FlightAware Discussions

Advantages & Disadvantages of PiAware

For the past few months I have been using PlanePlotter without any problems. I have one single computer running all the FA required programs, as well as a LiveATC feed. After looking throughout the forum, I have noticed many people are using PiAware over PlanePlotter. Is there any specific reason for that? Also, I have noticed that FA uses the PiAware “Tracks/Positions” more often than PlanePlotter. If anyone could provide a little bit more information on the advantages of switching, I might do so.

Thanks in advance,

Ryan, I’ll try from my own limited perspective.
Background (MHO):
If you are not familiar with it, the group at raspberrypi.org was concerned with the lack of programming skills in British youth and developed a dirt-cheap microcomputer they called a Raspberry Pi (RPi), with an operating system based on Debian Unix. It quickly became a very popular platform for a variety of users. Somebody discovered that, with a few modifications, a very cheap R810T SDR tuner could be used to track ADS-B signals from aircraft. The two together, along with software released by other enthusiasts provided a very low cost platform to support the aircraft tracking community. Flightware was developing a hardware/software solution to provide tracking and upload to their company and both sold and distributed them to likely low-served areas.

Somebody discovered that the FA box was essentially an RPi at heart. FA released their tracking software and as the song said, “and now the thing’s completely out of hand”.

I learned of Flightaware when researching ways to identify aircraft in the approach pattern over my house. That led to Planeplotter from coaa.co.uk/planeplotter and going from just looking up aircraft to providing upload data to the larger community. Along with PP, it includes the ability to share data with other companies, among them Flightaware. I started out using a Windows laptop to share data. After DUMP1090 was published, I bought a Pi to play around with and relearn some Unix. I now have a RPi that captures traffic and passes it to my destop Windows PC that runs Planeplotter. The RPi also uploads directly to Flightware. When traveling, my laptop goes with me and shares wherever am when there is an Internet connection.
Which is better/worse advantage/disadvantage. From my experience and perspective - it’s 5 -6 and pick em. The RPi is a cheap fire and forget platform in the spare room.

Your Mileage May Vary
PP Sharer EQ

Thanks for the response! So from the looks of it, switching to a Pi wouldn’t really be a huge benefit for me. Have you noticed how FA’s servers use the PiAware data more than PlanePlotter? Or is that just me imagining stuff. But in all, thank you for the very informal response.

If you take a look at the spotter tab in flightaware.com/adsb/coverage you will see that PP and Pi distribution differ. Pi is quite prevalent in US, PP more common in Brittan and Europe. Remember, piaware hasn’t been around long- it just got a phenomenal growth rate so far.

I’m not really talking about how many sites of each are around, but how FA may use the PiAware’s data more than PP in the track logs of aircraft.

I think the reason the PP appears more prevalent in Europe is because there are more PP users feeding multiple tracking services and it is the most established tracking platform able to do this.

There are many Pi users too, but they are mainly feeding FR24 - that includes me some of the time but I’m doing near as much there as I used to (I got fed up with the attitude the site owners show the feeders in the forum space there).

For a long time FlightAware appeared to concentrate on USA or North American coverage everything else was outside the primary coverage area or something - this left the door wide open to others.

Huge advantage of running the Pi - it uses something under 5w - so is economical to run 24/7, A PC would use much more power.

For me it’s because of the power consumption and so I don’t have to have my PC on 24/7.

The main reason I am running PP on Windows 8.1 is my instance is a SMU in Central California. Otherwise the Pi would be doing the 24/7 work for Plane Plotter, Flight Aware and VRS-World. YMMV.