How to maximize rewards

There are many ways to increase your rewards, some are from optimizing your station, but location can also play a major role.

Optimizing Hardware

The most common setup within our community is a Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB) or a later version, an ADS-B usb station, and an ADS-B outdoor antenna. If you navigate to the tab, you can see recommended options. These recommendations should get you to a pretty good place on the hardware side; the next step is to optimize your location.

Location

The name of the game is getting as much clear line of sight, of the horizon, as you possibly can. So, in a perfect scenario, you would live in a house on a hill, with no trees around, and you put the antenna on the roof. Now, we understand that this is not always possible, but it should give you an idea. For most people, just getting the antenna outside and up higher is the best thing to do.

The roof is best, a balcony can be good, or even just inside the roof in the attic (provided you don't have a metal roof). Utilizing an indoor antenna will not provide very much coverage, and using an outdoor antenna but keeping it inside, such as in a window, for example, is also not recommended. Windows tend to be worse than, for example, keeping it in the attic as most modern windows reduce radio frequencies. Many other external building materials can block/reduce RF such as concrete or stucco/render.

Optimizing Gain

Whether you have a usb ADS-B station with an onboard LNA (Low Noise Amplifier) or an external pre-amp, using the proper gain setting can help your message/craft rates increase dramatically. The max gain setting is typically more detrimental than helpful. We also do not recommend using an auto-gain script if you are interested in achieving your best stats possible, but it will get you about 75+% of the way there. Spend the time required to set your gain manually and properly.

A video is available on our YouTube channel to assist you in getting your gain set properly:

Cables

Most of the time you can get by with lower quality cables if your run from the antenna to the usb station is short (under a couple meters). As the cable length requirement increases, so should your cable quality choice as you will increase signal loss over long runs using cheaper cables.

You can google for 'cable signal loss calculator' but one example from a well known manufacturer can be found here: https://timesmicrowave.com/calculator/

Capture unique data points

Another way to maximize rewards is to be able to capture data that other people covering the same area cannot capture. A great example is if you are able to deploy close to an airport and have a clear line of sight to the airport runway. If you can manage to capture data from planes rolling or standing on the runway/ground, most likely, you will capture a lot more data compared to other participants who only capture planes higher up in the sky. This applies to both large and small airports since the planes transmit data at all times, even while on the ground.

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