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Build your own network ADS-B receiver with PiAware from FlightAware for under $100

You can build and run your own ADS-B ground station to be installed anywhere and receive real-time data directly from airplanes that you can view locally and also integrate with FlightAware. For about USD$100/EUR€80, your ground station can run PiAware to track flights within 100-300 miles (line of sight, range depending on antenna installation) and will automatically feed data to FlightAware. ( More...

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joel wiley 7
For the ROI folks, Enterprise level registrations go for $89/mo....
Ryan Vince 5
Just ordered everything on the needed list, it will all arrive Thursday so I'll let everyone know how it goes!
If you are from China. Something is different to build PiAware at first. My friend and I will write a document in Chinese, then tell you how to build.
Dubslow 3
Wait, so could you buy the antenna and run this on any Debian based OS, and skip the Raspberry Pi?
Daniel Baker 3
Yes, although the PiAware Debian package we ship is for Raspbian and requires an ARM processor with hard float. On another platform, you could download the source and build it yourself:

Definitely document your steps & we can publish the process.
Rubyducky 2
I just ordered the USB dongle and antenna, so I can't test yet, but I was able to build dump1090_mr and piaware in a regular Debian installation by more or less following the build instructions on github.
Rubyducky 2
Success! I was able to install PiAware and the associated software in Ubuntu (in a VM even). I have documented the steps here:
Interesting! How fast of a pipe would you require for feeding the data to FA?
Max Tribölet 2
It typically uses less than 2 kilobits/second of upstream bandwidth. For a super busy site near a major airport, I think 8 kilobits/second is a reasonable upper limit. We did some work to manage that as we filter out a lot of packets, combine many messages into a single packet and do compression on the entire stream. It's also possible to run PiAware on a cell data connection (such as 3G) for remote site deployments although we haven't documented this yet.
Even more interesting! So this means that basically, anyone stuck with a Fiber to a T3 to a 33.6K modem could run this.

and more interesting than that is that if you say that you could run this on a 3G connection, you imply that this could be compiled as an app for a smartphone.

I'm so very tempted. :)
joel wiley 2
Or at least with your smartphone running as a wifi hotspot.
Daniel, can you expound on the data used during a 24-hour period 30 miles from a major airport (CLE)? Also, any problems with the antenna base relocating? We full time in our RV and I currently have 3 Pi's running on our 12V system.
Daniel Baker 1
I'm not sure I understand the question, but certainly data near a major airport is useful. No, we can handle the receiver moving -- no problem. The only issue is that your coverage graphs will not really be accurate.
How much data can be expected to be sent/received? Depending on where I'm at, free wifi or Mifi, I'm limited to 20GB/month

Most of the repositioning would be to different areas around the country.
Daniel Baker 2
I would estimate ~10-30MB/day depending on the quality of antenna and installation.
I would love some more information on this
Leland Turner 2
You can buy the pre-assembled Raspberry Pi kits on ebay for about 50.00 including shipping. Just search Raspberry PI on ebay
Matha Goram 2
THANK YOU for this opportunity to participate so easily. Rgds.
ramillsjr 2
I found an article which describes a method to build an outdoor ADS-B receiving antenna on page 2,3 and 4:
The little magnetic antenna that comes with the RTL Dongle is good for a lot of circumstances.
I cut it down to 69mm high overall and adapt it to a quality cable.
It is a very straight forward project and I have built several of these setups now for myself and others.

One of them replaced my SBS1-er and PC that I ran 24/7 feeding FlightAware and Plane Plotter. I did that to reduce the exposure of a relatively expensive PC and Receiver to the risk of lightning and power surge...

...and the side benefit is that it uses less than 180WattHours a day instead of the roughly 800WattHours a day my headless PC consumes...
Gene McAvoy 2
Okay David,
You said: " I have built several of these setups now for myself and others."
I'm interested in having you build one for me. And then perhaps, if it works well we could consider expanding this 'homebrew' operation? Interested? At least in building one for me...

Gene McAvoy / KG7XD
Portland, Maine
I would be but there might be a slight geographical problem....
VK4AGP. :)
cdcook 1
On your US supply list, the link to the SD Card on Amazon doesn't work ( but I was able to get to it by removing parts of the URL and I see you suggest the 16GB card. On your Mexico supply list, you link to an 8 GB SD card. How much space do we actually need on the SD card to accomodate this operation? Thanks.
joel wiley 4
The RPi group mentions a minimum of 4. I am using 8, but 16 cards aren't that much more- plus they seem more available
Be sure to get a micro SD card if you're getting the RPi B+. The B+ uses a micro SD card.
Daniel Baker 1
Thanks, it works now!
tolson 1
Does this receive ADS-B on the 978Mhz freq? In my plane, I have a UAT running on that Freq, and I'm unsure if the systems pick up 1090Mhz or 978Mhz, but I'm really hoping that people participate using 978.
Daniel Baker 1
PiAware only does 1090MHz, not UAT/978MHz.
kd5byb 1
These Raspberry Pi FlightAware feeder boxes are a lot of fun! Having a lot of fun with mine. :)
aknorris 1
The instructions say $100 and 2 hours. My experience: $90 and 45 minutes (from the time I opened the shipping box to the time I had my first 5 aircraft reported).
Admittedly, I do have a high bandwidth internet connection at home, so the 2 downloads (OS and Imager) were less than 5 minutes while downloading simultaneously).
Very cool.
James Kenney 1
I don't want to sound like I'm throwing cold water, as I would enjoy building something like this. My only question is whether collecting or re-transmitting the ADS-B data to FlightAware is legal. I just don't want to open my door to find the FBI waiting for me. The project itself is intriguing; I would love to build one, and would enjoy having access to the enterprise content.
Rob Dale 3
Mike Williams 0
It would be neat if there was a way to make this setup work with FltPlan Go or Foreflight... kind of like this:
Matt LaMay -1
Wait... Isn't this the same setup that they were giving away a couple of months ago??? I guess that they figured they could make a quick buck (or a few thousand) off of people's enthusiasm. After all, it does help flightaware immensely by streaming data to their servers.
Daniel Baker 3
No. We are still shipping 5-10 week of our free FlightFeeders but have been unable to meet the incredible demand from folks that want an ADS-B receiver. We've created this instruction list and PiAware image to allow people to build one on their own rather than waiting for our (>4mo and growing) backorder. We are not the sellers of the hardware.
joel wiley 3
You should at least get a thank-you card from
Thanks for all the work FA put into the back end and piaware front end.


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