LNA Opinions

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Oct 14, 2016
Hello all,

I've been hard at work lately setting up my antenna mast at our new location and i've discovered some interesting things. I've never had an ads/b system before so the first antenna to go up was the flight aware 26" 1090 MHz. Inside I hooked this up with a 1090 filter and the orange pro stick. The reception was excellent, planes were coming in from as far as 180 miles away. So I got around to thinking later on, what could I pick up with this antenna if I removed the filter? Now keep in mind i've been using the stock rtl-sdr antenna inside my shop up until now, which is shielded with metal siding unfortunately.

I really couldn't believe how well it worked from everything as low as air band at 120 MHz all the way up to 853 MHz for the local trunking tower. In fact I can pull in five different weather radio stations the farthest being WXK-74 in Monticello which is 92 miles away. However, I also have an rtl-sdr.com stick in the metal case and if I switch this antenna to that dongle, everything pretty much goes away. 853 barely comes in and nothing else. I'm guessing this has to do with the LNA inside the orange stick.

To get to the point, my plan was to have one antenna/dongle for ads-b, another dongle for general wideband scanning and two more for trunking. The trunking and the general scanning dongles would each have their own antennas as well. The stock stubby ones work fine for trunking and I'm thinking about getting an X50NA for the scanning dongle. This leaves the question, should I get another orange stick for scanning since it works so well with the 20db LNA inside? Or should I get another metal case stick from rtl-sdr.com and pair it with an external LNA?

Everything about the orange pro stick says it's "optimized" for 1090 MHz and obviously I don't want that for scanning but its clear I need some kind of amplifier. Maybe I wouldn't though with the X50?

I know this was kind of long winded but I'd rather do this right and use the right stuff.
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