Radio For Everyone: Testing Several ADS-B Antennas Under $50

Over on his blog ‘Radio for Everyone’ Akos has shared results submitted to him by FlightAware forum user ‘Nitr0’ which compares several ADS-B antennas that cost under $50 USD. The antenna that we most recommend for ADS-B is the FlightAware antenna, but for European buyers there are also many lower cost alternatives available on eBay, most of which are made by fellow radio hobbyists or hams. The tests use the six antennas listed below, comparing each one against the ‘reference’ FlightAware antenna.

  1. The FlightAware Antenna – $45 USD
  2. A Bulgarian made antenna by LZ3RR – $31 USD + shipping
  3. A Slovakian made collinear antenna by stanislavpalo130 – $25 USD + shipping
  4. A Slovakian made 5/8 antenna by stanislavpalo130 – $24 USD
  5. RTL-SDR stock antenna – Included with generic RTL-SDRs
  6. A 3.5 dBi loaded whip – $3 to $15 USD

In summary the tests seem to show that nothing beats the FlightAware antenna, with the closest in performance being the Bulgarian made antenna. We should mention however, without knowing the real radiation patterns, SWR and various other factors it is hard to say which one will work best for everyone. Different locations/obstacles/mountings could mean that antennas with different designs and therefore radiation patterns work better than others. But it seems that the FlightAware antenna is the top performer in the common scenario of being able to mount the antenna on a roof with a good view of the horizon.

Two ADS-B antennas being tested by Akos.
Two ADS-B antennas being tested by Nitr0.

2 comments

  1. Akos Czermann

    Stock trimmed to 68.8mm had 27.7% more in one day in my testing, but then, I had 60-ish percent vs FA antenna on a stock. My margin of error is 15% on three antenna mounts.
    “Random length antenna cannot give good results” depends on location and antenna positioning. Don’t get bogged down on antenna, we got amplification 🙂 Get an Uputronics wideband for $45 or a Pro Stick then talk about what not works.

  2. Max

    The stock antenna and loaded whip are worth to mention only to show that a random length antenna cannot give good results. It would be interesting to compare a stock antenna trimmed to quarter wave length.

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