PiAware - build your own ADS-B receiver


#1

Hi everyone, we’ve released a pre-built PiAware/dump1090/Raspbian image and instructions on how to build your own ADS-B receiver:

flightaware.com/adsb/piaware/build

We’d appreciate any feedback or links to local/country-specific vendors that we can publish to make the process easier for new users.


#2

A few comments:

  • the kit could be done for less that $100, all though I see your point. Most have a decent USB power source and SDR can be found cheaper.
  • the RasPI case, IMO, could be optional.

I would use the Linux commands to have piware installed on the RasPI vs downloading and saving it to a computer. The Linux commands on the piware install page worked great on my two installs and it seems a heck of a lot less complicated than involving a PC or Mac.

More important, as a person that recently set up piaware, the challenge is not with the piaware install. The challenge is getting dump1060 running with the correct option switches and verifing it is running correctly. For example, I had everything set up, but is took this forum to make me realize I needed the --net switch.

So, my recommendation would be to add some install commands after the “do you already have dump1090 running on the RasPI” question and explain some of the switch options that may be important. Also maybe a statement or two about what each column in dump1090 means just to educate the new user as to what to expect.

Also, two quick dump1090 confirmation tests I learned on my own:

  • dump1090 is running fine if the cursor on the top far right is ‘twirling’
  • dump1090 is running fine is you can URL to port 8080 and see a map.

Again, once dump1090 (for me) was the challenge. The piaware part was a snap/well documented.


#3

Thanks for your feedback. The PiAware image for new users contains dump1090 already running and installed. As soon as you boot your Pi, it will be running dump1090 and PiAware.

Yes, the parts can be found cheaper, but the key is to have reliably delivery in multiple countries. We are actively seeking suggestions for better vendors on a country-by-country basis so we can improve our shopping list. We still intend to support the other method of manually installing PiAware on an existing Pi.


#4

i think the hardest part to find domestically is the MCX adapter. i think i spent 2 hours looking for a coaxial/F type female connector to MCX for my coaxial collinear antenna. here is the link where i bought mine but the seller is gone/out of stock amazon.com/dp/B00G2R085M/ref … 1_ST1_dp_1 … your mileage may vary when buying from a china vendor.


#5

I just loaded up the image on a new Pi and I have run into an issue with dump1090. The webserver on port 8080 isn’t responding correctly. When I point my browser to it I get the dialog “Error opening HTML file: No such file or directory” (see below for exact screen shot). Other than that, it is running without error as its reporting back to my account successfully.

-Colby


#6

Hmmm try 1.13, we tested it and it works: hls-e0.flightcdn.com/raspbian-pi … 13.img.zip


#7

[quote=“dbaker”]

That worked, also thank you for including screen too.


#8

There’s a link error for the SD Card entry for United States. The flightaware.com domain name is prepended to the actual URL.


#9

Thanks – this is fixed in our release late this afternoon along with a nubmer of process improvements.


#10

This is another well-regarded outdoor antenna: DPD Productions ADS-B Vertical Outdoor Base Antenna

It’s a bit on the pricier side at $149.95, but adds a lot of range and is well-built. It uses an N-female connector, so an adapter for MCX male like this is necessary.

For users in the US, the antenna currently posted on the how-to ships from Germany and ends up being about $140 (~$100 antenna + ~$40 shipping) for a less powerful antenna.

SPECS (copied from the website)

Gain: 9 dBi
SWR: 1.5:1 or Less on Center Freq
Pattern: Omni-directional
Wavelength: Multiple 1/2
Tuned: 1090 MHz
Band: Mode-S / ADS-B
Connector: N Female
Cable: RG8X
Cable Length: 12 Inches
Height: 57"
Width: 1 1/4"
Weight: 1 lb 11oz
Wind Area: 0.50 Sq Feet

For an inexpensive antenna that is mast-mountable and offers an improvement over the stock tuner antenna, I’ve had good luck with this one. It’s built and sold by eBay user stanislavpalo130 and arrived in a week from Slovakia to my home in CA with the express postage (GBP 6.00). Altogether, it costs less than $30 and ships worldwide. Whenever the listing expires it gets reposted, so the link should still be good in the future. It uses a BNC-female connector, so an adapter for MCX male like this is necessary.


#11

Thanks for the information, Chris. We will update the parts list.


#12

[quote=“dbaker”]

I just ran into this problem too, and think I’ve figured out the cause. I was on PiAware 1.12 and decided to update to 1.13, and figured I might as well switch over from Malcolm Robb’s fork of dump1090 to FlightAware’s fork of Malcolm Robb’s fork of dump1090 since it would be slightly more efficient to run just dump1090 than dump1090 + faup1090, and so that I could jump to the FA page for a flight directly from the dump1090 web interface.

I cloned the FA repo into a folder on my RPi, stopped all running instances of dump1090 and PiAware, then used the following command “To build and install dump1090 and faup1090 and configure the system to start them automatically whenever the system boots” (from the readme):


sudo make -f makefaup1090 full-install

I checked that the service was running, then opened my browser to view the interface and got the same error that Colby reported above. When I stopped the service and instead ran dump1090 directly (not using the fadump1090.sh script) from the directory where I compiled the FA GitHub code, the web interface worked fine. I saw that installing FA’s dump1090 put the web server files in /usr/share/dump1090/public_html/ and the dump1090 executable in /usr/bin/dump1090 whereas when running the executable directly from the ~/dump1090_mr/ directory, it’s in the same location as public_html (the web server files). I don’t know how dump1090 determines where to look for the web server files, but it seems that running it as a service from /usr/bin/ doesn’t work because it can’t find the public_html files there. I would imagine that other people installing using the “build and install dump1090 and faup1090 and configure the system to start them automatically whenever the system boots” method would also have this problem, so for now I’m switching back to starting/stopping it manually from the directory where I cloned and compiled the FA GitHub repo.


#13

For 1.13 dump1090 is compiled with a PREFIX defined in the Makefile, which is supposed to tell dump1090 to look there instead of in the current directory.

/usr/bin/dump1090 should find all of its support files in /usr/share/dump1090/public_html regardless of what directory it’s in when it’s started.

We are investigating…


#14

The biggest problem I found was getting together the bits to do the down lead to connect to the antenna and to the Pi. Unless you are in the business there is a bewildering choice of connectors and adaptors that can needed, and sometimes it’s just not obvious how to fit them to the cable when they have been obtained.

The dongle usually has an MCX connector and is quite a frail socket - I’d shy away from connecting a heavy cable directly to it. for that reason I’d use a flexible pigtail - with an ‘F’ female the other end see ebay item 291124874254

This requires an F-Male connector on the end of a length of co-ax (simple to assemble)

My antenna, ebay item 201182851671 has an N-Female connector on it’s base - I fitted a ‘N-male to F’ adaptor to it - similar to ebay item 390879640807 to it so I could also put another F-Connector on the other end of the coax.

I’ve never had a problem ordering stuf from ebay - just keep an eye on the delivery times … if the item or delivery price is low - then the item will probably be sent by a cheap slow means.


#15

Could you do an image for a Pi B too? (often one that has been configured for a B+ cant detect the ‘B’ network device.)


#16

[quote=“karl”]

For what its worth, I am having the same issue. I updated from 1.12 to 1.13-1 and the problem persists. Thank you for looking into it. Other than that, awesome product! I needed to do something with my spare RPi!


#17

OK, I’ve confirmed that the PiAware 1.13 .img file and piaware 1.13 Debian package work OK.

I’ve built and installed everything (RTL-SDR libraries, dump1090, faup1090, piaware) from source and it seems OK to me. One issue could be that we used to install dump1090 to /usr/local/bin but are now installing to /usr/bin in the more Linux-ish style. Depending on your PATH environment variable you might be getting the old version if you run dump1090 from the command line.

A strong possibility is that the instructions at github.com/flightaware/dump1090 … -mr-readme previously did not include to do a “make” so it’s possible if you didn’t do a make everything got built and installed except for the updated version of dump1090.

(Starting with 1.13 we use a build option in the makefiles (Makefile and makefaup1090) to make dump1090 be able to run independently of whatever the current directory is when dump1090 is launched.)

I’ve created a new wiki page with more thorough instructions on how to build everything from scratch at github.com/flightaware/piaware/ … rom-source

Also I’ve made fairly substantial updates to the PiAware build notes at github.com/flightaware/dump1090 … -mr-readme


#18

I reinstalled using the 1.13 image and everything is working great! Thanks for all your work.


#19

Karl, what size SD card was your image built on?

That is the minimum size people will need to restore the image.


#20

Raspbian needs ~2Gb. I am guessing 4Gb is the smallest you could get by with safely.