Gathering & Displaying ADSB and ACARS Data – Part II [Hardware]

This project all started with the hardware. I found an old RTL-SDR in a box in a closet. I never really used it, but decided to give it another go. I learned that I could use some software to pull up local flight data of airplanes around me. How this worked was by using the over-the-air ADSB broadcast Information coming from the aircraft. This is picked up by an antenna, which sends to the RTL-SDR dongle plugged into my computer, and then software interprets the data to a map.

RTL-SDR

The SDR I used was the cheap $40 RTL-SDR which can be found at https://www.rtl-sdr.com/buy-rtl-sdr-dvb-t-dongles/

The dongle itself looks like a silver USB. It plugs into a computer, and has a connector for an antenna. The kit I bought came with an antenna. There’s some setup required, depending on your OS and what software you want to run. In my case I was installing this on a laptop running Ubuntu and the software I was going to use was specific to ADSB interpretation.

Ubuntu and Dump1090

The main software to use for this is dump1090. It’s freeware available on GitHub, but hasn’t been touched in 9+ years. Ubuntu has a newer and much easier setup called dump1090-carroarmato0. You can get info on it at https://snapcraft.io/install/dump1090-carroarmato0/ubuntu To put it simply you run a few commands on Ubuntu to setup the software:

%MINIFYHTML0589725891f27716efbace464ff5aaea23%
sudo snap connect dump1090-carroarmato0:raw-usb
Code language: CSS (css)

To start collecting data off the dongle, you run:

dump1090-carroarmato0.dump1090
Code language: CSS (css)

In another terminal run the webserver with:

dump1090-carroarmato0.webserver
Code language: CSS (css)

If all goes well, your webserver, running on localhost:8000, should show a map. You may have to drag the map to your local area, and there you should see any air traffic that is picked up via the ADSB data command. If you check that terminal there should be some data passing through the terminal.

Dump1090 on Ubuntu showing aircraft

Back to Part I – Introduction

Part III – Writing Code

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