FlightAware Discussions

Newbie questions -- and thanks for all the help, guys!

  1. Your dump1090-fa and RTL-SDR Dongle are ok and running perfectly well. Just check the output of dump1090-fa on Ubuntu’s browser at localhost/dump1090-fa/

  2. To claim the new station, go to this page (you must be logged in to your account to claim):
    https://flightaware.com/adsb/piaware/claim

That happens with me on VM on Windows.
I then find Local IP of guest OS Ubuntu by typing ifconfig

Once I get local IP of Ubuntu, I run PuTTY on windows and ssh to the Ubuntu at 192.168.0.31.

Since you are using Mac, you dont need putty. You open the Mac’s Terminal and type
ssh username@ip-of-ubuntu
(for example if I was using Mac, I will type ssh abcd@192.168.0.31)

Once using Mac’s Terminal to give commands, you can copy-paste in normal way.

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OMG!! Thanks for all the help!!!

For Beginners - How-to Set Receiver Location

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Thanks for all your help!! Everything seems to be working now.

You might want to read this next, now that the software side is working:

Trimming a DVB-T whip antenna and giving it a base: Three Easy DIY Antennas for Beginners

If you have coax laying around the quick spider is the best antenna you can easily make at home: QUICK SPIDER - No Soldering, No Connector

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Hi Guys, OK, now that I have everything working, please explain what I’m seeing on my “skyview”.


I assume that the light-blue ADS-B entries in the table are coming from my RTL-SDR receiver and my instance of dump1090 running on Linux. Where are the “TIS-B” and “Other” entries coming from, and why am I not seeing any “MLAT” entries?

Now that I’ve managed to get this working with an el-cheapo RTL-SDR and short stock antenna sitting near my window running on a Linux VM on my Mac (as a demo exercise), what would be a good “package” to buy as a “turnkey” solution? What do you guys recommend for an easy-to-set-up RPi and piaware software? Ease of installation and set-up is what I’m looking for. Thanks in advance. I must say you guys are a very welcoming and supportive community!!

Thanks, Curt

If you managed to install it in a VM, then a real RPi will be no problem for you.
(There is a dedicated sd-card image from flightaware, so that’s basically the setup completed. You can activate ssh and chose network settings via config file on the boot partition of that sd-card)

Just get the standard RPi 3B+ and the original power supply and a mini sd-card.
There are also kits available but i haven’t tested them.
I’ve listed the stuff you need in another post:
(PlanePlotter to PiAware)

Or where you asking for antenna / receiver also?

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Thanks!! I was asking about both, actually. What do you recommend for antenna / receiver combinations? Something better than the NooElec R820T dongle that I have now.

The Flightaware antenna is very nice. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WZL6WPO?tag=fligh01-20)

This is a more expensive antenna: https://dpdproductions.com/collections/aviation-base-mobile-antennas/products/ads-b-vertical-outdoor-base-antenna
(The flightaware antenna should suffice for most people, but it’s all a matter of taste and money i guess :slight_smile: )

Flightaware also has a blue receiver with builtin LNA (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M7REJJW?tag=fligh01-20)
It sometimes needs a filter in front to work better with strong mobile signals (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B010GBQXK8?tag=fligh01-20)

I would personally use this LNA (https://www.rtl-sdr.com/new-product-rtl-sdr-blog-1090-mhz-ads-b-lna/) together with their dongle (https://www.rtl-sdr.com/buy-rtl-sdr-dvb-t-dongles/)
There is some setup involved activating the bias-t to feed the LNA, but again if you can use ssh, it’s not hard at all. (https://www.rtl-sdr.com/getting-the-v3-bias-tee-to-activate-on-piaware-ads-b-images/)

If you want to go more expensive there is always an Airspy mini or a mode-s beast.
(In case of the airspy mini you could always get that later, it would work well with the rtl-sdr LNA)

Then you need some cabling, something like this to connect to the antenna: https://www.amazon.com/Low-Loss-Coax-Extension-Cable-Ohm/dp/B071DFQGXY

Keeping the cable not too long is advisable but with the LNA you can just get a second stretch of cable (https://www.amazon.com/Low-Loss-Coax-Extension-Cable-Ohm/dp/B00V73RFDO)

That should pretty much cover it.

For completeness i will mention there is also another LNA available (https://ava.upuaut.net/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=85)

There is even more things listed on flightawares page on builiding a receiver: https://flightaware.com/adsb/piaware/build

That page lists most of the stuff i just linked, be aware i just looked for the right parts not the best price when linking these parts.

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Wow, thanks a lot for all the great info!! You guys are all a very helpful group!! I must say that the flightaware piaware software is absolutely amazing. And the fact that it’s open-source is really great also. I can believe there is an active and dedicated group of contributors.

Flightaware 1090 MHz Antenna

FlightAware ProStick Plus

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Regarding cables this is a great overview by @abcd567 : For Beginners - How-to Connect FlightAware Antenna, Filter and Pro Stick - Connectors and Cables Required

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So how do I get a free upgrade to a Flightaware “Enterprise” account? (I’m not sure what benefits this bestows, or even if this is all that important. I’m just curious.)

This should be a good read:
https://mailchi.mp/flightaware/ads-b-network-news-l3ktu01tdm

You reception might be too bad for MLAT right now. (you would be surprised how much cutting the whip antennas to length and/or placing them on a can helps)

Automatic, already happened probably.

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Your rtlsdr dongle is producing unreliable mlat timing, enough that the server is marking it as unstable so you don’t end up participating in mlat. Generally this means you’re dropping USB data. Normal ADS-B reception will tolerate quite a lot of dropped data, which is why you can still see normal traffic, but multilateration is very sensitive to dropped data.

It seems quite common for VMs to drop USB data like this; you’ll probably have better performance on bare metal (be it a Pi or whatever)

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@curtko

To improve performance:

  1. Place mag-mount antenna close to a window.

  2. Place mag-mount whip over a food can.

  3. The whip is too long. Its optimum length is 1/4 wavelength, which at 1090 Mhz is 67mm. Unscrew the whip of mag-mount, and replace it by a 67 mm length of thin steel tie wire.

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Piaware doesn’t seem to require much processing power. I understand that it all depends on the rate of received messages, and right now I don’t have a high message rate. A RPi is plenty adequate for this application. As “obj” mentioned, running on bare metal (as opposed to a VM) would reduce latency and particularly jitter, so the possibility of dropped USB data would be reduced. This is a good example of why IoT (or “edge computing”) is such a hot topic. A dedicated inexpensive processor can do a lot of useful tasks, like receive ADS-B messages and perform MLAT calculations (UPDATE: Local RPis don’t do MLAT calculations… see discussion below). I’d be interested to know how flightstats aggregates all the ADS-B receiving station feeds. Do they have some edge gateways, or do all the feeds just go directly to a central server?

@curtko,
Note that the RPI does not do MLAT calculations. The MLAT servers at FA, do it and feed it back to the RPI’s MLAT client.

Note that an old RPI1 can cope with a lot of traffic. An RPI2 should be able to cater for the busiest environments. Not sure if we will get a new version of the Raspberry Pi at the end of the month or on Pi day next month(The Raspberry Pi’s typical announcement dates over the last few years).

I use my RPIs for cacti/mrtg, APRS, ADS-B and soon maybe AIS and netflow

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Cool, thanks very much for the info. That’s good to know about where the MLAT calculations are done. That makes sense, of course. The local RPIs don’t have access to other RPIs, no matter how “nearby” they are. This is something that would be a good function for an edge gateway, though.

I think I will wait for March 14 to see if there will be some new RPis coming out. Although at the current pricepoint of the RPI Zero W, it’s practically disposable. And as you said, even the RPi2 has more than enough processing power for piaware, so the current generation is just fine.

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