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Tracking Planes with RTL-SDR and Dump1090 (satsignal.eu)
72 points by acdanger on Oct 21, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments

Dump1090 is a clear example of a weekend project that can escape the abandonware route. I wrote it in ~2 weeks during xmas of two years ago, and almost never touched it again if not for a couple of hours more, for lack of time. However the OSS miracle happened, and people continued to use it, fork it, modify it, and have fun. It does not turn like that very often.

I've been running a similar setup for a few months, feeding data to http://www.flightradar24.com/. If you upload data to them like this then you get premium access to their site and app which is nice. In fact I found that using the site was easier than accessing my own data on the pi so I haven't really used planeplotter etc.

I found that I can pick up a lot of planes even with the stubby antenna that came with the DVB stick. But I'm pretty close to the Heathrow flight path which gives me a slight advantage!

The dump1090 process uses 30-40% CPU on my pi so I start it up with nice -n+19. And it does seem to crash quite often so I've got something to check and restart it.

Cut the stubby antenna down to 68 millimeters and it will do even better. Set it on a cookie sheet for more effectiveness.

antirez, i recall you from the good old days, and i was pleasantly surprised that you hadnt given up on hacking around. this is great stuff, it opened up an entire cottage industry, and i am personally grateful. i had always been a radio guy with tons of heavy gear, using clunky serial interfaces to interact with my radios. now its all practically portable and multitudes more affordable. thank you for all your work, and for transforming an entire industry. i use dump1090 when i am not tuning pirates or -trying- to capture medical pocsag/flex.

The RTL-SDR is a ton of fun!

I built a small ADS-B Antenna out of Coaxial cable and even inside my Seattle apartment, I can track planes ~150 miles away.

You can also tap into trunking systems and decode NOAA weather satellite images.

An awesome, comprehensive writeup. I really would like to see more people setting up ADS-B receivers at home and expand the coverage.

Personally, I run dump1090 on a cheap TP-Link WR703N at home [1]

[1] - http://blog.y3xz.com/blog/2014/04/24/feeding-data-to-flightr...

A somewhat unrelated question. It seems like beacons broadcasting their GPS location at 978 MHz (30cm) from altitude could be used to measure parameters of the atmosphere. Take 3 frequency-locked receivers, separated by a few meters, and it seems like, one can get the wind vector along the line of the airplane/receiver. Feasible?


^this guy gets about 500km coverage with the setup of antenna he has

For the uninitiated, could someone briefly go over this? I find it extremely interesting and would like to pick it up as a hobby.

What kind of hardware you need to get started? How does it track the planes, do the planes broadcast their info periodically? Hooking this up to a web frontend using Google Maps or Google Earth sounds like a very fun weekend project.

You need an [RTL-SDR USB device ($8)](http://www.amazon.com/RTL-SDR-DVB-T-Stick-RTL2832U-R820T/dp/...) and an [ADS-B antenna (Homemade from Coaxial: $5)](http://www.balarad.net/).

Oh, and a computer.

It's a pretty cheap way to get started with amateur radio!

Thanks for the links. I looked into doing something like this a while back (I already have my own stratum 1 NTP servers at home and work and this is kinda similar) but I only found commercial receivers that were a bit more than what I wanted to spend. This is quite affordable.


Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS–B) is a cooperative surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked.

-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_dependent_surveillan...

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