Review - LNA4ALL

Last update Nov 22, 2016
LNA, RTL-SDR, SDRSharp, ADSB, Weather Satellites, AIS, antenna, setup, testing, review, comparison, DIY, Homebrew,

Since writing this review nearly three years ago, the LNA4ALL has become the go-to solution for most enthusiasts. I've left this post largely untouched, only adding a few images.
Still available, now with optional factory bias-T, still highly recommended.


What is it?


A small electronic device making radio signals 100-150 times stronger, covers frequency range from 28 to 2300+ MHz. For HF (below 30 MHz), a separate LNA4HF is available.
Officially called a low-noise amplifier, LNA for short.
Costs 25 euros delivered, helps you hear and see more signals of interest.


Ordering and customer service 


The LNA under review is available from this website: LNA For ALL.
Contact the seller, Adam directly via email for orders: adam9a4qvwashington@yahoo.com/ Remove the capital of the USA to get his real email: name (4letters) and callsign (5 characters).
Seller only charges you when the item arrives, no worries over items getting lost. Payment via Paypal.
Shipping to Ireland took 5 working days, amplifier in a bubble wrap envelope with drawings.
Communication is good, questions via email answered quickly, technical shortcomings revealed openly.
Amplifier worked out of the box.

Why?


- To run the RTL stick with less gain and to achieve a lower system noise figure,
- To get the maximum from your antennas,
- To add range to your reception ability.

Testing setup


Commercial radio, airplane speech, Weather satellite signals, AIS and airplane position signals were tested. If the LNA delivers as promised on these frequencies, we can assume that it will also perform in the band of your interest. Antenna is a broadband, commercially-available discone to eliminate antenna errors. No number-crunching for the review, check the images for exact dB values.
I paid for my LNA, and have no business connection with the manufacturer.

Commercial radio / Upconverter range



Signal strength increase as promised.

LNA, RTL-SDR, SDRSharp, ADSB, Weather Satellites, AIS, antenna, setup, testing, review, comparison, DIY, Homebrew,

This band if of particular interest to those who have an upconverter for shortwave reception.

Airband


Performance slightly better than expected.


LNA, RTL-SDR, SDRSharp, ADSB, Weather Satellites, AIS, antenna, setup, testing, review, comparison, DIY, Homebrew,


Airplane chatter between Plane and Approach/Tower/Ground comes booming in, much better audio, pilot seems talking to you. Also tested with an Icom IC-R5 handheld receiver, no need to use outside discone, as clear reception indoors.

LNA, RTL-SDR, SDRSharp, ADSB, Weather Satellites, AIS, antenna, setup, testing, review, comparison, DIY, Homebrew, NOAA, APT

Weather Satellites / NOAA APT reception


Signals are visibly stronger in the waterfall display (quickly connected the LNA during a recent pass), less banded noise in images, same noise floor requires less gain in SDRSharp.
As less gain is required, the dongle runs cooler, less internal noise is generated, images are clearer.  


Airplane position signals / ADSB


Without amplifier, maximum range was 46nm (83km).
With the LNA4ALL, maximum range increased to 52nm (94km).
ADSB Sharp with Tuner AGC on, adsbScope for monitoring, maximum range and aircraft not dropped selected.
Monitoring local traffic for few hours and using range rings to establish maximum range, all equipment including antenna height (4 metres or 12 foot) the same during testing.


What you get



A small circuit board, no power supply, no instructions where goes what, no clue how it works except for a diagram showing components and performance.
If you know radio, soldering and electronics, it will make sense, if not, you will turn your 25 euros around, wondering what to do with it and where to start.
The manufacturer states that a "Turn a key solution is delivered" - that's not true. You have to provide power to it.
Note to manufacturers: Please send boards - or make it an option - with a red and black wire for power connector. This nonsense with USB connectors, pins and holes should stop. 


Power and mobile operation 


Works with 9 to 15 volts.
Officially no over-voltage or wrong polarity protection. My experience is:
It seems indestructible: if the preamp receives 9V to 15V, connected properly, it will operate.
Seems to survive user errors:
- 12V car battery, connected the wrong way: amplifier survives.
- 12V car battery, short-circuited during operation, sparks everywhere: survives.
- Amplifier mounted on top of antenna, no enclosure nor protection, heavy rain: works.
- Rain on amplifier: all works fine.
A great advantage is that either inexpensive 9V batteries can be used for mobile operation, or directly powered by 12V car batteries; no converter needed.
Mount it inside an electrical junction box, power it with a 9V battery and you're ready to go.
Alternatively, you may order a bias-T enabled LNA4ALL directly from Adam for a few dollars extra.



Conclusion

After a good discone antenna, this should be the next addition to any RTL-SDR setup.

1 comment:

  1. Could you explain how I can power it up? I have dongle and Hackrf and no idea how to connect them to LNA4ALL? I am new :)

    ReplyDelete