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FlightAware Pro Stick, revolutionary USB ADS-B and MLAT receiver announced

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FlightAware is announcing a revolution in the world of USB SDR ADS-B Receivers -- the FlightAware Pro Stick, a customized, high-performance USB R820T2 software defined radio (SDR) with a built-in RF amp for maximum ADS-B/MLAT performance. The FlightAware Pro Stick can receive ADS-B or Mode S (for MLAT) transmissions from up to 300 miles away and is an evolutionary leap in low-cost flight tracking hardware. (flightaware.com) More...

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myalias
myalias 3
Just a two days after I received NooElec NESDR Mini 2. Well, perhaps I can use that for AIS.
rsmath
rsmath 2
I do ads-b on a PC. Can I just plug this pro stick to my PC and use my existing drivers and software or will I need to install other drivers and software on my PC to use this pro stick?
dbaker
Daniel Baker 1
Yes if you have an existing SDR dongle, it should just swap in.
rsmath
rsmath 2
cool! Glad it's not proprietary drivers/software and will use my existing drivers/software and hopefully give me much better performance than my existing SDR dongle.
rsmath
rsmath 1
a question about the antenna connnection. The Pro Stick page here at flightaware says: - SMA F connector for easy connectivity to high-performance antenna
- No MCX adapters required

I see what appears to be a SMA connector (with threads) on the amazon listing but my current dongle uses MCX connectors to connect my antenna to the dongle. I don't see a MCX connector on the pro stick unless it is on the side of the dongle not visible in the amazon pictures. Will I need an sma/mcx adapter or a cable with SMA on one end and MCX on the other for hooking up my antenna?
bbabis
Bill Babis 2
Ordered it! Hoping for a nice range improvement. Post again Daniel when the antenna is available.
klimchuk
Just ordered 2. Amazon doesn't allow to get more. Will see if it works with my software.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 1
Great! We've had to limit each order to two due to high demand and limited initial inventory.
RRKen
I currently use an R820T2 based SDR dongle and get 250 mile range with the supplied antenna. Would your SDR radio be of any improvement?
bdarnell
bdarnell 1
Amazon says the antenna is unavailable and they don't know when, or if, it will be.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 1
Both are back in stock now.
crfflying
crfflying 1
Hi Kenneth. Sorry to bother you, but I've got the same R820T, but I can't tell at all if it's working with my Win 7 PC. I've got the HDSDR program, and I get nothing that remotely looks like a signal. I know the dongle is getting power since it shows a couple of blue lights at the end of it. I know this isn't a support forum, but I was wondering what software and platform you're using? Thanks, Chris
w7psk
Ricky Scott 2
Birthday coming in two weeks, just posted a major hint to the family on Facebook.
bdarnell
bdarnell 1
Ordered.
gmg180
gmg180 1
Will it be possible (using FlightAware) to see VFR flights that are broadcasting ADS-B out? It seems as though VFR Flight Following flights used to show up on FlightAware, but now they do not seem to show up. Will the ADS-B receiver network make it possible to view all ADS-B out aircraft on the map regardless of participation with ATC?
dbaker
Daniel Baker 1
It does seem the FAA made a change that results in VFR flight tracking no longer working as reliably.

Yes, tracking VFR aircraft with a mode S or mode S+ADS-B OUT transponder is possibly on FlightAware using this technology. Currently, we only publicly show flights with flight plans, but PiAware feeders can enable position-only flight tracking.
davidgoe
davidgoe 1
My biggest problem is the lack of precision from MLAT due to the difficulty of precisely timestamping when Mode-S signals arrive. Using ADS-B signals when present to synchronize multiple PiAware stations that can see the same ADS-B plane at the same time is ingenious, but with CPU clock drift and variability in buffering by the SDR dongle the solution seems inherently limited. Does the ProStick somehow address this basic limitation?

What would be really cool is a Pi Hat type of board with both the SDR chip and a GPS chip, like AdaFruit’s “Ultimate GPS” (https://www.adafruit.com/products/746), so that the signals could be hardware timestamped and you get precise station location as a bonus. It seems like such a board could be produced <$100 in quantity. I’d even buy two extra for other PiAware stations in my area just to have the better MLAT results.
davidgoe
davidgoe 1
User OBJ made a detailed reply to this question in the regular ADS-B forum:

[quote="obj"]GPS-timestamping incoming samples is a good way to do it (e.g. the Radarcape does this) but it is not just a case of attaching a GPS chip to an existing receiver. You are looking at a FPGA or a custom chip for the digital side of the receive chain, which is immediately quite a bit more expensive than using a RTL2832 where the design/fabrication overheads are a sunk cost that someone else has already paid. I would be surprised if you can do it for <$100.

The prostick is no different to a regular rtlsdr dongle when it comes to how mlat is done.[/quote]
ShirBlackspots
Charles Ball 1
I bought a Pi Hat RTC clock for my Rasberry Pi 2, no idea if it works correctly or not, but I did the configuring for it so it would work (followed some online guides)
myalias
myalias 1
So I have a metal case on order for my NooElec SDR to reduce interference. Does this stick include shielding?
david.baker
David Baker 1
The metal case from NooElec is ok. The RTL SDR blog metal case is better.
http://www.rtl-sdr.com/buy-rtl-sdr-dvb-t-dongles/

Adding shield is very tough to do. Having a metal case might help or might no depending on how the board was installed in the metal case.
myalias
myalias 1
I'll have to see how it performs. At the moment, I had to remove the plastic housing on the SDR to fit a WiFi dongle in an adjacent USB slot. So I have no doubt the WiFi is interfering. I'm also going to be adding a USB extension cable to distance the SDR from the Pi and the WiFi. The case I ordered is from NooElec.

I'm more excited about the 1090 MHz band pass filter to improve the SNR. I live in a noisy area with lots of WiFi and there are cell antennas less than 100 m away.

I'm currently getting about 145k position reports per day with a 180° view of the sky. Another site with a 340° view 3 km away is getting 400k, so I hope I'll get over 200k with some better equipment.
david.baker
David Baker 1
Name brand products have trouble with shielding.

Check out this video about shielding on a product that almost everyone has in their home.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot4_jVFXxUU
myalias
myalias 1
The NooElec metal case and 6" USB cable I used to distance the SDR from the WiFi dongle and Pi boosted positions received by 25%.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 1
It does not. You could conceivably add shielding inside the orange plastic case though.
frank1711
frank1711 1
Ordered!
rampil
Ira Rampil 1
Maybe useful for ground-based 1090 crowd-sourced traffic monitoring, but pretty unlikely to be any better for in-flight ADS-B TIS and FIS. The standard R802T and T2 work just fine for line of sight towers and given the 8 bit resolution of the demodulator, the extra gain might well drive the receiver into saturation. Also they don't seem to state anywhere how sharp the extra amplifier is, in bandwidth and wether it will pass or block 978.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 1
Correct, the Pro Stick is for PiAware and not for in-flight use.
ocj
ocj 1
I'm not quite ready to shell out the $45 for the FlightAware antenna, but would like to upgrade my RTLSDR dongle to the ProStick, is there a way that I could continue to use the antenna that came with my NooElec NESDR Mini 2? I'll probably get the 1090MHz bandpass filter. Would all that I need is a SMA to MCX adapter?
dbaker
Daniel Baker 2
myalias
myalias 1
I'm also using the NooElec NESDR Mini 2. The antenna that comes with it is almost a perfect quarter wavelength for 1090 MHz (which is 27.5 cm or 10¾ inches).

Is your antenna outside? When I had my antenna behind the patio door, I would get over five times the positions when opening the door. Glass is great at blocking 1090 MHz.

I moved my antenna to side table of the barbecue five days ago, which has a better open view of the sky. That boosted my positions about 30 times from behind the glass door. It is possible that the steel of the barbecue is acting as a ground plane for the antenna.

Outside has a disadvantage since I switched to using a WiFi dongle for networking, which turned out to cause interference. Last night I added the metal case to the Mini 2, and added a 6 inch USB cord to distance it from the Raspberry Pi and WiFi dongle. That boosted positions another 25%.

I'm still waiting on cables and connectors to arrive to try the filter and FlightAware antenna that I have waiting. Based on my experience, I would suggest getting your antenna in the best position before buying a new SDR.

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