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Ground Control to Major Tom – Part 2 – External

Welcome back to the second part of my Flight Tracking project. If you haven’t already, check out part 1 for information on how to build one of these amazing devices. https://muckypaws.com/2021/02/08/ground-control-to-major-tom-part-1-internal/

Here’s the parts list used: –

StuffWhereNotesApprox Cost
External Aerial1090Mhz ADS-Bhttps://thepihut.com/products/flightaware-1090mhz-ads-b-antenna-66cm-26inYou will need additional fittings if you don’t already have an aerial mast.£44
SMA-Male to N-Type Male Antenna Cablehttps://thepihut.com/products/sma-male-to-n-type-male-antenna-cable-5mAvailable pre-made in lengths up to 10m£5-£11
ADS-B 1090Mhz Filtered Preamplifierhttps://thepihut.com/products/ads-b-1090mhz-filtered-preamplifierClean an improve the signal processing, especially in urban areas.£43.50
1090Mhz ADS-B Bandpass SMA Filterhttps://thepihut.com/products/flightaware-1090-mhz-ads-b-bandpass-sma-filterAdditional signal filtering. £17
SMA Couplerhttps://thepihut.com/products/sma-coupler-sma-male-to-sma-maleFor joining the main aerial and cable to the pre-amplifier.£2
USB to Mini-USB Cablehttps://smile.amazon.co.uk/AmazonBasics-Male-Mini-B-Cable-Feet/dp/B00NH11N5AGot loads of these knocking about as I’m sure you will.£5
Aerial Mast Pole Mounting Brackethttps://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00OU19WH2Something to mount the aerial mast to.£7
Aerial Masthttps://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B003GSNWJEI used an offset mast to avoid the chimney stack.£20
Anchor Bolts for Mounting Brackethttps://www.screwfix.com/p/easyfix-shield-anchors-m8-x-70mm-5-pack/9650gBolts of course for the mounting bracket. M8/M10 70mm are suitable.£5
Additional Parts List for External Aerial

The total cost of additional components is around £150 depending on your needs and how you can mount the aerial. If you have a mast that is readily accessible you can shave about £32 off this since the external aerial is equipped with U-Brackets.

Assembly is very straight forward. Disconnect the internal aerial from the Decoder USB Dongle connect up the equipment as shown below. Add the external aerial to the pre-amp, add power via Mini-USB to the Pre-Amp and Power up the Raspberry Pi again.

I’ve seen increased range in all directions to 250 miles with craft at altitudes of 33,000ft which is pretty impressive given I’m not using radar!

If you’re interested in mounting the various components on a backboard or your wall at home, I’ve provided the STL files for you to print, found here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4755544

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