Category: Airband

Dash Mounted ADS-B With an RTL-SDR Blog V3

Reddit user [Bobcalamarie] recently [posted] about how he uses his car dash mounted Android tablet along with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 and a magnetic mount antenna while sitting in traffic to track aircraft overhead.

We’ve seen something similar to this once before when [Signals Everywhere] uploaded a video showing off ADS-B reception (among other things) to a dash-mounted Windows tablet and an Android head unit.

The software used by Bobcalamarie is the Android [Avare ADS-B] software which can be found in the Google Play Store. However, other applications exist for Windows, Linux, and other operating systems as well. Some software such as [Virtual Radar Server] even allows you to set-up alerts for specific types of aircraft. Which while we wouldn’t condone it, it might come in handy for someone in traffic.

What would you do if you had an SDR installed in your vehicle? We would love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.

Dash Mounted ADS-B Reception

RadarBox Optimized ADS-B Antenna + RTL-SDR Bundle 15% Off Sale

Over in our store we're currently selling a RadarBox branded bundle that includes an ADS-B optimized antenna with 10 meters of coax, and an ADS-B optimized RTL-SDR dongle. RadarBox24 is an ADS-B aggregation flight tracking service similar to other services like FlightRadar24 and FlightAware. The set is RadarBox branded, but it can be used with any tracking service, or just for your own ADS-B station.

The bundle is now on sale with 15% off! This brings the price of this bundle down to $42.45 plus shipping. The sale will last until 19 September and only while stocks last.

To purchase please visit our store and scroll down to find the RadarBox bundle Add to Cart button.

The antenna has 7 dBi gain, 50 (+-5) Ohm impedance, and is made from fiberglass and aluminum. It is fully waterproof and outdoor rated with 10 meters of coax cable and includes mounting clamps. The RadarBox RTL-SDR is specifically optimized for 1090 MHz ADS-B reception with it's built in filter and low noise amplifier.

The bundle ships out once per week and tracking is provided 1-2 days after shipping.

RadarBox Bundle: Includes 1x Outdoor ADS-B Antenna, 1x ADS-B Optimized RTL-SDR
RadarBox Bundle: Includes 1x Outdoor ADS-B Antenna AND 1x ADS-B Optimized RTL-SDR

Automatically Photographing Passing Aircraft with an RTL-SDR, Pi 3, and IoT Software

Arun Venkataswamy has recently completed a write up about his system which automatically captures images of passing aircraft. It works by using a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR to listen to ADS-B broadcasts from aircraft. These broadcasts contain the live current location and altitude of all aircraft in his area. When a landing aircraft is detected to be passing near his house, the Raspberry Pi sends a signal to another Raspberry Pi connected to a camera on his balcony, and that snaps a photo of the passing aircraft.

In terms of software, Arun uses dump1090 as the ADS-B decoder. For communications between the two Raspberry Pi's he uses Node-RED and Mosquitto in order to communicate with MQTT. On the second Raspberry Pi, gPhoto2 captures images from the camera, and then ImageMagick is used to write some text about the aircraft and photo on the image. Arun's post goes in further detail about the code and conditions he uses to determine when a photo should be snapped.

In the past we've posted about a similar project where an RTL-SDR and Raspberry Pi based ADS-B tracker was used with a servo mounted video camera to track and record video of passing aircraft.

Automatically Taking Photos of Passing Aircraft with a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR
Automatically Taking Photos of Passing Aircraft with a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR

A Remote ADS-B, ACARS, VDL2 and Air Traffic Control Voice Monitoring Station with LTE Connection

Over on Reddit u/tsimola has posted about his remote ADS-B station that is accessed via an LTE connection. When an opportunity came up to install a remote ADS-B station on a tall building with unobstructed 360 degree views, tsimola decided to build the best ADS-B monitoring station that he could, and make sure that it would be easily to maintain and monitor from afar.

He notes that his ADS-B station consists of a FlightAware Prostick Plus and 16-element collinear coaxial antenna. The following components are also used:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 booting and running from SSD drive (Raspbian and ADSB Receiver Project package)
  • Power via UPS (1 hour and 45-minute runtime) and text message controlled power socket (for hard reboots)
  • Powered USB hub with three basic RTL-SDR dongles (ACARS, VDL Mode 2 and voice)
  • Three temperature sensors and one humidity sensor, 80 mm exhaust fan (filtered air intakes)
  • Magnetic switch for push notifications if the lid is opened (IFTTT and Webhooks)
  • LTE/4G router for Internet connection

In addition to the ADS-B station, tsimola has also added ACARS, VDL2, and AM voice air traffic control monitoring with a second station in the same location that utilizes three RTL-SDR dongles. This second airband station is connected to a 128 MHz tuned airband dipole antenna, with an LNA4all and GPIO labs airband filter.

As well as descriptions of the hardware, tsimola's post goes over his software choices and explains how it is securely accessed. We think that this is a very well put together build that should be replicated in other locations too.

A remote ADS-B, ACARS, VDL2 and Air Traffic Control Monitoring Station.
A remote ADS-B, ACARS, VDL2 and Air Traffic Control Monitoring Station.

[Also seen on Hackaday]

Android ADS-B Flight Tracker with 3D Aircraft Display

ADSB Flight Tracker is an Android App that allows you to display ADS-B flight data in either 2D or 3D. It works either with data shared from others over the internet via aggregation sites like adsbexchange.com, or via your own home ADS-B receiver data coming from an RTL-SDR and dump1090 server on your home network. You can also directly connect to an RTL-SDR that is running on your phone and this will allow you to get data faster with less lag. Using data shared by others from the internet could have a delay of a few seconds.

In order to keep using the 3D and RTL-SDR features you'll need to unlock them for a small in-app purchase of $2 for each feature. Initially you get about 30 minutes trial time however.

2D and 3D Screenshots from ADS-B Flight Tracker
2D and 3D Screenshots from ADS-B Flight Tracker

Some interesting 3D videos were also recently posted to the apps Twitter page @ADSBFlightTrkr

Tracking Company Jets with ADS-B to Give an Edge to Hedge Fund Investors

Financial news site Bloomberg recently ran an article about how hedge fund managers are using ADS-B to track private company aircraft in order to help predict the next megadeal between companies. They explain with an example:

In April, a stock research firm told clients that a Gulfstream V owned by Houston-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. had been spotted at an Omaha airport. The immediate speculation was that Occidental executives were negotiating with Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to get financial help in their $38 billion offer for rival Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Two days later, Buffett announced a $10 billion investment in Occidental.

There’s some evidence that aircraft-tracking can be used to get an early read on corporate news. A 2018 paper from security researchers at the University of Oxford and Switzerland’s federal Science and Technology department, tracked aircraft from three dozen public companies and identified seven instances of mergers-and-acquisitions activity. “It probably shouldn’t be your prime source of investing information, but as a feeder, as an alert of something else what might be going on, that’s where this work might be useful,” says Matthew Smith, a researcher at Oxford’s computer science department and one of the authors.

"Alternative data" collection firms like Quandl Inc. have services like "corporate aviation intelligence", where they use ADS-B data to keep tabs on private aircraft, then sell their data on to hedge funds and other investors who are hoping to gain an edge in the stock market.

Popular flight tracking sites that aggregate ADS-B data like FlightAware and FlightRadar24 censor data from private jets on their public maps upon the request of the owner, but it's not known if they continue to sell private jet data on to other parties. ADS-B Exchange is one ADS-B aggregator that promises to never censor flights, however the data is only free for non-commercial use. The value from using companies like Quandl is that they probably have a much more accurate database of who each private jet belongs to.

The Bloomberg article also mentions another use case for tracking private flights, which is  tracking the movements of known dictators via their private jets. We previously posted an article about this too. We've also in the past seen ADS-B data used to track world leaders, and help United Nations advisers track flights suspected of violating an arms embargo.

ADS-B data is typically collected these days with a low cost SDR like the RTL-SDR. We have a tutorial on setting up your own ADS-B home tracker here.

Features of Quandl Inc's Corporate Aviation Intelligence Service.
Features of Quandl Inc's Corporate Aviation Intelligence Service.

New Products in Store: RadarBox ADS-B Bundle Including Outdoor ADS-B Antenna and ADS-B Optimized RTL-SDR Dongle

A while back we posted about flight tracking company RadarBox.com who had launched their 1090 MHz ADS-B optimized RTL-SDR. Like other ADS-B optimized RTL-SDR's, the dongle contains a 1090 MHz filter and a low noise amplifier that reduces the noise figure, resulting in better SNR, and thus more planes spotted at further distances.

We spoke with RadarBox and asked if they could provide a low cost RTL-SDR + Antenna bundle for us. That bundle is now available in our store for $49.95 + shipping. Shipping takes about 2-3 weeks and costs between $10 - $25 depending on your country. Shipping costs will automatically added to the cart on checkout (please ignore other shipping options and choose free shipping unless you have other items in the cart). Please note that due to the larger size this will be shipped in a cylindrical package from a separate Chinese warehouse, and tracking info will come a few days later in a separate email.

The bundle includes:

  • 1x RadarBox ADS-B 1090 MHz SMA Outdoor Antenna with mounting brackets
  • 1x RadarBox ADS-B Optimized 1090 MHz RTL-SDR

The antenna has 7 dBi gain, 50 (+-5) Ohm impedance, and is made from fiberglass and aluminum. It is fully waterproof and outdoor rated. This is a great set at a great price to get started tracking planes with ADS-B.

To purchase, please click the Add to Cart button below or visit our store at www.rtl-sdr.com/store. Please note we only have limited stock of this product! NOTE: The first shipment of this product will be on July 2nd.

Add to cart
RadarBox Bundle: Includes 1x Outdoor ADS-B Antenna, 1x ADS-B Optimized RTL-SDR
RadarBox Bundle: Includes 1x Outdoor ADS-B Antenna, 1x ADS-B Optimized RTL-SDR

 

Stratux 1090 MHz + 978 MHz Diplexer Now Available

Recently the company Stratux released a new ADS-B/UAT diplexer PCB. This is useful if you have a single antenna and want to feed two RTL-SDR dongles, with one receiving 1090 MHZ ADS-B and the second receiving 978 MHz UAT. The filter consists of a splitter and two SAW filters.

ADS-B is short for Automatic Dependant Surveillance Broadcast and is used to help track aircraft in the sky. It is transmit at 1090 MHz and the signal contains aircraft data such as the location, speed, altitude and aircraft call sign. ADS-B is utilized worldwide.

UAT is short for Universal Access Tranceiver and is transmit at 978 MHz. Like ADS-B it is used to keep track of aircraft, however UAT is only available in the USA and only for aircraft that fly below 18,000ft. It is a little cheaper and unlike ADS-B, UAT transmissions can also contain weather and traffic data.

US aircraft owners/operators that fly below 18,000ft can choose to install either UAT or ADS-B transmitters in their aircraft, so in the US a complete monitoring solution needs to monitor both 1090 MHz and 978 MHz.

The Stratux Diplexer board is currently available on Amazon for $24.99.

Stratux Diplexer for 1090 MHz ADS-B and 978 MHz UAT.
Stratux Diplexer for 1090 MHz ADS-B and 978 MHz UAT.