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Raspberry Pi to track air traffic

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:11 pm
It is possible to track local (400 km) air traffic by listening to the signals sent by air craft for traffic control and collision avoidance. This signal is sent on 1090 mhz. This is line of sight so any obstacle can cause issues including trees. There are several ways to do this but I will point you to the articles and parts that describe my interest in using one of my Raspberry Pis. If you like you can use a computer but will need to do some research as I have not looked into this setup.
Ads-b ... _broadcast
TIS-B ... _broadcast

I am using a Raspberry Pi (2), RTL-SDR with a built in 1090 filter and small antenna mounted on my Eaves Trough on the second floor. In the future I hope to get a cable to extend it higher. I live in Meaford and have the Escarpment south and west of me. The higher I get the antenna I’ll be able to get planes closer to the ground in that direction. Currently I can get to around Orangeville for planes at 10K meters and above.
Raspberry Pi
I have a raspberry pi 2 that was purchased at . You will need a way to connect to the internet. Ethernet (cable) or wireless. If you purchase a Pi 3 it has wireless built in. I purchased a small and cheap wifi usb dongle.
To learn more about Raspberry Pis try ... i?view=all . Adafruit products can be purchased at buyapi and if they don’t have it just email them and they will get it.
I was using a generic RTL-SDR (RTL-SDR is a very cheap software defined radio that uses a DVB-T TV tuner dongle) at first but then purchased one specifically for this purpose produced by the website It has a built in 1090 filter. . I did this because I would be using the flightaware site. They have a tutorial on setting up a raspberry pi with their pi image called PiAware so that you don’t need to do any installing and setup.
Antenna wise you can use pretty much anything that will receive 1090. I used one that came with the original RTL-SDR. Flight Aware also have an antenna you can purchase for the purpose that is suppose to be even better. I might try it. If I do I’ll get back to you about how it worked.
The benefits of working with flightaware are that you get an enterprise account for sending your flight data to them and you get a nice presentation of the data on your own rasp pi.

Flightaware only shows flights that have a registered flight plan and exclude planes that have opted out of its service. With your own node you can now see all flights around you that are sending a signal in real time. FlightAware delays their information for obvious reasons.

Have fun and let me know if you need any help. Also you can check out my piaware live at

I've attached a few screenshots of my piaware.