elements 21.435".

    I would like to try to get the best performance for ACARS as I can with this antenna within a reasonable price (I wouldn't really want to spend more than £30 on it). Now that I think of it, I'm probably going to keep the antenna inside until I've tested it. The only thing now is that I need to find out what kind of wire I could use to try to get best performance. Do you have any suggestions. Also, as I said, would some kind of amplifier help with performance?

    Thanks
    - WeKnowMC

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    Quote Originally Posted by WeKnowMC View Post
    Hi, first of all, I have decided that I will get the SO-239 and solder the discone/spider antenna together (meaning that I will have to get a soldering iron). I was looking at this design: www(dot)atouk(dot)com/wordpress/?wpdmpro=your-first-adsb-antenna&wpdmdl=397 (sorry, I cant post links until I have over 4 posts)
    Obviously, I would need to make the elements 21.435".

    I would like to try to get the best performance for ACARS as I can with this antenna within a reasonable price (I wouldn't really want to spend more than £30 on it). Now that I think of it, I'm probably going to keep the antenna inside until I've tested it. The only thing now is that I need to find out what kind of wire I could use to try to get best performance. Do you have any suggestions. Also, as I said, would some kind of amplifier help with performance?

    Thanks
    - WeKnowMC
    I would recommend using the welding rod approach. It's sturdy enough for this size element, and can be soldered with a gun. If you are going to go with buying a soldering iron, keep in mind that for anything over 12g wire, a typical small pencil iron will only create madness. Get a 150w or better soldering gun for these sort of projects and keep the pencil for electronics work. The gun gets things hot quick, which is what you need, dab on the solder and let it go. Make sure you use solder with flux core or buy a tin of flux or a flux pen.

    You shouldn't have to spend more than about £8 for this antenna.

    As for the amplifier, you certainly could benefit from one, but the key to VHF is height. A decent amp is probably going to set you back a little more than £15. Don't try to use a typical home cable tv distribution amp.

    Might as well build the antenna, and see how it performs, then consider what improvements are needed.

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    I have decided on parts for the antenna. See my next post...

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    Quote Originally Posted by K5TED View Post
    I would recommend using the welding rod approach. It's sturdy enough for this size element, and can be soldered with a gun. If you are going to go with buying a soldering iron, keep in mind that for anything over 12g wire, a typical small pencil iron will only create madness. Get a 150w or better soldering gun for these sort of projects and keep the pencil for electronics work. The gun gets things hot quick, which is what you need, dab on the solder and let it go. Make sure you use solder with flux core or buy a tin of flux or a flux pen.

    You shouldn't have to spend more than about £8 for this antenna.

    As for the amplifier, you certainly could benefit from one, but the key to VHF is height. A decent amp is probably going to set you back a little more than £15. Don't try to use a typical home cable tv distribution amp.

    Might as well build the antenna, and see how it performs, then consider what improvements are needed.
    I have been looking at parts for the antenna. Before I buy them I would like to make sure that everything will work together.

    Firstly, to connect the DVB-T dongle to the coax cable, I am looking at this: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/F-Jack-Fem...hQAAOSwo6lWMIx
    Secondly, for the RG6 coax cable: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/10m-Satell...MAAOSw-7RVCZ~d
    Next, I will have the amp connected: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SATELLITE-...gAAOxyTjNSdhHQ
    Then I will plug have this amp connected to this connector: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SMA-female...MAAOSw~gRVqS6d
    After that, it will be connected to the SO-239: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/UHF-SO-239...25.m3641.l6368
    Finally, the wire for the elements will be this copper wire: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1mm-ENAMEL...IAAOSwjVVVweD~

    Will these parts all work together without any problems? I would just like to confirm before I buy the parts.

    Thanks
    - WeKnowMC
    Last edited by WeKnowMC; 2016-01-31 at 00:21.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WeKnowMC View Post
    I have been looking at parts for the antenna. Before I buy them I would like to make sure that everything will work together.

    Firstly, to connect the DVB-T dongle to the coax cable, I am looking at this: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/F-Jack-Fem...hQAAOSwo6lWMIx
    Secondly, for the RG6 coax cable: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/10m-Satell...MAAOSw-7RVCZ~d
    Next, I will have the amp connected: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SATELLITE-...gAAOxyTjNSdhHQ
    Then I will plug have this amp connected to this connector: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SMA-female...MAAOSw~gRVqS6d
    After that, it will be connected to the SO-239: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/UHF-SO-239...25.m3641.l6368
    Finally, the wire for the elements will be this copper wire: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1mm-ENAMEL...IAAOSwjVVVweD~

    Will these parts all work together without any problems? I would just like to confirm before I buy the parts.

    Thanks
    - WeKnowMC

    Suggestions:


    1. larger diameter wire. For 21" elements, the 1mm stuff will be very floppy. The center pin will take probably up to around a 2.5mm wire, depending on manufacturer. Find the spec sheet and drawing for that specific SO-239 to find out.

    2. You need something to power the amplifier, i.e., a power injector. These types of inline amps are designed to be powered from a satellite box. Operating voltage: 5 - 18 V max. 30 V DC / 40 mA.

    I don't use these, but there are several members here who can point you in the right direction on that point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by K5TED View Post
    Suggestions:


    1. larger diameter wire. For 21" elements, the 1mm stuff will be very floppy. The center pin will take probably up to around a 2.5mm wire, depending on manufacturer. Find the spec sheet and drawing for that specific SO-239 to find out.

    2. You need something to power the amplifier, i.e., a power injector. These types of inline amps are designed to be powered from a satellite box. Operating voltage: 5 - 18 V max. 30 V DC / 40 mA.

    I don't use these, but there are several members here who can point you in the right direction on that point.
    Hi, will this 2mm copper wire do?http://ebay.co.uk/itm/2mm-ENAMELLED-...-/111734897320

    I have decided that I will leave out the amplifier for now.
    Other than that, I assume everything is good.

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