Plane Spotting – My Gear

With my last post, some readers have requested to see pictures of my setup. While I was writing the last post (and still today), I am changing a lot of stuff. So I will show you the actual setup, explain what I plan to do next and I will also show you coverage of both receiver so you can compare.

 

Outside the house

3D printed mini antenna mast.

So outside the house, I made a mast that can hold both ADS-B antenna and more antenna if I go on with other projects. This is my mini antenna mast 3D printed using PETG. PETG is often used in mechanical parts because it is strong and flexible. It is actually under test, but I feel it is strong enough and should be durable.

If you wish to make your own, visit my Thingiverse project. You will find all files required to print your own.

 

Inside the house

The basement

It all start in the basement where Internet gets in the house. My modem, router and network switch are powered through a UPS. So I added a POE power injector on the UPS and connected an Ethernet data cable between the switch and the injector. I then deployed another Ethernet cable about 100′ long between the basement and the attic. It is attached to the POE injector and the POE splitter. The injector is used to add power inside the Ethernet cable. The splitter will separates the data from the power so non-POE devices can be powered using their power jack.

Having the injector plugged to the UPS, both receivers will remain online in case of power failure until the UPS runs out of power (about 6hours).

The attic

Because you do not want to lose precious signal, you want to keep coaxial cable as short as possible. This is the reason for the long Ethernet cable. Receivers can be near the antennas and that keep coax short.

The picture beside is what you see when you gets your head in my attic. A plastic box that will be replaced (Continue to read below for details) containing electronics and cables.

The box contains: A Raspberry pi 3B+, a FlightAware Stick Pro Plus, a Radarcape style receiver, a POE splitter and a USB hub. Plus all the required wires.

 

 

 

The USB hub is there only to split the power between the 2 receivers. As you can see on the annotated picture on the right, the POE splitter power output is going to the hub. From the hub there is 2 cable going to the PI and the radarcape. The blue USB cable is going to the attic access. I must admit that I do not trust the POE splitter. If the splitter fails like it did in the past, I can just plug a 3A USB adapter with an extension cord to power the setup without having to get into the attic until I can get the new splitter and replace it.

The short Ethernet cable from the splitter is going to the radarcape as it do not have wireless capability. The PI is using wi-fi, because I did not wanted to pass multiple POE cable or use few watts to power a switch. The POE setup allows for 25W, so I wished to keep as much as possible to power the receivers.

For those who might ask, the PI case is 3D printed. Half black and half red. The case will be properly pictured in a future post.

Upcoming changes

  • The plastic box will be replaced. Its primary usage is to keep dust away. Problem is that it keeps the heat in during summer. My plan is to replace the box with an aluminum one that will allows better heat dissipation. The new setup is in planning, but I will try to use the aluminum box as a heat sink and use a fan outside of the box to cool its surfaces. The cooling is less effective, but it keeps dust outside.
  • The radarcape receiver might be removed and returned to its owner. I consider making some place for future projects.
  • One, two or three other SDR dongle might be added to the PI later to listen to something else. The addition of dongles depend on available power from the POE setup. My actual estimation is that one more dongle can be installed right now without removing the radarcape. Using the USB Hub, it might also be possible to run more dongles if power allows.
  • The PI case will be screwed instead of taped as soon as I get the screws.
  • Fascia will be done soon, so the mast will get its final location soon.

Coverage

Here are two screenshots of the coverage I can get with both receivers only 6hours after having the coverage plot reset. The PI receiver use a FlightRadar 26in antenna and the radarcape use a JetVision A3.

My Raspberry Pi receiver coverage.
Radarcape receiver coverage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any questions ? Ask them in the comments below or email me!

 

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