“The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”
― Carl Sagan, Contact
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS–B) is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. … It can also be received by other aircraft to provide situational awareness and allow self separation. And It can be received by RTL-SDR very easily:
The ADS-B system has three main components: 1) ground infrastructure, 2) airborne component, and 3) operating procedures.
- A transmitting subsystem that includes message generation and transmission functions at the source; e.g., aircraft.
- The transport protocol; e.g., VHF (VDL mode 2 or 4), 1090ES, or 978 MHz UAT.
- A receiving subsystem that includes message reception and report assembly functions at the receiving destination; e.g., other aircraft, vehicle or ground system.
- The source of the state vector and other transmitted information as well as user applications are not considered to be part of the ADS-B system
To set up an ADSB air radar you will need four things.
- A working RTL-SDR dongle. The R820T or R820T2 tuner is recommended for best performance at 1090 MHz.
- A vertically polarized antenna tuned to 1090 MHz.
- Software for listening and decoding ADS-B.
- Software to graphically display the received aircraft location data.
There are so many great tutorials on this, I chose not to replicate them here, but rather provide a list of a few good ones:
- Cheap ADS-B Aircraft Virtual Radar
- Coaxial Collinear Antenna for ADS-B Receiver.
- Flight Radar 24
- Virtual Radar Server
You can view it on your own browser by clicking here VirtualRadar, note that my system has many layers that I have added to show imagery from my Geo stationary Weather Satellite system.
If it is not feeding, I might be doing some work on the system, otherwise, it should run 24/7. It is being fed from a FlightRadar24 Raspberry Pi running FlightRadar24 that I set up.
I then pipe that data from the PI Aware system via TCP into my Virtual Radar System, which then plots and shows the aircraft that my antenna system can pick up. I also share the data with Flight Radar 24
Best of all, almost all of this software is open-source, which usually means free!