Thank you to James Mainwaring for letting us know about the latest update to his "ADS-B Radar (RTL-SDR)" Android App. The update brings an Open Street Map (OSM) display, allowing for aircraft to be directly plotted on the map.
As before the app works with an RTL-SDR directly connected to the Android device, and also has a radar like display.
In her blog post, Charlie explains her code in greater detail, noting that it draws inspiration from AirplaneJS and rtlsdr.js. She explains how the Web USB API works, how to process the raw ADS-B data, and what her final setup looks like.
A demo site that you can use to directly connect to your RTL-SDR is available here.
In the past we've seen other WebUSB projects, like "aprs-sdr" which creates an APRS repeater system using a HackRF.
FlightAware is a company that specializes in distributed ADS-B aggregation, in order to produce real time maps and information about what aircraft are in the air. In 2021 FlightAware was acquired by Collins Aerospace, which is a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, a large US aerospace and defense contractor.
Most of the data that FlightAware obtains comes from volunteers all around the world running an RTL-SDR dongles on their Raspberry Pi based image. The dongles receive the ADS-B 1090 MHz broadcasts from aircraft which contain information about the aircraft including GPS location.
Back in 2016 they released the FlightAware ProStick, which is an ADS-B optimized RTL-SDR with onboard 1090 MHz LNA. Later in 2017 they released the Prostick Plus which improved performance in high interference areas due to the addition of a 1090 MHz SAW filter.
Their post goes into more detail about their products, and note that they are currently designing a new Prostick Plus with filter placed before the LNA instead of after. They also discuss how they are looking into higher end 12-bit ADCs for their receiver hardware, and at creating a dual channel receiver for the 978 MHz UAT band as well. They then go on to discuss the software architecture behind the ADS-B decoder they use.
Thank you to Don for submitting news about the release of his new software titled "Skies-ADSB". Skies-ADSB is a browser based app that provides a 3D view of the air traffic around your area. The software can be served on a local networked Raspberry Pi, with ADS-B data being provided by an RTL-SDR connected to the Pi.
skies-adsb is a virtual plane spotting progressive web app (PWA) / virtual aquarium (with aircraft instead of fish) / interactive real-time simulation.
Aircraft are tracked via unfiltered ADS-B transponder data in real-time and rendered in 3D.
The Ham FM Radio app allows the user to quickly tune and listen in to the 144-148, 150-174 and 420-450 MHz ham radio communications via presets. For the second ADS-B app, James notes that it's an early release for feedback. It allows the user to receive ADS-B data and plot it on a radar like display.
Thank you to Wayne Campbell for submitting news about the release of the latest 0.5.0 iteration of his RTL-SDR compatible 'rsadsb' software package that plots ADS-B aircraft positions on a terminal based display. Wayne has also created a blog post describing how to set up a Raspberry Pi based portable ADS-B setup with his software.
The package consists of two separate programs 'dump1090_rs' and 'radar' (aka adsb_deku). The dump1090_rs program is a rust implementation of the dump1090 ADS-B decoder and 'radar' is the terminal based map. A quickstart guide for setting up both programs is also available.
The software can run on a Raspberry Pi and works well displayed on a portable touchscreen. It appears that the terminal display is very responsive with zoom controls for the radar display, a coverage map, and a tidy list of all detected aircraft.
If you're interested in terminal based displays, we've posted about a similar terminal based ADS-B plotter called 'coole-radar' in the past, as well as a terminal based spectrum analyzer display called retrogram.
In December of last year we posted about a video demonstrating the many features that the SDRAngel software comes standard with. Recently they've added a new feature which are 3D maps that can be used to visualize signal data.
In the latest video demonstration they show these 3D maps projecting NOAA weather satellite images onto a 3D globe and at the same time tracking the NOAA satellites over the globe as it produces imagery. They also show the software visualizing a 3D model of aircraft on the globe, using live ADS-B data to show aircraft maneuvers when taking off, cruising and landing. With multiple SDRs they also show how the visualization can be combined with air traffic voice. Finally they also show marine vessels being visualized via live AIS data. There appear to be a wide range of vessel 3D models implemented.
A common example of a data aggregator that makes use of RTL-SDRs is most of the flight tracking websites, such as FlightAware and FlightRadar24. Contributors to the service will usually set up RTL-SDR + Raspberry Pi based receivers that feed ADS-B aircraft data received from the local area to these websites. Data from contributors from all over the world are then combined onto a single map, allowing for a global live picture of aircraft traffic.
Some other examples on the list that use RTL-SDRs include Amateur Radio APRS tracking, marine traffic, police/EMS audio feeds, train traffic, weather audio feeds, satellite ground station feeds and general web based remote SDR access. Added to the list are also aggregators based on other devices for applications like lightning detection and seismic activity reporting.