Comparison: ADS-B Antennas under $50

A fellow ADS-B enthusiast compared five commercially available ADS-B antennas available online for less than $50 last summer and sent me his raw data, as I'm also running a similar test.

In his own words:

"I know you are trying to do a good thing, so perhaps this may or may not help, but wanted to fork over the data I've accumulated for various antennas. My tests basically were premised on readily available and otherwise easy to make and/or well documented antennas under $50.

Here is a picture of the test setup I took last year shortly before sundown:




From the antenna mounts, I had exactly 25 foot of high quality RG-6 (Copper mesh, VF .84) which connected to bone stock FA filters and FA Orange dongles. Gain on both PI3's were set static at -10. I believe it may have been FlightAware 3.00 at the time (Debian addon using Joe's scripts). I went with this setup since it is readily available for the masses and basically a no-brainer to setup. I also decided to plot antennas which were also readily available and under $50. I tested every antenna against the FlightAware 26 inch, which in my batch of tests served as my watermark due to it's performance.
Obviously there are a zillion variables that exist between locations and setups, but as far as I'm concerned, seeing viable results from otherwise identical setups tells a good story - one that many be able to take something away from and use for their greater good. Can't get much closer than 2 mirrored setups the way I see it to compare 2 different antennas. Tests performed under the same conditions at the same time for 24 hour periods."

Full credit to FlightAware forum user Nitr0 for results and data below, I've tracked down antennas used, compiled information and edited images, then added a few words of my own, but that's it.
If you've ran a similar test, please get in touch, either via email, on FlightAware Discussions or via Twitter @RTLSDR4everyone.
I'll add my own results with different antennas later on, if you wish to get notified, subscribe on Twitter by clicking the blue button top left of this page.

Reference Antenna: FlightAware 66cm / 26in - 100%


Cost: $45 on Amazon USA.



Considered by many, including me, as the best professionally made antenna for a reasonable price, all antennas are compared to the FA antenna in this test.
Other antennas' receive performance is expressed as a percentage of total messages received, where FlightAware antenna equals 100 %.

"The Bulgarian" - 97.82% 


Cost: ~ $31 plus shipping on eBay from seller lz3rr:



Statistics:




Polar plot comparison, light grey is FlightAware antenna:



Slovakian Collinear - 95.61%


Cost: ~ $26 plus shipping on eBay from seller stanislavpalo130:


Statistics:


Polar Plot comparison, light grey is FlightAware antenna:




Slovakian 5/8 - 90.18%


Cost: ~ $24 plus shipping on eBay from seller stanislavpalo130:



Statistics:



Polar Plot comparison, light grey is FlightAware antenna:



Stock antenna - 74.77%


Cost: zero, comes with almost all cheap generic dongles.
Statistics:



Polar Plot comparison, light grey is FlightAware antenna:








3.5 dBi coiled - 73.83%


Cost: $3 to $15, Aliexpress sells it for $3.37, $15 on Amazon USA, £5-7 on Amazon UK. Sometimes it's 2.5 dBi gain and comes with an MCX-SMA adapter like this one.



Statistics:



Polar Plot comparison, light grey is FlightAware antenna:


FA forum user abcd567 also ran a trial and found that a stock antenna has higher performance than this whip.

Updates soon


Many thanks to nitr0 for his efforts and providing data above; I'm also running tests versus a FA antenna, so this page will be updated with more comparisons in the future. If you've liked this comparison and want more, subscribe on Twitter to get notified, and if you've ran a similar side-by-side real-life test, please get in touch, help others, share your data. Raw info or a full post like this one, anonymous or with full credits as you wish.






3 comments:

  1. Was the stock antenna trimmed? I have the same impression of the stock one. Very good performance pricewise. Get 340 km range from indoor by window.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wasn't trimmed AFAIK, are you high up in the mountains or amplified and filtered? Range is location dependent.

    ReplyDelete