Earlier this summer I had set up a flight tracker using an RTL-SDR and some software called dump1090. It worked great at the time; I could track about 20 or so aircraft at a given time using the stock antenna I got with my NooElec branded rtl-sdr. That’s not terrible, but I knew I could have done a lot better.

Today I decided to build a new antenna. I searched through different antenna designs online and ended up settling on an antenna called the cantenna. To sum it up, it’s basically a soda can and coax. After I built it, I was able to track a whole lot more aircraft, and the range was much better. It was like night and day to compare the two.

The cantenna

After using this antenna setup for over 24 hours, I was able to track aircraft 300 km away from my location. In some cases I was able to track some even further away, some almost 350-400km away!

range image

I hope to eventually install this antenna outside and use a raspberry pi to get the ADSB information instead of using my old dualcore laptop. Time’s running out for that though. :(

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