Year: 2020

Setting up a 1090 MHz ADS-B Receiver

I have been using Flightradar24 for a while and found it very helpful in identifying local air traffic and listening to aircraft approaching and departing London City, Stansted and Heathrow.

I had for some time a Kinetics SBS-1 this was around 10 years old now, and I was looking at a more modern receiver that could link to the internet. I read that you could upload your data to Flightradar and in return, they would provide you with a business account. You can read how Flight Radar 24 collects and displays data on its website.

The best option for me was to look towards a FlightAware USB stick and to run the unit 24×7 from a Raspberry Pi. The Pie Hut even provide an SD card with Flightware already installed.

You can read more about the FlightAware USB on the RTL SDR website. The comparisons I completed with the Kinetics SBS1 and the FlightAware showed the aware was 10 to 20% better at distant reception. This could be a combination of its filtering and amplification. You can read more about the advantages and choices on the RTL website.

Raspberry Pi4 Model B

I opted to download the software and follow the instructions on the FlighRadar24 site. This take you through the options of downloading the Pi24 Image for your SD card, and then how to write that image to your SD card.

For me that all worked, up until the last stage, I setup my WiFi in the “wpa_supplicant.conf” file on the SD card and then just expect everything to work. It wasn’t quite like that, and for me I need to SSH into my PI to configure the software. Not being a regular Pi user, I needed some instructions.

The most comprehensive I could find was located here. These steps took a while to follow, but my system was never going to work without following the steps outlined. I could see from my wireless router the local IP address and port number, and worked out I could ssh by bring up a terminal window and typing

ssh pi@192.168.0.21

Or what ever IP address you PI is located. Once that was completed I needed to log into my FlightRadar24 and data started to upload the account was upgraded to business. You will need a reasonable antenna, I have described that process in this article. Coax length and antenna choice and positioning is a major issue with 1090 MHz and the associated losses.

I can now view my data in http://192.168.x.xx/dump1090/gmap.html from a machine on my network and review my statistics on the FlightRadar24 website

Example map for Dump1090
Example Stats from Flightradar24

Problems and updates

I found when looking at the local dump1090 page http://192.168.x.xx/dump1090/gmap.html I wasn’t able to display the aircraft distance. It turns out this needed to be configured, and by visiting your FR feed setting http://192.168.x.xx:8754/settings.html you may need to update the process arguments to read –lat xx.xxxx –lon yy.yyyy

FR Feed configuration screen

The next update was to the dump1090 program, this can be updated to an alternative version that includes some neat featured.

TAR1090 screen

Purchase options.

External 1090 MHz antenna provides a much-improved range

The Raspberry Pi4 provides an ideal platform for your FlightAware

The Flight Aware receiver is both cheap and high performance

Cut down stock antenna

The stock antenna with the RTL dongle is too long and will require cutting down. 68 mm is the required length, and you can use some snips to reduce its size. This will improve reception, but an external antenna will provide the best results.

AOR AR-DV1 Resources

The UK is currently in lockdown, and with the government advice to “Stay indoors,” it seemed like a good time to get to know the DV1 digital scanner.

  • 100 kHz to 1300 MHz
  • FM,AM, USB,LSB,CW
  • D-STAR, DMR, C4FM
  • Alinco,dPMR, P25,Tetra
  • 3 VFO – 2000 Memory in 40 Banks

Scanning rules vary, please check local laws if in doubt.

The receiver connects to your PC via USB and requires Software to enable easy allocation of memory channels. You can search online, software ranges from free beta to expensive commercial software.

Beta Software from Wayne Taylor is available online I don’t know how long this will stay beta before going full release, so an archived copy can be found here.

DL8MRE Marcus has written some software on his site. This costs around £40, but works well and allows you to edit and search VFO with ease. The format of the native AOR memory files (CSV) is a mystery, no one seems to understand the syntax. I may have a go at decoding them sometime.

DV1 Manager by F5HPE – Free to 10EU

Online resources for finding frequencies

Scanning for Air traffic is a large part of the hobby, and so some resources can be found online.

This page will be updated as and when further resources become available.

If you have any resource suggestions, please comment and I will include them.

Thanks Dave

Talk at Thurrock Acorns Radio Club

I was invited to speak at the Thurrock Acorns club night on using online SDR radios in SWL and Amateur Radio. The idea was to introduce members to the world of online SDR radios to people who may not be aware of their usage in the hobby.

Most people have seen the great work done by the Hack Green team, but may not be aware other SDR are available that offer 0 to 30 MHz and a host of other benefits.

Over the course of the evening I described how you can view WEFAX, CW, GMDSS, FSK, NAVTEX and the new TDoA function.

The TDoA function gives amateur users of HF the ability to locate HF stations for the first time.

I put together this quick start guide to help you get the most from the online Kiwi SDR receivers.

So what have you received recently?