FlightAware Pro Stick USB ADS-B Receiver
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- 20dB Integrated Amplifier which can increase your ADSB range 20-100% more compared to other dongles
- Requires FlightAware ADS-B Filter or modified dump1090 gain settings
- Supported by PiAware
- R820T2 RTL2832U chips
- USB powered, 5V @ 300mA
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Revolutionary high-performance RTL Dongle ADS-B/MLAT receiver with built-in self-powered amp, compatible with FlightAware PiAware. The Pro Stick dramatically improved range over other RTLSDR USB receivers.
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For my personal experience, messages from 200NM+ increased by 15-20x, 160-200NM increased by 5x, and 120-160NM increased by 2.5x. My maximum range also increased from 240NM to 270NM.
Small edit... not enough to drop a star, but definitely worth noting. The oscillator appears to be less stable than the NooElec model. We experienced lower than usual overnight lows last night, and the offset shifted approximately 5PPM, whereas the NooElec dongle would fluctuate <2PPM overnight, and the RTL-SDR.com dongle would fluctuate <0.5PPM no matter what temperature it was operating in.
At first I was only picking up very close signals, so I purchased and added on WiFi and an antenna with an extension cable to install on the roof of my back deck about 15 feet above ground. Even though I don't have full line of sight in all directions, I am picking up signals up to 150 miles away. This is a very cost effective way (less than $150 total) to be a part of the FlightAware network.
My biggest problem was convincing my wife to let me install the small antenna on the back of the house.
Step-by-step instructions from the web were flawless, if not entirely clear to me at times. The biggest PITA was installing the PiAware image on a Micro SD. I used my Macbook, and the app I used to install the image kept bombing out, so I had to go old school and use some command line Linux magic. It took about 45 minutes using that method. The 8 GB card I had was pretty slow to write.
The RP2 booted up OK, and this is where things started to get slightly confusing. Set up your network and other preferences as usual on a new O/S installation, then re-boot. Make sure you have already established a free account on Flightaware. There's no GUI for the PiAware client, nor are there any controls for the receiver. Open the terminal and then use some commands to associate your username and password with the radio. It updates the config file, then re-starts the Piaware process, which autostarts and connects to the feed site.
The dongle dimensions are quite large, and I had to use an extender USB cable to jack into the USB ports on the Pi2. I have a WLAN dongle as well as wireless keyboard and mouse dongle, and there's no way for the receiver to fit with those two already plugged in. (A Pi3 should ease the pain, since bluetooth and WLAN are onboard.) Another frustrating thing is there was absolutely no indication the receiver is working except some lights inside the case showing power.
So wait 20-30 minutes and then use your browser to go to the Flightaware website and click on "My ADS-B" to look at your stats. There is a log dropdown, and even if there's so flight data, you can check whether or not it's communicating. The log gets updated every 15 seconds or so. The software is smart enough to re-start the process if no flight data has arrived for some time "just in case". Pretty much set and forget.
Then I discovered the Flightaware interface on the web shows your IP address as well as your local network IP for the device, and you can browse to it on your LAN for realtime tracking from your receiver; e.g., [...] brings up a map and some flight details on the right. Pretty cool.