Basic Guide to Solo Antennas (Stock, Alfa, FPVLR)

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I'm hoping this post can be stickied to the top. Lots of newbs, and apparently everyone wants to know about antenna options. So rather than answering the same question 57 times per week, perhaps this will be a good place for those answers to be found. I put together these infographics to explain the difference between the stock antennas, the popular alfa paddles, and the popular FPVLR type system. Some of images in these graphics are my own. Some of them I stole from the internet. Sue me later. Some of my spelling may be wrong too. I generally don't care :)







 
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Are there any aftermarket omni antennas that will work with the Solo controller & outperform the stock antennas?
How about these?
Not recommended. They will waste half their energy blasting into the ground under your feet. A higher gain omni antenna is really only useful if it is mounted vertically on a mast or rooftop. Attached to the controller, they're not able to work properly.
 
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Putting inline amplifiers between the controller and the antennas is an option. You need to do it right though. There is a such thing as too much when it comes to RF amplification. So if done wrong, you can make it worse. Honestly, for the vast majority of users, it is not necessary.
 
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These are new but anyone tried them? Wonder if the science behind using silver is true?

Silver Model

Copper Model

The panel antennas are what I'm really interested however. Sounds like their range is a little less than the style above but they have a wider beam.

These (ITE-DBS03.3) are no longer being manufactured but there are other brands. The DSLRPros are over priced however and their reputation sucks.
 
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Great post! Since this is now the stickied thread on antennas, I have some follow up questions for any of you with experience.

1. Do the Alphas improve the chance of the signal penetrating through objects like trees (compared to stock antennas)? I've seen comments of them being poor at penetration, offering no advantage over stock. Of course it's not smart to lose line of sight but it's still good to know the strengths and weakness.

2. In your experience, can it be somewhat difficult to keep the FPVLRs pointing well enough to avoid losing a signal and getting an automatic Return to Home? How long does it take to trigger an RTH if you point the controller away?

3. Someone said in a video that the FPVLRs should always be parallel to the ground. This post is suggesting that's untrue and they should point straight at the drone, including straight up if the drone is directly above you.

4. Do the Alphas also need to be directed laterally and vertically? There was no mention of them in that regard in the OP.

5. How difficult would it be for someone to DIY some of their own long-range antennas (either FPVLR-style, or perhaps cloverleaf) that would work well even for the video?
 
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1. Do the Alphas improve the chance of the signal penetrating through objects like trees (compared to stock antennas)? I've seen comments of them being poor at penetration, offering no advantage over stock. Of course it's not smart to lose line of sight but it's still good to know the strengths and weakness.
Nope. If you descend behind trees or a building, you're going to lose it. It might give you an edge on the first few leaves. Nothing more.

2. In your experience, can it be somewhat difficult to keep the FPVLRs pointing well enough to avoid losing a signal and getting an automatic Return to Home? How long does it take to trigger an RTH if you point the controller away?
Nope. They're all 40-60 degrees, which actually pretty forgiving. It isn't a laser beam.

3. Someone said in a video that the FPVLRs should always be parallel to the ground. This post is suggesting that's untrue and they should point straight at the drone, including straight up if the drone is directly above you.
Definitely pointing at the drone.

4. Do the Alphas also need to be directed laterally and vertically? There was no mention of them in that regard in the OP.
Seems the same as #3? Pointing at the drone. If you look at the first picture, you'll see the antennas at the detent where they are aimed up a bit towards the sky where the drone will be.

5. How difficult would it be for someone to DIY some of their own long-range antennas (either FPVLR-style, or perhaps cloverleaf) that would work well even for the video?
You need to be precise in your measurements, have the tools, and the patience. I have none of that.[/QUOTE]
 
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5. How difficult would it be for someone to DIY some of their own long-range antennas (either FPVLR-style, or perhaps cloverleaf) that would work well even for the video?
Keep in mind this is all 2.4GHz... so it's nothing that hasnt been done a million times over... so dont assume 'FPV' is a thing when looking for antennas, it's just the current buzz word for churning our the same old antenna products.
For example many years ago there was a large global community of 'freenets' that had all sorts of nerds (including myself :-$ ) designing and building all sorts of antenna solutions. just google stuff like 'cantenna' or 'pringles cantenna'.

Back in 2003 I built a helically would 18dB antenna to receive video from a model rocket... the circular polarisation was massively superior to standard panels and yagi's mainly because you could never predict the z plane orientation of the rocket. Unfortunately this design isnt exactly suitable for drone applications (it was a held over the shoulder to aim kinda thing), otherwise I'd be using it now.

Short version: unless you have someone to hold and aim a high gain antenna(s) for you, sticking with these 5-8dB gain panel/patch antennas is the best way to go.
 
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unless you have someone to hold and aim a high gain antenna(s) for you, sticking with these 5-8dB gain panel/patch antennas is the best way to go
Have you tried making your own, for drone applications including Solo? I did some searching and all I could find was cloverleaf-making instructions, but I haven't seen those effectively used for these types of drones at the ranges many people are looking for.
 
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Directional cloverleafs are probably the most common for long range UAS control on 2.4ghz. And for good reason. Circular polarized antennas are not susceptible to cross polarization loss. These things can get you out 8,000 to 10,000ft. What kind of range do you see many people looking for that is beyond nearly 2 miles. If you need to go further than that, you're using the wrong platform!

Longer range would require a much more narrow beamwidth antenna such as a yagi (think small TV antenna looking thing). And you would need an server controlled antenna tracking device on a tripod or vehicle roof. These devices monitor the GPS location of the UAV, and use motors and servos to keep the antenna pointed directly at it. The solo itself would need upgraded antennas mounted externally on the sides to go with it. This type of extremely long range flight is most often done using fixed wing aircraft rather than multirotors.
 
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I'm not looking to do better than FPVLRs or Alphas, I'm just looking to get better-than-stock antennas with something not-difficult to make myself. I only mentioned cloverleaf because it seems like a decent doable project. Would 2.4gHz cloverleafs likely have a narrower beam width than Alphas or even FPVLRs have?
 
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A cloverleaf antenna (a specific design of a circular polarized antenna) is not directional. So they're not the kind of thing you need to point at the solo. They would likely perform as good or better than the stock antennas though. Not for long range. Just better.
 
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Nope. If you descend behind trees or a building, you're going to lose it. It might give you an edge on the first few leaves. Nothing more.
The reason I asked about the Alphas is because I've heard people comment on the FPVLRs being able to penetrate some objects somewhat (without a booster).
 
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Have you tried making your own, for drone applications including Solo? I did some searching and all I could find was cloverleaf-making instructions, but I haven't seen those effectively used for these types of drones at the ranges many people are looking for.
No... the whole reason I have a solo is that it's a one man device.
I've got a small arsenal of 2.4GHz antennas in my garage... but 90% of the time I fly with the stock antennas... you cant beat the forgiving 'fat lobe' of a basic 3dB dipole antenna. (although I am using the microtik cards)

As pedals said above, solo isnt really the right platform of ultra long range stuff... Dont get me wrong, I love the Sololink concept... for it's intended purpose it's still the best thing out there, but 802.11 wifi is just way too fragile at range.

As for cloverleafs, the theory kinda works... circ polarisation effectively has 3dB loss regardless of the antenna polarisation at the other end. cross polarisation however (ie horiz to vert) will result in up to 20dB loss. So you could make the argument that a low gain cloverleaf with 3dB polarisation loss is better than a 5dB panel antenna with 'possibly' 20dB polarisation loss.
Downside: gain is very low
Upside: lobes are fat and forgiving
 

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