Tagged: Automatic dependent surveillance broadcast

Elon Musk’s Twitter Suspends Live ADS-B Aircraft Tracking Accounts Including @elonjet and ADS-B Exchange

As a reaction to an altercation with a stalker that endangered Elon Musk's child, Twitter has taken action to suspend all Twitter accounts that involve the real time tracking of aircraft and individuals. This includes the famous @elonjet handle which was an account run by a teenager known as Jack Sweeny that used data from adsbexchange.com to tweet live updates on the location of Elon's private jet.

It also appears that the Twitter account for ADS-B Exchange @ADSBexhchange itself has been suspended too, as well as various other flight tracking Twitter bots that were using data from ADS-B Exchange. Elon Musk's tweet indicates that legal action is being taken against "Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family". It is unclear if this implies that legal action will be taken against ADS-B Exchange.

Elon Musk's Real-Time Doxxing Tweet
Elon Musk's Real-Time Doxxing Tweet

ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast) is a radio signal that is required to be broadcast by all aircraft for the purposes of air traffic control and collision avoidance. The ADS-B signal provides real time unencrypted location information that anyone with a low cost radio receiver like an RTL-SDR and cheap computer like a Raspberry Pi can receive, decode and turn into a live map of aircraft in the surrounding area.

ADS-B Exchange is an ADS-B aggregator that collects ADS-B data received from volunteers all over the world that are running RTL-SDR and other SDR dongles or radios operating as ADS-B receivers. Compared to more commercial flight tracking services like FlightAware and FlightRadar24 (who also make use of volunteer stations), ADS-B Exchange guarantees that they will not censor the tracking of military, police or private jets. This has generated debate in the past over whether this philosophy is either more moral or less moral.

ADS-B Exchange has been key to projects like "Dictator Alert" which tracks the real time location of the private jets of known dictators.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has also made use of ADS-B Exchange data in the past to uncover the role that US civilian aircraft contractors are playing in the East African "kill chain".

Media have also used ADS-B Exchange to track the movements of the military aircraft like Black Hawk Helicopters and CBP Predator drones that were used to monitor crowds during the George Floyd protests.  

On Twitter John Wiseman @lemonodor has also been using ADS-B Exchange data for various projects like "Advisory Circular Bots" which automatically detects circling aircraft (which may be of interest, as a circling aircraft may indicate an incident in the area), and for highlighting areas of the globe with possible GPS jamming which can be inferred from the GPS location data transmitted by aircraft. He also uncovered a massive, secret FBI operation involving the use of 'spy planes' operating over American cities.

Unrelated to ADS-B Exchange, live ADSB tracking is also used by hedge fund investors to gain an edge by tracking the movement of company aircraft in order to try and predict deals and by UN investigators investigating arms embargo violations.

Previously Elon Musk indicated that he would not ban the account following his private jet, however after the stalker altercation he appears to have rapidly changed his tune. Even without the Twitter bot, private jets can easily be tracked via ADS-B Exchange so any dedicated person could still gather this information without too much hassle. So it seems likely that legal action will be taken against ADS-B Exchange as per Elon's tweet. Other ADS-B data aggregators like FlightRadar24 and FlightAware should be safe from legal action as they do censor private aircraft upon request. Hopefully ADS-B exchange has prepared for this legal battle, which was probably an inevitable unfortunate outcome from their policy. If not from private jet owners, then the military or police would likely eventually take action if the data ever became a problem.

ADSBExchange.com new tar1090 interface
ADSBExchange.com Interface

ADS-B Radar Android App Updated with Open Street Maps

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.

James also has other apps on the Google Play store for FM Radio, Airband and Ham Radio listening.

ADS-B Radar App for Android

A WebUSB Based RTL-SDR Aircraft ADS-B Decoder

Over on GitHub @devdevcharlie has uploaded open source Javascript code for creating an ADS-B Aircraft Radar system entirely within a web browser. The code makes use of the Web USB API, which enables USB devices like RTL-SDR dongles to connect directly to the code running in the web browser.

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.

Skies-ADSB: A Browser Based 3D Aircraft Tracker with RTL-SDR ADS-B Receiver

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 ADS-B data source is meant to be a RTL-SDR receiver connected to a Raspberry Pi running on your home network.

Flight status data is provided by the FlightAware AeroAPI v2.

The aircraft photos are provided by Planespotters.net.

New HAM FM and ADS-B Radar Android Apps

Thank you to James Mainwaring for submitting news about the release of his two new RTL-SDR compatible Android Apps "Ham FM Radio (RTL-SDR)" and "ADS-B Radar (RTL-SDR)". 

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.

We note that we've previously posted about James' other apps for FM Radio and airband listening.

The Ham RF and ADS-B Radar Apps by James Mainwaring

rsadsb: Terminal Based Aircraft Radar on the Raspberry Pi

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.

rsadsb: Terminal ADS-B Radar Display

Demonstrating the New 3D Maps in SDRAngel

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.

SDRUno 1.41 Released: Scheduler and ADS-B Plugins Added

Last week SDRplay released version 1.41 of their SDRUno software platform. SDRuno is the official software for the SDRplay line of low cost software defined radio devices. The main new feature is the addition of the scheduler facility which allows users to easily schedule recordings. This is great if for example you wish to automatically record a shortwave programs playing overnight.

SDRuno V1.41 was fully released today. It includes the much requested full scheduler facility which allows you to set up numerous recording events for your RSP. As well as providing all the expected calendar options (time of day, date, start and stop times, repeating options and so on), you can also set the ‘profile’ for each recording – this allows you to pre-set frequencies, bandwidths, demodulator options (AM/FM/USB/LSB etc.), choice of filters and antenna port selection. Additionally you can choose the settings for connectivity to other third party software or the running of a specific plugin.

Introduction to SDRuno 1 41 - Scheduler & Profiles (VID597)

The new version also includes a finalized version of their ADS-B aircraft tracking plugin. Last month TechMinds tested the ADS-B plugin beta, noting that it worked well, but there were bugs with the built in mapping feature. In the official tutorial video the ADS-B plugin is demonstrated and shows that the mapping problem is fixed.

SDRuno ADSB Plugin (VID599)