Reduced Price Transponder Reciever Scheme

You have been given this link as you have purchased a receiver from us and it is either on its way or has arrived. Firstly I would like to thank you for taking part in our Reduced Price Transponder Receiver Scheme as every receiver increases coverage and allows us to track aircraft more reliably and keep you informed about the latest movements.

What you have

Your package will contain a USB Dongle (The Receiver) and a basic antenna. The Receiver itself is a re-purposed Digital TV Dongle (DVB-T) but a few years ago developers realised the Reciever Chipset was very versatile indeed, it can be re purposed to receive almost any signal and can be tuned to cover a huge area of the Radio Spectrum. Lots of developers made different software to turn the Dongle into a Receiver for a huge range of applications but by far the most successful is to use it as an ADSB/Mode-S Transponder receiver, thousands of people all over the world were using it as it works brilliantly and performs the same as purpose built receivers in the £300-£500 range, so you have a bargain on your hands.

The Installation

The instructions for the installation are provided by 360radar under their previous name of LowFlyingWales.co.uk and covers an installation within windows for PC and also for Raspberry Pi When you are ready to install your receiver click this link for Installation Instructions and select “If you decide to use a DVB-T dongle” on Windows or Raspberry Pi depending which you are going to use.

Essentially there are six parts to the install

  1. Install the drivers for your dongle
  2. Install the receiver software (Dump1090)
  3. Determine your latitude, longitude and altitude
  4. Install the MLAT Client that sends your Mode-S data to the 360Radar Network
  5. Install the ADSB Client that sends your ADSB data to the 360Radar Network
  6. Send in your receiver details to 360radar using the contact form to obtain your new 360radar account details

How it works

Aircraft respond to Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) requests by sending a digital message in 1090MHz, this is what we pick up and read. ADSB Transponders used on Commercial Airliners are the most expensive and they send out their identity and location, when you receive these messages they can be plotted on a map by software such as Virtual Radar Server. Mode-S Transponders used in General Aviation and most Military Aircraft are cheaper so they send our their identity but not location, so you can not plot them on a map using software, this is where the 360radar network comes in. You send your received Mode-S data to 360radar and so do all the other members, this means that the location of Mode-S aircraft can be calculated using a process of Multilateration. 360radar then outputs Mode-S data on their website and combines it with data from other receivers so you can see everything flying. Crucially Mode-S location calculations can only be performed if four or more members are receiving the same aircraft data, unlike ADSB which just needs one source, so this is how you help us increase coverage and allow us to see aircraft at lower and lower altitudes (where radio signals don’t reach as far.) So every member benefits from a new contributor to the network and everyone’s receivers benefit everyone else, therefore if you contribute data you get free access where other non contributors have to pay a subscription fee.

Join the discussion

If you are on Facebook you can join the 360radar Facebook Group where people post information on their observations and discuss all the technology involved including mods and upgrades.

If you are on Twitter you can follow @360radaruk

Needing Support?

360rRadar have agreed to support anyone who is having trouble with their installation and they may offer to remote onto your computer using Teamviewer if necessary. If you require support please use this contact form.

What is your Range?

Some people like to see what their receiver range is. To do this you will need to install Virtual Radar Server and set it up to access your receiver. You can then create a “Splat” to see your range, its called a splat as the graphical representation looks like, well, a splat! For the instructions for creating a “Splat” click here. (The document is hosted by Facebook so you may need to be a member, if you are having trouble accessing it just send me an email) This is an example of my Total range after I installed an external antenna.

splate new antenna new dongle new dump1090 v2

Upgrades

Free/Low Cost

If you are considering upgrades you should start with your Antenna as this will give you the most increase in range for the least money, in fact you could increase your range 10 times over in certain circumstances. The antenna you have works fine but I describe it as a starter antenna as it is designed to pick up Digital TV not aircraft. Without any cost you can do a couple of things to increase your range:

Trimming: Because we are listening to one frequency all the time their is an optimum antenna length, this happens to be shorter than the antenna is to start with so using a hacksaw you can trim it down to size. For instructions on how to do this click here. (The document is hosted by Facebook so you may need to be a member, if you are having trouble accessing it just send me an email)

Cake Tin: Users have found that if you place your antenna on a metal surface it helps capture more signals and slightly increases range. Cake Tin lids and Tin Can Lids seem to be favourite.

Position: Simply positioning your antenna in the best place increases range, if you think of it as listening for sounds you can’t hear you won’t go far wrong. So mount it as high as you can, near a window, away from objects that block line of sight to aircraft.

Extending Cable Length: A lot of people want to extend the antenna cable so the antenna can go in a better place, however this is not the best solution. The longer any antenna cable is between antenna and Receiver the more loss of introduce and the less you pick up, instead extend the USB Cable between your computer and receiver as this does not introduce loss and you can get about 10metres without using external power/repeater. Let me know if you would like a quote for a USB extension cable using the email address we have used communicate with you so far, they are reasonable value.

New Antenna (From £17.99)

Budget Internal

The Cheapest Antenna I have seen is sold by Phil from 360radar. He builds them himself specifically for this purpose and his range starts with a simple internal antenna. They cost between £17.99 to £32.99 depending how much cable you require with it. It is a lightweight and compact omni-directional ADS-B antenna that’s small enough and slim enough to conceal behind a curtain or tuck into the corner of an attic but is also robust enough to mount outside.If you’re using the standard ‘Twiglet’ aerial then this will offer a significant improvement in the number of aircraft that you can receive. It offers approximately 5 dB of gain, has an impedance of 75 Ohms and is specifically designed to work with the DVB-T dongles that can be used with dump1090 on PC or Raspberry Pi’s. As standard it includes 1.5 metres of cable terminating in an MCX male plug which is compatible with most DVB-T dongles. If you need longer cable lengths (up to 20 metres) then these can be specified at the time of ordering. If you intend to use a pre-amp in the future (such as the excellent Uputronics ADSB pre-amp) then we would recommend ordering an aerial with 1.5 metres of cable plus one of our extension kits to give you the cable length that you need. You’ll also need two SMA to F-type adapters. It’s fully assembled and ready to fit and comes complete with mounting clips so that it can be screwed to any vertical surface. It’s Length: 1.06 metres.  [Link]

External Antennas

Moonraker Radar 110 [Link] £69.95

Moonraker Radar 200 Super Gainer [Link] £99.95

Moonraker MRM 1090 Micro Mag Antenna [Link] £19.96

Radar-Rama Base Antenna For 1090MHz (Gain 5.0dBi) from Maplin on eBay [Link] [Store] £39.99

Taylor Made RF Ltd ADSB Antenna & Pre Amp Range (Antennas from £20-£90)

Baz Spezialantennen (Baz Special Antennas) (Antennas from €118.70 to €338.70)

Antenna Cable

If you are installing an external Antenna you need to consider which Coax Cable you are going to use. You need a 50Ohm cable but remember there are big difference here as this is where you introduce loss. Generally speaking the cheaper cables have more loss so use the best quality you can afford and the shortest length you need. Personally I used  RG213 and have bought it from both Moonraker and reputable eBay stores in the past. But remember any distance you can cover using a USB extension cable will be better for you as using a USB cable does not generate signal loss where Coax does. Another idea that some people have had is to run their dongle on a Raspberry Pi Microcomputer and enclose it all in a case and mount it just under their external antenna on their antenna mast. This is the best way to reduce the loss caused by Coax cable as you do not need to use much Coax at all. You then connect the Pi to your network by cable or WIFI so you can access it remotely and send the data to the network from there.

Preamps, Filters & Other uses for the DVB-T Dongle

Preamps, Filters

For the technically minded amongst you there are more things you can do to increase your signal after you have upgraded your antenna. This is not something I know much about as I have never used anything like this but there are products available out there like the LNA4ALL (Low Noise Amplifier – For All) for information I would suggest the website RTL-SDR.com who test just about everything you could possibly do with your setup. Pre-amps vary in price up to the £100’s, however their are some cheaper products out there line the Uputronics Filtered Preamp at £35.99

Other uses

As I mentioned before the Chipset in the Dongle is very versatile and can be tuned over a huge part of the Radio Spectrum. Developers have realised this and there are applications written for all sorts of things including: Radio Scanner, Digital Radio Receiver (DAB), UAT Transponder Receiver, FLARM Transponder Receiver (For Gliders), ACARS Receiver, AIS (Ship Transponder) Receiver, Satellite Tracker, GPS Decoder, Weather Satellite Receiver, HAM Receiver, Inmarsat Decoder and JAERO Decoder. But of course you can also use it to watch Freeview TV, in which case let me know and I will supply you with a driver disk and TV remote control for you dongle. Of course you do not want to use the dongle you have just bought for any of these applications because your dongle needs to be feeding to 360radar 24/7 but just send me an email and if I have some dongles in stock I will supply you with one or more at £15 a dongle.

A Better Dongle

Believe it or not there are better dongles out there, you have the basic T2 dongle if you have ordered yours from me. This represents the best value for money in my option but there are more expensive ones that will provide a small increase in range/signal. I would not recommend you upgrade your dongle until you have upgraded your antenna, this is because you can increase your range by a value of 1000% sometimes, where another dongle is unlikely to increase your range anywhere near 100%.

RTL2832U+R820T2 1PPM TCXO

This is believed to be the best available at the moment without the addition of things like filters and amplifiers. It is the standard “T2” with the addition of a temperature compensated oscillator (TCXO) which limits the “drift” off frequency to a claimed 1PPM. There seem to be two different ways to go about the addition of the TCXO, some added at manufacture and some added after. The people that manufacture them with the TXCO say that you can’t trust those that add the TCXO as an addition afterwards but then the folks that add the TXCO on after manufacture say its perfectly fine, I can not offer a judgement either way so its a judgement call for you to make. These either come with the basic “Twigglet”  antenna or a newer and better telescopic metal antenna, both however are basic and if you are serious about things you will want to invest in a better, dedicated antenna.

Flight-aware Prostick

This dongle has come top in a lot of tests and is probably the best dongle you can by at the moment and has built in amplification. There is also a filter you can attach directly onto it which can help again. For details click here.

A Second, Third or Fourth Dongle

You can actually run more than one dongle on a Pi or PC, why would you do this? I hear you ask. Well your primary dongle would be collecting and sharing Mode-S & ADSB data but there are other forms of Transponders out there. Mode-S/ADSB data is the most important for the 360radar network however you can also upload other forms of data to the network too.

FLARM Data

FLARM Transponders were invented or gliders to improve safety, however they have been adopted by powered aircraft too, in fact the Vulcan XH558 was fitted with one for its final year of flight and the BBMF Fleet have them fitted too. They are not as common as Mode-S or ADSB by any means but they have one important feature: They transmit their location, which means only one receiver needs to get a signal for it to show on 360radar, so you can make a big difference if you run a FLARM receiver too. For more information visit the Open Glider Network Project and visit the Glider Tracking Service Glidernet to see what is flying that uses FLARM. You can also select FLARM only data within 360radar by clicking “Menu” -> “Receiver” -> “FLARM”

JAERO

JAERO is a system that provides a satellite based version of VHF ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) commonly used when Aeroplanes are beyond VHF range. Basicly you need a spare satellite dish you can point towards one of the satellites in the network, you need a special LNB and you feed the signal into your dongle. I have included this as you can feed this data into 360radar as well, you can also view what data is coming into the network from JAERO in 360radar by clicking “Menu” -> “Receiver” -> “JAERO” I have not tried it myself as I already have enough satellite dishes on the house and holes through the walls for cables. If you would like to give this a go I would suggest asking a question in the Facebook Group and visiting the JAERO Blog

Feeding to other Networks

You are welcome to feed data to other networks, in fact in can have benefits as a lot of the major networks like FlightRadar24, PlaneFinder & FlightAware offer free premium accounts if you do. They will probably require you to use further programs to feed the same data to them but if you are happy to do this there are benefits to be had. For the more experienced users I would recommend PlanePlotter by COAA which was the Gold Standard for flight tracking before 360radar came along. There are disadvantages with PlanePlotter though, which is why I moved to 360radar. PlanePlotter is a PC Program only, its user group is on Yahoo Groups which is terrible to use and navigate, it is VERY complicated to use but offers a LOT of functionality which can enhance your setup. However if you run into problems with PlanePlotter support can be very hit and miss, you need to read and understand the Wiki & Help Files as well so it is a steep learning curve. If you would like to install PlanePlotter follow the Amazing Video Tutorials by Nic Storey and join the unofficial but far better PlanePlotterForum.co.uk.

Recruit other People & use other Locations

This probably goes without saying but if you have friends who could be interested in Aircraft tracking (Especially Military) then let them know about our Reduced Price Transponder Receiver Scheme too. Every single receiver feeding data to the network increases range and allows us all to see aircraft lower down, so not only will it benefit them but it will benefit every other member of 360radar too. I do not know how long I will run the scheme for either, our normal price for dongles is £15 with a 30 day delivery time however if I wait until I get 10 orders I can get faster shipping but this can only be done with a steady stream of applicants. Also consider running a receiver at another location as well, there is nothing to stop you doing this from our point of view and if you have access to a somewhere near an airport then all the better. If you are technically minded you could build a Raspberry Pi Microcomputer which you can access remotely over the internet that you can leave at a secondary location and it pulls power than a PC would, although you can set up a PC to do exactly the same if you with.

Further Reading

Lean why I chose give endorsement to 360radar

The Help us Track Aircraft Article about our Reduced Price Transponder Receiver Scheme