Comparison: Four ADS-B Antennas

Comparison: Four ADS-B Antennas

Should you fork out $45 for a FlightAware antenna?
Quarter wave (2.7 inches / 6.88 cm) or Half-Wave (5.41 inches / 13.76 cm)?
How does Nooelec's 5dBi antenna perform?
To find out, I used four Raspberries with PiAware and four SMARTs (review linkmanufacturer link).

Antennas tested

1. Nooelec 5dBi ADS-B antenna, $6,
2. Large FlightAware antenna, $45,
3. Telescopic supplied with SMAart, extended to half-wave on metal plane cost: $0,
4. Telescopic supplied with dongle, extended to quarter-wave on metal plane, cost: $0.


Outdoors on a first-floor windowsill, top of antennas at the same level, height above ground 4 meters, overlooking local international airport and Europe - USA flight corridor.
Same vertical plane, but not in the same horizontal location; polar plots might reflect slight positioning differences, but for all intents and purposes except serious hair-splitting, differences are negligible.


Maximum range at 250 degree indicated on plots from Planefinder, all data from FlightAware.

Large FlightAware antenna was best performer, unsurprising considering its humongous size and $45 price tag. To get the most position reports, it is the antenna to buy.
Half-wave came in second, 22 percent difference in total reports received versus FlightAware antenna.
Nooelec's 5dBi high gain antenna is a solid performer for $6, 44 percent less position reports than FlightAware's significantly larger antenna.
4. Quarter wave antenna had worse performance than any other competitor. Cutting black solid antenna supplied with Chinese dongles back to an interim solution, but it's a solution nonetheless.

Draw your own conclusions, data is above.


  1. Hi,
    I did tests my self with Telescope antennas. It doesnt work pushing them just full, half or 5/8 length. You need to find the sweet Spot by modify the lenght bit by bit and check for example the frame rate with adsb Sharp in parallel. The higher the FPS the better. The thing is that changes within less then a millimeter affects the FPS...but after all you can fix the perfect length with Scotch Tape.
    What I did not understand is, I pushed the same nooelec antenna from a friend to my lenght and the Performance was not the same when compare side by side. So just tell everbody the sweet Spot length of my antenna will Not Work because you have to find out yourself. I recommend adsb#. It took me hours to find the best length but I am very happy with it. On higher hills I Receive Signals Up to 450km with the nooelec nesdr smart stick and its simple antenna. But often on hills are antennas for Radio or cell Phone what causes a bad reception. With a swr meter and hackRF I guess the Tuning would be much easier.

  2. Thanks Just a German guy,

    What you've described is fine-tuning for a location, aka your mileage might vary. Physics work up to a point, like whatever wave is a good starting point, after basics you look at local factors, interference, or neighbor using microwave.
    I;m delighted that you took the time and effort to adjust and share, it's a wonderful feeling when bits of metal do what you ask them.
    Welcome to the dark side :-)