Pi zero

Has anyone use it on the zero I have been trying and they only work for a few hours then no data to FA.

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I’m having a lot of fun with the Pi Zero, but NOT for PiAware. The Pi Zero is just too limited in terms of resources (memory, processor, I/O) to support modern PiAware processing, particularly if you’re running MLAT.

I believe the current recommendation is for at least a Pi 2, if not a Pi 3. I’ve moved both my PiAware stations to Pi 3. As I said, earlier single-processor models can’t hack it anymore.

bob k6rtm

Even my B+, which was giving good service before MLAT, became sluggish and 90% + CPU usage after I enabled mlat. I replaced it by Orange Pi PC, which runs even faster than my other Pi, which is Model 2.

Bob (k6rtm) is right that for adsb with mlat, Pi3 is the correct option.

I think, it could be possible to use a Raspberry Pi Zero, but with some important limitations. You must use it as a dedicated server (disable not strictly necessary daemons, services, GUI, desktop… etc, not involved with the core system or the PiAware).
Try to determine, what happens and why the server stops.If the Raspberry run out of memory after some hours, try to make an automatic reboot every X hours.

The Raspberry Pi Zero may be a great choice for a small-low-cost-feeder, but it has 2 important limitations:

  • Performance limitations.
  • You need extra hardware: an extra usb-hub (may be extra-powered) and a wifi dongle.

So, this colud be annoying for most of us.
i think the best option is Pi3, or equivalent (high performance, with wifi included and “usb-hub” also integrated).

I respectfully disagree – the Pi Zero just doesn’t have the capacity to run the current rev of PiAware + MLAT, particularly in an area with reasonable traffic.

I’m fluent with Linux distros, and am used to pruning them down to get rid of unused code/services/whatever. It’s a lot easier using the official Jessie Lite distro.

You can throw away the whole LAMP stack, and the Wolfram Engine, the desktop – but those don’t use CPU cycles or memory until you start them up.

But that still doesn’t get around the fundamental processor and memory limitations on the Pi Zero – unless you live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of traffic, you just don’t have the processor power. And if you are in an area with light traffic, you want some of those computationally intensive features, such as enhanced error correction, to pull out every possible packet you can even more.

Remember also that occasionally you’re going to want to check for and install software updates, or even do backups – processes which require the use of the CPU, further burdening ADS-B processing. (You can help preserve ADS-B data flow by being sure that the dump1090 process has a higher priority than other processes running on the system – obj does this automagically with the dump1090-mutability scripts.)

While you can use an OTA usb adapter cable to provide power and networking over USB (you have to do some boot configuration things to enable it), that means you’re relying on another device to get to networks. Most people will use a USB hub with the Pi Zero to connect and power the SDR and an Ethernet adapter, either wired or wireless. Now you’ve got multiple boxes and multiple cables to fight.

Do yourself a favor and use a Pi 2 or Pi 3, bypass a lot of problems, and leave yourself room for growth down the road. For me, the difference in the price of the hardware is more than worth it in terms of time and hassle.

The Pi Zero is a great little board for a lot of things, but this isn’t one of them!

bob k6rtm

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My setup Nr 1 is a Rpi A+ running piaware.
My setup Nr 2 is a Rpi A+ running piaware and is also fed by a onion omega running dump1090.
So far i have had no problems with both setups apart from setup 1 which sometimes presents the error “x% of mlat isn’t reaching servers”, and this i believe is from my side, since the internet link is a slow ADSL connection shared by several users and IPTV.
Of course if i connect remotely with any of the setups through SSH, the CPU usage goes up and sometimes that shows up in the stats.
So, for the people who actually tried this, if i upgrade the A+ for a Pi3 for example, will i have some improvements in reported positions, for example?

It is hard to know if you are having CPU issues when not using the GUI.
You probably won’t have any with an RPI3.

Thanks for posting that it is not worth messing with the Pi0. That will save me some time and frustration.

Running two Pi3 units here. One for PiAware and the other on FR24 software. Both using WiFi which I set to use static addressing.

PiAware gets more AC than FR24 and I see planes 50-75 miles farther out (or occasionally much more) than with FR24. Single antenna, amplified and split to each receiver. Nearly the same receivers and both using Dump1090 as the receive engine but something is better with PiAware. Better error checking and fixing?

I like the local map view on PiAware, but I like the world map presentation of FR24 much better than on FA. So I run both to get the best of each.

I am such a nerd!


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I had been using a Pi Zero with version 2.1 of Piaware quite happily for about 6 months (until today when I tried upgrading it to 3.1.0)
It runs 24/7 and I had no performance issues with it at all. CPU runs at about 30%

So it is possible, I’m just trying to find out what the latest version is that I can use, otherwise I’ll roll back to 2.1…


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I have been running two older Pi B’s for many, many months now - one feeding FA and one feeding FR24 – with no difficulties. I also have tested Pi 2’s and a Pi 3 but have seen no significant performance differences. So I reiterate to folks the standard caveat: there are so many variables that it’s difficult to provide anyone a simple yes or no answer.

The importance distinction in my situation is that we are in a rural area with geography that provides a limited view of aircraft where the main traffic exists. So I only see about 250 planes a day. I am running image 3.1.0 with MLAT enabled, and for our set of conditions, this is not overburdening the Pi B.

That being said, if you are having issues, why scrimp - none of the models are very expensive. But on the other hand there is no reason not to experiment either.

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I’ve got my Pi Zero working again fine now (see my other thread)
Version 3.1.0 with MLAT enabled, and still only runs at around 30% CPU
No problems at all.


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I tried to use a pi zero once, but got an anomaly message that cpu was running close to 100% for a longer time.

I was using piware 2.xx, but it might have been a packet based install on a standard raspian distro.

I have no problems at al with a B+ model, which as the same the bcm2835 as the zero, so in theory a pi zero should or could be ok.

My sites are synced with around 90 other users via MLAT

Actually, you can check the CPU easily via command-line/SSH. Once logged in run “top” no quotes. The CPU/mem of each process will be listed. Ctrl+C gets you back to a command prompt.

Two aliases to make this a bit easier:

do a one-shot display of processes:

alias top1='top -n 1 b'

one-shot display of the top 10 CPU hogs currently:

alias top10='top -n 1 b | head -n 17 '

as an example, on one of my ads-b systems:

17:49 pi@wombat ~ $ top10
top - 17:50:20 up 65 days,  4:46,  1 user,  load average: 0.29, 0.31, 0.32
Tasks: 111 total,   1 running, 110 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
%Cpu(s):  6.6 us,  0.8 sy,  0.0 ni, 92.4 id,  0.0 wa,  0.0 hi,  0.2 si,  0.0 st
KiB Mem:    947092 total,   940076 used,     7016 free,    55076 buffers
KiB Swap:        0 total,        0 used,        0 free.   788440 cached Mem

 7772 dump1090  15  -5   34872  15524   2004 S  29.5  1.6  18363:28 dump1090-fa
29203 pi        20   0    5044   2308   2020 R  11.8  0.2   0:00.04 top
18624 piaware   20   0   23324   9620   5364 S   5.9  1.0 107:17.62 piaware
18646 piaware   20   0   13016   9808   6360 S   5.9  1.0 191:23.01 fa-mlat-client
    1 root      20   0    5292   3788   2656 S   0.0  0.4   3:31.30 systemd
    2 root      20   0       0      0      0 S   0.0  0.0   0:01.01 kthreadd
    3 root      20   0       0      0      0 S   0.0  0.0  23:48.99 ksoftirqd/0
    7 root      20   0       0      0      0 S   0.0  0.0 119:47.03 rcu_sched
    8 root      20   0       0      0      0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 rcu_bh
17:50 pi@wombat ~ $ 

–bob k6rtm


Finally i’ve build a Dump1090 with a Pi Zero W (with the non-wifi version its annoying, because you need extra hw).

It works fine, as expected. 20-25% CPU usage without MLAT (eventually peaks of 30%). 40-50% with MLAT (eventually peaks of 60%).
The Pi is still fairly capable to use for other “light-basic” purposes.

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My Raspberry PiZero Wifi has been running for 3-4 days now. I am running Flightaware and FR24 on this Pizero.
It seems to me that this little Pi is handling things just okey. But the traffic is not that dense. I live around 9 km from ENBO (Norway) Had 80 spotting at the most during 24 hours
Have MLAT turned on borth

top - 18:39:15 up 2 days, 22:34,  1 user,  load average: 0.47, 0.46, 0.45
Tasks:  91 total,   2 running,  89 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
%Cpu(s): 31.2 us,  6.1 sy,  0.0 ni, 61.3 id,  0.0 wa,  0.0 hi,  1.3 si,  0.0 st
KiB Mem:    445084 total,   347860 used,    97224 free,    42936 buffers
KiB Swap:        0 total,        0 used,        0 free.   244152 cached Mem

17703 dump1090  15  -5   25748   7356   2332 R 34.2  1.7 321:29.64 dump1090-fa
30193 pi        20   0    5020   2276   2000 R 14.7  0.5   0:00.07 top
    1 root      20   0    5368   3852   2728 S  0.0  0.9   0:32.28 systemd
    2 root      20   0       0      0      0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.21 kthreadd
    3 root      20   0       0      0      0 S  0.0  0.0   5:11.22 ksoftirqd/0
    5 root       0 -20       0      0      0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 kworker/0:0H
    7 root      20   0       0      0      0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.01 kdevtmpfs
    8 root       0 -20       0      0      0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 netns
    9 root       0 -20       0      0      0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.00 perf
   10 root      20   0       0      0      0 S  0.0  0.0   0:00.21 khungtaskd

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My Piaware PiZeroW was also been for a while now (about 23 days) without a problem.

These new PiZero WiFi boards are just amazing at the price.

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Just hit 443 days of uptime on my v1 Pi Zero!! Rebooted twice in that time due to IP address changes on the network. (not related to PiAware) I’d say this particular Zero is good to go. Your mileage may vary.


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Been running Pi Zero W (on-board wifi) using PiAware 3.5.3 with no problems.

Am about 15 miles from Heathrow, device logs around 1500 aircraft per day using just an indoor aerial.

Took it recently to California where it ran without problem getting around 1100 aircraft daily.

This is the only thing the Pi does, no Desktop or anything.


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My CPU shows around 30% and I have mlat enabled.