I run an ADS-B receiver to track airplanes and feed data to sites such as Flightradar24. It’s nothing more than a hobby, plus I really like airplanes! Since antennas don’t work that well in the living room I decided to place one outside to improve my range.
Since my landlord doesn’t allow me to put things on the roof I decided to install an antenna on the balcony instead, which required a 3 meter-or-so post to mount it on.
After debating with other hobbyists about what kind of pole to get, I eventually decided on the RÄCKA. It is a cheap, clean looking solution that would fit my needs.
While I do admit that this antenna holder hack is ridiculously easy (it’s just a pole with some clamps!) I haven’t really found any existing solutions on the internet that make use of IKEA items.
2. Clamp the RÄCKA to any existing post (in my case, the balcony) and tighten up the bolts until the RÄCKA has no more movement.
3. Extend the RÄCKA to the required height and apply tape to prevent it from sliding back down under its own weight.
4. Optionally, apply zipties to keep the antenna’s cable neat.
5. Route the antenna’s cable to your device of choice. In my case, I chucked it into an open window where a Raspberry Pi is sitting in the windowsill.
How long and how much did it cost?
Excluding the €55 antenna I only spent about 10 euros on the RÄCKA and the clamps. I spent maybe 30 minutes constructing everything plus an additional 15 minutes fine-tuning the antenna’s position.
What do you like most about the hack?
It was quick and easy. Not only that it also increased my antenna’s reception by 200%, I am now receiving 140 airplanes throughout the entirety of The Netherlands and Belgium.
What was the hardest part about this antenna holder hack?
Transporting a 2 meter pole back home using only public transport! Installing the antenna would be easier with 2 people due to the unwieldy size.
What to pay special attention to?
Make sure the clamps are really tight. Last thing you want is the whole contraption dropping off the balcony. Also I attached the clamps to the balcony first before lowering the pole into them. This saved me from having to screw in the bolts while at the same time trying to not drop everything down below. I also tied the hollow wrench key to my hand with string so I wouldn’t accidentally drop it.
Looking back, would you have done it differently?
I would have added a fifth clamp to replace the scotch tape in the middle of the RÄCKA. I’m unsure if the tape will withstand the weather over time.
And other thoughts/ comments that you have received about the hack
I’ve heard some concerns about the pole getting hit by lightning strikes, but since there were already existing dishes around the roof from neighbors I figured I’d be safe enough. It’s not the highest point in the area by far. Still, if I ever get really unruly weather I might as well just retract the RÄCKA temporarily.